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Health officials 'steering in uncertain waters' in tackling second wave of COVID-19

Last Updated Oct 5, 2020 at 4:31 pm MDT

FILE - Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Friday, Sept. 4, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Canada’s top public officer of health said the complexities of the current wave of COVID-19 spur regions with rising cases to adopt different measures as they seek to turn the tide of the pandemic.

Dr Theresa Tam said public health officials in each area are trying to target their response to local epidemiology and circumstances.

She said they are “steering in uncertain waters” and no one knows exactly what is going to work.

Tam added this creates a “grey zone” involving a variety of different measures.

She did say public co-operation is key and people should know to stick to basic strategies such as handwashing, physical distancing and wearing masks.

Tam’s suggestions come as Quebec announced more stringent rules than Ontario when it comes to mask-wearing for students in hard-hit areas.

Toronto had previously announced days earlier it would scale back contact tracing due to an unsustainable caseload.

Quebec said it is making mask-wearing mandatory inside high schools in regions at the highest COVID-19 alert level as well as outside on school grounds, at least until Oct. 28.

The affected regions include the Montreal and Quebec City areas.

Ontario, by comparison, only requires students to wear masks indoors.

New COVID-19 case numbers continue to surge in several parts of the country, particularly in Quebec and Ontario, which account for more than 80 per cent of the country’s total cases.

Quebec reported 1,191 new COVID-19 cases today, the highest single-day total since the beginning of the pandemic.

It’s the fourth straight day Quebec has more than 1,000 new diagnoses.

Ontario, meanwhile, reported 615 new cases of COVID-19 today, and five new deaths due to the virus.

Alberta’s response

COVID-19 response in Wood Buffalo continues to improve, despite concerns in certain areas of the province.

Alberta reported seven new cases and 14 recoveries of the illness in the RMWB in the last three days.

RELATED: Alberta removes local restaurant, Syncrude site from COVID-19 outbreak list

All are within the urban service area, which has 42 active cases, one death, and 240 recovered cases of COVID-19.

Outside the urban service area, there are still three active cases and 64 resolved cases.

The Edmonton Zone has 982 active cases.

Dr Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, addressed last weekend’s recent spike in the area.

Across Alberta, there are 578 new cases and eight additional deaths over the last 72 hours.

Two of eight deaths come from the Foothills Hospital’s cardiac unit in Calgary.

Health officials conducted 45,998 tests during that period with a positivity rate of 1.25 per cent.

Hinshaw said 149 schools in the province have active alerts with 319 total active cases of COVID-19.

This amounts to six per cent of Alberta schools.

65 schools have outbreaks or between 2-4 cases, with 10 on the watch list or at least five cases.

Five schools in Wood Buffalo have outbreaks and none are on the watch list.

Hinshaw reminded Albertans to hold safe Thanksgiving gatherings.

Alberta has 1783 active cases, 280 deaths, and 16,872 recoveries of COVID-19.

This article includes excerpts from The Canadian Press.