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Hinshaw cuts runny nose, sore throat from list of COVID-19 symptoms forcing kids to isolate – The Sudbury Star

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Parents running out of paid leave to care for a child with a simple runny nose or sore throat caught a break Thursday when Dr. Deena Hinshaw struck those from the list of core COVID-19 symptoms.

Mirroring updated regulations in B.C., Quebec and Ontario, children in Alberta will no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days or get tested for the virus if they have only a sore throat or runny nose, two symptoms that are more likely to indicate a common childhood cold.

Taking effect Monday, the new requirement sends these children home for 24 hours instead, monitored in case symptoms get worse.

“Runny nose is a very, very common symptom, as is a sore throat, and it’s not very specific for COVID,” Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said in an interview before Thursday’s announcement.

Alberta residents will be coping with COVID-19 restrictions for months, Hinshaw said. This change is part of trying to make that burden as light as possible and gain maximum compliance.

“Measures that are in place that make peoples’ lives more difficult but don’t actually help that much to prevent COVID, we need to lift those when we have the evidence to do so,” she said.

There is still a mandatory 10-day isolation or testing requirement for children with a cough, fever, loss of taste or smell and/or shortness of breath.

Runny nose and sore throat are included in a longer list of secondary symptoms. If a child has one symptom from that list on the Alberta Health website they must stay home for 24 hours to see if the symptom worsens or more symptoms develop. If nothing gets worse, a child may return to school and other children’s activities, even if the symptom hasn’t resolved.

For students with two or more secondary symptoms, testing is still recommended. A child must stay home until symptoms go away or they test negative. The relaxed rules do not apply to adults yet.

Existing rules cause hardship

Many parents had been struggling with the isolation requirements, particularly when schools sent students home for a simple runny nose.

In the Edmonton Journal’s Groundwork engagement project, parents reported having to call in more vulnerable grandparents to help when kids come down with a cold. They’re being forced to call in sick themselves, which creates additional staffing challenges for schools, hospitals and other workplaces.

Isolating a child is really tough when parents have to keep leaving the house to get groceries or bring other children to school, said Laura Shyko in an interview. Her three elementary-school aged children came down with runny noses, testing negative for COVID-19, one after the other.

She didn’t have the heart to drag the last one, a five-year-old, kicking and screaming to get the nasal swab. “It was all so clear she just had a cold,” she said.

By now, parents are running out of paid leave themselves, said Joanna Coleman, who has had to leave work four separate times so far, with three children off school 13 days, for a variety of headaches and colds that tested negative for COVID-19.

At one point, the school sent her daughter home simply because her nose ran for 15 minutes after coming in from the cold. A single mom, she is now out of paid vacation and sick days. “I do understand the need for this,” she said. But anything that can safely streamline the process is appreciated. “We’re not going to be back to normal for a very long time.”

Data driving the change

Hinshaw said Alberta Health feels confident about making this change based on three different data sets — data showing a similar change did not significantly increase transmission in Ontario schools when it was made Oct. 1, symptom descriptions collected since the start of the pandemic after children test positive, and new data from Alberta on the children with a runny nose or sore throat who test negative for COVID-19.

On that last data set, technical challenges meant Alberta Health Services only recently started asking for a full list of symptoms from each person requesting a COVID-19 test online, Hinshaw said.

But in the last week, for example, 3,300 children under 18 said they had a runny nose when they applied for a test. Of those, 600 children had no other symptom. Two of those children then tested positive, and only one of them had no known connection to a positive COVID-19 case.

Under the new rules, only the child with just a runny nose and a close contact must stay home and get tested. The rest of the 600 could simply monitor for symptoms, then head back to school after 24 hours if symptoms didn’t worsen.

Alberta Health is still analyzing this type of data for adults and asked its science advisory panel to help. The current change does not apply to adults because they can have different symptoms, are at a higher risk of getting seriously ill from the disease, and are more likely to pass it on to others.

The risk is not zero

But it’s a difficult subject. The risk is not zero and Alberta has had record numbers of new daily COVID-19 cases lately. Of that group of 600 children with only a runny nose, one child still tested positive and that child would be at school, potentially infectious, under these new rules.

Through the Groundwork surveys and virtual office hours, the Edmonton Journal also heard from parents with children in school who were already anxious about peers not following the daily wellness check recommendations.

Many parents with children studying online say this is because they don’t trust that the in-school environment is safe enough. Some of them have medically-fragile family members to protect, and some wish they could let their children study safely at home but their jobs, children’s needs or the family situation makes that impossible.

“I completely understand that concern,” Hinshaw said, adding that this change is about balance and trying to gain compliance, knowing there will always be some risk at school because of asymptomatic transmission. “We’re not throwing caution to the wind, but saying: How can we make sure people can live with this for several months to come?”

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B.C. COVID-19 vaccine plan: Who gets priority and what is the schedule? – Global News

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B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, said she is hoping to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine in the province in the first week of January.

Henry said Thursday there will only be enough for people in priority groups to start, including vulnerable seniors and health-care workers.

Read more:
B.C. reports 694 new COVID-19 cases and double-digit deaths for 10th consecutive day

“We are planning to be able to put vaccines into arms, and the first week of January is what we’re planning for to make sure we are absolutely ready, by then at the very least,” Henry said.

She expects there will be two vaccines available to start — the Pfizer vaccine, which is under review right now by Health Canada, and the Moderna vaccine, which is currently in the process of obtaining notice of compliance in Canada.

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Henry said it is expected that Canada will get about six million doses of the vaccine and those will be distributed across the country.






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Federal government, provinces and Canadian Armed Forces ramp up COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan


Federal government, provinces and Canadian Armed Forces ramp up COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan

The Canadian military has been brought in to help figure out how the vaccine is going to be distributed and administered and the deep freezers needed to store the vaccine are set to be plugged in and ready to use by Dec. 14.

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However, it will be up to the provinces to decide who is at the front of the line.

“Our first priority is to make sure we are protecting those who are most at risk,” Henry said Thursday, namely “our seniors and elders in our communities and long-term care homes and in hospitals, here in B.C.”

“Once we have more vaccine available, we will be making it available to all of us in B.C. And that’s when we can get to that point of managing and controlling this pandemic.”

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Read more:
Support for mandatory coronavirus vaccine keeps falling even as cases spike: Ipsos

Henry added they are expecting more vaccine doses to be available by April, 2021, and that by Sept. 2021, everyone who wants a vaccine will have received one.

“So, we expect there will be a good lot of people who will be immunized by the summer and through the fall next year, but by the end of the year, anybody who wants vaccine in B.C. and in Canada should have it available to them and should be immunized,” Henry said.

More details on the rollout plan in B.C. are expected to be released next week.


Click to play video 'British Columbians divided over mandatory vaccinations'



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British Columbians divided over mandatory vaccinations


British Columbians divided over mandatory vaccinations

It seems British Columbians are still divided at this time on whether or not they will get the vaccine when it becomes available.

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Henry said Wednesday the province does not have a mandatory vaccine program and health officials do not expect COVID-19 immunizations to be mandatory.

Last week, polling done exclusively by Ipsos for Global News showed a drop in support for a mandatory vaccine since the beginning of the month, when it stood at 61 per cent.

That support now stands at 59 per cent, a total drop of 13 percentage points since May 2020.

Read more:
A coronavirus vaccine is almost ready. But will you take it?

As well, even though 59 per cent said they would support mandatory vaccination, more than 70 per cent also said they feel nervous about taking a vaccine that was created and rolled out so quickly.

Sixty-nine per cent cited the potential for long-term effects as a major concern.


Click to play video 'Tackling vaccine hesitancy amid fight to end COVID-19'



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Tackling vaccine hesitancy amid fight to end COVID-19


Tackling vaccine hesitancy amid fight to end COVID-19

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

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Facebook to remove COVID-19 vaccine-related misinformation – StCatharinesStandard.ca

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LONDON – Facebook said Thursday it will start removing false claims about COVID-19 vaccines, in its latest move to counter a tide of coronavirus-related online misinformation.

In the coming weeks, the social network will begin taking down any Facebook or Instagram posts with false information about the vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts.

The U.S. tech giant is taking action as the first COVID-19 vaccines are set to be rolled out. Britain this week became the first country to give emergency authorization for a vaccine developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, and innoculations could start within days. Regulators in the U.S., the European Union and Canada are also vetting vaccines.

Facebook said it’s applying a policy to remove virus misinformation that could lead to “imminent physical harm.“

Posts that fall afoul of the policy could include phoney claims about vaccine safety, efficacy, ingredients or side effects.

“For example, we will remove false claims that COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips, or anything else that isn’t on the official vaccine ingredient list,“ the company said in a blog post.

Conspiracy theories about the vaccines that are already known to be false will also be removed.

Facebook has taken other steps to try to stop the spread of vaccine and coronavirus-related misinformation on its platform. From March to October, it has removed 12 million posts with coronavirus-related misinformation. The deleted posts include one by President Donald Trump with a link to a Fox News video of him saying children are “virtually immune” to the virus.

In October, the company banned ads discouraging vaccinations, though it made an exception for advocacy ads about government vaccine policies. The company has also promoted articles debunking COVID-19 misinformation on an information centre.

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COVID-19 update: B.C.'s health ministry to give details on latest cases, deaths, outbreaks – CTV News Vancouver

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VANCOUVER —
British Columbians will get one more COVID-19 update before the weekend, as the province’s health ministry will release details from the past 24 hours.

Friday’s COVID-19 update will be revealed in a written statement and will explain the number of new cases, deaths and outbreaks recorded since the day before. 

On Thursday, Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix gave an in-person briefing and revealed another 694 people had tested positive for the disease. That pushed the number of active cases over 9,000 or the first time ever in the pandemic and the total number of cases over 35,000. 

Another 12 people died from the disease, which marked the 10th day in a row that the province had seen deaths in the double digits. 

Updates to the temporary, sweeping orders put in place last month are expected Monday. It’s not yet known if they’ll be extended or withdrawn. 

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. 

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Kendra Mangione 

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