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Cases of COVID-19 in younger adults going up, Henry says; 45 new cases on Island – Times Colonist

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More adults under the age of 40 are getting COVID-19, even as there have been decreases in older age groups that have received the vaccine, says B.C.’s top doctor.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday that there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases in people ages 19 to 39 over the past month and a half.

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However, she said the hospitalization rate remains low and stable for people under 60. There have been more cases of the variant first identified in the U.K., which is more transmissible and can have increased severity of illness across age groups.

Of 1,592 hospitalizations of people younger than 60 in B.C., 19 per cent required admission to intensive care units. Of the small number that required hospitalization with a variant of concern, 30 per cent were admitted to the ICU, she said.

“That’s something that’s a signal, that we’re watching,” she said, though she added the numbers are small enough not to be too worrying.

Henry also revealed that a third to 40 per cent of B.C.’s cases are coming from work sites. She said COVID-19 is emerging in “work sites across the board,” though the province is currently targeting essential workplaces that have seen outbreaks for vaccines.

The province reported 800 new cases on Thursdsay — the highest single-day total since November. Of those, 45 were in the Island Health region. According to Island Health, there are 109 in the central Island, 105 in the south and 19 in the north.

Island Health also declared an outbreak at Longlake Chateau independent living facility in Nanaimo, operated by Atria Retirement Canada. Five residents have tested positive for COVID-19 at the site. Residents who tested positive and close contacts are isolating in their homes.

The health authority said it’s working with Longlake Chateau management to identify anyone who may have been exposed. Visits will be restricted to essential visitors and all staff and residents will be tested.

The B.C. government announced earlier it was more than doubling the fines for those promoting and attending events against COVID-19 health rules in an effort to crack down on “selfish behaviour.”

The fine has increased to $575 from $230, although the penalty for those caught hosting such an event remains at $2,300.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said most people are following provincial health rules, but it’s become clear in the last few months that the risk of a ticket isn’t enough of a deterrence for some.

“The reality is this, these health orders exist to keep people safe, to help deal with the spread of COVID-19 and everybody has a part to play,” he said. “I think [the fines] send a pretty strong message for people that they need to follow provincial health orders.”

The $230 fine will continue to apply to a range of other COVID-19 violations, such as not wearing a mask.

The increased fine is aimed at events where behaviour is more risky, said Farnworth.

The province is preparing to announce new measures in the coming weeks to ensure people who receive tickets pay their fines, he said, noting as of Wednesday, 1,525 people have received tickets.

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Transplant programs reviewing policy on recipients being vaccinated against COVID-19 – Squamish Chief

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Transplant centres in Western Canada have stopped short of requiring organ recipients to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but they say conversations about such a policy are ongoing.

Some centres in other parts of the country, including Ontario, are requiring proof of vaccination before a patient is approved for the life-saving surgery.

BC Transplant, located in Vancouver, said COVID-19 vaccination is not required to be eligible for a transplant, but programs in the province are actively reviewing it.

“The transplant programs are strongly encouraging all pre-transplant patients to be vaccinated against COVID-19, as they do with many other vaccine-preventable infections,” the agency said in a statement.

Similarly, Alberta Health Services told The Canadian Press it has long been a requirement that patients preparing for transplant have all vaccines to help maximize their chances of success post-transplant. It notes, however, it’s only a practice guideline at this point.

Saskatchewan has also not made any changes.

“Saskatchewan’s organ transplant teams are strongly supportive of all recipients and donors having COVID vaccinations, and the issue of requiring these vaccinations in recipients is actively being discussed,” Lisa Thomson, a spokeswoman for the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said in a statement. 

The Ajmera Transplant Centre at Toronto’s University Health Network recently announced its decision to implement a policy that requires patients who may benefit from receiving a transplant be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before they are listed for solid organ transplant.

However, there may be exemptions for medical reasons or in cases of urgent need of a transplant.

“We all recognize that (COVID-19) is a massive, massive risk factor. The prudent and ethical thing to do to protect patients and to protect each other, and show fidelity and respect to those organ donors, is to require this (policy) to be a price of pass and go,” UHN president and chief executive officer Kevin Smith said in an interview. 

The decision to enact the policy is based on a few factors, according to the organization. 

It said transplant patients are severely immunocompromised because of lifelong treatment to prevent rejection of a new organ. If someone who is immunocompromised gets COVID-19, they are at a very high risk of being hospitalized or placed on ventilation.

Unvaccinated recipients could also pose a risk to other patients post-surgery. Transplant recipients have high health needs after their transplants and require frequent visits to a hospital. These individuals may pose a greater risk of spreading illness, should they get infected, to other immunocompromised patients in an inpatient or outpatient setting.

“Thinking about an outbreak in an environment like that would be just a massacre,” Smith said. 

Infectious disease experts noted this type of policy isn’t new.

“There’s just requirements pre-transplant in order to be eligible for listing. Some of it is complying with some of the medical measures to see if patients would be eligible,” said Dr. Dima Kabbani, an assistant professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alberta. 

Kabbani added pre-transplant vaccine recommendations are already in place for hepatitis B, pneumococcal disease and influenza. 

Manitoba’s Shared Health said there is no requirement for Manitobans awaiting a transplant to be vaccinated for COVID-19, but noted patients may be required to show proof of vaccinationif there are requirements elsewhere.Kidney transplants are performed in the province while all other organ transplants take place in other provinces. 

Jessica Bailey, 35, is living with stage five kidney disease and awaiting a transplant in Saskatoon. 

The government has postponed surgeries as the province deals with a devastating fourth wave of COVID-19.

Bailey said she is not in favour of requiring recipients to be vaccinated against COVID-19. She said she is double vaccinated but believes recipients should still have the choice on whether they want the vaccine. 

She does encourage patients who may be on the fence to look at the bigger picture.

“If you can get a transplant just by getting the vaccine, go and do it. Pick and choose your battles,” Bailey said. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Oct. 15, 2021.

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

Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press

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Health Unit Gearing Up For Flu Shot Program – ckdr.net

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With the colder months not far away, the Northwestern Health Unit is preparing for their annual flu shot program.

“The Northwestern Health Unit will begin to offer the flu vaccine in November and we will inform the public when they can start booking appointments,” says Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kit Young Hoon. “As always the influenza vaccine will also be available at many pharmacies and from other health care providers.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada only reported 79 lab confirmed cases of influenza in 2020 compared to 54-thousand cases just the year before.

The drop is largely attributed to strong public health measures and lockdowns due to COVID-19, but officials say there could be more documented cases this year.

“Influenza vaccination were relatively high last year so we’re working off a similar assumption for this year that they will be high,” says Dr. Young Hoon. “I believe we will have enough vaccine to provide to whoever wants to be vaccinated and we’re prepping to have a relatively high rate this year.”

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U.S. to lift curbs from Nov. 8 for vaccinated foreign travelers – White House

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The White House on Friday said it will lift COVID-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign nationals effective Nov. 8, ending historic restrictions that barred much of the world from the United States.

 Restrictions on non-U.S. citizens were first imposed on air travelers from China in January 2020 by then-President Donald Trump and then extended to dozens of other countries, without any clear metrics for how and when to lift them.

Curbs on non-essential travelers at land borders with Mexico and Canada have been in place since March 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reuters first reported Friday’s announcement of the Nov. 8 starting date earlier in the day.

U.S. airline, hotel and cruise industry stocks rose on the news, including American Airlines, up 1.9%; Marriott International Inc, up 2.2%; and Carnival Corp, up 1.3%.

The United States had lagged many other countries in lifting such restrictions, and allies welcomed the move. The U.S. restrictions have barred travelers from most of the world, including tens of thousands of foreign nationals with relatives or business links in the United States.

The White House on Tuesday announced it would lift restrictions at its land borders and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated foreign nationals in early November. They are similar but not identical to requirements announced last month for international air travelers.

Unvaccinated visitors will still be barred from entering the United States from Canada or Mexico at land borders.

Canada on Aug. 9 began allowing fully vaccinated U.S. visitors for non-essential travel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told Reuters last week the United States will accept the use by international visitors of COVID-19 vaccines authorized by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization.

The White House, which held a meeting late Thursday to finalize the Nov. 8 date, still faces some remaining questions, including how and what exemptions the Biden administration will grant to the vaccine requirements. Children under 18, for example, are largely expected to be exempt from the requirements, an official said.

U.S. Travel Association Chief Executive Roger Dow said in a statement that the Nov. 8 date “is critically important for planning – for airlines, for travel-supported businesses, and for millions of travelers worldwide who will now advance plans to visit the United States once again.”

The White House announced on Sept. 20 that the United States would lift restrictions on air travelers from 33 countries in early November. It did not specify the date at the time.

Starting Nov. 8, the United States will admit fully vaccinated foreign air travelers from the 26 so-called Schengen countries in Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Greece, as well as Britain, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil. The unprecedented U.S. restrictions have barred non-U.S. citizens who were in those countries within the past 14 days.

The United States has allowed foreign air travelers from more than 150 countries throughout the pandemic, a policy that critics said made little sense because some countries with high COVID-19 rates were not on the restricted list, while some on the list had the pandemic more under control.

The White House said last month it would apply vaccine requirements to foreign nationals traveling from all other countries.

Non-U.S. air travelers will need to show proof of vaccination before boarding a flight, and will need to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test. Foreign visitors crossing a land border will not need to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.

The new rules do not require foreign visitors or Americans entering the country to go into quarantine.

Americans traveling overseas must still show proof of a recent negative COVID-19, and unvaccinated Americans will face stricter COVID-19 testing requirements. They will also be subject to restrictions in the countries they plan to visit, which may include quarantines.

The CDC plans to soon issue new rules on contact tracing for international air travelers.

 

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by John Stonestreet, Nick Zieminski and Jonathan Oatis)

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