EDMONTON — Alberta is launching a voluntary mobile app to expand contact tracing for COVID-19 to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.
It’s believed to be the first of its kind in North America and is based on similar apps in Singapore, South Korea and Australia.
The app, once downloaded, uses Bluetooth to identify any other nearby phones that have the same app.
Anyone with the app who later contracts COVID-19 will be asked to upload the data to Alberta Health Services, which will use it to reach out to those who came in contact with the person.
The government says no identifiable information is exchanged between users.
It says any data that is collected is encrypted on the phone, and mobile numbers are never revealed to other app users.
Officials say they are working closely with the information and privacy commissioner and that no geo-location data will be collected.
The plan is not mandatory; users can opt in or out.
The data collected is meant to augment manual contact tracing that is already being done when someone has COVID-19.
Increased testing and contact tracing are considered necessary to prevent a second wave of COVID-19.
Alberta says it has been among the global leaders in per capita testing. Some 141,060 people had been checked as of Thursday.
Premier Jason Kenney has announced that while case counts continue to grow, Alberta is flattening the curve on infections and can begin to gradually reopen.
Golf courses are to open Saturday and other health services such as dentists, dieticians and physiotherapists are to resume on Monday.
If case counts and hospitalizations remain stable, a more widespread reopening is set for May 14.
At that time, retailers, museums and art galleries, daycares, hairstylists and barber shops are to be allowed to open, but public gatherings will still be restricted to no more than 15 people.
Arenas, gyms, pools, movie theatres and nightclubs are to open down the road, depending on case counts and hospitalizations.
Kenney said school classes probably won’t resume for the rest of this academic year.
He said projections for hospitalization are coming in lower than expected, mainly because Albertans have been following hygiene and social-distancing rules
He estimates that five per cent of acute care beds set aside for COVID patients are being used.
The relaunch is expected to be slower in places with large concentrations of cases. Alberta has been dealing with outbreaks at several long-term care homes, at two meat-packing plants and at the Kearl oilsands work camp near Fort McMurray.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 1, 2020
The Canadian Press
6 new cases of coronavirus, 5 more recoveries in London-Middlesex – Globalnews.ca
Six more people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in London-Middlesex, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) reported Saturday.
This brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in the area to 555.
The number of recoveries increased by five on Saturday and now sits at 408 — about 73.5 per cent of cases.
The number of deaths remains at 56.
The MLHU says all six new cases are from London, where 518 of the region’s cases have been reported — about 93 per cent — while 20 cases have been reported in Strathroy-Caradoc and seven Middlesex Centre.
Elsewhere, four cases each have been reported in North Middlesex and Thames Centre, and one each has been reported in Lucan Biddulph and Southwest Middlesex.
The health unit says the COVID-19 assessment centre at the Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre has swabbed 8,011 clients, and the assessment centre at Oakridge Arena has swabbed 4,762 as of Saturday.
Health officials say the number of active outbreaks in London and Middlesex dropped to three on Friday after three other outbreaks were declared over the day before.
Outbreaks remain active at Kensington Village, Sisters of St. Joseph and Chelsey Park Retirement Community. They were declared April 3, April 17 and May 30, respectively.
At least 19 of the 24 outbreaks that have been declared locally during the pandemic have involved seniors’ facilities.
Local senior homes, which includes both long-term care and retirement homes, have seen 169 cases of COVID-19. This includes 104 residents and 65 staff. Additionally, 36 people have died.
In terms of total case count, the most severe of the three outbreaks has been at Sisters of St. Joseph, where at least 25 cases have been reported involving 13 residents and 12 staff members.
Of those, three residents and one staff member have died.
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At least 457 outbreaks have been reported at seniors’ homes across the province since mid-January, according to Public Health Ontario.
The number of hospitalized patients in the city declined by one to eight as of midnight Friday, according to the most recent update from London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC).
The figure is a combination of cases at University and Victoria hospitals. It’s not clear whether any patients are in intensive care.
LHSC announced Friday that it would stop releasing an updated number of positive cases among staff members unless the tally increased by five or greater. The organization said it was to protect staff privacy.
In its update on Wednesday, LHSC said there had been at least 42 staff cases reported during the pandemic.
At least 18 staff members with St. Joseph’s Health Care have tested positive. It’s not clear how many cases remain active.
At least 410 hospital workers across Ontario have tested positive for the virus since mid-January, while 393 residents/patients have also been infected, according to Public Health Ontario.
Provincially, Ontario reported 455 new cases of the novel coronavirus Saturday morning, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 30,202.
Of the new cases, 68 were included due to a reporting delay, meaning 387 cases have been confirmed since the last report.
The death toll rose by 35, bringing the total fatalities to 2,407.
A total of 23,947 cases are considered resolved, which makes up 79.3 per cent of all confirmed cases.
Nationally, Canada has reported 95,001 of COVID-19, 7,773 deaths and 52,932 recoveries.
Elgin and Oxford
No new cases or deaths were reported Saturday in the region, and the total number of recoveries rose by two.
Officials with Southwestern Public Health (SWPH) say there are now 68 recoveries, the total number of confirmed cases remains at 75, and no new deaths have been reported since April 22.
Officials say an outbreak at Secord Trails that has left at least eight staff sickened remains active as of Saturday. The long-term care facility in Ingersoll has seen an active outbreak since May 18.
Of the three cases that remain active in the region, one is in Oxford County in Tillsonburg, while two remain active in Elgin County, both in St. Thomas.
As of Saturday, 5,738 tests had been conducted in Elgin and Oxford counties, of which 580 remained pending results.
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Huron and Perth
As of Saturday, no new cases, deaths or recoveries were reported.
At least 54 cases have been reported in the region, of which 46 have recovered and five have died. No new deaths have been reported in the region since April 29.
The last new case to be reported by health officials was on Wednesday. Before that, a case was reported on Monday.
Three active cases remain in the region, including two in St. Marys — both reported earlier this week — and one in Stratford.
The number of active outbreaks remains at zero. A total of seven have been declared, involving 27 cases.
All but seven of those cases were reported at Greenwood Court in Stratford. An outbreak there saw six residents and 10 staff members test positive, and four people die. It was declared over May 11.
Twenty-six cases have been reported in Stratford, while 13 have been reported in Huron County and 11 in Perth County.
Four cases have been in St. Marys, including the region’s first two.
The health unit said 3,829 tests had been administered in Huron and Perth as of Friday. Of those, 124 were awaiting test results.
Sarnia and Lambton
Six more people have recovered from the novel coronavirus and no new cases or deaths were reported as of late Friday, according to Lambton Public Health (LPH).
This brings the total number of recoveries to 223. The total number of confirmed cases remains at 267 and the death count at 24.
LPH says one outbreak remains active — at Vision Nursing Home in Sarnia, where 26 residents and 25 staff members have tested positive for the virus. Nine residents have since died.
Still-positive residents from the home have been moved to Bluewater Health hospital to keep the outbreak from spreading.
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The hospital says it’s treating 11 COVID-19 patients as of Saturday, one fewer than the day before, along with 21 who are suspected positive or are awaiting tests, five fewer than the day before.
According to the health unit, 40 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in the county have been outbreak-related and 35 per cent are related to close contact.
As of late Friday, LPH said 7,861 test results had been received by health officials. It’s not clear how many cases are still pending.
— With files from Global News’ Ryan Rocca and Matthew Trevithick
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Mother mystified by Winnipeg toddler's 'terrifying' condition after coming down with COVID-19 – CBC.ca
Doctors are investigating the case of a Winnipeg toddler with symptoms suggesting a rare, inflammatory illness potentially linked to COVID-19, the girl’s mother says.
And the child is fighting to recover, even after she no longer tested positive for the disease.
The mother says health-care providers treating her daughter are concerned the girl may have developed Kawasaki disease, or multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, also called MIS-C.
The inflammatory syndromes can result from the body’s reaction to new viruses — not just the new coronavirus. But doctors in Canada, and scientists around the world, are investigating cases for a link to COVID-19.
Public health officials in Manitoba say no cases of the conditions connected with COVID-19 have been confirmed in the province so far.
“Honestly, it’s just terrifying. I don’t have the answers. Doctors don’t have the answers,” said the girl’s mother, who CBC is not naming due to concern about stigma.
“We’re just trying to do anything we can.”
It’s been more than a month since the one-year-old girl tested positive for COVID-19 in late April, the mother said. She believes her daughter was infected after her husband was exposed to a co-worker who later tested positive.
At first, her parents didn’t know what to make of the little girl’s symptoms. She had a red, puffy rash, vomiting and diarrhea, a tender abdomen and a recurring fever that spiked to 102 F.
“She refused to eat, barely had anything to drink,” said her mother.
Before they knew about her husband’s COVID-19 exposure, pediatricians contacted via Zoom were cautious about sending the child to a hospital, and told the mother to try Tylenol, thinking the girl had a flu.
WATCH | Toronto doctor answers questions about inflammatory syndrome following COVID-19
The family learned of the workplace exposure on April 28, two days after the symptoms arose, and went for testing immediately. Blood work done at the Children’s Hospital at the Health Sciences Centre confirmed the toddler had COVID-19.
At that point, Manitoba had fewer than 25 active cases of the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The province was already announcing plans for reopening.
“It was absolutely devastating,” the mother said.
“You see your child kind of deteriorating, and you kind of think, it could be something different,” she said. “How could it possibly be COVID … with the cases being so low?”
Wish to take the pain away
Hospitals in Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Alberta are examining possible cases of MIS-C. Experts say the illness is difficult to diagnose and many cases remain ill-defined.
“There are way more unknowns than knowns,” said Dr. Rae Yeung, a professor of pediatrics, immunology and medical sciences at the University of Toronto, and staff pediatrician and rheumatologist at the Hospital for Sick Children.
“Right now, the big challenge is that there is not one diagnostic test … that can actually tell us whether a child has MIS-C or Kawasaki disease, [which are] all one hyper-inflammatory syndrome,” said Yeung, who is also a senior scientist in cell biology research.
“As we’re learning, the one common denominator is that they have massive immune activation. But many things can cause massive immune activation.”
When she’s not sick, the Winnipeg 21-month-old is “very chatty. She’s energetic, running around,” said her mother. “She’s your typical toddler. She is always happy — except for when she’s teething, of course.”
COVID-19 sucked that energy away.
“She started sleeping more and more, to the point where she was only awake approximately three hours in a 24-hour period,” her mother said.
After she tested positive, doctors admitted the toddler to the hospital and put her on IV fluids and antibiotics. Medical staff did X-rays, ultrasounds, urinalysis and blood work, trying to rule out anything else that may have been making her sicker.
Initially, doctors hoped her body could fight off the disease on its own, her mother said. But the family has been in and out of the hospital for weeks as her condition remained serious.
Last week, the toddler’s condition took a turn for the worse. Her mother said it was like being “back to Square 1” — but when she brought her back to the hospital, on May 28, tests showed her daughter is now negative for COVID-19, and fighting a new medical battle.
That was the day doctors first raised the possibility of MIS-C or Kawasaki, the mother said. The toddler was also diagnosed with sepsis and a severe urinary tract infection, and prescribed a strong antibiotic — but on Thursday, one week into a 10-day prescription, there was little improvement.
Now, the mother said doctors will begin further tests to help understand exactly what is making her daughter so ill.
“You just kind of feel helpless because you can’t make [your children] feel better — and that’s kind of your job as a mother,” she said.
“You don’t want to see them sick, especially with something so serious as a pandemic. You just wish you could take their pain away.”
The syndrome with many names
Yeung calls MIS-C “the syndrome with many different names,” because depending on where you are in the world, it might be called different things.
“I think this is part of the reason why it’s led to some confusion and a lot of anxiety, in fact, among not only families, but also caregivers and health-care professionals,” she said.
Much of what’s known so far about the disease remains hypothetical, she said, and research is needed to understand more. At its core, the syndrome — and Kawasaki disease, which is part and parcel of the same family of illnesses — can be characterized by inflammation, especially in blood vessels, caused by a hyperactivation of the immune system.
“What we’re seeing in all of these syndromes is hyper inflammation — just an overactive immune system that’s gone into overdrive, affecting multiple organs in the body,” she said.
The illnesses in that family are triggered by a “tickle” to the immune system, Yeung said, which can be anything from strep throat to the novel coronavirus. Canada documents roughly 100 to 150 cases of Kawasaki disease a year, for example, she said.
But epidemiology in Europe, the U.S. and Canada has suggested a pattern, as cases of inflammatory syndromes in children emerge roughly four to six weeks following the peak coronavirus outbreak in each population.
Many, even most, of the children diagnosed with these illnesses don’t initially test positive when swabbed for COVID-19, Yeung said, but bloodwork often shows the children had the disease previously.
It’s still not clear exactly how many cases of the inflammatory illness there are in Canada, Yeung said. At the Sick Kids hospital in Toronto, where she works, she said they’re seeing roughly three to four times the volume of these illnesses over normal years.
She’s helping lead research, in partnership with the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Public Health Agency of Canada, to work with doctors across the country to determine where cases are and help understand them better.
“I think sharing knowledge and alerting the public is a very important component of this, so that people are alert and aren’t afraid to come to the hospital,” Yeung said. “I don’t want people to avoid coming to the hospital if their child is sick and has prolonged fever. They need to seek appropriate medical attention.”
BlackburnNews.com – Six more COVID-19 recoveries in Lambton – BlackburnNews.com
Six more COVID-19 recoveries in Lambton
June 6, 2020 7:02am
Lambton Public Health is reporting six more COVID-19 recoveries.
The health unit reported Friday night that of 267 confirmed cases, 223 have now recovered.
The death toll remains unchanged since Tuesday at 24.
Lambton Public Health has now received the results from 7,861 tests, 96 per cent of which have been negative for COVID-19.
Bluewater Health reported Friday that 12 patients were in hospital confirmed to have the virus, and 26 were in hospital suspected of having it with tests pending.
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