The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit declared the outbreak after six patients in the medical surgical unit on the second floor tested positive for COVID-19.
The hospital reports that of the six individuals, three were fully vaccinated and three were not fully vaccinated.
No staff cases have been identified at the hospital which serves the Municipality of Trent Hills and surrounding area in Northumberland County.
As a result of the outbreak declaration, the medical/surgical unit is closed to all visitors with the exception of those visiting patients for end-of-life care. The outpatient endoscopy suite on the second floor has also been closed.
The first-floor emergency department remains open. Visiting rules in the emergency department remain unchanged changed and children and elderly adults who need supportive care can continue to be accompanied by one person, the hospital states.
“While we continue to have appropriate COVID-prevention measures in place at the hospital, we are now implementing additional processes and heightened infection control practices to ensure we stop any further spread and ensure the safety of our patients and staff,” said Alysia English, director of patient care.
The hospital is working with the health unit to monitor the outbreak and continue case and contact tracing. Additional testing of close contacts is being conducted at the hospital. The hospital says staff will continue to implement enhanced environmental deep cleaning of the buildings.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of infection prevention and control procedures and the best practices the hospital needs to maintain with all interactions with patients,” said Marilyn Petherick, infection control and OR nurse.
“It’s why handwashing, physical distancing and the proper use of personal protective equipment are so essential. Within the hospital and in our community, we must all continue to be vigilant in following the public health measures of maintaining physical distancing, wearing a mask, consistent hand washing and getting vaccinated.”
Patients with scheduled appointments at the hospital that may be impacted by this outbreak will be contacted directly by hospital staff
Prior to the outbreak being declared, the health unit had reported 16 active cases of COVID-19 in its jurisdiction as of Wednesday afternoon including nine in Northumberland County.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Singapore tests out ‘smart bandage’ for remote recovery
Researchers in Singapore have developed a smart bandage to enable patients to have chronic wounds monitored remotely via an app on a mobile device, potentially saving them visits to the doctor.
A research team at the National University of Singapore has created a wearable sensor attached to a transparent bandage to track progress in healing, using information like temperature, bacteria type, and levels of pH and inflammation.
“Traditionally when someone has a wound or ulcer, if it’s infected, the only way to examine it is through looking at the wound itself, through visual inspection,” said Chwee Teck Lim, lead researcher at the university’s department of biomedical engineering.
“If the clinician wants to have further information then they will obtain the wound fluid and send to the lab for further testing,” he said.
“So what we’re trying to do is use our smart bandage to cut the number of hours or days to just a few minutes.”
The “VeCare” technology will enable patients to convalesce more at home and visit a doctor only if necessary.
The bandage is being tested on patients with chronic venous ulcers, or leg ulcers caused by circulation problems in veins.
Data collection by researchers on the wounds has so far been effective, according to Lim, who said the smart bandage could potentially be used for other wounds, like diabetic foot ulcers.
(This story refiles to correct to cut extraneous word in the first paragraph)
(Reporting by Ying Shan Lee; Writing by Masako Iijima; Editing by Martin Petty, William Maclean)
Courts block two Biden administration COVID vaccine mandates
The Biden administration was blocked on Tuesday from enforcing two mandates requiring millions of American workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a key part of its strategy for controlling the spread of the coronavirus.
U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty in Monroe, Louisiana, temporarily blocked the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) from enforcing its vaccine mandate for healthcare workers until the court can resolve legal challenges.
Doughty’s ruling applied nationwide, except in 10 states where the CMS was already prevented from enforcing the rule due to a prior order from a federal judge in St. Louis.
Doughty said the CMS lacked the authority to issue a vaccine mandate that would require more than 2 million unvaccinated healthcare workers to get a coronavirus shot.
“There is no question that mandating a vaccine to 10.3 million healthcare workers is something that should be done by Congress, not a government agency,” wrote Doughty.
Separately, U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove in Frankfort, Kentucky, blocked the administration from enforcing a regulation that new government contracts must include clauses requiring that contractors’ employees get vaccinated.
The contractor ruling applied in the three states that had filed the lawsuit, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, one of at least 13 legal challenges nationwide against the regulation. It appears to be the first ruling against the contractor vaccine mandate.
The White House declined to comment.
The legal setbacks for President Joe Biden’s vaccine policy come as concerns that the Omicron coronavirus variant could trigger a new wave of infections and curtail travel and economic activity across the globe.
Biden unveiled regulations in September to increase the U.S. adult vaccination rate beyond the current 71% as a way of fighting the pandemic, which has killed more than 750,000 Americans and weighed on the economy.
Republican state attorneys general, conservative groups and trade organizations have sued to stop the regulations.
Tuesday’s rulings add to a string of court losses for the Biden administration over its COVID-19 policies.
The most sweeping regulation, a workplace vaccine-or-testing mandate for businesses with at least 100 employees, was temporarily blocked by a federal appeals court in early November.
In August, the U.S. Supreme Court ended the administration’s pandemic-related federal moratorium on residential evictions.
(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Additional reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Peter Cooney)
Omicron variant could outcompete Delta, South African disease expert says
The Omicron coronavirus variant detected in southern Africa could be the most likely candidate to displace the highly contagious Delta variant, the director of South Africa’s communicable disease institute said on Tuesday.
The discovery of Omicron has caused global alarm, with countries limiting travel from southern Africa for fear it could spread quickly even in vaccinated populations and the World Health Organization saying it carries a high risk of infection surges.
“We thought what will outcompete Delta? That has always been the question, in terms of transmissibility at least, … perhaps this particular variant is the variant,” Adrian Puren, acting executive director of South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), told Reuters in an interview.
If Omicron proves even more transmissible than the Delta variant, it could lead to a sharp spike in infections that could put pressure on hospitals.
Puren said scientists should know within four weeks to what extent Omicron can evade the immunity generated by vaccines or prior infection, and whether it leads to worse clinical symptoms than other variants.
Anecdotal accounts by doctors who have treated South African COVID-19 patients say Omicron appears to be producing mild symptoms, including a dry cough, fever and night sweats, but experts have cautioned against drawing firm conclusions.
Puren said it was too early to say whether Omicron was displacing Delta in South Africa, since local scientists have only produced 87 sequences of Omicron so far.
But the fact that cases have started to rise rapidly, especially in the most populated Gauteng province, is a sign that some displacement might already be happening.
Delta drove a third wave of COVID-19 infections in South Africa that peaked at more than 26,000 cases per day in early July. Omicron is expected to trigger a fourth wave, with daily infections seen topping 10,000 by the end of the week from around 2,270 on Monday.
Anne von Gottberg, a clinical microbiologist at the NICD, said it looked like infections were rising throughout the country.
On Monday, an NICD presentation a flagged a large number of COVID-19 admissions among infants aged under two years as an area of concern. But von Gottberg cautioned against linking that with Omicron just yet.
“It looks like in fact some of those admissions might have started before the emergence of Omicron. We are also seeing that there was an increase in influenza cases just in the last month or so, and so we need to be really careful to look at the other respiratory infections,” she said.
“We are looking at the data very, very carefully, but at the moment I’m not too sure that we can link it definitively to Omicron.”
South Africa has been praised for alerting the global scientific community and WHO so quickly to Omicron — a brave move given the damage that travel restrictions imposed by multiple countries including Britain will do to its important tourism sector.
The country has reported close to 3 million COVID-19 infections during the pandemic and over 89,000 deaths, the most on the African continent.
(Additional reporting by Tim Cocks in Johannesburg; Editing by Alison Williams)
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