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Isolation is taking a toll on our seniors, says region's top doc – OrilliaMatters



In two weeks, five outbreaks have been declared at Barrie long-term care facilities. A Bradford facility in outbreak since April 4 continues to see resident infections and deaths from the virus.

An outbreak at Bayview Retirement Home in Waubaushene now also includes an infected resident, which is Tay’s first case of the virus.

For weeks residents at long-term care facilities in the region have been in lockdown.

Weekly activities are cancelled, in many cases residents are served their meals in their rooms, where they remain in isolation for their physical protection. No visitors have been allowed in facilities since the beginning of March, in some cases even earlier than that. 

But isolation takes its own toll.

“There is no doubt in my mind that is very hard on the people in that situation for many reasons,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the Simcoe-Muskoka region. “It would be hard on any of us to be confined to our rooms without direct contact with loved ones. All the more so if we’re frightened because of an outbreak.

“And then all the more so if we’re a case affected by it. And then all the more so for people with dementia, because they would be that much more challenged to understand what’s happening.”

Gardner was reflecting on mental health during a media briefing this afternoon as today marks the start of Mental Health Week.

“I have often reflected on how hard the present circumstance is on us all,” said Gardner. “It’s hard on our mental well-being and I think it’s hard on our physical wellbeing. It impedes social interaction, and it impedes physical activity, which we know is important for our health and mental health. And it impedes our ability to get out and enjoy green space, and other things that are good for us.”

Gardner has often encouraged people to continue to be physically active, but in ways that observe physical distancing protocols.

“I always feel it’s an important thing to do and it’s important for mental health as well,” said Gardner.

But for seniors living in long-term care homes, a walk on a local trail isn’t an option.

“I don’t have a good answer,” said Gardner in response to the question of also protecting mental health for long-term care residents. “We have to do what we can to allow them as much social contact as would be permitted under the circumstances … and we have to provide loving care.”

He encouraged distance communication through technology and visits through the windows.

He said he saw one report of a long-term care facility using a plexi-glass visiting booth.

But much of a long-term care patient’s physical and mental health now relies on those providing them with daily care.

“I think the people providing care are called upon to do heroic work under very difficult circumstances, particularly if there’s an outbreak happening,” said Gardner. “Even without [an outbreak] it would still be highly stressful because of restrictions in place, because they have to wear PPE, and because of the potential for an outbreak.”

Today, Gardner announced nine new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in long-term care residents in Tay, Bradford, and Barrie. There were an additional 15 cases of community members not associated with long-term care outbreaks. 

Approximately one-quarter of the region’s confirmed cases are related to one of seven long-term care facility outbreaks in Simcoe County.

Nine of the 20 deaths reported in the region were residents at Bradford Valley Care Community, where 11 staff and 25 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus.

There is one resident at Bayview Retirement Home in Waubaushene now infected with COVID-19, 14 residents at Owen Hill Care Community in Barrie, one resident at Whispering Pines Retirement Residence, and one at Allandale Station Retirement Residence. The latter two facilities were just announced in outbreak on the weekend.

“These are very vulnerable people in a very vulnerable environment,” said Gardner.

Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has posted links and resources for mental health support for both adults and youth on its website here. Gardner encouraged anyone to visit the site and look at the resources available to help them through the added stresses isolation can bring.

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City asking people to wear masks on buses, but not mandatory – GuelphToday



As the city prepares to allow more riders on Guelph Transit buses, it is asking riders to wear a non-medical mask or face covering.

They are not mandatory.

Free 30-minute Guelph Transit service will continue for the rest of June but the city says thta with more businesses reopening and more people heading back to work, Guelph Transit is preparing to resume fare collection and regular schedules later in the summer.

In a news release Friday morning, the city said the request is based advice from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.

“According to health officials, wearing a homemade face covering/non-medical mask is not a substitute for physical distancing and hand washing. Wearing a mask has not been proven to protect the person wearing it, but it can help protect others around you,” the release said.

“As the buses get busy again, physical distancing may not always be possible. We’re asking riders to wear a non-medical mask or face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” says Robin Gerus, general manager of Guelph Transit.

Guelph Transit is encouraging face coverings, not requiring them.

“It’s becoming more common to wear a mask on public transit in other cities, but it’s new for Guelph. Some riders may not be aware of or understand the latest guidelines from health officials. Some may not have resources to purchase or make a mask, or they may have a medical reason for not wearing one,” added Gerus. Everyone is welcome to use Guelph Transit, and we’re asking people to protect and respect each other as ridership increases.”

Since March, Guelph Transit made the following adjustments to slow the spread of COVID-19:

  • free 30-minute service allows passengers to avoid using the farebox and board from the rear door
  • plastic barrier between the driver and passengers
  • hand sanitizing stations and cleaning supplies for drivers
  • no more than 10 people per bus
  • blocked several seats to encourage physical distancing between passengers

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the City and Guelph Transit encourage riders to continue following the latest advice from Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health:

  • wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitizer
  • stay at least two metres away from people you don’t live with
  • when you can’t maintain physical distancing, wear a non-medical mask or face covering

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WHO resumes hydroxychloroquine trial on Covid-19 patients – ITIJ



On May 25, WHO suspended the trial of the drug, which is usually used to treat malaria patients, after a study published in medical journal The Lancet found that Covid-19 hospitalised patients treated with hydroxychloroquine had a higher risk of death, as well as an increased frequency of irregular heartbeats, than those who weren’t treated with it. 

However, WHO officials have since asserted that there is no evidence that the drug reduces the mortality in these patients, and the study has since been retracted over data concerns. 

“The executive group received this recommendation and endorsed the continuation of all arms of solidarity trial including hydroxychloroquine,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press conference 3 June, adding that WHO planned to continue to monitor the safety of the therapeutics being tested in trials involving over 3,500 patients spanning over 35 countries. 

“WHO is committed to accelerating the development of effective therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics as part of our commitment to serving the world with science, solutions and solidarity,” Ghebreyesus said. 

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'Truly sorry': Scientists pull panned Lancet study of Trump-touted drug – National Post



NEW YORK/LONDON — An influential study that found hydroxychloroquine increased the risk of death in COVID-19 patients has been withdrawn a week after it led to major trials being halted, adding to confusion about a malaria drug championed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Lancet medical journal pulled the study after three of its authors retracted it, citing concerns about the quality and veracity of data in it. The World Health Organization (WHO) will resume its hydroxychloroquine trials after pausing them in the wake of the study. Dozens of other trials have resumed or are in process.

The three authors said Surgisphere, the company that provided the data, would not transfer the dataset for an independent review and they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.”

The fourth author of the study, Dr. Sapan Desai, chief executive of Surgisphere, declined to comment on the retraction.

The Lancet said it “takes issues of scientific integrity extremely seriously” adding: “There are many outstanding questions about Surgisphere and the data that were allegedly included in this study.”

Another study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that used Surgisphere data and shared the same lead author, Harvard Medical School Professor Mandeep Mehra, was retracted for the same reason.

The Lancet said reviews of Surgisphere’s research collaborations were urgently needed.

The race to understand and treat the new coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of research and peer-reviewed scientific journals are go-to sources of information for doctors, policymakers and lay people alike.

Chris Chambers, a professor of psychology and an expert at the UK Center for Open Science, said The Lancet and the NEJM – which he described as “ostensibly two of the world’s most prestigious medical journals” – should investigate how the studies got through peer review and editorial checks.

“The failure to resolve such basic concerns about the data” raises “serious questions about the standard of editing” and about the process of peer review, he said.

The Lancet did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. The NEJM could not immediately be reached for comment.


The observational study published in The Lancet on May 22 said it looked at 96,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, some treated with the decades-old malaria drug. It claimed that those treated with hydroxychloroquine or the related chloroquine had higher risk of death and heart rhythm problems than patients who were not given the medicines.

“I did not do enough to ensure that the data source was appropriate for this use,” the study’s lead author, Professor Mehra, said in a statement. “For that, and for all the disruptions – both directly and indirectly – I am truly sorry.”

Many scientists voiced concern about the study, which had already been corrected last week because some location data was wrong. Nearly 150 doctors signed an open letter to The Lancet calling the article’s conclusions into question and asking to make public the peer review comments that preceded publication.

Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said the retraction decision was “correct” but still left unanswered the question about whether hydroxychloroquine is effective in COVID-19.

“It remains the case that the results from randomized trials are necessary to draw reliable conclusions,” he said. (Reporting by Michael Erman, Peter Henderson, Kate Kelland and Josephine Mason Editing by Leslie Adler, Tom Brown, Giles Elgood and Carmel Crimmins)

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