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Most BC seniors' homes now accepting visitors - Bowen Island Undercurrent
The vast majority of B.C. seniors' homes now have approved plans to accept visitors, according to Health Minister Adrian Dix. He said July 23 that almost 80%, or 465 of 584 homes in the province, . . .
The vast majority of B.C. seniors' homes now have approved plans to accept visitors, according to Health Minister Adrian Dix. He said July 23 that almost 80%, or 465 of 584 homes in the province, are now allowing residents to have visitors. That is up from 318 homes accepting visitors a week ago. Allowing these visits carries some risk of transmission of COVID-19 in a vulnerable demographic group, although many loved ones of residents have been eager to be able to see their family members or friends. The new statistics are exclusively for long-term care and assisted living homes, Dix explained in response to a question from Glacier Media. Dix said in June that there were 681 seniors' homes in B.C. that could be having visits, but that number included some additional types facilities licensed under the Community Care and Assisted Living Act, such as child and youth residential care, and residential care for mental health and substance use, according to the Ministry of Health. Initial provincial restrictions on visits include that they will happen with each resident having a single designated visitor, that each visitor and resident would go to a designated place within the care home and that both the visitor and resident would wear protective equipment. Personal service providers, such as hairstylists, are also able to go into long-term care and seniors' assisted living facilities if the home has a WorkSafeBC-approved safety plan. Dix said on June 30 that his government was earmarking $165 million in new funding for up to three new full-time staff per home to oversee the visits and train visitors on how to wear protective equipment. "We're going to have more to say about some of the details around hiring and training that are taking place in the coming weeks," he said July 23. "We need to make some fundamental change to long-term care to allow for visits, to ensure that the staffing needs of visits are adequately addressed." The new hires are needed, Dix said, because staff need to spend time facilitating the visits to ensure they are done safely. Prior to the pandemic, "the amount of staff time devoted to visits tended to be zero," he said. Dix and provincial health officer Bonnie Henry also revealed new data to show the spread of COVID-19 in B.C. The province recorded 30 new cases in the past 24 hours, including one case that is "epi-linked," or a presumed case that has not been confirmed through testing. The breakdown of all 3,392 COVID-19 infections by health region is:1,051 in Vancouver Coastal Health (up two);1,750 in Fraser Health (up eight);142 in Island Health (up one);315 in Interior Health (up 11);77 in Northern Health (up eight); and57 people who reside outside Canada (up three). There are 304 people who are actively fighting the virus, with most self-isolating at home. Of the 16 people who are in hospital, three are in intensive care units. One person has died from the virus in the past day the first announced death since July 13. The province's death toll now sits at 190. More than 85.4% of patients, or 2,898 have recovered. [email protected] @GlenKorstrom
New COVID-19 outbreaks among young adults spark concern about bars, restaurants - Bowen Island Undercurrent
OTTAWA — New outbreaks of COVID-19 among young adults across the country are sparking concern about the impact these clusters of new cases could have on the ongoing easing of pandemic restrictions.. . .
OTTAWA New outbreaks of COVID-19 among young adults across the country are sparking concern about the impact these clusters of new cases could have on the ongoing easing of pandemic restrictions. Ontario is reporting its largest daily number of confirmed COVID-19 infections since the end of June with 203 new cases Tuesday, prompting Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott to urge citizens to follow physical distancing rules to stop the concerning trend. Alberta and British Columbia have also seen surges in new COVID-19 infections over the last two days. Manitoba has seen an outbreak on a few Hutterite colonies in recent days and a couple of positive tests among international travellers. Canada's deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, says the uptick in new cases nationally is giving public health authorities cause for concern. Canada's daily new case numbers had slowed to an average of about 300 new cases a day, but this has increased to an average of 460 new cases per day for the last four days. The majority of the newly infected are young adults, many of whom have contracted the novel coronavirus by going to bars, restaurants and attending indoor parties, Njoo told reporters Tuesday at a briefing in Ottawa. "I think everyone's been tired after spending the winter cooped up," he said. "And now with the nicer weather and the summer I think people just want to get out, so I think there is a fatigue factor in terms of trying to maintain all of those good public health measures." Njoo said he believes there is an "invincibility factor" also playing into the outbreaks among young people, which is being fanned by scientific evidence emerging that shows youth who contract COVID-19 are less likely to become seriously ill. "I think at a certain age you think you can get away with anything ... That's where I think the challenge is, because even if they have only mild symptoms or they are asymptomatic, the fact is they're part of our society." Njoo suggested some young people attending indoor parties and not following proper physical distancing measures might be doing so because the ongoing relaxing of pandemic restrictions including the reopening of bars and restaurants has sent a signal that they can let their guard down. But it's up to local authorities to decide whether these establishments should be allowed to remain open, Njoo said. "Moving forward we also recognize we need to at some point reopen our society. The tricky part, really, is trying to find that balance as we slowly as a society figure out how we move forward with the appropriate amount of caution in terms of various sectors." Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he was especially concerned by data showing 57 per cent of Tuesday's cases in his province were in people aged 39 or younger and that some of the outbreaks have been linked to people attending indoor parties. "I just ask people to hold off on these parties, I don't know why everyone wants to party so bad but enough. We have to keep this in control and we will." This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2020. Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled the surname of Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott.
Watchdogs warn COVID-19 apps come with privacy risks to Canadians - Bowen Island Undercurrent
OTTAWA — Governments that want to use smartphones to trace the movements of Canadians during the COVID-19 crisis should handle personal information with care, privacy watchdogs from across the . . .
OTTAWA Governments that want to use smartphones to trace the movements of Canadians during the COVID-19 crisis should handle personal information with care, privacy watchdogs from across the country warned Thursday in a united call for caution. Privacy commissioners have been warning of potential risks associated with government COVID-19 apps since provinces started musing about the idea a few weeks ago. The apps work by keeping a record of when one phone gets close to another, and then alerting users if they've come into contact with someone who has a confirmed or presumed case. Alberta introduced its ABTraceTogether app last week, and New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador are looking at developing their own. "The choices that our governments make today about how to achieve both public health protection and respect for our fundamental Canadian values, including the right to privacy, will shape the future of our country," the federal, provincial and territorial privacy commissioners wrote in a joint statement Thursday. Federal privacy czar Daniel Therrien said the health crisis calls for some flexibility when it comes to the application of privacy laws, but there is a way to use technology to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus without sacrificing fundamental rights to privacy. "Everything hinges on design, and appropriate design depends on respect for certain key privacy principles," Therrien said in a statement Thursday. Therrien and the other commissioners said that while app developers need to respect Canada's privacy laws, those laws aren't always effective in the digital world. They released a set of guidelines for provinces, urging them to be transparent and accountable about how their apps work and what is being done with users' personal information. The commissioners stressed participation should be voluntary and users should provide clear consent to whatever they're signing up for. The apps should also be secure to safeguard personal data, which should be destroyed once the crisis is over, they said. Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said her team is keeping an eye on the apps in development across the country to see if one could be adopted at the national level, but privacy will be the main concern. "I think if there are certain tools that are better than others, that's the kind of knowledge that you want to share," Tam said at a briefing Wednesday. "Not just whether the application works, but all of the policies that go with it, like privacy, which I think is the most paramount of some of the policy discussions." The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta is already reviewing the app deployed in Alberta, and will be issuing recommendations to the provincial government. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2020.