Ontario reported more than 1,600 new cases of COVID-19 Friday and 45 more deaths related to the disease while citing an “overestimation” in Toronto’s count due to a data migration.
The 1,670 new cases mark an increase over Thursday’s total when 1,563 were reported. Of the new cases logged today, 125 stem from the aforementioned data migration.
This brings Ontario’s lab-confirmed COVID-19 case total to 275,330, including 6,438 deaths and 253,170 recoveries. Fourteen of the deaths recorded in the previous day involved residents of a long-term care home.
With 62,710 tests processed in the last 24 hours, the province’s positivity rate is 2.5 per cent, according to government.
The seven-day average for number of cases reported stands at 1,575, down significantly from the 2,010 logged a week ago today.
Right now, there are 15,722 active cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario.
Where are the new COVID-19 cases?
Most of the new cases were found in Toronto (667), Peel Region (317) and York Region (125).
The only other area to report case numbers in the triple digits Friday was Halton Region with 100 new infections.
Several other regions recorded case numbers in the mid to low double digits.
There are currently 1,043 people in hospital with COVID-19. Of those patients, 325 are being treated in an intensive care unit and 225 are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
Update on vaccinations in Ontario
As of Friday, 87,831 people in Ontario are considered to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after receiving their first and second shots.
Since inoculations began in December, the province has administered 362,749 shots of vaccine with 7,694 needles going into arms Thursday.
The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.
Many sick birds brought to Medicine River Wildlife Centre this spring have fatal avian flu – Red Deer Advocate
Some shaky, lethargic birds being brought to the Medicine River Wildlife Centre this spring are beyond help.
So far, about 20 feathered creatures — from waterfowl to raptors, crows and other corvids — have been diagnosed with avian flu. And all of them had to be put down as “there is no point having them suffer,” said Carol Kelly, executive director of the wildlife rehabilitation centre.
The disease is almost always fatal to birds. There’s no known treatment or cure for the virus that’s impacting the global avian population, as well as some domestic livestock on poultry farms.
Among the sick patients that had to be euthanized at the centre was an owlet, ravens, hawks and geese, added Kelly.
So far, the virus has not been found in songbirds, so Kelly believes it’s still safe to put out bird feeders.
However, five fox kits were recently brought in to the centre and diagnosed with avian flu, which can sometimes skip to other species. Kelly said three of the sick baby foxes died, but two have survived and seem to be improving.
The survivors are now recovering in a quarantine room. Staff who come and go from that chamber have to change their footwear and clothes to ensure they don’t spread the virus, said Kelly.
She advises anyone who’s handled sick birds or animals to wash their hands, although there is a very low risk of human transmissions of this latest strain of the bird flu.
According to information on the website of the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, people should ideally wear gloves when handling infected birds, and should also wear a medical face mask, if available. The CDC advises to avoid contact with wild birds, and not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with their saliva, mucous or feces.
Kelley said people can always call the Medicine River Wildlife Centre if they see an animal they believe to be sick, injured or in distress.
Every spring well-meaning central Albertans bring in baby animals that they feel have been abandoned, or have fallen out of the nest. In most of these cases, the parents are around, but not immediately present, she added.
Kelly recalled one woman called her about a young robin that she saw hopping around on the ground, unable to fly. The woman didn’t believe that the bird was O.K. and should be left alone, so Kelly asked her to search up a robin distress call and play it with the volume turned up on her phone.
“She was standing right next to the babies when she played it, and the parents came blowing out of the tree so fast they almost knocked her on the head,” Kelly recounted.
Another time, a “gentlemen farmer” brought a baby fawn to the centre that he thought had been abandoned. Kelly returned with the farmer and the fawn to the spot where he found the baby animal. They played a fawn distress call and saw the doe come bolting across the field.
Kelly believes staying away from wildlife is a good general rule. A group of fox kits in Innisfail have become such a popular draw that Kelly heard some people are starting to feed them. She warned this could become a death sentence for the foxes since they will become habituated to begging food from humans and will eventually be considered a threat.
First patient in Quebec gets approval from Health Canada for magic mushroom therapy
MONTREAL — When Thomas Hartle indulges in a session of psilocybin treatment, the end-of-life anxiety, distractions and noises associated with his terminal colon cancer go away.
“Before the treatment, it’s like you’re sitting in your car. It’s summer. You have your windows down; you’re stuck in rush-hour traffic; it’s noisy …. It’s unpleasant,” said Hartle, who lives in Saskatchewan.
“Your favourite song is on the radio, but you can’t actually appreciate any of it because all of the other distractions are preventing you from even noticing that the radio is on. After a psilocybin treatment,(it’s like) you’re still in your car, in traffic, but you have the windows up; the air conditioning is on and it’s quiet. It’s just you and the music.”
Hartle, 54, is one of the very few Canadians to have received legal psychedelics psychotherapy for a mental health condition since Health Canada made it easier in January for health-care workers to access psilocybin — the hallucinogenic compound found in some mushrooms.
In Montreal, meanwhile, a pioneering clinic in the emerging field of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is about to become the first health-care facility in Quebec to legally treat depression with psilocybin.
“It’s a privilege to be able to accompany people in the exploration of their psychological distress and to offer something different than conventional treatment such as antidepressants,” Dr. Andrew Bui-Nguyen, of the Mindspace by Numinus clinic, said in a recent interview.
Bui-Nguyen said his clinic received Health Canada’s approval onMay 5 to care for a patient who had undergone several unsuccessful treatments for depression.
“There’s a rigorous screening procedure,” Bui-Nguyen said, adding that Quebec’s health insurance plan doesn’t cover the treatment. “We look at the diagnosis, the medical history, if there’s a risk of addiction, what treatments have already been tried …. There must have been a lot of treatments done beforehand so the application is solid.”
Health Canada on Jan. 5 restored its “Special Access Program” — abolished under former prime minister Stephen Harper in 2013 — allowing health-care experts to request access to restricted drugs that have not yet been authorized for sale in the country.
Before January, people could only access psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy through clinical trials or medical exemptions. Now, licensed experts can file applications on behalf of patients with mental health conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, but for whom conventional treatment has failed.
Health Canada says it has received 15 requests for the use of psilocybin or MDMA — a psychedelic drug with stimulant properties — since resuming the program.
In April, a clinic called Roots To Thrive, in Nanaimo, B.C., became the first health centre in Canada to offer a legal psilocybin group therapy program, in which Hartle took part.
“The therapy part has a capital T in this whole process,” Hartle said. “It isn’t just taking psychedelics. It’s just a tool in the process; the therapy is crucial to getting a good outcome.”
Psychedelic-assisted treatment, Bui-Nguyen explained, requires multiple therapy sessions before and after patients experience the drug. Patients will consume psilocybin while they are supervised by two psychotherapists and remain in the clinic-secured environment for up to six hours.
“It’s not miraculous,” Bui-Nguyen said. “You don’t take psilocybin and that’s it, a psychedelic trip and after the depression is cured — no! The patient has a lot of work to do. But it opens perspectives; it creates new paths in the brain that we aren’t used to taking. The patient then explores new roads to get out of depression.”
In the world’s largest study on psychedelics’ affect on the brain, released in March in the journal Science Advances, lead author Danilo Bzdok said psychedelic drugs might just be the next big thing to improve clinical care of major mental health conditions.
“There’s something like a renaissance, a reawakening of psychedelics,” Bzdok, associate professor with McGill University’s biomedical engineering department, said in a recent interview.
He said the evidence-based benefits are very promising. Patients, he said, say they have experienced up to six months of lasting effects after a single psychedelic-aided therapy session. They have also experienced a reduction of symptoms associated with mental health conditions, Bzdok said, adding that there were fewer side-effects compared to antidepressants.
Mindspace by Numinus CEO Payton Nyquvest said psychedelics have the potential to become a widespread treatment. As Health Canada continues to approve more requests, he hopes the recognition will make the treatment much more accessible.
“We haven’t seen significant innovation in mental health care in probably over 40 years,” Nyquvest said in a recent interview.
“We’re at a time where new and better treatments for mental health are needed now more than ever. No matter what you look at, depression, anxiety, and suicidality … these are all rates that continue to go up with no clear line in terms of how we’re going to address these massive societal issues. Psychedelics represent an opportunity to make a significant impact.”
Hartle’s own experience echoed those hopes. “The improvement in my mental health is so night and day that it would be difficult to say all of the things that it does for me,” he said.
“I still have cancer. I still have difficulty with what it physically does, but there are days when I don’t even think about it. What would you do to have a day where you just feel normal?”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Virginie Ann, The Canadian Press
MARS Wildlife Centre closes due to avian influenza – Squamish Chief
The MARS Wildlife Centre north of Courtenay is closing to the public temporarily after avian influenza was found this week in a small poultry flock in the Comox Valley.
As of Monday, the visitor centre and gift shop will not be accessible to visitors.
“Our commitment to the safety and well-being of our resident ambassador birds (eagles, owls and crows) and wildlife patients is our first priority, and we hope that this additional precautionary measure will help reduce the risk of on-site transmission of the virus,” Gyl Andersen, centre manager of wildlife rehabilitation, said in a statement.
The Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society worries that needed donations to operate the centre will drop during the time the centre it is closed, at a time of year when expenses rise.
Andersen is asking supporters to donate to its animal care fund.
It is “baby season” and the influx of injured and orphaned baby birds, raccoon kits, and other small mammals has begun, Andersen said.
The largest expenses at this time of year are food and nursery supplies. Also needed are personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to combat viruses.
The Canadian Food Inspection agency confirmed Wednesday that Vancouver Island’s first case of the H5N1 virus was found in the small flock.
This is the first reported case on the Island, which may have been caused by infected migrating wild birds.
Increased bio-security measures have been put into place to protect birds at the centre, where its wildlife hospital remains open, Andersen said.
Sanitizing footbaths, a separate patient admission building, quarantine zones for different species, and covering the ambassador enclosures are among safety measures implemented.
Anyone bringing an injured animal to the Merville centre must remain in their vehicle and call the hospital at 250-337-2021, extension zero to speak to rehabilitation staff, who will come and collect the animal.
The centre said dead birds can not be brought to the centre. Call the centre for advice. The bird hotline can be called at 1-866-431-2473.
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