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COVID-19: 'Remain on guard' to keep surfaces clean of coronavirus, experts say – Clinton News Record

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Whether you’re continuing to hunker down or getting ready for the new normal, now is a good time to review best practices

As parts of Canada begin to reopen following a nationwide lockdown to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, the country’s chief public health officer is warning people to remain vigilant.

Canada’s reported more than 2,290 deaths and about 43,500 cases of the virus since the pandemic was declared on March 11. And while the spread may be slowing in Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island, it’s still peaking in the country’s most populous provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

“I think we have to tread very carefully at this point,” Dr. Theresa Tam said. “We are seeing some bumps in the road that remind us we can’t let down our guard.”

Whether you’re continuing to hunker down, getting ready for the new normal, or bracing for subsequent waves of the pandemic, now is a good time to review best practices for dealing with the coronavirus on everyday surfaces.

How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus can spread from an infected person through respiratory droplets generated when someone coughs or sneezes, through personal contact (such as shaking hands) with an infected person, or by touching something with the virus on it.

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How long can the coronavirus survive on surfaces?
The New England Journal of Medicine published a study in March, which tested how long the virus could remain on various surfaces in a lab setting. It showed that the virus was detected on copper for up to four hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on plastic and steel for up to 72 hours.

The amount of the virus decreased over time and so the risk of infection from touching the surfaces would likely fall over time as well.

What are some of the most dangerous surfaces?
Any surface in a public place is potentially hazardous because you don’t know who has been there, or if they were infected.

For this reason, it’s important to avoid high-touch areas such as public transit, or grocery stores.

It’s important to avoid touching door handles, light switches, or taps that others may have touched and contaminated.


A worker in a protective suit inside a bus at the Toronto Transit Commission – Queensway Garage – on Evans Ave. near Kipling Ave. in Toronto, Ont. on Thursday April 16, 2020.

Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun/Postmedia

Can you get the virus from food?
There haven’t been any reported cases of COVID-19 being spread through food, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

However, it’s still recommended to follow safe food handling and cooking practices — such as washing fruits and vegetables in running water, properly cooking food and keeping counters and prep areas disinfected and clean.

Could you get the virus from groceries?
There’s no evidence that you can get the virus from food packaging, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible, said Dr. Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist and professor in the Department of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“The potential risk is that an infected person recently handled our groceries, and then we touch those items and go on to touch our eyes, nose, or mouth,” she said. “There are several ways to reduce this risk, including letting the groceries sit untouched for some time, disposing of outer food packaging, or disinfecting hard surfaces like bottles or cans, but the most important thing is to wash your hands well after handling anything new that comes into your home.”

Is it possible that food deliveries or packages received in the post are contaminated?
There is a chance that a delivery person, or container could spread the virus. That’s why it’s best to use contactless payment methods.

And best practise would be to throw out or recycle any packaging. Also, remember to carefully wash your hands after handling it.

That said, if you’re receiving a book, or clothing that’s been packed in cardboard, it’s much more likely that the cardboard could be contaminated than the contents, which likely already spent days packed up.

High-touch surfaces such as toys, toilets, phones, electronics, door handles and TV remotes should be cleaned regularly

How safe are non-medical grade masks?
“The recommendation is to use a cloth face mask that fits snugly and has multiple layers of fabric,” said Harvard’s Dr. Marcus. “Cloth masks can be reused, but should be washed in between uses with hot water and laundry detergent.”

Are there any tips for cleaning surfaces?
Coronaviruses can be destroyed on surfaces by using appropriate disinfectants and following the instructions, according to Canada’s health agency.

Regular household cleaners including bleach solutions and cleaners with at least 70 per cent alcohol content should be effective.

High-touch surfaces such as toys, toilets, phones, electronics, door handles and TV remotes should be cleaned regularly.

And if somebody in your home has been diagnosed with the virus then everything should be disinfected more frequently.

This story idea initially came from a reader who took part in our COVID-19 ‘Ask Us Anything’ initiative. Want to know more? Ask us a question here.

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Nova Scotia reports no new cases of COVID-19 for first time since March – Toronto Star

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HALIFAX—Nova Scotia increased its social gathering limit on Friday as the province reported no new cases of COVID-19 for the first time since its initial infections were identified in mid-March.

Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, called the development a “significant and encouraging milestone” in a province that has seen a continuing downward trend in new cases over recent weeks.

It kept the total number of confirmed cases at 1,055, including 978 people who have recovered from the virus. Eight people are currently in hospital and three of them are in intensive care.

“It hasn’t been easy but we are seeing positive results,” said Strang.

Nova Scotia announced more details of a reopening plan set for next Friday, even as neighbouring New Brunswick put the brakes on expanding the current phase of its plan. That province is dealing with a growing cluster of new cases in the Campbellton area, allegedly caused by a health-care worker who returned from Quebec and didn’t self-isolate.

Strang was asked about what lessons Nova Scotia could take from the Campbellton outbreak.

“The message in that is really about the importance of self-isolation when you cross borders,” he said. “What it shows us is the importance of very closely monitoring our borders. We need to be very thoughtful and careful about how we lift those border restrictions.”

Premier Stephen McNeil announced a new gathering limit of 10 people effective immediately — a doubling from a limit of five that was imposed when health restrictions were put in place in late March.

Physical distancing of two metres would still be required, except among members of the same household or family “bubble.” The limit is the same indoors and outdoors, with exceptions for outdoor weddings and funeral services which can have 15 people.

Strang clarified that when it comes to weddings, that limit of 15 would have to include photographers and caterers if that’s what couples wanted in their ceremonies.

He said the gathering limit also applies to arts and culture activities such as theatre performances and dance recitals, faith gatherings, and sports and physical activity. Businesses such as theatres, concerts, festivals and sporting activities would also have to adhere to the 10-person limit.

“We are watching our epidemiology and will consider expanding the way people can have close social interaction when we see how this first stage in the reopening is going,” said Strang. “It’s very important that we don’t introduce too much risk of COVID-19 at any one time and we have the capacity to monitor the effect of any steps.”

McNeil said that private campgrounds would also be allowed to open, but would only operate at 50 per cent capacity and must ensure public health protocols are followed, including adequate distancing between campsites.

Provincial campgrounds are scheduled to open June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites.

The latest measures came two days after McNeil announced that most businesses required to close under a public health order in late March would be allowed to open next Friday, provided they are ready with a plan that follows physical distancing protocols.

The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers would also be allowed to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices. Veterinary services can also operate along with some unregulated professions, such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy.

Earlier Friday, the province announced it would add 23 new long-term care beds because of a need resulting from some facilities slowing or stopping admissions during the pandemic.

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It said it is entering into an agreement with Shannex RLC Ltd. to convert a floor at the Caritas Residence, a private assisted-living home in Bedford, N.S., into nursing home beds.

Residents would be able to move into the facility in early June and will be tested for the virus before being admitted.

According to the government, there are 132-long term care facilities in Nova Scotia.

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Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada – Terrace Standard – Terrace Standard

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B.C. and Alberta have become the latest provinces in Canada to investigate cases of an unusual syndrome in children, which doctors around the world are studying to see if there’s a definitive link to COVID-19.

The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and Montreal’s Sainte-Justine Hospital are each examining 20 possible cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C.

Earlier this week, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health announced doctors are looking into one suspected case in the province, while British Columbia said it is investigating half a dozen cases.

“Because there isn’t really a definitive, one specific test that says, ‘yes, you have multisystem inflammatory syndrome’ or ‘you don’t,’ I don’t think that the cases themselves are 100 per cent clearly defined from children who might have some other type of infection,” said Dr. Jeremy Friedman, the associate chief of pediatrics at SickKids.

“It might take a little bit of time to really be absolutely certain about how many cases that are being investigated are actually truly related to COVID.”

Friedman’s team at the Toronto hospital have also been in contact with the study at Sainte-Justine run by Marie-Paule Morin, a pediatric rheumatologist.

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C. The agency’s case definition includes current or recent COVID-19 infection or exposure to the virus, a fever of at least 38 C for at least 24 hours, severe illness requiring hospitalization, inflammatory markers in blood tests, and evidence of problems affecting at least two organs that could include the heart, kidneys, lungs, skin or nervous system.

The CDC said some children may have symptoms resembling Kawasaki disease, a rare condition that can cause swelling and heart problems.

In other parts of the world, the illness is also called Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS).

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday that while little is known about MIS-C, ”it seems to be more something that happens as a result of (a child’s) immune system going into overdrive after an infection and causing this inflammatory response in multiple organs.”

Hinshaw gave little information about the province’s first suspected case, other to say that the child is stable in hospital.

In Toronto, Friedman said one of the 20 children had to be admitted to an intensive care unit. All have responded well to treatment and have gone home.

There have been no reported deaths linked to MIS-C in Canada, but some children have died from the illness in New York, France and the United Kingdom.

Friedman said it is “highly suspicious” that there seems to be an increase in children presenting MIS-C symptoms about a month after the peak in the number of COVID-19 infections in their communities.

“That seems to be a consistent time that people are seeing this uptick,” he said.

But Friedman noted that none of the children at SickKids tested positive for an active coronavirus infection. His team has blood samples from each child that will then be tested for COVID-19 antibodies.

Although Health Canada has recently approved two serological tests, Friedman said he is waiting to hear from provincial experts on which one is most accurate.

The Canadian Paediatric Society recently published MIS-C guidelines for clinicians and caregivers and is tracking and studying the illness nationwide.

“This syndrome is still very new, and scientists and doctors are learning about it in real time,” the society said in an email Friday.

“The CPSP study will provide essential, timely information about how children are being affected, which children are at highest risk, and will enable us to adjust best practices for prevention and care based on evidence.”

Friedman said parents should be vigilant about signs of MIS-C, but they shouldn’t be alarmed since the numbers are low and the condition is treatable.

“This is definitely going to add to what we know about COVID and hopefully some aspects of what we learn will inform the development of vaccines,” he said.

“It’s quite reassuring to know that we can all learn from each other and that is happens in a pretty rapid sequence.”

Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press

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Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada – Lacombe Express

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British Columbia and Alberta have become the latest provinces in Canada to investigate cases of an unusual syndrome in children, which doctors around the world are studying to see if there’s a definitive link to COVID-19.

The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and Montreal’s Sainte-Justine Hospital are each examining 20 possible cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C.

Earlier this week, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health announced doctors are looking into one suspected case in the province, while British Columbia said it is investigating half a dozen cases.

“Because there isn’t really a definitive, one specific test that says, ‘yes, you have multisystem inflammatory syndrome’ or ‘you don’t,’ I don’t think that the cases themselves are 100 per cent clearly defined from children who might have some other type of infection,” said Dr. Jeremy Friedman, the associate chief of pediatrics at SickKids.

“It might take a little bit of time to really be absolutely certain about how many cases that are being investigated are actually truly related to COVID.”

Friedman’s team at the Toronto hospital have also been in contact with the study at Sainte-Justine run by Marie-Paule Morin, a pediatric rheumatologist.

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C. The agency’s case definition includes current or recent COVID-19 infection or exposure to the virus, a fever of at least 38 C for at least 24 hours, severe illness requiring hospitalization, inflammatory markers in blood tests, and evidence of problems affecting at least two organs that could include the heart, kidneys, lungs, skin or nervous system.

The CDC said some children may have symptoms resembling Kawasaki disease, a rare condition that can cause swelling and heart problems.

In other parts of the world, the illness is also called Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS).

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday that while little is known about MIS-C, ”it seems to be more something that happens as a result of (a child’s) immune system going into overdrive after an infection and causing this inflammatory response in multiple organs.”

Hinshaw gave little information about the province’s first suspected case, other to say that the child is stable in hospital.

In Toronto, Friedman said one of the 20 children had to be admitted to an intensive care unit. All have responded well to treatment and have gone home.

There have been no reported deaths linked to MIS-C in Canada, but some children have died from the illness in New York, France and the United Kingdom.

Friedman said it is “highly suspicious” that there seems to be an increase in children presenting MIS-C symptoms about a month after the peak in the number of COVID-19 infections in their communities.

“That seems to be a consistent time that people are seeing this uptick,” he said.

But Friedman noted that none of the children at SickKids tested positive for an active coronavirus infection. His team has blood samples from each child that will then be tested for COVID-19 antibodies.

Although Health Canada has recently approved two serological tests, Friedman said he is waiting to hear from provincial experts on which one is most accurate.

The Canadian Paediatric Society recently published MIS-C guidelines for clinicians and caregivers and is tracking and studying the illness nationwide.

“This syndrome is still very new, and scientists and doctors are learning about it in real time,” the society said in an email Friday.

“The CPSP study will provide essential, timely information about how children are being affected, which children are at highest risk, and will enable us to adjust best practices for prevention and care based on evidence.”

Friedman said parents should be vigilant about signs of MIS-C, but they shouldn’t be alarmed since the numbers are low and the condition is treatable.

“This is definitely going to add to what we know about COVID and hopefully some aspects of what we learn will inform the development of vaccines,” he said.

“It’s quite reassuring to know that we can all learn from each other and that is happens in a pretty rapid sequence.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020

— With files from The Associated Press

Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press

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