Canada

Coronavirus updates, Oct. 30: Restrictions on libraries, sports, cultural activities could be relaxed – public health

Canadians need to cut contacts by a quarter to control spread, Tam says.

MONTREAL, QUE: March 15, 2020 -- A man reads a sign indicating the closure of the library due to COVID-19 as he tries to return his book at the Octogone Library in Lasalle, Quebec March 15, 2020. (Christinne Muschi / MONTREAL GAZETTE)

Top updates

5 p.m.

Thanks for reading

I’ll be back with another live blog on Monday.

In the meantime, here are three parting links:

‘Cancellation pushback’: If authorities keep ruling out the holidays, people will stop listening

Risk communications should avoid simplistic solutions; they should be respectful, informed, and people should be treated like adults, psychologist Baruch Fischhoff says

“I think people could be helped with better information and better options. That will be enough for a lot of people, given they don’t want to get sick and they don’t want to get other people sick,” he said. “They will say there is light at the end of the tunnel. ‘Eight months from now life will become more normal. I want to be there when we get to the end of the tunnel.’

“For other people, it won’t be enough, but it might once the horror stories continue to spread. I don’t know how many people are zero or one degree from a serious scare.”

Read our full story.

4 p.m.

More parts of Quebec are going red

The provincial government announced this afternoon that as of Nov. 2 all of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Chaudière-Appalaches regions will be on red alert.

Check out this government page for details on measures in place in red zones.

A second Olymel meat plant in Quebec dealing with outbreak

Quebec food-processing company Olymel says it doesn’t plan to close either of its two plants in the province dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks.

A hog-slaughter facility in Princeville, Que., northeast of Montreal, reported 14 infections among workers on Thursday, and a plant in Quebec’s Beauce region, southeast of Quebec City, recently reported 126 cases.

Read our full story.

Trick-or-treating was cancelled for some during thee 1918 flu pandemic

Rules for libraries, sports, cultural activities could be relaxed – public health

Authorities are considering relaxing some restrictions on libraries, sports and cultural activities in red zones, Dr. Mylène Drouin, the head of Montreal’s public health department, said today.

“What we’re looking at right now is what could be reopened that could help mitigate the collateral impact (of restrictions) but that would not increase the transmission of the virus,” Drouin told a press conference this morning.

“We’re working looking at the winter that is coming. What can we add for the population as opportunities to do some activities that are less risky?

“We know indoor activities are more at risk. So we’re working with partners looking at what can we have that could give opportunities to the population to move, to have cultural activities, but not necessarily in indoor settings or in contexts that increase the risk.”

Feds add $204M for anti-pandemic measures in Indigenous communities and institutions

Ottawa will spend an additional $204 million targeted at child care, education and infrastructure to help Indigenous communities fight the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday.

Read our full story.

2 p.m.

Quebec explains risk levels employed by contact tracers

Scientists link high levels of genetic material from virus in blood to severe COVID

Canadian immunologists say they’re finding telltale markers in patients’ blood that help predict the severity of COVID-19 and could lead to more targeted treatments.

Though less publicized than research on vaccines, biomarkers are seen as key to tracking and predicting illness, and they can identify which proteins are being released that prevent the immune system from coping.

Read our full story.

Canadians need to cut contacts by a quarter to control spread: Tam

New federal projections suggest that Canadians need to cut a quarter of their contacts to keep the COVID-19 outbreak from resurging.

The modelling indicates that at current rates of in-person socializing, Canada could see COVID-19 case counts increase to8,000 per day come early December.

Read our full story.

School outbreaks, hospitalizations rise as Montreal stays in red zone

Following up on my earlier live coverage, here’s our story, by Aaron Derfel, about this morning’s update from Montreal public health.

Updated charts: Quebec cases, deaths

COVID Alert app updated to send more precise notifications, federal government says

The COVID Alert exposure notification app has been updated to “send notifications based on a more precise timeline,” the federal government announced this morning.

That means those who have tested positive will “now have the option to enter the date of their symptom onset or their testing date. This will provide a better estimation of the period when they may have been most infectious to others.

“Importantly, the COVID Alert app can now notify users of potential exposure to cases during the time period when the people who tested positive were most infectious. This will align more closely with current public health guidance, as individuals are likely to be most infectious from two days prior to symptom onset for symptomatic individuals.”

As of Wednesday, the app has been downloaded almost 5 million times.

You can download the app here for Apple and Android devices.

Britain resists full lockdown in face of rising cases and falling support

Britain’s government resisted the idea of a new national lockdown on Friday, even as a survey showed soaring COVID-19 infections and Prime Minister Boris Johnson slumped in the polls, testing his resolve to use mainly local measures to tackle the pandemic.

Hospitalizations rise as Quebec reports 952 new cases, 18 deaths

The number of new cases in Quebec has dropped below 1,000 again but hospitalizations and ICU admissions are on the rise.

The province has recorded 952 new cases of COVID-19, the provincial government announced this morning.

In addition, Quebec added 156 previously unreported cases that occurred before July 27.

“With the number of (new) cases still standing at nearly 1,000 more each day, it’s clear that many are still carrying the virus,” Health Minister Christian Dubé said via Twitter.

“We must limit our contacts to stop the spread.”

Eighteen new deaths were reported – four occurred in the last 24 hours, 11 between Oct. 23 and 28, and three on unknown dates. One death was removed from the total because an investigation determined it was not related to COVID-19.

The number of hospitalizations increased by six to reach 515.

Among those in hospital, 81 are in intensive care – three more than the previous day.

On Wednesday, 27,484 tests were conducted. That’s the last day for which screening data is available.

This chart shows the seven-day trend:

Montreal stable, but plateau is ‘uncomfortably’ high – public health

The situation in Montreal has stabilized but the island is not out of the woods yet, the head of Montreal public health said this morning.

“For me, this plateau is uncomfortable because it’s a high plateau – we have more than 250 cases every day,” said Dr. Mylène Drouin.

“We are still in the red zone, so we have to do another effort for a couple of weeks to make sure we lower the curve. We all want to see it going down and maybe at Christmas it will be easier to make decisions.”

She said the positivity rate in Montreal is stable at 5 per cent.

However, some areas are reporting higher rates, including Park Extension, Côte-des-Neiges, Snowdon and Côte-St-Luc.

She said it’s too early to talk about what types of gatherings – if any – will be allowed during the holidays. It will depend in part on what happens in the coming weeks, she added.

“Don’t make too many plans in advance,” Drouin said in response to a reporter’s question.

Latest projections indicate Quebec hospitals can handle cases for next four weeks

Canada’s pandemic-era immigration plan to be released

Canada’s tradition of welcoming newcomers with open arms is being challenged in an era of closed borders.

How great that challenge is will become apparent today as the federal Liberals release a status update on immigration to Canada so far this year and a plan for how many they intend to admit next year.

Read our full story.

Trick-or-treating rules vary from province to province

From The Canadian Press:

Officials across the country have said that those who want to celebrate Halloween will need to make sacrifices — of varying degrees, depending on location — in order to keep their loved ones safe.

Those in some COVID-19 hot spots have been urged to forgo trick-or-treating altogether, while others in regions with few cases are being told to keep their parties small.

For instance, in Quebec — Canada’s COVID-19 epicentre — children will be permitted to trick-or-treat with members of their own household, but adults can’t celebrate in groups.

British Columbia’s top doctor has also ruled out massive Halloween bashes, saying families need to keep gatherings to their immediate households and their “safe six,” though trick-or-treating is still a go.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have given trick-or-treating the green light as well, so long as people keep a physical distance from those not in their household.

Meanwhile, Ontario and New Brunswick are taking a regional approach to holiday regulations, barring trick-or-treating in hot spots.

Feds to unveil more pandemic support for Indigenous communities

More federal financial support is on its way to help Indigenous people and communities cope with the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Canadian Press is reporting this morning.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce today additional funding, targeted specifically at child care, education and infrastructure.

The new money is on top of more than $2.2 billion the federal government has already allocated to help Indigenous and northern communities get through the health crisis.

Among other things, the government has committed $685 million for the Indigenous Communities Support Fund, which includes funding to address food insecurity, education and other support for children.

It is spending another $650 million to help Indigenous communities respond to the pandemic and for income support.

And it has devoted $122 million to help ensure a safe return to schools on reserves.

Opinion: Let’s use universities to restart Montreal

“Sooner or later, Montreal’s university campuses will come back to life, along with the rest of the city. Part of what makes Montreal so vibrant is the energy imparted by our universities and their 200,000 students, including 35,000 international students. Let’s take advantage of them. Let’s use our universities to restart Montreal.”

Read the full opinion piece by the heads of Montreal universities.

Quebec ‘discouraged’ offer of high-dose flu vaccine to seniors: pharmacists

Quebec seniors who don’t live in a nursing home are being deprived of the option of paying for a high-dose flu vaccine designed for people over 65 because of a legal imbroglio, says the association representing owner-pharmacists in the province.

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Manchester United remain Interested in Dembele and may try to rent him from Barca in January