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Cold and flu convergence with COVID-19 has doctors bracing for service strain – KitchenerToday.com

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With cold weather on the horizon, some healthcare professionals are sounding the alarm as we look to a combination of cold & flu season with the COVID-19 pandemic. In combination with the looming back-to-school surge in September and concerns surrounding a second wave, the potential for a viral overload is a concerning reality.

Dr. Ann Collins is the President Elect of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA). Joining the Mike Farwell show on Thursday, she spoke to the challenges that our healthcare service could see in the months ahead.

“The CMA has very real concerns about this convergence of upcoming cold and flu season along with back to school… and how it will affect Canadian family physicians and practices.” Says Collins. “These issues will present themselves probably faster than the physician community and the healthcare system can deal with.”

The Canadian Medical Association is a national, volunteer driven association of physicians and medical learners that aims to improve the health of Canadians while strengthening the health care system. When it comes to their work with the physician community in Canada, the CMA has been advocating those healthcare workers to look to the advice of the Public Health Agency of Canada and respective Chief Officers of Health for best practices in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Dr. Collins, healthcare providers have already begun to receive recommendations on the provision of influenza vaccine from Health Canada. She says the comprehensive list is challenging physicians to look at different ways of administering the seasonal flu vaccine, including running smaller clinics or operating outdoors.

“Many family doctors for example will run huge flu clinics providing many patients in a short period of time with the influenza vaccine; that clearly cannot happen this year with physical distancing and increased sanitization requirements in running a clinic.”

Dr. Collins says one of the coming challenges to Canadians and physicians will be in an increased demand for COVID-19 testing. When it comes to working through cold & flu season, there’s concern for an increase in false cases and public concern as early stage symptoms of cold, influenza and COVID-19 can be very similar. Along with an increase demand for testing, Collins also says contact tracing will continue to play an important role in pandemic management, particularly with children returning to the classroom setting in September.

“This is a whole different challenge in this pandemic… because school has not been a part of it up to now.” Says Collins.

“School has to happen, CMA supports that, but it has to happen in a different way. With respects to closures; when and how, that’s is very much going to be reliant on public health advice, information and guidelines – and it will probably be different in different jurisdictions.”

Collins says that it’s important for children to be in school – though the Public Health “ABCs” of physical distancing, handwashing and masks will mean that school will look very different for young students.

“We have to be vigilant about the virus, but also be prepared to adapt and change as this unrolls over the next few months.”

While Collins does caution that flu season is always unpredictable, she says early reports from worldwide sources like Australia show a lower incident of flu. Collins says lower numbers can likely be attributed to COVID-19 safety guidelines in place in those countries, where people are conscious of their social bubbles.

“With the enhanced public health measures that people are taking on an individual basis, and then what’s happened at large in our communities and our workplaces (…) that will help lower the spread and presence of any viral illness.”

When asked if she was confident that we’ll be able to withstand what’s being thrown at us, Collins says we’ve learned a lot so far from the pandemic – and we need to continue to listen to those at the helm of Canada’s pandemic response.

“We must continue to take guidance from public health. We’re assured in many areas that testing will be available. We have to remain conscious about a good supply of PPE – testers need PPE to do the testing. Family physicians need a stable, reliable supply of PPE to continue running their offices and to see people face to face.”

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UK study finds effective new Covid-19 rapid test in a box – Times of India

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LONDON: A new small-boxed Covid-19 rapid test device, which gives results within 90 minutes, has been found to have a high level of accuracy and produced very few false negatives and no false positives in a UK study.
The Lab-in-Cartridge tests can be performed in cartridges smaller than a mobile phone and do not require a laboratory.
The study, led by Imperial College London scientists and published in ‘The Lancet Microbe’ this week, involved high-speed tests on 386 National Health Service (NHS) staff and patients and were found to have over 94 per cent sensitivity and 100 per cent specificity.
“These results suggest the test, which can be performed at a patient’s bedside without the need to handle any sample material, has comparable accuracy to standard laboratory testing,” said Professor Graham Cooke, lead author of the study from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London.
“Many tests involve a trade-off between speed and accuracy, but this test manages to achieve both. Developing an effective bedside test in under three months has been an incredible collaboration between teams of engineers, clinicians and virologists,” he said.
The test is currently being used successfully across eight London hospitals, and due to be rolled out at a national level in the UK as data continues to be gathered from the testing device for continual assessment.
Imperial College London said the UK government recently placed an order for 5.8 million of the testing kits.
To perform the test, a paediatric-sized nose swab from a patient is inserted into the device, which then looks for traces of genetic material belonging to the SARS-CoV-2 or novel coronavirus, which causes the infection.
A result is available within 90 minutes, compared to conventional Covid-19 testing which delivers a result in 24 hours.
According to the research team, the test is now being developed for assessing simultaneously Flu-A, Flu-B, and RSV as well as Covid-19.
The device, produced by Imperial’s London-based start-up DnaNudge, was used on 280 NHS staff members with suspected Covid-19, 15 patients in Accidents and Emergency (A&E) with suspected Covid-19, and 91 hospital in-patients — some of who were not displaying Covid-19 symptoms.
The percentage of those found to be positive for Covid-19 during the study at the peak of the pandemic was 18 per cent.
The results showed 67 samples tested positive on the CovidNudge test, compared with 71 positive results against a range of NHS standard laboratory machines, which represents the value of 94 per cent sensitivity.
“The DnaNudge test was developed as a lab-free, on-the-spot consumer service that can be delivered at scale, so we clearly believe it offers very significant potential in terms of mass population testing during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Regius Professor Chris Toumazou, CEO and co-founder of DnaNudge and founder of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London.
“The platform is well suited to testing in primary care and community settings with potential for use in non-healthcare settings such as care homes, schools, transport hubs, offices, and, to help bring the arts back, in theatres and venues. However, further studies of real-world effectiveness in non-clinical settings would be required prior to widespread deployment,” he said.
The research team, which included scientists and clinicians from Imperial and a number of NHS hospital trusts, assessed sensitivity and specificity.
Sensitivity is a measure of how well a test gives a positive result for people who have disease, and is an indication of how likely a test will produce false negative results.
Specificity, on the other hand, is a measure of a test’s ability to give a negative result for a people who don’t have the disease, and is an indication of the likelihood of false positive results.
“As an organisation we are focused on using research and innovation to continuously drive improvements to care.Getting accurate results back to clinicians and their patients as quickly as possible makes a huge difference to how we safely manage clinical pathways and we are very much looking forward to rolling this out more widely,” said Dr Bob Klaber, director of strategy, research and innovation at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
The device has been approved by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency and has also obtained a CE mark, enabling its additional use in non-clinical locations. The team explain each device is wi-fi enabled, allowing the test result to be securely sent to a hospital’s record system.
Testing for the study took place between April 10 and May 12 at three NHS sites: St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London; Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London and the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford.
It was supported by the National Institute for Health Research, Imperial Biomedical Research Centre.

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Another Rapid COVID-19 Test Shows Promise – HealthDay News

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FRIDAY, Sept. 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Yet another rapid COVID-19 test has proven its mettle in spotting infection with the new coronavirus, this time in a British study.

The lab-in-a-cartridge testing device — which can be performed at bedside, doesn’t require a laboratory, and can be performed in cartridges smaller than a mobile phone — was tested on 386 National Health Service staff and patients in Britain.

The test had 94% sensitivity and 100% specificity, meaning it had a high level of accuracy and produced very few false negatives and no false positives. The results are available within 90 minutes, while conventional COVID-19 tests provide results within 24 hours, the researchers said. The findings were published Sept. 17 in The Lancet Microbe journal.

In the United States, four rapid coronavirus tests have already been developed. These tests detect COVID-19 antigens, proteins found on the surface of the coronavirus, rather than the virus itself, according to the Associated Press. It’s considered a faster, but less precise, screening method.

One of these tests, made by Abbott Laboratories and called BinaxNOW, has already secured a $760 million deal with the White House to produce 150 million rapid nasal swab tests for community testing, according to the AP.

The 15-minute BinaxNOW test will sell for $5, giving it an edge over similar tests that need to be popped into a small machine, the AP reported. No larger than a credit card, the Abbott test is based on the same technology used to test for the flu, strep throat and other infections.

“Those [rapid] screening tests are what we need in schools, workplaces and nursing homes in order to catch asymptomatic spreaders,” Dr. Jonathan Quick, an adjunct professor of global health at Duke University in North Carolina, told the AP.

With the British test, a nose swab from a patient is inserted into the cartridge device, which analyzes the sample for genetic material belonging to SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The new test is being used at eight London hospitals, and is due to be rolled out at a national level. The U.K. government recently placed an order for 5.8 million of the testing kits.

“These results suggest the test, which can be performed at a patient’s bedside without the need to handle any sample material, has comparable accuracy to standard laboratory testing,” said study author Graham Cooke. He is a professor in the department of infectious disease at Imperial College London.

“Many tests involve a trade-off between speed and accuracy, but this test manages to achieve both,” Cooke said in a college news release.

The test — made by DnaNudge, an Imperial College London start-up — is now being developed to simultaneously check for COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, the researchers added.

Chris Toumazou is CEO and co-founder of DnaNudge and founder of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London. He said, “The DnaNudge test was developed as a lab-free, on-the-spot consumer service that can be delivered at scale, so we clearly believe it offers very significant potential in terms of mass population testing during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 testing.

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Amid COVID-19 spike, health unit urges citizens be vigilant – BradfordToday

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NEWS RELEASE
SIMCOE MUSKOKA DISTRICT HEALTH UNIT
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SIMCOE MUSKOKA – As local cases of COVID-19 sharply rise to numbers not seen since the spring, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is asking the public to shrink their social circles as much as possible to those within their own household and to be cautious to reduce their exposure within the community.

“As our social interactions have increased in the summer, so too have our COVID-19 cases, which is worrisome at this time when we are just now returning to school, and for the more vulnerable in our communities,” said Dr. Colin Lee, SMDHU’s associate medical officer of health. “We need people to scale back on their get-togethers/gatherings, and to remember to be cautious with people not in their household, even if they are in their social circle of 10. Social circles are not invincible to COVID-19.”  

There have been 42 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (as of Thursday) in Simcoe Muskoka for the week of Sept. 13. This is the highest number of weekly cases since the week of May 10 when the region saw 44 cases, and the week still has not ended. The increase in cases includes clusters in multiunit dwellings and households, and one case related to a school staff member.  

“This pandemic has been difficult for all of us and we know that everyone is trying to do their best,” said Dr. Lee. “What we need to do now is continue to work together, and to look out for one another, so that we can live with this pandemic as safely and as normally as possible until it’s over.”   

To keep everyone safe, including those returning to school and those living in long-term care homes:           

  • Shrink your close contacts (the people you can get close to such as hugging and touching) as much as possible to only those people within your own household and those whose well-being requires or is dependent on it.         
  • Think carefully about how often and where you go out to in the public, and try to limit to what is essential and avoid crowded spaces.        
  • Limit social gatherings, and keep the number of people in your gatherings and get-togethers to 10 people or less indoors, or 25 or less outdoors; with people outside of your household, practice physical distancing, or wear a mask if you can’t.         
  • Parents should screen children for symptoms of COVID-19 every day before they leave for school; if a child has even one symptom, they should stay home and self-isolate, and get tested.  

People are also reminded to continue to practice physical distancing, wear a mask in indoor public spaces, and outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained, practice hand hygiene, self-monitor for symptoms and if you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and get tested.  

For more information on COVID-19, visit the health unit’s COVID-19 website, including Frequently Asked Questions or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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