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One coronavirus patient in B.C. has recovered, no new cases

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The first person to be diagnosed with the coronavirus has been given the all clear to leave isolation, while the other four appear to be recovering

Health officials say the first person to be tested positive in B.C. for coronavirus has been given the all clear to leave isolation, while the other four patients appear to be recovering.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, said Wednesday that more than 500 people from across the province have been tested for COVID-19, the name for the illness caused by the coronavirus, but they have no new cases.

The first individual confirmed to have COVID-19 in B.C., a man in his 40s who had travelled to Wuhan, has now recovered, she said, adding that the patient had two negative test results 24 hours apart.

The four remaining B.C. patients with COVID-19 are recovering in isolation at home with support and monitoring from public health teams.

Henry said the risk of transmission of the virus remains “very, very low.”

She said the fifth confirmed case, a woman in her 30s in the B.C. Interior, still has symptoms but appears to be doing well.

She also said the airplane that will carry Canadian passengers later this week from the cruise ship quarantined in Japan will go to the Canadian Forces Base at Trenton, Ont., and will not stop in Vancouver.

The Canadians who were evacuated from Wuhan, the centre of the outbreak, will soon end a 14-day quarantine in Trenton. Henry said about one-third of those are from British Columbia, and she hopes they will be welcomed home without fear.

On Wednesday, the death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 2,000 people in China, with more than 75,000 people infected, according to Chinese officials.


Paul Mirko of Richmond is quarantined aboard the Diamond Princess in Yokohama Japan due to a coronavirus outbreak on the cruise ship.

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Meantime, a Richmond couple — still confined in their room aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan despite a 14-day quarantine ending and passengers disembarking — said they still don’t know when the Canadian government will send a plane to bring them home.

Paul Mirko said Wednesday his emails to the Canadian embassy have not been returned, and they can’t seem to get any answers about why the quarantine on the ship is not working. He said they were told they’d be leaving Thursday but now they are hearing it won’t be until Friday.

“Sadly it was only a tweet by our minister of foreign affairs that the aircraft had had trouble leaving Europe due to mechanical problems that gave us any information,” he said in an email to Postmedia.

There are 256 Canadians on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Of those, at least 43 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Global Affairs Canada. More than 600 people on the ship tested positive for the virus.

“So we are hoping for Friday (to leave) at least. A reminder that we are as confined as any prisoner. The Japanese have started releasing their passengers who tested negative to walk off and go home,” he said, adding that Canada has “dropped the ball” on rescuing the trapped Canadian passengers.

Barbara Harvey, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, said Wednesday that a chartered aircraft to repatriate Canadians on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship is en route to Japan from Canada.

The flight is expected to depart Tokyo Haneda Airport on Thursday, she said.

The aircraft will bring passengers from Japan to CFB Trenton, after which passengers will be assessed and transported to the NAV Canada Training Institute in Cornwall, Ont., to undergo another 14-day period of quarantine.

Canadian citizens and permanent residents are eligible for this flight. Non-Canadian immediate family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents will also be allowed in order to avoid separating families, space permitting, Harvey said.

With files from Scott Brown and Lora Grindlay

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'I was shocked': Mother, child mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccine instead of flu shot – Vancouver Is Awesome

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WINNIPEG — A Manitoba mother says a routine appointment for her and her three-year-old to get flu shots ended in frustration and mixed messages after they were each mistakenly given an adult dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Jenna Bardarson is calling for policy changes at the province’s vaccination centres to make sure that doesn’t happen to another family. 

The shots were administered on Nov. 24 at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.

Bardarson says that shortly after she and her daughter, Dali, got their shots, the health worker who had given them excused herself to speak with a supervisor. When the worker returned, she told them she had made a mistake and given them both the adult Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

“I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. My immediate concerns were, of course, would my daughter be OK and also who could I speak to about this,” Bardarson said in online social media messages Friday to The Canadian Press.

Once she got home, Bardarson made multiple calls to different departments with the regional medical authority, hoping to speak with someone about the error and her concerns, she said.

She said no one was able to provide her with the answers or information she needed. “The conversations with various Prairie Mountain Health members have been frustrating, to say the least.”

Bardarson said she already had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and was due for her booster shot next month. Her daughter is too young to be eligible.

Health Canada last month approved a pediatric version of the Pfizer shot for children ages five to 11, but it has not yet approved a vaccine for those under five. 

Bardarson said she and her daughter had headaches and sore arms the following day. Her daughter had no appetite and was throwing up.

Manitoba Health confirmed the mistake in a statement and said staff from Prairie Mountain have reached out to the mother to discuss what happened as well as to provide an update on an investigation.

“Patient safety is a critical aspect of all health-care services in Manitoba. We are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure that our systems support our staff in preventing errors,” it said.

“In this case … our team reviewed the existing processes to make adjustments that would help avoid a similar error from occurring in the future.”

Bardarson said the health region has not provided her with updated information on the investigation and would not discuss any consequences the health worker may have faced. 

Manitoba Health said no further action would be taken against the worker, because she immediately recognized the error and told a supervisor. 

For Bardarson, that’s not enough.

“I by no means want her fired; however, there should be some sort of measures in place for harm reduction.”

Bardarson suggested taking away the worker’s injection privileges or enhanced supervision during vaccinations. 

She said she would also like to see areas at vaccination centres separated by vaccine types, instead of having different vaccines offered in the same booth.

Manitoba Health could not say if others have been given a COVID-19 vaccine by mistake, but acknowledged that medication errors, although rare, do occur. It added that Bardarson was provided with information about the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine, which in this case it says are low.

Health Canada said it is not in charge of immunization monitoring and could not comment on whether similar mistakes have occurred in other parts of the country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2021.

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The story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. 

Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press


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Vaccine makers could make Omicron-specific booster, says Fauci

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COVID-19 vaccine makers have contingency plans to deal with the Omicron variant that include a combination vaccine against the original version and the variant as well as a variant-specific booster dose, a top U.S. health official said on Friday.

The U.S. government is working with Moderna, Pfizer, and J&J on multiple contingency plans, infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci told reporters at a White House briefing.

“One is to rev up the production of the vaccines that they already have. The next is to make, for example, a bivalent, where you have the vaccine against both the ancestral strain and the new variant, and the other is to make a variant-specific boost,” said Fauci.

“They are now assuming they may have to do that and are being prepared for that,” he added.

Data from a National Institutes of Health study strongly suggest that existing boosters provide cross protection against a number of variants, including Omicron, Fauci said.

“Although we haven’t proven it yet, there’s every reason to believe that if you get vaccinated and boosted that you would have at least some degree of cross protection, very likely against severe disease, even against the Omicron variant.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with local authorities to investigate suspect cases of the Omicron variant in states other than those where cases have already been reported, Director Rochelle Walensky said at the briefing.

There have been cases of Omicron detected in about 40 countries, she said, but the Delta variant remains the dominant strain in the United States.

“I know that the news is focused on Omicron. But we should remember that 99.9% of cases in the country right now are from the Delta variant. Delta continues to drive cases across the country, especially in those who are unvaccinated,” she said.

(Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein and Jeff Mason; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Dan Grebler)

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FDA adds strict safety warnings on arthritis drugs from Pfizer, AbbVie and Lilly

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The U.S. health regulator has added its strictest warning to the labels of drugs from Pfizer, Eli Lilly and AbbVie belonging to a class of anti-inflammatory treatments called JAK inhibitors, citing risk of serious health issues and death in patients 50 and over, the drugmakers said on Friday.

The addition of the warning on the labels follows the agency’s review of Pfizer’s Xeljanz after initial results from a February trial showed an increased risk of serious heart-related problems and cancer in some patients being treated with the drug.

Xeljanz, which brought in worldwide sales of $2.44 billion for Pfizer in 2020, is approved in the United States for the treatment of conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and ulcerative colitis – an inflammatory bowel disease.

AbbVie’s rheumatoid arthritis drug Rinvoq and Pfizer’s Xeljanz are now recommended for use only in patients, who have had inadequate response or intolerance to one or more TNF blockers, which are another class of drugs used against inflammatory conditions.

The Food and Drug Administration’s boxed warnings on the labels of Rinvoq , Xeljanz and Lilly’s Olumiant flags the risk of cardiovascular death and stroke in high-risk patients who are aged 50 and above, and are current or past smokers.

Additional information about the risk of some types of cancer and death was also added to their labels.

The marketing applications for Rinvoq’s expanded use in atopic dermatitis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and ulcerative colitis remain under review by the FDA, AbbVie said.

 

(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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