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Coronavirus deaths top SARS as China returns to work

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(Removes in para 23 reference to 53-year-old geneticist who died, citing Washington Post, after newspaper said it incorrectly identified the name and age of a U.S. citizen who died.)

* China raises death toll to 811; 89 new deaths set daily record

* Millions return to work in China on Monday after extended break

* Many businesses, schools to stay shut as economy limps back

* China ambassador to Britain says virus is ‘enemy of mankind’

* For more coverage: https://www.reuters.com/live-events/coronavirus-6-id2921484

By Winni Zhou and Dominique Patton

SHANGHAI/BEIJING, Feb 9 (Reuters) – China raised the death toll from its coronavirus outbreak to 811 on Sunday, passing the number killed globally by the SARS epidemic, as authorities made plans for millions of people returning to work after an extended Lunar New Year break.

Many of China’s usually teeming cities have almost become ghost towns during the past two weeks as Communist Party rulers ordered virtual lockdowns, cancelled flights, closed factories and shut schools.

Even on Monday, a large number of workplaces and schools will remain closed and many white-collar employees will work from home.

The scale of the potential hit to an economy that has been the engine of global growth in recent years has taken a toll on financial markets, as shares slumped and investors switched into safe-havens such as gold, bonds and the Japanese yen.

China’s ambassador to Britain described the newly identified virus as “the enemy of mankind” in a BBC interview on Sunday, but added it “is controllable, is preventable, is curable”.

“At this moment is very difficult to predict when we are going to have an inflection point,” Liu Xiaoming said. “We certainly hope it will come soon, but the isolation and quarantine measures have been very effective.”

China’s cabinet said it would coordinate with transport authorities to ensure the smooth return to work of employees in key industries such as food and medicines.

The State Council’s special coronavirus group also said workers should return in “batches”, rather than all at once, in order to reduce infection risks.

China’s National Health Commission recorded another 89 deaths on Saturday, pushing the total well above the 774 who died from SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2002/2003.

Total confirmed coronavirus cases in China stood at 37,198, commission data showed. New infections recorded the first drop below 3,000 cases Feb. 2, at 2,656 cases. Of those, 2,147 cases were in Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak.

The virus has also spread to at least 27 countries and territories, according to a Reuters count based on official reports, infecting more than 330 people. Two deaths have been reported outside mainland China – both of Chinese nationals.

The latest patients outside China include a group of British nationals staying in a mountain village in Haute-Savoie in the Alps, French health officials said, raising fears of further infections at a busy period in the ski season.

A British man who contracted the virus while attending a conference in Singapore may have infected seven other people when he stopped off at a chalet in the French village on his way home, health experts said. Those infected include a British man diagnosed in Spain and a Briton found to have the disease in the UK, both of whom appeared to have been part of the chalet group.

 

‘WHY ARE WE GOING BACK TO WORK?’

As millions of Chinese prepared to go back to work, the public dismay and mistrust of official numbers was evident on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.

“What’s even more frustrating is that these are only the ‘official’ data,” said one user.

“We all know we can’t purchase masks anywhere, why are we still going back to work?” said a second.

“More than 20,000 doctors and nurses around the country have been sent to Hubei, but why are the numbers still rising?” asked a third.

Authorities had told businesses to tack up to 10 extra days on to holidays that had been due to finish at the end of January and some restrictions continued.

Gaming giant Tencent Holdings said it had asked staff to continue working from home until Feb. 21.

Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, will keep schools shut until March 1, the People’s Daily newspaper said. Several provinces have shut schools until the end of February.

The local government in the southern manufacturing hub of Shenzhen, meanwhile, denied a report in the Nikkei business daily that it had blocked a plan by Apple supplier Foxconn Technology Co to resume production in China from Monday. The company would restart once inspections were completed, it said.

 

EPIDEMIC PEAKING? TOO EARLY TO SAY

Among the latest deaths, 81 were in Hubei.

An American hospitalised in the provincial capital Wuhan, where the outbreak began, became the first confirmed non-Chinese victim.

Joseph Eisenberg, professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, said it was too early to say whether the epidemic was peaking.

“Even if reported cases might be peaking, we don’t know what is happening with unreported cases,” he said.

Major cities and capitals announced new travel restrictions as concern over the spread of the virus increased.

Chinese-ruled Hong Kong introduced a two-week quarantine on Saturday for all people arriving from the mainland, or who have been there during the previous 14 days. Malaysia expanded its ban on visitors from China.

France issued a new travel advisory for its citizens, saying it did not recommend travelling to China unless there was an “imperative” reason. Italy asked children travelling from China to stay away from school for two weeks voluntarily.

Princess Cruises, operator of the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off Japan, said a further six people had tested positive, bringing the total cases aboard to 70.

(Reporting by Winni Zhou in Shanghai, Ryan Woo and Dominique Patton in Beijing, Aradhana Aravindan and Jamie Freed in Singapore, and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Alex Richardson and Pravin Char; Editing by Neil Fullick and Philippa Fletcher, Harry Miller)

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'Never' or just 'not yet?' How timing affects COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy – Medical Xpress

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Timing plays a role in decisions, so vaccine hesitancy may not mean that a person will never choose to be vaccinated. Credit: Pixabay

As COVID-19 case counts continue to rise across Canada, it is clear that we’re far from “out of the woods” with this pandemic. While much is still unknown about the Omicron variant, it seems very likely that existing vaccines will offer protection against severe cases of COVID-19, and Canada is rapidly administering booster shots in an effort to help to bolster immunity.

While vaccination coverage against COVID-19 is relatively high (76.49 percent of the total population is fully vaccinated at the time of writing), there remains a substantial group of Canadians who are either unvaccinated, or only partially vaccinated against COVID-19.

At this point in the pandemic (more than six months after most Canadian adults became eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine), should we declare this level of as the “vaccine ceiling?” Our research suggests the answer is no.

Vaccine hesitancy in a COVID-19 world

As defined by the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE), the term “vaccine hesitancy” is used to describe “a delay or refusal of vaccination, despite availability of vaccination services.” The range of reasons why some Canadians remain unvaccinated is wide, including (but not limited to) concerns about “personal freedom,” health concerns and the belief that COVID-19 is not as serious a health threat as it’s made out to be.

Much of the existing research on vaccine hesitancy has focused on identifying personal or demographic factors associated with , such as age, gender and socio-economic status. Our research investigated the role of timing in vaccine uptake.

Given the unique nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and its vaccines, not all Canadians gained access to a vaccine at the same time—and many around the world are still waiting for access. As a result, people had to start thinking about their vaccine decisions in hypothetical or future contexts. Because of this, we sought to understand how thinking about COVID-19 vaccine availability along different timelines might influence a person’s vaccine decisions.

Survey results

In December 2020 (just prior to broad vaccine availability in Canada), we asked Canadian survey respondents about their impending vaccine decisions. Each participant was presented with one variation of the question: “If a coronavirus vaccine was available to you (today, or in one month, or in six months, or in one year), would you get vaccinated, or not?”

In analyzing results from this experiment, we found that the proportion of most enthusiastic participants (those who selected “Yes, as soon as possible” as a response) increased substantially as the proposed date of vaccine availability became more distant.

Even more interesting was our finding that the proportion of hesitant people decreased as the proposed date of vaccination moved further into the future. The proportion who responded that they would “Wait some time” before vaccination, and the proportion who responded, “No, I would not get a coronavirus vaccine,” both decreased as vaccine availability became more distant in time.

This has important implications for Canadian policy-makers. While the swift uptake of a COVID-19 vaccine might be the ideal scenario for squashing case counts, these findings suggest that those who are hesitant aren’t necessarily going to refuse the vaccine altogether.

This finding may also be useful for countries that are much further behind on mass vaccination efforts, as it suggests a delayed vaccine rollout might encounter less hesitancy and have faster uptake.

What are they waiting for?

We also asked open-ended questions about what Canadians would wait for, before getting the vaccine. What we found is that many Canadians who said they were waiting for “some time to pass” were couching their true concerns (for example, waiting for a certain number of other people to be successfully vaccinated first) within the more broad category of “timing.”

It may be useful to remember this finding when having conversations with folks who might be vaccine hesitant. Offering space for people to elaborate on their vaccine concerns might help bypass default responses and reveal alternative reasoning that has the potential to be addressed.

In some cases, these concerns might even be addressed with empathetic listening, by input from trusted experts or from evidence that speaks to the values and beliefs of those who have questions.

As recent Omicron surges remind us, vaccination alone is not a silver bullet in the fight against COVID-19. However, it remains an important tool in mitigating the spread and severity of the disease, and the United Nations Foundation still positions vaccine equity as our best exit strategy for the pandemic.

It seems nearly certain that there will remain a group of Canadians who choose to never receive a COVID-19 . However, our findings suggest that it is unwise to assume that all Canadians who have not yet been vaccinated will never do so. They may just be waiting.


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Vaccine hesitancy changes over time: Attitudes toward vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic


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‘Never’ or just ‘not yet?’ How timing affects COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy (2022, January 18)
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Grey Bruce Health Services Has Highest Number Of COVID-19 Patients Yet – Bayshore Broadcasting News Centre

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Grey Bruce Health Services says it has its highest number of COVID-19 positive patients in the hospital since the start of the pandemic.

A release from Grey Bruce Health Services (GBHS) says the hospital organization says there are 16 COVID-positive patients in hospital. It says there are 10 patients admitted with COVID who are being treated for their symptoms, and three of those patients are in ICU on ventilators.

Six other patients were admitted for other health reasons, and are positive for COVID-19.

Hospital President and CEO Gary Sims says in a statement, “In previous waves of the pandemic, we accepted patients from Manitoba and the GTA, and now we are faced with transferring patients out of hospital.”
He adds, “We are over capacity almost daily, and our staff and physicians are doing an amazing job under increasingly challenging circumstances.”

The hospital says, “The level of care required for ICU patients with COVID-19 is resource intense, at a time when staff absenteeism is high, and capacity is strained.”

The release explains, all patients who are positive for the virus are treated in isolation rooms with stringent infection control measures in place. Those who are critically ill require a full team of 24/7 support from staff and physicians, and can be hospitalized for several weeks.

It also notes, “With 11 Grey Bruce retirement/long-term care homes reporting an outbreak, hospitalized patients waiting to return to these facilities cannot be discharged, which adds to overcapacity issues across GBHS.”

GBHS recently announced reduced visiting to essential care-givers only. Elective surgeries and procedures have been postponed to conserve human resource and bed capacity.

Sims says, “We know those who are fully vaccinated are less likely to be hospitalized if they contract COVID, and are at less risk of becoming seriously ill compared to those who are unvaccinated,” said Sims.

He says, “We are asking everyone to get fully vaccinated to reduce the pressure on our hospital system, and to help alleviate the strain on our staff and physicians.”

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Fourth Port Moody hospital COVID-19 outbreak over – The Tri-City News

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There are no current outbreaks of COVID-19 at health-care properties across the Tri-Cities as of this afternoon (Jan. 18).

Fraser Health declared the latest outbreak over within the elder acute-care unit at Eagle Ridge Hospital.

This was the fourth known outbreak of the virus at the Port Moody regional facility since the pandemic began.

Eight lab-confirmed cases were reported during the 13-day alert, including five patients and three staff members. No deaths were recorded.

“With the implementation of comprehensive strategies, there is no longer an outbreak at this site,” a Fraser Health release reads.

Historically, 56 COVID-19 infections have been detected at Eagle Ridge Hospital including the five found between Jan. 5 and today.

During the previous three outbreaks, six people died due to complications with the virus — all during the first declaration in March 2021.

As well, there have been three known COVID-19 outbreaks in Eagle Ridge Manor throughout the course of the pandemic, which is a long-term care facility at the hospital.

Between November 2020 and February 2021, seven total cases of the virus were detected including five staff members; no deaths were recorded.

This comes nearly a week after Fraser Health ended the COVID-19 outbreak at Hawthorne Lodge in Port Coquitlam.

As of this publication, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is reporting a 54 per cent triple-vaccination rate among eligible residents aged 50 years and older — a jump of near 10 per cent in the last week.

Currently, 54 per cent of kids aged five to 11 in the region have received a first dose of vaccine against the virus, which is the fourth highest average in Fraser Health.

The Tri-Cities also has a 91 per cent double-vaccination rate among those aged 12 and up, as well as a 93 per cent single-dose rate.

Across B.C., a record 854 COVID-19 patients are now filling hospital beds as of today, with 112 of those in intensive care units (ICUs).

The total number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in B.C. is 35 more than yesterday (Jan. 17), and it follows the government’s decision last week to broaden the categories of COVID-19 patients that are counted. 

Newly counted are those who catch COVID-19 while already in hospital, people who entered COVID-19 for COVID-19 illness and are no longer deemed infectious, and COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals who normally reside outside the province. 

– with a file from Glen Korstrom, Business In Vancouver

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