CAMPBELLTON, N.B. — People from a city in northern New Brunswick lined up outside testing centres Saturday, anxiously waiting to find out if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19.
Health officials have been focusing on Campbellton, N.B., since earlier in the week when it was learned that a health-care professional who contracted the novel coronavirus outside the province didn’t self-isolate after returning to New Brunswick.
Public Health officials confirmed another new case in Zone 5, the Campbellton region, Saturday — bringing to nine the number of active cases in the area in just over a week.
The new case, which is under investigation, is an individual in their 70s.
To date, there have been 129 confirmed cases in New Brunswick and 120 people have recovered from their illness.
Three people are hospitalized and there are no patients in an intensive care unit.
Campbellton Mayor Stephanie Anglehart-Paulin said people were waiting about 15 minutes in the lineups to be tested, while seniors could call the 811 Tele-Care line to make an appointment to avoid the lines.
She said people are not happy that a health-care professional would put the public at risk.
“People have been pretty hateful and nasty on social media,” she said.
The mayor said she was embarrassed by many of the comments and urged people to help each other and limit their contacts for the next two weeks.
“The man is human and I don’t think it’s my place to judge him. His professional association will judge what they have to judge if there was any wrongdoing done,” she said.
Premier Blaine Higgs has criticized the worker at the centre of the cluster as “irresponsible.” He said this week that information had been passed to the RCMP and suggested the individual could be charged with violating public health orders.
On Friday, a spokeswoman for the New Brunswick RCMP confirmed that the force is looking into the matter.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said people need to show understanding, forgiveness and compassion during this pandemic.
“Please remember that COVID-19 brings out many emotions in us,” said Russell. “It causes many of us to experience feelings of confusion, anxiety, fear and grief. Some may also be angry. It is completely normal to feel these feelings when we face situations that are beyond our control.”
Gilles Lanteigne, president and CEO of the Vitalite Health Network confirmed the health-care professional thought to be patient zero in the outbreak has been suspended from work indefinitely after coming into contact with more than 100 people at the Campbellton Regional Hospital.
Elective surgeries have been suspended, and ambulances are being diverted to another hospital. Zone 5 has been moved back to the “orange” phase of the province’s reopening plan, with previous restrictions reinstated.
“We can get through this. It all will be fine,” Anglehart-Paulin said.
“We’ve got 14 days they tell us to hold our breath, so we’re going to hold our breath for another 14 days.”
Russell said everyone must be vigilant and self monitor for symptoms, regardless if they have been recently tested for COVID-19.
Before the Campbellton area cases, the province had gone two weeks without new cases and was actively reopening many businesses and services.
The latest cases follow a protest earlier in the month by more than 400 people from Campbellton and the Quebec communities of Pointe-a-la-Croix and Listuguj First Nation, calling for a “bubble” to be created between them.
Anglehart-Paulin said the flood of emails she was getting in support of opening the border suddenly stopped when the latest cases were reported.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 30, 2020.
— By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton.
US COVID-19 vaccine program to start manufacturing by late summer, says US official – The Jakarta Post – Jakarta Post
Drugmakers partnered with the US government are on track to begin actively manufacturing a vaccine for COVID-19 by the end of the summer, a senior administration official said on Monday.
“If you say exactly when will literally the vaccine materials be in production and manufacturing, it is probably four to six weeks away, but we will be actively manufacturing by the end of summer,” the official, who declined to be identified by name, said.
He added that the administration is already working with companies to equip and outfit manufacturing facilities and acquire raw materials.
The Trump administration has helped finance the development of four COVID-19 vaccines so far though its Operation Warp Speed Program, which aims to produce 300 million vaccine doses by the end of 2021.
The US government has given grants ranging from several hundred million dollars to over $1 billion to Johnson & Johnson , Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Novovax Inc.
It also signed a $450 million contract earlier this month with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc to help it supply therapies for patients who are sick with the virus.
Clinical trials for therapeutics can produce results in a matter of weeks, making it possible to produce hundreds of thousands of doses by fall, the senior administration official said.
“While we think is fair to say that vaccine progress is occurring at warp speed pace, faster than any vaccines have been developed in history, therapeutics are even faster,” the official said.
The “slate is not closed” for additional funding agreements and the administration plans to announce more in the future, the official said.
The novel coronavirus has infected more than 3 million people in the United States and killed more than 130,000.
Russia may start Phase III trial of COVID-19 vaccine in mid-August: RIA – The Jakarta Post – Jakarta Post
A Russian institute developing one of the country’s potential coronavirus vaccines hopes to start its final stage testing in a small section of the general public in mid-August, the RIA news agency cited the institute’s director as saying on Monday.
Globally, of 19 experimental COVID-19 vaccines in human trials, only two are in final Phase III trials – one by China’s Sinopharm and another by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford. China’s Sinovac Biotech is set to become the third later this month.
Early results from the first small-scale human trial of the vaccine developed by the Gamaleya Institute in Moscow has shown it to be safe for use, according to a separate RIA report on Sunday.
“Around 14-15 August, I hope, the small amount of vaccine that we should be able to produce will enter public circulation,” Alexander Ginsburg, the institute’s director, was quoted as saying.
This will be equivalent to a Phase III trial, since people getting the vaccine will remain under supervision, RIA reported, citing Ginsburg.
Phase I and Phase II trials typically test the safety of a drug before it enters Phase III trials that test its efficacy on a bigger group of volunteers.
Human trials of the Gamaleya Institute’s vaccine began on June 18, with nine volunteers receiving one dose, and another nine testing the prospective booster dose.
The group did not experience any significant side effects and is due to be released from hospital on Wednesday, RIA reported on Sunday, citing a director at the Sechenov University in Moscow where the trial took place.
“Data currently available… shows the volunteers to have developed an immune response to the coronavirus vaccine,” the defense ministry, involved in the trials, was cited by RIA as saying on Monday. Another 20 volunteers were administered the vaccine at a military hospital on June 23.
St. Catharines adopts mandatory mask bylaw for COVID-19 – StCatharinesStandard.ca
St. Catharines has become the first Niagara municipality to enact a mandatory mask bylaw for indoor public spaces from elevators to bingo halls in an effort to curb COVID-19.
Councillors questioned Niagara’s acting medical officer of health Mustafa Hirji at length about the effectiveness of masks before voting unanimously Monday night to adopt a draft bylaw that affects most people over the age of 10.
Mayor Walter Sendzik said the city doesn’t want to be a community that has to go backwards into lockdown because COVID-19 complacency set in.
“If this keeps us moving forward and not having to step back into Stage 2 or 1 when we get out of Stage 2, I think that will be for the benefit of everybody,” said Sendzik, adding he understands the frustrations of those opposed to the bylaw.
“These are difficult decisions. We’ve all got the influx of emails and text messages and phone calls and everything else associated with it, but at the end of the day we all want to do what’s best for our community long term.”
The start date of the bylaw will be determined by the city’s CAO and mayor in consultation with the acting medical officer of health.
CAO Shelley Chemnitz said she’ll be meeting with Hirji to determine what the metrics will be to choose a date. The city’s communications staff and senior staff will work on a public education campaign and signage to support businesses and operators.
“It’s not that we have to come down hard on people for not doing things, but rather that we’re working together with them to all be successful,” she said.
Sendzik said realistically, the bylaw could be put into effect Tuesday if they want, but the education piece might take two or three weeks to fully implement in the community.
The bylaw adopted isn’t relying on mask police.
City solicitor Heather Salter said the enforcement is effectively through education and voluntary compliance. Business operators are required to have a policy in place but they are not required to enforce the policy or to prohibit entry. They are empowered by the bylaw to do so.
“This is the least restrictive type of bylaw. It doesn’t require the business operator to have somebody at the door who’s going to challenge people coming in without a mask,” she said.
“It really is a voluntary compliance situation with respect to the individuals.”
Other areas that have the same type of bylaw or rules directed at operators include Toronto, York, Ottawa and Simcoe-Muskoka.
Places like Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington have a similar rule but require operators to prohibit people from entering without masks.
The St. Catharines bylaw exempts people with medical conditions that inhibit their ability to wear a mask, people unable to apply or remove a mask without assistance, people who have protections under the human rights code that would prevent them from wearing a mask and people accommodating someone with a hearing disability.
Children 10 and under will be exempt, after a request by Merritton Coun. Lori Littleton that the age be raised from the draft bylaw’s age of two.
Individuals who claim an exemption are not required to provide proof of the exemption to protect their privacy.
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The rules affect any indoor place where the public gathers, including grocery stores, shopping malls, places of worship, libraries, bingo halls, hotel common areas and city-owned facilities, among others.
It does not include day cares, schools, public transportation, hospitals and health facilities and provincial and federal government buildings.
The bylaw states that anyone who contravenes any provision of the bylaw is guilty of an offence and upon conviction is libel to a fine, and other penalties in the provincial offences act.
St. Catharines held a special meeting of council on July 6 and directed staff to draft the temporary bylaw and request that Hirji attend Monday’s meeting.
Hirji has not issued a region-wide order to wear masks like some other Ontario public health heads have done, instead saying it is up to the politicians to make those type of rules.
He told councillors Monday that the research up until March said masks didn’t work, but that was based on influenza-like illnesses, not on COVID-19. Over the last three months or so, he said there has been research saying that unlike other respiratory viruses, face coverings may have an impact with COVID-19.
Hirji said most public health expert bodies are now recommending people wear face coverings when physical distancing is not possible.
When asked why council should introduce a bylaw now — Niagara is only seeing about two new cases of COVID-19 a day — Hirji said the province is starting to lift the restrictions in society that forced people to have distance from each other.
“The impetus for keeping ourselves safe from COVID-19 is more and more falling in our own personal responsibility,” he said, adding people need to be more vigilant than ever about keeping physical distance, washing hands, wearing face coverings when distance can’t be kept and getting tested if they have symptoms.
How long St. Catharines will keep a mask bylaw in place isn’t known.
Hirji said the only logical time to back off wearing face coverings is if there’s new research showing it’s not as effective as previously thought or there comes a point where there’s an effective vaccine.
“What we’re really trying to do is set a new social norm here that we’re going to live with for a year or two years, perhaps longer, hopefully not.”
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