Connect with us

Health

Health officials searching for passengers after Toronto’s coronavirus patient showed symptoms on his flight

Published

 on

Toronto public health officials are tracking down almost 30 passengers who sat within a two-metre radius of a man who had coronavirus symptoms while travelling by plane to Toronto.

“It’s just a little under 30,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, when asked by the Star for the number of passengers her office is contacting. She added that some of those passengers are likely somewhere outside of the city.

The passengers are being contacted by phone, informed that they may have been exposed to the coronavirus, told of the health symptoms to look for, and to seek medical treatment if necessary, de Villa said in a phone interview.

The 50-year-old man presumed to be infected with the coronavirus experienced dry coughing and muscle aches while on the flight from China to Pearson airport, she said. News that he had symptoms of the illness while travelling to Toronto was revealed earlier Sunday by Canada’s chief public health officer.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

“Based on the latest information, the patient had symptoms on the plane,” Dr. Theresa Tam told an Ottawa news conference, which included federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu.

The man arrived Wednesday on China Southern Airlines flight CZ311. He flew from Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, to Guangzhou and from there directly to Toronto.

Protocols implemented at international airports in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal instruct passengers to inform border officials if they are experience flu-like symptoms, including fever, coughing and shortness of breath. But Dr. Rita Shahin, Toronto’s associate medical officer of health, told the Star the infected man arrived in Toronto the day before those protocols were implemented at Pearson.

“Screening was not yet in place when that flight came in,” Shahin said. “Screening started the following day.”

 

Asked why the screening wasn’t in place earlier at the airport, Shahin said that’s a question best answered by federal authorities. But neither Tam or Hajdu seemed to realize protocols weren’t in place when they held their news conference Sunday morning.

Tam told reporters that airport protocols were followed when the man landed. She explained that arrival screens instruct passengers to inform border service officers if they’re sick after travelling to coronavirus affected areas. Health screening questions are also asked when using electronic customs kiosks at the three airports.

A passenger who reports symptoms after travelling to an infected area is quarantined and medically assessed, Tam said, adding she did not currently see the need for more extreme airport protocols.

“The system is working,” she said, referring to the patient’s example. “The person obviously got the information that they needed to enter the health system in a safe and responsible manner.”

But asked repeatedly if the man had reported to Pearson airport authorities that he was experiencing symptoms, Tam suggested she didn’t know, noting the information about symptoms on the plane had been newly received Sunday morning after an interview with the patient.

“This patient may have had some mild symptoms, certainly not something that would have been particularly obvious,” Tam said, adding her agency had received no report about the patient when he came through Pearson airport.

Toronto Public Health now says the protocols weren’t in place, so the patient likely didn’t know he had to tell border officials about his symptoms, or that he had been to Wuhan.

Tam said passengers who weren’t within the two-metre radius with the patient on the plane “should not be overly concerned.”

“For the rest of the plane, if you don’t get a call from public health authorities it means you were not right next to that two-metre radius,” Tam said, adding that passengers who are not contacted “should remain calm.” Two metres is about the distance that infected droplets from a cough would travel.

Tam’s deputy, Dr. Howard Njoo, said it’s possible some passengers who were seated close to the patient live in provinces outside of Ontario.

In a statement Sunday, de Villa said passengers have been showing up at local hospital emergency departments without symptoms.

“While we appreciate that people may have concerns, and that people may worry about their health, we encourage people who were on this flight and who do not have signs of illness to continue with their routine activities and we ask that these people do not present to the health care system,” de Villa said.

After landing in Toronto, the infected man was taken from the airport in a private vehicle and authorities say he had little contact with anyone since his arrival outside of his immediate family. The patient called 911 the day after his arrival, was taken by ambulance to hospital Thursday, and is in stable condition.

De Villa said in an interview that only one member of the man’s family was in close contact with him. The family member has no symptoms and is doing well.

China’s health minister, Ma Xiaowei, told reporters in Beijing Sunday that an infected person can spread the coronavirus to others before experiencing symptoms. That’s different than the SARS coronavirus, which couldn’t be spread during incubation. The SARS outbreak began in China in 2002 and killed almost 800 people worldwide. The current coronavirus so far seems less dangerous than SARS. But de Villa cautioned that the virus was identified less than a month ago and the situation is “evolving.”

Hajdu stressed that “the risk is extremely low for Canadians,” noting the virus is spread only through close contact. “There is no need for Canadians to be alarmed,” she said, adding health authorities have learned much since SARS killed 44 people in Toronto.

Given global travel patterns, Tam said she expects more coronavirus cases will be “imported into Canada in the near term.” And she urged people participating in large public gatherings to take typical winter time precautions — “wash your hands, don’t cough towards someone, cough into a tissue or into your sleeve and discard the tissue properly. And stay home if you’re sick.”

The United States government is sending a charter plane to fly its consular staff out of Wuhan. Hajdu said the Canadian government is not currently planning a similar airlift for Canadians citizens there. But the government will assist Canadians who want help leaving Wuhan if they reach out to Global Affairs, she added.

The man believed to be infected was taken by ambulance to Toronto’s Sunnybrook hospital Thursday with a fever and cough. Tests came back positive for coronavirus on Saturday and the man is now being treated in isolation in a “negative pressure” room at the hospital. Dr. Jerome Leis, Sunnybrook’s medical director of infection prevention and control, said Sunday the patient remains in stable condition, and will only be released when he’s no longer a contagion risk. Leis said the patient’s presence at the hospital is not affecting care being given to other patients.

Tam said she expects laboratory confirmation on the presumed coronavirus infection within 24 hours.

Toronto Public Health is investigating every place the patient may have visited and any people he came in contact with, said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, at a separate press conference on Saturday.

Health officials around the world are working to contain the coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, which as of Sunday had infected nearly 2,000 people and led to 56 deaths in China, where it originated. Despite its rapid spread, the virus had not been declared an international public health emergency by the World Health Organization.

In central China’s Hubei province, some 51 million in 16 cities are essentially quarantined and under a travel ban.

 

Aside from China and Canada, cases have been reported in the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Hong Kong.

Source link

Continue Reading

Health

At least five B.C. children died from influenza last month, as mortalities spike – Energeticcity.ca

Published

 on


VICTORIA — At least five children died last month in British Columbia from influenza as a rise of early season respiratory illnesses added strain to the beleaguered health-care system.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

The figure marks a departure from the average of two to three annual flu deaths among children in the province between 2015 and 2019, data from the BC Coroners Service shows.

“Public health is monitoring the situation closely and is reminding people of the steps they can take to protect themselves, their children and their loved ones against the flu,” the B.C. Centre for Disease Control said in a statement.

“It is important to know that death associated with influenza in previously healthy children continues to be rare.”

The centre said it is aware of a sixth reported flu death among children and youth under 19, but it was not immediately clear why the sixth wasn’t included in the coroners’ figures. 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the children who died included one who was younger than five years old, three who were between five and nine, and two adolescents who were between 15 and 19.

“Early findings indicate some of the children experienced secondary bacterial infections contributing to severe illness, which can be a complication of influenza,” Henry said in a statement Thursday.

The deaths in British Columbia suggest figures could tick up across the country given the common challenges facing health systems this respiratory season. Alberta has also recorded the deaths of two children with influenza so far this season.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, an average of five to six kids died per flu season across Canada, data collected from 12 hospitals across the country shows. 

The national data was collected between 2010 and 2019 by IMPACT, a national surveillance network administered by the Canadian Paediatric Association. It was included in a research paper published in March in “The Lancet Regional Health — Americas” journal that also found no deaths from the flu among children in either 2020 or 2021. 

No one from either IMPACT or the B.C. Centre for Disease Control was immediately available for an interview.

On Monday, Henry said that after two years of low flu rates, mostly due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the province is seeing a “dramatic increase” in illness and it arrived sooner than normal. 

She urged parents to get their children vaccinated against the flu. 

On Thursday, British Columbia’s Health Ministry announced a “blitz” of walk-in flu clinics that will open across the province Friday through Sunday. Flu vaccines are free to all kids aged six months and older in B.C.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control said getting the shot is particularly important for those at risk of severe outcomes, including those with chronic medical conditions like heart, lung, kidney or liver disorders and diseases, those with conditions that cause difficulty breathing or swallowing, those who need to take Aspirin for long periods of time and those who are very obese. 

The BC Coroners Service said its data is preliminary and subject to change while investigations are completed.

The cases include those where influenza was identified as an immediate, pre-existing or underlying cause of death, or as a significant condition. 

Henry said updates on pediatric influenza-related deaths will be posted weekly as part of the respiratory surveillance summaries on the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2022.

The Canadian Press

Report an error

Read our guiding principles

Thanks for reading!

This holiday season, give the gift of local news!

Our goal is to cover all the headlines and events happening in Northeast B.C. If you believe in this coverage, becoming a Supporter is a great way to help!

More stories you might like

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Health

At least five B.C. children died from influenza last month, as mortalities spike

Published

 on

At least five children died last month in British Columbia from influenza as a rise of early season respiratory illnesses added strain to the beleaguered healthcare system.

The figure marks a departure from the average of two to three annual flu deaths among children in the province between 2015 and 2019, data from the BC Coroners Service shows.

“Public health is monitoring the situation closely and is reminding people of the steps they can take to protect themselves, their children and their loved ones against the flu,” the B.C. Centre for Disease Control said in a statement.

“It is important to know that death associated with influenza in previously healthy children continues to be rare.”

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

The centre said it is aware of a sixth reported flu death among children and youth under 19, but it was not immediately clear why the sixth wasn’t included in the coroners’ figures.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the children who died included one who was younger than five years old, three who were between five and nine, and two adolescents who were between 15 and 19.

“Early findings indicate some of the children experienced secondary bacterial infections contributing to severe illness, which can be a complication of influenza,” Henry said in a statement Thursday.

The deaths in British Columbia suggest figures could tick up across the country given the common challenges facing health systems this respiratory season. Alberta has also recorded the deaths of two children with influenza so far this season.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, an average of five to six kids died per flu season across Canada, data collected from 12 hospitals across the country shows.

The national data was collected between 2010 and 2019 by IMPACT, a national surveillance network administered by the Canadian Paediatric Association. It was included in a research paper published in March in “The Lancet Regional Health — Americas” journal that also found no deaths from the flu among children in either 2020 or 2021.

No one from either IMPACT or the B.C. Centre for Disease Control was immediately available for an interview.

On Monday, Henry said that after two years of low flu rates, mostly due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the province is seeing a “dramatic increase” in illness and it arrived sooner than normal.

She urged parents to get their children vaccinated against the flu.

On Thursday, British Columbia’s Health Ministry announced a “blitz” of walk-in flu clinics that will open across the province Friday through Sunday. Flu vaccines are free to all kids aged six months and older in B.C.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control said getting the shot is particularly important for those at risk of severe outcomes, including those with chronic medical conditions like heart, lung, kidney or liver disorders and diseases, those with conditions that cause difficulty breathing or swallowing, those who need to take Aspirin for long periods of time and those who are very obese.

The BC Coroners Service said its data is preliminary and subject to change while investigations are completed.

The cases include those where influenza was identified as an immediate, pre-existing or underlying cause of death, or as a significant condition.

Henry said updates on pediatric influenza-related deaths will be posted weekly as part of the respiratory surveillance summaries on the B.C. Centre for Disease Control website.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2022.

Continue Reading

Health

Cough and cold medication shortage to end next year, pharmacists association says

Published

 on

Children’s Tylenol returning slowly to retail outlets in town

Parents with sick kids might be able to take a break from crushing adult Tylenol and mixing it with apple sauce if they hurry quickly to a local pharmacy.

Children’s Tylenol (acetaminophen) in liquid form began arriving at retail outlets in late November, but in such limited quantities that pharmacists are keeping them behind the counter and limiting them to one bottle per customer.

Genius Dog 336 x 280 - Animated

A Shopper’s Drug Mart pharmacist The Daily Press spoke with on Tuesday wouldn’t say how much they’d received but advised to hurry while quantities last. A Rexall pharmacist is only selling children’s Tylenol to parents with sick kids, not to those just preparing for a rainy day.

Adam Chappell, owner and pharmacist at Parma Right in The 101 Mall, told The Daily Press he was expecting nine retail-sized bottles of children’s Tylenol last Wednesday, which he also planned to keep behind the counter and limit to one bottle per customer.

He predicts that more will become available, but that there will be extended shortages in the short term. Pharmacies are being allocated small amounts by the manufacturers, to spread out supply.

The shortage makes it difficult for parents to control fevers in their children, leading to more doctor visits, he said.

“We had more public health measures in place with COVID, so we had 1½ to two years where we really didn’t see much influenza or common cold,” said Chappell, whose independent pharmacy opened in November.

“So now we’re seeing everything all at once because we’re now socializing more. It’s that time of year, so we’re starting to see more influenza, cough and colds and COVID is still circulating. I think it’s a combination of higher use and some lingering logistical issues.”

Shelves sit half empty in the adult cough and cold section at the Shopper’s Drug Mart at 227 Algonquin Blvd. E. on Tuesday. The shortage is expected to end between January and March of 2023, said Jen Belcher with the Pharmacists Association of Ontario. The timing would coincide with the end of the cold and flu season.NICOLE STOFFMAN/The Daily Press
Shelves sit half empty in the adult cough and cold section at the Shopper’s Drug Mart at 227 Algonquin Blvd. E. on Tuesday. The shortage is expected to end between January and March of 2023, said Jen Belcher with the Pharmacists Association of Ontario. The timing would coincide with the end of the cold and flu season.NICOLE STOFFMAN/The Daily Press jpg, TD

A children’s drug shortage began in the spring and worsened in the summer when an early onset of flu and respiratory syncytial virus was made worse by COVID-19, which presents as a cold. Parents began stocking up.

When local manufacturers could not keep up with demand, Health Canada arranged to import supply from the United States and Australia, whose first shipment in early November went straight to hospitals, in part because the labels were not bilingual, Postmedia reported.

Health Canada has authorized 500,000 bottles of imported children’s acetaminophen for retail to arrive in December, and domestic supply is starting to recover, Jen Belcher with the Ontario Pharmacists Association told The Daily Press in a telephone interview.

“The demand really hasn’t abated, and manufacturing really hasn’t been able to keep up from a straight capacity standpoint, rather than a supply interruption with a lack of ingredients,” she said, when asked to respond to a claim by the German pharmacist’s association.

That organization asserts pandemic lockdowns in China are blocking exports of the raw ingredients used for medications, Postmedia reported Nov. 16.

If lockdowns in China continue, however, she conceded it could interrupt the ingredient supply in the long-term.  There is also a global reliance on India for the raw ingredients used in over-the-counter medication.

Canadian manufacturers can tap various international suppliers if approved by Health Canada, Belcher said.

Children’s Advil (ibuprofen), an anti-inflammatory, continues to be in short supply in pharmacies, but available in hospital. Neither Belcher nor Chappell has heard reports of Health Canada planning to import it for retail outlets.

Adult Tylenol and Advil remain plentiful.

Chappell recommends that parents speak to their pharmacist to determine a dosage of adult pills based on the child’s weight and symptoms. They can be crushed and added to yogurt, apple sauce or chocolate syrup.

If parents can wait a few days for the package to arrive, they can order a supply for their child from a compounding pharmacist, who is qualified to make custom medications including liquid formulations. There are several compounding pharmacists in Sudbury, but none in Timmins.

Adults in Timmins who have come down with a cold or flu lately may also have been surprised to see empty shelves in the adult cough and cold section of their local pharmacy.

“When it comes to cough and cold medication for both adults and children, we’re not seeing an imported supply of those. Those are short and have been for quite some time due to this high level of demand, small amounts have been trickling through the supply chain but it hasn’t been enough to keep up with demand,” said Belcher.

She expects the adult cough and cold medication shortage to end sometime between January and March, 2023, just in time for the end of flu season.

A quick check of the adult cough and cold section of four downtown pharmacies on Tuesday showed partially empty shelves, but there was still a variety of medication to choose from.

Belcher said pharmacists have lots of experience finding alternatives for patients, if necessary.

“While the over-the-counter medications in short supply are the most visible representation of the challenges to our supply chain, pharmacy teams have been managing very high levels of drug shortages, some critical, where there are really few or no alternative options,” she said, adding that up to 20 per cent of the team’s day is spent managing shortages.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending