Waterloo Public Health announced the first COVID-19-related death in the region in more than two months on Sunday.
The agency did not provide any further details of the first COVID-19-related death announced in Waterloo Region since Aug. 22.
The death, which is not related to an outbreak, is the 121st in the area since March.
Waterloo Public Health also reported 20 new positive tests for the coronavirus raising the total number of COVID-19 cases in the area to 121.
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There have now been 60 new cases announced in the area over the past three days.
Another 11 people were also cleared of the virus, lifting the total number of resolved cases to 1,295.
A new outbreak has been declared at the Conestoga-Doon Campus Child Care Centre after one positive test was recorded.
An outbreak was also announced on Saturday at the Holy Spirit Catholic Elementary School in Cambridge.
This is the second outbreak announced involving a Catholic school in the region as one was also announced involving Holy Spirit Catholic Elementary School in Kitchener on Thursday.
There are two other active outbreaks remaining in Waterloo Region including one involving a manufacturing facility and one connected to the utilities sector.
Ontario reported 977 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 76,707.
It’s a slight decrease in the number of cases compared to Saturday, when 1,015 were reported.
“Locally, there are 279 new cases in Toronto, 238 in Peel, 130 in Ottawa and 113 in York Region,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.
Nine new deaths were also reported, bringing the provincial death toll to 3,145.
*With files from Global News’ Ryan Rocca
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Nurse texts dad, asking for ventilators, and a prototype is together in six days – Estevan Mercury
A few days after the global pandemic was declared, Jim Boire got a text from his daughter. Rebecca Erker, a Royal University Hospital intensive care unit nurse.
She is working on her PhD with the respiratory research centre in Saskatoon. As a result, she had a good understanding of what was at stake with COVID-19, and reason to be concerned.
Thankfully, Boire is president of RMD Engineering, a Saskatoon firm whose expertise ranges from beamlines for the Canada Light Source Synchrotron to industrial processes in potash mining, and a whole lot in between.
They’ve worked in uranium, agriculture, and a lot of research and development. His company (which Boire owns with four other partners, all employees) had the expertise and capacity to do something about it. And so they did.
“I got my text from my daughter on March 18. March 24, we had our first prototype built,” Boire said. Now the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) announced Wednesday it would be taking delivery of 100 new ventilators, known as the EUV-SK1, in short order. The first 20 are ready to go out the door, and the company has most of the parts in place to build as many as 1,000 units.”
RMD Engineering Inc.’s subsidiary, One Health Medical Technologies, recently received COVID-19 Medical Device Authorization from Health Canada for an in-house designed, developed and manufactured ventilator. Collaborating with the University of Saskatchewan and SHA subject matter experts, RMD Engineering was able to successfully prototype an emergency use ventilator for Health Canada certification.
According to a Ministry of Health press release, there are currently approximately 650 ventilators available in Saskatchewan’s health system, enough to meet the need. They range from high-end critical care type ventilators to more basic sub-acute ventilators. The SHA’s purchase from RMD will increase that number to about 750.
But getting from a text to a prototype for an approved ventilator wasn’t easy, nor was it a quick process.
Very early on, the deans of both the University of Saskatchewan College of Engineering and College of Medicine got involved. Top respiratory technologies, respirologists, and ICU nurses were brought in within short order to develop this totally new product.
Boire said, “As soon as we asked for them to help, they helped with open arms. And you have a team like that, that knows exactly what something is supposed to do. And the capability to build something that can do that, then all you need are the codes and standards and validation equipment to make sure it meets the required level of quality.”
Asked if it was like converting to war production in 1940, Boire said, “I’ll tell you, that’s exactly the way it started.
“It felt like a military operation, if I was ever involved in a military operation, but I wasn’t. However, as soon as we got through the point where this is going to work, this design is going to work, here’s what we have to do now, a group of people said, ‘You know what? We get it. This is like a military operation, everybody’s doing this, let’s just go, go, go.’
“They stopped and said, ‘You know what, it’s probably time now that everybody starts looking at this as the biggest humanitarian effort this company has ever done.’ And it was just an awesome way to get out of that firefighting mode. And then one of our instrumentation leads said, ‘This is not a sprint. You guys can’t keep working 18 hours a day. This is going to be a marathon.’
“And it really helped pull the whole team back down to the ground, and get them out of that adrenaline mode, and really start focusing on the work breakdown, structure in the tasks at hand, and who’s responsible for what and what’s this timing going look like and when is this going in.”
His references to firefighting are authentic, as the company has built support equipment for water bombers.
They soon realized that the whole world was looking for critical parts, which almost immediately went into short supply and were being hoarded. Some items, like wire, saw huge price spikes. So RMD quickly realized it had to work on this project quietly, and develop a product that avoided critical path component shortages.
Boire said, “Instead of using the newer, more conventional turbine method, we knew those would be a hot commodity, when the world proclaimed they needed over a million of these. As you can imagine, that turbine is a complicated piece of equipment. We went the other way. We went back to being simple,” Boire said. “We have very, very few moving parts in our machine. There’s four moving parts.”
He explained, “This is an emergency use ventilator, so it needs to be used in the hospital or in an emergency hospital situation where they have line medical air and line oxygen so that’ll be running at 50 PSI. And then we control everything with proportional solenoids.”
There are two tubes coming into the device, which is in a large Pelican case, and two tubes coming out. They had them on hand because of another government project they’re working on. The lid includes an IBM screen.
“They’re all high reliability components,” he said. It runs off 110 volt AC power.
You set it up beside the bed, hook up the lines, hook up the power and put in the appropriate prescription.
They had previously made the biomedical imaging line for the Canadian Light Source, but they weren’t a medical device manufacturer. The list of specifications, protocols and standards was extensive.
And those standards, in some ways, simplify things. Boire said, “We don’t have any proprietary stuff on there, so all of the circuits, all the nebulizers everything fits on there. All that is covered off in standards. And I think that’s one of the biggest things to understand is when you go down this path, it is very prescriptive on everything. The machine has to do all of the standards it has to meet, including operational standards.”
He added, “It’s probably a foot tall, the stack of standards, when you put them together. You have to meet the electrical requirements, the operational requirements, the safety requirements. You don’t get to just build something in your backyard, and then tell everybody you have it. When you go and look at the requirements, when you submit to Health Canada, it is an armful. And I think we’ve spent just about $30,000 on standards. There is a lot of standards that you have to meet.”
Government funds suicide-prevention programs for Indigenous youth, post-secondary students – Times Colonist
The B.C. government will spend $2.3 million to expand mental-health supports and suicide-prevention programs for First Nations and Métis youth and post-secondary students who are at risk of mental-health decline amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding comes as new data released by the Canadian Mental Health Association and the University of British Columbia show that British Columbians are struggling with stress, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and hopelessness during the second wave of the pandemic.
Indigenous youth, who are disproportionately affected by suicide, will receive more help through the First Nations Health Authority, which will be given $800,000 to expanded suicide-prevention and life-promotion activities in First Nations communities across the province.
The funding will also allow the health authority’s youth advisory committees to expand to more regions. Another $200,000 will support Métis Nation B.C., which will develop Métis-specific online mental health support courses, as well as anti-stigma and awareness campaigns.
Dr. Nel Wieman, acting deputy chief medical officer for the First Nations Health Authority, said in a statement that First Nations youth suicide has been a longstanding concern and more funding for suicide-prevention programs is critical to build on the work the health authority is doing.
“It is often said our youth are our future, but they are also our present and their mental health needs are urgent,” he said.
The remaining $1.3 million will support the B.C. branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, which will expand suicide-prevention programs.
The CMHA will also distribute grants to post-secondary institutions that will engage students at risk and offer new treatment, supports and referral programs. The expanded programs will include training for students, teachers and other members of the school community, to increase awareness of the supports available for students struggling with their mental health.
“Expanding the reach of suicide-prevention programs for students and Indigenous youth gets more young people access to the tools, skills and community supports they need to cope in challenging times,” Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson said in a statement.
The CMHA on Monday released the results of a nationwide survey showing 42 per cent of British Columbians reported that their mental health has deteriorated since the beginning of the pandemic.
The report found that 69 per cent of British Columbians were worried about the second wave of the virus, 55 per cent were worried about a loved one or family member dying or contracting the virus themselves, and 51 per cent were worried about being separated from family and friends. About 13 per cent of B.C. residents said they have increased the use of substances such as alcohol or cannabis as a coping mechanism.
The survey, carried out from Sept. 14 to 21, heard from 3,027 Canadians, including 445 British Columbians.
Anyone who is struggling with their mental health or experiencing experiencing suicidal thoughts can contact the Vancouver Island Crisis Line at 1-888-494-3888.
Post-secondary students can access Here2Talk, a free province-wide mental health and counselling referral service that is available 24-7 via online chat and telephone.
It's winter. It's cold. How do I deal with a mask that freezes? – CBC.ca
There is a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon. But first, winter.
We’ve been hearing the warnings for weeks. It’s going to be a long, hard few months.
People who live in Canada fashion themselves as cold weather warriors — able to withstand -20 C temperatures. This year, that could be an especially good thing.
The advice from medical experts is to resist retreating indoors where COVID-19 is much more easily transmitted. Bundle up, mask up if necessary, and get outside as much as possible.
“You know, if you’ve ever wanted to learn broomball, this is your chance,” said Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious diseases specialist at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital and an assistant professor at McGill University.
But what about masks in winter? Do they still work if they get wet? Do you really need to wear them outside anyway?
Here’s some advice for how best to tackle the coming winter pandemic months.
Will my mask work if it gets wet and/or freezes?
The short answer is probably not. Oughton, officials from Health Canada and the Centers for Disease Control in the United States pretty much agree that once a mask gets wet, it’s no longer fully effective.
And that’s why you should always have back-up masks.
There is no concrete, scientific data on mask efficacy in cold weather. However, when you breathe through a mask in cold conditions, the moisture from your warm breath collects on the mask. It tends to stay warm enough on the inside due to your body temperature to remain liquid, but will freeze on the outside.
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That leads to two mask issues Oughton said: they become harder to breathe through; and become less effective at “capturing respiratory droplets and preventing them from leaving the proximity of someone’s mouth and nose.”
But that doesn’t mean they are completely useless, according to Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and an associate professor at McMaster University.
“Masks offer a little bit more [protection], particularly in those settings where people are bunched up outdoors, where there may be a bit more risk of transmission.”
Oughton said if you are going to wear a mask outdoors in the cold for a long period of time, you should have two or three back-ups, so you can keep a dry one on.
And most important: make sure the mask is cloth. The paper kind — the surgical style ones — degrade and tear far more easily when they get wet, said Oughton.
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Do you really need a mask out in the cold?
It depends on the circumstances.
Being outdoors while observing proper distancing measures is “really, really protective” on its own, according to Chagla. He said the documented cases of outdoor transmission of COVID-19 have involved situations like barbecues or people watching a sports event, gathered together for longer periods of time.
For activities like going for a walk in your neighbourhood or skating on a not-too-crowded rink, he said the risk of transmission is very low. But he does advise that if you are going in and out of stores, or getting on and off transit while doing errands, it is best to just keep the mask on the whole time to minimize touching the mask and potential contamination.
The advice is the same if you are planning to gather with others over the holidays for an outdoor gift exchange or short visit. If you can maintain distance, you should be fine as long as there is no eating and drinking or singing, all of which create more droplets in the air. If you’re going to be closer, exchanging gifts perhaps, best to put on a mask.
Is a scarf a good alternative to a mask?
No. Medical experts point out that there is too much variation in scarves and neck gaiters for them to be used as masks. Stitching can be too loose and the material too thin to be an effective barrier to potentially infected droplets — both going out or coming in.
But both physicians agree it might keep your mask from freezing and therefore be more comfortable for the wearer to put a scarf up over it.
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Unfortunately, people tend to pull their mask aside or off when they sneeze or cough, which kind of defeats the purpose of it, Chagla said.
“It is horrible to sneeze in a mask,” he said. “I give you that.” But he urges people to make sure they are in an area away from people if they are going to pull it off to sneeze, or even to blow their nose, as that is one of the best ways to spread infection.
And be careful when you pull your mask aside to blow your nose. Don’t let it get snotty, both doctors say, and after blowing your nose, sanitize your hands before you replace your mask.
So with all the issues with masks, is it best just to stay indoors this winter?
The resounding answer to this one is no. On the contrary.
“The indoor stuff is like a hundred times more worrisome than the outdoor stuff,” Chagla said.
He cites factors including poor ventilation, crowded rooms, people being together for prolonged periods of time, eating and drinking together.
He said this year, people are going to have to change the way they think about socializing if they don’t want to just get stuck for months with the people they live with or having nothing but virtual get-togethers.
“I think we have to start changing our attitudes and saying the outdoors is going to be the way. We just have to make it appropriate for people to do it.”
Municipalities across the country are coming up with guidelines for outdoor activities, such as skating, to make sure they don’t get too crowded. Many are restricting the number of people allowed on the ice at any given time in order to better maintain a safe distance between skaters, with some bringing in online pre-registration to book ice time.
If you go, change your skates in the car or out on a bench, rather than in a public hut, Oughton said.
Among other outdoor measures, Toronto is also adding an additional 60 kilometres of paved recreational trails and pathways with snow maintenance and is encouraging communities to apply for permits to build and maintain new rinks.
The City of Calgary is also adding to its outdoor options with the North Glenmore Ice Trail, where people can skate 730 metres of connected track and the installation of fire pits in key spots around the city.
Todd Reichardt, a Calgary parks manager, said the plans should enable people to maintain social distance and make the most of the season.
“There’s something about being outside when it’s cold and you smell like wood smoke,” he said. “It just puts a smile on people’s faces.”
In Manitoba, ski resorts have been working on plans to make skiing a safe pandemic activity, while Montreal is setting up cross-country ski trails at each of the city’s large parks, as well as trails for snowshoeing and walking.
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