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Canada to start testing some wastewater for polio 'as soon as possible' – CBC News

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After new reports of polio cases abroad, and virus samples in the wastewater of several other developed countries, Canada intends to start testing wastewater from a number of cities “as soon as possible,” CBC News has learned.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) already works to monitor polio activity around the world, a spokesperson said in an email response to CBC News questions.

Currently, PHAC’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg does have the diagnostic tools available to test samples for poliovirus. Any suspected positive Canadian samples of poliovirus will be sent to that lab for further laboratory analysis and confirmation, with results shared with the respective local health authorities “so appropriate public health measures can be taken if necessary.”

According to the statement, PHAC has been communicating with national and international partners who are experts in this field to finalize a wastewater testing strategy. It will be testing wastewater samples that were collected earlier this year from “key high-risk municipalities” to determine if polio was present prior to the reported international cases. 

PHAC will also be sending samples to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for additional confirmation.

“However, it is important to acknowledge that accurately testing wastewater for poliovirus is a developing science,” the statement continued. “For example, wastewater detections can be affected by extreme precipitation events, such as flooding in a community.”

WATCH | 100s could be infected with polio in New York state: 

100s could be infected with polio in New York, health officials say

2 days ago

Duration 2:19

A health official in New York State says hundreds of people could be infected with the polio virus.

Reports of polio in U.S., U.K., Israel

On Wednesday, British health authorities announced they will offer a polio booster dose to children aged one to nine in London, after finding evidence the virus has been spreading in multiple regions of the capital.

The agency said it was working closely with health authorities in the U.S. and Israel, as well as the World Health Organization, to investigate the links between polio viruses detected in those two countries. 

In July, Israel announced a recent outbreak of polio infections appeared to be under control, after multiple people became infected, including a Jerusalem girl who was paralyzed and now requires rehabilitation, according to the Jerusalem Post.

More recently, in the state of New York, one unvaccinated young adult suffered paralysis after a polio infection in Rockland County — an area known for low vaccination rates — which marked the first case reported in the U.S. in nearly a decade. 

Outbreaks also remain common in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of Africa — areas of the world where vaccination efforts have not yet eradicated the virus.

Polio can often be asymptomatic, but in some cases, the viral infection can lead to paralysis or death.

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MPs, Senators debate requirements for medically assisted dying with mental disorders

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OTTAWA — An expert told a special joint committee of the House of Commons and Senate that people with mental disorders can suffer for decades, and their distress is equally as valid as someone suffering physical pain.

People suffering solely from mental disorders are due to become eligible for assisted dying in March, and Dr. Justine Dembo, a psychiatrist and medical assistance in dying assessor, also cautioned the committee about perpetuating stigma about mental illness.

Mental health advocates warn it is harder to predict the outcomes and treatments of mental illnesses, and a wish to die is often a symptom, but an expert panel earlier this year said existing eligibility criteria and safeguards in medically assisted dying legislation would be adequate.

Both arguments were made today by a handful of witnesses appearing before the committee, which is deliberating what policies to recommend to lawmakers ahead of the March deadline.

Ellen Cohen, a coordinator advocate for the National Mental Health Inclusion Network, told committee members Canada needs laws to help patients, not hurt them.

“I don’t believe there were any safeguards recommended,” she said.

She resigned from the federal government’s expert panel on MAID and mental illness in December 2021. She said there was no space to identify how vulnerable people could be protected.

The panel released its report May 13, concluding that existing eligibility criteria and safeguards would be adequate “so long as those are interpreted appropriately to take into consideration the specificity of mental disorders.”

Dembo, who was one of the expert panel members, said following those guidelines for people with mental disorders “would ensure an extremely comprehensive, thorough and cautious approach.”

She told the committee people with mental disorders can suffer for decades.

“To say someone with mental illness just shouldn’t be eligible, with that big of a blanket statement, where people don’t even get the chance to be assessed as individuals unique in their circumstances, to me is very stigmatizing,” she said.

While the interim report released earlier this year stops short of making recommendations of its own,  it concludes by urging the government to take steps to implement the recommendations of the expert panel “in a timely matter.”

A final report from the committee, complete with recommendations that address other areas including access for mature minors, advance requests, the state of palliative care and the protection of people with disabilities, is due on Oct. 17.

Cohen called the timeline for the legislation to be expanded by March unrealistic.

“I’d like to see this government push this deadline back,” she said.

But Dembo disagreed, telling MPs and senators that assessors are already gaining experience following the existing guidelines.

“Whether or not March 2023 is a realistic deadline depends on how committed and efficient various provincial bodies and local bodies can be in implementing guidelines based on the panel report. I’m hoping they can do that,” she said.

The committee’s review was mandated in the MAID legislation that required that a parliamentary review be initiated five years after the law came into effect in 2016. The committee began its work in 2021 before it was dissolved ahead of the federal election last fall.

The panel and the committee use the terminology “mental disorders,” rather than “mental illness,” stating in their reports that there is no standard definition for the latter and its use could cause confusion.

Conservative MPs on the committee offered a dissenting interim report earlier this year, saying it would be “problematic” to simply endorse the panel’s recommendations.

The MPs argued there are “far too many unanswered questions” on the subject, and nothing precludes the committee from revisiting whether assisted dying should be offered to this category of people at all.

“Legislation of this nature needs to be guided by science, and not ideology,” the Conservatives wrote in May, warning that an outcome that could “facilitate the deaths of Canadians who could have gotten better” would be completely unacceptable.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022

 

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COVID-19 outbreak reported at care centre in Nunavut

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GJOA HAVEN, Nunavut — Health officials in Nunavut have declared a COVID-19 outbreak at a continuing care centre home in Gjoa Haven.

The territory’s Department of Health says all eight residents and one staff member have tested positive for COVID-19.

It says all elders are in stable condition and are being closely monitored.

As a result of the outbreak, visitation at the centre is being controlled and those who have tested positive are isolating.

Nunavut lifted all public health measures related to COVID-19 in April, including mandatory isolation and masking requirements.

The department says all health, staff including those at the care centre, have been required to continue wearing masks while on shift.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022.

 

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Health Matters: COVID-19 patients developing autoimmune diseases – Global News

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Global News Morning BC

A new Canadian study is showing some patients dealing with long COVID are showing symptoms of other auto-immune diseases. Co-author of the study Dr. Chris Carlsten, from UBC’s Department of Medicine, shares the details.

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