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Halifax lab team to conduct first Canadian trials for possible COVID-19 vaccine – northeastNOW

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“The Phase 1 studies were done and within six months the data were available and the phase three studies were started in West Africa which then helped to actually stop the epidemic,” he said in an interview.

Halperin said it’s possible the same emergency release could happen in Canada with a potential COVID-19 vaccine if it shows potential and is deemed safe, expediting a process that usually takes a number of years to complete — anywhere from five to seven years under normal circumstances.

“That would be something that Health Canada and the Canadian government would have to decide whether they wanted to do that. But it is certainly one of the options in the tool kit of things they can do to expedite the process if this or any other vaccine is looking promising.”

Halperin pointed out that despite its early use during testing, the Ebola vaccine wasn’t actually licensed as a regular marketed vaccine until late last year.

However, he cautions there’s much work to be done before a COVID-19 vaccine could be approved for use.

The Halifax researchers will be following up work by Chinese manufacturer CanSino Biologics, which is already conducting human clinical trials for the vaccine.

Halperin said the first phase trial should be underway within the next three weeks once final approval is given by the centre’s research ethics board.

Phase 1 will involve fewer than 100 healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 55 who will be followed over the next six months.

“We want to make sure that the vaccine is safe first in younger individuals before we go into people who may be at higher risk,” Halperin said.

The participants are given a dose of the vaccine and are clinically monitored through a series of blood tests. They are also asked to record their symptoms in a diary so the researchers can have even more information.

“We collect any type of symptoms they might have whether they think it’s related to the vaccine or not,” said Halperin.

Each participant will make between nine and 13 visits to the centre during the first phase of the study.

If the initial test group shows a safe immune response to the vaccine, Halperin said researchers will quickly transition into an expanded second phase study before the first phase is even completed.

That would involve hundreds of people of all ages, including those aged 65 to 85, and would be administered by several other research centres across the country that are part of the Canadian Immunization Research Network.

Halperin said the network was set up by the federal government in 2009 as part of the response to the H1N1 pandemic. He said the intent was to create the necessary infrastructure to respond rapidly to an emergency and to do early phase clinical trials so vaccines would be available in Canada.

“This is a good test of that (network),” Halperin said of clinical trials that will be the first of “many more to come.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2020.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

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A look at how provinces plan to emerge from COVID-19 shutdown – Kamloops This Week

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Provinces have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

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Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador announced on May 29 that “bubbles” that had been limited to two households could invite six additional people into their circle.

Small gatherings for funerals, burials and weddings had already been allowed with a limit of 10 people following physical distancing rules. However, parties or other social gatherings are still banned.

Outdoor games of tennis have been allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment, and not share it.

Pet grooming services began operating May 25, with companies ordered to ensure their employees have personal protective equipment.

Municipal parks, golf courses and driving ranges can open and recreational hunting and fishing are permitted.

The province is in “alert level four” in its five-level reopening plan, allowing some businesses such as law firms and other professional services to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

At Level 3, private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, will be allowed to open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons. Overnight camping will also be permitted at level three, though there’s no word yet when that will happen.

At Level 2, some small gatherings will be allowed, and businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen.

Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

Nova Scotia

On May 29 Premier Stephen McNeil announced a new gathering limit of 10 people, doubling the limit of five that was imposed in late March.

Physical distancing of two metres is still required, except among members of the same household or family “bubble.” The limit is the same indoors and outdoors, with exceptions for outdoor weddings and funeral services which can have 15 people.

The gathering limit also applies to arts and culture activities such as theatre performances and dance recitals, faith gatherings, and sports and physical activity. Businesses such as theatres, concerts, festivals and sporting activities also must adhere to the 10-person limit.

Private campgrounds can reopen, but only at 50 per cent capacity and they must ensure public health protocols are followed, including adequate distancing between campsites.

Provincial campgrounds are scheduled to open June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March will be allowed to reopen June 5, if they have a plan that follows physical distancing protocols. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers will also be able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices. Veterinary services will be allowed to operate along with some unregulated professions, such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy.

McNeil earlier announced there would be no return to school this year, and a decision on reopening daycares would be made by June 8.

Trails and provincial and municipal parks can now reopen along with garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses, but playground equipment is still off limits.

Public beaches have reopened along with outdoor activities like archery, horseback riding, golf, paddling, boating and tennis, with the proviso that social distancing and hygiene be maintained. Sportfishing is permitted and people can attend boating, yacht or sailing clubs for the purpose of preparing boats for use.

Drive-in religious services are now allowed, if people stay in their cars, park two metres apart and there are no interactions between people.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island has extended its public health emergency until June 14.

Premier Dennis King says people wanting to travel to seasonal residences must apply beginning June 1, and those will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also be tested for COVID-19 before completing the two weeks they must spend in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

The province moved into the third phase of its reopening plan June 1, which allows such things as in-house dining at restaurants, small groups to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries to reopen. Phase three also allows gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres.

As well, family and friends can visit residents at long-term care homes. The visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

Under phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing measures in place.

Priority non-urgent surgeries and select health-service providers, including physiotherapists, optometrists and chiropractors, resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick moved to the “yellow phase” of its COVID-19 recovery plan on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Restrictions in the yellow phase of the province’s recovery plan will be lifted beginning June 5. The activities include outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people, indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

Licensed daycares started reopening May 19. Children don’t have to wear masks or maintain physical distancing but are being kept in small groups.

Anyone who has travelled outside of New Brunswick will not be allowed to visit early learning and child-care facilities for 14 days.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines. The resumption of elective surgeries was also part phase two of the province’s reopening plan.

Phase one, which started on April 24, allowed limited play on golf courses as well as fishing and hunting. Post-secondary students could return if it was deemed safe by the school, and outdoor church services were again permitted, providing people remain in their vehicles and are two metres apart.

The final phase, which will probably come only after a vaccine is available, will include large gatherings.

Quebec

Quebec began allowing outdoor gatherings with a maximum of 10 people from three families with social distancing in place on May 22.

On May 25 some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area. Quebec reopened retail stores outside Montreal on May 11.

Parks and pools can reopen across the province but are still be subject to physical distancing and other health measures

Day camps across the province will be allowed to open as of June 22, with physical distancing and other COVID-19 health measures in effect. That means smaller groups of children and frequent handwashing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Lottery terminals are also reopening after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area will remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen starting June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Shopping malls, nail salons and other personal care centres are also reopening, but only outside Montreal.

Hairdressers, nail salons and other personal care businesses will be able to open in the Montreal area on June 15.

Meanwhile, checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Ontario

Ontario began its first stage of reopening May 19 including lifting restrictions on retail stores and surgeries.

The province says workplaces can begin to reopen but working from home should continue as much as possible.

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario says the profession is currently in Stage 2 of its three-phase reopening plan. Dentists had previously only been allowed to practice emergency or urgent care on patients in-person but can now offer other essential services with enhanced precautions.

All construction can resume, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Most retail stores with a street entrance can reopen with physical distancing restrictions, and curbside pickup and delivery.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Other businesses and services included in the stage one reopening include regular veterinary appointments, pet grooming, pet sitting and pet training; libraries for pickup or deliveries; and housekeepers and babysitters.

Drive-in movie theatres and batting cages reopened May 31 with physical distancing measures in effect.

Backcountry campers returned to provincial parks June 1 with certain stipulations. No more than five people can occupy a single campsite, unless they live in the same household. Provincial parks will also expand permission for picnics and off-leash pet areas.

Premier Doug Ford earlier announced that Ontario schools would remain closed for the rest of the school year.

Meanwhile, this summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.

Manitoba

The Manitoba government has lifted its one-month limit on people’s prescription drug supplies, allowing people to again get prescriptions filled or refilled for 90 days.

Its health offices, including dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists can also reopen. Retail businesses can reopen at half occupancy providing they ensure physical spacing.

Museums and libraries can reopen, but with occupancy limited to 50 per cent.

Playgrounds, golf courses and tennis courts have reopened as well, along with parks and campgrounds.

On May 22 the province began allowing groups of up to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes.

Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Community centres and seniors’ clubs are also getting the go-ahead with limits on customer capacity and rules for physical distancing.

Bars, tattoo parlours, dine-in restaurants, fitness clubs and pools could reopen June 1 under limited capacity.

Elementary and high schools stopped in-class instruction in March and will not reopen this school year. But they were allowed, as of June 1, to offer tutoring or student assessments in small groups. Some extracurricular sports and other activities can restart.

At universities and colleges, some specific instruction such as labs and arts studios will be able to resume for up to 25 students and staff at a time.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, are on the list to resume operations.

A ban on non-essential travel to the province’s north was also eased starting June 1. Southern residents can now travel directly to cottages, campgrounds and parks, but are being told to avoid visiting northern communities.

Film productions can also resume, as well outdoor religious services with no crowd limits providing people stay in their vehicles.

Movie theatres and casinos must remain closed. Concerts, professional sporting events and other large public gatherings won’t be considered until at least September.

Manitoba has extended a province-wide state of emergency until mid-June, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan government’s five-phase plan to reopen its economy started May 11 with dentists, optometrists and other health professionals allowed to resume services. Phase 1 also includes reopened golf courses and campgrounds.

Under phases 2 and 3 the province says restaurants, gyms and nail salons can start reopening on June 8. Restaurants will be allowed to operate at half capacity and restrictions will also lift on some personal care services, childcare centres and places of worship. The government also plans to increase its 10-person gathering limit to 15 people indoors and to 30 for those outdoors.

Phase 4 could see arenas, swimming pools and playgrounds opening, while in Phase 5, the province would consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

Alberta

Alberta has completed the first phase of its economic relaunch. Retail shops, restaurants, day cares, barber shops, hair salons, farmers markets and places of worship have reopened with some conditions.

Outdoor gatherings are currently limited to 50 people, and indoor gatherings to 15.

The next phase is scheduled to begin June 19 with the reopening of stage and movie theatres, spas and services like manicures, pedicures and massages.

Alberta allowed some scheduled, non-urgent surgeries to start on May 11.

Service provided by dentists, physiotherapists and other medical professionals are also permitted. Golf courses reopened May 2, though pro shops and clubhouses remain shuttered.

British Columbia

The provincial government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopening plans are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19. Hotels, resorts and parks will follow in June.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government says its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Under the part-time plan, for kindergarten to Grade 5, most students will go to school half time, while grades 6 to 12 will go about one day a week. A mix of online and classroom post-secondary education is planned for September.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan, but the government didn’t say when it would be implemented.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.

Yukon

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan.

After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The territory says monitoring the status of neighbouring jurisdictions will determine if it’s safe to further lift restrictions.

Yukon has been gradually easing pandemic restrictions since May 15 with dine-in restaurants, day cares and recreational centres reopening.

Territorial parks and campgrounds will open for the summer next week.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

The territory’s reopening plan outlines five phases including a period after a vaccine is available.

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

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Tips to Help You Keep Your Dog Mentally Stimulated

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While many pet parents know the importance of giving their dogs physical stimulation, they don’t realize that dogs, like human beings, need mental stimulation too. Various studies suggest that bored dogs can feel depressed, stressed, and apathetic.

Some milder symptoms of a dog lacking mental stimulation include whining, excessive chewing, barking, digging holes, and destroying furniture. More severe symptoms include obsessive-compulsive habits such as spinning, fly biting, self-biting, and incontinence. While managing a dog with this level of anxiety may seem challenging, there are ways to meaningfully improve their behavior through mental stimulation.

Interactive Playtime

Although dogs love playing with toys like frisbees, chew toys, rope toys, and balls, there are more interactive toys available that are designed for mental exercise. Usually, these toys reward smart behavior by dispensing yummy treats.

You can use toys to play with your dog outdoors or indoors. However, a pet parent’s anxiety can come in the way of a dog’s mental stimulation. If you want to know how to keep a dog entertained at home without the stress of a clean-up, then use lightweight and waterproof bed covers that are machine washable and dryer safe. Products like these protect your bed or furniture while your dog enjoys activities that challenge its mind.

 

Creative Games

If your dog is bored with its interactive toys, you can offer mental stimulation by thinking outside the box. For example, you can let your dog work for its treats. Create an obstacle course in your yard with household objects such as boxes or buy some traffic cones. Leave treats at the end of the obstacle as a prize. Alternatively, play a cup game with your dog by putting a treat under one of three cups and then shifting them around.

Social Interaction

One of the best ways to mentally stimulate a bored dog is to let it play with other dogs, as long as you take some precautions.

  • Check first to make sure that the dogs they will be in contact with are vaccinated and dewormed
  • The dogs should be of similar size and age
  • Let them play in a neutral area to avoid territorial behaviour
  • Understand their body language and don’t force them to interact

 

Variety in Walking Routes

How often you walk your dog depends on its breed, age, physical needs, and your schedule. But, most dogs need between thirty minutes to 2 hours of activity every day. A daily walk is good for both you and your pet’s health. It also strengthens the bond between you and your dog.

However, walking the same route every day can be monotonous for both of you. It’s best to take a different route every day by walking around a different block, neighbourhood, or environment where your pet can be introduced to new sights, smells, and sounds. You can even plan a weekly schedule. One day, you can walk through the park and another you can go near a lake that’s accessible to you. Simply driving to a new location can also be mentally stimulating for your dog.

Taking the time to mentally stimulate your dog can be rewarding for you and your pet. All of these activities can strengthen the bond between the two of you and help improve your dog’s overall behavior.

 

Published By Harry Miller

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New Brunswick doctor says he does not know where he picked up COVID-19 – CTV News

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FREDERICTON —
A New Brunswick doctor blamed by many, including the premier, for spreading COVID-19 in a growing cluster of new cases told Radio-Canada on Tuesday that he’s not sure how he picked up the virus.

Dr. Jean Robert Ngola said he recently travelled from Campbellton, N.B., to Quebec to pick up his four-year-old daughter because the girl’s mother had to attend a funeral in Africa.

Ngola admitted that upon his return from the overnight trip, he did not self-isolate for 14 days, but added he does not know if he caught the coronavirus on his travels or from a patient.

“Perhaps it was an error in judgment, but I did not go to Quebec to go to take the virus and come to give it to my patients,” Ngola told morning show La Matinale.

There are 13 active COVID-19 cases in the province that had just weeks ago seen all of its coronavirus cases recovered.

On Tuesday, the Public Health Department reported another COVID-19 case in an outbreak at Manoir de la Vallee, a care home in Altholville in the northern part of the province.

All of New Brunswick’s active cases are in the health region known as Zone 5, and all have been linked to a cluster in the Campbellton area.

Officials, including Premier Blaine Higgs, have said the cluster began when a health-care worker travelled to Quebec and returned to work at Campbellton Regional Hospital without self-isolating.

But Ngola told La Matinale that his COVID-19 diagnosis threw him, and he’s not sure how he was exposed. His daughter tested positive as well and both have been in quarantine since, but neither have had any symptoms.

The doctor, who is of Congolese descent, said he has been the victim of racist attacks online since public attention was directed to his case. His name and photo were shared on social media with racist comments describing him as “the bad doctor who went to get the virus to kill people here.”

Ngola told the radio program he took precautions when travelling and did not stop en route.

He continued working upon his return to Campbellton and left his daughter in the care of an essential service workers’ daycare centre.

On May 25, he was told that one of his patients had tested positive for COVID-19. He called the man, whom he’d seen May 19 for a prescription renewal, and stopped working right away.

Ngola said as a patient, he also has the right to confidentiality.

The Campbellton COVID-19 cluster has led to increased testing in the region, where the Vitalite health authority offered tests to anyone who asked from Friday through Sunday.

More than 3,300 were completed over the weekend and Zone 5 has moved back a step in the province’s reopening plan.

A Tuesday news release from the province’s Public Health Department said the newest positive case is a person their 80s linked to Manoir de la Vallee, where a worker tested positive last week.

Five residents have now tested positive for the virus and the regional director for Lokia Group, the company that owns the home, said Monday that two had been hospitalized.

The province said Tuesday that five people are in the hospital due to COVID-19, including one person in intensive care.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said in a statement that New Brunswickers should be patient as the province monitors the outbreak.

“We have 14 days ahead of us to see how things unfold,” Russell’s statement read. “In the meantime, I ask New Brunswickers to continue to demonstrate their compassion, kindness and patience throughout the province.”

At a news conference last week, Premier Blaine Higgs did not refer to Dr. Ngola by name, but criticized him as “irresponsible” and said the matter had been referred to the RCMP, potentially leading to charges for violating public health orders.

Days later, Higgs walked back his remarks slightly and appeared to acknowledge the outrage, telling people to leave investigation into any wrongdoing up to law enforcement and the person’s employer.

“I know people are upset, but we don’t want anyone taking matters into their own hands,” he said.

Campbellton Mayor Stephanie Anglehart-Paulin told The Canadian Press on Saturday that she was embarrassed by many of the comments on social media directed at the doctor, which she described as “pretty hateful and nasty.”

–by Holly McKenzie-Sutter in St. John’s, N.L., with files from Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2020.

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