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14 COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba as hospitalizations hit new high – CBC.ca

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There are 277 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba on Wednesday and 14 more people have died from the illness, Manitoba’s top doctor says.

While Manitoba’s daily new COVID-19 cases have started to stabilize, they’re still at a number too high for the province’s health-care system to sustain, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at a news conference on Wednesday.

“We can’t rest at these numbers, even though we’ve seen some minor improvements,” Roussin said. “We still have too much strain on our ICUs and hospitals and too much strain on our health-care professionals.”

There are now 351 people in hospital with the illness, Roussin said, a new high in the province. Of those people, 51 are in intensive care.

As of Wednesday morning, Manitoba’s critical care program was working at 147 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity, Shared Health Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa said at the news conference.

Patients with COVID-19 made up just under half of the 106 patients in critical care units, Siragusa said. Of the 78 on ventilators, 44 have the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, she said.

The deaths announced Wednesday include a woman in her 40s from the Winnipeg health region and seven others linked to outbreaks across the province, Roussin said.

Five are connected to sites in Winnipeg: two women in their 80s at the St. Norbert Personal Care Home, a woman in her 80s at the Golden Links Lodge, a woman in her 90s at the Bethania Mennonite Personal Care Home and a woman in her 90s at the Charleswood Care Centre.

The other two — women in their 80s and 90s — are linked to Rest Haven Nursing Home in Steinbach.

The remaining deaths announced Wednesday are two men in their 60s (in the Southern and Winnipeg health regions), two men in their 70s (in the Southern and Winnipeg health regions) and two women in their 80s (in the Southern and Winnipeg health regions).

The latest fatalities bring Manitoba’s total deaths linked to COVID-19 to 342.

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate — a rolling average of the COVID-19 tests that come back positive — is now 13.2 per cent. In Winnipeg, the rate is 14.5 per cent, Roussin said.

The latest cases bring the total number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Manitoba to 17,384. Of those, 8,072 have recovered and 8,970 are considered still active — though Roussin has previously said that number is inflated due to a data entry backlog.

Outbreaks have been declared at three more sites in Manitoba: the Morris General Hospital, the Rosewood Lodge Personal Care Home in Stonewall and Carpathia Children’s Centre in Winnipeg, Roussin said.

Outbreaks previously declared at St. Paul’s Personal Care Home in Dauphin and the Kekinan Centre in Winnipeg have been declared over.

Nearly three-quarters of the cases announced Wednesday (200) are in the Winnipeg health region. There are 28 new cases in the Northern Health region, 24 in the Southern Health region, 15 in the Interlake-Eastern health region and 10 in the Prairie Mountain Health region.

Sites where there were possible COVID-19 exposures are listed by region on the province’s website.

It has now been three weeks since all of Manitoba moved to the critical red level of the province’s pandemic response system.

Code red restrictions that went into effect on Nov. 12 included new rules limiting gatherings and closing non-essential businesses. Even tighter restrictions, banning gatherings in private homes and barring sales of non-essential goods even in businesses deemed essential services, were brought in on Nov. 20.

Premier Brian Pallister said on Tuesday his “gut feeling” was that those restrictions would likely be extended past the expiry date of Dec. 11 — though he said he would defer to Roussin, who said again on Wednesday that it’s still too early to say.

“We’re seeing our ICUs over capacity, our health-care system very strained, and Dec. 11 is coming up quite quickly,” he said. 

“I can’t advise on the specifics, but we’re going to have some restrictions in place for the near future, for the foreseeable future, because we just, we can’t sustain numbers like we’re seeing right now.”

Meanwhile, accused COVID-19 rule breakers were fined more than $180,000 in the last week, the province said on Tuesday.

About one-fifth of those tickets were related to gatherings larger than five people. Springs Church in Winnipeg was handed four fines totalling $20,000 for holding a drive-in service last weekend, data from the province says.

A new benefit announced Wednesday morning will allow Manitoba doctors who are forced to self-isolate because of COVID-19 to be compensated for their sick time away from work. The province has also signed a pay agreement that will allow nurses to be shifted to priority areas during the pandemic.

Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen is expected to give an update about the province’s plans for the winter school break at a news conference at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Health officials previously acknowledged Manitoba was considering extending that break, in anticipation of a rise in COVID-19 cases over the holidays.

On Tuesday, the province’s largest school division rehearsed for a switch to remote learning if schools are forced to shut down again because of COVID-19.

There were 2,182 more COVID-19 tests completed in Manitoba on Tuesday, bringing the total done in the province since early February to 360,039.

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Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 161.42 million, death toll at 3,488,751

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More than 161.42 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 3,488,751​ have died, according to a Reuters tally.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territories since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/2FThSv7 in an external browser.

Eikon users can click  for a case tracker.

The following table lists the top 50 countries by the number of reported cases. A complete list is available with the above links.

COUNTRIES AND TOTAL DEATHS CONFIRMED DEATHS PER

TERRITORIES CASES 10,000

INHABITANTS

United States 584,768 32,926,288 17.9

India 262,317 24,046,809 1.94

Brazil 430,417 15,433,989 20.55

France 107,423 5,848,154 16.04

Turkey 44,301 5,095,390 5.38

Russia 254,590 4,922,901 17.62

United Kingdom 127,668 4,446,824 19.21

Italy 123,927 4,146,722 20.51

Spain 79,339 3,604,799 16.95

Germany 85,903 3,579,871 10.36

Argentina 69,254 3,242,103 15.56

Colombia 79,760 3,067,879 16.06

Poland 71,311 2,849,014 18.78

Iran 76,433 2,732,152 9.34

Mexico 219,901 2,375,115 17.43

Ukraine 47,620 2,143,448 10.67

Peru 65,316 1,873,316 20.02

Indonesia 47,823 1,734,285 1.79

Czech Republic 29,857 1,651,178 28.09

South Africa 55,012 1,605,252 9.52

Netherlands 17,423 1,589,282 10.11

Canada 24,825 1,312,408 6.7

Chile 27,520 1,266,601 14.69

Iraq 15,910 1,134,859 4.14

Philippines 18,958 1,131,467 1.78

Romania 29,413 1,070,605 15.11

Sweden 14,275 1,037,126 14.03

Belgium 24,645 1,026,473 21.56

Pakistan 19,384 873,220 0.91

Portugal 16,999 841,379 16.53

Israel 6,379 839,076 7.18

Hungary 29,041 796,390 29.71

Bangladesh 12,102 779,535 0.75

Jordan 9,203 722,754 9.24

Serbia 6,646 705,185 9.52

Switzerland 10,179 679,510 11.96

Japan 11,396 673,821 0.9

Austria 10,455 635,780 11.83

United Arab Emirates 1,626 543,610 1.69

Lebanon 7,569 534,968 11.05

Morocco 9,091 514,670 2.52

Malaysia 1,822 462,190 0.58

Nepal 4,669 439,658 1.66

Saudi Arabia 7,134 431,432 2.12

Bulgaria 17,194 413,320 24.48

Ecuador 19,442 405,783 11.38

Slovakia 12,168 387,162 22.34

Greece 11,322 373,881 10.55

Belarus 2,681 373,351 2.83

Panama 6,288 369,455 15.05

Source: Reuters tally based on statements from health ministries and government officials

Generated at 10:00 GMT.

 

(Editing by David Clarke)

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Canada plots course to fully vaccinated return to gatherings in fall

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Canada on Friday said there would be a gradual return to a world with indoor sports and family gatherings as more people get vaccinated, but it did not go as far as the United States in telling people they could eventually ditch their masks.

Canada has administered one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to just over half its adult population, and the country may be over the worst of its current third wave of infections, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said.

On Thursday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and can avoid wearing them indoors in most places, guidance the agency said will allow life to begin to return to normal.

On Friday, Canada‘s public health agency offered guidelines to the 10 provinces, which are responsible for public health restrictions.

The agency says once 75% of Canadians have had a single dose and 20% are fully vaccinated, some restrictions can be relaxed to allow small, outdoor gatherings with family and friends, camping, and picnics.

Once 75% of those eligible are fully vaccinated in the fall, indoor sports and family gatherings can be allowed again.

“I think masks might be the last layer of that multi-layer protection that we’ll advise people to remove,” Tam told reporters, noting that in Canada colder temperatures meant people would start spending more time indoors in the fall.

“We are taking a bit of a different approach to the United States,” she added. While in most of Canada masks are not required outdoors, they are mandatory indoors.

Less than 4% of Canada‘s adult population has been fully vaccinated compared to more than 36% of Americans.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has promised that everyone who wants to can be fully vaccinated by September, this week spoke of a “one-dose summer” and a “two-dose fall” without explaining what that might look like.

 

(Reporting by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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Delayed 2nd Pfizer/BioNTech shot boosts antibodies in elderly; COVID-19 obesity risk higher for men

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The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Delaying second Pfizer/BioNTech dose boosts antibodies in elderly

Delaying the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine beyond the originally recommended three-week gap used by the companies in clinical trials appears to induce a stronger antibody response in the elderly, UK researchers found. Shortly after the vaccine became available, UK health officials advised that the second dose should be given 12 weeks after the first to allow more people to get protected by a first dose early on. In a new paper seen by Reuters and expected to appear on medRxiv on Friday ahead of peer review, researchers found that among 175 people ages 80 to 99, those who got their second dose at 12 weeks had antibody responses that were 3.5 times higher than those who got it after three weeks. Antibodies are only one part of the immune system, and vaccines also generate T cells that fight infections. The peak T cell responses were higher in the group with a three-week interval between doses, and the authors cautioned against drawing conclusions on how protected individuals were based on which dosing schedule they received. (https://reut.rs/3wjPK9B)

Impact of obesity on COVID-19 risks may be greater in men

The known increased risk of severe COVID-19 and death linked to obesity may be even more pronounced for men than women, new data suggest. Researchers studied 3,530 hospitalized COVID-19 patients with an average age of 65, including 1,469 who were obese. In men, moderate obesity was associated with a significantly higher risk of developing severe disease, needing mechanical breathing assistance and dying from COVID-19. (The threshold for moderate obesity is a body mass index (BMI) of 35. In an 5-foot, five-inch tall (1.65 m) adult, that would correspond to a weight of 210 pounds (95 kg). In women, however, only a BMI of 40 or higher, indicating severe obesity, was linked with the increased risks. In a report published in European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, the researchers note that while obesity is known to be linked with body-wide inflammation, patients’ levels of inflammatory proteins did not appear to explain the association between obesity and severe illness. For now, they conclude, “particular attention should be paid” to protecting patients with obesity from the coronavirus, “with priority to vaccination access, remote work, telemedicine, and other measures given the higher risk of adverse outcomes once they are diagnosed with COVID-19.” (https://bit.ly/3eO6GiA)

COVID-19 testing rates low among symptomatic Americans

Sick Americans appear to be passing up opportunities to get tested for coronavirus and thus are likely unknowingly spreading the infection throughout their communities, new research shows. Among 37,000 adults across the United States who participated in a smartphone app survey between March and October 2020, nearly 2,700 reported at least one episode of fever and chills. But according to a report published in JAMA Network Open, only a small fraction reported receiving a COVID-19 test result within seven days of the onset of illness. At first, as tests became more accessible, the numbers improved. In early April 2020, less than 10% of survey participants reporting illness with fever received test results within a week. By late July, that proportion had increased to 24.1%. Throughout the summer and fall, as tests became easier to find, the number of sick participants who reported getting tested remained flat. By late October, only 26% reported receiving a test result within a week of febrile illness. “It’s shocking to me that when people have a fever they’re still not getting tested,” said coauthor Dr. Mark Pletcher of the University of California, San Francisco. “Tests are easy to come by. People might have coronavirus, might be spreading it to their friends and neighbors, and they’re not getting tested.” (https://bit.ly/2QUyMzf)

Open  in an external browser for a Reuters graphic on vaccines in development.

 

(Reporting by Nancy Lapid, Alistair Smout and Ronnie Cohen; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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