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Better safe than sorry (Covid-19)

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Manitoba should wait a full incubation period after the holidays before it considers easing COVID-19 restrictions.

Doing so any earlier would be premature and could cost lives.

Manitoba’s current code-red restrictions are set to expire Jan. 8. With daily COVID-19 cases falling and thousands of vaccines expected to be administered this month, there may be a temptation to start rolling back public-health orders.

Everyone is tired of living like hermits, but that would be a mistake — at least until a full two weeks after Jan. 1.

Everyone is tired of living like hermits.

There’s little doubt many Manitobans visited family and friends outside their households over the holidays. The province announced 44 tickets were handed out to people who unlawfully gathered in private residences between Dec. 21 and 27 (up from 35 the previous week). Those are just the people who got caught. There were undoubtedly many more.

Some people also travelled outside the province over the holidays; there was a marked increase in flights arriving and departing around Christmas, including many from western provinces. The Pallister government refused to reinstate the 14-day self-isolation rule for people returning from western provinces after lifting it in June. That means those travellers did not have to self-isolate when they arrived in Manitoba. (There are already four identified flights from western provinces in late December that carried passengers who tested positive for COVID-19).

New Year’s celebrations were also high-risk, and it’s likely many Manitobans socialized with others outside their households on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.

Household interactions continue to be one of the chief sources of transmission.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says COVID-19 symptoms can appear up to 14 days after infection. The vast majority (97.5 per cent) develop symptoms within 11.5 days. The province should, at least, extend current restrictions to Jan. 15.

COVID-19 case numbers have come down in recent weeks. That’s solid evidence the measures in place have been working. But it’s also due, in part, to a significant drop in daily testing. The test-positivity rate in Manitoba has not dipped below double digits since early November, which means there’s still plenty of virus circulating in the province. It was 10.7 per cent Monday, down only slightly from 11.5 per cent two weeks ago. The World Health Organization recommends a rate below five per cent before easing restrictions.

COVID-19 hot spot Alberta has a test-positivity rate of seven per cent.

Hospitalization rates in Manitoba are also stubbornly high. The number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 has dropped since early December, but has plateaued over the past two weeks. There were 340 COVID-19 patients in hospital Monday, virtually unchanged from 343 a week ago. The number of COVID-19 patients in ICU Monday (41) was up slightly from a week ago (37). There was a total of 113 patients in ICU Monday (157 per cent of normal capacity), up from 111 Thursday.

 

Those numbers are not sustainable.

Hospitalization rates and the test positivity need to come down further before any measures are relaxed, even after Jan. 15.

Premier Brian Pallister said last week there would “almost certainly” be an easing of restrictions in the new year. It was a vague statement without a timeline. However, it’s troubling he would even suggest it before the holiday data comes in.

Dr. Brent Roussin, the provincial chief public health officer, said Monday no decisions have been made whether restrictions will be eased after Jan. 8. He said Manitobans will get more information on that later in the week.

Lifting restrictions prematurely would be reckless. It could drive up case numbers and give the public a false sense of security. The combined impact of holiday celebrations and a new, more contagious variant of COVID-19 that originated in Britain (and is now in Canada) could make January the worst month yet.

Manitobans made a lot of sacrifices in recent weeks to flatten the COVID-19 curve and prevent hospitalizations from climbing further. It would be unforgivable if those gains were erased because of a hasty move to loosen restrictions.

tom.brodbeck@freepress.mb.ca

Tom Brodbeck

Tom Brodbeck
Columnist

Tom has been covering Manitoba politics since the early 1990s and joined the Winnipeg Free Press news team in 2019.

 

Source:- Winnipeg Free Press

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‘I was shocked’: Mother, child mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccine instead of flu shot – Comox Valley Record

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A Manitoba mother says a routine appointment for her and her three-year-old to get flu shots ended in frustration and mixed messages after they were each mistakenly given an adult dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Jenna Bardarson is calling for policy changes at the province’s vaccination centres to make sure that doesn’t happen to another family.

The shots were administered on Nov. 24 at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.

Bardarson says that shortly after she and her daughter, Dali, got their shots, the health worker who had given them excused herself to speak with a supervisor. When the worker returned, she told them she had made a mistake and given them both the adult Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. My immediate concerns were, of course, would my daughter be OK and also who could I speak to about this,” Bardarson said in online social media messages Friday to The Canadian Press.

Once she got home, Bardarson made multiple calls to different departments with the regional medical authority, hoping to speak with someone about the error and her concerns, she said.

She said no one was able to provide her with the answers or information she needed. “The conversations with various Prairie Mountain Health members have been frustrating, to say the least.”

Bardarson said she already had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and was due for her booster shot next month. Her daughter is too young to be eligible.

Health Canada last month approved a pediatric version of the Pfizer shot for children ages five to 11, but it has not yet approved a vaccine for those under five.

Bardarson said she and her daughter had headaches and sore arms the following day. Her daughter had no appetite and was throwing up.

Manitoba Health confirmed the mistake in a statement and said staff from Prairie Mountain have reached out to the mother to discuss what happened as well as to provide an update on an investigation.

“Patient safety is a critical aspect of all health-care services in Manitoba. We are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure that our systems support our staff in preventing errors,” it said.

“In this case … our team reviewed the existing processes to make adjustments that would help avoid a similar error from occurring in the future.”

Bardarson said the health region has not provided her with updated information on the investigation and would not discuss any consequences the health worker may have faced.

Manitoba Health said no further action would be taken against the worker, because she immediately recognized the error and told a supervisor.

For Bardarson, that’s not enough.

“I by no means want her fired; however, there should be some sort of measures in place for harm reduction.”

Bardarson suggested taking away the worker’s injection privileges or enhanced supervision during vaccinations.

She said she would also like to see areas at vaccination centres separated by vaccine types, instead of having different vaccines offered in the same booth.

Manitoba Health could not say if others have been given a COVID-19 vaccine by mistake, but acknowledged that medication errors, although rare, do occur. It added that Bardarson was provided with information about the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine, which in this case it says are low.

Health Canada said it is not in charge of immunization monitoring and could not comment on whether similar mistakes have occurred in other parts of the country.

– Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press

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Two hippos in Belgian zoo test positive for COVID-19

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Two hippos have tested positive for COVID-19 at Antwerp Zoo in Belgium in what could be the first reported cases in the species, zoo staff said.

Hippos Imani, aged 14, and 41-year-old Hermien have no symptoms apart from a runny nose, but the zoo said the pair had been put into quarantine as a precaution.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time in this species. Worldwide, this virus has been reported mainly in great apes and felines,” said the zoo’s vet, Francis Vercammen.

The coronavirus is thought to have jumped from an animal to a human, and it is proved to have passed from humans to animals.

Pets including cats, dogs and ferrets have become infected following contact with their owners, while in zoos, cases have been reported in animals such as big cats, otters, primates and hyenas.

The disease has also spread in mink farms and to wild animals, such as deer.

Antwerp Zoo is investigating the causes of the contagion. None of the zookeepers had recently shown COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive for the virus, the zoo said.

 

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Helen Popper)

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'I was shocked': Mother, child mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccine instead of flu shot – Squamish Chief

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WINNIPEG — A Manitoba mother says a routine appointment for her and her three-year-old to get flu shots ended in frustration and mixed messages after they were each mistakenly given an adult dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Jenna Bardarson is calling for policy changes at the province’s vaccination centres to make sure that doesn’t happen to another family. 

The shots were administered on Nov. 24 at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.

Bardarson says that shortly after she and her daughter, Dali, got their shots, the health worker who had given them excused herself to speak with a supervisor. When the worker returned, she told them she had made a mistake and given them both the adult Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

“I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. My immediate concerns were, of course, would my daughter be OK and also who could I speak to about this,” Bardarson said in online social media messages Friday to The Canadian Press.

Once she got home, Bardarson made multiple calls to different departments with the regional medical authority, hoping to speak with someone about the error and her concerns, she said.

She said no one was able to provide her with the answers or information she needed. “The conversations with various Prairie Mountain Health members have been frustrating, to say the least.”

Bardarson said she already had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and was due for her booster shot next month. Her daughter is too young to be eligible.

Health Canada last month approved a pediatric version of the Pfizer shot for children ages five to 11, but it has not yet approved a vaccine for those under five. 

Bardarson said she and her daughter had headaches and sore arms the following day. Her daughter had no appetite and was throwing up.

Manitoba Health confirmed the mistake in a statement and said staff from Prairie Mountain have reached out to the mother to discuss what happened as well as to provide an update on an investigation.

“Patient safety is a critical aspect of all health-care services in Manitoba. We are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure that our systems support our staff in preventing errors,” it said.

“In this case … our team reviewed the existing processes to make adjustments that would help avoid a similar error from occurring in the future.”

Bardarson said the health region has not provided her with updated information on the investigation and would not discuss any consequences the health worker may have faced. 

Manitoba Health said no further action would be taken against the worker, because she immediately recognized the error and told a supervisor. 

For Bardarson, that’s not enough.

“I by no means want her fired; however, there should be some sort of measures in place for harm reduction.”

Bardarson suggested taking away the worker’s injection privileges or enhanced supervision during vaccinations. 

She said she would also like to see areas at vaccination centres separated by vaccine types, instead of having different vaccines offered in the same booth.

Manitoba Health could not say if others have been given a COVID-19 vaccine by mistake, but acknowledged that medication errors, although rare, do occur. It added that Bardarson was provided with information about the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine, which in this case it says are low.

Health Canada said it is not in charge of immunization monitoring and could not comment on whether similar mistakes have occurred in other parts of the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2021.

___

The story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. 

Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press


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