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Stop booking multiple COVID-19 tests, Ottawa Public Health urges - OttawaMatters.com
Some people have been booking appointments and tying up timeslots at multiple COVID-19 testing sites, but only to whichever one is available first.
People eager to get a COVID-19 test as quickly as possible are causing problems for the testing centres and clinics, and Ottawa Public Health is urging you to keep your appointment. Organizers of the COVID-19 testing sites and clinics have noticed some people are booking appointments at multiple sites, then going to whichever one is available first. Ottawa Public Health says people no-showing to appointments at the COVID-19 centres is problematic for organizers. "Duplicates and no-shows make it a challenge to accurately plan operating hours and staffing resources," the health unit said in a written statement. To keep appointment slots open for people who need them, Ottawa Public Health and the hospitals that operate the testing and assessment centres ask that you only book one appointment at one site, and to keep your appointment. That, they hope, will ensure the no-show problem doesn't expand into a system-wide access issue.
OPH conducting contact tracing after LRT operator tests positive for COVID-19 - OttawaMatters.com
According to the memo, which was sent out Saturday evening, the employee last worked on September 24 and has not been back to work since.
An LRT operator has tested positive for COVID-19, the City confirmed in a memo to city council members. According to the memo, which was sent out Saturday evening, the employee last worked on September 24 and has not been back to work since. The identity of the individual will not be released, to protect their privacy. The City is helping OPH conduct contact tracing of individuals who have, or may have been, in close contact with the operator. This includes employees, family and friends. OPH says that they key dates are the 48-hour period before the first day the employee showed symptoms (in this case, September 24). The driver operated vehicles on O-Train Line 1 between Tunney’s Pasture and Blair Station on September 24 from 6:36 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. The City assures that LRT operators, like bus drivers and other frontline staff, are required to wear masks at all times on the transit system. Operators are fully enclosed in a cab and are only on train platforms for short periods when switching trains. OC Transpo is in the midst of identifying facilities that may require additional cleaning over and above their enhance cleaning process. If customers have concerns about exposure, the can contact OPH at 613-580-6744 to speak to a public health nurse or visit ottawapublichealth.ca.
'I can take it:' Ottawa top doctor receiving 'ugly emails' - OttawaMatters.com
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches says she has been receiving what she describes as "ugly emails" during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ottawa's top doctor says she has received some "ugly emails" during the COVID-19 pandemic but isn't letting them distract her from her job. "I take in that information and I think about how we can better support people with our social services, with economic recovery," said Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa's chief medical officer of health. "I'm focused on trying to make sure we manage through this pandemic so people can get back on their feet." Dr. Etches says she hasn't received any death threats and doesn't think she is in any danger. "Of course people are frustrated. People have been harmed by losing their jobs, losing their businesses. Those are not small impacts, it's very serious." The doctor says she recognizes that everyone is suffering from the pandemic. "I know that this is a stressful time and people are angry, and I appreciate that," explains Dr. Etches. "They're looking for someone to blame or to express that anger and I think it's important to hear from people who are negatively impacted." Dr. Etches' comments come after British Columbia's top doctor said she's been receiving death threats and abusive letters in her role as a public figure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Bonnie Henry told a panel discussion at the annual convention of the Union of B.C. Municipalities that she's had to have security in her home and has been targeted by people who don't agree with her. - With files from the Canadian Press
Quebec urges vigilance on private gatherings with key COVID indicators on the rise - OttawaMatters.com
Quebec City health authorities said Wednesday the number of cases from a karaoke bar and another bar in the provincial capital has risen to 80. Another 18 secondary cases are linked to the karaoke bar, including some at four local schools.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault says there are no plans to follow British Columbia's lead in tightening restrictions on bars and nightclubs, even as the number of COVID-19 cases has steadily risen in the province in recent weeks. "Most of them (new infections) are not coming from bars, so we have to look at real solutions," Legault told reporters in Mississauga, Ont., on Wednesday following a meeting with his Ontario counterpart, Rob Ford. "Right now, the real problems are coming from private gatherings, so that's where we have to ask the population to respect the two metres and wear a mask and not have parties with too many people." On Tuesday, B.C.'s provincial health officer ordered nightclubs and banquet halls to close and pushed last call for alcohol sales at bars and restaurants to 10 p.m. Quebec City health authorities said Wednesday the number of cases from a karaoke bar and another bar in the provincial capital has risen to 80. Another 18 secondary cases are linked to the karaoke bar, including some at four local schools. But Legault said the focus should be on private gatherings and getting across the message that the virus has not gone away. Montreal's public health director also said home gatherings and socializing after sporting events are driving transmission, warning that small outbreaks will spread to schools and long-term care homes. Dr. Mylene Drouin delivered her message as key COVID-19 indicators continue to rise in the country's hardest hit city, which has had 30,245 confirmed cases and 3,474 deaths. Drouin urged caution and adherence to guidelines for face coverings and hand washing, in particular with acquaintances and family. "We ask people to be more vigilant when they are in social activities," she said. Drouin told a news conference on Wednesday that the city has about 20 outbreaks, including one in a daycare and two at schools. The Montreal area has at least 69 COVID-19 cases in 64 different schools since they reopened nearly two weeks ago. Drouin said that in all but two of those cases, the infection was acquired outside the school. One of the cases with secondary transmission within a school was from teacher to student. Long lineups were reported in west-end Montreal over the weekend with worried parents looking to get their children tested. "What we've seen with the reopening of school is that when there was one case in one school, the parents were preoccupied and went for a screening test when it wasn't indicated," Drouin said. She assured that when there's a case in a school, parents of children identified as moderate contacts will be advised to self-isolate and get a test during that period. "I know parents are worried ... but if your kids haven't been in contact with positive cases, testing isn't necessary," Drouin said. Quebec introduced a four-level, colour-coded COVID-19 alert system Tuesday — green for vigilance, yellow for an early warning, orange for moderate alert and red for maximum alert. Drouin said Montreal is listed at the green level, but could find itself at yellow in the next week if the situation doesn't improve. Quebec health officials reported 180 new cases of COVID-19 provincewide on Wednesday. The province also announced three additional deaths linked to the disease from earlier in the month and withdrew two other deaths after investigations determined they weren't caused by COVID-19. The province has now reported 64,056 confirmed cases and 5,771 deaths. No deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, but the number of hospitalizations increased by eight to 113, while intensive care cases decreased by one to 14. Meanwhile, three Quebec cabinet ministers who began self-isolating Tuesday after being in the presence of a local mayor who contracted the disease said they'd all tested negative. Transport Minister Francois Bonnardel, Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette and junior transport minister Chantal Rouleau announced the news on their social media accounts.
High vaccine use urged by Tam, Njoo to beat COVID-19, restore pre-pandemic life - OttawaMatters.com
The assessment comes one day after the Trudeau government announced the latest installment in its plan to pre-buy tens of millions of doses of potential vaccines, signing deals with two American firms.
Canadians will need to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated in large numbers to finally corral COVID-19 before life can return to a semblance of its pre-pandemic state, Canada's top public health officers said Tuesday. "Widespread vaccine uptake is the best shot Canadians have in regaining some of what we've lost and returning to things that we cherish — things like holding family and friends closely, having community events and living our lives without the fear of contracting the disease," said Dr. Theresa Tam, the country's chief medical officer. Tam and her deputy, Dr. Howard Njoo, offered that assessment one day after the Trudeau government announced the latest instalment in its plan to pre-buy tens of millions of doses of potential vaccines, signing deals with two American firms. The newest deals will allow Canada to buy as many as 76 million doses of a vaccine candidate from Maryland-based biotech company Novavax, and up to 38 million doses of the vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical company Janssen Inc. Last month, the government signed similar deals with U.S. companies Pfizer and Moderna that would give Canada access to up to 76 million more doses. Njoo said it is not clear what percentage of Canadians will need to get vaccinated to achieve broad immunity but "the more Canadians that take advantage, the better." Both physicians evoked the dark days of forced quarantines, school closures and bans on public gatherings during the measles and polio outbreaks of the 1930s, '40s and '50s. "Most of us are lucky. We have not had to live through these types of measures because of safe and effective vaccines for these diseases," said Tam. "What Canada and the world needs to have for the best shot at normalcy is safe and effective vaccines." Tam suggested that the threshold for effective immunization is a moving target because understanding the science around COVID-19 is itself a work in progress. For regulatory purposes, she said, that level has to be continuously evaluated. "The international consensus is that we should at least look at around the 50 per cent vaccine efficacy mark," said Tam, adding that there simply isn't a "yes or no" answer. More will be known when the data from ongoing Phase 3 clinical trials become available, she said. "It's a matter of remaining open to the evidence and being flexible." Right now, there appears to be low immunity to the disease around the world, "so getting a high enough vaccine uptake is going to be quite important," said Tam. Njoo said a vaccine could be available sometime in 2021, perhaps as early as the spring. "We're very optimistic here in Canada and because there are number of vaccine candidates being evaluated," said Njoo. "There could be an effective and safe vaccine, perhaps in 2021. We don't know exactly when. Perhaps in the spring, maybe a little bit later. But it's a very good thing to stay optimistic." As for whether such a vaccine should be mandatory, Njoo said it is better for people to educated about the benefits of immunization rather than have it forced upon them because that's the best way to increase the number of vaccinations. "I think it is more important to maybe change people's attitudes who may be more reticent about getting vaccinated rather than having regulations to make vaccination mandatory," Njoo said. While vaccines have never been made compulsory in Canada, the practice in hospitals and long-term care facilities that have had outbreaks of respiratory illnesses has been for health-care workers to be vaccinated before being allowed to return to work, he noted. As for testing for COVID-19, Njoo said the gold standard remains the so-called PCR test, or polymerase chain reaction testing which relies on a sample collected from a person's nose or throat. Asked about the possibility of a home test for the disease, Njoo said: "It's quite complicated but the bottom line is: we're open to examining all types of testing technologies because the more tools we have in the toolbox in terms of different types of tests available to use in different types of contexts, the better." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2020. Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
Ottawa Public Health confirms West Nile virus in local mosquito pool - OttawaMatters.com
The agency has seen the first positive test for the virus this season. There have been no human cases reported.
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reminding residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites after having confirmed the first positive test for West Nile virus in a local mosquito pool. Residents are also asked to reduce mosquito populations around their homes by getting rid of all outdoor objects that can hold water, where mosquitoes lay eggs. West Nile virus is an infection spread primarily by the northern house mosquito that, in a small number of cases, can cause serious illness. OPH says most people will not develop any symptoms if infected, but about 20 per cent may experience flu-like symptoms, including a fever, headache, muscle aches and, possibly, a rash. The health agency explains that the risk of more serious illness, happening in less than one per cent of infections in which WNV invades the central nervous system, increases with age. Elderly and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk. "Spending time outdoors has many health benefits. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are spending time outdoors in urban settings, including on their porches, in their gardens, and in local parks," says Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches. "These settings are ideal for the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus. Be sure to protect yourself against mosquito bites around your home." There have been no reported, confirmed or probable human cases of West Nile virus in Ottawa this year. As of Wednesday, August 5, there have been zero reported human cases in Ontario this year. In 2019, there was one human case reported in Ottawa, and 24 cases in Ontario. Ottawa Public Health has a proactive plan to deal with West Nile virus that includes weekly surveillance and, when necessary, mosquito larvicidal treatment of standing water on City property, such as ditches and storm water management ponds. Ottawa Public Health also regularly applies larvicide in City-owned roadside storm sewer catch-basins to reduce the mosquito population. Residents can protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites by:
- Applying a Health Canada-approved mosquito repellent containing DEET or icaridin to exposed skin and clothing
- Protecting yourself especially between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active, and at all times in or near shady, bushy or wooded areas
- Wearing light-coloured, tightly woven, loose-fitting clothing, including long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, shoes and socks to protect exposed skin
- Making sure all windows and doors in your home have screens that are in good condition
- Reducing standing water sites around your home, such as bird baths, toys, flower pot saucers, swimming pool covers, old tires, wheelbarrows, buckets and cans -- anything that can hold water for seven days or longer.
- Keeping all openings to rain barrels covered with screen mesh at all times
Half of newly reported COVID-19 cases in Ottawa are children under 9, OPH reports - OttawaMatters.com
The most number of cases overall continues to be reported in the 20-29 cohort with 416 cases, followed by 50-59 year olds representing 354 of Ottawa’s total cases.
The number of active COVID-19 cases has dropped in Ottawa to 139, down from 155, while three kids are among the newly reported cases in the city. According to OPH’s Sunday reort, Ottawa has recorded a total of 2,629 cases since the start of the pandemic — that’s six new cases. The most number of cases overall continues to be reported in the 20-29 cohort with 416 cases, followed by 50-59 year olds representing 354 of Ottawa’s total cases. Three new cases on Sunday were reported among children 0-9 years old, while two cases were seen among people aged 50-59 and one new case in the 60-69 cohort. With the province reporting a total of 40,046 cases, that means Ottawa represents about 6.6 per centre of all cases in Ontario. The number of deaths remains unchanged and sits at 264. There are 11 people currently hospitalized with the virus, with two in the ICU. Ottawa has resolved 2,226 of COVID-19 cases, or almost 85 per cent of all cases. OPH is reporting 12 ongoing outbreaks in healthcare and childcare establishments. A full list can be consulted on OPH’s COVID-19 daily dashboard. Thirteen per cent of positive cases will receive their test results back within 24 hours, while 58 per cent will get their results back within 48 hours.
Garmin fitness tracking service goes down, frustrating users - OttawaMatters.com
LONDON — GPS device-maker Garmin’s online fitness tracking service has gone down, leaving runners and cyclists struggling to upload data from their latest workouts.
LONDON GPS device-maker Garmins online fitness tracking service has gone down, leaving runners and cyclists struggling to upload data from their latest workouts. Garmin Connect, an app and website that works with the company's popular line of fitness watches, remained out of service on Friday. The U.S. company had apologized for the disruption a day earlier, when it indicated the problem was more widespread and also affected its communications systems. FlyGarmin, the company's navigational support service for pilots, was also hit by the outage, which down took the service's website and mobile app. We are currently experiencing an outage that affects Garmin.com and Garmin Connect, the company said on its Twitter accounts and website . This outage also affects our call centres , and we are currently unable to receive any calls, emails or online chats. We are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible and apologize for this inconvenience." Fitness enthusiasts took to social media to vent their frustrations about not being able to use the service. Runners said that while the outage doesn't stop them from training, not being able to use Garmin Connect means they can't track their workout data or share their routes on Strava, a social network for runners and cyclists. Atlanta tech executive Caroline Dunn, who runs five days a week and finished the New York Marathon in 2018, said the outage means she and her running friends cant send each other kudos - Stravas version of Facebooks likes - to encourage each other. Were not doing this for our health, were doing this so that we can brag to our friends," Dunn said lightheartedly. Now that were all social distancing, I dont run in a group with my friends and they dont watch me run. I have to brag online to my friends about all of my runs. The outage is also preventing athletes from proving that theyve completed virtual runs that are replacing the many races cancelled because of the pandemic, Dunn said. Runners who use the Garmin system cant be ranked because they cant submit GPS data to organizers. Tech-savvy users shared a workaround: plug the watch into a computer with a USB cable and manually transfer the files. Some users also complained that Garmin's lack of communication was a bigger problem. Massimo Gaetani, an entrepreneur in Cambridge, England, said he was disappointed the company wasn't updating users after its initial tweets on Thursday. Dunn and Gaetani said the lack of information fueled speculation the outage was caused by more than routine maintenance, with a cyberattack the possible culprit. Some tech websites have reported that the company has been hit by a ransomware attack but the company hasn't confirmed it. "An outage usually is measured in minutes," said Gaetani, who is 55 and started using a Garmin device last year to track his heart after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. A 24-hour outage is not a normal computer reset procedure. Obviously something is very wrong. Connecticut runner Megan Flood saw the prolonged outage as both a curse and a blessing. Its frustrating in part because my Garmin is connected to my Strava (fitness app), and I like the community aspect on Strava, Flood, 27, said Friday. But sometimes not being so connected to my device is nice. Ive run some of my best races when I forgot my watch or covered my watch face, so I find there are pros and cons to be so connected to a watch. ___ William J. Kole in Warwick, R.I. contributed to this report. ___ Follow Kelvin Chan at twitter.com/chanman Kelvin Chan, The Associated Press
Early race-based COVID-19 data showing Ottawa minority groups affected at high rate - OttawaMatters.com
Ottawa's Chief Medical Officer of Health says it doesn't have much to do with the colour of a person's skin, but more to do with the challenges people face in their environments to physically distance.
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is noticing a pattern in early race-based data it's collected. "Sixty-six per cent of the people, when we had this information, who were infected with COVID-19, do identify as coming from racialized groups," explains Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches. "And that compares to 26 per cent of Ottawans who, in the census data, are identified as a visible minority." OPH started looking at race-based data on May 8. Since then, there have been 144 lab-confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in the city. Dr. Etches says more than half of those cases were identified as affecting new immigrants, while Ottawa's most recent census shows immigrants account for less than one quarter of residents in the capital. "Whether or not someone is infected with COVID doesn't have so much to do with the colour of their skin," says the medical officer. "It has a lot more to do with those underlying factors, like income and employment and the challenges people face in their environments to physically distance." Dr. Etches says OPH will continue to collect race-based data, as it provides the health unit with more details to move forward with and assist the populations that need it most.
Long-term care company cuts ties with executive after comments made during meeting - OttawaMatters.com
The long-term care company Sienna Living also owns Red Oak Retirement Homes located in Kanata.
A long-term care provider's decision to cut ties with an executive who made disparaging remarks about the relatives of residents struck by the COVID-19 pandemic falls short of the mark, family members said Friday as they continued to push for greater accountability. They said Sienna Senior Living's decision to part ways with former executive vice-president of operations Joanne Dykeman does little to address their concerns about the care their relatives are receiving. Dykeman's comments, they added, raise questions about the company's overall commitment to residents and their families. Sienna announced Dykeman's departure a day after she was overheard mocking family members of seniors living at a home in Woodbridge, Ont., which has been grappling with a deadly COVID-19 outbreak. Immediately following an online video conference to discuss the situation at Woodbridge Vista Care Community, attendees reported hearing Dykeman refer to them as litigious and blood-sucking when she thought the call had been disconnected. Sienna declined to verify the substance of Dykeman's comments, but said they "fell far short of our expectations" and apologized to members of the Woodbridge Vista community. For Mike di Donato, whose 92-year-old grandmother was hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 at the home, the company's actions weren't good enough. "There's a culture problem there," the 43-year-old said in a telephone interview. "There needs to be change." Di Donato said his grandmother moved to the facility last fall and received excellent care for the first several months of her residency. He said his family did not become truly concerned until early May when the first positive cases were identified at the facility. Di Donato said his grandmother tested positive for the virus on May 17, but he did not receive an update from Woodbridge Vista's resident doctor until more than a week later. That call, he said, came hours after the Ontario government released a damning military report about horrific conditions in five long-term care homes where soldiers had been deployed to provide support, including another facility owned by Sienna. The report detailed a litany of disturbing findings, including improper hygiene practices and inadequate efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. Di Donato said he learned last weekend his grandmother was one of 18 Woodbridge Vista residents sent to hospital with the virus. In the days since, he said her condition has deteriorated and his family was forced to say what they fear will be their final goodbyes via video. Dykeman's comments, he said, came Wednesday night during a Zoom call with dozens of concerned relatives. He described her conduct during the meeting as "callous," saying she did not seem truly engaged with the family's concerns and declined to answer specific questions about the ongoing outbreak. Once the call had officially concluded, he said, he and several attendees overheard her remarks. Di Donato and others present reported hearing Dykeman refer to relatives as "blood-sucking class-action lawsuit people" and mock concerns expressed by some at the meeting. Dykeman, who did not respond to request for comment, no longer worked for Sienna as of Thursday afternoon. That same day, the Ontario government said management of Woodbridge Vista was being reassigned to William Osler Health System, a nearby hospital where patients were already receiving treatment. Data from the local public health authority indicated more than 20 residents had died from the virus, while more than 100 had fallen ill. More than 40 staff members were also infected. "Despite receiving hospital support, Woodbridge Vista Care Community has been unable to contain the spread of COVID-19," read a statement from the Ministry of Long-Term Care. "These steps will enable a rigorous management structure to help contain the spread of the disease and assist in returning their home to normal operations." Sienna said it has developed a six-point plan to protect residents, noting Dykeman's remarks were not consistent with those efforts. "Our residents and their loved ones are deserving of our respect at all times and as a company we will ensure this respect guides our every action," Sienna said, adding its "renewal" efforts include improving communication with families. Di Donato said he questions Sienna's commitment to change, but hopes the Dykeman controversy will force the company's hand. "If she had disconnected properly from that Zoom call, would we be talking today? Probably not," he said. "They would have just kept doing what they're doing." Sienna Living also owns Red Oak Retirement Homes located in Kanata.