Resurgences of COVID-19 in countries thought to have beaten back the novel coronavirus have been highly publicized, but they’re small potatoes compared to what’s happening elsewhere.
The near-record daily case and death totals announced late Saturday by the World Health Organization (WHO) have much more to do with nations that never successfully fought off the virus to begin with – or are only now experiencing its wrath for the first time.
Seeming “second waves” or other worrying virus comebacks have been all over the news this week. New Zealand recorded its first case of community transmission in more than 100 days. South Korea reported its highest one-day infection total since March. Australia has enacted harsher measures in some parts of the country than it did even at the peak of the first wave.
Here’s the thing, though: Those three nations combined to record less than 0.2 per cent of all new COVID-19 cases in the world, according to the WHO’s numbers. Kenya reported more new cases on its own than those three did together. Guatemala reported twice as many. The Philippines reported more than 10 times as many. Even the 390 Canadian cases in the WHO’s report represent more than either New Zealand, South Korea or Australia had on their own.
There appears to be greater cause for concern about a second wave in Spain, where the country’s top virus expert warned that “transmission is increasing in every region” of the country. Even there, though, the number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals is a small fraction of what it was during the spring peak, and the 5,479 cases reported on Saturday only have Spain 10th on the global charts.
At the top of the list, as they have been for more than two months now, are India, Brazil and the United States. Those three nations alone made up more than 60 per cent of the 294,237 new COVID-19 infections logged by the WHO on Saturday.
India, which has become the usual daily leader in these statistics over the past two weeks, recorded 65,002 new cases, compared to 60,091 for Brazil and 52,799 for the U.S. The fourth country on the list, Colombia, reported 11,286 new cases.
India, Brazil and the U.S. are also responsible for more than half of all COVID-19 cases in the world since the pandemic began, according to an online tally from Johns Hopkins University.
‘EYE OF THE STORM’?
Although the overall virus situation continues to worsen in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific, most other regions have seen their share of the global caseload stay relatively steady over the past month. This has led to suggestions that there may be some sort of worldwide COVID-19 plateau happening.
Asked about that possibility at a press briefing on Thursday, WHO health emergencies chief Michael Ryan acknowledged that numbers have levelled off but warned against backing off on proven virus-fighting techniques.
“We may just be in the eye of the storm, and we don’t know it,” he said.
“Countries that have made progress, please retain that progress. You will lose that progress if you relent, if you become complacent.”
Ryan noted that, with approximately 21.5 million cases of COVID-19 confirmed globally, only “a very small proportion of the world’s population” has been exposed to the virus.
“This virus has a long way to burn, if we allow it,” he said.
Canadian public health authorities appear to have similar fears about anti-virus measures easing up too soon. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam used the same “slow burn” analogy on Friday when she released new modelling numbers that show the government preparing for a “peak” of virus activity this fall, followed by continued localized outbreaks until at least January 2022.
Canadians’ individual behaviours will play a large part in determining the severity of virus activity in Canada over the next year, Tam said – a message echoed by public health experts including Jason Kindrachuk, an emerging virus specialist and assistant professor at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
Speaking on CTV News Channel on Saturday, Kindrachuk said that every Canadian should stop thinking about returning to normal pre-pandemic activities and instead focus on doing as much as they can to prevent themselves from acquiring or transmitting the virus.
“All this virus knows how to do is transmit from person to person to person,” he said.
“As long as we give that spark enough fuel to start spreading, we know what’s going to happen.”
UK study finds effective new Covid-19 rapid test in a box – Times of India
LONDON: A new small-boxed Covid-19 rapid test device, which gives results within 90 minutes, has been found to have a high level of accuracy and produced very few false negatives and no false positives in a UK study.
The Lab-in-Cartridge tests can be performed in cartridges smaller than a mobile phone and do not require a laboratory.
The study, led by Imperial College London scientists and published in ‘The Lancet Microbe’ this week, involved high-speed tests on 386 National Health Service (NHS) staff and patients and were found to have over 94 per cent sensitivity and 100 per cent specificity.
“These results suggest the test, which can be performed at a patient’s bedside without the need to handle any sample material, has comparable accuracy to standard laboratory testing,” said Professor Graham Cooke, lead author of the study from the Department of Infectious Disease at Imperial College London.
“Many tests involve a trade-off between speed and accuracy, but this test manages to achieve both. Developing an effective bedside test in under three months has been an incredible collaboration between teams of engineers, clinicians and virologists,” he said.
The test is currently being used successfully across eight London hospitals, and due to be rolled out at a national level in the UK as data continues to be gathered from the testing device for continual assessment.
Imperial College London said the UK government recently placed an order for 5.8 million of the testing kits.
To perform the test, a paediatric-sized nose swab from a patient is inserted into the device, which then looks for traces of genetic material belonging to the SARS-CoV-2 or novel coronavirus, which causes the infection.
A result is available within 90 minutes, compared to conventional Covid-19 testing which delivers a result in 24 hours.
According to the research team, the test is now being developed for assessing simultaneously Flu-A, Flu-B, and RSV as well as Covid-19.
The device, produced by Imperial’s London-based start-up DnaNudge, was used on 280 NHS staff members with suspected Covid-19, 15 patients in Accidents and Emergency (A&E) with suspected Covid-19, and 91 hospital in-patients — some of who were not displaying Covid-19 symptoms.
The percentage of those found to be positive for Covid-19 during the study at the peak of the pandemic was 18 per cent.
The results showed 67 samples tested positive on the CovidNudge test, compared with 71 positive results against a range of NHS standard laboratory machines, which represents the value of 94 per cent sensitivity.
“The DnaNudge test was developed as a lab-free, on-the-spot consumer service that can be delivered at scale, so we clearly believe it offers very significant potential in terms of mass population testing during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Regius Professor Chris Toumazou, CEO and co-founder of DnaNudge and founder of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London.
“The platform is well suited to testing in primary care and community settings with potential for use in non-healthcare settings such as care homes, schools, transport hubs, offices, and, to help bring the arts back, in theatres and venues. However, further studies of real-world effectiveness in non-clinical settings would be required prior to widespread deployment,” he said.
The research team, which included scientists and clinicians from Imperial and a number of NHS hospital trusts, assessed sensitivity and specificity.
Sensitivity is a measure of how well a test gives a positive result for people who have disease, and is an indication of how likely a test will produce false negative results.
Specificity, on the other hand, is a measure of a test’s ability to give a negative result for a people who don’t have the disease, and is an indication of the likelihood of false positive results.
“As an organisation we are focused on using research and innovation to continuously drive improvements to care.Getting accurate results back to clinicians and their patients as quickly as possible makes a huge difference to how we safely manage clinical pathways and we are very much looking forward to rolling this out more widely,” said Dr Bob Klaber, director of strategy, research and innovation at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.
The device has been approved by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency and has also obtained a CE mark, enabling its additional use in non-clinical locations. The team explain each device is wi-fi enabled, allowing the test result to be securely sent to a hospital’s record system.
Testing for the study took place between April 10 and May 12 at three NHS sites: St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London; Chelsea & Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London and the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford.
It was supported by the National Institute for Health Research, Imperial Biomedical Research Centre.
Another Rapid COVID-19 Test Shows Promise – HealthDay News
FRIDAY, Sept. 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Yet another rapid COVID-19 test has proven its mettle in spotting infection with the new coronavirus, this time in a British study.
The lab-in-a-cartridge testing device — which can be performed at bedside, doesn’t require a laboratory, and can be performed in cartridges smaller than a mobile phone — was tested on 386 National Health Service staff and patients in Britain.
The test had 94% sensitivity and 100% specificity, meaning it had a high level of accuracy and produced very few false negatives and no false positives. The results are available within 90 minutes, while conventional COVID-19 tests provide results within 24 hours, the researchers said. The findings were published Sept. 17 in The Lancet Microbe journal.
In the United States, four rapid coronavirus tests have already been developed. These tests detect COVID-19 antigens, proteins found on the surface of the coronavirus, rather than the virus itself, according to the Associated Press. It’s considered a faster, but less precise, screening method.
One of these tests, made by Abbott Laboratories and called BinaxNOW, has already secured a $760 million deal with the White House to produce 150 million rapid nasal swab tests for community testing, according to the AP.
The 15-minute BinaxNOW test will sell for $5, giving it an edge over similar tests that need to be popped into a small machine, the AP reported. No larger than a credit card, the Abbott test is based on the same technology used to test for the flu, strep throat and other infections.
“Those [rapid] screening tests are what we need in schools, workplaces and nursing homes in order to catch asymptomatic spreaders,” Dr. Jonathan Quick, an adjunct professor of global health at Duke University in North Carolina, told the AP.
With the British test, a nose swab from a patient is inserted into the cartridge device, which analyzes the sample for genetic material belonging to SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The new test is being used at eight London hospitals, and is due to be rolled out at a national level. The U.K. government recently placed an order for 5.8 million of the testing kits.
“These results suggest the test, which can be performed at a patient’s bedside without the need to handle any sample material, has comparable accuracy to standard laboratory testing,” said study author Graham Cooke. He is a professor in the department of infectious disease at Imperial College London.
“Many tests involve a trade-off between speed and accuracy, but this test manages to achieve both,” Cooke said in a college news release.
The test — made by DnaNudge, an Imperial College London start-up — is now being developed to simultaneously check for COVID-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, the researchers added.
Chris Toumazou is CEO and co-founder of DnaNudge and founder of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London. He said, “The DnaNudge test was developed as a lab-free, on-the-spot consumer service that can be delivered at scale, so we clearly believe it offers very significant potential in terms of mass population testing during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 testing.
Amid COVID-19 spike, health unit urges citizens be vigilant – BradfordToday
SIMCOE MUSKOKA DISTRICT HEALTH UNIT
SIMCOE MUSKOKA – As local cases of COVID-19 sharply rise to numbers not seen since the spring, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) is asking the public to shrink their social circles as much as possible to those within their own household and to be cautious to reduce their exposure within the community.
“As our social interactions have increased in the summer, so too have our COVID-19 cases, which is worrisome at this time when we are just now returning to school, and for the more vulnerable in our communities,” said Dr. Colin Lee, SMDHU’s associate medical officer of health. “We need people to scale back on their get-togethers/gatherings, and to remember to be cautious with people not in their household, even if they are in their social circle of 10. Social circles are not invincible to COVID-19.”
There have been 42 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (as of Thursday) in Simcoe Muskoka for the week of Sept. 13. This is the highest number of weekly cases since the week of May 10 when the region saw 44 cases, and the week still has not ended. The increase in cases includes clusters in multiunit dwellings and households, and one case related to a school staff member.
“This pandemic has been difficult for all of us and we know that everyone is trying to do their best,” said Dr. Lee. “What we need to do now is continue to work together, and to look out for one another, so that we can live with this pandemic as safely and as normally as possible until it’s over.”
To keep everyone safe, including those returning to school and those living in long-term care homes:
- Shrink your close contacts (the people you can get close to such as hugging and touching) as much as possible to only those people within your own household and those whose well-being requires or is dependent on it.
- Think carefully about how often and where you go out to in the public, and try to limit to what is essential and avoid crowded spaces.
- Limit social gatherings, and keep the number of people in your gatherings and get-togethers to 10 people or less indoors, or 25 or less outdoors; with people outside of your household, practice physical distancing, or wear a mask if you can’t.
- Parents should screen children for symptoms of COVID-19 every day before they leave for school; if a child has even one symptom, they should stay home and self-isolate, and get tested.
People are also reminded to continue to practice physical distancing, wear a mask in indoor public spaces, and outdoors when physical distancing cannot be maintained, practice hand hygiene, self-monitor for symptoms and if you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and get tested.
For more information on COVID-19, visit the health unit’s COVID-19 website, including Frequently Asked Questions or call Health Connection at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520, Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
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