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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday, Oct. 14 – CBC.ca

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Recent developments:

What’s the latest?

Ottawa’s medical officer of health Vera Etches  is recommending people celebrate Halloween at home this year. That means no trick-or-treating or handing out candy as the city grapples with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

WATCH | The risks of trick-or-treating:

Vera Etches, medical officer of health, says the city’s high rate of infection means that going door-to-door for Halloween isn’t recommended this year. 0:52

Ottawa has just 45 more cases of COVID-19, according to Wednesday’s daily update from Ottawa Public Health (OPH). There are no additional hospitalizations or deaths.

A group representing thousands of businesses in Ottawa is asking the premier and his ministers for an immediate meeting about the province’s decision to close down certain sectors in COVID-19 hot spots.

Speaking to Ottawa city council on Wednesday, Etches said she “absolutely” supports the province’s decision, pointing out the city currently has the highest rate of COVID-19 transmission in Ontario.

WATCH | Ottawa now leads province in this COVID-19 category:

Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, says the number of cases per 100,000 residents has exceeded the rate of infection in other Ontario cities, including Toronto. 1:08

How many cases are there?

As of OPH’s Wednesday update, there have been 5,707 Ottawa residents who’ve tested positive for COVID-19.

That includes 769 known active cases, 4,641 resolved cases and 297 deaths.

Overall, public health officials have reported more than 8,500 cases of COVID-19 across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with more than 6,800 of those cases considered resolved.

COVID-19 has killed 104 people in the region outside Ottawa: 52 people have died in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, 34 in the Outaouais and 18 in other parts of eastern Ontario.

What can I do?

Both Ontario and Quebec are telling people to limit close contact only to those they live with or one other home if people live alone.

In Ontario, occasionally seeing a small number of other people at a time outdoors while remaining more than two metres apart carries a lower risk of transmission.

Western Quebec residents need to stop seeing all people they don’t live with, with some exceptions.

Ottawa Morning8:20Gatineau enters COVID red zone.

Gatineau is now in the COVID red zone — the highest level on Quebec’s COVID-19 alert scale. 8:20

In Ottawa, the second wave is being driven by people ignoring health rules.

It has been rolled back to a modified Stage 2, closing dine-in service, gyms, theatres and more, and moved to red on its alert scale, with hospitalizations doubling in less than three weeks.

The city’s medical officer of health has said the entire health-care system is on the verge of collapse, while residents are being told not to have a Halloween party with other households or go trick-or-treating.

Gatineau and parts of the Outaouais are now on red alert, which means restaurants and bars can’t serve people indoors, organized sports are suspended and theatres and performance halls must close.

Quebecers are also urged not to travel to Ontario or between regions at different levels on its scale except for essential reasons.

What about schools?

There have been about 170 schools in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region with a confirmed case of COVID-19:

Few have had outbreaks, which are declared by a health unit in Ontario when there’s a reasonable chance someone who has tested positive caught COVID-19 during a school activity.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something.

People can be contagious without symptoms.

This means people should take precautions like staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don’t live with — even with a mask on.

Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and are recommended outdoors when people can’t stay the proper distance from others.

Anyone with symptoms should self-isolate, as should anyone told to by a public health unit. If Ottawans don’t, they face a fine of up to $5,000 per day in court.

People living with someone waiting for a test result in Kingston, Ont., now do not need to self-isolate, while someone with COVID-19 there has to isolate for at least 10 days from the day they first experience symptoms.

Most people with a confirmed COVID-19 case in Quebec can end their self-isolation after 10 days under certain conditions.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.

Ottawa Morning13:47COVID-19 hospitalizations surge in Ottawa

Two Ottawa doctors talk about the uptick in Ottawa residents in hospital for COVID-19 treatment and how they are dealing with the increased intake. 13:47

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. 

Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic and resources are available to help.

Where to get tested

In eastern Ontario:

Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, or if you’ve been told to by your health unit or the province.

Anyone seeking a test should now book an appointment. Different sites in the area have different ways to book, including over the phone or going in person to get a time slot.

Most of Ottawa’s testing happens at four permanent sites, with additional mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high

People without symptoms, but who are part of the province’s targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies in Belleville, Kingston and Ottawa.

The trail in the Mer Bleue Bog in east Ottawa is marked with one-way arrows to try to distance hikers in October 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Limoges, Rockland and Winchester.

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls. Pop-up sites are coming to Carleton Place tomorrow and Perth on Friday.

Signs on the doors of businesses in Carleton Place, Ont., in March. Ontario’s premier is renewing calls for people to support businesses by ordering takeout, particularly in areas such as Ottawa where dine-in service is now illegal. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

In Kingston, the test site is at the Beechgrove ComplexNapanee’s test centre is open daily for people who call ahead.

People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton online.

Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.

WATCH | How rapid COVID-19 tests work:

David Juncker explains how the rapid antigen test, newly approved by Health Canada, can help detect the risk of active transmission. 3:51

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms. People without symptoms can also get a test.

Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.

They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.

There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.

Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.

Roller-skiers use a Gatineau Park roadway in October 2020. The morning closure of some of the park’s roads to vehicles is scheduled to end Oct. 25. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

Akwesasne has a mobile COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.

Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who’s been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.

People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. 

Anyone in Tyendinaga who’s interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.

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News Releases | COVID-19 Bulletin #235 – news.gov.mb.ca

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Need More Info?

Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.

Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.

Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-794-0732.

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Winnipeg students devastated after COVID restrictions silence school choirs – CBC.ca

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Hundreds of students in Winnipeg have been ordered by the provincial government to stop singing — something a choir teacher says was an ill-informed decision impacting the mental health of students.

“I was just so extremely disappointed because I do not believe the decision was based upon solid ground,” said Maples Collegiate choral teacher Dorothy Dyck.

Since Oct. 26, schools in the Winnipeg metropolitan area and northern Manitoba have been under a code orange in the province’s pandemic response system.

One of the new rules is that indoor choir and the use of wind instruments are not permitted.

That decision is affecting 250 students at Maples Collegiate who participate in six choirs, Dyck said.

Dyck said she doesn’t think Manitoba’s health officials knew all the precautions her school has taken.

“We didn’t get any directive from the province at all,” she said. “We had to figure it out, and so we did. We spent all summer reading, and researching, and waiting for these studies to come out,” she said.

In August, two studies, one from the University of Colorado and one from the University of Cincinnati, looked at how aerosols were spread while singing and playing instruments.

“Out of these studies, things were brought forward for keeping singing as safe as possible, and that’s what we were doing,” Dyck said.

Singing with masks on for 30 minutes in the gym

Along with singing in masks, the rehearsal time was also limited to 30 minutes, something the study out of Colorado found dropped the rate of infection from 87 per cent down to just 12.

The Maples choirs also moved to the gymnasium so everyone could spread out in an open space.

Dyck said the school division’s head of maintenance climbed up into the vents of the gym to get information about the ductwork. A math teacher calculated the air ventilation to determine air was being exchanged every five minutes.

We are as safe as any other activity.​​​​​– Dorothy Dyck, Maples Collegiate choral teacher

“No one is saying that we can guarantee that things are completely safe,” Dyck said. “We now can point to those numbers and know that we are as safe as any other activity.”

A spokesperson for the provincial government says its guidelines on music are based on multiple reports globally where participation in a choir was associated with “super-spreader” events, where COVID-19 was spread to many people.

“Infected people may transmit the virus over greater distances through their saliva or respiratory droplets while singing,” the spokesperson wrote.

To date, there have been three confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Maples Collegiate, principal Scott Shier said.

Dyck said the province should take a second look at how schools were running their choirs, rather than just banning them outright.

“They’re kids that are just trying to find their voices,” she said.

She says she worries the pandemic is affecting the mental health of students.

“We see their dead eyes. Their body language: they’re slumped forward, their arms are limp, they don’t really raise their hands when they’re asking questions,” she said.

“We’ve really worked hard at trying to use choir and trying to use singing as breathing life into their bodies and changing their eyes, and we had just started to see some real progress.”

‘Devastated’ at province’s decision

Jashdane Santiago, a Grade 11 student and member of three choirs, said she’s struggling to accept that she can’t sing in choir anymore.

“I was very much devastated,” Santiago said.

Jashdane Santiago, singing in the gymnasium this fall, says choir made her feel like she was flying. Now she says it feels like her wings have been clipped. (Submitted by Jashdane Santiago)

“Being in choir feels like you’re flying. But then with the news saying that you can’t sing anymore, it just felt like the wings that I’ve been flying with were just clipped,” she said.

The choirs already can’t perform, so it was an extra blow to have their rehearsals taken away, she said.

“Everyone had really high hopes that we could still do what we would normally do, but just a bit different than before.”

Javen Cabrera, a Grade 12 student, said he didn’t take the news well either.

“It was heartbreaking,” Cabrera said. “I was confused, hurt, and really angry.”

The pair said they would be happy to take any extra precautions if it meant they could keep singing.

“Singing with other people reminds me that I’m not alone,” Cabrera said.

The superintendent for Seven Oaks School Division said the they are in discussions with the province about the new rules.

“We’re trying to make the province aware of some of the measures the teachers have taken. We’re doing everything we can to keep a strong program going,” Brian O’Leary said.

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3 deaths, 170 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba as hospitalizations continue to rise – CBC.ca

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A man in his 40s from the Interlake-Eastern Health region is one of three more people with COVID-19 who have died in Manitoba, while 170 more people have tested positive for the virus, Manitoba public health officials announced Wednesday.

A man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Victoria General Hospital in Winnipeg and a woman in her 80s from the Interlake-Eastern Health region linked to an outbreak at the Misericordia Place care home are the two other people who died. 

That brings the death toll from the coronavirus in the province to 61 since the start of the pandemic.

Health officials continue to see cases linked to people not following public health advice by attending large gatherings and leaving their homes even though they have symptoms, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at a news conference Wednesday.

Many cases have been linked to Thanksgiving and other gatherings where people are often sharing items such as vape pens, Roussin said.

In one example, seven cases were linked to the same Thanksgiving dinner. 

Other cases have been linked to people travelling to different parts of the province to visit family, “only to bring the virus with them,” he said.

“And so we can see how our close contacts can quickly become cases and more contacts.”

Hospitalizations climb to new heights

The number of hospitalizations and intensive care patients set new records on Wednesday, with 89 people in hospital, 19 of them in intensive care. That’s up from the previous record of 83 set on Tuesday, when 15 people were in the ICU.

“The capacity is continuing to be further stretched,” Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa said at the news conference, with ICU capacity at 92 per cent, which is higher than it was on Monday.

There are still beds for patients and supplies, she said.

“Our most precious resource right now is our staff,” she said.

A total of 43 surgeries have been cancelled, some because staff are isolating due to exposure to the virus, others because of changes meant to protect staff, Siragusa said. 

Manitoba’s five-day test-positivity rate — the rolling average of the number of COVID-19 tests that come back positive — is 7.3, down slightly from the record high of 7.5 on Tuesday.

The announcement of 170 cases is the third highest number the province has recorded.

Most of the new cases are in the Winnipeg health region, where 117 people have tested positive. There are 26 new cases in the Interlake-Eastern health region, 18 in the Southern Health region, six in the Northern Health region, and three in the Prairie Mountain Health region.

A total of 4,701 people in Manitoba have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. Provincial health data shows 2,334 active cases and 2,306 people recovered, although health officials have said that active case numbers are likely inflated because of a backlog.

Cross Lake First Nation has moved to the critical red level on the province’s pandemic response system after multiple people tested positive in the community.  The cases are linked to a funeral attended by someone who didn’t have symptoms but later tested positive for COVID-19, which the province announced on Tuesday.

An outbreak at the St. Norbert Personal Care Home has been declared over, health officials said.

Record-setting day

The latest numbers come one day after Manitoba set new records for daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The province recorded its highest number of new cases in a single day on Tuesday, reporting 184 people tested positive for the virus. 

The number of people in hospital has tripled in 10 days, growing from 29 on Oct. 19 to 89 on Wednesday.

There were 83 people in hospitals, including 15 in intensive care units, as of Tuesday. Three more deaths were reported, bringing the total to 58 since the pandemic emerged in Manitoba. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

Health Minister Cameron Friesen tried to quell fears that hospitals were on the brink of being overwhelmed at a news conference on Tuesday.

Case numbers are trending in the wrong direction, but the health system still has capacity, he said.

“We are planning accordingly. We are not at a breaking point,” Friesen said.

Three people linked to an outbreak at St. Boniface Hospital have died as of Tuesday, and a patient linked to an outbreak at Victoria General Hospital died after being transferred to St. Boniface.

As of Tuesday, the St. Boniface outbreak had led to infections in 23 patients and 10 staff, while the Victoria outbreak infected 19 patients and 19 staff. 

The province announced a 19th death in an outbreak at the Parkview Place personal care home, where 104 residents have tested positive in the facility that housed 221 people as of last Friday.

Revera, the for-profit company that runs Parkview Place, also operates the Maples Long Term Care Home, where 69 of the facility’s 200 residents had tested positive by Tuesday, up from 35 on Monday.

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