Canada's COVID-19 cases: Alberta's top doc doesn't agree with Trudeau's assessment; Ontario, Quebec report more than 140 new school infections

On Thursday, Sept. 24, Ontario and Quebec once again reported worrisome case updates, as health officials try to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their situations within their communities have had an impact in their schools, with the two provinces reporting a combined 143 new infections among students and staff.

In Manitoba, there are now 449 currently infected patients, a new record-high. The majority are in Winnipeg, as health officials warn against a worrisome trend that has been developing in the city’s bars, pubs and restaurants among those in their 20s.

At a COVID-19 press briefing, Dr. Deena Hinshaw disagreed with Justin Trudeau’s claim that Alberta is among the provinces that is currently experiencing a “second wave.” In addition, 13 school outbreak alerts have now been declared over.

In British Columbia, health officials announced 148 new cases, which marks the second largest spike in daily COVID-19 cases the province has recorded since the start of the pandemic.

For more on Thursday’s top stories, and on how the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the nation, please refer to our live updates below on Yahoo News Canada.

11,138 active COVID-19 cases in Canada: 149,094 diagnoses, 9,249 deaths and 128,707 recoveries (as of Sept. 24, 6:30 p.m. ET)

  • Alberta - 1,462 active cases (17,190 total cases, including 261 deaths, 15,467 resolved)

  • British Columbia - 1,371 active cases (8,543 total cases, 229 deaths, 6,917 resolved)

  • Manitoba - 449 active cases (1,711 total cases, 19 deaths, 1,243 resolved)

  • New Brunswick - 6 active cases (199 cases, 2 deaths, 191 resolved)

  • Newfoundland and Labrador - 1 active case (272 total cases, 3 deaths, 268 resolved)

  • Northwest Territories - 0 active cases (5 total cases, 5 resolved)

  • Nova Scotia - 1 active cases (1,087 total cases, 65 deaths 1,021 resolved)

  • Ontario - 3,774 active cases (48,496 total cases, 2,836 deaths, 41,886 resolved)

  • Prince Edward Island - 1 active case (58 total cases, 57 resolved)

  • Quebec - 3,917 active cases (69,670 total cases, 5,810 deaths, 59,943 resolved)

  • Saskatchewan - 130 active cases (1,835 total cases, 24 deaths, 1,681 resolved)

  • Yukon - 0 active cases (15 total cases, 15 resolved)

  • Nunavut - 0 active cases (4 false positive cases)

  • CFB Trenton - 0 active cases (13 total cases, 13 resolved)

Dr. Hinshaw doesn’t agree with Trudeau’s assessment that Alberta is in its ‘second wave’

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, did not agree with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s claim that the province is in its “second wave” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a public address on Wednesday, the prime minister said “in our four biggest provinces, the second wave isn’t just starting, it’s already underway.” However, Hinshaw said there are some key differences to consider between Alberta and other provinces when trying to define what exactly is a second wave.

“The concept of a second wave implies that we don't have any control or influence over the circulation of the virus,” said Hinshaw. “In Alberta, I don't think that that's where we're at right now.”

Hinshaw noted that the province has seen an increase in daily case counts for the last few months, but they have “remained relatively stable.” Alberta also hasn’t seen a “very large spike of uncontrolled spread.”

The chief medical officer noted that the province doesn’t necessarily need to have a second wave in its future. Instead, they can see a stable, relatively slow burn of a constant case count over time, or even small ripples that go up and down.

“To date we have not seen any single factor that seems to be driving the majority of cases, and therefore we have not imposed any additional restrictions,” said Hinshaw.

“Again, whether or not we have a steep sharp second wave is entirely within our hands, and we can prevent that without any additional formal restrictions.”

Hinshaw announced Thursday that the province’s labs have identified 158 new cases of COVID-19. One more person has died, while 215 patients have recovered, setting Alberta’s active case count to 1,462.

The most recent victim is part of the outbreak at the Foothills Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. So far, the outbreak at the hospital has led to 29 linked cases, including 17 patients and three deaths.

Hinshaw also provided an update about the developing COVID-19 situation in schools.

There are now active alerts in 97 schools with 163 active cases among them. Throughout Alberta, that means there are only four per cent of schools that have a case.

Alerts at 13 schools have been declared over, with no signs of transmission being identified after all close contacts among students and teachers were forced to self-isolate.

Thirty-two schools have had outbreaks, meaning there have been at least two cases within a 14-day period. Seven of those outbreaks have seen likely transmission between individuals in the school setting.

“I remind everyone that although two confirmed cases in a school may qualify as an outbreak,” said Hinshaw. “It is not a sign that a school is unsafe”

Hinshaw says all throughout the pandemic, they’ve noticed a consistent correlation between the amount of cases in the community and the amount of cases among people 5-19 years old.

During the province’s peak week in April, labs tested 2,257 school aged children, resulting in 216 cases. Since school started in Alberta on Sept. 1, the province has “actually seen a week over week decrease,” among school aged children, despite consistent testing outputs.

Top Manitoba doctor shares troubling trend as province reaches new record-high for active cases

Manitoba's top doctor is pleading with the public to follow COVID-19 protocols when visiting restaurants, pubs and bars, as cases continue to spike in the province's largest city. (Getty Images)
Manitoba's top doctor is pleading with the public to follow COVID-19 protocols when visiting restaurants, pubs and bars, as cases continue to spike in the province's largest city. (Getty Images)

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, said the province is seeing an increasing number of COVID-19 cases among people in their 20s who were in bars, pubs and restaurants in Winnipeg.

In recent weeks, about half of the patients in Winnipeg have been linked to those venues.

"It doesn't mean they necessarily acquired it there, but that's a staggeringly high number of people who were at these sites during their acquisition period," said Roussin on Thursday.

Crowding and the number of people in attendance have been common problems that have raised concerns for health officials. Roussin said there have been individuals who have visited more than one bar in a single evening. In one instance, an individual visited multiple bars while symptomatic, which resulted in 36 close contacts.

“We know that we should be decreasing our time in enclosed spaces, crowded places and reducing prolonged contact,” said Roussin. “We certainly shouldn't be out and about when we’re symptomatic.”

Throughout Manitoba, there are now a record-high 449 active cases of COVID-19. Of those currently infected individuals, 364 of them are in the Winnipeg health region, according to provincial data.

Of the remaining 37 new cases, four were identified in the Interlake-Eastern health region, two in Southern Health and one in Prairie Mountain, which used to be the province’s epicentre in August.

In addition, Roussin announced a case of COVID-19 in connection to Grant Park High School in Winnipeg, involving an individual who was at the school between Sept. 15-17. The risk of further spread is considered “low.”

The outbreak at Winnipeg’s John Pritchard School in Winnipeg has now been linked to 26 cases. However, not all the individuals were necessarily at the school.

On Thursday, Roussin also announced one more COVID-19 related fatality, involving a woman in her 90s who lived at the Parkview Place personal care home in Winnipeg. Nineteen people have now died in Manitoba in connection to the virus.

Another day with over 400 cases in Ontario, 31 new infections in schools

Ontario reported 409 new cases on Thursday, which marks the fifth time over the past seven days that it has surpassed the 400 daily cases mark.

Before the recent stretch, Ontario had not recorded over 400 cases in a 24-hour stretch since June 2.

The latest patients were identified after the province completed 30,634 tests for COVID-19, leading to a positivity rate of 1.3 per cent — tied for its second highest output since late-June.

Of the 409 new cases, 151 were identified in Toronto, 82 in Ottawa, 46 in Peel, 34 in York, 26 in Waterloo, 12 in Middlesex-London and 11 in Halton. All the other 27 public health units reported fewer than 10, while 15 reported no new patients at all.

Thirty-one new cases were identified in schools across Ontario in the province’s latest 24-hour stretch. Twenty-four of those include students, three involve staff, while the other four have not yet been identified by the Ministry of Health. Of the province’s 4,828 schools, there are now 178 that have had a case of COVID-19, with 210 total cases among them.

Of the most recent 409 cases, 195 of them were among people 20-39 years old, the most of any age group. There were also 91 cases among those 40-59, and 64 among those 19 and under. Thirteen new cases were identified among long-term care residents and five among health-care workers.

Throughout Ontario, one more person has died and 286 more patients have recovered from the respiratory virus. There are now 3,774 active cases, the most since June 9. Of those currently infected patients, there are 88 in hospital, which includes 27 in intensive care and 11 who require a ventilator.

On Thursday, Doug Ford and his provincial government announced that they’ll invest $1 billion on COVID-19 testing and contact tracing efforts as cases continue to rise around Ontario. In an effort to contain the spread and shorten wait times, Ford has asked people without COVID-19 symptoms, who are not at risk, to avoid getting tested. As of Thursday, there are 53,840 tests that are in the province’s backlog.

Quebec reports one of its largest spikes since May, 89 new cases in schools

Quebec reported 582 new cases on Thursday, the second most in a 24-hour stretch since May 27.

Earlier this week on Monday, the province announced 586 cases of COVID-19.

It’s now the sixth straight time that the province has recorded more than 400 cases, and the 13th straight time that it has reported more than 200. The last time Quebec had a similar stretch was in late-May to early-June; since then it has enjoyed multiple stretches where it consistently reported fewer than 100 daily cases as it contained the spread of COVID-19 within the province.

Of the most recent cases, 247 were identified in Montreal, 103 in Quebec City, 53 in Montérégie, 36 in Outaouais, 29 in Laval and 25 in Estrie. Of the 18 regions, eight of them reported fewer than 10 cases, while four reported no new patients at all.

Throughout Quebec schools, 89 new cases were identified among students and 23 among staff. Since 29 more school cases have recovered, there are now 576 currently infected students and 72 staff in the province. So far, at least 359 class bubbles have been sent home and asked to learn remotely, up by 34 since Wednesday’s report. Of the province’s 3,089 schools, 457 of them have had a case of COVID-19, up by 30.

Quebec’s testing numbers are reflective of its output from two days prior. Most recently, it completed 25,553 tests for COVID-19, as it continues to push its capacity.

No one has died in the province’s latest 24-hour stretch, but one more fatality was added to its death toll (5,810) that occurred between Sept. 17-22. Instead, the province noted that 257 more patients have recovered, meaning there are now 3,917 currently infected patients in Quebec, which 184 people in hospital and 31 in intensive care.

Quebec currently leads the way in active and total cases, as well as COVID-19-related deaths throughout the pandemic.

British Columbia records its second largest spike in cases, 30 exposure events so far in schools

Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia’s provincial health officer, announced 148 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, which marks the second largest one-day spike since the start of the pandemic.

On Sept. 17, 165 cases were announced for a record-high.

With the latest increase in cases, Henry was asked if the province plans on taking further precautions to limit gatherings around the province. Since late-August, officials have increased fines for party organizers, and have also closed nightclubs and banquets.

Henry said the province has taken necessary enforcement measures for some of the university parties that have taken place as of late, but that the measures they have in place have been “relatively successful in the last few weeks”.

“It's not the number [of cases], in and of itself, that's the issue,” said Hinshaw. “What is important for us is to say, ‘Can we manage this outbreak, this pandemic? Make sure that we're doing everything we can to prevent transmission.

“Obviously, I would prefer if we had far fewer people being infected, because we know every time somebody transmits it to somebody else, there's a risk that is going to be somebody who gets very sick or dies.”

In the province’s latest 24-hour stretch, two more people have passed away in Fraser Health, which increases B.C.’s death toll to 229. In addition, 148 people have recently recovered.

Throughout the province there are now 1,371 active cases of COVID-19, the fewest since Sept. 7. There are also 3,417 people who are self-isolating and are being actively monitored by B.C. public health, since they were in contact with a known COVID-19 patient.

Henry said there have been 30 school exposure events throughout its more than 2,000 schools. However, by B.C.’s definition, there have been no outbreaks that have identified so far.

“That is not surprising to me,” said Henry. “With millions of children going back into the schools in the last few weeks, this is to be expected.”

Updates from across Canada

No new cases were identified in Nova Scotia or Newfoundland and Labrador, which continue to have one active case of COVID-19 each. As of Prince Edward Island’s last update on Wednesday, there remains one active case in its province as well.

Two new cases were identified in New Brunswick. One of the cases involves an individual in their 40s, who is currently in Ontario and will stay there until they have recovered. They live permanently in the Fredecition region. The other patient is in their 60s in the Moncton region, and their reason for transmission is believed to be travel related. In addition, health officials notified the public that there is a Quebec resident in the Campbellton region who has tested positive; they will stay in N.B. until they recovered. However, they are not counted among the province’s six active cases.

Saskatchewan reported five new cases of COVID-19, but that also eight more patients have recovered. Of the recently diagnosed, two are in Saskatoon, while there is one each in the Central West, Regina and South Central zones. Of the province’s total cases, 130 are considered active. The Saskatoon region is home to 75 of those currently infected patients, while throughout Saskatchewan there are eight people in hospital.

Timelines of cases prior to August: