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COVID-19 outbreak declared at London's Sir Arthur Currie Public School – CTV News London

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LONDON, ONT. —
The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at London’s Sir Arthur Currie Public School.

A second case of the virus by a member of the school community was identified by the health unit Sunday.

The first case was reported at the northwest London school on Oct. 9.

Officials say the two cases are associated with each other and there is evidence of transmission.

“The declaration of an outbreak in this situation was a critical step in taking the necessary steps to address the spread of coronavirus within this school community,” says Dr. Chris Mackie, Medical Officer of Health.

“This is not an indication of widespread illness at the school. All contacts of the cases have been notified directly.”

The school will remain open for classes Tuesday. Only close contacts of the infected cases will be restricted from attending school.

“Thames Valley is following all health and safety protocols recommended by both the public health unit and the Ministry of Education,” says Mark Fisher, Director of Education for the Thames Valley District School Board.

All confirmed active cases will be tracked on the board’s website

The health unit has the following recommendations to minimize the spread of the virus:

  • Stay home from work or school if you become ill.
  • Ensure close contact is limited to those in your household. If you live alone, consider having close contact with one other household.
  • Maintain 2 metres physical distance from anyone who is not in your household.
  • Wear a mask no matter where you are, or what you are doing (leaving the house, going to the store, interacting with colleagues at work or in the breakroom).
  • Avoid non-essential travel to the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, Quebec City and Montreal.
  • Only visit an Assessment Centre to get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19, have been contacted by the Health Unit or received notification through the COVID Alert app of close contact with a confirmed case.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 15-20 seconds or use a waterless hand sanitizer with at least 70 percent alcohol content.
  • Cover coughs and/or sneezes with your sleeve or cough into your elbow.
  • Clean high-touch areas, such as doorknobs in public spaces, frequently.
  • Download the COVID Alert mobile app to be notified if you may have been exposed to COVID19, and to let others know if you test positive for the virus.

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As spread slows slightly, OPH wants Ottawans to fine tune their physical distancing – CBC.ca

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While the rate of COVID-19 transmission in Ottawa has declined over the last two weeks, Ottawa Public Health is calling on residents to take further measures — albeit small ones — to combat the respiratory virus.

At a virtual news conference on Tuesday, Dr. Vera Etches, the medical officer of health with Ottawa Public Health (OPH), said the virus takes advantage of moments where people let their guard down. Despite the messages about the importance of physical distancing, wearing masks and hand hygiene, Etches said there are situations where people seem to forget themselves. 

What’s more, these are often situations where government enforcement doesn’t have jurisdiction — such as in private homes where mandatory mask bylaws don’t apply or at gatherings small enough to be permitted under provincial regulations. Etches referred to these situations as “blind spots.”

“One blind spot is gathering with extended family and larger friend circles and thinking that the risk of COVID-19 isn’t there,” she said. “Another one is socializing before or after a team sport.”

Close contact with people outside your household always poses a risk of transmission, said Etches, no matter who you are.

“People don’t think of these settings like carpooling or meeting up with extended family in the same way they might in terms of going to a gym or going to a bar. So we’re just trying to expand people’s risk assessment.”

Lunch at work often a problem 

One of the most common opportunities for COVID-19 transmission is during lunch breaks between colleagues, said Etches.

Coworkers may spend the entire work day safely distancing and wearing a mask, only to sit together and remove their mask to sip coffee or eat lunch, and inadvertently spread the virus. 

“Employees having lunch together seems to come up over and over,” she said. “Whether it’s in a health-care setting or a school or a workplace … it is what gives the virus an opportunity to spread.”

Dr. Vera Etches, medical officer of health, says Ottawa’s numbers are dropping, though people are still gathering with extended family or socializing before and after team sports. 0:52

Etches said “it’s no one’s fault,” reiterating the virus is often present before people feel sick.

One simple solution is if people have to remove their masks to eat lunch, they ensure they stay at least two metres away from others, she said. 

Case numbers in Ottawa improving

While much of September and October was overshadowed by a rise of the second wave, Etches said on Tuesday, there are signs to be hopeful about.

“I want to say congratulations to the people of Ottawa. There are some encouraging indications that we’re having some success,” she said.

Etches said local health officials are still working on their recommendations for the province as to whether they think Ottawa is ready to relax measures.

The province’s Stage 2 modified measures in Ottawa went into effect Oct. 10 and are set to expire by next month. Health Minister Christine Elliott would not say whether the Ottawa will be allowed to transition to Stage 3 or whether the increased restrictions, on things like indoor dining or gyms, will continue.

As Halloween approaches, Etches still recommends families cancel trick-or-treating and parties and opt for virtual celebrations and walks with household members only to see neighbourhood decorations. 

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Early COVID-19 vaccines 'likely to be imperfect': U.K. Vaccine Taskforce chair – Toronto Sun

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U.K. Vaccine Taskforce Chair Kate Bingham said on Tuesday that the first generation of COVID-19 vaccines “is likely to be imperfect” and that they “might not work for everyone.”

“However, we do not know that we will ever have a vaccine at all. It is important to guard against complacency and over-optimism,” Bingham wrote in a piece published in The Lancet medical journal.

“The first generation of vaccines is likely to be imperfect, and we should be prepared that they might not prevent infection but rather reduce symptoms, and, even then, might not work for everyone or for long,” she added.

Bingham wrote that the Vaccine Taskforce recognizes that “many, and possibly all, of these vaccines could fail,” adding the focus has been on vaccines that are expected to elicit immune responses in the population older than 65 years.

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She said that the global manufacturing capacity for vaccines is vastly inadequate for the billions of doses that are needed and that the United Kingdom’s manufacturing capability to date has been “equally scarce.”

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Coronavirus: First COVID vaccines 'likely to be imperfect' and 'might not prevent infection', says taskforce boss – Sky News

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The chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce has said the first generation of COVID-19 vaccines “is likely to be imperfect” and that they “might not work for everyone”.

Writing in The Lancet, Kate Bingham said no vaccine in the history of medicine “has been as eagerly anticipated” and that “vaccination is widely regarded as the only true exit strategy from the pandemic that is currently spreading globally”.

But she cautioned against over-optimism and that any vaccine might not work for everyone, or for very long.

“We do not know that we will ever have a vaccine at all,” she wrote. “It is important to guard against complacency and over-optimism.

“The first generation of vaccines is likely to be imperfect, and we should be prepared that they might not prevent infection but rather reduce symptoms, and, even then, might not work for everyone or for long.”

The Vaccine Taskforce was created by Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK government’s chief scientific advisor. It was set up under the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in May 2020, and Ms Bingham reports directly to the prime minister.

In her Lancet article she said that the “strategy has been to build a diverse portfolio across different formats to give the UK the greatest chance of providing a safe and effective vaccine, recognising that many, and possibly all, of these vaccines could fail”.

More from Covid-19

Ms Bingham’s article came as a review of coronavirus vaccine research called for a standardised approach to assessing the effectiveness of all potential COVID-19 inoculations.

Publishing their conclusions in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, researchers from the University of Oxford said a meaningful comparison of different candidates is required to ensure only the most effective vaccines are deployed.

Dr Susanne Hodgson, of the University of Oxford, who is the lead author of the review, said: “It is unlikely that we will see a single vaccine winner in the race against Covid-19.

“Different technologies will bring distinct advantages that are relevant in different situations, and additionally, there will probably be challenges with manufacturing and supplying a single vaccine at the scale required, at least initially.

“Taking a standardised approach to measuring the success of vaccines in clinical trials will be important for making meaningful comparisons, so that the most effective candidates can be taken forward for wider use.”

There are more than 200 vaccine candidates in development around the world, with 44 in clinical trials.

Of the 44, nine are in the phase three stage of clinical evaluation and are being given to thousands of people to confirm safety and effectiveness.

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