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Easing COVID restrictions too quickly could lead to a spike in cases says B.C.'s top doctor – radionl.com

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While B.C.’s top doctor hinted at an easing of the COVID-19 restrictions at end of this month, she says if things are eased too quickly, it could lead to an increase in cases in the province.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says it is why the current case counts, outbreaks, as well as the spread of so-called variants of concern will be closely watched in the weeks ahead.

“We are slowly coming down but we are still in the 400 cases a day range which is a lot. And its a lot in some areas of the province, and we know if we start mixing again, if we start coming together again, if we start moving around in the province, that that can take off,” she said. “That’s our biggest concern right and the reason why we have kept the restrictions as they are.”

“If we get to that low enough level, as soon as we get there, there are somethings that we need to do and that involves youth sports, it involves religious services and faith services, it involves us being able to expand our social connections in a limited way again, and that is what I’m looking forward to as soon as we can.”

New modelling data presented last Friday shows that an increase in contacts to even 60 per cent of normal could result in explosive growth in cases as many as 1,000 per day by mid-March.

Henry said B.C. residents are currently at around 40 to 50 per cent of normal contact.

“Even if we slip a little bit, the potential for transmission goes up, and this is what is concerning for us right now,” she added, noting that while the restrictions may seem unfair to some people, B.C. hasn’t had to bring in full lockdown unlike Ontario and Quebec.

“And we’ve managed to keep that balance and now more than ever, its really critical that we keep children in school safely, that we keep our work places and our shops open in a way that is safe so that we can keep our health system protected.”

Like Dr. Henry, Canada’s top doctor says while it’s normal for variants to emerge as viruses continuously evolve, the new COVID-19 variants are a concern.

Dr. Theresa Tam says it is why provinces must tread carefully when it comes to reopening businesses in the coming days and weeks.

“This is not the moment to release everything in terms of public health measures,” Dr. Tam said today. “I think provinces and territories of course are making the individual decisions based on their own context but all must do it with extreme cautiousness.”

Tam says with 355 cases of the UK variant (B.1.1.7), 25 of the South Africa variant (B.1.351), and now one case of the variant that originated in Brazil (P.1) in the country, the risk is very clear. As of yesterday, there were 40 cases of the variants of concern in B.C., 25 of the UK variant and 15 of the South African variant.

“Right now, our measures are working. This means doing everything that we’ve been doing but giving it the best we can give at all times. This simple rule can help us limit the spread of more transmissible variants while vaccine programs get underway,” Tam said.

“Aim for the fewest interactions with the fewest number of people for the shortest time at the greatest distance possible.”

Last week, Dr. Henry also noted that she is concerned about a variant of the coronavirus in Southern California, which is believed to have started in Los Angeles.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Sunday, July 25 – CBC.ca

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Recent developments:

  • Hundreds got vaccinated at pop-up clinic organized by the Escapade music festival.
  • Seventy per cent of Ottawa adults are now fully vaccinated.
  • Ottawa reported six COVID-19 cases Saturday and no new deaths.
  • An Ottawa man endured 100 COVID-19 tests to visit wife in long-term care home.

What’s the latest?

Hundreds of people turned up to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at a pop-up clinic held on Saturday by the organizers of an electronic dance music festival in partnership with the city’s public health department. 

While the vaccine clinic was underway, the City of Ottawa announced that 70 per cent of residents over the age of 18 have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, meaning they are now considered fully vaccinated.

Earlier this week, an Ottawa man marked an important, uniquely 2021 romantic milestone — his 100th COVID-19 test, which he needed to visit his wife of 50 years living in a long-term care home. 

OPH reported six new cases, and no new deaths on Saturday. One patient is in hospital with COVID-19.

Ontario reported 170 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, 22 fewer than the previous day. The province also reported three additional deaths linked to the virus.

WATCH | Ottawa’s associate medical officer of health says cases rising at higher rate than in previous weeks: 

Dr. Brent Moloughney, Ottawa’s associate medical officer of health, says cases are rising at a higher rate than in previous weeks as businesses reopen and residents interact more. 1:24

How many cases are there?

As of Saturday, 27,774 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 43 known active cases, 27,138 cases considered resolved, and 593 people have died from the illness.

Public health officials have reported more than 50,300 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 49,200 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 197 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 215.

Akwesasne has had nearly 700 residents test positive and 10 deaths between its northern and southern sections.

Kitigan Zibi has had 34 cases and one death. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 11, with one death. Pikwakanagan hasn’t had any.

CBC Ottawa is profiling those who’ve died of COVID-19. If you’d like to share your loved one’s story, please get in touch.

What are the rules?

Eastern Ontario:

Ontario is in Step 3 of its reopening plan.

The latest step allows for indoor dining, with capacity limits based on everyone being able to keep an acceptable distance.

Gyms, movie theatres and museums are able to reach a capacity of 50 per cent inside.

Larger general gathering limits have risen to 25 people inside and 100 people outside. Those limits are even higher for organized events, leading to the resumption of summer festivals and professional sports.

A detailed plan for the next school year is in the works, according to the education minister.

A hairstylist at Aline Unisex Hair Design in Ottawa’s Chinatown wears a plastic visor and mask while working. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Western Quebec

Western Quebec is now under green zone restrictions, the lowest on the province’s four-colour scale. Its distancing length is now one metre.

Ten people are allowed to gather inside private residences and 20 people outdoors — which increases to 50 if playing sports. Organized games are permitted outdoors again and gyms are open.

People can eat both indoors and outdoors at restaurants and bars.

Personal care services and non-essential businesses can open. As many as 3,500 people can gather in a large theatre or arena and at outdoor festivals.

What can I do?

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets that can hang in the air.

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. Coronavirus variants of concern are more contagious and are established.

This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future like staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed —  keeping hands and surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don’t live with, even with a mask on.

Vaccines curb the spread of all types of the coronavirus.

Masks, preferably ones that fit snugly and have three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and recommended in crowded outdoor areas.

There’s federal guidance for what vaccinated people can do in different situations.

Fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents can now skip the 14-day quarantine. People have to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land without a fine.

The federal government has announced fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents living there would be able to visit Canada without having to quarantine starting Aug. 9, while tourists from all other countries would be allowed as of Sept. 7.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who’ve been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length of self-isolation varies in Quebec and Ontario.

Vaccines

Four COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and approved in Canada. Three are in use, with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine the only one approved for children aged 12 to 17.

Canada’s task force says people can wait up to 16 weeks between doses. There are factors pushing provinces to drastically speed up that timeline, including supply and the more infectious delta variant.

That same task force says it’s safe and effective to mix first and second doses.

There is evidence giving a second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine offers better protection for people who got a first AstraZeneca-Oxford shot. Both Ontario and Quebec are giving people who got a first AstraZeneca dose the option to get a second of the same kind.

More than 2.8 million doses have been given out in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since mid-December, including more than 1.36 million in Ottawa and more than 450,000 in western Quebec.

Eastern Ontario

Ontario is vaccinating anyone age 12 or older.

People can look for provincial appointments opening up online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900. Pharmacies continue to offer vaccines through their own booking systems, as do some family doctors.

Local health units have flexibility in the larger framework, including around booking, so check their websites for details. They offer standby lists for doses on short notice and recently, more walk-in options.

Campaigns are shifting to target those who are eligible to get their a second shot sooner or who haven’t yet got their first. Some mass clinics have closed.

Vaccine bookings depend on the supply being sent to health units, which generally aren’t reporting the supply problems of previous months.

Western Quebec

Quebec is vaccinating anyone 12 and older. Its goal is to provide second doses four weeks after the first.

People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone or visit one of the province’s permanent and mobile walk-in clinics.

People may have to show proof of being fully vaccinated to access certain services if there is an autumn surge of cases.

Symptoms and testing

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Recently, a runny nose and headache have become more common.

Children tend to have an upset stomach and/or a rash.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help.

In eastern Ontario:

Anyone seeking a test should make an appointment. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours.

Ontario recommends only getting tested if you fit certain criteria, such as having symptoms, exposure or a certain job.

Staff, caregivers and visitors who have been fully-immunized and show no symptoms of the coronavirus no longer need to be tested before entering a long-term care facility.

People without symptoms but who are part of the province’s targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Rapid tests are available in some places.

Travellers who need a test have a few more local options to pay for one.

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.

People can make an appointment and check wait times online. Some walk-in testing is available.

Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, or someone travelling to work in a remote Indigenous community, are eligible for a test in Ontario.

Akwesasne has COVID-19 vaccine clinics, with information online or at 613-575-2341. Anyone in Tyendinaga who’s interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and should watch the website for dedicated vaccine clinics.

Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing and vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.

The last day for Ottawa’s Indigenous vaccination clinic is July 29.

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Jordan to open COVID vaccinations for 12-year-olds – Medical Xpress

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Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Jordan’s health ministry announced Saturday that COVID-19 vaccines will now be available for children aged 12 and above.

The ministry “has decided to lower the COVID-19 vaccination age to 12 years, starting from Sunday July 25” and without requiring an appointment, the ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page on Saturday.

“Vaccination will be optional, and those under 18 will be able to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with the consent of their guardian,” the statement added.

Jordan, a country of 10 million people, has officially recorded more than 763,900 coronavirus cases, including over 9,900 deaths, since the start of its outbreak.

Some 1.9 million people have been fully inoculated against COVID-19, while 2.7 million have received an initial vaccine dose.

The United States, Canada and the European Union have already authorised the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 12-year-olds.

Amman said last month it had concluded several agreements to obtain a total of around 12 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, and planned to order five million additional jabs.

The country last weekend received half a million Pfizer-BioNTech doses from Washington.

Authorities are pushing the population to take up the vaccines, and have adopted restrictive or punitive measures targeting those who fail to do so.

The measures include requiring unvaccinated or partially vaccinated public sector employees to present a negative COVID-19 test twice a week, and prohibiting the issuance or renewal of work and residency permits for those who are not fully vaccinated.


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US orders 200 mn more Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses


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Vaccines are a ‘personal decision,’ church founder says after congregant refuses shot, dies of COVID – Times News Express

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LOS ANGELES — The founder of the multinational Hillsong Church told CNN that COVID-19 vaccines are a “personal decision for each individual to make with the counsel of medical professionals” after a congregant who publicly refused inoculation died of complications from the disease.

Hillsong Church global senior pastor Brian Houston had announced the death of Stephen Harmon, who attended Hillsong in Los Angeles, on social media this week.

Harmon had said on social media that he would not receive the vaccine, even when he was fighting COVID-19 in a hospital this month.

“Stephen was just a young man in his early 30s,” Houston wrote, announcing Harmon’s death on social media. “He was one of the most generous people I know and he had so much in front of him.”

Houston expanded on his social media posts in a statement to CNN, saying that “any loss of life is a moment to mourn and offer support to those who are suffering and so our heartfelt prayers are with his family and those who loved him.”

Doctor says many hospitalized COVID patients express remorse

“On any medical issue, we strongly encourage those in our church to follow the guidance of their doctors,” Houston said, emphasizing that the church’s focus was on spiritual well-being.

“While many of our staff, leadership and congregation have already received the COVID-19 vaccine, we recognize this is a personal decision for each individual to make with the counsel of medical professionals,” Houston’s statement reads.

Hillsong Church, founded in Australia, has congregations around the world. Harmon attended Hillsong in downtown L.A.

CNN sought comment from the Harmon family but did not receive a response.

Prior to him saying he was infected with COVID-19, Harmon made two posts on Twitter on June 3 in which he parodied Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” lyrics — saying he had 99 problems but “a vax” wasn’t one.

Just over a month later, Harmon had pneumonia as a result of COVID-19 infection and was sitting in a hospital bed in a COVID ward, according to his Instagram posts.

He had been hospitalized with COVID-19 complications since at least June 30, according to his social media posts. Throughout his hospitalizations, social media posts show that Harmon kept in frequent contact with Houston.

Even while in a hospital, Harmon was adamant that he would not receive the vaccine, posting he wasn’t “anti-vax” but was “pro information.”

“i’m not against it, i’m just not in a rush to get it,” he wrote in a July 8 Instagram post. “Ironically, as I continue to lay here … in my COVID ward isolation room fighting off the virus and pneumonia.”

He added he wouldn’t get a vaccine even after recovery.

“Biden’s door to door vaccine ‘surveyors’ really should be called JaCOVID Witnesses. #keepmovingdork,” Harmon wrote the same day on Twitter.

On Friday, after his death was announced, Harmon’s Instagram account was made private.

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