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Dr. Bonnie Henry urges businesses to ensure proper measures in place – BC News – Castanet.net

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British Columbia’s provincial health officer is urging businesses to ensure they are in compliance with health and safety standards to protect employees from COVID-19.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says public health teams would provide guidance if a worker contracts the illness, but it’s up to businesses to make it easy for anyone who is unwell to stay away.

Henry says employees should be screened daily, tracked for where they’re working and who they’re with, and meet virtually as much as possible.

She says businesses should contact WorkSafeBC with any concerns about what is expected of them and get guidance from the BC Centre for Disease Control website.

Henry reported 110 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 10,066 cases and one more death, amounting to 245 fatalities from the illness.

Fourteen long-term care homes and three acute-care facilities are currently experiencing outbreaks of COVID-19.

Henry says people wanting to see their loved ones and help staff feed them at long-term care homes on the Thanksgiving weekend should stay away to protect others.

“This virus is very pernicious and when it gets into that environment, it can spread so rapidly,” she says.

“The workers in long-term care, by necessity, need to care for all of the residents in that facility, or at least in their area. If we have one visitor for every single person in there, that increases the risk dramatically and it increases the risk for staff and the residents in that community.”

Henry says the coming respiratory season will mean long-term care homes will need to have enough personal protective equipment to protect staff in case of an uptick in infections.

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Record 274 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in B.C., including five in Island Health – Times Colonist

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British Columbia has seen a ­second day of record-high COVID-19 cases, with 274 new cases reported on Thursday.

B.C. reported more than 200 new infections for the first time on Wednesday, with 203 confirmed cases.

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There were five new cases reported in the Island Health region Thursday, bringing the total number of active cases to 15. There has also been a new COVID-19 exposure at a Vancouver Island school, Island Health said.

Families at Wood Elementary School in Port Alberni received a letter Wednesday saying a member of the school community has tested positive for COVID-19.

The exposure happened on Oct. 19 and the health authority will use contact tracing to notify staff and students who need to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.

People who have been asked to self-isolate received a phone call, while those told to self-monitor were notified by letter.

Those who have not been contacted should continue to attend school and monitor for symptoms, according to the letter, signed by Dr. Shannon Waters, medical health officer for the Cowichan Valley region, and Pacific Rim school district superintendent Greg Smyth.

The latest school exposure on the Island follows two previous school exposures in September: One at Carihi Secondary in Campbell River on Sept. 28 and one at Alberni Secondary in Port Alberni on Sept. 22.

B.C. has seen its first school outbreak, at Kelowna’s Ecole de l’Anse-au-Sable School, where five cases have been confirmed.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said despite the school outbreak, there’s no indication the return to in-person classes has caused COVID-19 to spread.

Since in-person classes resumed on Sept. 10, here have been 213 exposure warnings of COVID-19 cases linked to a school, Henry said. There have been six “clusters” where more than one person linked to a school was infected and the Kelowna case is the first outbreak, she said. An outbreak outside a health facility is declared when at least two people test positive.

“We are not seeing return to school cause the amplification [of infections] in our community,” Henry said.

“While it’s concerning that we have an outbreak, what I think is positive about this is that we are monitoring all of the exposure events and we have had very little transmission in the schools and public health has been working with schools across the province to keep it that way.”

Henry said the majority of new COVID-19 cases are concentrated around the Lower Mainland, with 203 new cases in the Fraser Health region on Thursday.

The Fraser Health authority confirmed outbreaks at several long-term care homes and assisted-living facilities. The province has 1,920 active cases, with 71 people in hospital, 24 of whom are in critical care.

Henry said people are also travelling across the province and coming to B.C. from other parts of Canada, which increases the risk of spreading the virus.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has warned of a COVID-19 exposure on a flight to Victoria on Oct. 15. There was a confirmed case on Air Canada flight 195 from Toronto that day, and passengers in rows 17-23 are advised to self-isolate and monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.

Gatherings such as weddings, funerals and Thanksgiving meals have caused significant spread of the coronavirus in the province, said Henry, adding as the cold weather sets in and events move indoors, there’s a higher risk for the virus to spread.

People getting married should consider having a civil ceremony and waiting until next year to hold a larger gathering with extended family and friends, she said.

The maximum gathering size remains 50 people, but as flu season begins, people need to be extra cautious and limit gatherings to their households plus their “safe six” bubbles, Henry said.

“You may think the risk doesn’t apply to you because you live far away from the Lower Mainland. But we have seen on many occasions … that COVID‑19 knows no boundaries and impacts us all.”

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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163 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba, with new records for hospitalizations, positive tests – CBC.ca

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Manitoba continued breaking recently set COVID-19 records on Friday, with the death of another resident at a Winnipeg care home that has become the site of the province’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak.

The death of the man in his 80s connected to Parkview Place brought Manitoba’s coronavirus-linked fatalities to 48, the province said in a news release, including 15 Parkview residents.

To date, 108 people connected to the privately owned facility — 82 residents and 26 staff — have contracted the illness, a provincial spokesperson said on Friday.

Manitoba also announced 163 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday — the new second-highest single-day increase in cases. On Thursday, 147 new cases were announced, which was at that point the province’s second-highest one-day jump.

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate — a rolling average of the COVID-19 tests that come back positive — also reached a new high on Friday, at 6.5 per cent, breaking another record set just a day earlier. In Winnipeg, that rate is 7.2 per cent as of Friday, a provincial spokesperson said.

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin has pointed to the provincial figure as one of the most important indicators of how Manitoba is handling COVID-19, and said a rate of more than three per cent would likely indicate significant community spread.

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate soared to a new record on Friday. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

There are now 51 people in hospital with the illness, which is also a new record. Eight of those people are in intensive care, tying the existing high set last month.

Meanwhile, officials working with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said nearly one-third of First Nations in Manitoba — 20 of 63 — have now had cases of COVID-19. To date, there have been 449 cases among First Nations people living on- and off-reserve in the province, including two who have died.

Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been declared at four more Winnipeg care homes, which have been elevated to red, or critical, on the province’s pandemic response system.

Those sites are the Holy Family Home, Concordia Place personal care home, the Saul and Claribel Simkin Centre personal care home, and the Maples Long Term Care Home.

An outbreak at the YWCA in Thompson has now spread to 13 people linked to the facility, a provincial spokesperson said on Friday. The site has been housing roughly 25 people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.

Manitoba set a new record for coronavirus-linked hospitalizations on Friday. Note: The province did not provide data on daily hospitalizations or people in intensive care on Oct. 3 or Oct. 21, citing technical difficulties. (Bryce Hoye/CBC)

Just under 80 per cent, or 128, of the new cases announced Friday are in the Winnipeg health region, the province’s release said. 

There are another 19 new cases in the Southern Health region, eight in the Interlake-Eastern health region, seven in the Northern Health region and one in the Prairie Mountain Health region.

More possible exposures

The province also announced several new possible COVID-19 exposures on Friday. Among the latest sites are:

  • Sand Hill Casino in Carberry on Oct. 16 from 8 p.m. to midnight.
  • SOUL salon and spa in Brandon on Oct. 13 from 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Oct. 14 from noon to 8 p.m.
  • Yellowquill School in Portage la Prairie from Oct. 13 to 16.
  • St. Claude School from Oct. 13 to 16.
  • Winnipeg Transit Route 71 from Sinclair to Aberdeen/Arlington on Oct. 16 at 4 p.m.
  • École Constable Edward Finney School in Winnipeg on Oct. 19 and 20.
  • Technical Vocational High School in Winnipeg on Oct. 16.
  • Winnipeg Adult Education Centre on Oct. 7, 13, 19, 20 and 21.
  • Cecil Rhodes School in Winnipeg on Oct. 13.
  • Busy Bee Day Care Centre in Winnipeg on Oct. 13.
  • École Leila North School in Winnipeg from Oct. 13 to 16.
  • St. Emile Catholic School from Oct. 13 to 16.
  • École Templeton School in Winnipeg on Oct. 13 and 14.
  • University of Winnipeg Collegiate on Oct. 13 and 15.
  • École Margaret-Underhill in Winnipeg on Oct. 8.
  • School bus linked to a Franco-Manitobain School Division site (209 Rue Kenny) on Oct. 9.
  • Maples Collegiate on Oct. 14.

More information about possible COVID-19 exposures can be accessed by visiting the province’s website and clicking on the link to each region.

One case of the illness previously announced in Manitoba has been removed from the province’s total, the release said, bringing the tally of cases identified in Manitoba to 3,935.

On Thursday, the province announced new rules coming for northern Manitoba and schools in both the Winnipeg area and the north. Those measures will take effect on Monday.

That announcement came as Manitoba announced a new record number of deaths linked to the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, and posted what was before today the highest five-day test positivity rate.

To date, 2,032 people in Manitoba are listed as recovered from COVID-19, while 1,855 cases are considered active — though Roussin has said that number is skewed because of a data entry backlog.

Another 2,642 COVID-19 tests were done in Manitoba on Thursday, bringing the total completed in the province since early February to 236,023.

Data on test numbers and the test positivity rate will be unavailable on Saturday because of scheduled system upgrades, the release said. That information is expected to be updated again on Sunday.

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Using plasma to treat COVID-19 still in question after clinical trial results – CBC.ca

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Using convalescent plasma from the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19 to treat other patients failed to prevent deaths or worsening illness in one clinical trial. But Canadian researchers continue to study its potential.

Investigators in India randomly split 464 adults hospitalized with COVID-19 between April and July into two groups. About half received transfusions of plasma with virus-fighting antibodies, and the others received standard care only.

In this week’s issue of the BMJ, researchers said that after seven days, use of convalescent plasma seemed to improve some symptoms, such as shortness of breath and fatigue. But this did not translate into a reduction in deaths or progression to severe COVID-19 after 28 days, based on clinical exams, lab tests and check-ins by phone.

The investigators said future research could explore using plasma with high levels of “neutralizing antibodies” to see if this might work better.

Jeannie Callum, a transfusion medicine specialist and hematologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto said it’s logical that convalescent plasma would help fight viral infections, but it remains an unproven therapy. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Jeannie Callum, a transfusion medicine specialist and hematologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, commended the Indian researchers for completing the trial with nearly 40 centres under real-world conditions.

Plasma treatment aims to eliminate virus

Here’s how convalescent plasma is thought to work: The virus binds to cells in the body. People with COVID-19 who have recovered develop what are known as antibodies — proteins that white blood cells make to bind to the virus and help eliminate it. 

“We believe that these antibodies actually neutralize the virus so it can’t reinfect your cells,” said Callum.

By clearing the virus from the bloodstream and tissues, she said it’s hoped that patients will be pushed into a state of recovery. 

Callum said that while it is logical that convalescent plasma would help fight viral infections, it remains an unproven therapy.

High level of antibodies needed

Dana Devine, chief scientist at Canadian Blood Services, is part of a Canadian project called CONCOR that is also trying to determine if the straw-coloured liquid component of blood helps patients to fight off COVID-19.

Devine said not all plasma from recovered people can be used in the ” target=”_blank”>Canadian trials on adults, children and teens who are admitted to hospital or intensive care with COVID-19 at sites across the country.

“Their own antibody levels are falling because they’re recovered from the virus,” Devine said. “You retain your immunity, but you don’t have that really high level of antibodies that we need for therapeutic [purposes] for other people.”

Large, randomized clinical trials are needed to answer the question of whether convalescent plasma helps people who are infected — a question that dates back to the 1918 flu pandemic.

The U.S. has temporarily approved plasma as a treatment for COVID-19 and it has been used in some 100,000 patients in that country, despite the limited evidence on its efficacy.

WATCH | Plasma’s benefits unproven, doctor says:

The way FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn characterized the benefits of convalescent plasma for COVID-19 patients raises concerns about political interference, says Dr. Samir Gupta, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Toronto. 5:01

Scientists also say larger trials are needed for COVID-19 patients who have milder cases of the disease and for those who are newly infected. 

“One could well imagine that the treatment might work particularly well in those earlier in the course of the disease or who have not been able to mount a good antibody response to the virus of their own,” said Martin Landray, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Britain’s Oxford University. “But such speculation needs to be tested.”

As for other treatments, so far, only the steroid dexamethasone has been shown to cut the risk of death from COVID-19.

On July 27, Health Canada approved the use of the antiviral medication remdesivir, with conditions, to treat COVID-19 in adults and youth 12 years and older with pneumonia needing supplemental oxygen.

Remdesivir was also the first drug authorized to treat Canadian patients hospitalized with severe symptoms.

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