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BC still has no plans to implement mandatory mask policy: Dr. Henry | News – Daily Hive

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After the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced its findings in support of mask-wearing in the fight against COVID-19, BC Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry – who has thus far said BC has no plans for a province-wide mandatory mask policy – was asked if these latest findings have altered her stance on the subject.

“We’ve been watching that very carefully, and we’ve had some discussion about what type of mask to wear, and it is more important as one of the measures, as we’re seeing increasing transmission in our communities,” Henry said during a press conference on Thursday. “We have said the expectation is that people wear masks at indoor public places… and I know people are hearing that message. People are recognizing that mask wearing is an additional layer of protection.”

She stressed, though, that mask wearing alone isn’t the be-all, end-all solution but rather an “additional measure” to help keep one safe, and that there are still no plans for a provincial mandatory mask policy.

“We have always said that these individual measures are ones that we expect people to do, and we’ve seen that that is the way people have responded,” she said. “We know there are some people who are not able to wear masks, and we need to respect that, but most people can – and do.”

However, wearing a mask “doesn’t mean that you don’t need to do those other things, and that’s what’s so important,” she continued. “We’ve never mandated that you have to keep the [two-metre] physical distance [rule], but we know people understand that, and the masking is the same concept, an additional measure which is very important right now. It protects you, but more importantly it protects others around you and shows that you’re part of this.”

Henry’s comments come as a professor at Simon Fraser University (SFU) has started a petition calling for a temporary mask mandate – at least in the Greater Vancouver region.

Scott Lear is a professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences. He told Daily Hive that his expertise is “in population in public health” and that much of his current work is “focused on public health messaging during the pandemic.”

And with British Columbia setting new record highs in case numbers, he’s started a petition to grow support for mandatory mask usage.

“There are now more active cases in the province than at any other time during the pandemic,” Lear writes in an online petition. “Along with that are thousands more who are self-isolating.”

“The majority of current and new cases arise within the Greater Vancouver area, yet Vancouver and Surrey are the only major cities in Canada without a mask mandate.”

He adds that a temporary mask mandate wouldn’t replace other health measures such as physical distancing; however, he stresses that “physical distancing is not foolproof.”

And while there is currently no provincial mask mandate, both TransLink and BC Ferries have made masks mandatory, along with a number of retail companies, such as Real Canadian Superstore and IKEA, among others.

The petition and Henry’s latest comments on masks come as the province announced 617 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of known cases in BC to 20,985.

Henry said that broken down by health region, the new cases amount to 130 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 424 in the Fraser Health region, 16 in the Island Health region, 42 in the Interior Health region, and five in the Northern Health region.

As it stands, there are 5,579 active cases of COVID-19 in the province and 167 individuals who are hospitalized with COVID-19, 50 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.

Currently, 12,016 people are under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases, and there have been two new COVID-19-related deaths, for a total of 290 deaths in British Columbia.

There are three new healthcare facility outbreaks at Sun Pointe Village, Capilano Care Centre and Fraserview Intermediate Care Lodge. The outbreaks at Queens Park Hospital, Lakeview Care Centre, Yaletown House, and St. Michael’s Centre are now over. In total, 35 long-term care or assisted-living facilities and six acute-care facilities have active outbreaks.

A total of 14,901 people who tested positive have now recovered.

“As yesterday’s modelling update clearly showed, this is a critical time for everyone in our province,” said Henry. “We need to act now to protect our loved ones, our elders and our communities.”

When faced with a resurgence of COVID-19, “it can be difficult to muster the strength to keep moving forward, yet British Columbians continue to show unwavering resilience and fortitude to support friends and neighbours in our communities and take care of those who are most at risk, by following the orders and using our layers of protection,” she added.

With files from Vincent Plana

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B.C. records 12 more COVID-19 deaths as top doctor warns against non-essential travel – ThePeterboroughExaminer.com

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VICTORIA – British Columbia’s top doctor says COVID-19 cases have levelled off in the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health regions, but they’ve been rising in the North, Interior and to a lesser extent on Vancouver Island.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Wednesday there is some variability in how the illness is spreading in different areas, but social interactions are driving transmission across the province.

Another 12 people have died in B.C. after contracting the novel coronavirus, while the province reported 834 new cases.

Of the latest cases, 529 are in the Fraser Health region, 174 are in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 66 are in the Interior, 45 are in the North and 20 are on Vancouver Island.

The illness is still spreading quickly, said Henry, and while health restrictions on social gatherings and other activities are set to end Monday, it’s possible the rules could be extended.

Henry is urging people to avoid travelling for non-essential purposes, noting an adult hockey team from the Interior went to Alberta and its members spread COVID-19 in their community when they returned.

“I know that people feel like, ‘Oh it will be OK, we’ve not had any virus here, we’ll be fine.’ But this is just another cautionary tale that right now, you cannot take these types of licence from the restrictions that we’ve put in place for all of our safety,” she said.

“Making an exception for yourself or for your team or for your recreational needs puts a crack in our wall, and we see that this virus can exploit that very easily at this time of year.”

It’s crucial that anyone coming to B.C. over the holidays follows public health rules, Henry added.

“I cannot stop you by an order (from) getting into your car or going on to a plane, but I am asking in the strongest of terms for us to stay put.”

Henry also addressed what she called a small, vocal minority of people who are pushing back against public health rules.

“This is very real. Ask any of the families who have lost a loved one how real this is.”

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There are 8,941 active COVID-19 infections in B.C., including 337 people who are in hospital, and more than 10,200 people are being monitored after exposure to a known case.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020.

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What you need to know about COVID-19 in B.C. for Dec. 4 – CBC.ca

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THE LATEST:

  • Daily update on numbers expected in a written statement around 3 p.m. PT.
  • Health officials announced 694 new cases Thursday, as well as 12 more deaths.
  • There are now 9,103 active cases of COVID-19 across B.C.
  • 325 patients are in hospital, with 80 in intensive care.
  • 481 people have died of the disease since the pandemic began
  • New restrictions mean indoor and outdoor adult team sports are banned, kids’ sports limited.

Though B.C.’s active caseload continues to grow and the death toll keeps rising sharply, there is light at the end of the tunnel with news that COVID-19 vaccine rollout is expected to begin in the first week of January.

On Thursday, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the first shipments of vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna should begin arriving within weeks, and priority patients including residents of long-term care are expected to get the first shots early in 2021.

By spring, there should be enough doses in the province for the vaccine to become more widely available, and Henry said the goal is to reach everyone who wants a vaccine by September.

But that is still months away, and in the meantime, Henry said it’s more important than ever that people buckle down and get serious about following public health orders and advice.

On Thursday, she announced 694 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 more deaths. There are 325 patients in hospital with the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, a slight dip from Wednesday. Eighty are in intensive care.

Meanwhile, health officials have announced a ban on all indoor and outdoor adult sports as well as new limitations on children’s sports. They’ve also updated the restrictions for group fitness activities.

All the details can be found here.

Henry said Thursday that between 10 and 15 per cent of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks have been linked to sports and recreational activities.

Public health orders remain in place banning all public and community events and limiting social interactions to people within your immediate household. Those orders will be reviewed on Monday.

READ MORE:

What’s happening elsewhere in Canada

As of Thursday night, there have been 396,270 cases of COVID-19 in Canada. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 12,407.

In Quebec, the premier has officially told the public that all Christmas gatherings need to be cancelled this year.

Federal officials released their own details Thursday about the plans for a vaccine, cautioning that the initial supply will be limited — just three million Canadians are expected to get a shot in the first three months of 2021.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Loss of taste or smell.
  • Headache.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they’re mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or o​​​​​​ther extreme symptoms should call 911.

What can I do to protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean.
  • Keep your distance from people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Wear a mask in indoor public spaces.
  • Be aware of evolving travel advisories to different regions.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government’s website.

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Nurse texts dad, asking for ventilators, and a prototype is together in six days – Estevan Mercury

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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.

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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.”

 

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