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Delta variant spreads 'like wildfire' as doctors study whether it makes patients sicker – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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LOS ANGELES, Aug 2 (Reuters) – With a new wave of COVID-19 infections fueled by the Delta variant striking countries worldwide, disease experts are scrambling to learn whether the latest version of coronavirus is making people – mainly the unvaccinated – sicker than before.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that Delta, first identified in India and now dominant worldwide, is “likely more severe” than earlier versions of the virus, according to an internal report made public on Friday.

The agency cited research in Canada, Singapore and Scotland showing that people infected with the Delta variant were more likely to be hospitalized than patients earlier in the pandemic.

In interviews with Reuters, disease experts said the three papers suggest a greater risk from the variant, but the study populations are limited and the findings have not yet been reviewed by outside experts. Doctors treating patients infected with Delta described a more rapid onset of COVID-19 symptoms, and in many regions an overall increase serious cases.

But the experts said more work is needed to compare outcomes among larger numbers of individuals in epidemiologic studies to sort out whether one variant causes more severe disease than another.

“It’s difficult to pin down increase in severity and population bias,” said Lawrence Young, a virologist at the UK’s Warwick Medical School.

In addition, it is likely that the extraordinary rate of Delta transmission is also contributing to a greater number of severe cases arriving at hospitals, the experts said.

Delta is as contagious as chickenpox and far more contagious than the common cold or flu, according to the CDC report.

Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in San Diego, said the clearest indication that the variant may cause more severe disease comes from the Scotland study, which found that Delta roughly doubled the risk of hospitalization compared to an earlier version.

The majority of hospitalizations and deaths from coronavirus in the United States are occurring in people who have not been vaccinated. But there is evidence that the shots are less effective in people with compromised immune systems, including the elderly.

For vaccinated, otherwise healthy individuals, the odds are that if they contract COVID-19 they will only experience asymptomatic or mild disease, said Dr. Gregory Poland, infectious disease expert at the Mayo Clinic.

“But they can pass it on to family members and others who may not be so lucky,” Poland said. “We have to be vaccinated and masked or we will, for the fourth time now, endure another surge and out of that will come worse variants.”

‘FULL-ON FLAMES’

The rate of severe illness, especially in regions where vaccination rates are low, is again straining healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

“This is like a wildfire, this is not a smoldering campfire. It is full-on flames right now,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control at Colorado’s UCHealth.

Research from China suggesting that the Delta variant replicates much faster and generates 1,000 times more virus in the body compared to the original strain highlights the biggest danger of this new wave, Barron said.

“It is hard to tell if they are more sick because of the Delta variant or if they would have been more sick anyway,” she said.

Other doctors said patients infected with Delta appear to become ill more quickly, and in some cases with more severe symptoms, than those they treated earlier in the pandemic.

“We are seeing more patients requiring oxygen sooner,” said Dr. Benjamin Barlow, chief medical officer at American Family Care, a 28-state chain of urgent care clinics.

At his clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, Barlow said that around 20% of patients are testing positive for COVID-19, compared with 2-3% a few weeks ago. Patients are assessed at that time for potential hospital admission and oxygen support.

David Montefiori, director of the Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Research and Development at Duke University Medical Center, said the Delta variant is more infectious and leads to faster onset of illness – particularly for the unvaccinated.

“Frankly there’s a severity that comes from this variant that is a little more severe,” Montefiori said on a webcast last week. “It’s not just easier to transmit, it makes you sicker.” (Reporting by Deena Beasley in Los Angeles, Josephine Mason in London and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Daniel Wallis)

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'Absolutely gut-wrenching:' Waterloo Region child under the age of 10 dies after contracting COVID-19 – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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A Waterloo Region child under the age of 10 has died after contracting COVID-19.

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, who serves as the medical officer of health for Waterloo Region, shared the news during a briefing on Friday.

She said that the child had underlying health conditions but did not provide any further information, other than to say that there were no “school-related or childcare-related exposures.”

“This is a heartbreaking loss and I wish to express my deepest sympathy and condolences to the family and loved ones,” she said.

Since the beginning of the pandemic there have only been five deaths reported in individuals under the age of 19 and Wang said that she was “not aware” of any other fatalities involving younger individuals in Ontario.

In a message posted to Twitter, Premier Doug Ford called the loss of someone so young “absolutely gut-wrenching.”

“My prayers are with the family at this excruciatingly difficult time,” he said. “This virus knows no bounds. It’s why we need every eligible Ontarian to get vaccinated — to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and those who can’t yet get vaccinated against COVID-19.”

With files from CTV News Kitchener

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88 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba Friday; more than half not vaccinated – CTV News Winnipeg

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WINNIPEG –

Manitoba has recorded 88 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, along with one more death added to the total.

According to the provincial COVID-19 dashboard, which was updated on Friday, of the new cases 53 were not vaccinated, 12 were partially vaccinated and 23 were fully vaccinated.

The new cases bring Manitoba’s total to 59,612, including 629 active cases and 57,779 recoveries. The five-day test positivity rate in the province is 2.6 per cent.

The number of deaths of people with COVID-19 increased by one on Friday, for a total of 1,204. The province did not release any details about this death.

As of Friday, the province said there are 72 people in hospital with COVID-19 including 37 people with active cases. Of those 37 people, 27 are not vaccinated, eight are partially vaccinated and two are fully vaccinated.

Of the seven people in ICU as of Friday with active COVID-19 cases, the province said six are unvaccinated and one is partially vaccinated.

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Prepping Your Home for the Canadian Winter

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The arrival of autumn is a traditional sign that it’s time to start preparing for winter. Such rituals once had a good deal to do with human survival, such as the need to gather enough food to ensure people had enough to eat during the sparse or non-existent growing season. Of course, providing adequate shelter and warmth through the coldest months was also an essential concern.

For most people today, the task of winter preparation in Canada has to do with taking care to be comfortable while also avoiding any possible emergencies that might arise due to rough weather; this means that the main areas of concern tend to have to do with either

  • Warm Clothing
  • Reliable Transportation
  • Keeping Your Home Warm and Well-Maintained

When it comes to ensuring that your home is ready for the winter season, your top priority should be to check that your living areas can stay warm without sacrificing heating efficiency.

The Importance of Windows in Winter

One of the most critical aspects of this preparation involves checking your windows to ensure they are ready to withstand the coldest temperatures to keep you and your family safe and warm. Like everything else on your home, your windows experience normal wear and tear as they do their job of keeping the cold out and the heat inside each year.

While it might seem evident when windows are getting old, less obvious imperfections can quickly arise that may prove a tremendous burden if only discovered during the coldest weather. That’s one of the key reasons why preparing easy on can save you many headaches later in winter.

Trusting the Experts

Rather than play a guessing game with the condition of your windows, you can get in touch with a professional company that can ensure your windows are in proper working order. For example, you can contact a company specializing in windows and doors in Toronto to see whether the time has come to replace your windows.

Check Your Heating System

Another vital aspect of preparing your home for winter is to check your heating system and perform any tests available to guarantee everything is in working order. If your house is equipped with an oil furnace or contains a heating system that uses fuel, make sure that your tank is full so that you don’t run out at the wrong time. You might also want to contact your utility company to see if they recommend any other maintenance services.

General Weatherproofing

Along with heating and window condition, there are many more general ways to weatherproof your home. Some of these include:

  • Replacing or installing insulation
  • Weatherstripping and caulking
  • Repairing any leaks

Preparing your home for winter isn’t very difficult as long as you take the time to check a few essential things if you want to be ready. As always, the best way to be sure is to talk to the experts, like a professional window supplier who can make sure you are free from drafts when the cold weather hits.

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