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N.B. COVID-19 roundup: Moncton airport passenger tests positive for coronavirus – CBC.ca

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A person passing through the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport late last month has tested positive for COVID-19.

The airport announced on Facebook that the individual was a passenger on WestJet flight 3456.

Julie Pondant, a spokesperson for the airport, said the individual was travelling from Toronto and arrived in Moncton at 1:52 p.m. on April 27.

News of the passenger with COVID-19 came not long after a coronavirus briefing in Fredericton, when no new cases of the respiratory disease in New Brunswick were reported.

Pondant said she didn’t know whether the passenger was a New Brunswicker heading to somewhere in the province or someone travelling on to Prince Edward Island or Nova Scotia. 

No other details about the case were available, including how many others were on the flight. Pondant said it was a Public Health matter.

“We are looking into it,” said Bruce Macfarlane, a spokesperson for the Department of Health.

Macfarlane said the airport was informed about the WestJet flight by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

“If you or anyone you have been in close contact with was on this flight, please self-isolate for 14 days,” the airport said  on Facebook. “If you develop symptoms, call 811.”

There have been no cases of the novel coronavirus in New Brunswick since Saturday, and all 118 people diagnosed with the potentially deadly virus have recovered.

“We have flattened the curve in New Brunswick,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical health officer, said during Monday’s news briefing. 

But Premier Blaine Higgs said New Brunswickers should expect to see more cases in the future. 

There are no new cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick (CBC News)

“Our province continues to be surrounded by COVID-19,” he said. 

Next phase of recovery to be announced this week

The start of the next phase of recovery could be announced as early as Friday and involves the reopening of businesses under strict controls.

In the week leading up to this step, the province has decided to reduce the number of times Higgs and Russell speak to the public at briefings. Briefings will now happen three times a week instead of five.

Province launches job-matching platform

JobMatchNB, a virtual job matching platform, was launched today to connect New Brunswickers with available positions. Employers can add jobs into the system and they will appear on the site within a few days.

Last week the New Brunswick government announced a ban on any new temporary foreign workers from entering the province.

With 70,000 unemployed New Brunswickers and students in the province, Higgs has said it should be possible to fill the approximately 600 farm and fish plant vacancies in agriculture and fish processing.

“We need New Brunswickers to step up for New Brunswick to fill these positions,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “By stepping up, you will be playing an important role in helping your community, and our province’s economy.”

Province to release plan for distance learning 

A plan to strengthen New Brunswick’s distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to be announced this week, New Brunswick’s education minister says.

And Dominic Cardy suggests it is designed to be used next fall if needed.

This comes after the province announced at the end of April that New Brunswick students will not be returning to the classroom until at least September.

Education Minister Dominic Cardy said a distance learning plan for students will be revealed this week. (Photo: CBC News)

Since the COVID-19 outbreak forced schools to close in March, students have been learning from home, with more structured lesson plans that were rolled out throughout the month of April. 

However, some parents have raised concerns over a lack of technology available to students. Dominic Cardy said this will be addressed this week.

“We’re going to make sure that every single student in New Brunswick has access to the internet and to technology that will allow them to work from home and continue to continue their education from home,” said Cardy.

Cardy wouldn’t offer specifics on the new plan, but he did say that it would help students even after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

With the end of the school year approaching, Cardy said it made sense to end in-class learning early to eliminate any ambiguity for parents and students. 

While the plan is to go back to schools in September, Cardy said COVID-19 likely means parents and students will have to adjust to periods of homeschooling again.

“We fully expect to go back and forth.”

At Monday’s news conference, Premier Blaine Higgs the province will be ready to resume the educational plan this fall whether the province is still in a COVID crisis or not.

“We want our kids to continue their education,” Higgs said.

What to do if you have symptoms

People concerned they might have COVID-19 can take a self-assessment on the government website.  People with two of those symptoms are asked to:

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Trucker brings in another case of COVID-19 as two new cases emerge Friday – Winnipeg Sun

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Another case of COVID-19 in a truck driver, and one in a close household contact of that driver, were reported by public health officials on Friday.

The two new cases bring the province’s total to an even 300 since the outbreak began in early March. The cases are both from Winnipeg. One is in a man in his 30s and another in a man in his 20s.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, said the trucker who tested positive had travelled outside of the province.

Other details were sparse, including if the driver had self-isolated or not.

“I don’t have a lot of details on that as of yet, the public health investigation is ongoing,” Roussin said.

Last week, two cases in truck drivers that had travelled into the U.S. for work were also reported.

Roussin said no new measures are going to be implemented in terms of testing truck drivers or requiring them to self-isolate upon return from international or domestic travel.

Currently, all truck drivers can access asymptomatic testing, but Roussin said they cannot disrupt supply chains into the province.

The province’s active caseload jumped to nine with the two new cases as no new recoveries were announced. There have been 284 total recoveries thus far.

The death toll in Manitoba remains at seven, and no one is in hospital at the moment.

The Cadham Provincial Laboratory processed 671 tests on Thursday, bringing the running total since early February to 47,372.

Meanwhile, changes to the hours of operation at community testing sites in Brandon, Portage la Prairie, Steinbach and Winkler, as well as at Thunderbird House in Winnipeg, come into effect this weekend.

Due to low patient volumes, these sites are now closed on Sundays.

KNOWLEDGE, ROAD TESTS RESUME

Manitoba Public Insurance is resuming knowledge tests for all licence classes and road test bookings for Class 1 licences effective immediately, a release said on Friday.

Customers are encouraged to book Class 5 and 6 knowledge tests online. For those who cannot book online, MPI is allowing customers who phone their Autopac agent to perform certain critical transactions over the phone or by email.

For Class 1 road tests, drivers will be required to provide and wear their own mask, be screened prior to the test and sanitize all touchpoints in their vehicle.

Knowledge test customers will be asked to arrive on-site 15 minutes prior to their appointment.

sbilleck@postmedia.com

Twitter: @scottbilleck

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Ripples from coronavirus research scandal rocks global scientific community – RFI English

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Issued on: 06/06/2020 – 12:02Modified: 06/06/2020 – 12:02

The first research scandal of the coronavirus pandemic has created unnecessary distraction around the politically divisive drug hydroxychloroquine, scientists say.

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This as questions swirl around the tiny health care company at the center of the affair.

 On Thursday, most of the authors of major studies that appeared in The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) retracted their work.

The issued apologies, saying they could no longer vouch for their data after the firm that supplied it — Chicago-based Surgisphere — refused to be audited.

 At any other time the matter might have led to hang-wringing within academia, but it has taken on a new dimension as the world grapples with a virus that has claimed some 400,000 lives.

Lancet paper

 Of particular interest was the paper in The Lancet that claimed to have analyzed the records of 96,032 patients admitted to 671 hospitals across six continents, finding that hydroxychloroquine showed no benefit and even increased the risk of death.

Its withdrawal is seen as a boost to backers of the decades-old anti-malarial drug, who include US President Donald Trump and his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro.

 “It’s very politicized — there is a group, probably not particularly small, who have learned to mistrust science and scientists, and this just feeds into that narrative,” Gabe Kelen, a professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University, told French new agency AFP.

This is despite the fact that even without The Lancet paper, evidence has been building against hydroxychloroquine’s use against COVID-19.

 On Friday, results from a fourth randomized controlled trial — carefully designed human experiments considered the most robust form of clinical investigation — showed it had no impact against the virus.

Mystery company

 The Lancet, which first published in 1823, is one of the world’s most trusted medical journals.

   As a  result, the hydroxychloroquine paper had an outsized impact: the World Health Organization, Britain and France all suspended ongoing clinical trials.

 But things soon began unravelling after researchers noticed numerous red flags, from the huge number of patients involved to the unusual level of detail about the doses they had received.

 Both The Lancet and the equally prestigious NEJM, which had published a paper on whether blood thinners elevated the risk of COVID-19 that relied on the same company, issued expressions of concern — before the authors themselves pulled both papers.

 Role of Surgisphere

 Surgisphere, founded in 2007 by vascular surgeon Sapan Desai, had refused to share data with third-party reviewers, saying it would violate privacy agreements with hospitals.

 However, when science news site The Scientist began reaching out to hospitals throughout the US to ask whether they had participated, it found none.

Surgisphere’s internet profile has also raised numerous questions. Only a handful of employees could be found on LinkedIn, and most have now deactivated their accounts.

 According to the Guardian newspaper, its employees included an adult model and until last week the contact page on its website redirected to a WordPress template for a cryptocurrency website, leaving it unclear how hospitals could have reached out to them.

   Meanwhile Desai, who according to court records has three outstanding medical malpractice suits against him, has written extensively in the past on research misconduct.

   “The most serious cause of fraud in medical publishing is manufactured data that authors use to support high impact conclusions,” he said in a 2013 paper.

  

  

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COVID-19 research scandal: Unwanted diversion during pandemic – Egypt Independent

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June 6, 2020
10:04 am


The first research scandal of the coronavirus pandemic has created unnecessary distraction around the politically divisive drug hydroxychloroquine, scientists say, as questions swirl around the tiny health care company at the center of the affair.

On Thursday, most of the authors of major studies that appeared in The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) retracted their work and issued apologies, saying they could no longer vouch for their data after the firm that supplied it — Chicago-based Surgisphere — refused to be audited.

At any other time the matter might have led to hang-wringing within academia, but it has taken on a new dimension as the world grapples with a virus that has claimed some 400,000 lives.

Of particular interest was the paper in The Lancet that claimed to have analyzed the records of 96,032 patients admitted to 671 hospitals across six continents, finding that hydroxychloroquine showed no benefit and even increased the risk of death.

Its withdrawal is seen as a boost to backers of the decades-old anti-malarial drug, who include US President Donald Trump and his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro.

“It’s very politicized — there is a group, probably not particularly small, who have learned to mistrust science and scientists, and this just feeds into that narrative,” Gabe Kelen, a professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University, told AFP.

This is despite the fact that even without The Lancet paper, evidence has been building against hydroxychloroquine’s use against COVID-19.

On Friday, results from a fourth randomized controlled trial — carefully designed human experiments considered the most robust form of clinical investigation — showed it had no impact against the virus.

– Mystery company –

The Lancet, which first published in 1823, is one of the world’s most trusted medical journals.

As a result, the hydroxychloroquine paper had an outsized impact: the World Health Organization, Britain and France all suspended ongoing clinical trials.

But things soon began unravelling after researchers noticed numerous red flags, from the huge number of patients involved to the unusual level of detail about the doses they had received.

Both The Lancet and the equally prestigious NEJM, which had published a paper on whether blood thinners elevated the risk of COVID-19 that relied on the same company, issued expressions of concern — before the authors themselves pulled both papers.

Surgisphere, founded in 2007 by vascular surgeon Sapan Desai, had refused to share data with third-party reviewers, saying it would violate privacy agreements with hospitals.

However, when science news site The Scientist began reaching out to hospitals throughout the US to ask whether they had participated, it found none.

Surgisphere’s internet profile has also raised numerous questions. Only a handful of employees could be found on LinkedIn, and most have now deactivated their accounts.

According to the Guardian newspaper, its employees included an adult model and until last week the contact page on its website redirected to a WordPress template for a cryptocurrency website, leaving it unclear how hospitals could have reached out to them.

Meanwhile Desai, who according to court records has three outstanding medical malpractice suits against him, has written extensively in the past on research misconduct.

“The most serious cause of fraud in medical publishing is manufactured data that authors use to support high impact conclusions,” he said in a 2013 paper.

– Systemic issues –

For Ivan Oransky, who founded Retraction Watch in 2010, the affair is far from surprising, serving instead to highlight systemic issues in science publishing and the way science is reported to the public.

“No one took a hard look at the data,” said Oransky. “But we’ve known about these issues for literally decades.”

Policymakers should get away from the idea of using the results of a single study to inform their decisions, he added, as was the case for the WHO — and the media has a responsibility to place papers in context instead of hyping them up.

The problem also stems from the fact that even leading journals rely too heavily on an honor system, but “you never know when a catastrophe is going to happen, if you’re not willing to put into place some reasonable safeguards,” added Oransky.

As to the future, the current episode is unlikely to serve as a wake-up call, he said. If one journal increases its diligence, more blockbuster papers will start appearing in its competitors.

Image: AFP/File / GEORGE FREY A pharmacy tech holds a tablet of hydroxychloroquine


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