Ontario health officials say there’s a new presumptive case of the novel coronavirus in Toronto.
They said a woman arrived in Canada from China on Friday and went to North York General Hospital in Toronto with an intermittent cough.
The province said the woman was tested for the new virus, known as COVID-19, and was sent home for self isolation because her illness was mild.
Officials said the woman’s local tests came back positive for the virus on Saturday and the sample has been sent to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg for confirmation.
The province said it’s unlikely that the woman was infectious.
It said she “followed all protocols and wore a mask throughout her travels back to Toronto.”
Since she landed, the woman has had “very limited” exposure to other people, the province added.
‘Risk to Ontarians remains low’
Officials said the province is coordinating with local public health units to ensure that they will contact and monitor passengers who sat close to the woman on the plane.
“Because of all the proper protocols and procedures that are in place to contain this virus and exposure to others was limited, I want to assure the public that the risk to Ontarians remains low,” Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, said in a news release on Sunday.
“Protecting the health and well being of individuals and families across the province remains our top priority, and we continue to vigilantly monitor for and contain any and all new cases.”
Williams, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, and Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, will provide an update on the case at 9 a.m. on Monday at Queen’s Park.
According to the province, Ontario’s first three cases of the new coronavirus are all “resolved,” which means each of those patients have had two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
Celltrion signs COVID-19 antibody therapy supply deals with Europe
South Korean biotech company Celltrion’s distribution arm has signed supply deals for its monoclonal antibody to treat COVID-19 with nine European countries, Celltrion Healthcare said on Tuesday.
The European Commission earlier this month approved the company’s antibody therapy Regkirona, granting marketing authorisation for adults with COVID-19 who are at increased risk of progressing to a severe condition.
The first batch of 50,000 doses will be shipped to Europe this year and the company is in talks with 47 other nations including in Asia, Central and South America and the Middle East, Celltrion said in a statement.
The antibody treatment was initially approved in South Korea and has been administered to around 25,000 local COVID-19 patients as of last week.
Laboratory-made monoclonal antibodies mimic natural antibodies in fighting off infections. Unlike vaccines, they do not rely on the body to create an immune response, and can therefore help individuals with weak or compromised immune systems.
(Reporting by Sangmi Cha; editing by Richard Pullin)
What you need to know about the coronavirus right now
Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:
Hong Kong expands travel curbs, Australia reports 5 cases
Hong Kong expanded a ban on entry for non-residents from several countries as global health authorities raced to curb a potential outbreak of the Omicron virus, while Australia’s cabinet will review containment steps on Tuesday after five tested positive.
Omicron – first reported in southern Africa and which the World Health Organization (WHO) said carries a “very high” risk of infection surges – has triggered global alarm, with border closures casting a shadow over a nascent economic recovery from a two-year pandemic. In Australia, the five travellers with Omicron are all vaccinated and in quarantine, health officials said, adding they are asymptomatic or display very mild symptoms.
Vaccine makers start work on Omicron-tailored shots
BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson are working on vaccines that specifically target Omicron in case their existing shots are not effective against the new coronavirus variant, the companies said on Monday.
A top South African infectious disease expert said Omicron appears to be more transmissible than previous variants, including to people with immunity from vaccination or prior infection.
China’s Xi pledges another 1 bln vaccine doses for Africa
China will deliver another 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa and encourage Chinese companies to invest no less than $10 billion in the continent over the next three years, President Xi Jinping said on Monday.
China’s imports from Africa, one of its key sources of crude oil and minerals, will reach $300 billion in the next three years, Xi said, adding that the two sides would cooperate in areas such as health, digital innovation, trade promotion and green development.
Coronavirus reinfections rarely severe
Reinfections with the virus that causes COVID-19 are rarely severe, new findings suggest. Researchers in Qatar compared 1,304 individuals with a second SARS-CoV-2 infection against 6,520 people infected with the virus for the first time. Reinfected patients were 90% less likely to be hospitalised compared to patients infected for the first time, and no one in the study with a second infection required intensive care or died from COVID-19, said Dr. Laith Jamal Abu-Raddad of Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar in Doha.
“Nearly all reinfections were mild, perhaps because of immune memory that prevented deterioration of the infection to more severe outcomes,” he said. It is not clear how long immune protection against severe reinfection would last, the researchers noted. If it does last for a long time, they speculate, it might mean that as the coronavirus becomes endemic, infections could become “more benign.”
Experimental smartwatch COVID-19 detection improving
Smartwatch alerting systems for early detection of COVID-19 infection are coming closer to reality, researchers reported on Monday in Nature Medicine. They tested their new system, developed with open-source software, in 2,155 wearers of Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin watches or other devices. Ultimately, 84 of the volunteers were diagnosed with coronavirus infections – including 14 of 18 people without symptoms.
Overall, the researchers’ algorithms generated alerts in 67 (80%) of the infected individuals, on average three days before symptoms began. “This is the first time, to our knowledge, that asymptomatic detection has been shown for COVID-19,” they said. Presently, the system mainly depends on measurements of wearers’ resting heart rate, said study leader Michael Snyder of Stanford University School of Medicine in California. When watches can report other health data such as heart rate variability, respiration rate, skin temperature, and oxygen levels, it will become easier to distinguish the COVID-19 cases from other non-COVID-19 events, researchers said.
(Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)
Canada now has five cases of Omicron variant
A further two cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant have been detected in Ottawa, bringing Canada‘s total number of cases to five, Ottawa Public Health said late on Monday.
Earlier in the day, Quebec discovered its first COVID-19 case of the variant, health officials said.
Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube also told reporters that 115 travelers coming from countries affected by the new variant, primarily South Africa, were called and asked to isolate and test for COVID-19.
Quebec’s first case was a recent traveler to Nigeria, public health director Horacio Arruda said, similar to the two cases https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/two-cases-omicron-variant-detected-canada-govt-says-2021-11-28 reported on Sunday by Ontario province.
The arrival of the new variant ahead of the Christmas holiday season comes as Quebec faces a recent increase in cases, mostly in the unvaccinated, Dube said. In the last 24 hours Quebec reported 756 new cases.
Dube urged travelers to rethink holiday trips and warned against large celebrations. The province limits gatherings in private homes to 10 people.
“The next few weeks will be critical,” Dube said.
(Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal and Akriti Sharma in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Akanksha Khushi in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Porter, Angus MacSwan and Karishma Singh)
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