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COVID-19 cases in Canada remain on troubling course, Tam says

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Canada remains on a troubling path for new COVID-19 infections as case counts continue to mount, the country’s top doctor said Saturday.

The most recent infection rates indicate Canada is on track to hit as many as 10,000 new cases a day by next month, Dr. Theresa Tam said.

“If we continue on the current pace, our longer range models continue to forecast significant increases in daily case counts and estimate that there could be up to 10,000 cases reported daily by mid-December,” Tam said in a written statement.

“Right now, we have a window of opportunity to act collectively together with public health authorities to bring the infection rate down to a safer trajectory.”

Canada is currently recording caseloads at about half that level, with the most recent seven-day average standing at 5,335 between Nov. 20 and Nov. 26.

Tam said Canada is also averaging 76 deaths a day and more than 2,100 people in hospital.

People 80 years and older are experiencing Canada’s highest COVID-19 death rate, and there are now more and larger outbreaks in long-term care facilities, hospitals, group living settings, Indigenous communities and remote areas, she said.

“Those developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies,” Tam said.

Her assessment came as case counts continued to soar in numerous provinces.

Quebec set a new single-day record with 1,480 new infections Saturday as the provincial death toll crossed the 7,000 threshold.

Alberta also broke its own record, reporting 1,731 new cases of the virus on Saturday. It also counted five new deaths.

Ontario logged case numbers just shy of Friday’s one-day record as it reported 1,822 new diagnoses in the past 24 hours.

Case numbers also jumped sharply in Manitoba, where officials recorded 487 new infections and 10 new deaths.

Among those who died was a boy under the age of 10, officials said, though they offered no other details.

Saskatchewan reported 197 COVID-19 cases and one death Saturday.

The province ordered the suspension of team sports earlier this week until Dec. 17 after confirmed COVID-19 cases among several minor and recreational hockey teams.

The Saskatchewan suspension applies to hockey and curling leagues and dance studios.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority posted notices Saturday of COVID-19 exposure risks at curling and recreation centres at Christopher Lake and Shellbrook. Those curling or socializing at either of the two facilities last month must self-isolate for 14 days, the health authority said.

In British Columbia, Fraser Health announced the closure of an elementary school in Surrey after confirming 16 COVID-19 cases.

Newton Elementary School will close for two weeks, said Fraser Health.

B.C. reported a daily record of 911 COVID-19 cases Friday. The province will update its numbers Monday.

People must continue to practise physical distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home as much as possible, said a newly appointed member of B.C. Premier John Horgan’s cabinet.

“I just think it’s important for us to be thoughtful and caring, but at the same time it’s critical that people follow the rules because it’s vital to be able to keep our schools open and keep as many of our business open as possible,” said Ravi Kahlon, whose ministry includes economic recovery.

Figures from New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador show more modest increases of four and two cases, respectively.

Prince Edward Island reported two new COVID-19 cases, but they involved young males aged 10 and 19.

There were 14 new cases in Nova Scotia and five COVID-19 cases in Nunavut.

Tam redoubled her calls for Canadians to heed public health advice, limit their social interactions and practice physical distancing in a bid to bring surging case counts under control.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Source: GuelphToday

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Two new COVID cases announced in Nova Scotia, Strang says people are lying to contact tracers – Halifax Examiner

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Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, speaks during Friday’s COVID-19 briefing.

The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free. Please help us continue this coverage by subscribing.

Nova Scotia’s premier and chief medical officer of health defended the province’s vaccine rollout and urged people to tell the truth if contacted public health during Friday’s COVID-19 briefing.

The province announced two new cases on Friday — one each in the Northern and Central zones, both close contacts of previously reported cases. There are 32 known active cases in Nova Scotia and no one is in the hospital with the disease. Labs completed 2,010 tests on Thursday.

Here are the new daily cases and seven-day rolling average since the start of the second wave (Oct. 1):

And here is the active caseload for the second wave:

At the start of Friday’s briefing, Premier Stephen McNeil said Nova Scotia had administered 7,600 doses of vaccines by the end of Thursday, 2,200 front-line healthcare workers had received both doses, and all frontline workers and long-term care residents at Northwood’s Halifax campus had received their first dose.

“I know there’s lots of concerns with how our vaccination program is rolling out,” McNeil said. “Dealing with this vaccine is not the same as dealing with the flu.”

Those concerns — primarily that Nova Scotia is behind all other provinces in the percentage of acquired doses it’s administered — are contemplated in Friday’s Morning File.

McNeil said the province will continue to hold onto a second shot for anyone given a first dose until the province is guaranteed there won’t be an interruption in supply.

“And right now, we don’t have that guarantee,” he said.

McNeil said the province will now report vaccine numbers twice weekly, instead of once a week. Strang suggested the province may ramp up to daily reporting.

Strang said Nova Scotia had received about 13,000 doses by Thursday, and those were all either used or held back for second shots. Another 10,000 doses were delivered on Thursday, and Strang said those would be used or reserved by the end of next week.

“Our goal is to make sure that we have a constant and steady supply of vaccine going to clinics. We don’t want to have a surplus of vaccine in the province,” Strang said.

“We have to make sure people have access across the province, so we have to make sure we ship vaccine in an equitable basis to multiple locations … It’s an ongoing balancing act to make sure that what we receive goes out to clinics in a timely way and is used.”

Strang faced numerous questions about who will get the vaccine and when, and how it will roll out in Phase 2.

Much more vaccine is coming in April or May, Strang said, and when that happens the province will shift from immunizing only select groups of people in hospitals and long-term care facilities to immunizing people in the community based on age.

Strang said the province would start piloting clinics for people 80-85 years and older in February or March, but most seniors will have to wait until the spring for their shots.

Public health is working on a process for directly and individually notifying people when it’s their turn to be immunized, Strang said, rather than advertising generally.

Asked when people with underlying conditions who are under the age of 75 will be immunized, Strang suggested they’ll have to wait, saying age will be the first priority.

“Age is by far the single biggest predictor of risk for severe outcomes of COVID,” he said, adding that people with those underlying conditions in the older age group will be prioritized.

Tell contact tracers the truth, Strang and McNeil plead

Strang said during Friday’s briefing that there have been recent cases of people lying to contact tracers with public health.

“It’s been recently brought to my attention that in a few of our ongoing investigations by public health, there are some individuals who have been very deliberately not following the public health regulations, and they have not been truthful and honest about their movements and people they have been in contact with,” Strang said.

“I have to say I’m very disappointed by this news. By not following public health orders or disclosing contacts, these individuals are putting other people’s lives unnecessarily at risk.”

Strang said the issue isn’t widespread, but in a few cases people have broken their quarantine and exceeding gathering limits and then lied about who they’ve been in contact with. Public health found out when they traced their way back to a previous positive case.

Giving public health accurate and full information is “critically important” to minimize community spread, Strang said.

“The lack of information has put us in a position where we weren’t able to respond and there’s been further transmission of the virus, which is unfortunate,” he said.

Strang urged people who think public health orders don’t apply to them to reflect.

“We’re one of the safest places certainly in the country, if not globally, but we can only stay here if we continue to stay committed,” Strang said.

McNeil reiterated that people should be honest with public health.

“We’re not looking in any way to judge your movement or decisions that you have made. Our No. 1 goal and only goal is to capture and wrap our arms around this virus as quickly as we can so it doesn’t spread within the community,” McNeil said.

“We’ve come so far. The private conversations you have with public health will be private between you and public health. Please, please tell them everything, all the contacts that you have. We’ll protect your information at the same time we protect health for Nova Scotians.”


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Two new COVID-19 cases reported Friday – HalifaxToday.ca

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NEWS RELEASE
COVID-19/HEALTH/WELLNESS
*************************
As of today, Jan. 15, Nova Scotia has 32 active cases of COVID-19. Two new cases are being reported today.

One case is in Northern Zone and the other case is in Central Zone. Both cases are close contacts of previously reported cases.

Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 2,010 Nova Scotia tests on Jan. 14.

There were 808 tests administered between Jan. 8 and 14 at the rapid-testing pop-up sites in Halifax, Sackville and Yarmouth.

Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has completed 137,534 tests. There have been 461 positive COVID-19 cases and no deaths. No one is currently in hospital. Cases range in age from under 10 to over 70. Four hundred and twenty-nine cases are now resolved. Cumulative cases may change as data is updated in Panorama.

Post-secondary students returning to Nova Scotia from anywhere except Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador are strongly encouraged to visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to book a COVID-19 test for day six, seven or eight of their 14-day self-isolation period. COVID-19 testing appointments can be booked up to three days in advance.

Visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to do a self-assessment if in the past 48 hours you have had or you are currently experiencing:
— fever (i.e. chills/sweats) or cough (new or worsening)

Or:
Two or more of the following symptoms (new or worsening):
— sore throat
— runny nose/nasal congestion
— headache
— shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

Call 811 if you cannot access the online self-assessment or wish to speak with a nurse about your symptoms.

When a new case of COVID-19 is confirmed, the person is directed to self-isolate at home, away from the public, for 14 days. Public health works to identify and test people who may have come in close contact with that person.

Anyone who has travelled from anywhere except Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador must self-isolate for 14 days. As always, anyone who develops symptoms of acute respiratory illness should limit their contact with others until they feel better.

It remains important for Nova Scotians to strictly adhere to the public health order and directives – practise good hand washing and other hygiene steps, maintain a physical distance when and where required. Wearing a non-medical mask is mandatory in most indoor public places.

Nova Scotians can find accurate, up-to-date information, handwashing posters and fact sheets at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus .

Businesses and other organizations can find information to help them safely reopen and operate at https://novascotia.ca/reopening-nova-scotia .

Quick Facts:
— testing numbers are updated daily at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus
— a state of emergency was declared under the Emergency Management Act on March 22, 2020 and extended to Jan. 24, 2021
— online booking for COVID-19 testing appointments is available at https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/

Additional Resources:
Government of Canada: https://canada.ca/coronavirus

Government of Canada information line 1-833-784-4397 (toll-free)

The Mental Health Provincial Crisis Line is available 24/7 to anyone experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis, or someone concerned about them, by calling 1-888-429-8167 (toll-free)

If you need help with a non-crisis mental health or addiction concern call Community Mental Health and Addictions at 1-855-922-1122 (toll-free) weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Kids Help Phone is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free)

For help or information about domestic violence 24/7, call 1-855-225-0220 (toll-free)

For more information about COVID-19 testing and online booking, visit https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/symptoms-and-testing/

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Pfizer assures affordable vaccines for PH – CNN Philippines

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 15) — US drugmaker Pfizer is aiming to provide developing countries like the Philippines doses of its COVID-19 vaccine at an affordable price.

“I’m also very happy to announce that it is Pfizer’s intention to make available its COVID-19 vaccine to low-income countries like the Philippines at a not-for-profit price during the pandemic,” said Andreas Quercia, Pfizer country manager during the Senate Committee on the Whole’s hearing on the national COVID-19 vaccination plan Friday.

Pfizer also said it is in “advance discussions” with the Philippine government on a supply agreement for its COVID-19 vaccine, adding it plans to make doses available to the country as soon as possible. Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., meanwhile, said there might already be a term sheet and supply agreement with the pharmaceutical firm within next week.

The official also said Pfizer vaccine doses may reach the Philippines as early as the first quarter of 2021 through the help of the COVAX facility, of which the country is part of. The facility purchases vaccines to be distributed for free to developing countries, covering a maximum of 20% of their respective populations.

Pfizer is the first to secure Emergency Use Authorization in the Philippines for a coronavirus vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration granted the approval Thursday, citing the vaccine’s high efficacy rate.

Pfizer earlier bagged EUAs across the globe, including from the United States and the United Kingdom.

Agreements with Sinovac, other firms not a ‘done deal’

When asked whether agreements the country has entered into in advance for vaccine supply with firms like China-based Sinovac are already a “done deal,” Galvez said that is not the case.

Ang sa atin pa lang po ngayon [For now,] we are [just] dealing with the term sheet. Posible rin [It could also be possible] we have to lock (the supply), so that they can already make production. So sa ngayon po, wala pa pong government funds tayong naibibigay,” clarified the official.

[Translation: As of now, we haven’t given out government funds yet.]

National policy against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon also reiterated the country’s vaccine expert panel has recommended seven vaccine brands for possible purchase, which includes Sinovac. However, none of this is final yet, as the government awaits the panel’s final recommendation, along with an EUA from the FDA.

Sinovac has also applied for emergency use authorization, the regulatory agency revealed earlier this week.

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