American health authorities said Tuesday they ultimately expect the novel coronavirus to spread in the United States and are urging local governments, businesses, and schools to develop plans like canceling mass gatherings or switching to teleworking.
Officials are also worried the outbreak poses a threat to the the security of the US drug supply chain because a high proportion of ingredients used to make medicine is made in China, where the virus was first identified.
“Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country,” Nancy Messonnier, a senior official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said during a briefing.
“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”
The comments mark a significant escalation in the level of threat being conveyed to the US public and come amid fears of a pandemic, as the disease has taken root in several countries outside China, including Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.
In the absence of a vaccine or any form of treatment for COVID-19, authorities are relying on non-pharmaceutical interventions.
“For schools, options include dividing students into smaller groups, or in a severe pandemic closing schools and using internet-based teleschooling.
“For adults, businesses can replace in-person meetings with video and telephone conferences and increase teleworking options,” she continued, adding that on a larger scale, cities may need to cancel mass gatherings.
In the case of hospitals, it may mean delaying elective procedures and increasing telephone consultations.
“You should ask your children’s school about their plans for school dismissal or school closures. Ask about teleschooling. I contacted my local school superintendent this morning with exactly those questions.”
Drug supply chain
At a separate briefing, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn admitted his agency is “keenly aware that the outbreak will likely affect the medical product supply chain, including potential disruptions to supply or shortages of critical medical products in the US.”
He said the agency was reaching out to hundreds of drug makers to gather information about their supply chain, but “it’s important to note that FDA is not aware of any medical product shortages at this time.”
He added personal protective equipment, such as face masks, respirators and gowns were among products at risk.
Hahn’s comments came amid reports that the prolonged shutdown of drug makers in China’s Hubei province had boosted India’s IOL Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd, the world’s biggest producer of ibuprofen, as some Indian drug makers expect to benefit from China’s losses.
On Monday, the White House sent a request to Congress to make at least US$2.5 billion in funding available for preparedness and response, including developing treatments and vaccines and buying equipment for a strategic national stockpile.
Vaccine effective in mice
On the vaccine front, Tony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said that a candidate being made by Moderna had proved effective in mice and would begin human trials “within a month and a half.”
If all goes to plan, it could be available on the market in about a year and a half, ready in case the coronavirus outbreak continues until the next flu season.
The NIH has also begun its first randomized clinical trial to investigate the safety and efficacy of the antiviral remdesivir in treating COVID-19.
The first trial participant is an American who was repatriated after being quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that docked in Yokohama, Japan and who is being treated at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
The trial’s organizers said it will be adapted to enroll participants at other sites in the US and worldwide, eventually including nearly 400 people, and would also investigate other treatments.
Waterloo Region has special plans in store for Every Dose Counts weekend – cjoy.com
Waterloo Region says it has made some special preparations at its biggest vaccination clinic as it attempts to get a jab of COVID-19 vaccine into thousands of kids between the ages of five and 11 next weekend.
The Cambridge Pinebish vaccine clinic has increased capacity ahead of the Every Dose Counts weekend, which will be held on Dec. 11 and 12.
“We’re very enthusiastic about hosting another Every Dose Counts weekend, this time with a focus on vaccinating five- to 11-year-olds and family members who still need a first or second dose,” said Vickie Murray, who is heading the region’s vaccine rollout.
As of Friday, the region said that 18.12 per cent of the 48,000 people estimated to be in this age group in the area had had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
In an effort to make the experience more pleasant for the kids, there will be music, videos and popcorn via Thunderstorm Productions; Star Wars characters will be on hand courtesy of the 501st Legion; and Santa will appear Sunday morning.
This weekend at Cambridge Pinebush Vaccination Clinic, we will be joined by friends from a galaxy far away, members of the Canadian Garrison of the 501st Legion, the bad guys doing good. pic.twitter.com/oC9Ia0DI8I
— Region of Waterloo Public Health (@ROWPublicHealth) December 6, 2021
Murray has said in the past that there will be around 6,000 appointments available over the weekend.
“We also have mobile clinics planned at three community locations. We hope many families will take advantage of a fun opportunity to get their children vaccinated during the Every Dose Counts weekend,” Murray stated.
The pop-up clinics are scheduled for Saturday at Chandler Mowat and Victoria Hills community centres and Sunday at Cedarbrae Public School.
The region says caregivers can begin to book appointments for the pop-up clinics on Sunday. They can also book appointments for first and second doses on the region’s website.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
WHO: No 'doomsday,' but malaria fight disrupted by pandemic – Vancouver Is Awesome
GENEVA (AP) — The World Health Organization said Monday that the global response to the longtime threat of malaria has taken a hit as the coronavirus pandemic disrupted health services in many countries, leading to tens of thousands more deaths worldwide last year — as questions remain on the possible fallout this year.
The U.N. health agency, in the latest edition of its World Malaria Report, cited a total of 241 million cases of the disease in 2020, up 14 million from the year before, and 627,000 deaths — an increase of 69,000.
“Approximately two-thirds of these additional deaths (47,000) were linked to disruptions in the provision of malaria prevention, diagnosis and treatment during the pandemic,” WHO said in a statement.
Sub-Saharan Africa accounted, roughly, for at least 95% of all malaria cases and deaths in 2020, the agency said.
The figures for last year could have been much worse though, with WHO saying its original projection anticipated a possible doubling of malaria-related deaths in 2020, and many countries sought to ramp up their programs to fight malaria.
“The first message, in many ways, is a good news message: Due or thanks to the strenuous efforts of malaria-endemic countries — partners and others — I think we can claim that the world has succeeded in averting the worst-case scenario of malaria deaths that we’d contemplated as a likely or possible scenario a year ago,” Dr. Pedro Alonso, director of WHO’s Global Malaria Program, told reporters.
The “doomsday scenario has not materialized,” he added.
Over the last 15 years, a dozen countries — including China and El Salvador this year — have joined the ranks of countries that WHO has classified as malaria-free.
But it cautioned that progress against malaria has leveled off in recent years, and two dozen countries have tallied increases in deaths related to malaria since 2015, the baseline year for WHO’s malaria strategy.
In the 11 hardest-hit countries, annual cases of malaria grew by 13 million to 163 million between 2015 and 2020, and deaths rose more than 54,000 to nearly 445,000 annually as of last year, WHO said.
Overall, though, the agency pointed to successes over the last generation. A revised methodology in tallying the deaths from mortality, said to be more precise, found that more than 10 million malaria deaths have been averted since the year 2000, Alonso said.
But in recent years, “we are not on a trajectory to success,” he added, cautioning that it’s hard to tell what the impact will be in 2021 and beyond.
“How things will evolve over the coming weeks and months I wouldn’t dare to say at this point,” Alonso said.
Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
Possible COVID-19 exposures at Signal Brewery, The Duke Pub – Kingston This Week
People who were at two pubs – one in downtown Belleville, the other in Corbyville – last week may have been exposed to COVID-19, public health officials say.
Anyone who attended Corbyville’s Signal Brewery between Nov. 19 and Dec. 4 should seek testing immediately, even if no symptoms are present, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health announced Sunday.
Health unit staff are “investigating multiple cases of COVID-19 that were present at the restaurant during this time,” stated a news release issued Sunday. It added the brewery had closed voluntarily.
“I am urging individuals who attended Signal Brewery on these dates to seek testing, even if they do not have symptoms, in order to protect those around them,” acting medical officer of health Dr. Ethan Toumishey stated in the release.
“All residents are asked to remain vigilant and protect one another – and this includes getting tested if advised, staying home and getting tested if you have symptoms, and limiting your close contacts.”
Testing in Belleville or Trenton may be booked online or by calling 613-961-5544. Other testing options are listed at hpepublichealth.ca/getting-tested-for-covid-19/ . When getting testing, provide the investigation number: 2238-2021-51372.
People who attended the brewery on the dates specified should also watch for symptoms of COVID-19, the release advised, and seek testing if any – no matter how mild – appear. Even if your first test result was negative, seek another test if symptoms develop, the release noted.
Symptoms may include a runny nose or sore throat. Anyone with symptoms should stay home and away from others, leaving isolation only to be tested.
Patrons of The Duke Pub in Belleville on Nov. 28 and Nov. 30, meanwhile, may also have been exposed, the health unit noted late Friday in a separate release. It’s located at 248 Front St.
Public health staff were investigating one case known to be present in the pub on those dates.
“There has been a very concerning increase in COVID-19 cases in our region and this puts the entire community at risk,” Friday’s release quoted Toumishey as saying.
“While proof of vaccination does help to reduce the potential risk to the individuals who were at The Duke Pub, anyone who was there on November 28 and November 30 should closely monitor for symptoms and if symptoms develop they should isolate immediately and only leave isolation to seek testing or urgent medical care,” he said.
“Anyone in the community who is unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or eligible for a booster dose, should get vaccinated as soon as possible. Vaccination is the single best thing residents can do to protect themselves from COVID-19.”
As of Monday there were 164 active cases and 20 outbreaks in the region . Four of the outbreaks were restaurants; no names were provided on the health unit’s website.
The health unit does not usually release the locations of exposures to the virus unless there is a need to reach people who may have been exposed.
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