The recommended quarantine time for close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case is being reduced by up to a week in the United States, but while some of Canada’s health experts say a similar approach could be useful here, others aren’t so sure.
The U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Wednesday it had shortened the recommended length of quarantine after exposure from 14 days to 10 — or seven days with a negative test result.
Health Canada was still recommending a 14-day quarantine period as of Wednesday, but Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist at McMaster University in Hamilton, says cutting that time in half would be beneficial.
“It would be super important for the sake of incentivizing people to actually quarantine after exposure,” he said.
“And there’s a lot of different things that could theoretically open up — getting health-care workers back to work, getting kids back to school — a lot of ways where this could ease the burden of potential exposure in society.”
The CDC had previously said the incubation period for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could extend to 14 days, but the organization now says most people become infectious and develop symptoms between four and five days after exposure.
Chagla says the 14-day window was likely inspired from SARS data, where the incubation period was longer.
While isolation and quarantine are sometimes used interchangeably, Chagla says there’s a difference in the terms. Isolation is for those who have tested positive, while quarantine is for people who may or may not actually have the virus, like close contacts of positive cases or those travelling into Canada. Isolation recommendations for positive cases vary, but are typically 10 days after symptom onset.
Typical course of infection
Ashleigh Tuite, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, says a change in quarantine guidance reflects our evolving understanding of COVID-19.
“If you’re exposed, it takes a couple days for you to become infectious, so [seven to 10 days] should be enough to tell whether you’ve got the virus,” Tuite said. “But of course, that’s assuming your experience is reflective of the typical course of infection.”
The key to the CDC’s new guidance for Tuite is having the option to end quarantine at seven days with a negative test result. She suspects that’s in place to stop people who have the virus but no symptoms from ending the quarantine period too early.
A positive test at Day 7 would mean that person should continue to isolate, Tuite said, while a negative result would mean they could safely end quarantine, knowing enough time has passed since exposure to confidently assume they won’t still get sick.
Testing capacity challenges
Dr. Don Sheppard, the founder and director of the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4), says the CDC’s plan makes sense scientifically, but there would be logistical issues in testing every COVID contact in Canada who wanted to end their quarantine at Day 7.
“It’s impossible to do that,” he said. “It’s either 14 days of proper isolation, or it’s seven days with a negative test, and right now our system cannot offer seven days plus testing to the public at large.”
WATCH | Could the 14-day isolation period be shorter? (At 01:18:45):
Testing capacity does exist in certain situations, Sheppard said, like for health-care workers and other front-line staff that need a quicker quarantine to get back to work. He cautioned, however, that taking a test on Day 7 still means isolating for an extra day or two while awaiting results.
Quarantine also needs to be done solo in order to work, Sheppard added, warning that the CDC guidance isn’t meant as a loophole for holiday gatherings if your family isolates together for seven days before an event.
Supports for people to quarantine
He used an example of military recruits in the U.S. who were told to quarantine for 14 days before reporting to camp. A handful of positive tests (0.9 per cent) were caught upon arrival, suggesting true quarantine hadn’t been followed.
Those recruits were sent home while the rest underwent another group quarantine. When tested again two weeks later, the positivity rate had grown to 1.3 per cent.
“Why? Because there were people incubating and they turned positive. And those people infected others in their groups,” Sheppard said.
“So if you don’t do strict, single-person isolation, you don’t actually break the cycle of transmission, you just pass it around in your group.”
Tuite says that further illustrates the usefulness of a shortened quarantine period.
A mother with young children, or someone who shares a small apartment with another person will find it harder to properly quarantine for longer periods, she said, as will someone who can’t afford to take a full two weeks off work.
“It really comes down to having the means to do it,” she said. “Can you survive for two weeks if you’re not getting income? Can you isolate in a household with multiple people?
“We need to have support in place so that people can quarantine, and that doesn’t change whether it’s for a week or 14 days. But it becomes much more challenging when it’s for longer periods.”
Canada’s cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 700K – Global News
Cases of COVID-19 in Canada have now surpassed 700,000, according to a Global News tally updated with the latest data from health officials.
The milestone came after Ontario reported another 3,056 cases Saturday. To date, a total of 701,466 infections have been detected in Canada, with both Ontario and Quebec recording the highest amount.
A total of 17,850 deaths attributed to COVID-19 have been recorded in Canada as well, though over 607,900 patients have since recovered and at least 20,353,00 tests have been administered.
Cases of the virus continue to surge in communities across the country, with officials attributing the large number of social contacts Canadians had during the holidays.
Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor says COVID-19 measures must be ‘further intensified’ to help stop spread
The most recent modelling of the virus’ spread — presented by public health authorities Friday — showed that Canada was on its way to surpassing 10,000 new cases of the virus per day by February.
According to Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, current measures would have to be “further intensified” in order to slow down the spread of the virus.
“If we ease measures too soon the epidemic will resurge even more strongly,” Tam said in a press conference Friday.
The modelling also found cases of the virus could potentially surge past 30,000 per day if Canadians increase their contact with each other by February.
Federal officials also revealed on Friday that shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to the country would be delayed for four weeks due to production issues.
How will I know it’s my turn to get the vaccine? Your COVID-19 questions answered
According to Procurement Minister Anita Anand, only half of Pfizer’s promised vaccine doses would arrive in the next month because of the delay.
“This expansion work means that Pfizer is temporarily reducing deliveries to all countries receiving vaccine manufactured at its European facility — and that includes Canada,” Anand said.
Both Anand and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also reassured Canadians would not impact the country’s long term vaccination plan, and that they would still have enough vaccines available by September for any Canadian who wanted to be inoculated.
Coronavirus: Trudeau says Pfizer delay won’t impact September COVID-19 vaccination goal
As of Jan.14, at least 765,100 doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed across Canada.
More to come…
— With files from Global News’ Katie Dangerfield and Rachel Gilmore.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
More than 7 in 10 Canadians support barring unvaccinated people from businesses: Nanos survey – CTV News
More than seven in 10 Canadians support or somewhat support barring those who don’t have proof of vaccination from businesses where people are in close contact, according to a new Nanos survey.
The survey, conducted by Nanos Research in December 2020 and commissioned by CTV News, asked more than 1,000 Canadians 18 years of age and older if they would support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or oppose businesses (like airlines or movie theatres, where people are in close contact) having the right to bar a customer who does not have proof of vaccination.
In the results, 45 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they support the idea, 27 per cent said they somewhat support it, eight per cent said they somewhat oppose the idea, 16 per cent said they oppose it, and four per cent said they were unsure.
Support for the idea of barring individuals from businesses who don’t have proof of vaccination was most popular in Ontario, at 49 per cent and least popular in the Prairies, which had the highest percentage of those opposed to the idea at 21 per cent.
Canadians over the age of 55 were most likely to support the idea of barring people from businesses who don’t have proof of vaccination, with 57 per cent supportive, compared to those aged 18 to 34 who were 34 per cent supportive.
The survey also asked Canadians if they agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or disagree that with vaccines now being distributed in Canada, their lives will get back to normal by the end of 2021.
In the results, 22 per cent of Canadians survey agreed their lives would be back to normal by the end of 2021 due to the vaccines being distributed, 50 per cent somewhat agreed, 14 per cent somewhat disagreed, eight per cent disagreed and five per cent were unsure.
Quebec had the highest rate of people surveyed that agree, with 28 per cent, and the Prairies had the highest percentage of people who disagreed, at 11 per cent.
“Around 45 per cent of Canadians cite [the pandemic] as the top national issue of concern – unprompted,” Nik Nanos said on CTV News Channel Saturday, adding that sentiments can change on a dime as it’s “almost day-to-day, week-to-week” for provinces in the fight against the virus.
Aligning with those concerns, Nanos conducted another survey, commissioned by CTV News to assess whether or not Canadians supported the continued closure of the border between Canada and the United States.
The survey found more than nine in 10 Canadians support or somewhat support keeping the land border closed to non-essential travel until the number of cases in the U.S. significantly drops – even if that takes several months or longer.
In the breakdown of results, 80 per cent of Canadians surveyed supported the idea of keeping the Canada-U.S. border closed, 11 per cent somewhat support the idea, four per cent somewhat opposed it, four per cent opposed it and less than one per cent were unsure.
Support for keeping the Canada- U.S. border closed was highest in the Atlantic provinces, with 88 per cent in support of the idea – with the Prairies least in support of the idea with 71 per cent. The Prairies also had the largest percentage – seven per cent – of people who opposed the idea.
Canadians 55 plus represented the age group most supportive of keeping the border closed, with 85 per cent, compared to those 18 to 34 years of age with 74 per cent.
Currently, the Canada-U.S. land border closure has been extended to at least Feb. 21, 2021.
For both surveys cited above, Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,048 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between December 27 and 30, 2020 as part of an omnibus survey. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online. The sample included both land- and cell-lines across Canada. The results were statistically checked and weighted by age and gender using the latest Census information and the sample is geographically stratified to be representative of Canada.
Individuals were randomly called using random digit dialling with a maximum of five call backs. The margin of error for this survey is ±3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
This study was commissioned by CTV News and the research was conducted by Nanos Research.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday – CBC.ca
- India begins ambitious COVID-19 vaccination drive.
- Trudeau says delayed Pfizer vaccine deliveries will ramp up again in February.
- New modelling shows roughly 2,000 more Canadians could die from COVID-19 over next 10 days.
- Alberta’s Phase 1 vaccination rollout slowed over Pfizer supply issues.
- Why playing arena hockey can be risky during the pandemic.
- Do you have a tip or question about the pandemic? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca.
India began its mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19 on Saturday, with plans to inoculate about 300,000 people on the first day of the drive.
The first recipients are to include doctors, nurses and other front-line workers. They are to be followed by people who are either over 50 years old or have illnesses that make them vulnerable to the respiratory illness.
The first dose was administered to a sanitation worker at the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences in the capital of New Delhi, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off the campaign with a nationally televised speech.
“We are launching the world’s biggest vaccination drive and it shows the world our capability,” Modi said. He implored citizens to keep their guard up and not to believe any “rumours about the safety of the vaccines.”
People will not be able to choose between the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine and a government-backed vaccine developed by India’s Bharat Biotech whose efficacy is not entirely known because it’s still undergoing Phase 3 trials. Both vaccines are being produced locally.
Canada’s vaccine supply, meanwhile, has hit a stumbling block. Pfizer is upgrading and expanding its European production line, so its vaccine deliveries to Canada and other countries will be temporarily disrupted, Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand said on Friday.
Canada’s allotment of the vaccine will be reduced by half for four weeks, said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the development will not thwart plans to have enough vaccine doses by September for every Canadian who wants to be inoculated and that deliveries will ramp up again in February.
The news came as the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) released federal projections that suggested the pandemic’s impact may soon exceed levels seen in the first wave, rising to 19,630 cumulative deaths and 10,000 daily infections over the next 10 days.
WATCH | Pfizer delays will slow vaccine program, says Ontario’s task force leader:
PHAC said the modelling data showed that roughly 2,000 more people are expected to die from COVID-19 by Jan. 24, while as many as 100,000 more people could contract the novel coronavirus.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 9 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had reported 698,763 cases of COVID-19, with 75,860 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 17,780.
In British Columbia, where all available vaccine doses are being deployed as they arrive, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Pfizer’s delay in deliveries will have “some significant effect” on when priority groups get their shot.
The delay could also affect the wait time between each shot of the two-dose regime, he said.
Although Pfizer-BioNTech suggests a second dose 21 days after the first, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that could be extended to 35 days.
A spokesperson for Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said the temporary slowdown in deliveries reinforced the province’s decision to wait up to 90 days to administer the vaccine’s second dose.
WATCH | Businesses plan when remote employees return to the office:
“The strategy remains the same: We must give a boost now and vaccinate as many vulnerable people and health workers as possible, as quickly as possible,” Marjaurie Côté-Boileau said.
Alberta decided earlier this week to push back its second shots to 42 days. The province’s health minister, Tyler Shandro, said Friday that he had hoped to soon announce all seniors over 75 and Indigenous people over 65 would be eligible for the vaccine, but the delay makes that out of the question.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province was evaluating the impact of the delay and “will adjust as necessary.”
On Saturday, Ford’s government announced that it’s extending for another 30 days legislation that gives it broad authority over emergency orders. The Reopening Ontario Act 2020 came into effect last July.
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick recorded 25 new cases on Friday, continuing a recent surge in cases that has seen provincial officials warning of new restrictions.
Nova Scotia reported two new cases and two new recoveries on Friday, leaving its number of active cases at 32. In Truro, a mobile health unit has been set up in response to an increase in the number of potential exposures in the area during the last week.
Newfoundland and Labrador added one new case on Friday. Prince Edward Island saw one new case on Thursday.
WATCH | Ontario schools for special-needs students stay open despite lockdown:
Quebec announced 1,918 new cases and 62 deaths on Friday. There are 1,496 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, including 231 in intensive care.
Ontario reported 3,056 new cases and 51 more deaths from the illness on Saturday. The province saw 2,998 new cases and a record 100 deaths on Friday and reported 1,647 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, including 387 in intensive care.
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Manitoba reported 191 new COVID-19 cases and five more deaths on Friday. The update comes a week before provincewide restrictions that ban most gatherings and the sale of non-essential goods expire. The provincial government is now considering reducing some of those restrictions and is asking for input from the public in an online survey.
Saskatchewan reported 382 new cases of COVID-19 and four deaths on Friday. Intensive care units in the province are at 95 per cent capacity, stretched by emergencies, including COVID-19 cases, the head of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Scott Livingstone, said on Thursday.
Alberta reported 785 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 additional deaths on Friday, while British Columbia health officials reported 509 new cases and nine more deaths.
In Yukon, a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for physicians and high-risk hospital staff has inoculated about 300 people.
Northwest Territories chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola announced that one person in Yellowknife had tested positive for COVID-19. Kandola said the person has not travelled, and there is no known source of infection at this time.
In Nunavut, more than 600 people are estimated to have received a first dose of the Moderna vaccine so far, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said.
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday morning, more than 93.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 51.8 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 case tracking tool. The global death toll stood at just over two million.
AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine has been granted approval for emergency use in Pakistan, Faisal Sultan, the country’s health minister said on Saturday.
Pakistan is in the process of speaking to a number of vaccine makers, but this is the first COVID-19 vaccine to be given the green light in the South Asian country.
In Europe, Spain on Saturday ruled out a new national lockdown despite the record number of COVID-19 cases recorded on Friday. The country registered 40,197 new cases on Friday, while the incidence of the disease measured over the past 14 days hit a new high of 575 cases per 100,000 people.
Unlike other European countries such as Britain and the Netherlands, which have extended national lockdowns, Spanish officials have repeatedly said a return to home confinement should not be necessary.
Prince William is encouraging everyone in Britain to follow the example of Queen Elizabeth, his grandmother, in being inoculated against COVID-19 as authorities battle unsubstantiated fears about vaccine safety.
The second in line to the throne spoke about the Queen and her spouse, Prince Philip, during a video call with National Health Service staff and volunteers that was released late Saturday. The medics told William some members of the public are reluctant to get any of the coronavirus vaccines authorized by regulators.
“My grandparents have had the vaccine and I am very proud of them for doing that,” William said. “It is really important that everyone gets the vaccine when they are told to.”
The Queen, 94, last week disclosed that she and Philip, 99, had received the first dose of vaccine. The disclosure was meant to boost confidence in the shots as the NHS seeks to give the first dose of vaccine to everyone over 70 by the middle of February.
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