covid testing, Covid-19, Ontario, Parkdale - High Park, Public health, Public safety

More indoor workplace closures, less outdoor restrictions

Section 22 of Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act gives medical officers of health the authority to close a workplace for a specified period:

https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/90h07#BK27

The region of Peel has recently used this power to close workplaces where they have been Covid outbreaks affecting five or more employees:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/peel-covid-businesses-closed-section-22-1.5994257

The evidence is clear that transmission is mostly occurring in indoor workplaces. Consequently, these new orders should help decelerate the spread of Covid.

Physically distant outdoor activities, on the other hand, should be encouraged not restricted, since they are relatively low risk. Furthermore, the rest of Ontario including T.O. needs to follow the lead of the region of Peel and close immediately workplaces where there have been Covid outbreaks. This action combined with other effective measures, such as paid sick leave, workplace health inspections, more testing and vaccinations will put an end to Ontario’s third wave. As always take care and stay safe.

Focus on indoor workplace transmissions

Update:

First the bad news, the public tennis courts in High Park are closed. The good news is that T.O. Public Health today announced it will close workplaces to manage Covid 19 outbreaks.

https://www.toronto.ca/news/toronto-public-health-issues-section-22-class-order-to-close-workplaces-to-manage-covid-19-outbreaks/

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The public tennis courts in High Park are closed.
covid testing, Covid-19, Public health

Rapid Covid Testing for LTC, Schools, and Workplaces

While the recent Covid news cycle focused on new travel restrictions and delays in receiving vaccines, under the radar was a January report by an expert panel that recommended the implementation of rapid Covid testing in the following places:

  • schools
  • work settings, and
  • communal living facilities e.g. Long-Term Care (LTC)

Here is the full report from the Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel:

Priority strategies to optimize testing and screening for COVID-19 in Canada: Report

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/medical-devices/testing-screening-advisory-panel/reports-summaries/priority-strategies.html

While new travel restrictions due to Covid variants are important, and so is having our population inoculated, there is still the problem of community transmission that was never properly addressed in Toronto and for that matter, Ontario. In fact, the UK variant is already in Ontario. And a new more contagious variant could result in more deaths. So, using rapid Covid testing in places that are at high risk for community transmission is a must.

Let me be perfectly clear, there is no excuse for not having widespread rapid testing already in place today in Ontario. Nova Scotia has been using rapid testing effectively months ago.

https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/nova-scotia-embraced-rapid-testing-for-covid-19-months-ago-why-have-other-provinces-been-so-slow

Furthermore, while it is encouraging to see some Canadian workplaces, such as Canada Post, recently embrace rapid Covid testing, a quick jurisdictional review shows that several international companies implemented Covid testing for their workers back in the spring, last year. For example, Canadian employers are way behind in Covid testing compared to a company in Manila that started testing their employees back in May 2020.

To those that believe that the accuracy of rapid Covid tests or Covid tests in general presents a problem note that scientifically no test is free from false positives or false negatives. And rapid Covid tests have been used effectively in Taiwan to beat Covid. Look where Taiwan is today (practically Covid zero) and look where we are today in Ontario and Canada, enough said.

To say that Ontario and Canada have been late in implementing widespread Covid testing is quite an understatement. So, it is time to drop our partisanship. If you are Conservative stop defending the Premier of Ontario. If you are Liberal stop defending the Prime Minister of Canada. They did not react with the focus and urgency that a crisis requires, and we need to hold them accountable. So, I may not have too much faith in our current political leaders, but I do have faith in you and our community. And I know we will demand better from now on, and pressure elected officials to put in place the necessary Covid testing in places where there is a high risk of transmission. Otherwise, due to more contagious variants, we could be facing a third wave that is even worse than the second wave. Stay safe.

Rapid Covid testing may prevent a 3rd wave

Covid-19, Ontario, Public health, Public safety, Toronto

Blaming international travelers

Not every Canadian who gets on a plane is like Rod Phillips, the minister who went on a Caribbean vacation to only find himself upon his return like Luca Brasi in The Godfather: “swimming with the fishes”. The reality is that few countries are currently allowing international travelers into their borders. Several countries around the globe are only allowing their citizens to return or visit family. Consequently, airports around the world look like ghost towns, flights are rescheduled or cancelled daily. Pearson airport has never looked lonelier.

Some countries were starting to reopen their borders when suddenly the “it’s mutated” scene from the 2011 film Contagion became reality, and new more contagious strains of Covid started appearing around the globe. The new strains will likely put a stop to these reopening plans.

Yet, Premier Ford created a fictional enemy “the irresponsible partying international traveler” that is bringing new Covid strains to Canada. Several airlines already required all passengers to provide negative Covid test results before boarding, even before Minister Garneau announced requirements to provide negative tests. And several countries either test and or quarantine passengers upon arrival. And unlike Canada, they send people to quarantine facilities for three weeks with a tracking wristband, not their homes for two weeks with the ArriveCAN app. And now with the new strains, there probably will be more stringent testing requirements and longer quarantine periods for travelers worldwide. It seems that one of the only “partying international travelers” was his former Finance Minister.

While it makes sense to test passengers upon arrival and perhaps even consider longer quarantine periods for travelers, let’s not lose sight of the fact, that the main problem we have in Ontario is still local transmission. Shutting down Pearson will not address the root cause. Pearson is a ghost town these days anyway.

Hardly anyone is flying, so why blame international travelers?