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Delta variant behind increase in COVID-19 case numbers in British Columbia: experts – Trail Times

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The number of COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant is doubling every seven to 10 days in British Columbia, experts say.

Prof. Sarah Otto of the University of British Columbia said the variant, which first became prominent in India, is displacing the one that originated in the United Kingdom.

“Delta is now the most common variant in the province, with its frequency doubling every week relative to Alpha,” said Otto, who is an expert in the university’s zoology department on the mathematical models of pandemic growth and evolution.

“The Delta variant increases the viral load by about one-thousand-fold, making it much easier to catch and transmit.”

COVID-19 cases in B.C. continued their upward march as the province reported more than 700 infections Tuesday over a four-day period, with more than half of those in the Interior where the vaccination rate is lower.

Paul Tupper, a mathematics professor from Simon Fraser University, said the Delta variant is a “large part” of the reason for the increase in COVID-19 case numbers.

The relaxing of restrictions and reopening of the economy have also contributed to the growth, he said.

If the Alpha variant infects two people on an average, the Delta infects three, he said.

“And that’s bad news.”

The good news is that areas with higher vaccination rates are showing fewer infections even among the Delta variant, he said.

The Vancouver Coastal region has a vaccination rate of about 80 per cent while it is 65 per cent for the Interior and that is reflected in COVID-19 case numbers, Tupper said.

Dean Karlen, a physics professor at the University of Victoria, said the emergence of the Delta variant is stronger than scientists expected, and Canada’s next wave has the potential to be similar to what is happening in the United States if no special measures such as mask mandates are reintroduced.

“But right now, in Alberta and British Columbia, it’s very clear that Delta is starting to play a big role,” he said.

The exact trajectory and intensity of growth will become clearer as more data comes in over the next few weeks, he said.

Otto said B.C. is beginning a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections, but how high it will get and how fast it will rise depends on everybody’s behaviour.

The two things people can do to prevent the wave from getting “very high” is get vaccinated and avoid indoor crowded spaces without a mask, she said.

The province and the country will continue seeing such waves as new, more transmissible variants arise, but Otto noted that “vaccinations are really protecting people from the worst ravages of this disease.”

Caroline Colijn, a mathematics professor at Simon Fraser University, said most of the infections are likely to be among the unvaccinated population.

“And they of course have the same risk of hospitalization they always did or maybe more with Delta because it may be more severe and higher viral loads,” she said.

While the vaccines are about 90 per cent effective against the virus, Tupper said there will still be some people who get sick and transmit to others.

A higher degree of immunity can be achieved by vaccinating children under 12, he said.

Health Canada has not yet approved a vaccine for children under 12.

“Children when immunized can contribute to herd immunity, and that makes other people that they’re with safer,” he said.

It “definitely makes sense” to have some restrictions until a higher vaccination rate is reached, Tupper said.

“So, anything that buys us time, that allows us to have fewer infections before we get our vaccination numbers high, that makes sense.”

—Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

RELATED: Vaccinated? You’re 10x less likely to catch and transmit COVID-19, but risk remains

RELATED: B.C. reports 742 new COVID cases, 1 death over August long weekend

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Peel Region reports its first confirmed case of monkeypox – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Peel Region has its first confirmed case of monkeypox.

According to Peel Public Health, the person infected is an adult male in his 30s who lives in Mississauga.

The heath unit said the risk to the public remains low.

Monkeypox, which comes from the same virus family as smallpox, spreads though close contact with an infected individual. Most transmission happens through close contact with the skin lesions of monkeypox, but the virus can also be spread by large droplets or by sharing contaminated items.

To reduce risk of infection, people are advised to be cautious when engaging in intimate activities with others. Vaccination is available for high-risk contacts of cases and for those deemed at high risk of exposure to monkeypox.

Symptoms can include fever, headache, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash/lesions, which could appear on the face or genitals and then spread to other areas.

Anyone who develops these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider and avoid close contact with others until they have improved and rash/lesions have healed.

While most people recover on their own without treatment, those who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for monkeypox should self-monitor for symptoms, and contact PPH to see if they are eligible for vaccination.

The Mississauga case is at least the 34th confirmed case of the disease in Ontario, with dozens more under investigation.

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Monkeypox case count rises to more than 3400 globally, WHO says – The Globe and Mail

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More than 3,400 confirmed monkeypox cases and one death were reported to the World Health Organization as of last Wednesday, with a majority of them from Europe, the agency said in an update on Monday.

WHO said that since June 17, 1,310 new cases were reported to the agency, with eight new countries reporting monkeypox cases.

Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, WHO ruled last week, although WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was deeply concerned about the outbreak.

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Sudbury news: Northern agencies highlight national HIV testing day | CTV News – CTV News Northern Ontario

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Monday was national HIV testing day. Officials say this year’s theme surrounds how getting tested is an act of self-care.

From clinics to self-testing kits, groups in the north say there are many options to get tested and everyone should use whichever way works best for them.

Just more than a year ago, Reseau Access Network in Sudbury teamed with Ready to Know and Get a Kit, groups that provide HIV self-testing kits at a pickup location.

Officials said it has been a huge success.

“We get a consistent number throughout each month and I can’t really divulge those figures, unfortunately, but as part of the overall study I can tell you the pickup of self-tests is a fraction of the amount of tests being ordered,” said Angel Riess, of Reseau Access Network.

“There’s actually a lot of tests being shipped to homes directly but I can confirm that they have been active and there’s a significant number of people who have chosen to engage in both programs.”

Elsewhere, the Aids Committee of North Bay and Area held a point-of-care testing clinic to mark the day.

“It’s an opportunity for us to remind everyone that getting tested is essential. If you don’t know you have HIV, you can’t take the steps to try to mitigate the possibility of spread,” said executive director Stacey Mayhall.

In addition to stopping the spread, knowing whether you are positive sooner rather than later can allow for a better quality of life.

“HIV is not a death sentence that it used to be,” said Riess.

“There have been advances in testing and medication and people can live long, healthy lives living with HIV.”

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