The latest news on the coronavirus outbreak for November 15

Masked KT Wiz baseball fans react during game two of the Korean series in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday. Wiz took a 2-0 lead over the Doosan Bears in the country’s equivalent of the World Championships. (Chung Seung-jun/Getty Images)

The coroner is ‘uncomfortable’ with answers from Quebec’s director of public health about pandemic preparedness in care homes

A Quebec investigation has been conducted over several months, hearing testimony into the circumstances surrounding the massive coronavirus outbreak at Heron Long-Term Care Home in the Montreal suburb of Dorval during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring of 2020.

The hearings were supposed to end in September, but Judge Jihan Kamel – who is leading the investigation – decided to extend the proceedings because she said some of the testimonies were contradictory and left her many questions unanswered.

The investigation into the 47 deaths in Heron heard testimonies from nurses, doctors, local health authority officials, the privately-run home owner and residents’ families. Some testified that the facility was poorly organized even before the pandemic, as trapped workers underpaid often tended to residents amid staff shortages, as people were leaving regularly to get better jobs in the public system.

On Monday, Quebec’s director of public health was in the hot seat and Kamel said some of what Horacio Arruda witnessed was “a little worrisome”.

Arruda on Monday testified that his department, when planning for the pandemic, had internal discussions about the potential risks COVID-19 could pose to seniors in long-term care housing (CHSLDs) as early as January and February of 2020.

Kamel Arruda told Monday she was surprised to hear this, considering that all the testimony in the investigation up to this point suggested there was “almost no planning” for an epidemic response at CHSLDs in the early months of that year.

She noted that when the pandemic hit, it was clear that there were not enough staff, personal protective equipment or training at the CHSLDs and that they were “prepared for anything but” for the pandemic. Kamel said she was “really uncomfortable” with Arruda’s responses.

Arruda noted that his ministry sent a COVID-19 preparation guide to CHSLDs on March 12, and that he had taken swift action to curb infection by banning visitors later that month. But he acknowledged that the thousands of deaths in CHSLDs during the first wave raise questions about planning and how to allocate resources.

Patrick Martin Maynard, a lawyer for the families of some of the residents who died, said Arruda’s testimony left as many questions as the answers about who was responsible.

“What appears a lot from Dr Arruda’s testimony, and from the testimonies of other witnesses, is that it is very difficult to know who decided what and when,” Martin Maynard said.

Nearly 4,000 people in the province’s long-term care homes have died in the first wave of the pandemic, according to the Canadian Institute of Health.

Arruda’s testimony paves the way for the testimony on Wednesday of former Health Secretary Danielle McCann, the first and only official scheduled to testify at the inquiry.

from the National

The supply chain affects Canadian publishers and booksellers

Ongoing supply chain problems affect how much publishers can print and what books are available in sales, so some arrange what is released. 2:01

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How safe is this fall when it comes to indoor activities?

With society reopening and the weather getting cooler, Canadians are spending more time indoors in groups, whether it’s homes, apartment buildings, schools or indoor sports facilities and shopping malls.

That is likely a factor in what federal public health officials said Friday is an 11 percent increase in new COVID-19 cases from the previous week, even though most counties have more than 80 percent of eligible residents vaccinated.

Experts told CBC’s The Dose that there are many things to consider when planning indoor activities over the coming weeks.

Somon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease physician at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont. , that each person enjoys a different level of emotional comfort with return to social contact.

“We are in a transitional phase where we are learning to live with it.”

Do a personal risk assessment and do what works for you, but make sure everyone you come in contact with is on the plane as well, Chakrabarti said.

There are many variables underway to assess risks over the coming weeks, says Riwat Diunandan, an epidemiologist and assistant professor in the University of Ottawa’s School of Health Sciences.

“It depends on when you were vaccinated. It depends on who you are. It depends on where you live. It depends on the nature of the indoor environment.”

Deonandan equals being fully vaccinated by wearing water shoes in a rainstorm.

“If the floodwaters are high enough, the water will penetrate the edge of the shoe and wet your feet,” he said. “So if the transmission rates in the community are high, you have to be more careful.”

Deonandan said the lack of vaccine requirements for gatherings in private residences in most counties means they still pose a risk for superspreader events.

Alberta restricted gatherings in private residences in September, with a maximum of two family groups and a maximum of 10 vaccinated adults allowed to gather in one home.

“The key to keeping this under control is adhering to these guidelines,” says Craig Jane, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Calgary.

You can listen to the entire clip here

World tour: COVID-19 developments in Austria, Egypt and India

Two countries took dramatic steps Monday to limit contact between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

Austria has implemented a nationwide lockdown of unvaccinated people who have not recently contracted the COVID-19 virus, perhaps the strictest in a series of measures taken by European governments to control the resurgence of the virus at the regional level.

The move, which took effect at midnight, prohibits people 12 and older who have not been vaccinated or recently recovered from COVID-19 from leaving their homes except for essential activities such as work, grocery shopping, going to school or university, or Take a walk. Unvaccinated people can be fined up to €1,450 (CAD $2,080) if they do not comply with the restrictions.

“We didn’t take this step really lightly and I don’t think it should be talked about,” Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg told an Austrian radio network. “This is a dramatic move – about two million people in this country have been affected.”

About 65 percent of Austria’s population has been fully vaccinated, a rate that Schallenberg described as “shamefully low”. All students in schools, whether vaccinated or not, are now required to take three COVID-19 tests per week, at least one of which is a PCR test.

Austria on Monday recorded a rate of 894.3 new cases per 100,000 residents over the previous seven days. This is much worse than neighboring Germany, which recently had its epidemiological records, which had 303 new cases per 100,000 residents over seven days.

A ban on public sector employees entering their offices if they are not vaccinated and not tested for the COVID-19 virus began in Egypt on Monday as the government pushes to speed up vaccination rates in the final weeks of the year.

Public university students are also prohibited from entering the campus if they have not been vaccinated, according to government rules. Unvaccinated public servants need to submit weekly PCR testing.

Public sector employees contacted by Reuters said the law was in place in at least some offices on Monday. They said some employees are scrambling to get vaccinations in order to come to work even though others are still working from home.

As of last week, according to Our World In Data, Egypt has vaccinated just over 11 percent of its massive population of 102 million.

India began allowing fully vaccinated foreign tourists to enter the country on regular commercial flights on Monday, in the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions as infections drop and vaccinations increase.

Tourists entering India must be fully vaccinated, follow all COVID-19 protocols and test negative for the virus within 72 hours of their trip, according to the Ministry of Health. Many will also need to get tested for COVID-19 after arriving at the airport.

This is the first time that India has allowed foreign tourists on commercial flights to enter the country since March 2020, when it imposed one of the world’s toughest lockdowns in a bid to contain the pandemic.

With more than 35 million infections reported, India is the second hardest-hit country after active coronavirus cases in the United States at 134,096, the lowest level in 17 months, according to the Ministry of Health.

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