Weekly COVID-19 Update

Posted by: Ira Timothy
in: All News

Confirmed Cases
First Nations in Ontario

According to regional reports, there were 26 new positive results among First Nations people over the past week, which is about the same amount of new cases reported the week prior. Twenty of the new cases were among people living outside of First Nation communities and six of the new cases were in communities.

There are currently 14 active COVID-19 cases within First Nations communities, which is an increase of 2 from last week. The communities that currently have active cases include:

• Akwesasne
• Deer Lake
• Fort William
• Attawapiskat
• Lac Seul
• North Caribou Lake
• Cat Lake

The two-week average of new cases among First Nations decreased slightly this week while testing volume has increased. This is a positive indication for decline in virus spread amongst the First Nation population. The positivity rate still hovers around 1%.

In the second wave, there have been 163 cases amongst First Nations, while there were only 66 cases in the first. During the second wave, cases have increased by 247% with the Southwest region experiencing the most cases. According to last week’s regional report, there are 475 cumulative cases of COVID-19 amongst First Nations people in Ontario, with 182 in and 293 outside of First Nation communities. Approximately 93% of these cases have been resolved.

Four communities reported a resolve to all their cases this week including, Six Nations, Shoal Lake 40, Delaware Nation at Moraviantown, and Niisaachewan. More regional First Nation COVID-19 data is contained in attachments “First Nation Cases – COVID Testing Report 34” and “MEMO New Weekly Cases – Dec 16, 2020”

Ontario General
There are now 17,084 confirmed, active infections of the novel coronavirus in Ontario. It is the first-time active cases have topped 17,000 in the province.

On Wednesday, December 15th , Ontario reported 2,139 new cases of COVID-19 with 780 in Toronto, 528 in Peel Region, 148 in York Region, 143 in Durham Region and 111 in WindsorEssex. Other public health units that saw double-digit increases include:

• Halton Region: 55
• Waterloo Region: 52
• Niagara Region: 51
• Hamilton: 47
• Simcoe Muskoka: 46
• Ottawa: 36
• Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 33
• Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington: 15
• Huron Perth: 13
• Middlesex-London: 12
• Southwestern: 11
• Thunder Bay: 11
• Eastern Ontario: 10

This is the second straight day of more than 2,000 new cases in the province, bringing the total of new cases reported over the past week to 13,037. New case counts over the past week have ranged from 1,677 to 2,275 for a new record average of 1,953 new cases per day. This is a 53% increase from the average daily case counts reported one month ago and just over a 5% increase from last week.

Hospitalizations have also increased from 811 this time last week to 932 today. Of those in hospital, 256 are being treated in intensive care units and 157 require the use of a ventilator. For reference, according to the Ministry of Health, at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, hospitalizations topped out at 1,043, while ICU admissions peaked at 264.

There have been 148,800 cumulative COVID-19 cases in the province, approximately 85% of which have now recovered. The death toll has in the province has reached 4,035 with 43 deaths reported yesterday.

The most common source of virus transmission in Ontario is community spread, meaning transmission cannot be linked to a single known event or person. Close contact with a known case is the second most significant source of transmission. The 20-29 age bracket continues to have the largest active and cumulative case count and the majority of cases are people under the age of 40. Further detail on case numbers and demographics in the province is available here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/data

Colour Zones
Ontario’s public health restriction colour classifications are based on case numbers and spread, testing volume and results, and hospital capacity. Several regions have been placed more restrictive public health measure zones over the past week.

GREY
There are now four regions in Ontario in grey or lockdown zones, including Peel, Toronto, York, and Windsor-Essex. In these regions it is illegal to gather indoors with anyone you do not live with. Everyone must limit contact to their immediate household (the people they live with) and stay at least 2 metres apart from everyone else. People that live alone are allowed to have close contact with only one other household. Outside social gatherings are limited to 10 people with distancing measures in place. Funerals, weddings, and religious services are limited to 20. Everyone is recommended to go out for essential reasons only, including: work, school, groceries, pharmacy, health care, helping vulnerable people, exercise and physical activity. Remote work is encouraged where possible. Only essential stores are allowed to open and they must limit capacity to 50% capacity. No indoor dining at restaurants or other establishments is allowed. All indoor and outdoor recreation facilities and gyms are closed.

RED
Seven regions are now classified as red zones including, Hamilton, Halton, Waterloo, Durham, London-Middlesex, Simcoe-Muskoka, and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. In these zones, social gatherings are limited to 5 people indoors and 25 outdoors. Families are recommended not to gather with people outside of their immediate household. Indoor dining at restaurants and bars is limited to 10 people at one time with table sizes no larger than four. Liquor cannot be sold after 9 p.m. and establishments must close by 10 p.m. Gyms may have a maximum of 10 people in one room at a time with 3 meters distance between them and masks worn at all times, except when exercising. Religious, wedding, and funeral services are limited to 30% capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors. No organized public events are allowed.

ORANGE
Eight regions are now classified as orange zones, including Brant, Thunder Bay, HaldimandNorfolk, Huron-Perth, Ottawa, Southwestern, Niagara, and Eastern. In these zones, social gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors. Families are recommended not to gather with people outside of their immediate household. Indoor dining at restaurants is allowed with a maximum of 50 persons inside at one time ithw table sizes no larger than four persons. Liquor can only be sold until 9 p.m. and establishments must close at 10 p.m. Gyms can open with a maximum of 10 people in one room at a time with 2 meters distance between them and masks worn at all times, except when exercising. Religious, wedding, and funeral services are limited to 30% capacity indoors and 100 people outdoors. Organized public events and gatherings in staffed businesses and facilities are allowed with a maximum of 50 people inside and 100 people outside.

YELLOW AND GREEN
Ten regions are classified as yellow zones, including Sudbury, Peterborough, Northwester, Leeds-Grenville-Lanark, Lambton, Kingston, Hastings, Haliburton, Grey Bruce, and ChathamKent. Only five regions remain green zones, including North Bay, Porcupine, Renfrew, Timiskaming, and Algoma.

Yellow and green zones have the same restrictions as orange for social gatherings, organized events, and religious events and weddings. Restaurants and gyms have some lessened restrictions. More info on colour classification system and restrictions is available here: https://covid19.ontario.ca/zones-and-restrictions

Provincial Restrictions & Public Health Measures
General Restrictions

Ontario is recommending holiday celebrations across the province be limited to those living in the same household. Everyone is encouraged to continue to limit contact with people outside of their immediate household on a daily basis. Face coverings are still mandatory in all indoor public places including, businesses, facilities, and workplaces (if physical distancing cannot be maintained), and public transit. All hand washing, distancing, and sanitization measures must continue to be implemented. Everyone should stay home and get tested if they feel ill or if they have been in contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19.

Vaccines
Federal Procurement and Approvals

Canada has received its first doses of the Pfizer vaccine and shipped allocations to the provinces for implementation.

The first shipment of vaccines received in Canada will included 249,000 doses of the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, which is enough to vaccinate 124,000 people (immunization require 2 separate doses administered two weeks apart).

On Wednesday, December 16th, Canada announced it is slated to receive 168,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine by the end of December. This vaccine is expected to be approved for use by Health Canada in the next few days. Pfizer is currently the only vaccine approved for use in Canada.

Provincial Vaccination Plan
Ontario began administering its first COVID-19 vaccinations on Monday, December 14th , beginning with staff in long-term care homes. Priority populations slated to receive the COVID19 vaccine first in Ontario by the Ontario Vaccination Distribution Task Force include:

• Residents, staff, essential caregivers, and other employees of congregate living settings (e.g., long-term care homes and retirement homes) that provide care for seniors as they are at higher risk of infection and serious illness from COVID-19;
• Health care workers, including hospital employees, other staff who work or study in hospitals, and other health care personnel;
• Adults in Indigenous communities, including remote communities where risk of transmission is high; and
• Adult recipients of chronic home health care.

Ontario will also be prioritizing the rollout of the vaccines to priority populations in regions with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection, including those in the Red-Control and Grey-Lockdown zones. At the outset, vaccines are not expected to be administered to people who are pregnant or are under the age of 18. These restrictions will be clarified and changed based on upcoming information from clinical trials and Health Canada approvals.

More information on vaccines in Ontario is contained in the attached PowerPoint “Task Force Deck – Vaccination Plan Dec. 11.”

More information is available here: https://news.ontario.ca/en/release/59508/ontarioidentifies-key-groups-for-distribution-of-initial-covid-19-vaccines

Funding & Support for First Nations
Applications for the Indigenous Community Business Fund and Public Health Measures Fund are still being accepted. Any inquiries about these funds or general federal COVID-19 response can be emailed to Sac.covid-19fnihbontario.isc@canada.ca More information is also available in the attached document from Indigenous Services Canada.

The Public Health Measures Fund is available for First Nations communities and organizations that deliver community-based services in response to COVID-19 public health needs to provide support for these responses. The fund can also be accessed for surge capacity and additional support in the case of outbreaks in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. Eligible items include: supplies and storage, surge in health infrastructure, staffing and surge capacity, mental health and wellbeing, food security, perimeter security, and expenses related to pandemic responses, other pandemic-related expenses.

More information is on this fund is available here: https://www.sacisc.gc.ca/eng/1584819394157/1584819418553

The Indigenous Community Business Fund is targeted towards First Nation, Inuit, and Metis community or collectively owned businesses and microbusinesses. It can provide support to strengthen operations and viability during the pandemic, with the goal of positioning them for recovery. There is no deadline for submissions. Applications will continue to be accepted until all funds are allocated.

More information is available here: https://www.sac isc.gc.ca/eng/1596809415775/1596809469296

Education Update
Publicly Funded Schools

On December 16th , the province reported 223 new cases related to schools, including 188 among students, 34 among staff and 1 individual not identified (confidential as to whether induvial is student/child/staff/providers/partners). These reports bring the current number of schools with at least one reported case of COVID-19 to 866 (67 more schools than last week) of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools. There are currently 20 schools closed due to COVID-19 and the cumulative total of all school-related cases reported since September 5, 2020 sits at 6,847 (this includes resolved cases). All schools in Windsor-Essex County Health Unit area are closed for in-person learning.

Child Care Centres & Home Care Agencies
On December 16th, the province reported 34 new cases within child care centres and homes, including 22 child-related cases and 13 staff-related cases. There are currently 235 (35 more centres than last week) child-care facilities in Ontario with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and 52 centres closed due to virus outbreaks. This brings the cumulative total of all COVID-19 cases reported in child care and home care since June 12, 2020 to 1,159 (this includes resolved cases).

A detailed list of the schools, licensed child care centres and homecare agencies with COVID-19 cases can be found here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-cases-schoolsand-child-care-centres

In complimentary to this list, is the COVID-19 School Dashboard that maps confirmed school-related COVID-19 cases in publicly funded elementary and secondary schools across the province: http://covid19schooldashboard.com

As of December 7th, 2020, students (and their siblings) within Toronto schools must self-isolate if experiencing just one symptom of COVID-19 and are to get tested before returning to class. However, the Toronto’s associate medical officer of health has said that parents who do not wish to have their children tested must stay home for 10 days along with their siblings. Toronto Public Health’s COVID-19 K-12 student screening tool has been recently been updated and symptoms include: cough, fever, difficulty breathing, loss of taste, feeling unwell, muscle aches or fatigue, headache, sore throat, pain when swallowing, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and a stuffy for runny nose. For more information go to: https://www.cp24.com/news/startingtoday-toronto-students-with-1-covid-19-symptom-must-get-test-or-wait-10-days-beforereturning-to-school-1.5220288

Support for Learners Fund
The Ontario government has announced a second COVID-19 “relief” payment to support families with children 12 and under (to receive $200) and children with special needs 21 and under (to receive $250) for the 2020-21 school year. The deadline to apply is January 15th, 2021. You are eligible if your child:

• attends a publicly funded school
• attends a private school
• attends a First Nation operated or federally operated school
• attends school in-person or online
• is homeschooled
• is enrolled in child care
• is at home

For more information and to apply go to: https://www.ontario.ca/page/get-support-learners

Federal Updates
Transmission Risks

Canada has recently updated its description of high risk-settings for transmission to account for the inclusion of aerosol transmission of COVID-19. This means that Canada has confirmed transmission of COVID-19 is possible through air particles. More details on transmission risks is available here: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novelcoronavirus-infection/health-professionals/main-modes-transmission.html

Case Counts
Monitor country-wide case counts and trends here: https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid19/epidemiological-summary-covid-19-cases.html Demographic breakdowns of COVID-19 cases from in Indigenous communities from Indigenous Services Canada are available here: https://www.sacisc.gc.ca/eng/1589895506010/1589895527965

Border Closures & Travel Restrictions
The Canada-U.S. land border has been closed to non-essential travel since mid-March 2020. The closure is currently extended to at least January 21st, 2021. The Prime Minister has indicated that extensions to the closure will continue until COVID-19 case counts in the U.S. decrease.

Canada is continuing to advise against all non-essential travel. The mandatory 14-day self quarantine for all individuals entering the country remains in place and international travel suspension orders limiting non-essential travelers and non-citizens from entering Canada remain in place.

Provinces and Territories across Canada have varying restrictions for entry from non-residents. It is recommended to research each region’s policies prior to any essential travel.

Additional Information & Resources
• Ontario COVID-19 website: https://covid-19.ontario.ca
• Canada COVID-19 website: https://www.canada.ca/en/publichealth/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html
• Chiefs of Ontario COVID-19 webpage: https://chiefsofontario.wordpress.com/
• Generic email for Indigenous Services Canada COVID-19 information: sac.covid19fnihbontario.isc@canada.ca
• Red Cross Support 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (CST), 7 days a week at: 1-833-937-1597.
• InfoPoint Health managers can call or email to ask specific questions. Toll free: 1-855-446- 2719 or Email: Infopoint@fnhma.ca

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