Saskatchewan will start a careful and phased reopening in May, beginning with golf courses, hair salons and retail stores.
What about Alberta? Premier Jason Kenney and his emergency cabinet are digging into this question.
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Should Alberta follow Saskatchewan’s lead?
The spread of COVID-19 in Alberta and Saskatchewan was tracking closely, said Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Thursday, but then Alberta had two significant outbreaks at huge meat-processing plants.
This has led to an uptick in hospitalization and ICU numbers in Alberta, although the province is still well below where Alberta Health forecasters predicted it would be if there were no restrictions, Hinshaw said.
Alberta’s model predicted about 50 people in ICU by now and about 375 in the hospital. Instead, we have 18 in ICU and 72 hospitalized with COVID-19.
The group of Albertans most keen for reopening leans toward following the Swedish model. Most stores, hair salons, restaurants, factories and public facilities have remained open in Sweden, even without massive testing, strict quarantines or any mass public use of face masks.
What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 26 – CBC.ca
What’s happening today?
People staying away from health-care facilities out of fear of the coronavirus are hurting clinics that rely on fees, says the Ontario Medical Association, pointing to the closure of the Asclepios Medical Centre in east Ottawa.
WATCH: 9,000-patient clinic closing causing uncertainty
With drive-in theatres open in other jurisdictions and poised to open in Quebec Friday, eastern Ontario’s drive-ins say they’re ready to safely screen movies again when given the OK.
A teacher in Kazabazua, Que., tells CBC what it’s like to back in the classroom with students during the pandemic.
Send in your questions about COVID-19 and the workplace for CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning‘s weekly Q&A on Wednesday after 8 a.m.
How many cases are there?
There have been 1,901 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa and 234 deaths linked to the respiratory illness. There are more than 3,000 known cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec.
More than 2,100 people in the region have recovered from COVID-19.
The deaths of 49 people in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties and 30 more in the wider region have also been tied to the coronavirus.
Confirmed cases are just a snapshot because not everyone can be tested and results take time to process, though testing criteria are being expanded.
What’s open and closed?
National parks start to reopen Monday.
This Sunday, the farmers market at Lansdowne Park reopens for preordering and picking up at a designated time.
Quebec elementary schools outside Montreal are open. Its high schools, CEGEPs and universities are closed to in-person classes until fall.
Ottawa has cancelled event permits until the end of August. Quebec has asked organizers to cancel events until September.
Distancing and isolating
The coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People don’t need to have symptoms to be contagious.
That means physical distancing measures such as avoiding non-essential trips, working from home, not gathering and staying at least two metres away from anyone they don’t live with.
WATCH: COVID-19’s spectrum of risk
Ottawa Public Health recommends people wear a fabric or non-medical mask when they can’t always stay two metres from strangers, such as at a grocery store.
Anyone who has symptoms, travelled recently outside Canada or, specifically in Ottawa, is waiting for a COVID-19 test result must self-isolate for at least 14 days.
The same goes for anyone in Ontario who’s been in contact with someone who’s tested positive or is presumed to have COVID-19.
People 70 and older or with compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions should also self-isolate.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a dry cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell.
Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. The Ontario government says in rare cases, children can develop a rash.
If you have severe symptoms, call 911.
Where to get tested
In Ottawa any resident who feels they need a test, even if they are not showing symptoms, can now be tested.
Tests are done at the Brewer Arena from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., seven days a week, or at 595 Moodie Dr. and 1485 Heron Rd. those same hours on weekdays.
Testing has also expanded for local residents and employees who work in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit area.
There is a drive-thru test centre in Casselman and assessment centres in Hawkesbury and Winchester that don’t require people to call ahead and others in Rockland, and Cornwall that require an appointment.
In Kingston, the assessment centre at the Kingston Memorial Centre is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for anyone with symptoms.
Napanee‘s test centre is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily for people who call for an appointment.
The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark unit asks you to call it at 1-800-660-5853, ext. 2499 or your doctor if you have questions after doing the province’s self-assessment.
It has a testing site in Smiths Falls which requires a referral, as well as a walk-in site in Brockville at the Memorial Centre, Almonte by calling 613-325-1208 and a home test service for people in care or with mobility challenges.
WATCH: Slow return for Canada’s dental offices
The public health unit in the Belleville area is asking people to call it at 613-966-5500 or Telehealth with questions.
You can arrange a test in Bancroft, Belleville or Trenton by calling the health unit or in Picton by calling it, Telehealth or your family doctor. You may also qualify for a home test.
Renfrew County is also providing home testing under some circumstances. Residents without access to a family doctor can call 1-844-727-6404 if they have health questions, COVID-19-related or not.
If you’re concerned about the coronavirus, take the self-assessment.
In western Quebec:
Outaouais residents should call 819-644-4545 if they have symptoms. They could end up being referred to Gatineau’s testing centre.
First Nations communities
Local communities have declared states of emergency, put in a curfew or both.
Akwesasne has opened a mobile COVID-19 test site available by appointment only. Anyone returning to Akwesasne who’s been farther than 80 kilometres away is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Anyone in Tyendinaga who has symptoms can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse.
Pikwakanagan‘s council plans to let businesses reopen May 29 and Kitigan Zibi is keeping schools closed through the summer.
For more information
Promising results from VIDO-InterVac's COVID-19 vaccine pre-clinical trials – News Talk 650 CKOM
The results from the COVID-19 vaccine trials at the University of Saskatchewan’s VIDO-InterVac research lab using ferrets, has hit a new and positive milestone.
According to the centre’s director, Dr. Volker Gerdts, teams were able to demonstrate that the ferrets were protected from the disease and specifically showed significantly reduced viral infection in the respiratory tract.
“That is of particular importance,” explained Gerdts. “It not only speaks to the severity of the disease, but also the ability of the animals to infect others.”
Ferrets were chosen for the study because of their similarity to human respiratory systems.
Several weeks ago, two doses of vaccine were given to the animals. Time was needed to then assess their immune response against a control group.
So how effective exactly is the vaccine so far?
“In the vaccinated animals – the ones that responded to the vaccine – we saw almost undetectable amounts of virus afterwards,” says Gerdts. “So, that’s very good news, and in comparison to the control group per swap… this is a range in a 50,000 fold reduction of it.”
All of the ferrets that were infected received what Gerdts says is a ‘high’ dose, or one million particles of the disease. Depending on exposure levels, it’s not even in the range of what a human would be exposed to, even with a high ‘virus shedder.’
Data on the lungs of the ferrets is still being analysed, but initial results indicate a very high immune response as well as high levels of neutralizing antibodies. It does not appear as though any other organs were affected by the virus either.
At this point, Gerdts says they are now in the midst of producing clinical grade vaccine doses that can be used in humans. He calls it the most time consuming part of the vaccine development.
In the meantime, they’re also conducting safety studies – which are required by regulators to essentially move on to human trials.
“In these safety studies, we’ll address whether there’s any unwanted effects or any adverse events to the vaccine. And also with this particular disease there is concern about what is called ‘disease enhancement’ where the vaccine would actually enhance the disease. So, there’s particular studies that will help us to rule out that our vaccine will do that.”
Gerdts admits that there is some concern that certain vaccines being developed currently may actually make the disease worse. It happened when a vaccine was developed for the virus that causes Dengue Fever several years ago.
“The technology that we have chosen is one that has a very well proven track record in humans and animals… and the advantage of that, is that it’s easily ‘scalable.’ So, at the end, we can produce millions of doses in a single run in a manufacturing facility. So while maybe it’s a bit slower at the moment, the advantage of our vaccine will be that it’s easier to scale and more cost effective.”
If all goes well, human trials are scheduled to begin in the fall.
“This is a vaccine made by Canadians for Canadians. So, we will make sure that our vaccine is available to Canadians at the highest priority.”
WHO stops hydroxychloroquine trials over safety concerns – Bangkok Post
GENEVA: The WHO suspended trials of the drug that Donald Trump has promoted as a coronavirus defence, fuelling concerns about the US president’s handling of the pandemic that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans.
Trump has led the push for hydroxychloroquine as a potential shield or treatment for the virus, which has infected nearly 5.5 million people and killed 345,000 around the world, saying he took a course of the drug as a preventative measure.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has also heavily promoted hydroxychloroquine while the virus has exploded across nation, which this week became the second most infected in the world after the United States.
But the World Health Organization said Monday it was halting testing of the drug for Covid-19 after studies questioned its safety, including one published Friday that found it actually increased the risk of death.
The WHO “has implemented a temporary pause… while the safety data is reviewed”, its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, referring to the hydroxychloroquine arm of a global trial of various possible treatments.
Trump announced last week he was taking the drug, explaining he had decided to take after receiving letters from a doctor and other people advocating it.
“I think it’s good. I’ve heard a lot of good stories,” Trump told reporters then, as he declared it safe.
Trump dismissed the opinions then of his own government’s experts who had warned of the serious risks associated with hydroxychloroquine, with the Food and Drug Administration highlighting reported poisonings and heart problems.
Trump has been heavily criticised for his handling of the virus, after initially downplaying the threat and then repeatedly rejecting scientific analysis.
The United States has by far the world’s highest coronavirus death toll, reaching 98,218 on Monday, with more than 1.6 million confirmed infections.
Despite the WHO suspension, Brazil’s health ministry said Monday it would keep recommending hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19.
“We’re remaining calm and there will be no change,” health ministry official Mayra Pinheiro told a news conference.
Bolsonaro is a staunch opponent of lockdown measures and like Trump has played down the threat of the virus, even as Latin America has emerged as the new global virus hotspot.
Brazil has reported nearly 375,000 cases, widely considered to be far fewer than the real number because of a lack of testing, and more than 23,000 deaths.
Chile also is in the grip of a virus surge, with a record of nearly 5,000 infections in 24 hours on Monday.
– ‘Thrilled to break the isolation’ –
While South America and parts of Africa and Asia are only just beginning to feel the full force of the pandemic, many European nations are easing lockdowns as their outbreaks are brought under control.
In hard-hit Spain, Madrid and Barcelona on Monday emerged from one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, with parks and cafe terraces open for the first time in more than two months.
Elsewhere, gyms and swimming pools reopened in Germany, Iceland, Italy and Spain.
And slowing infection rates in Greece allowed restaurants to resume business a week ahead of schedule — but only for outdoor service.
“I’m thrilled to break the isolation of recent months and reconnect with friends,” said pensioner Giorgos Karavatsanis.
“The cafe in Greece has a social dimension, it’s where the heart of the district beats.”
Despite the encouraging numbers, experts have warned that the virus could hit back with a devastating second wave if governments and citizens are careless, especially in the absence of a vaccine.
The latest reminder of the threat came from Sweden, where the Covid-19 death toll crossed 4,000 — a much higher figure than its neighbours.
The Scandinavian nation has gained international attention — and criticism — for not enforcing stay-at-home measures like other European countries.
– ‘What will happen if I die’ –
The extended lockdowns, however, have started to bite globally, with businesses and citizens wearying of confinement and suffering immense economic pain.
Unprecedented emergency stimulus measures have been introduced, as governments try to provide relief to their economies, with the airline and hospitality sectors hit particularly hard because of travel bans.
Lufthansa became the latest major global company to be rescued, as the German government agreed a 9 billion euros ($9.8 billion) bailout for one of the world’s biggest airlines.
But analysts have warned that the pandemic’s economic toll will be even more painful for countries far poorer than Western nations.
In the Maldives, a dream destination for well-heeled honeymooners, tens of thousands of impoverished foreign labourers have been left stranded, jobless and ostracised as the tiny nation shut all resorts to stop the virus.
“We need money to survive. We need our work,” said Zakir Hossain, who managed to send about 80 percent of his $180 a month wage to his wife and four children in Bangladesh before the outbreak.
“I heard that if a Bangladeshi worker dies here, they don’t send his body back and he is buried here,” he said. “I am worried what will happen if I die.”
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