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London-Middlesex coronavirus case tally hits 600 as 5 new cases reported – Global News



The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in London and Middlesex hit 600 Thursday after health officials with the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) reported five new cases.

Of that total, 465 people have recovered — three more than Wednesday — and 57 have died, a tally that remained unchanged.

Health unit figures show four of the cases were reported in London, while one case was reported in Middlesex Centre — the second case to be reported in the municipality in as many days.

Four of the cases, including the Middlesex Centre case, involve staff at local long-term care homes, according to health unit data. Of the four cases, three are linked to the same facility.

Of the at least 61 cases that have been reported in London since June 1, seven have been linked to long-term care and retirement homes, according to health unit figures.

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London has seen 560 confirmed COVID-19 cases, followed by Strathroy-Caradoc with 20. Nine have been reported in Middlesex Centre, five in North Middlesex, four in Thames Centre and one each in Lucan Biddulph and Southwest Middlesex.

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The number of active COVID-19 outbreaks in the region declined by one to two as of Wednesday afternoon after an outbreak at Chelsey Park Retirement Community was deemed resolved.

The outbreak was declared on May 30 and saw at least one resident test positive.

It was the second outbreak to be declared at Chelsey Park. An outbreak was active from May 23 to June 4 on the third floor of its long-term care facility.

Two outbreaks remain active in the region, including at Kensington Village, declared April 3, and at Peoplecare Oakcrossing, declared on Tuesday in the facility’s Norway Spruce area.

The outbreak at Peoplecare is the second to be seen there following an outbreak from May 3 to May 18 that saw two staff members test positive.

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At least 25 outbreaks have been reported in the region during the pandemic, with 20 linked to long-term care and retirement homes.

Seniors’ facilities also account for 176 of the region’s cases and 37 of its deaths.

Following Thursday’s update, long-term care homes have now seen 109 cases, involving 62 residents and 47 staff members, along with 24 deaths.

Retirement homes, meantime, have seen 67 cases, involving 44 residents and 23 staff members, and 13 deaths.

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The number of hospitalized patients remains unclear but is under five, according to London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).

LHSC has not released an updated tally since June 10 after announcing it would only put out a new figure if there were more than five COVID-19 patients in hospital.

No patients are being treated by St. Joseph’s Health Care London (SJHC) as of Thursday.

In an online update, SJHC noted that one additional staff member had also tested positive, bringing that total to 19.

It’s not clear how many LHSC have tested positive, as the organization has stopped releasing that number unless staff cases rise by five or more.

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Health-care workers make up about 23 per cent of cases in London and Middlesex, according to the health unit.

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Provincially, Ontario reported 173 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, and three more deaths.

The increase is the lowest since late March, bringing the province to a total of 32,917 — an increase of 0.5 per cent over Wednesday, the lowest growth rate since early March.

The total includes 2,553 deaths and 28,004 resolved cases — with those now making up more than 85 per cent of the province’s total.

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173 new coronavirus cases, 3 deaths in Ontario; total cases at 32,917

The numbers of patients with COVID-19 in hospital, in intensive care and on ventilators all dropped to their lowest levels since the province started publicly reporting those figures at the beginning of April.

More than half of the province’s new cases come from Toronto, with 70 cases, and Peel Region, with 27.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday that a made-in-Canada mobile app to alert Canadians who may have been exposed to a person infected with the virus is ready for testing in Ontario and will be ready for downloading in early July.

Coronavirus contact-tracing app to launch nationally in early July, Trudeau says

Trudeau says the app is completely voluntary and will not share or store any personal information, including a user’s geographical location.

However, he says the app will be more effective the more people download and use it.

It will work by asking people to anonymously tell the app if they have tested positive for COVID-19, and then all the phones that have recently been close to that phone for an extended time will alert their holders to a possible exposure to the illness.

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Elgin and Oxford

No new cases, deaths or recoveries have been reported by officials with Southwestern Public Health (SWPH).

The total number of cases remains unchanged at 82, of which 70 people have recovered and four have died.

Health officials reported one new case on Wednesday, one new case on Tuesday, and no new cases on Monday or over the weekend.

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The latest case was reported in Woodstock in Oxford County. The county has a total of five active cases, including three in East Zorra-Tavistock, one in Tillsonburg and the case in Woodstock.

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In Elgin County, three active cases remain, including two in St. Thomas and one in Dutton/Dunwich.

None of the active cases have been hospitalized, health unit data shows.

Three outbreaks in have been declared during the pandemic, infecting a total of one resident and nine staff. All have since resolved.

The health unit says the nine staff cases may not necessarily factor into the region’s total case count as staff may live outside of the region.

As of Thursday, 7,491 tests had been conducted in Elgin and Oxford counties, with 619 people still awaiting test results.

The per cent of tests that come back positive stands at 1.2 per cent as of Thursday.

Huron and Perth

No new cases, deaths or recoveries were reported by officials with Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) on Thursday.

The total number of cases confirmed in the region remains at 57, of which 49 people have recovered and five have died.

Health officials reported one new case and one recovery on Wednesday, and no new cases, deaths or recoveries on Monday. The health unit did not release an update Tuesday.

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Three cases remain active in the region, including two in Perth County and one in Huron County.

Twenty-six cases and four deaths have been reported in Stratford, while 14 cases have been reported in Huron County and 13 in Perth County, with four cases and one death in St. Marys.

The four Stratford deaths were associated with Greenwood Court, a long-term care facility that had an outbreak that ended May 11. Six residents and 10 staff members tested positive.

In total, seven outbreaks have been declared. All have resolved.

The number of tests conducted in the region is not known as the figure has stopped being shown on the health unit’s website.

Sarnia and Lambton

One person has tested positive for the novel coronavirus and one person has recovered, officials with Lambton Public Health (LPH) reported late Wednesday.

The update brings the total number of confirmed cases to 279, of which 239 people have recovered and 25 have died.

Officials announced two new cases and three recoveries late Tuesday, and no new cases late Monday.

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The total number of outbreaks in the county has risen by one to eight after an outbreak was declared at Bluewater Health hospital in Sarnia involving three staff members from its since-closed COVID-19 unit.

The hospital has seen no COVID-19 patients since Monday morning, when it discharged the final resident in its care from Vision Nursing Home. The hospital had taken in positive cases from the home to keep a severe outbreak at the facility from worsening.

A total of 18 staff members at the hospital have tested positive for the virus over the course of the pandemic, however, this is the first official outbreak to be declared at Bluewater Health by the health unit.

The reason, officials say, is due to a change made earlier this month by the Ministry of Health regarding when to identify an outbreak in a hospital.

Government guidelines now say that an outbreak at a public hospital is defined as two or more lab-confirmed cases — patients and/or staff — within a specified unit, floor or service, within a 14-day period “where both cases could have reasonably acquired their infection in the hospital.”

None of the staff have had to be hospitalized, and the other staff members who previously tested positive have since recovered.

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It’s not clear how many, if any, of the previous 15 staff cases would have triggered an outbreak declaration under the new changes.

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The only other active outbreak in the county is the ongoing outbreak at Vision Nursing Home, which was declared on April 23. Twenty-six residents and 28 staff members have tested positive and 10 residents have died.

Eight outbreaks in all have been declared by the health unit. Six have been in Sarnia, while two have been in Petrolia — both at Lambton Meadowview Villa.

The percentage of tests that come back positive stands at 2.8 per cent, down from 2.9 late Tuesday.

At least 9,998 test results had been received by the health unit as of late Wednesday.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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

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COVID-19 in Ottawa: From April spike to June plank – CTV News Ottawa



Data suggest the COVID-19 pandemic curve has flattened in Ottawa and the gradual reopening of businesses has not yet had an impact.

Ottawa’s COVID-19 case count rose steadily in June, but at a much slower pace than previous months. By the latter half of the month, as the economic reopening began to take hold, daily reports of new cases were in the low single digits.

Here is a look at how the pandemic has progressed in Ottawa, 16 weeks since it began.

Cases spike in April

The first case of COVID-19 in Ottawa was confirmed on March 11. The total case count rose slowly during the latter half of March, but quickly ramped up in April. 1,178 new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Ottawa during the month of April and 73 people died.

Each day, the number of active cases rose, as new, laboratory-confirmed cases outpaced the number of recoveries. By the end of April, there were 673 known active cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa, according to data from Ottawa Public Health.

Since the end of April, the rise in the total number of cases has slowed and more people began to recover.

May saw the curve’s direction change, but it was also a tragic month for many families in the city.

Curve flattens in May at great cost

Between May 1 and May 31, Ottawa saw an increase in new cases of roughly half the rate seen in April, with 590 new confirmed infections. During that same month, the number of resolved cases jumped dramatically. At the start of May, 805 COVID-19 cases in Ottawa were considered resolved; by May 31, that number doubled to 1,610.

May, however, was also the deadliest month for the disease in Ottawa since the pandemic began, with 168 deaths, many of them in the city’s long-term care homes.

Many of the deadliest outbreaks in long-term care homes began in April, but lasted through the month of May. 

Curve plateaus in June

If April was the pandemic’s spike, then May was the hammer that would flatten the curve in June.

According to data from Ottawa Public Health, June has been a plank month. The number of COVID-19 cases and deaths has still been increasing, but at only a fraction of the pace seen in April and May.

There were 132 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 between June 1 and June 30, with 19 new deaths.

Active cases continued to fall to a low of 40, though data from June 30 showed a slight increase in the number of active cases, from 40 to 46.

Recoveries continued to increase, but the rate of recovery was also much slower. OPH reported 175 new resolved cases in June, as opposed to 805 in May.

Many of the deadliest outbreaks at long-term care homes officially came to an end in June. Ottawa’s deadliest outbreak, at Carlingview Manor, was officially declared over on June 18. The outbreak claimed 60 lives in the home. The outbreak at Madonna Care Community, where 47 residents and two workers died, ended June 8.

By the end of June, only two outbreaks remained active.

The data suggest fewer people are contracting the virus, accounting for the slower rate of not only new cases, but recoveries as well. The testing figures provided by Ottawa Public Health show that testing remains strong and fewer positive cases are being returned.

At the start of June, as many as three per cent of all tests came back positive. By the end of the month, that number had dropped to 0.3 per cent.

Laboratories returned more than 19,000 test results between June 1 and June 28, for an average of 680 tests per day.

COVID-19 testing in Ottawa in June

However, OPH notes that those who did contract the virus in June were still getting it from the community, and not from a close contact or institutional outbreak.

According to the data, two-fifths of all new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ottawa in June are believed to be the result of community spread.

COVID-19 Community Spread in Ottawa in June

The rate of hospitalizations also fell in June. At the start of the month, 39 people were in hospital with COVID-19 complications. By the end of the month, there were two, with one in intensive care.

Full details can be seen at Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard page, which is updated daily.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations in Ottawa in June

Holding the line in July

Ottawa’s medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches, says Ottawa has done well to flatten the curve of COVID-19, but the risk of a second wave is real.

“We are seeing second waves emerge in other parts of the world and, while we are fortunately in a much better position here in Ottawa at this point, we are also at risk of a second wave,” Dr. Etches said in a statement on June 29. “We can watch other countries and communities to learn about what works to control COVID19 and adapt approaches to what is appropriate for our city.”

A recent outbreak at a Kingston, Ont. nail salon has led to 30 cases in that city. None of the affected individuals have been hospitalized, but it shows how easily one case can turn into dozens. Recently lifted lockdowns in some parts of the U.S. have been reinstated as cases continue to surge south of the border.

With 40 per cent of all new cases in Ottawa linked to community transmission, Dr. Etches said all of these figures are based only on what has been confirmed by laboratories.

“Currently case numbers are steady, outbreaks are decreasing and we are maximizing testing and contact tracing capacity. This is good news, but the positive case numbers you see updated on our website every day are still just a fraction of the infections truly present in the community,” Dr. Etches said.

“The risk of an increase in COVID19 cases and outbreaks is real. Modelling data shows that a decline of just twenty per cent in public control measures could lead to a second wave. Our actions influence whether a second wave occurs and its severity. Ottawa residents have already shown that they are capable of doing what needs to be done to keep the virus at a manageable level.”

The next step for Ottawa could be a mandatory mask order. Those rules are already in place in Kingston and set to go into effect in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s jurisdiction. The City of Toronto also recently passed a by-law making masks mandatory in indoor public spaces starting July 7.

Dr. Etches said she is “seriously considering” a similar mask order, and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he would not be opposed.

The Ontario government is currently discussing how to move regions into the third stage of its reopening framework. Health Minister Christine Elliott said she is waiting for another week’s worth of data before going ahead.

Stage 3 would allow the size of public gatherings to increase and all workplaces to open, according to provincial guidelines.

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Why some people don't want to take a COVID-19 test – The Conversation AU



Last week, outgoing chief medical officer Brendan Murphy announced all returned travellers would be tested for COVID-19 before and after quarantine.

Some were surprised testing was not already required. Others were outraged some 30% of returned travellers in hotel quarantine in Victoria had declined to be tested.

This week, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said more than 900 people in two Melbourne “hotspots” had declined door-to-door testing.

Again, there was outrage. People refusing COVID-19 tests were labelled selfish and rude.

A positive test result, together with contact tracing, gives public health authorities important information about the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, in a community.

So why might people at higher risk of a positive result be reluctant testers? And what can we do to improve testing rates?

The many reasons why

Reluctance to be tested for COVID-19 is not unique to returned travellers in hotel quarantine or people living in “hotspot” suburbs.

In the week ending June 28, FluTracking, a voluntary online surveillance system, reported only 46% of people with a fever and cough had gone for a COVID-19 test.

That can be for a variety of reasons.

A medical test result is not a neutral piece of information. People may refuse medical testing (if they have symptoms) or screening (if no symptoms) of any type because they want to avoid the consequences of a positive result.

Alternatively, they might want to avoid the perceived burden of the test procedure itself.

Reasons may relate to potentially losing money or work

Many reasons for avoiding testing are likely to be structural: a casualised workforce means fewer workers with sick leave and a higher burden associated with having to isolate while waiting for test results. After a COVID-19 test in NSW, for instance, this can take 24-72 hours.

Then there’s the issue of precarious work. If people can’t attend work, either waiting at home for test results or recovering from sickness, they may lose their job altogether.

Read more:
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In the case of hotel quarantine, a positive result on day ten will mean a longer stay in isolation. Hotel quarantine is not an easy experience for many, particularly if quarantining alone.

An extension of time at a point where the end is in sight may be a very difficult proposition to stomach, such that avoiding testing is a preferable option.

Another structural issue is whether governments have done enough to reach linguistically diverse communities with public health advice, which Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton recently admitted may be an issue.

Through no fault of their own, may people who don’t speak English as a first language, in Victoria or elsewhere, may not be getting COVID-19 health advice about symptoms, isolation or testing many of us take for granted.

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People might fear the procedure or live with past traumas

Reasons may be personal and include fear of the test procedure itself (or fear it will hurt their children), distrust in government or public health systems, and worry about the extent of public health department scrutiny a positive result will bring.

Not everyone is comfortable with door-to-door testing.
James Ross/AAP Image

People may also feel unprepared and cautious in the case of door-knocking testing campaigns.

We can’t dismiss these concerns as paranoid. Fears of invasive procedures are associated with past trauma, such as sexual abuse.

People who have experienced discrimination and marginalisation may also be less likely to trust governments and health systems.

COVID-19 can also lead to social stigma, including blame and ostracism, even after recovery.

As with any health-related decision, people usually consider, consciously or not, whether benefits outweigh harms. If the benefit of a test is assumed to be low, particularly if symptoms are light or absent, the balance may tip to harms related to discomfort, lost income or diminished freedoms.

Should we force people to get tested?

Although federal and state laws can compel certain people to undergo testing under limited circumstances, acting chief medical officer Paul Kelly said it was “a last resort”.

Forcing a person to undergo a test contravenes that person’s right to bodily integrity. This is the right to make decisions about what happens to your own body, without outside coercion.

It also involves medical personnel having to override their professional responsibility to obtain voluntary and informed consent.

Some states have indicated they will introduce punishments for refusing testing. They include an extension of hotel quarantine and the potential for fines for people not willing to participate in community testing.

Read more:
Lockdown returns: how far can coronavirus measures go before they infringe on human rights?

Forced testing will backfire

We don’t think forced testing is the way to go. A heavy-handed approach can create an antagonistic and mistrustful relationship with public health institutions.

The current situation is not the only infectious disease emergency we will face. Removing barriers to participating in public health activities, in the immediate and long term, will enable people to comply with and help build trusted institutions. This is likely to create an enduring public good.

Victoria is trying to make testing easier. It is offering a test that takes a saliva sample rather than a nasal swab, which is widely perceived to be unpleasant.

Read more:
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This may encourage parents to have their children tested. The test is less sensitive, however, so the gains in increased uptake may be lost in a larger number of false negatives (people who have the virus but test negative).

Ultimately, we need to understand why people refuse testing, and to refine public health approaches to testing that support individuals to make decisions in the public interest.

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Wall Street Shifts Bets to Big Pharma as COVID-19 Vaccine Race Progresses – The New York Times



(Reuters) – Wall Street is moving some bets on COVID-19 vaccines to large pharmaceutical companies with robust manufacturing capabilities, signaling that a love affair with small biotech firms might be ending after the sector’s best quarter in almost 20 years.

Early signs of the shift came Wednesday, when positive data for one of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine candidates sent shares of the large U.S. drugmaker up more than 3%. Shares of its partner on the vaccine, Germany’s BioNTech SE, have been flat on the data.

Although the news had little effect on shares of Pfizer’s large rivals in the vaccine race, smaller peers Moderna Inc and Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc, both of which have previously shown promising COVID-19 data of their own, ended down more than 4% and 25%, respectively. Inovio partially rebounded Thursday.

For the week so far, shares of bigger players in the vaccine race, such as Johnson & Johnson and Merck, have also outperformed Inovio and Moderna.

Some of the selling was likely driven by end-of-quarter profit-taking, locking in dizzying gains in an otherwise turbulent market. Moderna and Inovio shares have risen nearly 200 percent and 540 percent in the year-to-date, respectively, greatly eclipsing gains for large pharmaceutical companies.

Analysts say investors are changing their strategy to focus on companies that can make, as well as discover, a vaccine and that the risk reward profile for some biotechs is less favorable after their stunning gains so far this year.

“I would certainly say success by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, or Johnson & Johnson could make it more challenging for smaller companies, given size and scale and manufacturing capability,” said Vamil Divan, a biotechnology analyst at Mizuho.

Smaller biotechnology companies with promising COVID-19 vaccines pose a special challenge for investors, said Justin Onuekwusi, a portfolio manager at Legal & General Group Plc.

Because of their limited manufacturing capabilities, investors in those stocks are effectively betting that the company or its drug will be bought by larger companies, he said.

“In smaller cap stocks like biotech, it all tends to be quite binary so fundamental or detailed analysis don’t always work,” Onuekwusi said.

Medical manufacturers have never faced a challenge like that of producing a global COVID-19 vaccine.

Companies including Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson have said they each aim to produce as many as 1 billion doses by the end of 2021.

There are more than 17 vaccine candidates being tested on humans in a frantic global race to end a pandemic that has infected 10 million people and killed more than half a million. Drugmakers have released early stage human trial data for five vaccine candidates so far.

Bernstein Research analyst Vincent Chen said COVID-19 vaccines could generate in excess of $10 billion in annual revenue, but many investors are struggling to determine their value.

“In the near term, they are not going make a ton of money on” the vaccines, said Evan Seigerman, an analyst at Credit Suisse. “The initial round of vaccines are going to be given away or sold at cost. Where people will start making money is if COVID-19 vaccine becomes something like the flu shot and people need to constantly protect against it.”

(Reporting by Carl O’Donnell; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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