Canada is already taking the right steps to control the spread of the novel coronavirus, so there is no need to change things now that the World Health Organization has declared a global emergency over the outbreak, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Thursday.
“The World Health Organization’s global emergency status is really … about helping countries that do not have the same level of sophistication as Canada, or perhaps the United States, to protect their citizens if in fact they have a citizen who returns from China who is ill, or has been close to someone who has returned from China who is ill,” Hajdu said in Ottawa.
“You know this has been working very well in Canada, because we have actually been able to detect cases very quickly, support those people to get better and prevent the spread of disease.”
The UN health agency defines an international emergency as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a co-ordinated response.
Though many people experience only mild symptoms from the virus, China has reported more than 7,800 cases, including 170 deaths.
Hajdu stressed the need and the responsibility to remain calm.
“I think that anything that we are doing as politicians or leaders or members of the media that will create a sense of anxiety or panic is actually a dangerous road to travel down,” she said.
Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, reiterated Thursday that the chances of an outbreak in Canada remain low.
“Most cases and the spread of the novel coronavirus are occurring in affected areas in China with only three cases detected in Canada,” Tam said.
“As well, all travel from China is now significantly diminished as a result of exit border measures by the Chinese government in the effort to contain the outbreak.”
Two confirmed cases are in Ontario and one is in British Columbia, which are all linked to recent travel in China. Tam said 101 people in Canada have been tested for the virus, with 58 testing negative for the respiratory illness.
Tam also expressed concern about discrimination against Chinese-Canadians because of the virus.
“It is understandable that our fears increase during times of uncertainty, but when this fear leads some people to spread stigmatizing stereotypes and misinformation, it only does harm,” she said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also warned against stigmatizing the Chinese-Canadian community.
“We’ve seen too many instances of unreasonable fears being spread either on the internet or in other ways,” Trudeau said in Brampton, Ont. “We need to know this is a time for Canadians — all Canadians, including Canadians of Chinese origin — to pull together and to lean on each other.”
Meanwhile, Tam said the Public Health Agency of Canada is working closely with Global Affairs, which is preparing to fly Canadians out of the Hubei province at the centre of the outbreak in China.
Tam would not comment on whether those people would be quarantined once they arrive in Canada, saying more information would be provided when it’s available.
Earlier Thursday, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said the relatively low number of cases in the province is “reassuring.”
Dr. David Williams said there are no new presumptive or confirmed cases in Ontario, adding that he would be much more concerned at this point if the province had already seen about seven to 10 cases.
“This is reassuring in a way, but not that we’re going to sit back and coast,” he said. “The system is working. We’re investigating. Individuals of concern have self-reported, are coming forward and we haven’t seen ones that out of the blue show up already quite ill and infected. We’re not seeing that yet, but it’s still early days.”
He said there are 27 cases under investigation in the province, and 38 people have already been tested and cleared.
Williams said the coronavirus does not seem to be much different from regular influenza in terms of transmissibility, and evidence suggests it is not transmissible when a person is not feeling symptoms.
In Quebec, there have been no confirmed cases of the virus, and the chances of its being transmitted to the community are considered low, the province’s director of public health said.
Dr. Horacio Arruda warned the public against wearing masks, which he said “do not constitute, by science, a useful tool for the general population in Quebec, even in the context of a coronavirus outbreak.”
Instead, he suggested people practice “respiratory hygiene” by washing their hands and covering their mouths when sneezing or coughing.
If people have respiratory symptoms and have to go out in public, wearing a mask can help prevent transmission, Yaffe said, but it is not useful for the general population.
“Anybody who’s feeling well, wearing a mask is not going to do anything,” she said. “In fact, it might give them a false sense of security.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2020.
—With files from The Associated Press.
Daniela Germano and Allison Jones, The Canadian Press
HIV/AIDS progress in Brazil
December 1 is World AIDS Day, a time to raise awareness and show support for those living with AIDS or HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Treatment of HIV/AIDS has come a long way since the first cases became public in the 1980s.
And Brazil is one country that led the way; its pioneering programs to identify and treat patients recognized the world over.
In recent years, however, the country’s progress has shown to be slipping.
Early RSV season primarily impacts infants
Dear Doctors: What can I do to protect my baby from RSV? What are the symptoms? People are talking about a “tripledemic,” and it has my husband and me worried. We’re both vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19, and we are being super careful when we’re out and about. What else can we do?
Dear Reader: RSV is short for respiratory syncytial virus. It’s a common winter virus that can affect people of any age. In most cases, RSV infection causes mild symptoms similar to the common cold. However, infants and children younger than 2, whose immune systems are still developing, are at increased risk of becoming seriously ill.
RSV is the most common cause of pneumonia in infants and young children in the United States. It is also the leading cause of bronchiolitis in that age group. That’s a lung infection in which the smallest airways become inflamed and swollen, and an increase in mucus production impedes air flow into and out of the lungs.
This year, as with the flu, RSV season has arrived early. Hospitals throughout the U.S. are reporting a surge of serious infections among infants and younger children.
The virus enters the body through the airways and the mucous membranes. It can remain viable on hard surfaces — such as a doorknob, night table or dinnerware — for several hours. It can also persist on softer surfaces, such as a tissue or the skin. Someone can become infected by breathing in the viral particles that remain airborne following a cough or a sneeze, or by touching their mouth, nose or eyes after direct contact with contaminated droplets.
Someone who is sick with RSV typically remains contagious for between four and eight days. However, due to their still-developing immune systems, it’s possible for infants to continue to spread the virus for several weeks, even after symptoms of the disease have abated. There is no vaccine for this virus, and no targeted treatments. Prevention relies on the same precautions you use to avoid any respiratory illness. That is, keep your baby away from people who are ill, avoid close contact with people outside your home and be vigilant about hand hygiene.
Symptoms of RSV arise between three and six days after infection. They can include a runny nose, sneezing and coughing, fever, a decrease in appetite and lung congestion that can cause wheezing. These symptoms tend to be progressive, arriving in stages as the body mounts its attack against the virus. But in very young patients, the first, and sometimes only noticeable, symptoms of RSV can be increased fussiness, a decrease in activity and difficulty breathing.
Treatment for RSV consists of managing symptoms. The specific avenue of care depends on a child’s age, general health and symptoms. In infants, treating RSV includes a focus on adequate hydration and remaining alert for any signs of problems with breathing. The majority of RSV infections run their course in a week to 10 days. Parents of younger infants should check with their pediatricians for guidance on treatment, particularly medications. If your child has difficulty breathing, isn’t drinking enough fluids or has worsening symptoms, call your health care provider right away.
Eve Glazier, M.D., MBA, is an internist and associate professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Elizabeth Ko, M.D., is an internist and assistant professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Send your questions to email@example.com, or write: Ask the Doctors, c/o UCLA Health Sciences Media Relations, 10960 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1955, Los Angeles, CA, 90024. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.
AIDS Memorial Quilt comes to Palm Beach County
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The largest piece of community folk art in the world, a tribute to victims of AIDS, is on display in Palm Beach County.
Now through Dec. 15, three different panels of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, often known as the AIDS Quilt, will be on display at three different Palm Beach County Public Library locations.
The quilt is a giant tribute to the lives of people who have died due to AIDS or AIDS-related causes.
The quilt weighs around 54 tons and was started in the 1980s during the early years of the AIDS pandemic.
The AIDS Memorial Quilt is comprised of nearly 50,000 panels containing 91,000 names of the men, women and children who lost their lives to the immune system disease.
The blocks, which make up the panels, are stitched by individuals in communities across the nation, including one librarian right in Palm Beach County.
Katrina Brockway, a librarian at the Hagen Ranch Road Branch Library, said she feels it brings tragedy a bit closer to home.
“It becomes so much more personal when you see these quilt panels and all of these people who were loved and didn’t have the same opportunity to escape this,” Brockway said. “So you can remember them, what they went through, and what their loved ones have gone through.”
Visitors can see the quilt panels during normal library hours at the library’s main branch on Summit Boulevard at the Jupiter branch and at the west Boca Raton branch.
Click here for the library’s hours and more information on upcoming AIDS events at the library.
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