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Former CDC director: Covid-19 is different from flu and we must respond differently – CNN

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WHO declares novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic
Symptoms. Some symptoms of flu and Covid-19 are similar: a dry cough and fever. Covid-19 more often causes shortness of breath and difficulty breathing — a sign to seek immediate medical attention. Influenza causes aches, fatigue, headache and chills; these appear to be less common with Covid-19. Flu symptoms tend to come on abruptly, getting worse in a day or two. With Covid-19, symptoms may be more gradual and take several days to get worse. If you are sneezing, or have a stuffy or runny nose, the good news is that you probably just have a garden-variety common cold — ironically, one possibly caused by a different coronavirus.
How the flu turns deadlyHow the flu turns deadly
Covid-19 is more infectious than flu. It appears a person who is infected with Covid-19 spreads it to more people than the flu, so it may spread farther and faster than flu.
Covid-19 is more likely to kill than flu. On average, about 1 in 1,000 people who get flu die from it — mostly the elderly and people with underlying health conditions, but flu sometimes kills healthy young people and pregnant women. We don’t know the precise case fatality ratio for Covid-19 because of incomplete testing of possible cases and insufficient information about outbreaks. But so far, Covid-19 appears much deadlier than seasonal flu, and quite possibly deadlier than the flu pandemics of 1957 and 1968, each of which killed more than 1 million people around the world. Those pandemics had estimated case fatality ratios far below 1% — and Covid-19 may kill more than 1 in 100 people who get sick with it. This is not as high as the 1918 flu pandemic, which has been estimated to have killed 2.5 of 100 who it made sick, killing an estimated 675,000 Americans at a time when our population was one-third what it is today. As with the flu, older people and those with serious health conditions such as heart or lung disease, cancer or diabetes are at much higher risk.
This season's flu shot offers 'substantial protection' in a season tough on childrenThis season's flu shot offers 'substantial protection' in a season tough on children
And there is a fundamental difference in how flu and Covid-19 kill. Many deaths from flu are caused by secondary bacterial pneumonia and heart attacks that develop after the flu has weakened someone’s resistance. With Covid-19, most deaths are caused by acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which causes already-damaged lungs to fill with fluid, and makes breathing difficult. Unlike pneumonia, there is no pharmaceutical treatment for ARDS. That is why a potential shortage of ventilators is so dangerous: They are the last-ditch supportive treatment for Covid-19 while the body heals itself.
No vaccine. Unlike flu, there is no vaccine for Covid-19 and we are unlikely to have one for at least a year, if ever. The flu vaccine is relatively weak compared with other vaccines — around 60% protection in a good year when the vaccine is well-matched to circulating strains and 30% or less in a bad year. But at least we have a vaccine for flu. And although it is not highly effective, the flu vaccine helps build herd immunity, which prevents or at least slows disease spread, and often reduces symptom severity.
Former CDC director: It's time to restrict visits to nursing homesFormer CDC director: It's time to restrict visits to nursing homes
No treatment. There are not yet any medications that can be used to treat Covid-19, although clinical trials are currently underway and being accelerated. For flu, Tamiflu and other antiviral drugs shorten the duration of illness and reduce symptom severity if started within two days of symptom onset. This is important, even if antivirals are not as effective as antibiotics: Less-severe flu symptoms reduce the need for intensive care and reduce the risk of death.
No immunity. Because Covid-19 is caused by a novel virus, it is likely that there is no natural immunity to it, unlike the flu. In most years, some percentage of the population will be resistant to flu infection and less likely to become severely ill from that year’s flu strains because they previously had a similar strain of the flu or were vaccinated against it. That retained immunity can reduce the severity of flu symptoms. During the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, people over age 35 generally did not get severe illness because of partial immunity, which may have been from previous infection with a similar strain. During the 1918 flu pandemic, older people appear to have been less likely to become ill and die because of past immunity. With Covid-19, no one has this type of existing immunity as far as we know — although why kids don’t get severely ill is a mystery — which is why some epidemiologists have predicted that two-thirds of all people in the United States might become infected.
Children's coronavirus cases are not as severe, but that doesn't make them less seriousChildren's coronavirus cases are not as severe, but that doesn't make them less serious
Children at reduced risk. One bit of good news is that, unlike with the flu, children up to at least age 18 appear to not become very ill with Covid-19. They can become infected, but fatal infection appears to be extremely rare. Flu kills about 100 children under age 17 in the US each year (most under age 5). We don’t know to what extent children are important in spreading Covid-19. People without symptoms are generally less likely to spread infections, and children are less likely to show symptoms. Because of this, we don’t know whether closing schools will substantially reduce spread of this coronavirus.
Covid-19 is more infectious and more deadly than flu. We have fewer tools and no natural immunity. And, we know much less about how to fight it. That’s why it’s even more important to take protective measures. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, avoid touching surfaces to the extent possible, cover your coughs, and stay home if you’re feeling ill — the same recommendations we give to people to avoid getting and spreading the flu. Specifically for Covid-19, actions of universities and workplaces are closing and allowing telecommuting and distance learning make sense. Medically vulnerable people need to keep a safe distance from others. Nursing homes need to do everything possible to prevent Covid-19 from entering their doors — either by visitors or staff. Large public gatherings need to be cancelled or radically altered; the NCAA and NBA are taking the right steps to limit contact, which will help flatten the epidemic curve and reduce the chance of a sharp spike in cases that could overwhelm health care facilities. Actions that delay cases allow us to better manage our health care resources — which could be stretched to the breaking point if cases surge dramatically — and give us more time to develop effective treatments to prevent the worst complications.
Finally, most people who get flu or Covid-19 do well; 80 or 90% of those infected with the novel virus have mild, moderate or no symptoms. However many people die from it, this will be too many. Although the coronavirus pandemic will certainly get worse before it gets better, it will get better. And even at the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, many people (no one knows what proportion) won’t get infected, and, of those who do get infected, 99 out of 100 will recover. So, it’s responsible to be proactive now to limit the harms of Covid-19, but it’s also good to keep in mind that this, too, will pass.
By taking these actions on both a personal and societal level, we give ourselves the best chance to mitigate the impact of Covid-19. It’s too late now to prevent this coronavirus from spreading in our communities, but by working together to limit and slow that spread, we can save lives.

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OPH investigating 16 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ottawa, bringing total to 122 – OttawaMatters.com

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Ottawa Public Health says it is investigation 122 positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city — that’s 16 new cases in total.  

The city health authority is also investigating two institutional outbreaks of the virus, one of which at Maplewood Retirement Community, OPH confirmed in a Sunday statement.

This is following the health authority’s announcement of 31 confirmed cases on Saturday.

According to Dr. Vera Etches, the retirement home has implemented outbreak management and OPH is connecting with close contacts.

“All residents have been notified and are in self-isolation,” Etches said in a statement. “Staff at the retirement home continue to be screened and have been instructed to wear personal protective equipment in the building, specifically wearing a mask when entering the building and following droplet/contact procedures in all resident rooms.”

Further details of individuals who have tested positive were not provided. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and every citizen must continue doing their part to keep themselves, their family members, their neighbours, co-workers and community members healthy and safe, and reduce the spread of the virus,” Etches added.

Etches urges everyone to continue to practicing physical distancing and to self-isolate if symptoms develop for 14 days or travel was involved. Those with the virus are also to continue their isolation 24 hours after symptoms have fully resolved. 

People are also encouraged to avoid visiting elderly friends or relatives unless the visit is essential. 

For more tips on how to stay safe, visit the OPH website. 

The total number of positive cases in Ontario is now at 1,355. 

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‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand – Red Deer Advocate

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OTTAWA — Canadians have been coming forward in large numbers to donate blood after Canadian Blood Services warned of a possible shortage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blood donor clinics have extended their hours and put in place strict safety protocols for anyone giving blood.

“The response has been tremendous,” Dr. Isra Levy, the agency’s vice-president of medical affairs and innovation, said Friday.

“From our point of view, the numbers are very, very satisfying in the sense that we’re able to match demand with supply. We really need to keep up that altruism that has motivated donors to come in.”

Canadian Blood Services operates a national blood inventory that allows products to be regularly shifted around the country to meet hospital and patient needs.

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis.

Levy warned nearly two weeks ago that Canada was facing a critical blood shortage. Donations had dropped about 20 per cent because of concerns about the novel coronavirus.

Because of a suspension of elective surgeries, the demand for blood is also down about 15 per cent, Levy said Friday.

While things are going well now, he added, the concern is whether Canadians will continue to keep donating over the long run.

“We’re going to have this challenge for many weeks to come and the implication is we’re going to need our donors to really continue to show up,” Levy said.

“They need to think about things not about as an urgent and immediate need for blood, but as an ongoing, pressing concern that we have about a potential for a sudden drop in inventory.”

Calgary’s blood donor clinic had to reduce appointments last week because of long lineups and wait times.

Donors waited behind a red line outside the clinic while checking in. Inside, chairs were placed strategically in the waiting room and every other bed was used. Health workers wiped down every donor station thoroughly between patients.

Some donors recently took to social media to discuss the importance of giving.

“First real trip out of the house in a while to Canadian Blood Services. As a former recipient, I understand first hand the importance of donors,” wrote Katie Mitchell on Instagram.

“They have put great steps in place to have donors maintain social distancing requirements. So happy I wasn’t rejected.”

“My dad needs transfusions every three weeks so in addition to worrying about COVID-19, he’s concerned about blood supply shortages,” wrote Sara Jane O’Neill on Twitter.

“Please donate if you can.”

Levy said some donors in Ottawa have told him that they feel they’re able to make a difference when everything else in the world is out of their control.

“It’s a sense of contribution in an uncertain time,” he said.

“The people who are showing up at our donor collection centres, anecdotally, express a sense of satisfaction that they’re able to do something for the community beyond staying at home and finding ways to fill their time.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2020

— By Bill Graveland in Calgary. Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

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8 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba, bringing total to 72 – CBC.ca

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There are eight new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba, bringing the province’s total to 72.

Health officials made the announcement at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building Sunday morning.

Officials are looking into the new cases to determine where those people got the coronavirus and whether they could have passed it to anyone else.

One of the patients is in an intensive care unit, and another has been admitted to hospital, chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said.

He said two Manitobans have recovered from the virus so far.

The total number of deaths from the virus reported in Manitoba remains at one: a Winnipeg woman in her 60s, who died Friday after she was admitted to an intensive care unit in critical condition the previous week.

More than 7,000 tests for COVID-19 have been done in the province so far.

Roussin reiterated that the measures the province has taken under the Public Health Act will come into effect on Monday, including limiting public gatherings to 10 people and requiring retail businesses like grocery stores to make sure people are one to two metres apart.

These new measures bolster what was previously only a recommendation.

On Saturday, Manitoba saw its biggest jump in COVID-19 cases since the virus was first detected here, as health officials announced 25 new patients had been identified.

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