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Dramatic rise of substance use, STDs in Winnipeg: WRHA – CTV News

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Sexually transmitted blood borne infections have been on a dramatic increase in the city over the past four years.

That’s according to the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, which says some STBBIs have increased by nearly 400 per cent.

According to the WRHA’s Community Health Assessment, there has been a significant increase in lab-confirmed cases of STBBIs from 2014 to 2018.

During this four year period, WRHA said cases of syphilis increased by 394 per cent, cases of gonorrhea increased by 297 per cent, and cases of chlamydia increased by 20 per cent.

But as case counts continue to rise in 2019, which is resulting in a substantial burden on public health resources, WRHA said more work needs to be done to provide people safe access to care.

“We are trying to manage an increased substance use issue within Manitoba, but this is also across Canada as well, specifically around methamphetamine use,” said Gina Trinidad, Chief Health Operations Officer for continuing care and health services with the WRHA.

“We want to make sure that individuals have access to clean needles, as an example, that there are targeted strategies for testing and treatment for individuals.”

Trinidad said the purpose is to bolster support for the education of public health with the goal of getting people tested to prevent the spread of STBBIs.

One major part of this is the WRHA’s Street Connections Program which handed out over 2 million clean needles in the 2018-19 fiscal year. This is compared to the 1.7 million clean needles that were handed out in the 2017-18 year, and the 1.4 million clean needles handed out in the 2016-17 year.

The assessment said the root causes of these increases need to be investigated and addressed.

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Austrian government proposes law to legalise assisted suicide

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Austria’s federal government has submitted a draft law to make assisted suicide for seriously ill adults legal, the federal chancellery said in a statement on Saturday.

The new law lays out the conditions under which assisted suicide will be possible in the future, following a ruling by Austria’s Constitutional Court last December according to which banning assisted suicide was unconstitutional because it violated a person’s right to self-determination.

“Seriously ill people should have access to assisted suicide,” the federal chancellery said in the statement.

The new law allows chronically or terminally ill adults to make provisions for an assisted suicide.

They have to consult two doctors who have to attest the person is capable of making his or her own decisions. A delay of 12 weeks also has to be respected that can be reduced to two weeks for patients in the final phase of an illness.

 

(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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Namibia suspends use of Russian COVID vaccine after S.Africa flags HIV concerns

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Namibia will suspend the rollout of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine, its health ministry said on Saturday, days after the drugs regulator in neighbouring South Africa flagged concerns about its safety for people at risk of HIV.

Regulator SAHPRA decided not to approve an emergency use application for Sputnik V for now because some studies suggested that administration of vaccines using the Adenovirus Type 5 vector – which Sputnik V does – can lead to higher susceptibility to HIV in men.

South Africa and Namibia have high HIV prevalence rates.

Namibia’s health ministry said in a statement that the decision to discontinue use of the Russian vaccine was “out of (an) abundance of caution that men (who) received Sputnik V may be at higher risk of contracting HIV,” adding it had taken SAHPRA’s decision into account.

The Gamaleya Research Institute, which developed Sputnik V, said Namibia’s decision was not based on any scientific evidence or research.

“Sputnik V remains one of the safest and most efficient vaccines against COVID-19 in use globally,” the institute told Reuters, adding over 250 clinical trials and 75 international publications confirmed the safety of vaccines and medicines based on human adenovirus vectors.

Namibia said the suspension would take effect immediately and last until Sputnik V receives a World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing. But it will offer people who received a first dose of Sputnik V a second to complete their immunisation course.

Namibia received 30,000 doses of Sputnik V as a donation from the Serbian government, but only 115 had been administered as of Oct. 20.

Namibia has also been using COVID-19 vaccines developed by China’s Sinopharm, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, acquired through a mix of procurement deals and donations.

So far it has only fully vaccinated around 240,000 of its 2.5 million people, reflecting African nations’ difficulties securing enough vaccines amid a global scramble for shots.

 

(Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa in Windhoek and Polina Devitt in Moscow; Editing by Alexander Winning and Ros Russell)

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Britain reports highest weekly COVID-19 cases since July

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Britain recorded the highest number of new cases of COVID-19 since July over the past week, government figures showed on Saturday, a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson played down the prospect of a return to lockdown.

Some 333,465 people in Britain tested positive for COVID-19 over the past seven days, up 15% on the previous week and the highest total since the seven days to July 21.

Daily figures https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk showed there were 44,985 new cases on Saturday, down from 49,298 on Friday. Daily death figures were only available for England, and showed 135 fatalities within 28 days of a positive test.

Deaths have risen by 12% over the past week, and the total since the start of the pandemic now stands at 139,461, the second highest in Europe after Russia.

While vaccination and better medical treatment have sharply reduced deaths compared with previous waves of the disease, hospitals are already stretched and Britain’s current death rate is far higher than many of its European neighbours.

Government health advisors said on Friday that preparations should be made for the possible reintroduction of measures to slow the spread of the disease, such as working from home, as acting early would reduce the need for tougher measures later.

Johnson, however, said he did not expect a return to lockdown.

“We see absolutely nothing to indicate that is on the cards at all,” he said on Friday.

 

(Reporting by David Milliken, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Christina Fincer)

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