B.C. will not be requiring non-essential travellers from out of province to quarantine.
During a press conference Wednesday, Premier John Horgan said, unlike Manitoba, which recently introduced measures that require all non-essential out-of-province travellers to quarantine for 14 days, British Columbia will not be doing the same.
“It would be a logistical challenge,” he said.
Horgan said the decision was made after examining the “legal and other ramifications” of bringing forward restrictions on domestic non-essential travel and the fact that there are too many ways to get into B.C. compared to Manitoba. However, he said things could change if COVID-19 cases are linked to more people from out of province.
“If we see, through public health, an increase in the number of people from outside of British Columbia is contributing significantly to the increase in community outbreaks, we will take action. We did the legal work, we know what we would be required to do to put in place restrictions on internal travel, but we don’t believe its necessary at this time,” he said.
“Per capita their case counts are frightening, I can understand why [Manitoba] would want to do that,” Horgan said, adding that there were enough challenges implementing the federal government’s quarantine requirement.
Implementing such a measure would need to be effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19, said Horgan.
“We don’t want to make symbolic statements, we want to make sure we are suppressing community spread and that means following the orders that are in place,” he said.
While British Columbia might not be restricting domestic travel for the time being, the premier had a strong warning for those coming here.
“If you are coming to British Columbia on non-essential travel … you better behave appropriately, you better follow our public health guidelines or we will come down you like a ton of bricks,” said Horgan.
“We want to welcome you to British Columbia . . . but not today.”
Horgan’s remarks came on the one year anniversary since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the province.
“These have been challenging times in terms of personal behaviour, we have seen extraordinary acts of kindness and we have seen brutal acts of racism and violence against people for no particular beyond the colour of their skin,” said Horgan.
The premier’s remarks also come just a few days after Dr. Bonnie Henry reminded British Columbians to reduce their non-essential contacts while urging residents to “do more” to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Horgan said the majority of British Columbians have stepped up and done their part and that Henry’s comments were directed at a “small group” of people who continue to flaunt the orders.
“The notion that someone with a penthouse condo in Vancouver declaring it a nightclub and not allowing the law enforcement to ensure that they are living up to public health regulations, that is the type behaviour that Dr. Henry was talking about on Monday,” said Horgan, referring to a Vancouver man who was fined after he turned his condo into a makeshift nightclub.
“We need people who are not paying attention to give themselves a bit of a shake and get with the rest of us.”
Federal corrections must improve workplace for parole officers’ mental health: report
OTTAWA — A new report calls on federal corrections to ease caseloads, improve workplace policies and give added resources to parole officers in order to mitigate current strains on their mental health.
The report, led by public safety expert Rosemary Ricciardelli and released by a union, says that federal parole officers are experiencing extremely high levels of workplace stress and compromised mental health.
These 1,600 parole officers across Canada feel overwhelmed by their caseloads, are exposed to violent and traumatic material in client files, and need mental health supports, the report said.
Working either in an institution or in the community, parole officers are tasked with preparing imprisoned people to reintegrate back into communities, and address issues that brought that person to jail, according to the report.
Ricciardelli, currently a research chair in safety, security and wellness at the school of maritime studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland, said she found the well-being of parole officers moved in tandem with the well-being of their clients.
“If they were worried or concerned about a client’s ability in re-entry, or if a client has specific needs, or anything, their mental health became more compromised,” said Ricciardelli, who has extensive experience in criminal justice system research.
Parole officers are grappling with wanting to do more but being unable to because of their caseload, Ricciardelli added.
When people are released from prison into the community, parole officers are supposed to understand any potential risks that person poses and how those can be managed, said David Neufeld, national president for the Union of Safety and Justice Employees.
“The fact is that parole officers, if they are not mentally or physically well, it makes it very difficult to do the work that they’re doing. Most Canadians don’t understand that every single day, parole officers encounter graphic files, working with files that document incidents of violence,” Neufeld said.
The high levels of stress parole officers face on the job makes their work more challenging, particularly from the accountability and responsibility that comes with assessing risks in determining whether someone is ready for release into the community, he said.
“They are first responders. They are the front line to ensure public safety. And in order to do that, they do compromise themselves,” added Ricciardelli.
“They’re protecting public safety in a way that we just don’t appreciate. And it’s going to take a toll.”
The correctional system has been under strain since 2014 when Stephen Harper’s Conservative government tasked departments with reducing spending in order to meet its savings targets, said Neufeld.
When it came to parole officers, the Correctional Service of Canada re-evaluated the work parole officers do and reduced the number of staff required to do the work, raising caseloads for staff, he said.
Prior to 2014, one parole officer was assigned to 25 imprisoned people in medium- and maximum-security prisons.
After the cuts, officers had to manage 28 to 30 cases in those same types of prisons. In minimum-security prisons, officers are assigned to 25 cases, said Neufeld.
Alongside the increased caseloads, the work has become more complex to appropriately manage cases for racialized Canadians and Indigenous Peoples, women and those with mental health needs, he added.
The study is based on in-depth interviews with parole officers employed by Correctional Service Canada across the country, conducted between August and September 2020.
Correctional Service Canada takes the issues raised by parole officers in the report very seriously, according to spokesperson Marie Pier Lécuyer in a statement Wednesday.
The agency is actively reviewing options to ensure resources and distribution of cases are “appropriate” and will continue to work with the union, said Lécuyer.
Staff have access to employee assistance, a stress management program and information sessions on mental health, she said.
All new parole officers are required to take mental health preparedness training, and the agency will resume mental health refresher training for all parole officers “once the COVID-19 pandemic is over,” Lécuyer said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Erika Ibrahim, The Canadian Press
Unexplained hepatitis cases rise to 429 across 22 countries, WHO says – The Irish Times
Cases of unexplained hepatitis have risen to at least 429 in 22 countries, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The number of countries reporting at least five cases has doubled since the last WHO briefing in April, from six to 12. Nine of these countries are in Europe.
A further 40 possible cases of acute liver disease are awaiting classification, officials told a press conference in Geneva on Tuesday.
Six children have died and 26 have required transplants, according to Prof Philippa Easterbrook of the WHO’s global hepatitis programme. About 75 per cent of cases are in children aged under five years.
Although the cause remains unclear, scientists are still investigating whether the cases were caused by an adenovirus activating an inflammatory response, possibly after a previous Covid-19 infection.
In Ireland, one child has died after being treated for the disease, and a second has received a liver transplant, the Health Service Executive reported last week.
Six probable cases of children with hepatitis of unknown cause have been detected in Ireland since the UK issued an alert in April.
The six children were aged between one and 12 years of age. All were hospitalised.
Meanwhile, Covid-19 cases rose in four out of six regions of the world last week, according to WHO secretary general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus. With testing and sequencing programmes being reduced in many countries, he said it was increasingly difficult to know “where the virus is and how it’s mutating”.
Officials expressed concern about virus outbreaks in North Korea, where state media has said there are about 1.4 million suspected cases, and Eritrea, which has yet to start vaccinating its population.
High levels of transmission of the coronavirus among unvaccinated people, such as in North Korea, creates a higher risk of new variant, a WHO official said.
“Certainly it’s worrying if countries . . . are not using the tools that are now available,” said WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan in response to a question about the outbreak in North Korea.
“WHO has repeatedly said that where you have unchecked transmission there is always a higher risk of new variants emerging,” he said.
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on Covid-19, said the notion that the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is mild was false and this narrative needed to be corrected. Omicron, in all its sublineages, can cause anything from asymptomatic infection to death, she pointed out, though vaccination provides protection. – Additional reporting: Reuters
The Characteristics of Patients Who Develop Long-COVID Symptoms – Neurology Advisor
Nearly one-third of patients with symptomatic COVID-19 developed symptoms of postacute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 (PASC), according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Patients who have recovered from COVID-19 frequently report PASC symptoms such as fatigue, dyspnea, and anosmia. Prior studies describing PASC have focused on hospitalized adult patients or patients with mild COVID-19 treated in outpatient settings up to 9 months following infection. Cohorts of patients with PASC have included small proportions of individuals of minority groups. This is the first study to examine the association of ethnicity, social vulnerability, and insurance status with developing PASC, according to the researchers.
They analyzed data of 1038 participants (aged 60 years; interquartile range [IQR], 37 to 83 years; 42% Latino, 30% White) in the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Health COVID Ambulatory Monitory Program. The patients completed follow-up surveys at 30, 60, or 90 days after hospital discharge or outpatient diagnosis. Eighty percent of patients followed up after their illness.
PASC were reported by 29.8% of patients at least 60 days after acute illness (30.8% of patients treated in hospitals, 26.5% of high-risk outpatients).
At 30 days, the most commonly reported symptoms were fatigue (73.2%), shortness of breath (63.6%), fevers and chills (51.5%), and muscle aches (50.6%). At 60 days, fatigue (31.4%), shortness of breath (13.9%), and loss of taste or smell (9.8%).
Fatigue was the most common symptom among both hospitalized and outpatient patients. About 15% of hospitalized patients experienced shortness of breath, and about 16% of outpatients experienced loss of taste or smell.
PASC patients in outpatient care were more likely to be younger, White, women, and commercially insured. Hospitalized patients were more likely to report PASC symptoms if they were women. Patients with history of organ transplant were less likely to develop PASC.
Hospitalization for COVID-19 (OR, 1.49 95% CI 1.04-2.14), having diabetes (odds ratio [OR], 1.39; 95% CI, 1.02-1.88), and higher body mass index (OR, 1.02; 95% CI, 1.0002–1.04), were linked with developing PASC. Patients with Medicaid (OR, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.31-0.77) or history of organ transplant (OR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.26-9.76) were less likely to develop PASC.
The researchers said the lack of association between age or race with developing PASC may be influenced by access to the same health system with standardized follow-up, importance of risk factors for contracting COVID-19 compared with recovering from COVID-19, or variance in symptoms and expectations across demographic groups and ability of tools detecting PASC to realize those differences. Variation in symptoms between hospitalized patients and outpatient treated patients is likely due to differences in clinical phenotypes, according to the researchers.
Study limitations included potential self-report bias, referral bias, survivorship bias, evaluation of a limited number of PASC symptoms, no control group of patients with persistent symptoms following hospital admissions unrelated to COVID, and limited knowledge of pre-existing conditions.
“Understanding the effects of long COVID will allow for more effective education among patients and providers, and allow for appropriate healthcare resource utilization in the evaluation and treatment of PASC,” the researchers concluded.
Yoo SM, Liu TC, Motwani Y, et al. Factors associated with post-acute sequelaeof SARS-CoV-2 (PASC) after diagnosis of symptomatic COVID-19 in the inpatient and outpatient setting in a diverse cohort. J Gen Intern Med. Published online April 7, 2022. doi: 10.1007/s11606-022-07523-3
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