Today’s Coronavirus News: Three Greater Toronto Area Regions Join COVID-19 Red Zone; Saskatchewan implements new rules to fight virus

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The last coronavirus news from Canada and around the world on Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

5 h 15: Three regions in the Toronto area are now joining the COVID-19 red zone.

Stricter public health measures take effect in Hamilton, York and Halton regions.

Toronto joined Peel Region on Red Alert Level – the highest short of a full lockdown – on Saturday.

Six more regions, such as Durham and Waterloo, will be upgraded to the Orange Alert level, and six more, including Windsor-Essex and Sudbury, will join the Yellow Alert level.

Today’s developments come just days after Premier Doug Ford lowered the thresholds for his color-coded restriction system.

He said on Friday that recent COVID-19 projections show the province “is looking at the barrel of another lockdown.”

4 h 56 Amnesty International said Belgian authorities “abandoned” thousands of elderly people who died in nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic following an investigation released on Monday which described the situation as “human rights violations.”

One of the worst-affected countries in Europe, Belgium has reported more than 531,000 confirmed cases of the virus and more than 14,400 coronavirus-related deaths. During the first wave of the pandemic last spring, the European nation of 11.5 million people recorded the majority of its COVID-19-related deaths in nursing homes.

Between March and October, Amnesty International said that “61.3% of all deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium took place in nursing homes. The group said authorities failed to implement measures quickly enough to protect residents and staff of nursing homes during this time. , do not protect their human rights.

Amnesty International has said that one of the reasons so many people have died at home is that infected residents have not been transferred to hospitals for treatment.

“The results of our investigation allow us to affirm that (the retirement homes) and their residents were abandoned by our authorities until this tragedy was publicly denounced and the worst of the first phase of the pandemic was over. », Declared Philippe Hensmans, director of Amnesty International Belgium.

When the virus hit Europe hard in March, Belgium was caught off guard, facing a critical shortage of personal protective equipment. As infections increased across the country, nursing homes were quickly overwhelmed by the frantic pace of contamination, with local authorities even asking the Belgian armed forces for help in dealing with it.

Belgium had one of the highest death rates in the world during the first wave. But as nursing home staff were overwhelmed, hospitals across the country weathered the crisis, with their intensive care units never reaching their 2,000-bed capacity. Vincent Fredericq, general secretary of the federation of nursing homes Femarbel, told Amnesty International that many residents in need of medical assistance have been left behind.

“Everyone was struck by the images of Italian and Spanish hospitals,” he said. “These situations have had a significant impact on our federal decision-makers, who have said from the outset that it is absolutely essential to avoid overloading intensive care. Nursing homes have been relegated to the second line and residents and staff have fallen victim. “

Amnesty International based its investigation on testimonies from residents and staff of nursing homes, employees of non-governmental organizations defending the rights of residents and directors of nursing homes. The group also spoke with families of elderly people currently living in homes or who died during the pandemic. Most of those interviewed requested to remain anonymous in order to be able to speak freely.

Citing figures released by Médecins Sans Frontières, the group said that only 57% of severe cases in care homes were transferred to hospitals due to a “nefarious interpretation of triage guidelines”.

“Some older people have probably died prematurely because of this,” Amnesty International said. “It took months before a circular explicitly declared that transfer to hospital was always possible, if it was in accordance with the interests and wishes of the patient, regardless of age.

Maggie De Block, the former Belgian Minister of Health in charge during the first months of the pandemic, refuted accusations last month that access to hospitals had been denied to residents of nursing homes.

“There has never been a message from the federal government or my regional colleagues saying that we should not hospitalize people who need it, or that we can refuse the elderly or disabled,” she said. to local RTBF media.

The prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Associated Press.

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More than half of healthcare providers polled in the group’s survey said they had not received training in the use of protective equipment and were not sufficiently informed about the virus. Amnesty International said that systematic screening of workers in nursing homes in Belgium was not introduced until August, with only one test per month.

A resident of a nursing home identified as Henriette told Amnesty International she was afraid every time a healthcare worker entered that they would bring the virus.

The group also noted that restrictive measures limiting family visits were negatively impacting the health of many residents. Some relatives told Amnesty International that when they were allowed to return, they realized that their loved ones had been neglected because the staff were overwhelmed.

“It was very difficult for my husband to eat alone. Over time, he lost weight, ”said the wife of a resident. “When I asked the staff about this, a social worker said, ‘We can’t feed everyone every day. “

4:00 am New measures come into effect in Saskatchewan today to fight COVID-19.

Beginning Monday and for the next 28 days, masks will be mandatory in indoor public spaces of any community with more than 5,000 residents.

Restaurants and bars must also stop selling alcohol by 10 p.m. and make sure everyone has finished their drink by 11 a.m.

Rules are also tightened for gymnasiums and schools with more than 600 students are urged to reduce classroom learning.

After the new measures were announced on Friday, hundreds of doctors who signed a letter earlier in the week calling for stronger action wrote a new letter saying that rules are not enough.

Prime Minister Scott Moe said in a tweet on Sunday that “new measures are being considered” in consultation with public health officials.

Sunday 9:11 p.m. A massive increase in COVID-19 cases in recent days was not enough to deter some Brampton revelers from gathering in large groups to celebrate Diwali on Saturday night.

Police of Peel Const. Akhil Mooken said the city’s status office and police dispatchers received several complaints from residents about large gatherings in violation of COVID-19 laws.

“We have received several complaints regarding complaints about noise (and) violation of provincial guidelines for collecting limits,” he said.

“Our bylaws team partners are primarily responsible for enforcing them, but they called us to help out in several places of worship to help them disperse the crowds that had gathered,” Mooken added.

Read the full story here.

Find Sunday’s developments here



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