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Canada’s guidelines on how COVID-19 spreads still do not acknowledge the threat of infection through the air, despite other countries and international health organizations updating their stance on the issue.
As researchers around the world race to learn as much as possible about the novel coronavirus, many health agencies have concluded that it can be transmitted via aerosols — or microscopic airborne particles — yet Canada has not followed that lead so far.
It was originally believed the novel coronavirus spread only via large droplets, which fall and settle on the ground within a distance of two metres — prompting the recommendation to social distance and stay two metres away from others. But understanding of the virus has evolved, and it’s now widely believed that it can also spread from smaller droplets that contain virus particles that can remain suspended in the air for a long time.
The World Health Organization came under fire in July after 239 scientists from 32 countries wrote an open letter calling on the United Nations agency to update its messaging on the risk of airborne transmission of the coronavirus.
The WHO amended its guidelines days after the letter and acknowledged the possibility that these smaller droplets, also known as aerosols, can lead to outbreaks of COVID-19 in places like choir practices, restaurants and fitness classes.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidelines on Monday to say COVID-19 can sometimes be spread by airborne transmission, after mistakenly posting and later removing a draft version of guidelines.
“I was happy and relieved, because now they’re acknowledging the best available science that we have,” said Linsey Marr, an expert in the transmission of viruses by aerosol at Virginia Tech.
“You’re not going to be able to bend the curve unless you pay attention to this transmission route.”
No plans to update guidelines in Canada
Yet the Public Health Agency of Canada’s guidelines make no mention of aerosol transmission and instead say the virus spreads only through breathing in respiratory droplets, touching contaminated surfaces and common greetings like handshakes and hugs.
Besides the WHO and the CDC, countries like Germany and Italy recognize aerosols as a risk. But PHAC told CBC News it is not updating its guidance on airborne transmission — even though it admits aerosol spread has happened.
“Aerosol transmission of COVID-19 in ventilated and unventilated environments continues to be studied,” a statement from the federal agency stated. “There have been situations where aerosol transmission in closed settings has occurred.”
PHAC says its guidance remains the same: limit time spent in closed spaces, crowded places and close contact situations where there are “no controls, protocols or policies in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19, like good ventilation.” PHAC also recommends maintaining physical distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing.
But infectious diseases specialist and medical microbiologist Dr. Raymond Tellier, who is also an assistant medical professor at McGill University in Montreal, says that by acknowledging ventilation plays a role in curbing transmission of COVID-19, PHAC is admitting that aerosols are a significant route of transmission.
That’s because ventilation does not change the risk of transmission via larger respiratory droplets or contact with contaminated surfaces.
“If you promote avoiding a poorly ventilated indoor area, you implicitly admit that you accept aerosol transmission because the ventilation effects only aerosol transmission,” he said.
“So if you are pushing ventilation, what are you talking about, if not aerosols?”
The agency said it is also reviewing evidence on the topic and acknowledges that aerosols can be suspended in the air and infect others nearby, but the rate at which that happens and under what conditions is “not known.”
“The resistance has been extremely strong in Canada,” says Tellier.
“We have a lot of data that builds up a very strong case for aerosol transmission to be also a part of the transmissibility of the disease.”
Studies of superspreading events, such as a choir practice in Washington state, a call centre in South Korea and a restaurant in China, have supported the conclusion that some degree of transmission is occurring through the air.
WATCH | Linsey Marr on evidence the virus could be airborne
Tellier said the reluctance to acknowledge aerosol transmission may be related to the need for more extensive personal protective equipment like N95 masks in hospitals and increasing ventilation and air circulation in public buildings, which can be expensive.
“I’ve heard anecdotes of school districts, where they pointed to the older CDC guidance and said, ‘Well, they don’t say anything about it so we don’t have to do anything about it,'” Marr said. “Even when people were urging them to pay attention to ventilation.”
The importance of masks
Jose Jimenez, a professor of chemistry at the University of Colorado specializing in aerosol science, said a simpler way of looking at aerosols is by comparing it to smoke, where you are exposed to a higher concentration being exhaled the closer you are to an infected individual, which highlights the importance of wearing a tight-fitting mask.
“If everyone in the world could just spend 10 minutes paying attention to not having gaps in their mask, that will be a huge benefit,” he said. “It’s almost amazing that the masks are effective given how poorly they’re mostly worn.”
Dr. Mark Loeb, an infectious disease expert with the department of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, said that while he believes most COVID-19 transmission occurs in short distances, there are circumstances when longer range transmission can occur.
One example he pointed to was a nursing home outbreak in Montreal where virus particles were found in the air, and a faulty ventilation system may have been a source of transmission that infected 226 residents and 148 employees.
“So I think we have to say that in certain circumstances, it can happen,” Loeb said. “But I do think that sometimes there’s over-interpretation.”
He said when experts from different schools of thought look at the same outbreak, they can come to completely different conclusions.
Take the choir study, for example, where 61 members gathered for a two-and-a-half-hour practice in Mount Vernon, Wash., on March 10.
They sat close to each other, sang together, shared snacks and stacked chairs when it was over.
Two weeks later, 53 of the members in attendance had either confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19. Three of those people were hospitalized. Two died.
“Some people say, well, this is definitive proof of aerosolization. Other people will say, well, if you look at it more carefully, people are walking around touching each other in close contact,” he said.
“Sometimes it becomes impossible to say it’s definitely one or definitely the other.”
Regardless of how much of a role aerosol transmission plays in the spread of COVID-19, Tellier said for some reason the burden of proof is much higher.
“There’s a very, very high threshold for scientific certainty for aerosols,” he said. “Somehow, transmission through surfaces has been accepted with a lot less evidence.”
The WHO said in July there have been “no specific reports” of COVID-19 directly from contact with contaminated surfaces, even though research consistently shows the virus can survive on them for several hours or days.
“We’re not seeing people infected from touching packages,” Loeb said.
“My view is that there’s a lot that’s unknown and we have to keep an open mind,” he added. “We have to look at all the data.”
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Coronavirus: Who is most likely to suffer long Covid symptoms? – AlKhaleej Today
Thank you for reading the news about Coronavirus: Who is most likely to suffer long Covid symptoms? and now with the details
Scientists in the UK have uncovered the risks of suffering the phenomenon known as ‘long Covid’ – long-lasting symptoms of Covid-19.
King’s College London researchers estimate that one in 20 people are sick with the novel coronavirus for at least eight weeks.
They say old age and a wide array of initial symptoms increase the risk of enduring Covid-19 for an extended period of time.
Being female, overweight and having asthma also increases the risk of suffering ‘long Covid’.
The research, which uses data from the Covid Symptom Study App currently being used by 4.3 million Britons, suggested ‘long Covid’ affects around 10 per cent of 18 to 49-year-olds who become indisposed with coronavirus.
Public Health England (PHE) discovered that around 10 per cent of people with Covid-19, who were not hospitalised, had revealed symptoms lasting more than four weeks.
The symptoms of long Covid include extreme fatigue, prolonged loss of taste or smell, respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms, and mental health problems.
They also include hair loss, pain and inflammation throughout the body, rashes and blood-clotting issues.
According to BBC News, scientists scoured the data for patterns that could predict who would get long-lasting illness.
The results, which are set to be published online, illustrate that long Covid can affect anyone, but some factors do increase the risk.
“Having more than five different symptoms in the first week was one of the key risk factors,” Dr Claire Steves, from Kings College London, told BBC News.
As per BBC News’ report, somebody who had a cough, fatigue, headache and diarrhoea, and lost their sense of smell – which are all potential symptoms – would be at higher risk than somebody who had a cough alone.
The risk also rises with age – particularly over 50 – as did being female.
Dr Steves said: “We’ve seen from the early data coming out that men were at much more risk of very severe disease and sadly of dying from Covid, it appears that women are more at risk of long Covid.”
No previous medical conditions were linked to long Covid except asthma and lung disease.
Fatigue is common in long-Covid sufferers, but symptoms vary from one patient to the next.
The exact symptoms of long-Covid vary from one patient to the next, but fatigue is typical.
Vicky Bourne, 48, started off with a fever and a “pathetic little cough” in March, which became “absolutely terrifying” when she struggled to breathe and needed to be given oxygen by a paramedic.
She was not hospitalised but is still – in October – living with long Covid.
Vicky’s health is improving, but her vision has changed and she still gets “waves” of more serious illness. Even walking the dog makes her suffer, so much so that she can’t talk at the same time.
She told the BBC: “I have strange, almost arthritic joints and weirdly, two weeks ago, I lost my sense of taste and smell again, it just went completely.
“It’s almost like there’s inflammation in my body that’s bouncing around and it can’t quite get rid of it, so it just pops up and then it goes away and pops up and goes away.”
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Hospitals struggle as 20 European countries record highest daily number of COVID cases – ABC News
Europe’s coronavirus second wave is in full swing with 20 countries on the continent, including the UK, Italy and Switzerland, reporting record numbers of COVID-19 infections.
- At least 20 European countries have recorded their highest daily number of new COVID-19 infections
- Europe has recorded more than 5 million cases and 200,000 deaths linked to coronavirus
- Authorities are worried that hospitals will not be able to cope with the second wave
The UK topped the list with 26,668 new cases and 191 coronavirus-related deaths in the previous 24 hours, while Italy recorded an additional 15,199 infections, up from its previous record of 11,705 on Sunday.
The Czech Republic saw an increase of 11,984 cases on Wednesday, while Poland recorded 10,040 and Switzerland had 5,596 new infections.
The records are following a worrying trend in Europe which is forcing governments to reintroduce restrictions on social interaction and hospitality services throughout the continent.
According to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Europe has registered more than 5 million cases and 200,000 deaths, with new cases beginning to rise sharply from the end of September.
Meanwhile, Spain has become the first western European country to reach more than 1 million confirmed cases after reporting 16,973 additional cases in the past 24 hours.
The country has 34,366 confirmed deaths.
European Union leaders will hold a video-conference next week to discuss how to better cooperate as the infections rise.
Hospitals struggle to cope
With case numbers that were brought largely under control by lockdowns in March and April now surging, authorities in countries from Poland to Portugal have expressed mounting alarm at the renewed crisis confronting their health infrastructure.
Belgium, struggling with what its health minister called a “tsunami” of infections, is postponing all non-essential hospital procedures, and similar measures are looming in other countries where case numbers have been rising relentlessly.
“If the rhythm of the past week continues, rescheduling and suspending some non-priority activities will become unavoidable,” Julio Pascual, medical director at Barcelona’s Hospital del Mar, told Reuters.
European countries boast some of the world’s best health services and doctors say that with the benefit of almost a year’s experience with coronavirus, they are much better equipped to treat individual patients clinically.
But the capacity of hospitals to handle a wave of COVID-19 patients, as well as people suffering from cancer, heart disease and other serious conditions, is still vulnerable.
Dutch health authorities said if the number of COVID patients in hospital wards continues to grow, three quarters of regular care may have to be scrapped by the end of November, and there were similar warnings from Czech authorities.
“We have hit a wall on clinical beds,” Wouter van der Horst, spokesman for the Dutch hospital association NVZ, said.
‘We couldn’t get to everyone’
As hospital admissions have spiralled, much attention has been focused on intensive care units, which came close to being overwhelmed in many areas during the first wave of the crisis.
On Wednesday authorities in Lombardy, the Italian region at the centre of the first wave of the pandemic, ordered the reopening of special temporary intensive care units set up in Milan and Bergamo that were shut down as case numbers receded.
Already, a number of regional health authorities in Germany, one of the countries that dealt with the first wave most effectively, have agreed to take in intensive care patients from other countries.
The ECDC said that some 19 per cent of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 are estimated to have ended up in hospital and eight per cent of those could require intensive care, but variations are wide both across Europe and within individual countries.
On Wednesday, Poland’s Health Minister said up to 30 per cent of new cases there could end up being hospitalised.
There has also been concern over the track and trace systems meant to keep local outbreaks of the disease under control but those systems have proven ineffective in many areas.
Authorities in Ireland, where the five-day case average has tripled since the start of October, said there were no longer enough officials to keep the system working.
Niamh O’Beirne, national lead for testing and tracing, told RTE radio that contact tracing centres had seen “unprecedented demand” with exponential growth in the number of cases, “and over the week we simply couldn’t get to everyone”.
Fraser Health names two weddings for potential coronavirus exposure | News – Daily Hive
Fraser Health is alerting the public about two weddings this month where guests could have been exposed to coronavirus.
The two weddings in the Fraser Health region both happened on October 10. The first was in Port Moody at Saint St. Grill. The exposure time applies all day from 5 am to 11 pm.
The second was in Mission at Lake Errock, again from 5 am to 11 pm.
— Fraser Health (@Fraserhealth) October 23, 2020
The alert comes on the same day that Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry threatened further restrictions could be enacted as social gatherings including weddings and funerals fuel the province’s second wave of coronavirus cases.
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