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N.S. reports 2 new cases of COVID-19, expands list of symptoms for testing – CTV News

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HALIFAX —
As Nova Scotia identifies two new cases of COVID-19, it is also expanding the list of symptoms for which it is testing.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said the expansion is based on growing knowledge of the virus and all provinces and territories are adopting the expanded list of symptoms.

“We’ve learned over the last few months that COVID-19 actually can present in a more diverse way, a greater number of symptoms than we originally understood at the beginning of the first wave,” Strang explained during a news conference in Halifax Friday afternoon.

Anyone who experiences any one of the following symptoms is encouraged to take an online test to determine if they should call 811 for further assessment:

  • fever, chills, sweats
  • cough or worsening of a previous cough
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • shortness of breath
  • muscle aches
  • sneezing
  • nasal congestion/runny nose
  • hoarse voice
  • diarrhea
  • unusual fatigue
  • loss of sense of smell or taste
  • red, purple or blueish lesions on the feet, toes or fingers without clear cause

Strang said he realizes many of the symptoms are common, but it’s important to have a low threshold for testing, and to test large numbers of people.

“Many of these are very common symptoms and just because you have one of those, I don’t want to create undue stress,” said Strang. “In all likelihood if you have these symptoms, it’s not because of COVID, but it’s very important that we test you to rule out COVID.”

He said 811 and COVID-19 testing centres are prepared for an increase in calls and testing.

2 new cases of COVID-19 at Northwood

The province also announced two new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, both of which are connected to the Northwood long-term care facility in Halifax.

Strang said one case involves a Northwood resident and the other involves an employee.

“We continue to have no cases now for the last few days … that are outside of Northwood, which is continuing good news,” said Strang.

“As you can see overall, our epidemiology is headed in the right direction. The number of new cases continues to remain low and the vast majority of those are related to the Northwood outbreak, so that’s very pleasing to see.”

There are now 1,048 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia.

There are no additional deaths to report at this time.

To date, there have been 58 deaths in the province and 52 of those deaths have been at Northwood, which has seen the most significant outbreak of the virus. Three residents died at the facility this week.

The QEII Health Sciences Centre’s microbiology lab completed 427 tests on Thursday. 

To date, Nova Scotia has 37,405 negative test results.

29 active cases

Two more people have recovered from the virus. Of the province’s 1,048 confirmed cases, a total of 961 people have now recovered from COVID-19, with 29 active cases remaining.

Of Nova Scotia’s 29 active cases, 21 are linked to long-term care facilities with eight active cases outside care homes.

Northwood currently has 16 residents and four employees with active cases of COVID-19 and another facility has one resident with an active case of the virus.

Eight people are currently in hospital and four of those patients are in intensive care units.

The confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.

Sixty-two per cent of cases are female and 38 per cent are male.

The two new cases were confirmed in the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s central zone, which contains the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The western, northern and eastern zones are reporting no new cases at this time.

  • western zone: 54 cases
  • central zone: 899 cases
  • northern zone: 44 cases
  • eastern zone: 51 cases

Public health is working to identify and test people who may have come in close contact with the confirmed cases.

Second wave expected

Strang reiterated Friday that, while the first wave is coming to an end, Nova Scotians will need to adjust to a “new normal” while living with the reality of COVID-19.

“As we come out of the first wave of COVID-19, it’s not about going back to where we were in 2019,” he said. “Some things need to be maintained that allow us to live with COVID in a reasonable way.”

Strang said Nova Scotia will likely see a second wave of the virus in the fall or winter.

“Nobody can be definitive about that. Even any of the reasonable experts would say we’re likely to see a second wave, but not exactly sure when and not exactly sure how severe it would be,” he said.

Clarification on the use of gloves

Strang said he is often questioned about whether or not people should wear gloves and says he is “strongly discouraging” their use.

He said wearing gloves tends to give people a false sense of security and they are less likely to wash their hands, which is the best way to keep hands clean.

“The virus gets on gloves just like it gets onto your hands, but because you’re wearing gloves, people are much less likely to actually do the appropriate and thorough washing,” he said. “It’s important that people rely on good frequent hand-washing as the way to keep their hands clean, not on wearing gloves.”

Strang also stressed the importance of continuing to practise the measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, such as maintaining a distance of six feet from those who are not in your household “bubble” and limiting planned social gatherings to no more than five people.

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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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