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NSHA preparing to re-introduce services in ‘new reality of COVID' – HalifaxToday.ca

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The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s President and CEO Brendan Carr says like many other industries, healthcare services have begun to return to a ‘new normal’.

“We’re figuring out how to deliver services but in the new reality of COVID,” he tells NEWS 95.7’s The Todd Veinotte Show.

Last week, a release from the NSHA announced that things like surgeries and ultrasounds would begin to be rescheduled.

All appointments that were booked out to June 30, 2020, are cancelled and will be rescheduled as services are reintroduced,” said the announcement.

However, there are still limits on visitors and COVID testing for almost anyone who gets admitted.

“When you to to the bank now or when you go to the liquor store, when you go to Walmart, you go to Costco, it’s not the same as it was a few weeks ago,” says Carr. “Health services it’s going to be the same thing.”

Carr says the health care system is still ready to switch back to prioritizing COVID treatment if new outbreaks arise.

“If we need to, we will be able to bring more resources and focus them on COVID,” he says. “But if the people of Nova Scotia continue to do the amazing job that they’ve been doing, we’ll actually have more of our resources are going to be focused on getting back to reintroducing services.”

Over the past three months, Carr says the NSHA and its partners have had meetings three times a day – morning, midday, and end-of-day – to discuss COVID response.

“Every single day we’re focusing on what part of the plans are we working? Who’s doing what? What do we want to achieve today?” he says.

But Carr says thankfully, provincial health experts weren’t starting from scratch during COVID-19, some pandemic protocols already existed.

“We’ve had the opportunity to exercise it a number of times, like with H1N1 and SARS,” he says. “Every time we have a significant something that disrupts the system, whether it’s a bad storm or something like that, we use these tools quite regularly and we update them.”

The NSHA President says that he’s heard from patients who are eager to get back to treatment and diagnoses that were delayed by COVID, and sympathizes with them.

“I hear about this formally in terms of patients reaching out to my office. I hear about it from my friends and neighbours and family members,” he says.

Carr thinks that the health authority has done its best to get back to regular services as soon as possible. “We are in a very challenging place as a community and as a health system where we are kind of between a rock and a hard place,” he says.

As far as second waves go, Carr says the NSHA is prepared with plenty of PPE that’s already stored within the province.

“We have managed to get our hands on stuff and it’s in a warehouse in Nova Scotia, and we’ve been able to keep our teams safe throughout this,” he says.

Hospitals will also regularly be testing patients, even if they aren’t there for COVID treatment.

“It means testing lots of people regularly to make sure that we are catching small outbreaks as early as possible so that we can get on top of them from the point of view of contact tracing,” he says.

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COVID-19 in B.C. alert: Eight infected individuals from Lower Mainland and Alberta attended events in Kelowna – Straight.com

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A large-scale potential COVID-19 exposure incident spanning several days in British Columbia’s Interior, involving individuals from outside the region, has prompted a public notification.

Interior Health issued a news release today (July 10) to alert anyone who attended gatherings in Kelowna’s downtown and waterfront areas from June 25 to July 6 that they might have been exposed to the coronavirus.

Eight individuals who have been tested positive for COVID-19 had attended private gatherings and visited various businesses in Kelowna, including restaurants and bars, within that time frame.

In addition, health officials are especially concerned about Canada Day and holiday weekend events.

Interior Health stated that six of the infected individuals live outside of the Interior Health region, and CBC News reported that some of the individuals were from the Lower Mainland and Alberta.

Contact tracing is currently being conducted and public health team members will inform any known contacts to isolate for 14 days.

Due to the number of locations and cases involved, anyone who attended any events on those dates is asked to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough, breathing problems, loss of sense of taste or smell, fatigue, body aches, runny nose, diarrhea, headaches, sore throat, red eyes, or vomiting.

Anyone who develops symptoms should immediately self-isolated and contact healthcare providers or Interior Health testing centres to arrange for testing.

Interior Health is working with other jurisdictions to determine what the source of the outbreak is.

Over this past week, new daily case counts in B.C. have steadily increased, from seven cases on July 6 to 25 cases today.

Recent public exposure incidents have taken place at three nightlife venues in Vancouver while cases have been confirmed at a McDonald’s in Surrey, a gym in Burnaby, and flights to and from Vancouver. 

Although travel-related businesses have been reopening in B.C. as part of the province’s Phase 3 of its reopening plan, many communities remain concerned about the possibility of travellers bringing the coronavirus into their regions.

The Haida Nation is opposing the reopening of two luxury fishing lodges reopening without their consent, as they have stated that even one case of COVID-19 could be devastating to their communities due to limited healthcare services and only two ventilators available. 

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Why it may be harder to catch COVID-19 from surfaces than we first thought – CBC.ca

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This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of eclectic and under-the-radar health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.


Disinfecting groceries, wiping down packages, cordoning off playgrounds. 

While those approaches to avoiding COVID-19 infection became commonplace early on in the pandemic, the virus may not transmit as easily on surfaces as was originally thought — and experts say it may be time to shift our focus on how we protect ourselves.

To date, there have been “no specific reports” of COVID-19 directly from contact with contaminated surfaces, even though research consistently shows the virus can survive on them for several hours or days, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

The update was part of a new scientific brief released by the UN agency outlining its stance on how COVID-19 spreads, after an open letter from more than 200 experts to change its messaging on the possibility it transmits through the air.

Despite the lack of concrete evidence on surface transmission, the WHO still maintains  contaminated surfaces – also known as fomites – are a “likely mode of transmission” for COVID-19.

Surfaces ‘not a significant risk’ for COVID-19

But experts from a variety of disciplines aren’t convinced, and some warn the focus on surfaces has been overblown.

Emanuel Goldman, a microbiology professor at the New Jersey Medical School of Rutgers University, said in an article published in The Lancet journal earlier this week that the risk of COVID-19 infection from surfaces is “exaggerated.”

“This is not a significant risk,” he told CBC News. “Not even a measurable risk.”

Goldman said the evidence for infection from surfaces was based on lab experiments that were unrealistic when compared to real life situations and used extremely large amounts of virus to test if it could survive over extended periods of time.

Linsey Marr, an expert in the transmission of viruses at Virginia Tech who has studied the survival of COVID-19 on surfaces, said that while it’s possible people could get infected from surfaces, it’s still unclear if it’s actually happening.

Restaurants with patios, shopping malls and hair salons are among the businesses allowed to reopen as Toronto begins phase two of a stepped return to pre-COVID-19 operations on June 24, 2020. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“I think the thinking has changed,” Marr said, adding the perceived risk of transmission from contaminated surfaces is lower than it was earlier in the pandemic when not much was known about the coronavirus.

She said in order to be infected with COVID-19 from a surface, a person would have to transfer it to their fingers where it would need to survive long enough to enter the body by touching the eyes, nose or mouth. 

“We know that virus can survive [on surfaces] and then the question is, can people pick those up and transfer them into their respiratory tract?” Marr said. “You have to have a lot of virus on there to cause infections.”

The average person infected with COVID-19 also isn’t typically shedding large amounts of the virus at any given time, noted infectious disease specialist Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor at McMaster University in Hamilton.

“Viruses aren’t that environmentally hardy,” he added.

“They’re built to infect humans. They’re built to infect cells. As soon as they leave the human host and enter the environment, they become more and more unstable.”

Watch | Are you safer from COVID-19 indoors or outdoors?

Andrew Chang asks an infectious disease doctor whether it’s safer to be indoors or outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic. 1:02

Eugene Chudnovsky, a professor of physics at the City University of New York whose research has focused on the spread of the virus, said the threat of infection from a surface like a doorknob really depends on the conditions to which it was exposed.

“If there are just a few people touching it in an hour, it’s very unlikely it will contain the infective dose of the virus,” he said.

“But if this is a door that is getting opened every few seconds for a lengthy bit of time and there is a significant number of symptomatic infected people who are touching it during a few hours, it can accumulate a significant amount of the virus.”

Disinfecting surfaces ‘not as necessary as we thought’

One of the reasons the evidence for COVID-19 infection from surfaces is lacking is because it’s difficult to track through contact tracing.

“You can start asking people about conversations they had and places they were, but when you start asking them about surfaces they’ve touched, it gets much, much harder to really pin it down,” said Erin Bromage, an associate biology professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth who researches infectious diseases.

“They’re probably associated with a few percentage of transmissions, probably at the highest, which is a lot lower than what we find say for influenza – but it seems to be not a major driver with this particular pathogen.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada maintains it is “not certain how long COVID-19 survives on surfaces,” and says the risk of infection from things like packages is low. It does, however, still list contaminated surfaces as a common route of infection.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines on surface transmission of COVID-19 in May, saying it “may be possible” a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus on it but it’s not “the main way the virus spreads.”

“There’s just a growing narrative that the degree of transmission through fomites is probably less than what was earlier anticipated,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician at Toronto General Hospital.

“The vast majority of transmission seems to be through close contact with an infected individual, primarily in an indoor setting.”

He said the change in thinking around the risk of COVID-19 infection from surfaces means that the average person’s groceries are probably much less of a threat than a visit to the grocery store.

“It reinforces hand hygiene, but it also tells us that the need to disinfect every surface that comes into the house is probably not as necessary as we thought it was earlier on in the pandemic,” he said. “It’s not hurting anybody, but it’s just not necessary.”

WATCH | How to handle your groceries during the COVID-19 outbreak:

The coronavirus can live up to several days on some surfaces, but experts say there’s no reason to worry about the groceries you bring home. CBC News shows you how basic hygiene will keep you safe from your groceries. 1:36

Bromage, who wrote a viral blog post in May shared by millions explaining the places people are most at risk of COVID-19 infection, said the risk of transmission from surfaces on things brought into the home is “quite low” in countries like the U.S. and Canada.

“It’s probably something to be aware of,” he said, “but something that we don’t need to focus a lot of anxiety and attention on.”

Chagla said the initial focus on surface contamination also sparked a common practice that could be downright harmful: wearing latex gloves while running errands or shopping.

Discared gloves are pictured at North York General Hospital on May 26, 2020. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“Going to the grocery store wearing a pair of gloves is probably not the cleanest thing to be doing,” he said.

While health-care workers and food service staff wear gloves for infection control reasons, Chagla stressed they’re used for specific purposes, and short periods of time.

Wearing gloves for extended stretches while touching various objects can lead to cross-contamination the longer you’re wearing them, he said, which winds up being less helpful than just washing or sanitizing your bare hands regularly.

‘Misinterpretation’ of data

For parents of young children who are concerned about the risk of COVID-19 infection from surfaces like playgrounds, which have been off limits in cities like Toronto for months, the lack of evidence is no doubt frustrating.

Marr thinks the guidance on children avoiding playgrounds has been “misguided” throughout the pandemic.

“Playgrounds are probably one of the safer places for kids to congregate, if they have to congregate,” she said. “And the reason why is that sunlight kills off the virus pretty effectively. So if it is on surfaces, I don’t think it’s going to last very long.”

Chagla said at this point in the pandemic, there’s no “good reason” why playgrounds should remain closed, given the combination of sunlight and open-air ventilation making them a relatively low-risk activity.

Marr said the real risk of infection from playgrounds is largely from kids who are in close contact with each other, not from the surfaces they’re interacting with.

Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said Wednesday that officials are weighing the evidence on infection in children, but that the risk seems low. 

Caution tape is wrapped around a swing set at a playground in Regina on June 10. (Kirk Fraser/CBC)

“From the science, what we know is that certainly young people, children, are less likely to have more severe consequences if they do get infected with the virus,” he said.

“It also appears that in terms of transmission, young children — at least in some of the studies i’ve seen — do not appear to be as efficient or effective in terms of transmitting the virus to others.”

Goldman said misguided policy decisions from governments and businesses pushed him to speak out about the lack of evidence for COVID-19 risk from surfaces.

“The problem is the public policy was driven by this misinterpretation of the data,” he said.

“It’s not that the data were wrong, but they were not the right data. It was not data that applied to the actual situations that are relevant.”

Goldman said these policy decisions can be “counterproductive” because they can “dilute” effective prevention measures like physical distancing and wearing a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s actually harmful to have the wrong interpretation of the data,” he said. 

“I think it’s time to say the emperor has no clothes.”


To read the entire Second Opinion newsletter every Saturday morning, subscribe by clicking here.

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A roundup of COVID-19 developments for Friday July 10, 2020 – Winnipeg Free Press

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I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that the bureaucratic heads of our health care systems have become household names — and even heroes — during the pandemic

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, probably has better name recognition these days than many in Premier Brian Pallister’s cabinet. In Vancouver, the larger than life faces of British Columbia’s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, are celebrated on a mural. And south of the border, the world has frequently been hanging on every word from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the 79-year-old who is the top adviser to the White House’s coronavirus task force.

Alas, for the past two months, Donald Trump has left the good doctor hanging.

As Hannah Kuchler reveals in her interview with Fauci published by the Financial Times today, there’s now more than social distance at play between the straight-talking scientist and Trump.

“Fauci last saw Trump in person at the White House on June 2 — and says he has not briefed the president for at least two months,” writes Kuchler. “He tells me this in a matter-of-fact tone, but I suspect that his indifference is feigned. While Trump holds potential superspreader events, Fauci meets with the task force run by the vice-president. He says he is ‘sure’ that his messages are passed along — but Trump is evidently not listening. On July 4, the president declared that 99 per cent of Covid-19 cases were ‘harmless.'”

The supposed one per cent of COVID-19 cases that by extension are harmless have now led to nearly 134,000 deaths in the country Trump leads.

In that interview, the leading public health official now serving his sixth president says he understands why Fauci-mania has taken off during what he describes as a perfect storm.

“I believe, in fact I’m certain, that the country, in a very stressful time, needed a symbol of someone who tells the truth, which I do.”

I’m betting these would be far less stressful times for all if Trump had been willing to spend as much time with Fauci as he has been with Fox’s Sean Hannity over the past two months.

— Paul Samyn, Winnipeg Free Press editor


THE LATEST NUMBERS

 

Chart showing daily status cumulative counts of positive COVID-19 cases

 

Chart showing age and gender breakdown of reported COVID-19 cases

 

COVID-19 CASES IN CANADA

 

COVID-19 NEW DAILY CASES IN CANADA

 

CANADA COVID CASES OVER TIME

Note: Manitoba and Canada figures may not match due to differences in data sources.

THE LATEST IN MANITOBA

● Manitoba continues its streak of COVID-19 free days. No cases of the virus have been identified in July. The number of cases in Manitoba remains at 325. There are four active cases, but none that require hospitalization. A total of 314 individuals have recovered from COVID-19. Seven people have died. A further 928 laboratory tests were performed on Thursday, bringing the total number of tests since early February to 69,036. 

THE LATEST ELSEWHERE

 ● Starbucks will be requiring customers to wear facial coverings while visiting all company-owned café locations in the U.S., beginning Wednesday. The company said in a blog post that at select locations where a local government mandate is not in place, customers not wearing a facial covering will have various options to order their items, including drive-thru and curbside pickup.

● An online poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies released this week found 86 per cent of respondents in Canada are opposed to letting U.S. tourists north of the border. An Abacus Data poll out Friday found much the same thing. And when Rep. Brian Higgins, a New York Democrat, updated his bipartisan call for a plan to reopen the border, the ensuing Twitter barrage of sarcasm, satire and outright anger belied Canada’s reputation as a bastion of civility, replete with memes of building walls, slamming doors and Bugs Bunny taking a handsaw to the 49th parallel. “I don’t blame them for wanting us out of there,” the congressman said Friday.

● Unions representing Ontario’s health-care workers are consulting with their memberships about taking political action in response to the province potentially extending its emergency act. The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions/Canadian Union of Public Employees says that under the emergency orders their collective bargaining agreement with the province is suspended. Michael Hurley, president of the unions, says that while that was acceptable in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s now a detriment to health-care workers. He says that nurses and other care workers can have their shifts changed, be moved from site to site, or have vacation requests denied under the act.

● Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak says the state will re-implement restrictions on bars and restaurants in certain counties to prevent further spread of the coronavirus after a spike in confirmed cases. Sisolak’s newest order began Friday at midnight. It requires bars that do not serve food to close their doors. Restaurants will stop serving parties of six or more. The directive includes Washoe and Clark County, home to Reno and Las Vegas. The directive is the second time Nevada has tightened restrictions since the state began reopening. The number of confirmed cases rose, prompting the governor to announce a statewide mask mandate on June 24.

● A medical association that the White House has cited in its press to reopen schools is pushing back against President Donald Trump’s repeated threats to cut federal funding if schools don’t open this fall. In a joint statement with national education unions and a superintendents group, the American Academy of Pediatrics on Friday said decisions should be made by health experts and local leaders. The groups argued that schools will need more money to reopen safely during the coronavirus pandemic and that cuts could ultimately harm students. “Public health agencies must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics,” the groups wrote in the statement.

ODDITY

 “No shirts, no shoes, no mask — no service.”

— Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, mandating businesses open to the public deny service or entry to customers who refuse to wear one.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE

 

LOCAL NEWS

NATIONAL NEWS

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

COVID-19 BASICS

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