#CanadaHealthExperts; #NewCoronavirusStrain; #B117; #CanadaMasksNeedUpgrading
Canada/Canadian-Media: Despite slowing down of new COVID-19 infections in Canada, the presence of a new variant of the coronavirus known as B117, reportedly more deadly as well as 56 percent more transmissible than the original coronavirus strain requires the masks used in Canada to be upgraded for additional protection, Canada's health experts say.
Mask. Image credit: Unsplash
Canadian health officials are concerned that the new strain might already be responsible for a devastating outbreak in a long-term care home.
Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton said that a three-layer non-medical mask is a minimum standard and added that Canadians should opt for better masks, wherever possible, including surgical masks, which are a step below N95 or KN95 masks, reported by CBC News.
Canadians are also advised by Canada's health experts to ensure that the masks worn by them fit tightly on their faces.
Erin Bromage, a biology professor and immunologist at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, said double-masking is more effective as it keeps the mask snug against your skin, reported by CBC News.
Due to the occurrence of cases of outdoor transmission of COVID-19 in Canada, experts are asking everyone to start wearing masks outdoors, especially if you’re not able to maintain physical distance.
#PotLacedEdibles; #Cannabis; #HealthCanada; #Poisoing. #GOPublic
Canada/IBNS: Go Public, an investigative news segment on CBC-TV, radio, and the web, discovered hundreds of websites selling illicit edibles with packages resembling all types of candy and chocolate bars, after Canadians raised concerns about operating of these websites due to a spike in poisonings.
Cannabis gummies. Image credit: Unsplash
These illegal websites are part of a huge and illegal marketplace that operates openly.
Health Canada also said, via email, that after seeing a spike in such reports, it issued an advisory in August about accidental ingestion of illegal edible cannabis products by children and launched "extensive public education and advertising campaigns … to encourage adults to store all cannabis securely."
It was reported by Statistics Canada that out of an estimated 42 percent of cannabis users, 743,800 Canadians who responded to the survey, got the pot from illegal sources in 2019.
Legalization of cannabis in Canada was done in October 2018, and edibles became legal a year later.
Since then, regional poison centers across the country have reported a spike in unintentional poisonings of children and teens involving edibles, but because of lack of data from every province and territory, it was unclear how many of those cases involved illicit, lookalike packages.
Health Canada had laid rules regarding legally sold Cannabis-infused edibles, gummy candies, chocolate, or baked goods, said Health Canada and added these can not be packaged with images or bright colors that can appeal to children, need to have child safety warnings, and be child-resistant.
No fatal poisonings of children or youth involving just cannabis have been reported to Health Canada since legalization in 2018.
#CanadianScientists; Covid19Variant; #evadeVaccinationEfforts; #ImmuneResponse
Canada/Canadian-Media: There is a growing concern among the Canadian scientists about the new variants of Covid-19 which are spreading in many countries about their ability to infect people more easily as well as their ability to potentially destroy antibodies created in these patients after being infected or vaccinated, media reports said.
Covid19 Variant. Image credit: Pixaby
The widespread transmission of the virus also facilitates to mutate again and again.
These variants won't be the last, they warned.
"The more opportunity we give to the virus to replicate, to make more viruses, the more opportunity there is to see that variant of concern — one that won't be mitigated by our vaccines that we've developed," warned Alyson Kelvin, a virologist at Dalhousie University and the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, CBC News reported.
Besides the use of vaccines, virologist and researcher Angela Rasmussen says countries can strive to control emerging coronavirus variants by increasing surveillance efforts and encouraging the usual public health measures, from mask-wearing to avoiding gatherings
"What concerns me the most is that the epidemiological data that goes along with some of these variants suggests they could very rapidly become very prevalent — effectively out-competing the other variants in a given area — in a short period of time," said Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Georgetown University's Center for Global Health Science and Security in Washington, D.C., and incoming research scientist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, CBC News reported.
More transmission can lead to more infections, more hospitalizations and more deaths in the short term, Rasmussen said.
He also said slowing case growth could save lives as well as cut off channels for the virus to spread and mutate.
"It's also possible that variants may arise that decrease the effectiveness of our immune response to the virus," said Matthew Miller, a member of the Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University and the McMaster Immunology Research Centre in Hamilton.
"But also, of course — and perhaps more worryingly — the immune responses elicited by the currently approved vaccines," CBC News reported.
#Saskatchewan; #HighestInfectionRateInCanada; #SlowCovid19Testing
Saskatchewan/Canadian-Media: Saskatchewan ranked fifth in its rate of testing among provinces, behind Alberta, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec, Health Canada said, with its testing rate per one million people being 274,535 on Monday, compared to the national average of 441,939.
Representation of Covid19 testing. Image credit: Unsplash
#Quebec; #VaccinationCampaign; #PfizerDelaysSupplyToCanada;
Quebec/Canadian-Media: Christian Dubé, Quebec's Health Minister announced today changes to its vaccination campaign, including a reduction in the number of doses to be administered by Feb. 8 from 250,000 doses to 225,000, due to Pfizer's slow supply of COVID-19 vaccine doses to Canada.
Covid19 Vaccination. Image credit: Unsplash
Quebec's Health Ministry, however said that it would keep its promises to provide second doses to people who have had their first shot within a maximum of 90 days.
The ministry said in a statement released Tuesday morning that its plan to finish vaccinating people living in long-term care homes by next Monday has not changed, with 75 percent of residents already being vaccinated.
The target for residents of private seniors homes as well as the number of health-care workers vaccinated by Feb 8 has been reduced, but the target for people living in remote regions will remain the same, said the ministry.
The vaccine rollout in private seniors’ residences would start by the week of Jan. 25
With a goal to vaccinate as many vulnerable people as possible, Dube announced last week the province's decision to administer the second dose of the vaccine for patients who have already received their first dose within a maximum of three months.
#Ontario; #Covid19Pamdemic; #StateOfEmergency; #StayAtHomeOrder
Ontario/Canadian-Media: New restrictions including provincial stay-at-home order were announced jointly by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto in a news conference on Jan 12 .
Image: State of Emergency declared in Ontario. Image credit: Twitter handle of Doug Ford
"Our province is in crisis," Premier Doug Ford said in a news conference this afternoon and added, "The system is on the brink of collapse. It's on the brink of being overwhelmed."
A provincial stay-at-home order would be effective Thursday at 12:01 a.m., said the Ontario government requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes.
Ontario's health-care system is seen to be on the verge of being overwhelmed, the new COVID-19 modeling revealed today.
Other measures enacted are: limiting five people in social gatherings; mandatory face coverings in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open, face covering outdoors not having physical distancing more than two meters; opening of all non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m; the restricted hours of operation not applicable to stores that sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery; restriction of non-essential construction including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
"Community transmission is widespread. It's in our hospitals, it's in our long-term care homes, and it's in our workplaces," Health Minister Christine Elliott said today in the news conference and added,
"Schools in hotspots may not resume," Elliott said.
"We're at a dangerous point," said Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, at a morning briefing in Toronto, CBC News reported.
More deaths in Ontario in long-term care are forecasted in the pandemic's second wave compared to the first.
Since Jan 1 there have been 198 deaths of long-term care residents and two staffers.
A new, more easily transmissible variant of the virus first identified in the U.K that could begin spreading rapidly in the province, warned Public health experts.
"We are in a serious situation, so we need more serious measures put in place," said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province's associate chief medical officer of health, at the briefing."
The seven-day average of new daily cases fell slightly to 3,523 with a test positivity rate of 7.8 percent.
#Ontario; #Covid19Increase; #TPH; #newModelling; #OntarioConsideringCurfew; #HospitalsOverwhelmed
Ontario/Canadian-Media: Ontario's reporting of 4,249 new cases of COVID-19 today also includes about 450 were attributable to a data upload delay from Toronto Public Health, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in his news conference today promising new modelling coming early next week.
Covid-19 pandemic. Image credit: Twitter Handle
"We're in a desperate situation, and when you see the modelling, you'll fall out of your chair," Ford said.
Of the new cases, 1,382 were reported in Toronto, 691 in Peel Region, 427 in York Region, 213 in Niagara Region and 184 in Windsor-Essex pushing the new seven-day average to 3,394, also a pandemic high for the province.
While taking multiple questions today about the situation in the province's long-term care homes, where deaths continue to mount Ford said,
"It's heartbreaking. It's frustrating as well, with the long-term care homes."
It was announced on Thursday by Education Minister Stephen Lecce that while elementary students in southern Ontario will not start in-class learning until at least Jan. 25, as test positivity rates for COVID-19 rise for adults and children alike.
With the uncontrollable rise in the Covid 19 infections, Ontarians are considering curfew as one of the tools, said Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Pandemic circumstances are moving at "the pace of lightning," Ford had said Wednesday.
Officials in Ottawa are waiting to see what decision Ontario makes.
Ottawa's medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches, adding discussions about methods to quickly lower case counts are important, Etches said, though "not necessarily the curfew."
In his news conference this morning, Ford warned hospitals around the province to prepare for a potential influx of patients in coming weeks.
Meanwhile, late Thursday, CBC News obtained a memo from the president and CEO of Ontario Health, Matthew Anderson, telling hospitals -- projected to have more than 500 patients with COVID-19 in intensive care units and more than 1,700 COVID-19 in other beds by Jan. 24 -- to prepare for transferring dozens and potentially hundreds of patients across and even out of regions.
#Quebec, #FourweeksCurfew; #Covid19RisingCases; #Covid19Pandemics
Quebec/Canadian-Media: In an attempt to contain the surge of COVID-19, Quebec would be placed under curfew, the first of its kind in Canada since the declaration of the coronavirus pandemic, for four weeks effective tomorrow from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. during which time residents in much of Quebec will be prohibited from going outside at night, Quebec health officials said
Curfew. Image credit: Pixaby
The stricter measures, Premier François Legault said, would serve as "shock therapy."
"The upcoming month is going to be a critical one," Legault said at a news conference Wednesday. "We are in a race against time."
"Unfortunately we have lost this race in the last few weeks. But we can win it. We have seen our hospitals get overloaded," Legault said.
Regardless of the high social and economic costs, said André-Pierre Contandriopoulos, a professor emeritus at Université de Montréal's school of public health said on Jan 7, the government has no choice but to tighten restrictions, CBC News reported.
Many of the patients treated by Dr. François Marquis, the head of intensive care at Montreal's Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, said they got infected at small gatherings and added, "It's all about small little meetings that we have to stop right now," he said. "The biggest problem is we're going to run out of beds."
A curfew may not directly lead to a reduced number of infections, but it will hopefully get the attention of those who did not follow physical distancing rules, said Dr. Joanne Liu, a pediatric physician in Montreal who also serves on the International Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response.
For Dr. Karl Weiss, an infectious diseases specialist at the Jewish General Hospital of Montreal, the curfew can be viewed as one more tool to slow the spread of the virus. "I think we are at the stage where it may be the last shot to play, the last effort to make, hoping it works," he told Radio-Canada's Tout un matin, CBC News reported.
#Ontario; #Covid19RapidSurge; #Deaths; #HospitalsOverburdened
Ontario/Canadian-Media: Ontario has reported a rapid surge of new single-day record of 3,519 COVID-19 cases and 89 deaths, pushing the seven-day average of new daily cases to a new high of 3,141, and a test positivity rate of 6.1 percent, Ontario's health officials said.
Ontario. Image credit: Pixaby
Of the total, 891 new cases are being reported in Toronto, 568 in Peel, 457 in York Region, 208 in Windsor-Essex County, 175 in Waterloo, and 174 in Durham, Ontario's Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted.
With 89 deaths reported today pushed the official toll to 4,856, with nearly 76 percent of all deaths in the province being residents in long-term care.
Meanwhile, the number of people in hospital with confirmed cases of COVID-19 have also reached new highs of 1,472, and those being treated in intensive are 363, with about 242 patients require the use of a ventilator, the province said.
Discussions on vaccination rollout would be held today by Trudeau and premiers.
But premiers, including Ontario’s Doug Ford, have said the real concern lies with Ottawa’s ability to get vaccines to the provinces in the days and weeks ahead.
#Ontario; #Covid19Vaccination; #LongTermCareHomes
Ontario/Canadian-Media: Amidst pressure to speed up the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, the Ontario government has promised to get all nursing home residents, staff, and essential caregivers in hot zones vaccinated by Jan 21, media reports said.
Nursing homes. Image credit: National Institute of Aging
1,024 residents in total were vaccinated on Monday, 850 on Tuesday and 750 Wednesday, said spokesperson Erica Di Maio in an email, Toronto Star news reported.
All eligible residents in the long-term care and retirement homes supported by East Toronto hospital have got their first shots.
The first round of doses of a two-part vaccine for all eligible residents across 22 homes at Michael Garron Hospital was completed on Wednesday.
The second shot is scheduled for about a month after the first.
The vaccination at St. Clair O’Connor Community Long-Term Care Home, which was hit hard in the first wave and lost eight people, was also completed.
The target date for when residents of long-term care homes outside of Toronto, Peel, York, and Windsor-Essex would be vaccinated depends on supplies from manufacturers, said the province.