Public Health officials say you have a better chance of catching the flu than the novel coronavirus in Canada. Despite an escalating number of cases in China, the threat level remains low in Canada.
As of Monday, there are four confirmed cases of the virus in Canada; three in Ontario and one in British Columbia.
Meanwhile, the Region of Waterloo Public Health is reporting 185 cases of influenza locally, with only one influenza outbreak occurring in a long-term care retirement home.
Public Health Canada is reporting 18,766 laboratory-confirmed cases this flu season.
Globally, there are more than 17,300 cases of coronavirus with the vast majority being in China. The majority of the deaths are also within the country, with the first death outside of China occurring this past weekend in the Philippines.
The World Health Organization has declared it a global emergency, but federal health officials still say the risk of outbreak in Canada remains low.
Kristy Wright, Manager of Infectious Disease, Region of Waterloo Public Health is also monitoring the evolving situation around the novel coronavirus.
She says the low number of cases locally and its severity was comparable to “seasonal influenza in some ways.”
The first reported case of the virus was found in a Toronto man who has since been released from Sunnybrook Hospital to recover at home. His wife contracted the virus too and is also recovering at home in self-isolation.
Ontario’s third case was a London woman who health officials say was experiencing mild symptoms.
Wright says unless you have travelled, or been in contact with someone, in the last 14 days who has traveled to Hubei province, China (including Wuhan), the risk of catching it remains low within Canada. There is a better chance at catching the flu than the coronavirus, and in some cases, just as deadly for those with compromised or weak immune systems.
She says there is reason to be worried about the coronavirus as there is still a lot unknown about the virus, though it does share similar symptoms to influenza: fever, sore throat, coughing.
What is different are its symptoms of difficult breathing, and more extreme cases, pneumonia.
However, the prevention methods are very much the same:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home when you are sick
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
The region’s Public Health website doesn’t recommend wearing a face mask to prevent catching the virus, except for people experiencing symptoms. The masks in those cases prevent transmission of the virus.
If you do suspect you have contracted the novel coronavirus, please contact your healthcare provider. However, there is a good chance you may have just contracted the flu.
For more information on the coronavirus, you can check out Region of Waterloo Public Health.
Foreigners flock to Canada for monkeypox vaccine – Medical Xpress
With the monkeypox vaccine in short supply in the United States, thousands of foreigners, including Americans are flocking to Montreal to get their shots.
Canada’s second-largest city, located about 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of the US border in Quebec province, has decided to make the vaccine available to all those who consider themselves to be at risk.
ackRobb Stilson, an art director from Denver, Colorado, took advantage of the opportunity during a visit to Montreal last week.
“It’s very difficult in the States to get vaccinated,” Stilson said as he lined up to get a shot at a pop-up vaccination center together with his husband and two daughters. “I’ve friends who have waited 8 or 9 hours to get in.”
Because contact tracing is difficult, authorities in Montreal decided to offer the vaccine to all those who are at risk to stem the spread of the virus.
“As tourists, they may participate in activities that may expose them and so in a way, we’re combatting the pandemic by letting them become vaccinated here so that they don’t transmit the infection either here or when they go back home,” Donald Vinh, infectious disease specialist at the McGill University Health Center, told AFP.
Since the vaccination campaign was launched in mid-May, as soon as the first cases of monkeypox were detected, Montreal has inoculated 18,500 people, 13 percent of them foreigners.
The goal is to administer 25,000 doses and vaccinate some 75-80 percent of the population deemed to be at risk, in particular men who have sex with men or with multiple partners.
“I hope the strategy used by the public health agency of Montreal is a beacon for other public health agencies to use as a vaccination strategy,” Vinh added.
In the western province of British Columbia, health authorities decided last week they will no longer offer the vaccine to foreigners citing limited supplies and the fact that it was becoming more available in the United States.
Faced with a lack of available doses, American health authorities on Tuesday authorized a new injection procedure which will make it possible to inoculate five times the number of people with the same amount of the drug.
As of August 11, Canada has registered 1,059 confirmed cases of monkeypox, but authorities see signs of infections beginning to slow.
© 2022 AFP
Foreigners flock to Canada for monkeypox vaccine (2022, August 12)
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Elevated risk of Monkeypox in Saskatchewan: SHA – CTV News Regina
The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) has alerted the public to the elevated risk of acquiring Monkeypox through anonymous sexual contact.
“So far we’ve had three cases, who were exposed out of the province,” said Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab.
“We think the situation has changed now, in the last week. Where we have had evidence of exposures happening in Saskatchewan, in many cases happening through anonymous sexual contacts with people who have been coming into the province.”
Shahab noted that the exposures were happening almost exclusively to those in the gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men (gbMSM) community.
“We think now that there is a higher risk that we may see ongoing transmission within Saskatchewan … particularly in this community.”
Shahab noted that these trends were similar to what is being seen across Canada. He urged those in Saskatchewan at risk not to hesitate and reach out.
“If you belong to the gbMSM community it’s really important that at the first sign of illness you do contact the Healthline (811) for advice and seek testing and isolate till the diagnosis is made.”
INCREASED ELIGIBILITY FOR VACCINES
The SHA announced that Monkeypox vaccine requirements would be expanded to both post and pre exposure, following the alert.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside 99,000 doses of the vaccine, with 50,000 doses being given to provinces so far, according to Shahab.
Those eligible for vaccinations include select high-risk contacts 18 years and older who are identified ideally within 4 days and up to 14 days after an exposure. Those who are at a high risk of exposure are also eligible. The SHA’s criteria includes:
- Are transgender or self-identify as two spirit, bisexual, gay or men who have sex with men (MSM)
And one or more of the following:
- Have had a recent sexually transmitted infection (in the past six months);
- Report having had two or more sexual partners in the past six months;
- Had (in the past six months) or plan to have sexual contact involving an exchange of money or other goods for sexual services;
- Report having had (in the past six months) or planning to have sexual contact at an event or social gathering where there is MSM-themed sexual activity (sauna, bath house, club);
- Have had (in the past six months) or plan to have sexual contact with an anonymous partner (at an event or via a hook-up app);
- Planning to travel in the next three months to an area in Canada or internationally currently reporting monkeypox cases;
- Individuals 18 years and older who work or volunteer at an event or social gathering where there is MSM themed sexual activity (sauna, bath house, club).
The SHA has outlined how to properly isolate and protect others while contagious with Monkeypox on its website.
Monkeypox is a rare viral illness that causes fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes and lethargy, followed by the development of a rash over a person’s body. The disease is not easily spread from person to person according to the SHA. Monkeypox is spread through:
- Close, personal, often skin-to-skin contact.
- Touching bodily fluids or lesions of a person who is sick with the disease.
- Exposure to contaminated objects such as bed linens or clothing.
There are currently around 30,000 Monkeypox cases globally, with approximately 1,000 of those occurring in Canada.
Saskatchewan’s current criteria for vaccination and its overall approach has been informed by other provincial responses such as in Ontario and Quebec, according to Shahab.
“We really hope that by this approach in Saskatchewan we can try to avert a quick or high surge of cases and also prevent further transmission.”
Canadian Blood Services in talks around paid donations of plasma as supply dwindles
Canadian Blood Services is in talks with companies that pay donors for plasma as it faces a decrease in collections.
The blood-collection agency issued a statement on Friday saying it is in “ongoing discussion with governments and the commercial plasma industry” on how to more than double domestic plasma collection to 50 per cent of supply.
Canadian Blood Services has previously cautioned that letting companies trade cash for plasma — a practice banned in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec — could funnel donors away from voluntary giving.
The bulk of the non-profit agency’s supply currently comes from abroad, including via organizations that pay donors.
It issued a plea earlier this week for donors to book and keep appointments, noting collections have been falling since July 1 despite a constant need for plasma in transfusions for surgery, cancer patients and accident victims.
The number of people who donate blood regularly dropped by 31,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the organization with its smallest donor base in a decade, it said.
The agency has opened five new plasma donor centres in the last few years, with six more planned by 2024 in an effort to draw 25 per cent of its supply from Canadian donors.
“But this only gets us halfway there. More needs to be done,” Canadian Blood Services said in the statement.
Working with private partners may offer one way to reach the 50 per cent threshold.
“Any options considered must necessarily include controls to ensure plasma collected in Canada is used exclusively to manufacture immunoglobulins for patients in Canada, while also ensuring no negative impacts on Canadian Blood Services’ current and future blood and plasma collections network,” the agency said.
It said Monday it had only four days’ worth of O+ blood type supply and five days’ worth of O- and B- blood types.
The O- type is the one most commonly used in transfusions for traumas and emergency surgeries, since anyone can receive its red blood cells. The O+ blood type is also in high demand due to its compatibility with any other positive red blood cell.
Spokeswoman Delphine Denis said ongoing illness and isolation requirements related to COVID-19, heat-related weather issues and the return of pre-pandemic activities and summer travel that have left many people with less time to donate are all factors contributing to the shortage.
There are 57,000 open appointments that must be filled before the end of August across Canada, the agency said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 13, 2021.
Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
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