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First presumptive case of novel coronavirus detected in B.C. Here's what you need to know. – CTV News



Public health officials announced Tuesday the first presumptive case of novel coronavirus has been detected in B.C., raising questions about how residents can protect themselves.

The patient, a 40-year-old man who regularly travels to China, is currently in isolation at home and lives in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. He had recently travelled to Wuhan city, which is considered the epicentre of the outbreak.

How do health officials test for coronavirus?

It’s considered a “presumptive” case at this point because official confirmation has to be done by a second test at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a news conference Tuesday.

“Our lab here has been in contact with the Winnipeg lab but given the history of travel, the contact that this person had in Wuhan city and the symptoms they were showing, we are confident that this is truly a case of this novel coronavirus,” she said.

“We have good confidence in the testing that’s done here. It’s done based on a genetic test that looks for three different protein areas,” she said. “Then we did a sequencing of the genome that matches exactly to what we know to be the published sequence of the novel coronavirus from China.”

Henry said the sample was on its way to Winnipeg with results expected from the lab in 48 hours.

Does wearing a mask work?

Henry said masks can be very important in “certain situations,” such as healthcare workers wearing them when closely assessing patients or sick people wearing them to prevent the spread of droplets.

“Where it’s not known is how effective wearing a mask in the community is when you are not sick yourself,” she said. “The masks may give you a false sense of security. The most important thing you can do in the community is wash your hands regularly.”

Vancouver pharmacy manager Gianni Del Negro said in a recent interview with CTV News that N95 respirator masks will help protect against viruses, but they need to be worn properly to work. However, he emphasized that it’s not yet known if these types of masks are an effective form of protection against this new coronavirus.

“With this new virus that we’re concerned about, we really don’t know yet. It’s too early to tell whether we can get any protection from that virus with even an N95 mask,” he said.

He also said that surgical masks are not an effective safeguard against the virus but could help prevent the spread of germs.

“Your typical surgical masks that you would see a doctor using in surgery for instance, those are not going to protect you against the virus,” he said. “If you’re someone who’s actually sick, you might have a cold or flu and you want to protect others, that type of mask will protect droplets from going out into the air.”

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of the new coronavirus can vary in different patients, but include body ache, chills, coughing, sneezing, a sore throat and shortness of breath.

Health Canada said a runny nose and headache are common symptoms, as is fever and “a general feeling of being unwell.”

Health officials want anyone who thinks they have coronavirus or is exhibiting symptoms to stay home to avoid infecting other people.

Should I be worried?

Henry said this new coronavirus is not as infectious as other viruses like influenza or measles and that it’s not something that people can get from “casual contact.”

“We know that the receptors for the virus are quite deep in the lungs, so you have to inhale enough of the virus that it can actually bind to those receptors deep in the lungs,” she said. “Coronavirus in general are in larger droplets, so these are droplets that fall quickly out of the air. So you have to be in relatively close contact with somebody to be able to inhale those viruses if they cough or sneeze.”

Henry said some of the most important things you can do is wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth when you cough and stay away from others if you’re sick.

“If you’re touching something that has droplets on it with virus in it, as long as you clean your hands before you touch your face or your mouth, you’re not going to be at risk of getting that virus in your body,” she said. “It’s not something that comes in through the skin. It needs to get into your mucous membranes and breathed into your lungs.”

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‘Something has to do be done:’ Plaintiff in Northwood class action lawsuit wants accountability –



Erica Surette says her mother, Patricia West, struggled to adapt to life at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax.

The “fiery” Cape Bretoner valued independence and loved having her own space, but with declining health due to dementia, she required additional supervision.

In March, Northwood staff suggested moving West from a private room to a shared room where her care needs could be met — a move Surette says she objected to in the midst of a pandemic.

“The fact that I couldn’t be there to help her get settled in her room, to help show her around, help her understand that this new room was going to be okay… I knew it wasn’t going to be good,” she told Global News.

West was moved into a shared room at the end of March and by mid-April, she was sick with COVID-19. She died around April 22 at the age of 66.

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Patricia West is seen with her mother in a photo provided by Erica Surette.

READ MORE: Class action lawsuit filed against Northwood for handling of COVID-19 pandemic

Surette is now the representative plaintiff in a class action lawsuit filed against Northwood earlier this week, alleging “negligence” in its care for residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fifty-three of its seniors have died of complications from the virus and more than 200 have been infected since March.

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“There needs to be accountability because my mom and all other residents who have passed, all the families who have lost loved ones, it can’t be for nothing,” said Surette.

“And if they’re talking about another wave coming, or what other virus — who knows what could come along — something has to be done. They have to change the way they’re operating.”

Since news of the class action became public, more than 20 relatives of Northwood residents who passed have expressed interest in joining the case.

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READ MORE: Northwood seeks private rooms after COVID tragedy, but will N.S. fund the fix?

Representatives for Northwood did not respond to requests for comment on this story, but a statement emailed out on Tuesday said the company “remains committed” to the care and safety of staff and residents as the pandemic continues.

“We appreciate the support and understanding we have been receiving from our healthcare colleagues, residents, and the community,” wrote spokesperson Murray Stenton.

“We have received notification of legal action and we will carefully review and vigorously respond.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Class action lawsuit filed against Northwood

Coronavirus outbreak: Class action lawsuit filed against Northwood

READ MORE: Nova Scotia health minister breaks silence on Northwood coronavirus outbreak

Bob Rosborough, who lost his father Doug to COVID-19 in April, told Global News he has “zero interest” in suing Northwood, whose staff worked “tirelessly and selflessly” with his father in his final days. He said the public ought to hold itself more accountable for its “status quo” approach to care of the elderly.

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“The fault with our care homes is a fault with all of our acceptance of the way our society has grown comfortable or complacent with the way our elderly are dealt with,” he explained by email.

“The Northwood staff were placed in that battlefield of woe and horror by our collective societal neglect of our elders, ill-prepared for such a disastrous event as a global pandemic.”

Rosborough said rather than engage in litigation, society should “realize and act on huge lessons learned.”

READ MORE: Strang urges Nova Scotians to have ‘appropriate expectations’ ahead of reopening

As of Wednesday, the Northwood had three residents and two staff members with active cases of COVID-19. The class action lawsuit comes as calls for a public inquiry into its handling of the tragedy grow louder.

Dalhousie University law professor Wayne MacKay said both the lawsuit and an inquiry could proceed “carefully” at the same time, but he’s surprised a legal action has been filed so quickly.

“It’s difficult at this point, I would think, to be precisely clear about where the problem is in terms of the tragedy at Northwood,” he said.

“…It seems to be kind of early to be proceeding with this until there’s some greater knowledge about what actually did go wrong, and perhaps who is at most — if anyone — is at fault in this case.”

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The class action must be certified by a judge before it can proceed in the courts. The law firm behind it, Wagners, has suggested that with pandemic delays to the judicial system, that could take until 2021.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Hydroxychloroquine does not prevent COVID after exposure to the virus: study – Ponoka News



MONTREAL — Hydroxychloroquine is not effective in preventing the development of COVID-19 in people exposed to the novel coronavirus, a new study involving Canadian researchers concludes.

The results are published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The clinical trial was led in Canada by Dr. Todd Lee and Dr. Emily McDonald of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, in conjunction with partners at the University of Manitoba and University of Alberta.

The Canadian research is co-ordinated with a large study by Dr. David Boulware at the University of Minnesota.

It is the first double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial to be completed assessing the effectiveness of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in preventing COVID-19.

“We conducted an international, randomized controlled trial to look at whether the use of hydroxychloroquine in patients who’d had a high-risk exposure to COVID-19 would prevent the development of symptomatic disease compared to placebo,” Lee said in an interview.

Participants were recruited from Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and across the United States. In total, the study involved 821 asymptomatic adults who had been exposed at home or in the health-care setting to someone with COVID-19.

Among them, 719 participants reported a high-risk exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19 — being within two metres of the person for more than 10 minutes — without adequate personal protective equipment.

Most of these people were healthy young adults living in the community, with an average age of 40.

Within four days of exposure, participants received the placebo or hydroxychloroquine by mail, to be taken for a period of five days, beginning with a higher dose on the first day. Researchers and participants were not told which treatment was being administered.

“The approach was if we could load the patient with hydroxychloroquine in the tissues before the incubation period was over, then maybe we could prevent those people who’ve been exposed from getting sick,” Lee said.

“There was some observational, anecdotal stories suggesting that this was going to be effective, and the purpose of the randomized controlled trial was to demonstrate whether that was true or not true.”

Out of 821 participants, 107 developed COVID-19 — confirmed either by a test or by compatible symptoms — during the 14 days of followup.

Among those who received hydroxychloroquine, 49 developed the disease or symptoms like fever and cough, compared to 58 in the group who received the placebo, meaning that statistically, the drug was no more effective than the placebo.

“We found that there was no statistical difference between patients who got the placebo — which was a vitamin pill — versus those who received the active drug hydroxychloroquine,” Lee said.

Two patients were hospitalized, one from each group, but no one has died.

Side effects from the medication, such as nausea and abdominal discomfort, were more common in patients taking hydroxychloroquine than in those receiving placebo.

Hydroxychloroquine is still being studied around the world, including whether it could reduce the risk of infection during exposure or lower the risk of hospitalization in infected patients. U.S. President Donald Trump has said he is taking hydroxychloroquine even though he has not tested positive for the coronavirus.

At the McGill University Health Centre, a trial looking at early treatment in the community is underway.

“I would have loved to have a positive study, but in circumstances like this you need the negative studies too so you can redirect attention,” Lee said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2020.

Jean-Benoit Legault, The Canadian Press


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N.B. reports two new cases of COVID-19 in Campbellton region; case involving doctor takes ugly, racist turn – CTV News



There are two new cases of COVID-19 in the Campbellton region of New Brunswick.

“One case is linked to a close contact of a previously identified case in the outbreak and the other one is linked to Manoir de la Vallée, a long-term care facility in Atholville,” the government said in a news release.

The new cases are a person in their 40s and a person in their 60s.

New Brunswick public health said a Quebec resident has also tested positive for COVID-19 and the case is linked to the Atholville long-term care facility. The case will be counted in Quebec’s statistics.

The Campbellton COVID-19 cluster started when a child in the Campbellton region was diagnoed on May 21.

Five days later, an individual in their nineties tested positive in the same zone.

The next day, the province announced a person in their fifties had tested positive and that the two previous cases were linked to this individual, a health-care worker.

A total of 15 cases make up the Campbellton cluster.

The situation has sparked rumours and speculation about the doctor on many social media feeds.

The doctor has been publicly criticized for his action and now, the case is taking on an ugly racist tone.

Including, posts like this one:

Today, the medical society said it’s deeply concerned that the physician — Dr. Jean Robert Ngola — has been the target of racist attacks.

“It is understandable that citizens are concerned and upset about the COVID-19 outbreak in northern New Brunswick,” said Dr. Chris Goodyear, the president of the Medical Society of New Brunswick. “Dr. Ngola has admitted making an ‘error in judgment’ by crossing the border into Quebec and returning to New Brunswick without self-isolating. However, there is no excuse for the dissemination of his personal information or the racist verbal attacks and false reports to police that he has endured.”

Campbellton-Dalhousie MLA Guy Arseneault says the behaviour is unpardonable.

“There’s racism in Canada, there’s racism anywhere, it’s what level it’s at, and I think that it heightens in a state of anxiety,” he said.

Arseneault returned home after the house adjourned late last week and went into self-isolation.

He was tested and it came back negative.

“Let’s get all the facts, let’s not pass judgement,” Arseneault. “Let’s concentrate on the virus and put all our energies and our thoughts there.”

Since the outbreak began, five residents and three staff at an Atholville special care home have tested positive for COVID-19.

Of the five residents, three are in hospital.

Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard says they are in stable condition.

“We put three admin supports in, and those supports, who are also familiar with the home and the residents, are in contact with families on a daily basis,” Shephard said.

Shephard also said because of extra-mural help staffing levels at the home are stable after 10 staff resigned last week.

‘Remain vigilant’

The province’s chief medical officer of health cautioned people to not let their guard down as they try to enjoy the nice weather.

“I remind New Brunswickers to remain vigilant and watch for symptoms since COVID-19 is going to be with us for a long time,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell.

The two new cases bring New Brunswick’s total of confirmed cases to 135. Of those, 120 had recovered before the Campbellton cluster emerged. That includes all of the province’s 15 active cases.

Five of those people are hospitalized with one in an intensive care unit. As of Wednesday, the province had performed 31,791 tests.

Check for symptoms

Anyone showing two of the following symptoms should contact Tele-Care 811 or their primary health-care provider for further direction:

  • fever above 38 C or signs of fever (such as chills);
  • new cough or worsening chronic cough;
  • sore throat;
  • runny nose;
  • headache;
  • new onset of fatigue;
  • new onset of muscle pain;
  • diarrhea;
  • loss of sense of taste or loss of sense of smell; and
  • in children, purple markings on the fingers or toes. In this instance, testing will be done even if none of the other symptoms are present.

self-assessment will help you determine if you should be tested for COVID-19.

Up-to-date information about COVID-19 is available online.

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