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Deadly Mystery Virus Spreads Outside China to New Countries – Gizmodo

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The Wuhan Hygiene Emergency Response Team drives a vehicle as they leave the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in the city of Wuhan, in Hubei, Province on January 11, 2020.
Photo: Getty Images

Health officials in Thailand and Japan have announced that a strange new virus, which has killed two people and sickened dozens of others in China, has appeared inside their borders this week. The virus, known as 2019-nCoV, was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December and questions remain about how it spreads, according to the World Health Organization.

Officials in Thailand first identified the new virus in the country on January 13 and announced a second case today. Health officials in Japan publicly announced its first case of the mystery illness on Thursday, noting that a man in his 30s had been diagnosed with the virus before improving enough to be discharged from the hospital on January 15.

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The illness is a coronavirus, part of a large family of viruses that can cause symptoms ranging from that of a common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, more commonly known as SARS. The new 2019-nCoV presents as having pneumonia-like symptoms and 41 people have tested positive for the virus so far, with five people still in critical condition from “severe infections.”

Health officials believe that the new virus can only be transmitted from animals to human and that the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market in Wuhan, which sells live animals, may be the culprit. And while there has been no confirmation of human-to-human transmission yet, the new patients in Thailand and Japan did not visit that particular market.

“Considering global travel patterns, additional cases in other countries are likely,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement posted online Thursday.

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The first death from 2019-nCoV was recorded on January 9 after a 61-year-old man in Wuhan contracted the illness. The second death in China was reported yesterday, identified as a 69-year-old man also in Wuhan who was found to have severe damage to multiple organs and pulmonary tuberculosis.

In Japan, the man’s symptoms started on January 3 while he was traveling in Wuhan. The unnamed man traveled back to Japan on January 6 and was hospitalized upon returning from China, according to the New York Times. Health officials are particular concerned about his case, since he reportedly didn’t visit any market with live animals, though he did have close contact with other pneumonia patients, according to the Center For Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota.

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The virus popped up in Thailand after a 61-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan visited the country, according to Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health. The woman didn’t visit the seafood market in Wuhan that has been at the center of the known 2019-nCoV illnesses, but she did visit a different market that may have had live animals.

Obviously, there’s much less concern about this new virus if it can’t be transmitted from person to person. As long as it can only travel from animal to human there are relatively straightforward precautions that can be taken to keep people healthy. The Huanan Seafood Market was shut down and cleaned on January 1, just a day after the potential link was discovered on December 31. The market has since reopened.

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Passengers walk past a thermal scanner upon their arrival at Narita airport on January 17, 2020 in Narita, Japan.
Photo: Getty Images

Some airports like the one in Narita, Japan are doing thermal scans of passengers to screen for anyone presenting with a fever. And a team at the German Center for Infection Research in Berlin has reportedly developed a new lab test for 2019-nCoV that was published by WHO yesterday.

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“Now that this diagnostic test is widely available, I expect that it won’t be long before we are able to reliably diagnose suspected cases. This will also help scientists understand whether the virus is capable of spreading from human to human,” Professor Christian Drosten said in a statement published online. “This is an important step in our fight against this new virus.”

Professor Drosten was on the team behind the Zika virus test that became the standard worldwide.

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“The fact that some cases do not seem to be linked with the Huanan seafood market means we cannot exclude the possibility of limited human-to-human transmission,” WHO said in a tweet earlier this week.

“We are still in the early stages of understanding this new virus, where it came from, and how it affects people. There is still many unknowns, and the situation may continue to evolve.”

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‘I was shocked’: Mother, child mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccine instead of flu shot – Comox Valley Record

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A Manitoba mother says a routine appointment for her and her three-year-old to get flu shots ended in frustration and mixed messages after they were each mistakenly given an adult dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Jenna Bardarson is calling for policy changes at the province’s vaccination centres to make sure that doesn’t happen to another family.

The shots were administered on Nov. 24 at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.

Bardarson says that shortly after she and her daughter, Dali, got their shots, the health worker who had given them excused herself to speak with a supervisor. When the worker returned, she told them she had made a mistake and given them both the adult Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. My immediate concerns were, of course, would my daughter be OK and also who could I speak to about this,” Bardarson said in online social media messages Friday to The Canadian Press.

Once she got home, Bardarson made multiple calls to different departments with the regional medical authority, hoping to speak with someone about the error and her concerns, she said.

She said no one was able to provide her with the answers or information she needed. “The conversations with various Prairie Mountain Health members have been frustrating, to say the least.”

Bardarson said she already had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and was due for her booster shot next month. Her daughter is too young to be eligible.

Health Canada last month approved a pediatric version of the Pfizer shot for children ages five to 11, but it has not yet approved a vaccine for those under five.

Bardarson said she and her daughter had headaches and sore arms the following day. Her daughter had no appetite and was throwing up.

Manitoba Health confirmed the mistake in a statement and said staff from Prairie Mountain have reached out to the mother to discuss what happened as well as to provide an update on an investigation.

“Patient safety is a critical aspect of all health-care services in Manitoba. We are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure that our systems support our staff in preventing errors,” it said.

“In this case … our team reviewed the existing processes to make adjustments that would help avoid a similar error from occurring in the future.”

Bardarson said the health region has not provided her with updated information on the investigation and would not discuss any consequences the health worker may have faced.

Manitoba Health said no further action would be taken against the worker, because she immediately recognized the error and told a supervisor.

For Bardarson, that’s not enough.

“I by no means want her fired; however, there should be some sort of measures in place for harm reduction.”

Bardarson suggested taking away the worker’s injection privileges or enhanced supervision during vaccinations.

She said she would also like to see areas at vaccination centres separated by vaccine types, instead of having different vaccines offered in the same booth.

Manitoba Health could not say if others have been given a COVID-19 vaccine by mistake, but acknowledged that medication errors, although rare, do occur. It added that Bardarson was provided with information about the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine, which in this case it says are low.

Health Canada said it is not in charge of immunization monitoring and could not comment on whether similar mistakes have occurred in other parts of the country.

– Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press

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Two hippos in Belgian zoo test positive for COVID-19

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Two hippos have tested positive for COVID-19 at Antwerp Zoo in Belgium in what could be the first reported cases in the species, zoo staff said.

Hippos Imani, aged 14, and 41-year-old Hermien have no symptoms apart from a runny nose, but the zoo said the pair had been put into quarantine as a precaution.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time in this species. Worldwide, this virus has been reported mainly in great apes and felines,” said the zoo’s vet, Francis Vercammen.

The coronavirus is thought to have jumped from an animal to a human, and it is proved to have passed from humans to animals.

Pets including cats, dogs and ferrets have become infected following contact with their owners, while in zoos, cases have been reported in animals such as big cats, otters, primates and hyenas.

The disease has also spread in mink farms and to wild animals, such as deer.

Antwerp Zoo is investigating the causes of the contagion. None of the zookeepers had recently shown COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive for the virus, the zoo said.

 

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Helen Popper)

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'I was shocked': Mother, child mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccine instead of flu shot – Squamish Chief

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WINNIPEG — A Manitoba mother says a routine appointment for her and her three-year-old to get flu shots ended in frustration and mixed messages after they were each mistakenly given an adult dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Jenna Bardarson is calling for policy changes at the province’s vaccination centres to make sure that doesn’t happen to another family. 

The shots were administered on Nov. 24 at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.

Bardarson says that shortly after she and her daughter, Dali, got their shots, the health worker who had given them excused herself to speak with a supervisor. When the worker returned, she told them she had made a mistake and given them both the adult Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

“I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. My immediate concerns were, of course, would my daughter be OK and also who could I speak to about this,” Bardarson said in online social media messages Friday to The Canadian Press.

Once she got home, Bardarson made multiple calls to different departments with the regional medical authority, hoping to speak with someone about the error and her concerns, she said.

She said no one was able to provide her with the answers or information she needed. “The conversations with various Prairie Mountain Health members have been frustrating, to say the least.”

Bardarson said she already had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and was due for her booster shot next month. Her daughter is too young to be eligible.

Health Canada last month approved a pediatric version of the Pfizer shot for children ages five to 11, but it has not yet approved a vaccine for those under five. 

Bardarson said she and her daughter had headaches and sore arms the following day. Her daughter had no appetite and was throwing up.

Manitoba Health confirmed the mistake in a statement and said staff from Prairie Mountain have reached out to the mother to discuss what happened as well as to provide an update on an investigation.

“Patient safety is a critical aspect of all health-care services in Manitoba. We are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure that our systems support our staff in preventing errors,” it said.

“In this case … our team reviewed the existing processes to make adjustments that would help avoid a similar error from occurring in the future.”

Bardarson said the health region has not provided her with updated information on the investigation and would not discuss any consequences the health worker may have faced. 

Manitoba Health said no further action would be taken against the worker, because she immediately recognized the error and told a supervisor. 

For Bardarson, that’s not enough.

“I by no means want her fired; however, there should be some sort of measures in place for harm reduction.”

Bardarson suggested taking away the worker’s injection privileges or enhanced supervision during vaccinations. 

She said she would also like to see areas at vaccination centres separated by vaccine types, instead of having different vaccines offered in the same booth.

Manitoba Health could not say if others have been given a COVID-19 vaccine by mistake, but acknowledged that medication errors, although rare, do occur. It added that Bardarson was provided with information about the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine, which in this case it says are low.

Health Canada said it is not in charge of immunization monitoring and could not comment on whether similar mistakes have occurred in other parts of the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2021.

___

The story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. 

Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press


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