As of Monday, the KFL&A region has surpassed 300 active COVID-19 cases, which is a record high.
“We’re still on the rise. We’re still heading up and we haven’t yet seen that plateau,” said Dr. Gerald Evans, an infectious disease expert at Queen’s University.
With COVID-19 cases continuing to hit record highs in the Kingston area, Evans says there is still a window to get things under control before the holidays.
“I think we could be looking at a peak now within the next couple of weeks, but that’ll still put us with a lot of cases over the holiday period,” Evans said.
He added that following health guidelines, especially a recent local health order limiting indoor social gatherings to 10 people, could put a dent in cases.
“The problem is, is that when we do an intervention to try and reduce case numbers, we only see that effect about 10 to 14 days later,” Evans said.
Immunologist ‘not panicked’ as Canada confirms first cases of Omicron variant
If cases continue to rise despite the local health order, Evans said he trusts that Piotr Oglaza, medical officer of health, and KFL&A Public Health will be looking at other measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
As for the new Omicron variant, Evans says that poses a lot of unknowns.
“This variant is everywhere already. And what we just need to do and hope is that we can control the spread until we understand more about it,” Evans said.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, Jan. 21: weekly recap, 94 hospitalized, 601 new cases – Halifax Examiner
There are now now 94 people in hospital who were admitted because of COVID symptoms, 13 of whom are in ICU. Those 57 range in age from 0 to 100 years old, and the average age is 68.
Additionally, there are:
• 73 people admitted to hospital for other reasons but who tested positive for COVID during the admissions screening or who were admitted for COVID but no longer require specialized care
• 113 people in hospital who contracted COVID in the hospital outbreaks
The 94 people now hospitalized because of COVID have the following vaccination status:
The vaccination status of those 94 is:
• 11 (11.7%) have had 3 doses
• 60 (63.8%) have had 2 doses but not 3
• 4 (4.3%) have had 1 dose
• 19 (20.2%) are unvaccinated
Note that only 9.3% of the population is unvaccinated
My very rough calculation of the rate by vaccination status of those hospitalized (based on numbers of the population in each category two weeks ago) is as follows:
• (11) a rate of 6.1 per 100K with 3 doses
• (60) a rate of 9.8 per 100K with 2 doses (but not 3)
• (4) a rate of 5.7 per 100K with 1 dose only
• (19) a rate of 18.0 per 100k unvaccinated
Additionally, the province announced 601 new cases of COVID-19 today. The new cases are people who received a positive PCR test result from a Nova Scotia Health lab; it does not include people who tested positive using a take-home rapid (antigen) test.
By Nova Scotia Health zone, the new cases break down as:
• 269 Central
• 120 Eastern
• 49 Northern
• 163 Western
Public Health estimates that there are 5,241 active cases in the province; the actual number is undoubtedly much higher.
The graph above shows the weekly (Sat-Fri) number of new cases for the duration of the pandemic.
The graph above shows the number of weekly cases (green, left axis) and weekly deaths (red, right axis). If deaths lag three weeks behind cases, we may (nothing is certain) see 10-20 more deaths in the next couple of weeks.
The graph above shows the number of weekly cases (green, left axis) and the number hospitalized on Fridays (orange, right axis) for the duration of the pandemic.
“Active COVID-19 cases at the provincial jail in Burnside are down to 11,” reports Zane Woodford:
The Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility has had an outbreak since late-December, and Justice Department spokesperson Heather Fairbairn told the Halifax Examiner there have now been a total of 140 cases at the jail.
“As of Jan. 21, there are 11 active cases among those currently in custody at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility,” Fairbairn wrote in an email.
As has been the case throughout, according to Fairbairn, none of the prisoners is in hospital and there are no cases in the jail’s women’s unit.
Fairbairn said since January 1, five people have been approved for temporary absences or early release. The population at the jail, as of January 20, was 223. That means about 63% of prisoners at the facility have had COVID-19.
There are two new cases at ongoing hospital outbreaks, one each at:
• Cape Breton Regional Hospital for a total of fewer than 10 in that ward
• Victoria General for a total of fewer than 10
Vaccination data were not reported today “due to a technical issue.”
The graph above shows the vaccination progress as captured on Fridays through the pandemic, except Thursday for this week. The yellow line is people with at least one dose of vaccine The blue line is people with only one dose. The green line is people with two doses but not three. The grey line is people with three doses. The red line is 80% of the population.
Appointments for boosters are now open to people 30 and over for whom 168 days have passed since their second shot.
Vaccination appointments for people 5 years of age and older can be booked here.
People in rural areas who need transportation to a vaccination appointment should contact Rural Rides, which will get you there and back home for just $5. You need to book the ride 24 hours ahead of time.
There are many drop-in Pfizer vaccine clinics scheduled, starting next week, several for kids five years old and older.
Nova Scotia Health labs completed 3,975 PCR tests yesterday, with a positivity rate of 15.1%.
If you test positive with a rapid (antigen) test, you are assumed to definitely have COVID, and you and your household are to self-isolate as required.
But take-home rapid testing kits are no longer widely available.
Pop-up testing has been scheduled for the following sites:
Halifax Central Library, 11am-6pm
Alderney Gate, 10am-2pm
Glace Bay Legion, 11am-3pm
Halifax Central Library, 11am-6pm
Knights of Columbus (KOC) Hall (New Waterford), 11am-3pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Hubbards Lions Club, 11am-3pm
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Mexican president has cardiac catheterization, health said to be good
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador underwent a cardiac catheterization in hospital on Friday and was found to be in good health, the interior ministry said in a statement.
“In this procedure, the heart and the arteries of the president were found to be healthy and functioning appropriately,” the statement said.
Lopez Obrador, 68, who had a serious heart attack in 2013 and recently recovered from his second coronavirus infection, underwent the procedure as part of a check-up every six months that include lab tests, electrocardiograms, stress tests and CT scans, the government said.
The medical team said the latest results indicated the need for a cardiac catheterization, without providing further details on why they performed what they described as a 30-minute procedure.
The government said “no other type of intervention” was needed and that Lopez Obrador was in “perfect health.”
The procedure inserts a thin tube into a large blood vessel leading to the heart and can detect how well the heart is working.
Lopez Obrador said he had mild symptoms from both bouts of COVID-19. In the most recent case earlier this month, he went into isolation for a week before returning to public activities, including lengthy daily news conferences.
On his first day back, he praised honey, pain reliever paracetamol and VapoRub, a topical ointment popular in Mexico, for helping ease his symptoms.
(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon, Dave Graham and Miguel Angel Gutierrez; Editing by William Mallard)
Small children getting less sick from Omicron; Genetic mutation protects against severe COVID
The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19. They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.
Small children are getting less sick from Omicron
In very young children, the Omicron variant of the coronavirus causes less severe disease than the Delta variant, according to a new study.
Researchers reviewed data on nearly 80,000 U.S. children under age 5 with a first infection, including 7,201 infected in late December or early January when Omicron was causing more than 90% of cases. After accounting for other risk factors, including medical conditions and socioeconomic circumstances, researchers found children infected during the Omicron surge had a 29% lower risk of emergency department visits, a 67% lower risk of hospitalization, a 68% lower risk of needing intensive care, and a 71% lower risk of needing machines to breathe, compared to children infected with Delta. However, “because of Omicron’s increased transmissibility, the overall number of emergency department visits, hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and mechanical ventilator use in children may still be greater” with Omicron than with Delta, according to a report posted on medRxiv ahead of peer review.
The investigators have also observed that infection rates were disproportionately higher in Black and Hispanic children for both Omicron and Delta for this age group, and the gap widened for infections with Omicron, said study leader Rong Xu of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Not yet published data shows that “children under 5 had the highest infection rate with Omicron” compared to older children and adults in all age groups, she said.
Genetic mutation protects against severe COVID-19
New findings add to evidence that people with a certain version of a gene are less likely to develop severe COVID-19.
Earlier research had identified a specific group of genes, called the OAS1/2/3 gene cluster, as being involved in the risk for severe COVID-19. One version of a gene in that cluster – passed down from Neanderthals – appeared to protect against severe disease, reducing the risk by about 23%. The earlier research was done mainly in people of European ancestry. According to a report published in Nature Genetics, researchers now see the same association of this genetic variant with less severe COVID-19 in people of African ancestry.
“The fact that individuals of African descent had the same protection allowed us to identify the unique variant in the DNA that actually protects from COVID-19 infection,” coauthor Dr. Jennifer Huffman of said in a statement. OAS genes are involved in a cascade of effects that help cells fight viruses, the researchers said. Understanding of these genes and their effect on COVID-19 risks could aid development of future drugs, they added.
Fewer Delta breakthroughs with Moderna vs Pfizer/BioNTech
When the Delta variant of the coronavirus was prevalent in the United States, recipients of two doses of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine were less likely to experience a breakthrough infection – and if they did, were slightly less likely to be hospitalized – than recipients of two doses of the mRNA vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, a large study found.
Researchers analyzed health records of more than 637,000 vaccine recipients who were not previously infected with the virus and had not gotten a booster shot. As reported on Thursday in JAMA, breakthrough infections steadily increased every month from July to November 2021, with higher rates in the Pfizer/BioNTech group. In November, there were 2.8 cases among every thousand people vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech shots, compared to 1.6 cases per thousand recipients of the Moderna vaccines. The vaccines protected equally well against death, but the hospitalization rate was 12.7% for infected Moderna recipients and 13.3% for Pfizer/BioNTech recipients. When the researchers compared 62,584 Moderna recipients to a closely-matched equal-sized group of Pfizer/BioNTech recipients, the risk for breakthrough infection was 15% lower in the Moderna group.
“Although there is a difference in breakthrough infections, both vaccines are highly protective against SARS-COV2 infection and especially against the most severe consequences of infection,” said coauthor Pamela Davis of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in a statement.
Click for a Reuters graphic on vaccines in development.
(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Bill Berkrot)
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