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Mouth wash test coming for school-aged children in British Columbia – Red Deer Advocate

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VICTORIA — British Columbia is introducing a new saline gargle test for students from kindergarten to Grade 12 to help make COVID-19 testing easier for children and teenagers.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. is one of the first places in the world to use a mouth rinse gargle test for the new coronavirus.

“Unlike the (nasal) swab, this is a new saline gargle where you put a little bit of saline water, that is sterile water, in your mouth, you swish it around and spit it into a little tube,” she said at a news conference Thursday.

“This test is kind of cool and something we’ve had in the works for a while. This new method is more comfortable, particularly for our younger children.”

It is developed by a B.C. company, which reduces the province’s dependency on the global supply chain, she said.

Henry described the test as more efficient, which shortens the long lineups and wait times.

Getting tested is key in the fight against the pandemic and the test will make it easier to collect samples from young people, she said.

The test can be done without a health professional by parents or children themselves.

With schools reopening, Henry said the focus of this new and “easier” method of testing will be on children until there are more supplies.

“And we’re hoping to make it more broadly available as we go forward.”

The province announced a record daily high of 165 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and one additional death, bringing the death toll to 220.

There has been a total of 7,663 cases of COVID-19 in the province.

The uptick is caused by a combination of increased testing, awareness and contact tracing, Henry said.

“Remember that today’s cases are people who have been exposed over the last two weeks.”

The province tested 7,674 people for COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number of COVID-19 tests ever conducted in B.C. in a single day.

Health Minister Adrian Dix reminded people to keep groups small and limit social gatherings.

“So, this weekend, and as we plan for Thanksgiving in the fall months ahead, let us once again close ranks on COVID-19, and change its course,” he said.

— By Hina Alam in Vancouver.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 17, 2020.

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At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health – Goldstream News Gazette

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Alberta Health says 49 active COVID-19 cases have been linked to a wedding in Calgary earlier this month.

The health agency says the wedding had a large number of Albertans from different households.

Alberta Health spokesman Tom McMillan says aggressive contact tracing is underway to identify anyone who may have been exposed to make sure they are isolating and getting tested.

He did not say how many people attended the wedding and says specifics about individual cases cannot be disclosed because of patient confidentiality.

COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the province say a maximum of 100 people can attend outdoor and indoor seated events, such as wedding ceremonies, funeral services, movie theatres, indoor arts and culture performances.

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings.

“This is a reminder to all Albertans that this virus is still here and any social gathering carries a risk of exposure,” he said in an email Tuesday.

“It is important that nobody attend if they are feeling ill with even mild symptoms, or if they are awaiting test results.”

He says it is also important that organizers do everything possible to comply with the public health guidance in place, including having enough space for physical distancing between cohorts, following gathering size restrictions and avoiding sharing food and utensils.

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Calgary COVID outbreak of at least 49 active cases linked to recent wedding: officials – The Province

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CALGARY — Alberta Health says 49 active COVID-19 cases have been linked to a wedding in Calgary earlier this month.

The health agency says the wedding had a large number of Albertans from different households.

Alberta Health spokesman Tom McMillan says aggressive contact tracing is underway to identify anyone who may have been exposed to make sure they are isolating and getting tested.

He did not say how many people attended the wedding and says specifics about individual cases cannot be disclosed because of patient confidentiality.

COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the province say a maximum of 100 people can attend outdoor and indoor seated events, such as wedding ceremonies, funeral services, movie theatres, indoor arts and culture performances.

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings.

“This is a reminder to all Albertans that this virus is still here and any social gathering carries a risk of exposure,” he said in an email Tuesday.

“It is important that nobody attend if they are feeling ill with even mild symptoms, or if they are awaiting test results.”

He says it is also important that organizers do everything possible to comply with the public health guidance in place, including having enough space for physical distancing between cohorts, following gathering size restrictions and avoiding sharing food and utensils.

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Public health urging flu shots amid pandemic – The Sudbury Star

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File photo/Postmedia Network

It’s more important than ever to get a flu shot this year because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, say public health officials.

“We definitely want people to get the flu shot this year,” said Lambton medical officer of health Dr. Sudit Ranade. “There are early indications that it may offer additional protection against COVID-19.”

The degree of that protection isn’t clear, he said, “but even if it’s a little bit, it’s probably worth taking this year.”

There’s “very preliminary research” in countries that have already had COVID-19 outbreaks during their winter flu seasons that shows flu shots had an effect on the severity of COVID-19 and disease mortality, he said.

Why also isn’t clear, he said.

“It’s possible it just revs up your immune system a little bit and prepares it to handle all kinds of respiratory diseases, but that’s just speculation.”

Bookings for flu shot clinic appointments via the health unit in Lambton began Oct. 20. People are asked to visit lambtonpublichealth.ca/flu-shot or call 519-383-8331.

Flu shots are also given at pharmacies and via primary-care providers.

The shot, recommended for anyone six months or older, is also helpful to reduce the prevalence of sickness in the community and to keep people from crowding hospital emergency rooms, Ranade said.

Bluewater Health generally plans for a “surge” of patients in winter months.

“The flu vaccine is proven to reduce the number of doctor visits, hospitalizations and deaths related to the flu,” said health unit supervisor Crystal Palleschi in a statement.

“During a pandemic, it’s important to reduce the strain on the health-care system from other infections, so we have the capacity to respond to COVID-19.”

COVID-19 and influenza spread similarly – through coughing, sneezing or touching infected surfaces, health officials said.

People 65 years and older, under five years old, with chronic health conditions, pregnant and living in care facilities are more vulnerable to flu and COVID-related complications, health officials said, urging anyone in close contact with people in those groups to get a flu shot.

Proper handwashing, covering coughs with tissues or sleeves, keeping surfaces clean, and staying home if sick are also important measures to help stop the spread of both viruses, officials said.

“This is one of those years where flu shots are kind of like toilet paper and hair dye – everybody is going to want one,” said Ranade, cautioning people they may have to wait.

“So it’s important to stay patient and recognize that getting your flu shot this year is important, but whether you get it this week, next week, or the week after is not materially different to your risk.”

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