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Alberta's top doctor came up with plan to lift all COVID-19 orders: health minister – The Record (New Westminster)

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CALGARY — Alberta’s health minister says it was the idea of the province’s chief medical health officer to end isolation requirements for those who test positive for COVID-19 or who have been in close contact with someone who has.

Tyler Shandro said Dr. Deena Hinshaw came to the government with the plan. He said the government agreed with science and data supporting it and wanted to respect the independence of her position. 

“It came from Dr. Hinshaw,” Shandro said Thursday when asked about the province’s strategy. “This is work that was developed by those who are in public health.”

He acknowledged concerns about moving forward so quickly. “We have many different opinions in the medical community and that’s to be expected and that’s encouraged.”

He also said that while Alberta is alone in Canada in the approach, others will eventually follow suit. 

“We are leading the way in moving to the endemic (phase of the COVID-19) response. We’ve led the way throughout in the response to the pandemic quite frankly.”

Hinshaw has always said she presents scientific evidence, numbers and trends, but the final decision on how to respond to pandemic developments lies with the government.

Close contacts of positive cases are no longer notified of exposure by contact tracers, nor are they required to isolate. The government has also ended asymptomatic testing.

As of Aug. 16, individuals who test positive won’t be legally required to isolate either — although it will still be recommended. Isolation hotels will close and quarantine supports will end. 

Reaction to Hinshaw’s announcement Wednesday was swift and critical — much of it on Twitter. Opposition politicians, the medical community and private citizens all weighed in.

On Thursday, Dr. Daniel Gregson, an infectious disease specialist with the University of Calgary, said the government’s decision to end mandated isolation is irresponsible. 

“The message we’re sending is that if you have an infection with COVID, or think you might have an infection with COVID, you can do whatever you want,” said Gregson. “I would not agree with that.”

He said a fourth wave is inevitable, primarily among young and healthy individuals. “We are going to see a bump in our hospitalizations. The question is how much?” 

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it’s inconceivable Alberta is eliminating almost all of its remaining COVID-19 public health orders as cases climb in the province.

“It is the height of insanity,” Nenshi said.

“It is putting the health of Albertans at risk to stop contact tracing, to stop testing people for the coronavirus and to become one of the first — if not the first — jurisdictions in the world to say that people who have tested positive, who are infectious, can just go about their lives.”

Nenshi said if he were in another jurisdiction he would contemplate travel restrictions on Albertans starting Aug. 16. 

“I’m aware of no science that backs this up,” he said. “Even the most fervent of the anti-maskers wouldn’t say (to) unleash people who are actually infectious into the population.”

Nenshi said he worries the decision to lift the orders is politically motivated and has nothing to do with science.

Rida Abboud also questioned the province’s motives. 

Abboud, who teaches at Calgary’s Mount Royal University and has a child starting kindergarten in the fall, said the United Conservatives are taking a gamble and the odds aren’t in their favour.

“I feel like I’m sending my child into the COVID Wild Wild West,” said Abboud. “It really feels like this government has no interest whatsoever in supporting families in … diminishing the risks to anyone under the age of 12 who can’t get vaccinated.”

She’s also worried about returning to the classroom come September. Abboud said poorly ventilated rooms and teaching an age cohort with lower vaccination rates is concerning, especially as it will be unknown who’s infected. 

“This government likes to gamble on a lot of different approaches. They’ve lost in many ways and this is, I think, unfortunately, another one,” she said. “It’s just so shocking and saddening that it’s on the backs of parents and women, in particular.” 

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley urged the government to reverse course with necessary resources.

“This isn’t fair to Albertans. It’s not fair for them to be exposed and not know,” Notley said. “It’s also quite reasonable to keep asking Albertans who are infected to stay home until they are no longer contagious.”

She said the changes will do little to encourage uptake of vaccines.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 29, 2021.

— With files from Dean Bennett in Edmonton

Bill Graveland and Alanna Smith, The Canadian Press


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Peel Region reports its first confirmed case of monkeypox – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Peel Region has its first confirmed case of monkeypox.

According to Peel Public Health, the person infected is an adult male in his 30s who lives in Mississauga.

The heath unit said the risk to the public remains low.

Monkeypox, which comes from the same virus family as smallpox, spreads though close contact with an infected individual. Most transmission happens through close contact with the skin lesions of monkeypox, but the virus can also be spread by large droplets or by sharing contaminated items.

To reduce risk of infection, people are advised to be cautious when engaging in intimate activities with others. Vaccination is available for high-risk contacts of cases and for those deemed at high risk of exposure to monkeypox.

Symptoms can include fever, headache, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash/lesions, which could appear on the face or genitals and then spread to other areas.

Anyone who develops these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider and avoid close contact with others until they have improved and rash/lesions have healed.

While most people recover on their own without treatment, those who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for monkeypox should self-monitor for symptoms, and contact PPH to see if they are eligible for vaccination.

The Mississauga case is at least the 34th confirmed case of the disease in Ontario, with dozens more under investigation.

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Monkeypox case count rises to more than 3400 globally, WHO says – The Globe and Mail

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More than 3,400 confirmed monkeypox cases and one death were reported to the World Health Organization as of last Wednesday, with a majority of them from Europe, the agency said in an update on Monday.

WHO said that since June 17, 1,310 new cases were reported to the agency, with eight new countries reporting monkeypox cases.

Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, WHO ruled last week, although WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was deeply concerned about the outbreak.

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Sudbury news: Northern agencies highlight national HIV testing day | CTV News – CTV News Northern Ontario

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Monday was national HIV testing day. Officials say this year’s theme surrounds how getting tested is an act of self-care.

From clinics to self-testing kits, groups in the north say there are many options to get tested and everyone should use whichever way works best for them.

Just more than a year ago, Reseau Access Network in Sudbury teamed with Ready to Know and Get a Kit, groups that provide HIV self-testing kits at a pickup location.

Officials said it has been a huge success.

“We get a consistent number throughout each month and I can’t really divulge those figures, unfortunately, but as part of the overall study I can tell you the pickup of self-tests is a fraction of the amount of tests being ordered,” said Angel Riess, of Reseau Access Network.

“There’s actually a lot of tests being shipped to homes directly but I can confirm that they have been active and there’s a significant number of people who have chosen to engage in both programs.”

Elsewhere, the Aids Committee of North Bay and Area held a point-of-care testing clinic to mark the day.

“It’s an opportunity for us to remind everyone that getting tested is essential. If you don’t know you have HIV, you can’t take the steps to try to mitigate the possibility of spread,” said executive director Stacey Mayhall.

In addition to stopping the spread, knowing whether you are positive sooner rather than later can allow for a better quality of life.

“HIV is not a death sentence that it used to be,” said Riess.

“There have been advances in testing and medication and people can live long, healthy lives living with HIV.”

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