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New pneumonia in China not likely high risk for Canada – National Observer

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The federal public health agency says it believes Canadians are at low risk of contracting a new type of pneumonia that has killed one person and made dozens sick in central China, but it has issued a warning to travellers to and from the city of Wuhan.

The agency is advising travellers to and from the city in China’s central Hubei province to avoid high-risk areas such as farms, live animal markets, areas where animals may be slaughtered or surfaces with animal droppings or secretions.

Canada’s chief public health officer Theresa Tam has also been in close contact with provincial and territorial counterparts to share information about the illness, which has sparked concerns over a possible outbreak similar to the SARS virus, which killed hundreds in 2002 and 2003.

The U.N.’s World Health Organization said Thai officials have reported that a traveller from Wuhan has been hospitalized in Thailand with the virus — the first confirmed case of the virus found outside China, where a total of 41 people are suffering from this new “coronavirus.”

A 61-year-old man has also died from the illness — China’s first known death from the mysterious new virus.

The outbreak has been traced to Wuhan, where it affected several dozen people who had been to a major meat and seafood market.

Canada’s public health agency says the likelihood of an outbreak in Canada linked to the cases in China is considered low at this time mainly because of the lack of any clear evidence of person-to-person spread. But officials are remaining vigilant.

“Given we are at the height of respiratory illness season, it is not unexpected that countries, including Canada, may investigate or test travellers with severe pneumonia who are returning from the affected area,” said Anna Maddison, a senior media relations adviser with the Public Health Agency of Canada.

“This is to be expected given our surveillance systems have been alerted and out of an abundance of caution to rule out the possibility of infection with the novel coronavirus.”

A statement issued Monday by the WHO said it is working with officials in Thailand and China following the report of the confirmed case outside China. The WHO’s director-general is consulting with the agency’s emergency committee, which generally decides whether viral outbreaks merit an expanded response from health authorities.

China says the cause of the Wuhan outbreak remains unknown but has sought to play down speculation that it could be a reappearance of the SARS epidemic.

Chinese scientists have undertaken gene sequencing for the newly-identified coronavirus. This allows Canada’s health agency to implement diagnostic tests for this novel virus, Maddison said.

“PHAC is continuing to collaborate with partners internationally as well as working with federal, provincial and territorial partners and public health authorities and to ensure Canada’s preparedness to rapidly identify and prevent the spread of this emerging disease should it present in Canada.”

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause the common cold. Others found in bats, camels and other animals have evolved into more severe illnesses.

Common symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever. Shortness of breath, chills and body aches are associated with more dangerous kinds of coronaviruses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2020.

— With files from The Associated Press.

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New coronavirus 'preventable and controllable', China says – BBC News

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The new Chinese virus which has already spread abroad “is still preventable and controllable”, China says.

Its National Health Commission warned, however, that close monitoring was needed given the source, transmission and mutation methods were unknown.

Two people are known to have died from the respiratory illness which appeared in Wuhan city in December.

In its first statement since the outbreak, the body promised to step up monitoring during the Lunar new year.

Millions of Chinese travel to their families for the holiday – also known as the Spring Festival – beginning next week.

There have been more than 60 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, but UK experts estimate a figure nearer 1,700.

Singapore and Hong Kong have been screening air passengers from Wuhan, and US authorities have announced similar measures at three major airports in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.

While the outbreak is centred on the central Chinese city of Wuhan, there have been two cases in Thailand and one in Japan.

Chinese officials say there have been no cases of the virus spreading from one person to another.

Instead, they say, the virus has crossed the species barrier and come from infected animals at a seafood and wildlife market in Wuhan.

The WHO’s China office said the analysis was helpful and would help officials plan the response to the outbreak.

“Much remains to be understood about the new coronavirus,” it said.

“Not enough is known to draw definitive conclusions about how it is transmitted, the clinical features of the disease, the extent to which it has spread, or its source, which remains unknown.”

What is this virus?

Viral samples have been taken from patients and analysed in the laboratory.

And officials in China and the World Health Organization have concluded the infection is a coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are a broad family of viruses, but only six (the new one would make it seven) are known to infect people.

At the mild end they cause the common cold, but severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) is a coronavirus that killed 774 of the 8,098 people infected in an outbreak that started in China in 2002.

Analysis of the genetic code of the new virus shows it is more closely related to Sars than any other human coronavirus.

The virus has caused pneumonia in some patients and been fatal in two of them.

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Some US Airports To Add Health Screening For Wuhan Passengers – Simple Flying

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Health officials at three major US airports have said that they will begin screening passengers arriving from the Chinese city of Wuhan for pneumonia.

Following the outbreak of a deadly viral strain of pneumonia in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, has dispatched workers to three American airports.

62 people in Wuhan have been infected with 2019-CoV. Photo: Aleksandr Markin Wikipedia Commons

Some 100 employee’s from the leading national public health institute in the United States have been dispatched to Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), and New York’s John F. Kennedy airports to monitor passengers arriving from China.

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62 people in Wuhan have been infected

As of yesterday (Saturday), the Municipal Health Commission in Wuhan said that four new cases of the virus have been detected. The total known number of people infected now stands at 62, of which two people have died, and five are in a critical condition.

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Radio station Voice of America was on hand at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday morning to follow the screening process after a flight landed from China.

According to passengers, the screening process was well organized, with each passenger having their temperature taken and a form being filled out.

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Wuhan has a population of 11 million people. Photo: CDC

One of the passengers on the flight when asked by the American external broadcaster, Qi Zhou said:

“They lead you to another room. So there are doctors there. There are different equipment there. They can measure your temperature there. They have all things there like face masks, the forms so you can let them know how to contact you.”

“I think they are prepared well,” Zhou said.

Another passenger on the flight, student Sunny Xing, explained how they were screened in groups.

“They told us to stay on the plane. They said first 10 people, you can go down,” Xing said.

“Temperature and a form, that was it.”

This new strain of pneumonia is believed to have started in the city of Wuhan and is from the same family of coronaviruses as SARS. During an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome 17 years ago, around 800 people lost their lives to the disease. Wuhan, China has a population of 11 million people, but what is of greater concern to world health authorities is that 1.4 billion Chinese are expected to travel overseas for Chinese New Year celebrations.

Together with the cases already reported in China, one person in both Thailand and Japan has been diagnosed with the illness. According to Chinese health officials, the outbreak seems to be connected to an outdoor market where the people infected had exposure to live animals.

This suggests that what is being called 2019-nCoV is a novel virus that has spread from animals to humans.

The CDC will continue monitoring flights arriving from China

The Chinese also report that of the several hundred healthcare workers in contact with the infected patients’ none had contracted the disease.

2019-cov
The CDC is monitoring flights from China arriving at LAX, SFO, and JFK. Photo: Håkan Dahlström Wikimedia Commons

There are, however indications to suggest that some person-to-person spread of the virus may have occurred.

With this in mind, the CDC will continue monitoring patients arriving from China until the outbreak of 2019-CoV is deemed to be contained.

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Biometric opioid vending machine unveiled in Vancouver – Vancouver Sun

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The vending machine scans a registered opioid user’s hands and dispenses a safe dose of hydromorphone.


Dr. Mark Tyndall, a professor of medicine at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health, displays the opioid vending machine in the Downtown Eastside.


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Vancouver is now home to the first biometric opioid vending machine, the latest harm reduction strategy in the ongoing opioid crisis.

The vending machine, located in the city’s Downtown Eastside at 60 Hastings Street next to an overdose prevention site, was launched by the MySafe Project, which is led by Dr. Mark Tyndall, a professor of medicine at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health. Tyndall showed how it works in a video posted on social media this week.

The 800-pound machine works kind of like an ATM to dispense a medicinal alternative to heroin called hydromorphone to people who are registered opioid users. It scans the vein pattern in a person’s palm, and then dispenses a small box with a safe dose of hydromorphone. MySafe is also developing an app so people can track their drug use.

“I believe if you allow people to stabilize their routine a little bit more by having a secure safe place where they can get their drugs, and cut into the other activities that they might have to do to get their drugs, then there will be much more time for connection,” said Tyndall, in the video.

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The biometric opioid vending machine that is now in use in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

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On Saturday, Tyndall said they now have eight people using the machine, up from five, who started the trial project about a month ago.

“So far it has been great for them and it is really helping them stabilize and not hustle for drugs like they were a month ago. We wanted to demonstrate the technology works, and it is,” he said.

The machine is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but Tyndall said it is very secure and he believes it would be beneficial to make it available for 24 hours so people could access it at night.

Tyndall, who has been working with the Downtown Eastside community for 30 years, said he chose people to participate in the program that he knew were at high risk for a fentanyl overdose.

“I was afraid that I would wake up in the morning and hear they had overdosed. They are people with a history of an overdose and tested for fentanyl in their urine, so they are high risk.”

“The biggest challenge we have had is people using drugs in a room by themselves. So with this they can continue using alone without the risk of overdose. They can come, get their medication, and then take it with them.”

Tyndall said giving people a regulated and safer drug supply stops overdoses and gives people their lives back.

“There are two points to a safe supply. One is the obvious thing that in one hand you have deadly fentanyl and the other hand you have a pharmaceutical drug with a known dosage, the person who takes the known dosage will not overdose,” he said.

The eight-milligram hydromorphone pills cost about 35 cents each and focus groups with drug users have suggested most people would need about 10 to 16 pills a day, according to Tyndall.

He said hydromorphone is typically crushed and injected by people who may have previously used OxyContin, before that drug was made more difficult to tamper with following multiple fatal overdoses.

Tyndall is conducting the research independently in his role as a UBC professor and the Ministry of Health and Addictions is not involved.

“As with any independent research, we will await the results,” said a statement from the ministry. “Patient and community safety and well-being is of the utmost importance in all work to respond to the poisoned drug supply. The Ministry is focused on our own work to scale up access to medically-supervised prescription alternatives to toxic street drugs as just one part of establishing a full continuum of care and delivering an urgent, comprehensive response to this crisis, including prevention, enforcement, harm reduction and treatment and recovery.”

More than 5,000 people have died in the overdose crisis in B.C. since 2016.

ticrawford@postmedia.com

-With a file from The Canadian Press

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