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Children's viruses that disappeared during pandemic lockdowns are back, doctors say – CBC.ca

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As children emerge from their homes after COVID-19-related lockdowns, common viruses that all but disappeared during the pandemic are re-emerging too, doctors say.

“This time of year in pediatric hospitals, it’s usually quiet,” said Dr. Fatima Kakkar, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at CHU Sainte-Justine in Montreal. “But now we’re seeing a surge of respiratory infections.”

The level of non-COVID illnesses is what Kakkar usually sees in the fall, she said, when children are out and about in daycares or schools.

While the public health measures taken in the last year — including physical distancing, masking and staying home — were used to stop the spread of COVID-19, they also had the side benefit of preventing other respiratory viruses, including colds, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human parainfluenza virus, which causes croup.

But experts say that also means because children haven’t come in contact with those viruses for a long time, they haven’t built up the antibodies they normally would — and they won’t have the immunity they might otherwise have.

“What’s happened to us is we … had no exposure,” said Dr. Allison McGeer, an infectious diseases specialist and microbiologist at Sinai Health in Toronto.

“Now that we’re getting back to normal and kids can see each other, we’re starting to see those infections [again] in children.”

Now that kids are emerging from isolation, they’re being exposed to common viruses their immune systems haven’t encountered for more than a year, experts say. (Syda Productions/Shutterstock)

Kids will usually recover from most of these illnesses on their own, but Kakkar said pediatricians are especially worried about a rise in RSV. Although it’s a common virus, it can cause breathing problems in infants and toddlers that are so severe they require hospital care, she said.

Last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory notifying health-care providers that RSV cases were on the rise in parts of the country, and asking them to test children with acute respiratory symptoms for RSV if COVID-19 was ruled out.

According to the CDC, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children under one.

Flu still to come

One respiratory virus that doctors aren’t seeing yet is the flu, Kakkar said.

But after a year with essentially no flu season, largely due to COVID-19 precautions, influenza is expected to return this fall.

Even though our immune systems may not be ready for the flu this year, there’s good news, doctors say.

“People are worried about the flu coming back. But for the flu, we have a safe and effective vaccine,” said Dr. Ellen Foxman, an immunologist at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.

“This is a great year to get your flu shot if you haven’t done it before,” said Foxman, noting that she gets her three children vaccinated every year.

Although children are getting more respiratory infections, doctors say parents shouldn’t be alarmed.

“This is not a big deal for most children,” McGeer said.

Pediatric infectious diseases specialist Dr. Fatima Kakkar says there’s a ‘surge’ of respiratory infections that her hospital wouldn’t normally see until the fall. (Submitted by Fatima Kakkar )

Plus, she said, parents can use several of the same precautions they’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic to help prevent the spread of re-emerging childhood viruses.

“Wash your hands,” McGeer said. “We know that simple things reduce your risk of respiratory viral infections.”

“[There’s] good evidence that washing your hands five times a day reduces the risk by about 30 per cent, give or take.”

Staying home when you’re sick and keeping your child at home if they have symptoms is also a behaviour adopted during COVID-19 that needs to continue, Kakkar said.

Plus, parents should be prepared now to deal with viruses they wouldn’t normally expect until the fall.

“Pretend it’s October,” she said.

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Ontario reports 170 COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths; 124K more vaccines administered – q107.com

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Ontario reported 170 COVID-19 cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 549,156.

“Locally, there are 44 new cases in Toronto, 26 in Peel Region, 17 in Hamilton, 15 in the Region of Waterloo and 13 in Grey Bruce,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said.

For comparison, last Saturday 176 cases were reported.

Read more:
‘Vaccine certificates’ may speed up reopening, incentivize vaccination: Ontario science table

Three new deaths were also announced on July 24, bringing the provincial virus-related death toll to 9,311.

A total of 538,421 coronavirus cases are considered resolved, which is up by 150 and is 98 per cent of all confirmed cases.

More than 19,100 additional tests were completed. Ontario has now completed a total of 16,451,025 tests and 5,325 remain under investigation.

The province indicated that the positivity rate for the last day was 0.8 per cent, which down slightly from Friday’s report, when it was 0.9 per cent, and up from last Saturday’s report, when it was 0.6 per cent.

Provincial figures showed there are 132 people in intensive care due to COVID-19 (down by four), 86 of whom are on a ventilator (up by two).

Here is a breakdown of Ontario’s cases by age and gender:

  • 273,725 people are male
  • 271,734 people are female
  • 88,751 people are 19 and under
  • 205,695 people are 20 to 39
  • 156,528 people are 40 to 59
  • 72,892 people are 60 to 79
  • 25,196 people are 80 and over

The province notes that not all cases have a reported age or gender.

The province also notes that the number of cases publicly reported each day may not align with case counts reported by local public health units on a given day. Local public health units report when they were first notified of a case, which can be updated and changed as information becomes available. Data may also be pulled at different times.

As of 8 p.m. Friday, 18,848,661 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered in Ontario, marking an increase of 124,261. Of those, 105,628 were second doses.

In Ontario, 80.7 per cent of adults aged 18-plus have received at least one vaccine dose and 67.1 per cent are fully vaccinated.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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COVID incidence in Waterloo Region continues to decline – TheRecord.com

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WATERLOO REGION — The incidence rate of COVID-19 in the region continued to decline, and has now reached the lowest level since early November.

According to the latest numbers released Saturday by Waterloo Region Public Health, the seven-day moving average rate of cases per 100,000 population fell to 2.9 cases per 100,000 on Saturday. While still almost triple the provincial rate of one case per 100,000, the last time the region had an incidence rate that low was on Nov. 2.

The incidence rate in the region is nonetheless still one of the highest in Ontario, with just three regions out of the 24 in the province — Porcupine, Hamilton and Grey-Bruce — showing higher rates.

The number of positive cases in the region increased by 14, for a total of 18,271 since the pandemic began.

Other indicators also showed positive trends.

The number of active cases dropped overnight by nine to 134.

The number of outbreaks decreased from 11 to nine.

The number being treated for COVID in hospital remained steady at 13, while the number of those who have died from the virus was also unchanged at 282. Thirteen people were being treated in intensive care, a decrease of three from the previous day.

The number of variants of concern remained steady at 4,579.

As of Friday, 81.26 per cent of the region’s residents over age 12 have received at least one dose, while 63.75 per cent have been fully vaccinated. Another 5,311 people received a vaccine on Friday.

A total of 537,724 test have been carried out in the region.

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African countries to receive six million Johnson and Johnson vaccines, the African Union says – News Track English

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Around six million doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine will be delivered by the African Union to 27 African nations that have paid for the shipments through the end of August. AU coronavirus envoy Strive Masiyiwa said 18 countries are finalizing loans from the World Bank and other global lenders before they make payment.

Deliveries will rise to an average of 10 million a month from September, increasing to 20 million in January until the order is fulfilled by September next year. Global pharmaceutical firms should license production of COVID-19 vaccines in Africa rather than just do piecemeal contract deals, Masiyiwa said while speaking a day after Pfizer and BioNTech announced a “fill and finish” deal with South Africa’s Biovac Institute under which it will carry out the final stages of vaccine manufacturing where the product is processed and put into vials.

Pfizer and BioNTech will handle drug substance production at their facilities in Europe. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has called the arrangement “restrictive” and said much more is needed to support vaccine independence in Africa.

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