Canada Lift 'close contact' restriction on rapid testing in schools, parent urges
N.B. COVID-19 roundup: 109 new cases, 63 people in hospital
New Brunswick has 109 new cases of COVID-19 and 63 people in hospital with the virus, 27 of them in intensive care. The fourth wave is "hitting our province very hard," Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Tuesday, after the province surpassed 1,000 active cases for the first time Monday, and now stands at 1,092. A surge in new infections like this hasn't happened before and will likely continue for "some time," she said, noting it will take roughly a week for the two-week circuit breaker, which began Friday night in the "hot zones," to take effect.
Kathleen Gadd was ecstatic to hear than New Brunswick is now offering rapid COVID-19 tests for students in schools.
But the Miramichi resident, a mother of three who provides administrative support to her husband's family physician office, said she was disheartened when she read about the criteria around accessing them.
"I was really surprised that they would only use it for the close contacts" of a confirmed COVID-19 case, Gadd said in an interview on Information Morning Fredericton.
N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Another death, 71 new cases, bubble rules clarified
New Brunswick reported another COVID-related death and 71 new cases Wednesday, and clarified the bubble rules for Thanksgiving weekend as well as the two-week circuit breaker for parts of the province.A person in their 90s in the Moncton region Zone 1, has died "as a result of COVID-19," according to a news release. This brings the total number of COVID-19-related deaths to 14 in less than a week and 70 since the pandemic began.
The province announced Tuesday that it was moving to the spread of COVID-19 and disruption to in-class learning time by providing rapid tests for unvaccinated students.
The initiative, which mainly targets children under age 12 who are ineligible to be vaccinated, comes after a person under 19 was hospitalized because of the virus.
However, the tests are only available to unvaccinated students who are identified as a close contact in a confirmed case.
Given the number of cases, "particularly the number of school cases in our lockdown zone," Gadd said, that restriction was surprising.
Since September, more than 94 schools and 47 day cares and preschools have had confirmed cases of COVID-19. Just weeks into the school year, schools have reintroduced class bubbles and requirements to wear masks indoors.
Parents concerned about COVID-19 spread in schools, support mask mandates: survey
The majority of respondents in a newly released Canada-wide survey say they are concerned about the spread of COVID-19 in schools and want children and staff to wear masks. The survey by the Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research at the University of Saskatchewan was done by phone between Sept. 3 and Sept. 28. It asked 1,000 people about any worries in sending kids to school and their thoughts on what public health orders should be in place. Most respondents (89 per cent) said they were vaccinated. Of those with children 12 and older who are eligible to get a dose, 81 per cent said their kids were also vaccinated.
In the wake of the restrictions on the use of rapid tests, Gadd said she begrudgingly ordered five rapid COVID-19 tests, at a cost of $115, online via a virtual health-care provider.
If the government doesn't move to make rapid tests more accessible, she said, she's planning to form a group of households who are interested in splitting the cost of buying rapid tests in bulk.
"This is something ... that the people who are keeping a close eye on this feel the need to do," Gadd said.
Rapid testing throughout the province
In COVID-19 hotspot Sackville in the Moncton region, Zone 1 – which has the highest active cases in the province at 383 as of Wednesday – daycare workers say rapid testing has provided great peace of mind for both employees and parents.
Sackville's Playschool Inc. director Allison Butcher said she got the rapid tests for classroom volunteers back in September.
"We said they needed to be double vaccinated, they needed to be masked the whole time, and we were going to do rapid tests, and I thought, wow this is a little bit of overkill," Butcher said.
What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 8
Here's CBC Ottawa's latest roundup of key updates during the coronavirus pandemic.Trudeau laid out his government's vaccine policy earlier this week, which includes a new rule that federal employees must report their vaccination status by Oct. 29 — and if they are not fully immunized, they risk unpaid leave. The rule also applies to federal contractors such as cleaning staff.
"And then Sackville turned into a hotspot, and I have been so incredibly thankful that we have them. And I think that parents are feeling the same way."
Butcher, who is also a councillor, told Information Morning Moncton that rapid testing for children in these settings needs to be handled very carefully.
"I know that I would not want to be doing these rapid tests on preschoolers — they're not as invasive as a PCR test, but they still involve sticking a pointy object up your nose," she said. "I would never suggest that I should be providing rapid tests to someone else's children."
Butcher said she's also unsure about giving them to parents to test their own small children.
"Maybe that's something that should be left up to a professional," she said.
Provincial direction on rapid testing
In New Brunswick, Public Health has distributed more than 586,000 rapid test kits through its workplace COVID-19 Point of Care Testing program as of Oct. 1.
Corona: Cultural ministers want to continue to open schools
as much presence lessons as possible, as little quarantine as possible: the Ministers of Cultural Ministers want to conclude that schools do not have to re-climb for Corona - despite the accidental mask obligation in some countries. © Matthias Balk / DPA is based on the Ministers of Cultural Ministers of the Länder, the schools should not be closed again in the future for Corona.
A separate program for eligible non-profit organizations, charities and Indigenous community organizations with workers based in New Brunswick is co-ordinated with the Canadian Red Cross.
According to the most recent statistics on the federal Public Health Agency website, the federal government has provided New Brunswick with 1,150,112 rapid COVID-19 tests as of Sep. 3. Of these, 260,711 tests have been sent to the destination where they are ready to be deployed.
However, only 24,198 tests have been reported as having been used, according to the website.
Education Minister Dominic Cardy said the government's approach is to dole out the tests in targeted areas instead of blitzing them out all at once, because of "long-term issues around supply."
The federal government has indicated it's prepared to help address those concerns.
Last Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a telephone meeting with Premier Blaine Higgs to discuss the rising number of COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick, among other issues.
Trudeau "emphasized that the Government of Canada remains ready to respond to any requests from the Government of New Brunswick,," according to a news release.
Somein the province, saying they could slow down transmission by identifying asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic people and helping to prevent spread.
Ontario reports 429 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths
According to Tuesday's report, 108 cases were recorded in Toronto, 55 in Peel Region, and 47 in Ottawa. All other local public health units reported fewer than 35 new cases in the provincial report. The death toll in the province has risen to 9,757 as four more deaths were recorded, however, the ministry of health said one of those were removed for the cumulative count due to data cleaning. Read more: Ontario announces ‘targeted’ COVID-19 rapid test program in schools As of 8 p.m. Monday, 21,916,657 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered in Ontario.
"I think it would be unwise to say that today's the rainiest of all possible days — things could definitely be much more difficult," Cardy said. "We want to be in a position to have the schools open as much as possible and as safe as possible, because all the evidence from WHO and the other agencies says keeping schools open has to be one of the main priorities in the pandemic."
Looking to Nova Scotia's example
In Nova Scotia, health authorities are making rapid COVID-19 tests available to residents over age 16 who do not have symptoms, have not travelled, have not visited a potential exposure location, and have not been in contact with someone who has tested positive.
The province also launched a pilot project at the end of September, in which it gave out four free rapid tests to any families that want them and that had children in pre-primary grades to Grade 6.
Gadd said she's hopeful the province follows Nova Scotia's example and moves beyond its current "reactive" stance on rapid testing.
"It's not using rapid testing to its fullest potential," she said.
"We could be more broadly screening all the five- to 11-year-olds on an ongoing regular basis to catch some of these exposures in the morning before that kid goes to school, before that exposure even happens."
Quebec physicist linked to Nobel-winning research urges Canada to 'value science' .
MONTREAL — A Quebec-born scientist who has contributed to research that won his collaborator this year's Nobel Prize in Physics says he hopes to inspire Canadians to value science. Patrick Charbonneau has been a close collaborator of Italian physicist Giorgio Parisi, who was a co-winner of this year's prize for his work on complex physical systems. Charbonneau over the last decade has worked with Parisi on publishing a number of papers on complex glasses, two of which were cited by the Nobel committee as scientific background.