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10 per cent of Ontario public schools has a COVID-19 case with 74 more cases reported


The number of new COVID-19 cases in public schools across the province has jumped by 74 in its latest report, to a total of 749 in the last two weeks.

In its latest data released Monday morning, the province reported 48 more students were infected for a total of 430 in the last two weeks; since school began there has been an overall total of 736 cases.

The data shows there are 10 more staff members for a total of 106 in the last two weeks — and an overall total of 203.

The latest report also shows 16 more individuals who weren’t identified for a total of 213 in that category — and an overall total of 373.

There are 483 schools with a reported case, which the province notes is 10 per cent of the 4,828 public schools in Ontario.

Four schools are currently closed, according to the Ministry of Health figures, two in York Region and two in Ottawa.

Holy Name Catholic Elementary School in King City and Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Elementary School in Woodbridge are closed until Oct. 26.

In Ottawa, École secondaire catholique Franco-Cité, a French Catholic high school, closed after 15 people tested positive while St. Jerome elementary school closed after two staff tested positive.

There is a lag between the daily provincial data at 10:30 a.m. and news reports about infections in schools. The provincial data on Monday is current as of 2 p.m. Friday so it doesn’t include weekend reports. It also doesn’t indicate where the place of transmission occurred.

The Toronto District School Board updates its information on current COVID-19 cases throughout the day on its website. As of Monday at 9 a.m., there were 118 TDSB schools with at least one active case — 128 students and 43 staff.

The Toronto Catholic District School Board also updates its information on its website. As of Monday at 10:25 a.m., there were 68 schools with a COVID-19 case, with 68 students and 20 staff infected.

Epidemiologists have told the Star that the rising numbers in the schools aren’t a surprise, and that the cases will be proportionate to the amount of COVID that is in the community. Ontario reported 704 new cases overall on Monday — 244 in Toronto, 168 in Peel, 103 in York Region and 51 in Ottawa.

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Cheyenne Bholla





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What will public transport look like by the end of the year?


Over the summer public transport officials held a series of meetings with employer groups and third level colleges, facing an unprecedented need to gauge passenger demand from next month as “normal” post-summer life resumes.

The problem of course is that life will not return as normal. Trains, trams and busses will operate much differently and planners must consider what transport in Ireland will look like toward the end of 2020 and into 2021.

With strict social distancing requirements slashing capacity and many thousands of people planning to remain working from home, the focus will be on those who have no choice but to get back on board.

Detailed data obtained by The Irish Times shows very clearly the cataclysmic effect Covid-19 has had on public transport use, at one point shedding about 90 per cent as society shut down to contain the virus.

Looming concerns will include the relationship between demand and supply; public safety; how commuters might be persuaded to change their travel patterns; and the prospect of more people opting for private cars.

The challenges for what might come are best understood by looking at what has happened so far – in early March, the national transport network came to a grinding halt. As Ireland locked itself away, only a scattering of essential workers climbed on board carriages and buses, making their way to work through empty streets, enjoying a near perfectly functioning system.

“It fell off a cliff. We went from pushing 1 million passengers a day to very low numbers; just under 100,000 at one point and that stayed the case for the bulk of March and into April. It was really only when things started to open up in May [that numbers began to recover],” explained Tim Gaston, director of public transport services at the National Transport Authority (NTA).

Its data is stark, illustrated on graphs, as with most things related to the pandemic, by a precipitous downward curve.

Transport use by numbers

As a whole, daily PSO (public service) passenger numbers dropped from more than 950,000 at the very beginning of March, to consistently, and often well below 100,000, between the end of March and into May. On March 5th, just before the plummeting decline, the country’s first clusters of coronavirus were confirmed.

A swift and steady collapse followed. By the very end of that month, when transport use dipped and remained steadily below the 100,000 figure, it coincided with then taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s appeal to the nation to stay at home.

The so-called 2km rule was introduced, all but emptying public transport vehicles, with the only travel exceptions permitted for health, social care or other essential work as well as shopping for food or attending medical appointments.

A seven day rolling average of the data – which flattens out the peaks and troughs of weekend and weekday usage – shows that Dublin Bus, which had carried by far the largest number of commuters of all services before the pandemic, began to grow consistently beyond the 100,000 mark in early June.

This occurred just as Ireland was entering phase two of the lifting of Covid-19 related movement restrictions.

By April and early May, Luas usage had shrank to as low as 3 and 4 per cent of its late February level. On March 10th, it had almost 142,000 passenger journeys compared to just under 5,500 on April 18th (a Tuesday and Saturday respectively).

Similarly, Bus Éireann had dropped to as low as 5 per cent of passenger use when comparing mid-April with early March. 118,000 passengers on Friday, February 28th, had fallen to 14,700 by Friday, April 17th.

On Monday, March 9th, Irish Rail recorded slightly over 198,500 passengers, but by Monday, April 13th, it was just over 2,000.





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Paid leave for public service during pandemic cost $623M, well above estimates: budget watchdog


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Taxpayers spent $311 million covering paid leave for CRA officials alone, over 40,000 of whom accepted paid leave. The next largest cost was for employees at Correctional Service Canada ($33 million), the Canada Border Services Agency ($15 million) and Employment and Social Development Canada ($14 million).

Researchers at the PBO suggested the high proportion of CRA officials is possibly a result of tighter reporting requirements at the agency, which would in turn suggest that current data “is likely an underestimate of the number of hours of work lost during that period,” suggesting that true costs could be higher still.

Aaron Wudrick, director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said costs for paid leave could reach the $1 billion marker by the time the pandemic has run its course, which he says underscores the overly generous nature of public extended leave.

“The 699 was not designed to cover indefinitely for massive numbers of people,” Wudrick said. “And so going forward, when they’re negotiating with the unions, the government needs to put some parameters around this.”

Both Wudrick and the PBO suggested that similar leave provisions did not exist in the private sector. As of July 12, more than eight million Canadians had applied for the $2,000-per-month CERB program, after private businesses went through successive rounds of widespread layoffs.

“The PBO was not able to find a leave policy of a similar scope in the private sector,” the report said.



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What are the new rules on wearing face coverings on public transport in England?



Since the coronavirus outbreak began there has been significant debate as to whether face masks and face coverings are effective at containing or preventing the spread of Covid-19.

In May, the government advised that people in England should wear face coverings in ”enclosed public spaces”, such as in shops and on public transport.

However, on 4 June the government announced that face coverings will be compulsory in England on public transport, in anticipation of further relaxing of coronavirus measures.


So who will need to wear a face covering, where do you need to wear one, and from when?

What are the new rules surrounding face coverings in the England?

It will become compulsory to wear a face covering on public transport in England from the 15 June.

The move is designed to prevent an upsurge in coronavirus infections as the country continues to relax lockdown measures, with non-essential shops also being allowed to reopen from 15 June.

The government has stipulated that people should continue working from home if they can do so and avoid public transport where possible.

Where exactly do I need to wear a face covering?

In light of the new rules, everyone will now be required to wear a face covering on public transport, with some exemptions for children, disabled people, and those with breathing difficulties.

Until now the government has also advised that people wear face coverings in a number of other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may not be possible, such as shops.

“We need to ensure every precaution is taken on buses, trains, aircraft, and on ferries,” transport secretary Grant Shapps said.

Wearing a facemask does not substitute for two-metre social distancing, which should still be observed in public wherever possible.

Who should wear one?

Face coverings are not recommended for very young children, disabled people, or those who have breathing difficulties and respiratory problems that may be exacerbated by wearing a face covering.

These groups will be exempt from the new regulations regarding public transport.

What is the difference between a face covering and a face mask?

The government has stressed that face coverings should not be confused with medical face masks or respirators, which should be reserved for medical professionals and other frontline workers.

Face coverings are typically made of cloth and are intended to block bigger droplets before they become aerosolised.

Where can I get one?

A face covering can be easily made at home from a T-shirt or even a sock either by cutting the mask to size or sewing fabric together to create a piece of fabric that covers your mouth and nose comfortably. You can find out how to make one at home here.

Anyone can also purchase a range of patterned and fitted face coverings online from a number of handmade and professional retailers, find out some of the places you can buy coverings here.

A face covering can also be something as simple as using a scarf or bandana that ties behind the head to cover your mouth and nose.

The government stressed people should not purchase medical face masks. Face coverings should be washed after use as soon as possible.

What will happen if I don’t wear one?

Wearing a face covering would be made a “condition of travel” on public transport, Mr Shapps said. The transport secretary said that fines will be imposed on those who fail to wear them.

It is not immediately clear how the rule regarding face coverings will be enforced, as they are not currently included in regulations police use to action lockdown breaches.

Everyone should continue to wash their hands frequently and not touch their face at all times, whether or not you are wearing a face covering. Social distancing measures should continue to be observed in public where possible.



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Coronavirus: City of Peterborough to reopen public washrooms at parks on June 1 – Peterborough



The City of Peterborough has announced it will reopen public washrooms at its city parks beginning June 1.

The city announced Thursday that bathrooms at parks, including at Beavermead Park and Millennium Park, will open with enhanced cleaning procedures during the coronavirus pandemic.


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‘Simply unacceptable’ — Peterborough Public Health calls out human waste in public

The washrooms will be open from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Exact opening and closing times may vary depending on the availability of staff, the city stated.

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The washrooms will be cleaned twice daily with attention to commonly touched surfaces, including doorknobs, handles, faucets and light switches.

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People are reminded to wash their hands before and after use and to be aware of high-touch surfaces. They should practise physical distancing of at least two metres apart from others when they go out and stay home if they’re sick.






Lack of public washrooms in Peterborough are hampering efforts to flatten the curve


Lack of public washrooms in Peterborough are hampering efforts to flatten the curve



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