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N.B. health minister says investigation into mysterious brain syndrome continues – ThePeterboroughExaminer.com

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FREDERICTON – New Brunswick’s health minister says experts are working as quickly as possible to study a mysterious neurological disease that has killed six people and infected 48.

But Dorothy Shephard said Friday there is no guarantee they will find answers rather than more questions.

“We might be lucky to get answers, but none of us can predict that,” Shephard said in an interview.

Shephard wrote a letter Thursday to inform the families of patients suffering from the unknown disease about the latest developments, including efforts to hire more full-time staff at the Mind Clinic in Moncton, N.B., where the study is underway. A social worker will be added in August and a clinical psychologist in November, she said.

Shephard said the clinic now has 81 registered patients since it opened in the spring, although only the original 48 are being studied by an expert committee. “Those first 48 are going to help us determine the path we need to go forward with — either a potential diagnosis or the potential of going forward with an unknown neurological syndrome,” she said.

Symptoms of the mystery syndrome include rapidly progressing dementia, muscle spasms, atrophy and a host of other complications.

Families of each patient are being asked to complete a detailed questionnaire in an effort to find possible causes and common links. It’s expected they will be completed by the end of the month and then the expert committee will need four months to conduct their clinical review. Twenty-six of the 48 surveys had been completed as of Friday.

“This path is valid. It is methodical, and it is going to lead us where we need to go,” Shephard said.

But Steve Ellis, whose father is one of the patients, is critical of the pace of information coming from the minister and is asking the government to release more details. “I want her to release the number of people in each age bracket that have the syndrome and release the age bracket or brackets of those who have died,” Ellis said in an interview Friday.

Ellis said he didn’t learn anything new from the minister’s letter, but he said he was happy to see a commitment to public briefings. The clinical review is proceeding too slowly but filling the full-time positions at the Mind Clinic will help, he added.

The provincial Health Department says the first case of the disease dates back to 2015, but a potential cluster of cases wasn’t identified by federal officials until December 2020. The federal Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease Surveillance System spotted a pattern of symptoms among patients last year and then ruled out the possibility that the syndrome was a human prion disease like CJD.

Many of the cases were identified in the Moncton area or the Acadian Peninsula, in the northeast of the province, but there has been no hard evidence to suggest the syndrome is linked to geography.

In March, a researcher with the Public Health Agency of Canada said a potential cause could be some form of environmental exposure.

Shephard said that at this point, the government doesn’t have any new details about the cause of the disease. “It’s important to go at it without bias,” she said. “That’s why these surveys are so important in helping us determine the next best path.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 16, 2021.

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Ottawa Public Health will take vaccines to businesses and groups to increase coverage – Ottawa Citizen

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Community organizations, faith leaders and employers who have a group of people who may benefit from a mobile clinic are asked to contact OPH at 613-691-5505.

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In an effort to reach people who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, Ottawa Public Health is preparing to send mobile vaccination teams to workplaces, places of worship and community groups on request.

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The program is intended to help reduce barriers for people who have not yet received the vaccine “by working with community leaders to provide comfortable, convenient and easily accessible options for vaccination,” the city said in a release. “This is just one more initiative to help ensure that anyone 12 years of age and older in Ottawa who wants the COVID-19 vaccine can get vaccinated.”

Sixty-six per cent of Ottawa residents over the age of 12 are now fully vaccinated and 83 per cent have received at least one dose.

But the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kieran Moore, said this week that the more transmissible Delta variant will continue to threaten the province until 90 per cent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated.

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While Ottawa leads the province when it comes to vaccination rates of teens between 12 and 17, many health experts have said the final 10-20 per cent of the population will be the hardest to vaccinate because of barriers and hesitancy.

The Ottawa mobile vaccination program announced Thursday aims to address that.

Community organizations, faith leaders and employers who have a group of people who may benefit from a mobile clinic are asked to contact OPH at 613-691-5505.

There are still many appointments available through the provincial booking site (https://covid-19.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/ ) for anyone who wants a vaccine. Many pharmacies and family physicians also have vaccines available.

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B.C. sees highest number of COVID-19 cases in a month – The Globe and Mail

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British Columbia’s COVID-19 cases are creeping up again with the province reporting the highest numbers in a month.

Health officials reported 89 cases of COVID-19 Thursday, figures last seen in mid-June.

In a news release, officials say the total number of active infections in B.C. is 781 and there have been no new deaths.

There are 53 people are in hospital with 15 in intensive care.

Health officials say there are two outbreaks in the Fraser Health region, in an acute care facility and a long-term home.

Officials say more than 80 per cent of those eligible have received their first vaccine dose, while 57 per cent are fully vaccinated.

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Vancouver Islands adds 3 new COVID-19 cases | CTV News – CTV News VI

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VICTORIA —
B.C. health officials have identified three new cases of COVID-19 in the Vancouver Island region Thursday.

The cases were among 89 new cases found across the province over the past 24 hours.

There are currently 781 active cases of COVID-19 across the province, including 18 active cases in the Island Health region, according to the Ministry of Health.

Island Health identified the locations of 17 active cases Thursday, including 12 in the South Island, three in the Central Island and two in the North Island.

Since the pandemic began, 148,730 cases of COVID-19 have been reported across the province, including 5,203 found in the Vancouver Island region.

No new deaths related to the disease were reported in B.C. over the past 24 hours.

Since the pandemic began, 1,763 people have died of COVID-19 in B.C., including 41 people in the Island Health region.

According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, there are currently two people in hospital for treatment of the disease in the Island Health region, but no one in critical care.

As of Thursday, 80.2 per cent of people aged 12 and older had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in B.C., while 56.9 per cent of eligible people had received two doses.

In total, B.C. has administered 6,361,627 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Earlier Thursday, Island Health announced that a new “Vax Van” would be making stops across the island to offer first-dose vaccinations.

Details on the Vax Van, including its upcoming schedule, can be found here.

Backstory:

CTV News Vancouver Island reports the daily COVID-19 case counts as reported by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, which are based on BCCDC data. There may be a discrepancy between the daily case counts reported by the BCCDC and Island Health.

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