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Coronavirus Update: Nova Scotia lab to conduct first Canadian trials for possible COVID-19 vaccine – The Globe and Mail

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Good evening, here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.

Top headlines:

  1. The first Canadian clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine to be conducted by Halifax research team that also was involved in trials that led to an Ebola virus vaccine
  2. Group urges Quebec to respect patients’ rights during COVID-19 pandemic, as hundreds complain about confinement measures imposed on vulnerable seniors
  3. Communities and businesses feel the pain of cancelled cruise ships as tourist season begins amid travel restrictions

In Canada, 76,944 cases have been reported, more than double the number from 27 days ago. There have been 38,476 recoveries and 5,781 deaths. Health officials have administered 1,360,318 tests.

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Worldwide, 4,685,623 cases have been confirmed, with 1,720,750 recoveries and 313,105 deaths.

Sources: Canada data are compiled from government websites, Johns Hopkins and COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group; international data are from Johns Hopkins University.


Coronavirus explainers: Updates and essential resourcesCoronavirus in maps and chartsLockdown rules and reopening plans in each province


Photo of the day

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are shown at Residence Yvon-Brunet, a long-term care home in Montreal, Saturday, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes)

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press


Number of the day

190,000

The World Health Organization has warned that as many as 190,000 Africans could die in the first year of the pandemic and countless more from other diseases as the continent’s limited medical resources are stretched even further.

But across West Africa, countries are finding it increasingly difficult to keep mosques closed during Ramadan even as confirmed virus cases mount and testing remains limited. The holy month is already a time of heightened spiritual devotion for Muslims, and many say prayer is now more important than ever.

Last week, Niger and Senegal allowed mass prayers to resume, and Liberia is reopening its houses of worship beginning Sunday. In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, several states recently signalled the reopening of mosques even as the number of confirmed cases countrywide exceeded 5,000.


Coronavirus in Canada

There are currently at least 2,832 hospitalized cases, down 2 per cent from a week ago. Of those, 383 are in intensive care.

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  • A Quebec patients’ rights group urged the province to respect the fundamental rights of seniors living in care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the province reported 79 more deaths.
  • Ontario reported another 340 cases and 23 new deaths related to the virus. There are now 22,653 confirmed cases in the province, which include 1,881 deaths and 17,360 resolved cases.
  • British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer urged residents to stay close to home during the Victoria Day weekend in order to mitigate transmission of COVID-19 before some businesses reopen on Tuesday.
  • The Alberta government said a report from a panel exploring the province’s role in Confederation is complete but won’t be released to the public until after the worst of the pandemic is over.
  • Toronto is asking for increased funding and testing from the provincial government for its homeless shelters. Two shelter clients have died this week after contracting COVID-19.
  • Licensed daycares in New Brunswick can begin reopening Tuesday. And while children will not have to wear masks, they will be separated into small groups as a safety precaution.

National updates

The first Canadian clinical trials for a possible COVID-19 vaccine will be conducted by a Halifax research team that was also involved in trials that eventually led to a vaccine for the Ebola virus.

  • Trials will be conducted at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology at Dalhousie University.
  • The centre’s director, Dr. Scott Halperin, said it’s possible an “emergency release” could happen in Canada with a potential COVID-19 vaccine if it shows potential and is deemed safe, expediting a process that usually takes a number of years to complete

Dr. Halperin cautions there’s much work to be done before a COVID-19 vaccine could be approved for use.

The Halifax researchers will be following up on work by Chinese manufacturer CanSino Biologics, which is already conducting human clinical trials for the vaccine.


Coronavirus around the world

  • Former U.S. president Barack Obama told graduating college students Saturday that the country’s leaders weren’t even “pretending to be in charge” of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • In a letter to the WHO, Canada and seven major allies said the agency’s continuing exclusion of Tawain has caused a public-health concern during the coronavirus crisis.
  • India said on it would privatize state-run companies in non-strategic sectors and stop fresh insolvency cases for a year as the country battles with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
  • United Arab Emirates-based Emirates airline is planning to cut about 30,000 jobs to reduce costs amid the coronavirus outbreak, which will bring down its number of employees by about 30 per cent, according to Bloomberg.

Coronavirus and business

John Campbell, owner of the Sou’Wester Restaurant and Gift Shop in Peggy’s Cove, N.S. stands near the lighthouse on Friday, May 15, 2020. Tourism operators have seen a massive drop in revenues amid the COVID-19 pandemic and face a difficult season with travel restrictions that remain in place. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Canadian communities and businesses are feeling the pain of cruise cancellations as what would normally be the tourist season begins amid COVID-19 travel restrictions.

  • Cruising has grown annually in Canada and had an annual economic impact of $4.1-billion in 2018, up from $3.2-billion two years earlier.
  • In Atlantic Canada, 873,000 passengers generated more than $373-million in direct and indirect impact to the economies of the four provinces last year, says Jeff Stevens, executive director of the Atlantic Canada Cruise Association.
  • Before COVID-19, the number of passengers to Atlantic Canada was forecast to grow 14 per cent to about one million in 2020.
  • The estimated impact to B.C. from the delayed season is nearly $1.5-billion, according to the Port of Vancouver

The economic damage from COVID-19 is unprecedented, said Donna Spalding of Cruise Lines International Association – North West & Canada

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“I have never seen anything that has impacted cruising and tourism overall, for that matter, in the way that this has if we think of the impact on our day-to-day lives,” she said from Vancouver.


Question and answer

Question: Is contact tracing during the pandemic an opportunity for smart regulation?

Answer from technology journalist Kara Swisher: “I’m not particularly worried about contact tracing. We have been doing contact tracing in health crises forever. Going back to 1918, they did a version of contact tracing with pencils and paper. That is not, per se, the difficulty. And actually, Google and Apple, who are trying to do [contact tracing] together, have been very transparent.

Government really needs these tech giants to help them do their job, and so what does that mean? It is not necessarily a bad thing, because these are the companies that are good at these things.

It’s just a question of what does that mean? What does that mean when Microsoft and Amazon fight over a major defence contract, which they have been doing? These tech companies are moving into not just communications and apps and games and entertainment. They’re also moving into defence, security, surveillance, health care, transportation, in ways that are really at the heart of society and the control of society.”

The Globe health columnist André Picard answered reader questions on physical distancing and many additional topics.

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Distractions

Almond and hummus-stuffed dates by Bashir Munye, food advocate and culinary professor, George Brown College

Bashir Munye/Handout

Working from home? Seven easy snack recipes to get you through the day

Chefs and food aficionados offer some delicious snacking options to keep those working from home energized.

From George Brown College culinary professor Bashir Munye: Almond and hummus-stuffed dates

“One of my favourite snacks during Ramadan, and any other time of the year, are Medjool dates stuffed with toasted almonds and topped with beet hummus, fresh mint and orange zest. I love this recipe as I have all these ingredients, and individually they all make great snacks as well. It’s sweet, chewy, crunchy, creamy, bright, earthy and nutrient-dense all at once. To make this snack, blend four beets (cooked, peeled and cubed), 100 grams of cooked chickpeas, a few spoonfuls of tahini, the juice and zest of two lemons, a chopped garlic clove and ground cumin and salt to taste. Open the dates and discard the pit, add toasted almonds, spoon the hummus on top and garnish with orange zest and chopped fresh mint. Enjoy it as one bite.”


More Globe reporting and opinion

  • Professional investment to help finance commercial court cases is on the rise in Canada and a recent Supreme Court ruling paves the way for its use in insolvency matters, which are expected to balloon as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • If you’re a glass-half-full type who believes brighter days will soon be here, the pandemic could turn out to be worse for you than those who are bracing for catastrophe.
  • Gary Mason: “Whenever I need a reminder of the strange times in which we live, I just gaze into the mirror. The person looking back at me resembles Drew Doughty, or any of his NHL-playing brethren who consider it perfectly normal to parade around with missing teeth.”
  • Paul Abela: “We’re not here wrestling with the aftermath of a man-made catastrophe such as a nuclear exchange. Nor is it – as in the economic crash of 2008 – a disaster brought on by hubris and greed. No, we’re in a standoff with a microscopic, mindless, nano-sized killer.
  • Barry Campbell: “As the COVID-19 virus advanced, infectious disease specialists warned that it could stick to surfaces. ‘This may include hard currency,’ one said. If not already queasy about handling money and coins, that warning likely did it for you.”

Information centre

What are we missing? Email us: audience@globeandmail.com. Do you know someone who needs this newsletter? Send them to our Newsletters page.

Have questions about the coronavirus? Email audience@globeandmail.com.

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Research on new cat virus discovered at B.C. SPCA published in scientific journal – CBC.ca

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The outbreak of a fast-spreading disease at the SPCA’s animal centre in Vancouver has led to the discovery of a new feline virus that affected 43 cats in B.C.

It started when eight cats fell ill on a single day in 2018 with symptoms like a human stomach flu, but Dr. Emilia Gordon, the senior manager of animal health, says they became concerned when tests came back negative for parasites.

Gordon says in a news release they knew within days that they were dealing with a virus or bacteria they hadn’t faced before.

Outbreak tracing found two cats in the Quesnel shelter introduced the illness to Vancouver’s facility, where it spread rapidly before being detected.

The exterior the B.C. SPCA’s Vancouver location, as seen in 2019. A research team from the University of California San Francisco found a new virus in some cats in the SPCA’s care. (Google Streetview)

A research team at the University of California San Francisco found the new species of parvovirus, which isn’t related to COVID-19, and those findings were recently published in the science journal Viruses.

Gordon says the high rate of recovery was due to a quick response and stringent control measures, although two of the 43 cats that were ill were euthanized because of other medical problems.

“As soon as we understood we were dealing with something unusual, our first goal was to stop the outbreak so more cats wouldn’t get sick,” Gordon says. “Our second goal was to try to get answers for our teams, for the cats, and for other shelters and veterinarians facing unexplained gastrointestinal outbreaks in cats under their care.”

She says being part of the discovery of the new virus was very exciting, however data from a single outbreak isn’t enough to be certain the virus can cause disease and more research will need to be done.

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Director appointed to oversee COVID-19 response at B.C. long-term care home after 22 deaths – Globalnews.ca

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Public health officials are bringing in more help at the Lower Mainland care home that’s become the site of B.C.’s worst outbreak of COVID-19.

Twenty-two people at the Langley Lodge have died from the virus so far, while 22 residents who were infected have recovered. Ten staff members have also been infected.

Fraser Health announced Thursday it is appointing a director to oversee the pandemic response at the facility and deploying its ultraviolet germicidal irradiation machine, along with infection-control specialists. The machine emits concentrated UV light to disinfect hot spots and kill pathogens such as C. difficile and the novel coronavirus.






0:56
Germ-killing robots help fight COVID-19 at B.C. hospital


Germ-killing robots help fight COVID-19 at B.C. hospital

“We know this outbreak has been complex and challenging and has been lasting now for a few weeks,” said chief medical health officer Dr. Martin Lavoie.

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“This is an outbreak that has been taking a toll on staff. It’s also challenging for the site leadership as well.”

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Additional cleaning staff will also be brought in.


READ MORE:
Strategy to contain ongoing coronavirus outbreak at Langley Lodge care home

The outbreak started on a behavioural stabilization unit, Lavoie said, where residents don’t always understand or follow safety measures.

The outbreak at the lodge was declared over in late April. But days later, a new one, which originated with a staff member, was confirmed at the 139-bed facility.

Meanwhile, a resident at the Nicola Lodge care home in Port Coquitlam has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Lavoie said. The person is now in isolation as enhanced infection-control measures are brought in.

It is not yet known how the virus got into the facility, he said.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canadian study of critically ill patients with COVID-19 found lower death rate – EurekAlert

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A Canadian case series of all patients with COVID-19 admitted to six intensive care units (ICUs) in Metro Vancouver found patient outcomes were substantially better than reported in other jurisdictions. The paper is published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Researchers looked at outcomes for 117 patients with COVID-19 admitted to one of six hospitals in Metro Vancouver between February 21 and April 14, 2020. Patients ranged in age from 23 to 92 years, with a median age of 69 years. Two-thirds (67.5%) were male. As of May 5, 85% of patients were still alive and 61% had been discharged home. The overall mortality rate was 15%.

“The overall mortality was appreciably lower than in previously published studies, despite comparable baseline patient characteristics and a higher proportion of patients with completed hospital courses,” writes Dr. Donald Griesdale, a critical care physician at Vancouver General Hospital and associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver, BC, with coauthors.

Data from Lombardy, Italy, showed a 61% mortality rate for patients admitted to an ICU, a case study of 24 people in Seattle had a 57% mortality rate among patients in the ICU, and a case series from Wuhan, China, reported a mortality rate of 80% in patients admitted to the ICU.

Fewer patients in the Canadian series (63%) received mechanical ventilation than in Lombardy (88%), Seattle (75%) and New York (90%), but in Wuhan even fewer (42%) received mechanical ventilation. Very few patients received unproven treatments for COVID-19; one patient received hydroxychloroquine, four received tocilizumab, and none recived remdesivir.

“Despite the observed differences between patients and critical care interventions in these studies, it is unclear whether these solely account for the marked lower mortality that we report,” write the researchers. “We hypothesize that these encouraging results may be due to a broader system-level response that prevented an overwhelming surge of critically ill patients with COVID-19 from presenting to our hospitals and ICUs.”

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Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

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