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BCCDC apologizes for creating confusion by repeatedly changing isolation advice – CBC.ca

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The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has apologized after quietly changing its isolation guidelines online several times this week, at one point switching up its advice for unvaccinated adults twice in a day.

The centre issued a statement Thursday admitting its flip-flopping changes “led to confusion” at a time when patients and families are already feeling battered and burnt out.

“We apologize for the web posting and changes that occurred yesterday. We understand the significant interest in these testing and isolation guidelines, which is why we updated the website immediately with clarifications made yesterday,” the statement read.

“We also recognize people in British Columbia are frustrated with the ongoing pandemic, and they want and need clear communication on changes that impact their lives. We will strive to ensure there is a better change management process for future changes.”

On Tuesday, the centre updated its guidelines online to say people who test positive for COVID-19 could isolate for only five days, whether they’re vaccinated or not. But less than a day later, the post changed again: the advice for unvaccinated adults was to isolate for 10 days after testing positive.

Guidance also changed for children and teens under 17, dropping the isolation period down to five days no matter their vaccination status.

There was no news conference or public briefing Wednesday to alert the public to the changes or explain the rationale.

On Thursday, Health Minister Adrian Dix agreed the centre had made an error.

“That was frustrating, that was their mistake, they’ve apologized for it and we move on and do better,” Dix told reporters.

“What’s challenging is … We’re two years into a pandemic and we’re all dealing with the consequence of that, the long-term strain of that,” he continued.

“There were a couple of mistakes in terms of posting … things this week that led to some confusion and the sheer volume of work we’re doing communicating means that’s going to happen from time to time.”

Dix said there was no news conference Wednesday because Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry had already spoken about changes during news conferences on Friday and Monday.

The minister said it’s customary to update the online advice after Henry announces the changes, but experts and doctors say that change needs to come quickly — not several days later.

“When people in authority say something, that this is the new guidance based on science, we need to do the best we can to make sure that the written documents that relate to those statements are updated as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Brian Conway, the medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre.

Dix said the BCCDC’s online guidance on self-isolation was properly up to date by Thursday and in line with the province’s recommendations.

There were 895 people in hospital with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, according to the province. A statement said 115 of those people were in intensive care, marking a jump of 49.4 per cent from last month.

Experts say hospitalizations are a more accurate barometer of the disease’s impact, as new case numbers in B.C. are likely much higher than reported, now that the province has hit its testing limit because of the Omicron surge.

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Quebec bill would give Alzheimer’s patients access to medical aid in dying

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MONTREAL — Quebec has tabled a bill that would extend the province’s assisted death legislation to people with Alzheimer’s disease.

Health Minister Christian Dubé said today that Bill 38 would allow people with severe and incurable diseases to consent to an assisted death before they become mentally or physically incapable of doing so.

The bill comes after a special legislative committee recommended last December to expand end-of-life care.

Quebec’s medical aid in dying law requires that patients give written consent to an assisted death within 90 days of the procedure.

Patients with severe Alzheimer’s, however, are usually incapable of offering clear and informed consent and are therefore prohibited under law from accessing medical aid in dying.

Bill 38 was tabled late in the legislative session and will only be adopted before the summer break — and the fall election — if it receives unanimous support from all five parties.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 25, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

 

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B.C. launches Canada’s first lung cancer screening program for high-risk residents

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VANCOUVER — British Columbia has launched the country’s first provincewide lung cancer screening program for residents who are at high risk of getting the disease.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says the innovative program will both save lives and improve their quality.

Screening will be available at 36 centres across all health authorities using existing CT scans for those who are between 55 and 74, currently smoking or have previously smoked, and have a smoking history of 20 years or more.

People who meet that criteria are encouraged to call the program for a consultation and risk assessment to determine eligibility.

Dr. Stephen Lam, medical director of the screening program, says lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Canada and worldwide.

He says 70 per cent of all cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage and the program aims to change that trend by detecting lung cancers earlier when treatment is more effective.

Dr. David Byers, CEO of the Provincial Health Services Authority, credits BC Cancer for making the launch possible, adding a centralized system will reduce the burden of cancer, “including among Indigenous people, who are disproportionately impacted by lung cancer.”

BC Cancer says that after an appointment, a radiologist would look for spots, or nodules, on a scan, and both the patient and their primary care provider would get results within three weeks.

It says screening works best when scans are done regularly to monitor for any changes.

The Health Ministry says in a release that an estimated 10,000 patients are expected to be screened in the first year of the program, and that number is expected to jump by about 15 per cent per year.

“It is estimated the program will diagnose approximately 150 lung cancer cases annually, with more than 75 per cent of these diagnosed at an earlier stage than without screening.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022.

 

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What vaccines, treatments do we have to combat monkeypox? – Financial Post

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LONDON — With cases of monkeypox inexplicably on the rise outside of Africa – where the viral disease is endemic – public health officials are using contact tracing, isolation and targeted vaccination to curb its spread.

Global health officials have tracked more than 200 suspected and confirmed cases of the usually mild viral infection in 19 countries since early May. The monkeypox variant implicated in the current outbreak has a case fatality rate of around 1%, though no deaths have been reported so far.

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Here’s what we know about the existing range of vaccines and treatments:

VACCINES

The smallpox and monkeypox viruses are closely related, and the first generation of smallpox vaccines appear up to 85% effective in preventing monkeypox, the World Health Organization has said.

There are currently two smallpox vaccines available.

One made by Danish company Bavarian Nordic goes by the brand name Jynneos, Imvamune or Imvanex – depending on geography.

It contains a weakened form of the vaccinia virus that is closely related to, but less harmful than, than the viruses that cause smallpox and monkeypox. This modified version of vaccinia does not cause disease in humans and cannot reproduce in human cells.

It has U.S. approval for the prevention of both smallpox and monkeypox. European Union approval is for smallpox, although doctors can prescribe it off-label for monkeypox. Bavarian Nordic said it would probably apply for a label extension with the EU’s drug watchdog to include monkeypox.

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The reported side-effects include pain and swelling at the injection site as well as headache and fatigue.

The other, older vaccine, currently made by Emergent Biosolutions, is called ACAM2000.

It also contains the vaccinia virus, but it is infectious and can replicate in humans. As a result, it can be transmitted from the vaccine recipient to unvaccinated people who have close contact with the inoculation site.

Apart from side-effects associated with many vaccines, such as a sore arm and fatigue, it also carries a serious warning for a potential range of severe complications, including heart inflammation, blindness and death.

It is also not designed to be used in certain groups of people, such as those with compromised immune systems.

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ACAM2000 has U.S. approval for people at high risk for smallpox infection. It does not have EU authorisation.

ANTIVIRALS

Symptoms of monkeypox – which can include fever, headaches, distinctive rashes and pus-filled skin lesions – can last for two to four weeks and often resolve on their own.

Patients may receive extra fluids and treatment for secondary bacterial infections. An antiviral agent called tecovirimat – branded as TPOXX and made by SIGA Technologies – has U.S. and EU approval for smallpox, while its European approval also includes monkeypox and cowpox.

Another drug, branded as Tembexa and developed by Chimerix , has U.S. approval to treat smallpox. It is not clear whether it could help people infected with monkeypox.

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Both TPOXX and Tembexa were approved based on studies in animals showing they are likely to be effective, because they were developed after smallpox in human beings had been eradicated through mass vaccination.

STOCKPILES

The WHO classified smallpox as an eradicated disease in 1980, but there have been longstanding concerns that the virus could be used as a bioweapon, leading countries to stockpile vaccines.

The WHO holds 2.4 million doses at its Swiss headquarters dating from the final years of the eradication program. The agency also has pledges from donor countries for more than 31 million additional doses.

U.S. officials say there are more than 1,000 doses of the Bavarian Nordic vaccine in the national stockpile and expect that level to ramp up very quickly in the coming weeks. The country also has 100 million doses of ACAM2000.

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Germany has said it had ordered 40,000 doses of Bavarian Nordic’s vaccine, to be ready to vaccinate contacts of cases if needed.

Other countries, including Britain and France, are also offering or recommending vaccines to people with close contact to infected people and healthcare workers.

Bavarian Nordic, which has an annual production capacity of 30 million doses, told Reuters multiple countries have approached it interested in buying its vaccine, without providing details. A spokesperson said it does not need to expand production.

(Reporting by Natalie Grover in London; Twitter @NatalieGrover; Additional reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard in Copenhagen and Michael Erman in New Jersey; editing by Michele Gershberg, Josephine Mason and Jane Merriman)

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