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Quebec hospitals overflowing as province hit with widespread flu





Emergency rooms in Quebec hospitals are overflowing this holiday season as the flu spreads across the province.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is reporting a steady rise in influenza cases throughout the country and Quebec is no exception. Earlier this month, the agency described the flu as being “widespread” in the province.

The occupancy rate in Quebec hospitals is exceeding 100 per cent capacity in many cases, La Presse Canadienne has learned.

In Quebec City, the Centre hospitalier de l’Université Laval (CHUL) is at 109 per cent and the nearby Hôpital de l’Enfant-Jésus is at 115 per cent.

In Thetford Mines, the hospital is at 160 per cent. On Montreal’s South Shore, Anna-Laberge in Châteauguay has nearly doubled its maximum capacity at a rate of 187 per cent.

The Hôpital du Suroit, located in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, has reached 145 per cent.

Over in Longueuil, Pierre-Boucher is up to 120 per cent. 

Montreal hospitals filling up

Montreal hospitals have also seen an influx of patients.

“Our hospitals are bursting to the seams,” said Dr. Catherine Farrell, a pediatric intensive care specialist at Sainte-Justine. “Our emergency rooms are really overloaded.”

The rate at Hôpital Fleury is at 139 per cent. 

Maisonneuve-Rosemont is reporting 102 per cent.

“Influenza and gastroenteritis are two very contagious infections that are more common during the winter,” states the hospital’s website. “They can be avoided with simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing.”

Most flu cases can be treated at home

According to Santé Montréal’s website, eating more, sleeping less, hugs and handshakes are common practice over the holidays, making the spread of viruses and infections more common.

However, it states, there are alternatives to rushing off to the emergency room. Those alternatives start with a call to Info-Santé (811) to get advice from a medical professional.

Most cases of the flu can be treated at home. Quebec’s Health Ministry recommends seeking medical assistance only if you have difficulty breathing and a lingering fever in addition to the other flu symptoms.

Last year around this time, the situation was similar as emergency rooms across the province reported being over capacity due to the flu.


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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa





With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV





A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence





Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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