Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Thursday, January 30, 2020 7:11AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, January 30, 2020 11:48AM EST
Provincial health officials are investigating 27 people for possible coronavirus infection, up from 23, but say they have encountered no other positive cases since double-confirming Ontario’s second case on Wednesday.
Doctors in Ontario have previously said they would isolate and investigate anyone who reported recent travel to the Wuhan area and the presence of respiratory illness or related symptoms.
Those being investigated are either brought to hospital or ordered to self-isolate in their homes.
Toronto Public Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said that since the start of the outbreak, 67 people have been tested in Ontario, with 38 coming back negative and the 27 others under observation still pending.
She said most of the 27 under observation, who are located “all over” the province, are in self-isolation at home.
Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said the fact that no one else has tested positive is reassuring, but provincial and local health workers are still on alert.
“This is reassuring in a way, but not in a way that we are going to sit back and coast.”
The province’s two confirmed case are a middle-aged couple who returned to Toronto from the Wuhan area of China last week.
A woman in her mid-50s was aboard China Southern Airlines Flight CZ311 on Jan. 22, along with her husband, which landed at Toronto Pearson from Guangzhou.
Both she and her husband had spent time in Wuhan, Hubei Province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.
Her husband was taken to Sunnybrook Hospital on Jan. 23, where he remains in stable condition.
A sample from the woman tested positive at Ontario’s public health laboratory for the virus on Monday.
On Wednesday, the National Microbiology lab in Winnipeg confirmed Ontario’s finding.
Health officials previously said she was asymptomatic and staying in isolation at her own home.
On Thursday, Yaffe said the wife was doing “well.”
The couple represent Canada’s first two confirmed cases.
Federal officials on Wednesday night confirmed a third Canadian case of the disease, in a B.C. man in his 40s.
Yaffe said that Toronto Public Health had successfully reached out to everyone sitting within three metres of the couple that fell ill on China Southern Airlines Flight CZ311, and all of them are checking in daily with public health workers.
Doctors in Ontario also say they have widened their parameters for testing and isolating possible cases.
Now, anyone with recent travel to anywhere in China’s Hubei province, along with a cough, respiratory illness or just a fever will be tested.
Children’s hospital in Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries
A children’s hospital in the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador is cancelling some surgeries and appointments starting Monday.
Health officials say it’s due to a high level of respiratory illness.
It is unclear how many surgeries and appointments at Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre in St. John‘s will be affected.
Residents who are not experiencing a medical emergency are being asked to avoid visiting an emergency department.
Older adults amongst the most susceptible to RSV
TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The risk of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, also known as RSV, typically flies under the radar when it comes to older adults.
With 10 times the amount of older adults being hospitalized for RSV than in previous years, understanding the risk is important for those who are more susceptible.
“RSV in older adults starts out with the same symptoms as younger adults. With common cold-like symptoms- nasal congestion, sniffles, low-grade temperature, sore throat, dry cough, tiredness. These symptoms will last for a few days,” Mary Derby, Nurse Manager at Pima County Health Department explained.
“However, an older adult or an adult with chronic medical conditions such as heart and lung disease- they can experience more serious symptoms, such as getting a high fever, dehydration, and real difficulty breathing.”
Derby says if these symptoms lead to extreme chest pain, loss of color in the face, or struggle to breathe- seek medical attention immediately.
It is also important for those assisting an older adult to be aware of the risk imposed on those more susceptible.
“If you’re caring for older adults, please wash your hands frequently. Watch for your own symptoms and stay away if you’re experiencing symptoms. Consider wearing a mask to protect that older adult, because these older adults do need that protection… Take it seriously,” Derby emphasized.
Upward 6,000 to 10,000 older adults die each year from RSV.
As we make our way through the holidays, be sure to stay up to date with COVID-19 and Influenza vaccines, stay home if you are not feeling well, wash your hands often and for those at higher risk, wear a fitted mask around others.
AIDS day walk in North Battleford aims to `banish that stigma’
By Julia Peterson
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
On World AIDS Day, advocates in the Battlefords gathered to raise awareness about how the virus affects people in their community, and how people can get help and treatment, if they need it.
“HIV is completely preventable in today’s society, with all the advances in medication,” said Battle River Treaty 6 Health Centre’s HIV project coordinator, Cymric Leask. “But due to a lot of intersecting factors, especially due to COVID in the past couple of years, our HIV numbers have skyrocketed.”
In 2021, more than 200 new cases of HIV were diagnosed in the province, even while testing, treatment and outreach were reduced during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saskatchewan has the highest rate of new HIV infections in Canada, and has had the highest annual rate in the country for more than a decade.
The proportion of new HIV cases in rural areas is rising, too.
“Here up north, there are such large barriers to access to care,” said Leask. “We do have some great resources here in North Battleford but it’s still very hard to access the proper care for HIV.”
For example, getting started on HIV medication requires a visit with a communicable disease doctor, but there is no communicable disease doctor based in the Battlefords. Instead, that doctor visits the community only once every four months.
Another barrier Leask has found is that many people still have an outdated understanding of what HIV is, who is at risk and how treatment works.
“Especially here in rural areas, it’s stigmatized as something that only affects gay or bisexual men, men who have sex with men,” Leask said.
Today in Saskatchewan, men and women are diagnosed with HIV at almost equal rates, and two thirds of new cases are passed through injection drug use.
Treatments are much easier to manage than they used to be; some only involve taking one pill a day.
But the enduring stigma around HIV makes it harder for people to find community and support.
“People don’t talk about it,” said Jackie Kennedy, executive director of the Battlefords Indian and Metis Friendship Centre. “I think they’re afraid to. A lot of people don’t disclose that information (about their HIV status) because they are afraid to be judged.”
As more people continue to be diagnosed with HIV in Saskatchewan every year, groups and organizations in the Battlefords are working hard to make it easier for people to get testing, treatment, information and harm reduction supplies.
“We want to banish that stigma of how it used to be,” said Leask. “It’s not like that anymore.”
Julia Peterson is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with THE STARPHOENIX
The LJI program is federally funded.
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