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COVID outbreak reported at northern B.C. long-term care home

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Northern Health reported its first COVID-19 exposure at a long-term care home on Monday.

A single staff member at Rotary Manor in Dawson Creek tested positive for COVID-19, according to a bulletin released by Northern Health on Monday.

“At this time, there is no evidence of transmission of illness among staff or residents within the Rotary Manor facility,” the Northern Health statement said. “As a precaution, (Northern Health) medical health officers have declared a facility outbreak, based on the criteria for declaring an outbreak in long-term care settings. In this case, it is a single lab-confirmed case in a staff member, who worked during their potential infectious period.”

Public health officials are working with the staff at 115-bed facility to identify anyone who may have been exposed, and has taken additional steps to protect the health of residents and staff and the facility.

Extra cleaning and infection control is in place, staff and resident movement in the facility is being limited, and there is a temporary suspension of social visits, but essential visits are still being allowed.

All the extra measures will be in place until at least Nov. 8, which is 14 days after the potential exposure, the Northern Health statement said.

The announcement comes on the same day as deputy provincial health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson announced 10 new cases in the Northern Health region since the last update on Friday. The total number of cases in the north since the start of the pandemic increased to 422.

Throughout B.C., 1,120 new cases were reported on Monday. Public health officials were monitoring 2,945 active cases in B.C., and 6,448 people who may have been exposed, she said.

The number of active cases in northern B.C. wasn’t provided, but on Friday the B.C. Centre for Disease Control reported 34 active cases in the Northern Health region. No patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the north.

Six new COVID-19-related deaths were reported in the province on Monday, bringing B.C.’s death toll from the pandemic up to 269, Gustafson said.

Ninety people in B.C. were hospitalized with COVID-19, she said, including 19 in intensive care.

“The numbers are concerning for all of us,” Gustafson said. “At this moment we have a concerning number of new infections.”

The majority of new infections can be linked to known cases and exposures, rather than casual exposure in the community, Gustafson said. Large gatherings in private homes have contributed a significant number of new cases, which is why the province ordered limits on the size of gatherings.

While places like restaurants and other venues have COVID-19 safety plans, few homeowners have the measures in place to safety host a large gathering, she said.

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“We are in a significant new phase of the pandemic,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said. “The COVID-19 tide is rising. I ask everyone… to recommit themselves to the task.”

Source:- Prince George Citizen

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It's winter. It's cold. How do I deal with a mask that freezes? – CBC.ca

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There is a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon. But first, winter. 

We’ve been hearing the warnings for weeks. It’s going to be a long, hard few months. 

People who live in Canada fashion themselves as cold weather warriors — able to withstand -20 C temperatures. This year, that could be an especially good thing. 

The advice from medical experts is to resist retreating indoors where COVID-19 is much more easily transmitted. Bundle up, mask up if necessary, and get outside as much as possible.   

“You know, if you’ve ever wanted to learn broomball, this is your chance,” said Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious diseases specialist at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital and an assistant professor at McGill University. 

But what about masks in winter? Do they still work if they get wet? Do you really need to wear them outside anyway? 

Here’s some advice for how best to tackle the coming winter pandemic months.

Will my mask work if it gets wet and/or freezes?

The short answer is probably not. Oughton, officials from Health Canada and the Centers for Disease Control in the United States pretty much agree that once a mask gets wet, it’s no longer fully effective. 

And that’s why you should always have back-up masks.

There is no concrete, scientific data on mask efficacy in cold weather. However, when you breathe through a mask in cold conditions, the moisture from your warm breath collects on the mask. It tends to stay warm enough on the inside due to your body temperature to remain liquid, but will freeze on the outside. 

WATCH | Why health experts recommend three-layer masks: 

Doctors answer viewer questions about COVID-19 including why three-layer masks are now being recommended to protect against the virus. 5:22

That leads to two mask issues Oughton said: they become harder to breathe through; and become less effective at “capturing respiratory droplets and preventing them from leaving the proximity of someone’s mouth and nose.”

But that doesn’t mean they are completely useless, according to Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and an associate professor at McMaster University. 

“Masks offer a little bit more [protection], particularly in those settings where people are bunched up outdoors, where there may be a bit more risk of transmission.”

Oughton said if you are going to wear a mask outdoors in the cold for a long period of time, you should have two or three back-ups, so you can keep a dry one on.

And most important: make sure the mask is cloth. The paper kind — the surgical style ones — degrade and tear far more easily when they get wet, said Oughton. 

All in a Day9:44Anti-fogging tips and tricks

Tired of contending with foggy glasses while wearing masks? Help is on the way. 9:44

Do you really need a mask out in the cold? 

It depends on the circumstances. 

Being outdoors while observing proper distancing measures is “really, really protective” on its own, according to Chagla. He said the documented cases of outdoor transmission of COVID-19 have involved situations like barbecues or people watching a sports event, gathered together for longer periods of time.

For activities like going for a walk in your neighbourhood or skating on a not-too-crowded rink, he said the risk of transmission is very low. But he does advise that if you are going in and out of stores, or getting on and off transit while doing errands, it is best to just keep the mask on the whole time to minimize touching the mask and potential contamination.  

The advice is the same if you are planning to gather with others over the holidays for an outdoor gift exchange or short visit. If you can maintain distance, you should be fine as long as there is no eating and drinking or singing, all of which create more droplets in the air. If you’re going to be closer, exchanging gifts perhaps, best to put on a mask. 

Wearing a mask in the cold can make is less effective. (Mathieu Theriault/CBC/Radio-Canada)

Is a scarf a good alternative to a mask?

No. Medical experts point out that there is too much variation in scarves and neck gaiters for them to be used as masks. Stitching can be too loose and the material too thin to be an effective barrier to potentially infected droplets — both going out or coming in.

But both physicians agree it might keep your mask from freezing and therefore be more comfortable for the wearer to put a scarf up over it.

Cold temps bring runny noses. Here’s how to deal with that joy when you’re wearing a mask. 

Unfortunately, people tend to pull their mask aside or off when they sneeze or cough, which kind of defeats the purpose of it, Chagla said. 

“It is horrible to sneeze in a mask,” he said. “I give you that.” But he urges people to make sure they are in an area away from people if they are going to pull it off to sneeze, or even to blow their nose, as that is one of the best ways to spread infection. 

And be careful when you pull your mask aside to blow your nose. Don’t let it get snotty, both doctors say, and after blowing your nose, sanitize your hands before you replace your mask. 

So with all the issues with masks, is it best just to stay indoors this winter?

The resounding answer to this one is no. On the contrary.  

“The indoor stuff is like a hundred times more worrisome than the outdoor stuff,” Chagla said.  

He cites factors including poor ventilation, crowded rooms, people being together for prolonged periods of time, eating and drinking together. 

He said this year, people are going to have to change the way they think about socializing if they don’t want to just get stuck for months with the people they live with or having nothing but virtual get-togethers. 

“I think we have to start changing our attitudes and saying the outdoors is going to be the way. We just have to make it appropriate for people to do it.”

Municipalities across the country are coming up with guidelines for outdoor activities, such as skating, to make sure they don’t get too crowded. Many are restricting the number of people allowed on the ice at any given time in order to better maintain a safe distance between skaters, with some bringing in online pre-registration to book ice time.

If you go, change your skates in the car or out on a bench, rather than in a public hut, Oughton said.

It’s best to put your skates on outside, or in your own vehicle, rather than in a public hut. (Evan Mitsui/CBC News)

Among other outdoor measures, Toronto is also adding an additional 60 kilometres of paved recreational trails and pathways with snow maintenance and is encouraging communities to apply for permits to build and maintain new rinks. 

The City of Calgary is also adding to its outdoor options with the North Glenmore Ice Trail,  where people can skate 730 metres of connected track and the installation of fire pits in key spots around the city.

Todd Reichardt, a Calgary parks manager, said the plans should enable people to maintain social distance and make the most of the season. 

“There’s something about being outside when it’s cold and you smell like wood smoke,” he said. “It just puts a smile on people’s faces.” 

In Manitoba, ski resorts have been working on plans to make skiing a safe pandemic activity, while Montreal is setting up cross-country ski trails at each of the city’s large parks, as well as trails for snowshoeing and walking. 

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Nurse texts dad, asking for ventilators, and a prototype is together in six days – Toronto Star

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Saskatoon– A few days after the global pandemic was declared, Jim Boire got a text from his daughter. Rebecca Erker, a Royal University Hospital intensive care unit nurse. She is working on her PhD with the respiratory research centre in Saskatoon. As a result, she had a good understanding of what was at stake with COVID-19, and reason to be concerned.

Thankfully, Boire is president of RMD Engineering, a Saskatoon firm whose expertise ranges from beamlines for the Canada Light Source Synchrotron to industrial processes in potash mining, and a whole lot in between. They’ve worked in uranium, agriculture, and a lot of research and development. His company (which Boire owns with four other partners, all employees) had the expertise and capacity to do something about it. And so they did.

“I got my text from my daughter on March 18. March 24, we had our first prototype built,” Boire said by phone on Dec. 3. Now the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) announced on that December day it would be taking delivery of 100 new ventilators, known as the EUV-SK1, in short order. The first 20 are ready to go out the door, and the company has most of the parts in place to build as many as 1,000 units.

RMD Engineering Inc.’s subsidiary, One Health Medical Technologies, recently received COVID-19 Medical Device Authorization from Health Canada for an in-house designed, developed and manufactured ventilator. Collaborating with the University of Saskatchewan and SHA subject matter experts, RMD Engineering was able to successfully prototype an emergency use ventilator for Health Canada certification.

According to a Ministry of Health press release on Dec. 3, there are currently approximately 650 ventilators available in Saskatchewan’s health system, enough to meet the need. They range from high-end critical care type ventilators to more basic sub-acute ventilators. The SHA’s purchase from RMD will increase that number to about 750.

But getting from a text to a prototype for an approved ventilator wasn’t easy, nor was it quick process.

Very early on, the deans of both the University of Saskatchewan College of Engineering and College of Medicine got involved. Top respiratory technologies, respirologists, and ICU nurses were brought in within short order to develop this totally new product. Boire said, “As soon as we asked for them to help, they helped with open arms. And you have a team like that that knows exactly what something is supposed to do. And the capability to build something that can do that, then all you need are the codes and standards and validation equipment to make sure it meets the required level of quality.”

Asked if it was like converting to war production in 1940, Boire said, “I’ll tell you, that’s exactly the way it started.

“It felt like a military operation, if I was ever involved in a military operation, but I wasn’t. However, as soon as we got through the point where this is going to work, this design is going to work, here’s what we have to do now, a group of people said, ‘You know what? We get it. This is like a military operation, everybody’s doing this, let’s just go go go.’

“They stopped and said, “You know what, it’s probably time now that everybody starts looking at this as the biggest humanitarian effort this company has ever done.” And it was just an awesome way to get out of that firefighting mode. And then one of our instrumentation leads said, ‘This is not a sprint. You guys can’t keep working 18 hours a day. This is going to be a marathon.’

“And it really helped pull the whole team back down to the ground, and get them out of that adrenaline mode, and really start focusing on the work breakdown, structure in the tasks at hand, and who’s responsible for what and what’s this timing going look like and when is this going in.”

His references to firefighting are authentic, as the company has built support equipment for water bombers.

Worldwide shortages

They soon realized that the whole world was looking for critical parts, which almost immediately went into short supply and were being hoarded. Some items, like wire, saw huge price spikes. So RMD quickly realized it had to work on this project quietly, and develop a product that avoided critical path component shortages.

Boire said, “Instead of using the newer, more conventional turbine method, we knew those would be a hot commodity, when the world proclaimed they needed over a million of these. As you can imagine, that turbine is a complicated piece of equipment. We went the other way. We went back to being simple,” Boire said. “We have very, very few moving parts in our machine. There’s four moving parts.”

He explained, “This is an emergency use ventilator, so it needs to be used in the hospital or in an emergency hospital situation where they have line medical air and line oxygen so that’ll be running at 50 PSI. And then we control everything with proportional solenoids.”

There are two tubes coming into the device, which is in a large Pelican case, and two tubes coming out. They had them on hand because of another government project they’re working on. The lid includes an IBM screen.

“They’re all high reliability components,” he said. It runs off 110 volt AC power.

You set it up beside the bed, hook up the lines, hook up the power and put in the appropriate prescription.

High standards

They had previously made the biomedical imaging line for the Canadian Light Source, but they weren’t a medical device manufacturer. The list of specifications, protocols and standards was extensive.

And those standards, in some ways, simplify things. Boire said, “We don’t have any proprietary stuff on there, so all of the circuits, all the nebulizers everything fits on there. All that is covered off in standards. And I think that’s one of the biggest things to understand is when you go down this path, it is very prescriptive on everything. The machine has to do all of the standards it has to meet, including operational standards.”

He added, “It’s probably a foot tall, the stack of standards, when you put them together. You have to meet the electrical requirements, the operational requirements, the safety requirements. You don’t get to just build something in your backyard, and then tell everybody you have it. When you go and look at the requirements, when you submit to Health Canada, it is an armful. And I think we’ve spent just about $30,000 on standards. There is a lot of standards that you have to meet.”

It is very unique, he said. “We looked at the critical components like flow meters, how you measure flow and pressure, because we’re talking very low pressures that have to be measured very accurately.”

This is where the consultation with respiratory technicians, anesthesiology repair technicians from the health region made a difference. Because there was such high demand for ventilator components, he said, “You have to figure out how to do that with readily available things that are very safe.”

“So when we started doing our production testing, we had to do accelerated testing on components that, in the period of two or three weeks, we could get an effective 25 million cycles on a component that we designed.”

By the end of December, they’ll likely have the remaining 80 units ready. They’ve also built a training version to be used in remote areas or to train people on a simulation patient or a “test lung.”

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They submitted their application to Health Canada on May 5. “In that period of time is when we refined our design, did our testing, had to send it out to third party,” Boire said.

Commitment

Quality assurance and traceability were very important, he said.

“Since March, we’ve got 40,000 to 45,000 hours in already, in the development and testing and verification side.”

This happened just as the company was in the middle of expanding their facility, much of which was accomplished with their own staff.

“We’re probably going have to hire another 12 to 15 people, and train them,” he said, noting training is a big part when dealing with healthcare devices, especially when it comes to things like quality control.

“We’ve currently got 15 people now on the manufacturing side of it and the programing side, and the testing side.”

They are working on getting their Medical Device Single Audit Program (MDSAP) certification, which he calls a “quality control program on steroids.”

Asked if they were going to stick with it, he said, “We’re going to stay as a medical manufacturer.”

Boire added, “The medical device manufacturing will just be another part of our company. We’re going to stay with theses rugged use ventilators, like this emergency type ventilator. We do not intend to compete with Panasonic or anybody at Philips, anybody that’s making mainstream, high-volume ventilators. We’ll stay with a rugged use ventilator, because unfortunately, when you look at the numbers and look at this type of virus, the feeling is this could be around for a long time. And the government is coming out with a program that those of us that produced a medical device will have the opportunity over the next couple of years to convert that to a full medical device licence. And we’ll take advantage of that just so we can make sure we keep this, here in Saskatchewan. We’ve already spent the money. Whatever happens now, happens.

“So we want to make sure that we leverage that into good technology and good expertise for the years to come, not just, ‘Oh well, there’s no more ventilators to make, we’ll just do something else.’

Boire said they found that Saskatchewan really needs to focus more on trades and “getting trades educated with higher-end things.”

“We have to bring manufacturing back to Saskatchewan,” he said.

They were going to do it

Why did they choose 1,000 units? Boire explained, “Saskatchewan said, ‘Our numbers show we need 1,000 ventilators in Saskatchewan.’

“We’re from Saskatchewan. We said we’re going to pick to do this, based on what we can do in this province. And what we did instead is while we were building this, we’ve built a whole project management system and basically a tool kit that if need be, if this type of ventilator is required in other places, we now have a system that we can go and work with another company very similar to ours, that has similar manufacturing capabilities and get them up and running to produce locally to them.”

Boire said, “If we sold, half of what we had expected to make, we will break even. But again, it’s not why we did it.”

“This initiative exemplifies the spirit of collaboration and entrepreneurship we’re so proud of in our province,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said in a release. “Our government fully supports this work, and we are pleased that residents in Saskatchewan and across the country will have access to this equipment, if they need it.”

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Nova Scotia’s Tree for Boston to be lit Thursday night – Global News

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Heather and Tony Sampson from Richmond County, donated this year’s 45-foot white spruce. The couple said the 2020 Tree for Boston is dedicated to those working on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Nova Scotia’s Tree for Boston has arrived in the Boston Common and will be lit in a virtual ceremony on Thursday night.


Twitter / Nova Scotia Government

 Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said in the release that Thursday’s celebration will be a reminder of the importance of working together.“As Boston helped Nova Scotia in 1917, the city and our residents must partner to keep each other safe and healthy from the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to thank Nova Scotia for the Boston Common Christmas tree and I am grateful we are still able to celebrate the holiday season virtually,” Walsh said.


Click to play video 'From Nova Scotia with Love: Boston Brewery launches beer inspired by Tree for Boston'



6:13
From Nova Scotia with Love: Boston Brewery launches beer inspired by Tree for Boston


From Nova Scotia with Love: Boston Brewery launches beer inspired by Tree for Boston
 Thursday night’s ceremony was livestreamed at 8 p.m. AST on WCVB Channel 5, according to the province.It featured performances by the Barra MacNeils, and Sarah and Elizabeth MacInnis with Jenny MacKenzie as part of the Celtic Colours International Festival. 

Nova Scotia’s Tree for Boston lit up at the Boston Common in a virtual ceremony Thursday night.


Nova Scotia’s Tree for Boston lit up at the Boston Common in a virtual ceremony Thursday night.

 The province says other performers in the one-hour-long ceremony included Nicholas Christopher, Maestro Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Orchestra, the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, and multiple Grammy Award winner Shaggy.

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