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Canada must secure rapid test kits, Oxford vaccine

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© EPA
A general view of an analytical chemist at AstraZeneca’s headquarters in Sydney, Australia, Aug. 19, 2020.

The federal government needs to do more to secure access to rapid, at-home coronavirus test kits and the vaccine candidate being developed at the University of Oxford for Canadians, says one epidemiologist.

Both are measures that will help limit the impact of some of the early mistakes the government has made, said the University of Ottawa’s Dr. Raywat Deonandan in an interview with The West Block‘s Mercedes Stephenson.

“It’s clear now that we probably should have closed the borders earlier, we probably should’ve mandated mask wearing earlier. We should’ve compelled provinces to stop March break travel earlier,” he said.

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“There are things we could’ve done. But I’m forgiving of those mistakes because that was based on the information we had at the time.”

“There are things we can do still to overcome the failures made so far.”

Key among those are securing access to the coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, as well as making at-home and rapid test kits easier to get.

Deonandan said it strikes him as a mistake that the government has so far failed to secure access to the AstraZeneca vaccine and that despite a pause on the trial last week, it remains a promising candidate.

He noted the researchers have been pro-active in disclosing large amounts of raw data from their trials in contrast to researchers who worked on a Russian vaccine candidate whose legitimacy has come under repeated questioning over a lack of large-scale testing and lack of transparent data.

“People need to understand that to do this right is going to take some time,” he said. “The fact the AstraZeneca trial was paused is a good thing. It means they’re taking safety seriously.”

The AstraZeneca vaccine trial was paused after one woman reported neurological symptoms that so far remain unexplained. It’s the second such pause for the trial, which was briefly stalled earlier in the summer after another individual reported neurological symptoms.

 

However, the cause of those symptoms ended up being an undiagnosed case of multiple sclerosis.

The pharmaceutical firm has said it still expects to know by the end of this year if its vaccine candidate works — if it is able to resume trials shortly.

So far, the government has signed agreements with Novavax, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.

Those deals say the government will get up to 38 million doses from Johnson & Johnson, up to 76 million from Novavax, up to 56 million from Moderna and a minimum of 20 million doses from Pfizer.

Deonandan said he is always hesitant when it comes to making predictions but offered a cautious one.

“I think it’s likely that we’ll have a viable candidate on the market on the world stage by the middle of next year, if not a bit earlier,” he said.

“With deployment, transportation, immune response, we may have sufficient numbers of people vaccinated to start thinking about not declaring the pandemic by the end of 2021, maybe the beginning of 2022, we’ll start seeing the pandemic being something in the past.”

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COVID-19 outbreak declared at school in East St. Paul – CTV News Winnipeg

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WINNIPEG —
COVID-19 outbreak declared at school in East St. Paul

A school just outside of Winnipeg has declared an outbreak of COVID-19, according to the Manitoba government’s most recent bulletin.

Bird’s Hill School, located at 3950 Raleigh St. in East St. Paul, has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The school is moving to the orange or restricted level on the province’s pandemic response system.

In a statement sent Tuesday afternoon, the River East Transcona School Division confirmed there were five cases in the school within two classrooms. The two classrooms are in the grade 2/3 levels, the division said.

The school is also taking steps to deal with the new restrictions.

“We are moving furniture to ensure the two-metre distancing is done. Deep cleaning has been done to the affected classrooms and commonly touched surfaces and staff are ensuring that students follow protocols regarding handwashing, mask-wearing (when required), and social distancing,” the statement reads. “Busing is being revised to meet the orange designation for Bird’s Hill School students. The parents will be receiving information for optional remote learning for their children while the school is in orange status.”

A provincial spokesperson said health officials have not ruled out in-school transmission at this time.

Bird’s Hill School previously reported on Oct. 11 that a confirmed case of COVID-19 was in the school on Sept. 30, Oct. 1, and Oct. 2.

OUTBREAK OVER AT WINNIPEG SCHOOL

The outbreak at John Pritchard School, which was declared last month, has now ended, the province announced on Tuesday.

The school is now at the yellow or caution level on the pandemic response system.

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Coronavirus cases spike again in Manitoba on Tuesday – CTV News Winnipeg

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WINNIPEG —
Cases of COVID-19 have once again spiked in Manitoba, as provincial health officials announced 110 new cases on Tuesday.

These new cases bring the total number of COVID-19 cases in Manitoba since March to 3,491, which includes one case removed from the total due to duplication.

The cases announced on Tuesday include:

  • two cases in the Interlake–Eastern health region;
  • 11 cases in the Northern health region;
  • two cases in the Prairie Mountain Health region;
  • seven cases in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region; and
  • 88 cases in the Winnipeg health region.

The province said there are currently 32 people in hospital, including six people in intensive care. The number of deaths related to COVID-19 remains at 42.

The five-day test positivity rate in Manitoba crept back up slightly to 4.3 per cent as of Tuesday.

The province said there are 1,746 active cases in the province, along with 1,703 recoveries – however, Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief provincial public health officer, has said these numbers may not be accurate due to a back log in reporting.

The Winnipeg region continues to have the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, with 2,113 total cases since March.

The Winnipeg Metropolitan Region is now under the orange or restricted level on the province’s pandemic response system, which includes increased restrictions.

This comes as Canada’s second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the country’s total case count past the 200,000 mark on Monday.

READ MORE: COVID-19 cases in Canada surpass 200,000

The majority of Canada’s cases are in Ontario and Quebec, though cases have been rising across the country.

APPOINTMENT-BASED TESTING NOW AVAILABLE IN MANITOBA

The province had 2,149 COVID tests completed on Monday, bringing the total number of lab tests done since February to 228,713.

The province has also announced the introduction of appointment-based testing is launching in Manitoba on Tuesday.

The province said people are now able to make an appointment to book a COVID-19 test by calling 1-855-268-4318 or by going to the government’s website.

For now, the province said appointments will only be available at three sites, including 604 St. Mary’s Rd., 2735 Pembina Hwy., and 1181 Portage Ave.

The rest of the testing sites in the province are still working on a first-come, first-serve basis.

-with files from CTV’s Devon McKendrick and The Canadian Press’ Paola Loriggio

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More Manitoba healthcare workers test positive for COVID-19: provincial data – CTV News Winnipeg

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WINNIPEG —
The number of healthcare workers in Manitoba who have tested positive for COVID-19 continues to grow, according to the latest surveillance data released by the Manitoba government.

In its weekly report released Monday, the province said 16 more healthcare workers were diagnosed with COVID-19 during the week of Oct. 4-10, bringing the total to 129 since the pandemic began in March.

Of the healthcare workers who contracted COVID-19, 39 worked as healthcare aides, while 32 worked as nurses, and 12 worked as social or support workers.

Of the 116 cases of COVID-19 among healthcare workers, the province said 95 have recovered as of Oct. 10. The surveillance report said 62.3 per cent of the cases were from close contact with a known COVID-19 case, with 28.7 per cent of cases coming from an unknown source. The remaining nine per cent of cases come from travel.

CASE DATA IN MANITOBA

During the week of Oct. 4-10, Manitoba reported a total of 502 COVID-19 cases, with 75 per cent of the new cases reported in Winnipeg. In the remaining health regions, 12 per cent of the cases were in the Interlake-Eastern region, eight per cent were in Southern Health, three per cent in the Prairie Mountain Health Region, and one per cent in the Northern Health Region.

During the week, Manitoba performed an average of 2,419 tests per day, and the test positivity rate was 3.4 per cent, up from 2.3 per cent the week before.

Of the cases this week where information on the infection’s source was available, 53.7 per cent were from close contact to known cases, 20.4 per cent are still pending results, and 17.2 per cent of cases were from an unknown source. The remaining percentage (8.7) was from travel.

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