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Condoms and COVID tests paired for weekend crowds in downtown Halifax – CBC.ca

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Call it an example of hitting two birds with one stone.

While COVID-19 has been the focus of Dr. Lisa Barrett’s work since the pandemic began in Nova Scotia, it isn’t the only infectious disease she keeps an eye on. 

Barrett has previously worked on the study and prevention of HIV, hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted infections, which is why her latest public health initiative pairs a COVID-19 test with a condom.

Since the end of September, volunteers have been roaming the streets of downtown Halifax on weekends between the hours of 10 p.m. and 1 a.m., handing out what Barrett has dubbed “protection packs.” Each sealed package contains one take-home rapid antigen test and one condom.

“Play safe!” reads the label, which also includes stylized graphics of the test and condom to be found inside, and the cheeky captions, “Going Out” and “Going In.”

Each protection pack is labelled with a stylized graphic encouraging people to ‘Play Safe’ whether ‘Going Out’ or ‘Going In.’ (Submitted by Barb Goodall)

“As we get more social in certain situations, people are going to be out there getting back together,” Barrett said in an interview. 

“If we’re going to give a COVID test, wouldn’t it be a great opportunity to add some extra protection layers to our community and make sure that people have access to condoms?”

Barrett said she thinks the condoms help reduce the stigma of picking up a COVID-19 testing kit.

“There’s a heck of a lot more endorsement of getting a protection pack than there is to getting a COVID test when you’re out having fun,” she said.

Volunteers hand out ‘protection packs’ containing a COVID-19 rapid antigen test and a condom on Argyle Street in downtown Halifax. (Submitted by Barb Goodall)

Barrett has become well known in Nova Scotia over the past year for organizing and promoting rapid COVID-19 testing through volunteer-run pop-ups. The testing took off last fall along with the province’s second wave, which was spreading primarily among young, socially active people going to downtown bars and restaurants.

A similar trend has emerged in the ongoing fourth wave, with community spread happening in the 20- to 40-year-old subset of Halifax, hence Barrett’s chosen location for distributing the protection packs.

She said she hopes to continue with the packs for as long as the current trend in COVID-19 spread persists, supplies last and volunteers are available to hand them out.

Dr. Lisa Barrett at a pop-up rapid testing site on the Dalhousie University campus in 2020. (CBC)

 

Jessica Wood, a researcher with the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada, said she hasn’t seen a COVID-19 and sexual health mashup quite like this one before, but she’s hoping to see more like it. 

“During the pandemic and as we come out of the pandemic, safer sex should include COVID-19 risk reduction strategies,” Wood said in an interview.

“This was an initiative that did a good job of pairing COVID risk reduction strategies with safer sex strategies, and I think that’s a really good step for normalizing both.” 

Wood said it could go even further by including additional sexual health information — something she said has been limited by the pandemic, especially for young people who have experienced school disruptions because of lockdowns.

Fewer options for sexual health care

The pandemic has also limited access to sexual health care.  

In Nova Scotia, STI testing has been suspended several times over the past 19 months as resources have been redeployed to COVID-19 efforts. 

Wood said that’s true of many jurisdictions, in addition to reductions in access to some sexual health treatments, reproductive health services and HPV vaccination.

Barrett said that while those suspensions were necessary, they likely mean rates of STIs in Nova Scotia are slightly higher than health officials know — all the more reason to ensure people have access to protection, she said.

In the first weekend of distributing the protection packs, Barrett said more than 600 were handed out.

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How many lives have coronavirus vaccines saved? We used state data on deaths and vaccination rates to find out – Devdiscourse

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By Sumedha GuptaAssociate Professor of Economics, IUPUI Indianapolis, Oct 17 (The Conversation) More than 200 million US residents have gotten at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine with the expectation that the vaccines slow virus transmission and save lives.

Researchers know the efficacy of the vaccines from large-scale clinical trials, the gold standard for medical research. The studies found the vaccines to be very effective at preventing severe COVID–19 and especially good at preventing death. But it’s important to track any new treatment in the real world as the population-level benefits of vaccines could differ from the efficacy found in clinical trials.

For instance, some people in the US have only been getting the first shot of a two-shot vaccine and are therefore less protected than a fully vaccinated person. Alternatively, vaccinated people are much less likely to transmit COVID-19 to others, including those who are not vaccinated. This could make vaccines more effective at a population level than in the clinical trials.

I am a health economist, and my team and I have been studying the effects of public policy interventions like vaccination have had on the pandemic. We wanted to know how many lives vaccines may have saved due to the states’ COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in the US.

In March 2021, when weekly data on state COVID-19 vaccinations started to become reliably available from state agencies, my team began to analyze the association between state vaccination rates and the subsequent COVID-19 cases and deaths in each state. Our goal was to build a model that was accurate enough to measure the effect of vaccination within the complicated web of factors that influence COVID–19 deaths.

To do this, our model compares COVID-19 incidence in states with high vaccination rates against states with low vaccination rates. As part of the analysis, we controlled for things that influence the spread of the coronavirus, like state–by–state differences in weather and population density, seasonally driven changes in social behaviour and non-pharmaceutical interventions like stay-at-home orders, mask mandates and overnight business closures. We also accounted for the fact that there is a delay between when a person is first vaccinated and when their immune system has built up protection.

To check the strength of our model before playing with variables, we first compared reported deaths with an estimate that our model produced.

When we fed it all of the information available – including vaccination rates – the model calculated that by May 9, 2021, there should have been 569,193 COVID-19 deaths in the US. The reported death count by that date was 578,862, less than a 2 per cent difference from our model’s prediction.

Equipped with our well-working statistical model, we were then able to “turn off” the vaccination effect and see how much of a difference vaccines made.

Using near real-time data of state vaccination rates, coronavirus cases and deaths in our model, we found that in the absence of vaccines, 708,586 people would have died by May 9, 2021. We then compared that to our model estimate of deaths with vaccines: 569,193. The difference between those two numbers is just under 140,000. Our model suggests that vaccines saved 140,000 lives by May 9, 2021.

Our study only looked at the few months just after vaccination began. Even in that short time frame, COVID-19 vaccinations saved many thousands of lives despite vaccination rates still being fairly low in several states by the end of our study period. I can say with certainty that vaccines have since then saved many more lives – and will continue to do so as long as the coronavirus is still around.(The Conversation) RUP

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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Week five without LRT service and Canada's women's soccer team plays in Ottawa: Five stories to watch this week – CTV Edmonton

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OTTAWA —
A fifth week begins without LRT service, Ottawa’s top doctor has ‘cautious optimism’ for fall during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Canada’s Olympic champion women’s soccer team takes the pitch at TD Place.

CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at five stories to watch in Ottawa this week

ALL ABOARD? CITY REVIEWS RETURN TO SERVICE PLAN FOR LRT

Ottawa transit riders could find out this week when service will resume on the Confederation Line.

City staff spent the weekend reviewing the return-to-service plan submitted by Rideau Transit Group following the LRT car derailment near Tremblay Station on Sept. 19.

Sources tell CTV News Ottawa the RTM return to service plan has a specific date, but staff must review the entire plan to assess if it’s possible. Officials expect that when the trains resume, it will be a gradual return to service.

City Manager Steve Kanellakos told council last week that Rideau Transit Group has identified a loose gearbox as the issue that caused the derailment.

The Transit Commission is scheduled to receive an update on the Confederation Line on Wednesday, which could include details on the derailment and return to service plan.

Meantime, the new boss of OC Transpo arrives on Monday.

Renee Amilcar replaces John Manconi as Transportation Services General Manager after Manconi retired last month. Amilcar worked with Montreal’s transit system as the director of bus maintenance.

QR CODES FOR COVID-19 VACCINE PASSPORT

Ontario’s new COVID-19 vaccine verification app and QR code system will roll out this week for people to access non-essential restaurants and services.

Individuals can download their QR codes through the Ontario government’s website, while businesses can download an app to check a vaccination status.

When a proof of vaccination QR code is scanned in the app, it will respond with either a green check, yellow caution sign or a red “X,” which means the certificate is invalid.

The yellow caution sign could be issued because the vaccine certificate being scanned was issued outside of Canada, the app says.

You will still need to show a piece of ID with the QR code.

Verify Ontario app

‘CAUTIOUS OPTIMSIM’ ON COVID-19 SITUATION IN OTTAWA

With Ottawa approaching a first dose vaccination rate of 90 per cent, medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches says her outlook for fall is “one of cautious optimism.”

However, Dr. Etches is concerned about the number of close contacts unvaccinated children under 12 currently have.

“The most common source of COVID-19 infections for children and youth are household members.”

Etches is asking parents to limit extra curricular activities, sleepovers and other social activities outside of school for unvaccinated school to limit cases and help keep schools open.

Currently 89 per cent of Ottawa residents 12 and older have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 85 per cent of residents are fully vaccinated. Dr. Etches has set a goal of over 90 per cent of residents fully vaccinated to limit the spread of the virus.

As of Sunday, there are five outbreaks in Ottawa elementary schools. The number of active cases is at 258, and hospitalizations remain low.

COVID-19 vaccine in Ottawa

MORE MONEY FOR THE OTTAWA PUBLIC LIBRARY

Ottawa’s finance and economic development committee and the Ottawa Public Library Board will vote Tuesday on spending more money to build the new super-library at LeBreton Flats.

The price-tag for the new joint library between the Ottawa Public Library and Library and Archives Canada jumped by $131 million, plus another $10 million for the parking garage.

A report says the increase from the initial estimate of $193 million (including the parking garage) to $334 million can be directly attributed to an escalation in the construction market.

“Canada is experiencing a significant increase in construction costs due to COVID-19 impacts,” said staff. “A combination of material shortages and commodity escalation, supply chain slowdowns and pressures, labour implications and a superheated construction market, have all been described by the Ottawa Construction Association and observed in recent city tenders.”

The city of Ottawa must spend an extra $65 million for the new super library, which will be covered through borrowing, using surplus funds and development charges.

Ottawa Public Library

CANADA’S WOMEN’S SOCCER TEAM PLAYS IN OTTAWA

Canada’s Olympic champion women’s soccer team will play in Ottawa next weekend, the first match since winning a historic Gold medal at the Summer Games in Tokyo.

Canada faces New Zealand at TD Place as part of the Women’s National Team Celebration Tour.  Game time 3 p.m. Saturday.

The team includes Ottawa’s Vanessa Gilles, who scored the decisive penalty shootout goal for Canada in the quarterfinals against Brazil.

For tickets, visit canadasoccer.com

canada women's soccer

EVENTS HAPPENING IN OTTAWA THIS WEEK

Tuesday

Ottawa Finance and Economic Development Committee meeting – 9 a.m.

Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management meeting – 1 p.m.

Ottawa Public Library Board meeting – 5 p.m.

Wednesday

Ottawa Transit Commission meeting – 9:30 a.m.

Atletico Ottawa vs. Valour FC. 7 p.m. at TD Place (TSN 1200)

Thursday

Ottawa Community and Protective Services Committee meeting – 9:30 a.m.

Ottawa Senators vs. San Jose Sharks. 7 p.m. at Canadian Tire Centre (TSN 1200 and TSN 5)

Saturday

Ottawa Senators vs New York Rangers. 1 p.m. at Canadian Tire Centre (TSN 5 and TSN 1200)

Canada’s women’s soccer team vs. New Zealand. 3 p.m. at TD Place

Ottawa Redblacks at Hamilton. 4 p.m. (TSN 1200 and TSN)

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Three more COVID-19 related deaths, 58 new cases, in New Brunswick Sunday – CTV News Atlantic

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New Brunswick is reporting three more COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday, bringing the total number in the province to 90. 

All three deaths occurred in Zone 5 (Campbellton region). Two people were aged 40-49 and one person was aged 80-89.

“My thoughts are with the loved ones of the people who have passed away today,”Premier Blaine Higgs said in a release.

“We all have a role to play in slowing the spread of the virus. I want to thank the businesses that have taken steps to motivate employees to get vaccinated and I encourage other businesses to do the same. COVID-19 can pose a serious risk in the workplace and may impact a business’s operations, especially if an unvaccinated employee contracts the disease.”

There are 57 people hospitalized due to the virus, with 18 in an intensive care unit.

“Of the 18 in an intensive care unit, none are fully vaccinated (16 are unvaccinated and two are partially vaccinated). Of the total of all hospitalized, 29 are unvaccinated, six are partially vaccinated and 22 are fully vaccinated,” says the release.

58 NEW CASES

Public health is also reporting 58 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday and 117 recoveries, dropping the number of active cases to 935.

Of the new cases, 35 – or 60 per cent – are unvaccinated, five – or nine per cent – are partially vaccinated, and 20 – or 34 per cent – are fully vaccinated.

RAPID-TESTING PROGRAM EXPANDS

Beginning Monday, Oct. 18, people who are not a positive COVID-19 case will be able to pick up free rapid-test kits which they can administer at home.

Public Health has doubled the number of rapid test kits for each pick-up location Monday and throughout this week to help meet the initial high demand.

All the pick-up centres will be open during their scheduled hours or until the daily supply has been given out.

“We’re grateful for the high interest in these tests as people clearly want to do what they can to help fight the COVID-19 virus,” Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said in a release.

“Thank you for your patience with staff at the centres as they work as quickly as possible to distribute the tests.”

The kits will be available to the public at large at the following locations provincewide:

  • Moncton: Greater Moncton Health Centre, 150 Edmonton Ave., (3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday)
  • Cocagne: Cocagne Health Clinic, 4813 Rte. 134, (8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and 8 a.m. to noon Friday)
  • Moncton: 380 MacNaughton Ave. (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday)
  • Edmundston: Edmundston Regional Hospital, 275 Hébert Blvd., (2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday)
  • Clair: Haut-Madawaska Medical Clinic, 809 Principale St., (1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday)
  • Grand Falls: Grand Falls General Hospital, 625 Everard H. Daigle Blvd., (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday)
  • Saint-Quentin: Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Joseph de Saint-Quentin, 21 Canada St., (2 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily)
  • Campbellton: E.L. Murray Medical Clinic, 3 Stanley St., (2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday)
  • Dalhousie: St. Joseph Community Health Centre, 280 Victoria St., (noon to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday)
  • Shediac: Shediac Regional Medical Centre, 419 Main St., (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday)
  • Belledune: Jacquet River Health Centre, 41 Mack St., (1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday)
  • Bathurst: Chaleur Regional Hospital, 1750 Sunset Blvd., (12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday)
  • Caraquet: Enfant-Jésus RHSJ Hospital, 1 Saint-Pierre Blvd. W., (1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday)
  • Tracadie: Tracadie Hospital, 400 Des Hospitalières St., (1 p.m. to 3 p.m. daily)
  • Lamèque: Lamèque Hospital and Community Health Centre, 29 De l’Hôpital St., (noon to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday)
  • Paquetville: Paquetville Health Centre, 1096 Du Parc St., (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday)
  • Saint-Isidore: Saint-Isidore Community Health Centre, 3973-1 Des Fondateurs Blvd., (12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday)
  • Saint John: Diamond Jubilee Cruise Terminal, (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday)
  • Fredericton: Exhibition Grounds, 361 Smythe St., (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday)
  • Miramichi: 365 Wellington St. (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday)

The rapid test screening program is aimed at people two and older who are not a confirmed positive COVID-19 case. A kit has five tests to be used over a 10-day period. People 16 and under must be accompanied by an adult to acquire a testing kit.

VACCINATION UPDATE

Public Health reported today that 82.4 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 91.5 per cent have received their first dose of a vaccine.

All eligible New Brunswickers can book their second-dose appointments for a date that is at least 28 days after their first dose.

Those attending a vaccination clinic are asked to bring their Medicare card, a signed consent form and, for those receiving their second dose, a copy of the record of immunization provided after receiving their first dose.

REGIONAL BREAKDOWN OF NEW CASES

The 15 new cases in Zone 1 (Moncton region) are as follows:

  • four people 19 and under;
  • four people 20-29;
  • two people 30-39;
  • two people 40-49;
  • one person 60-69;
  • one person 70-79; and
  • one person 80-89.

Thirteen cases are under investigation and two cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

The three new cases in Zone 2 (Saint John region) are as follows:

  • a person 20-29; and
  • two people 50-59.

All three cases are under investigation.

The ten new cases in Zone 3 (Fredericton region) are as follows:

  • one person 19 and under;
  • a person 20-29;
  • two people 30-39;
  • a person 40-49;
  • a person 50-59; and
  • four people 60-69.

All ten cases are under investigation.

The 13 new cases in Zone 4 (Edmundston region) are as follows:

  • five people 19 and under;
  • three people 20-29
  • a person 30-39;
  • a person 40-49;
  • a person 60-69; and
  • two people 70-79.

Twelve cases are under investigation and one case is a contact of previously confirmed cases.

The 14 new cases in Zone 5 (Campbellton region) are as follows:

  • four people 19 and under;
  • three people 30-39;
  • three people 40-49;
  • two people 50-59;
  • a person 70-79; and
  • a person 80-89.

Twelve cases are under investigation and two cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases.

The two cases in Zone 6 (Bathurst region) are as follows:

  • a person 50-59; and
  • a person 60-69.

Both cases are under investigation.

The one new case in Zone 7 (Miramichi region) is a person 80-89 and the case is under investigation.

Additional information is available on the COVID-19 dashboard.

POTENTIAL PUBLIC EXPOSURES

Anyone with symptoms of the virus, as well as anyone who has been at the site of a possible public exposure, is urged to request a test online to get an appointment.

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