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Parents of students possibly exposed to COVID-19 at Winnipeg school want answers –



Parents of children who attend a Winnipeg school where there was a possible COVID-19 exposure last week, are calling on the school to provide more information about it.

On Sunday afternoon, the province reported that a person went to John Pritchard School in North Kildonan all day Tuesday through Thursday while asymptomatic.

The province said the affected cohorts would be notified but parents say the letter they received from the school was vague. 

“They didn’t specify which cohort, which grades or where they were in the school, which is a little bit concerning,” said Britney Aselund, a mother to a Grade 6 student.

“It could be in her cohort. She could be around that person and it’s worrisome.”

Aselund says she’s considering keeping her daughter home from school until she learns more.

Masks are mandatory on school buses for all students, but in schools they’re compulsory for grades 4 and up. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Catherine Harder says she’s frustrated by the lack of information from the school.

“I have three children that are in different grades and at different sections of the school at each time of day. For us to not know the age or even just a general state of where they’ve been … it’s frustrating,” she said.

Kelly Barkman, the superintendent for the River East Transcona School Division, which John Pritchard School falls under, says it was thoroughly cleaned on Sunday when the division was informed of the positive case.

“[We] immediately initiated our plan for a positive case in our schools or buildings that includes a deep clean of the school as well as using an electrostatic fogger which can disinfect surface areas in minutes,” she said.

“The school has also communicated to their school community with a letter from Public Health.”

The province says it doesn’t release details of cases at schools “to protect the privacy of the individual and to reduce any possible stigma.”

Aselund and Harder say they understand that, but they need more to go on.

“I get the personal information and the lack of sharing. Just tell me they’ve been in a classroom, A, B and C.”

“It’s very, very vague.”

Tom Murphy’s grandson goes to John Pritchard school. He says more needs to be done to protect children from the virus, and that starts by ensuring they’re physically distancing.

“We have to start thinking about places we can move children out of their school so there aren’t so many in a classroom,” the former principal said. 

“You can’t do cohorts in the schools we built a hundred years ago, these schools are old,” he said adding that the classrooms are small.

Murphy says hand washing and access to sanitizer is imperative to prevent the spread of germs.

WATCH | Dr. Brent Roussin on avoiding stimatizing people who test positive in school system

The first positive COVID-19 case identified in Manitoba’s school system is a student who attended the first day of class on Tuesday while asymptomatic and “did everything that they were supposed to do,” says Manitoba’s top doctor. 0:41

John Pritchard School is one of four schools in the province where possible COVID-19 exposures took place since classes resumed.

A person who was asymptomatic went to Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute in the West End on Wednesday in the morning and Thursday in the afternoon, the province reported on Sunday.

On Saturday, there was a potential exposure to the novel coronavirus connected to a Grade 5 and 6 classroom in École New Era School at 527 Louise Ave., Brandon School Division superintendent Marc Casavant said in a news release that day.

On Wednesday, the province warned that a Grade 7 student was in class at Winnipeg’s Churchill High School on Tuesday, and used Winnipeg Transit while asymptomatic.

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German GDP saw 8.2% bounce-back in third quarter



BERLIN – The German economy bounced back strongly in the third quarter compared to the previous three months, when the country was hit by the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, according to official figures released Friday.

Germany’s Federal Statistical Office said the country’s gross domestic product grew by 8.2% from July to September compared to the second quarter.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said the data was better than predicted and the government now expects a full-year decline in GDP of 5.5%, better than the government’s forecast in September of a 5.8% drop.

German GDP is expected to grow 0.4% in the fourth quarter, less than previously expected due to the recent upsurge in new COVID cases.


Altmaier said officials expect the economy to have recovered from the impact of the pandemic by 2022.

Source:- Toronto Star

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Finding the Best Health Insurance



Health Insurance

Canadian health insurance quotes can be easily accessed via the Internet. But having each provider’s rates isn’t the only thing you need to remember. Other essential considerations need to be considered to ensure that you get the best deal for the insurance policy that is most suitable for you and your family. The steps below are intended to help you get out of it.


  1. Decide how much of the deductible your finances can afford. The deductible is the annual payment to be charged by you for the total of all medical costs that you reported from your insurance provider throughout the year. Bear in mind that the higher the deductible, the lower the rate. Therefore, before receiving a Canadian health insurance quote, decide the premium amount your budget can pay for your annual health-related expenses.


  1. Check to see if you need extra coverage. Since the Canadian government’s standard health insurance coverage is minimal, you will want to include supplementary coverage in the health insurance package you consider, i.e., serious illness insurance, vision care, and other forms of coverage. Required disease insurance helps if you are unexpectedly afflicted with some serious or life-threatening conditions covered by the policy. Vision insurance provides a range of eye care programs. If you have decided which extra coverage is ideal for your situation, your Canadian health insurance quotes will better represent accurate prices.


  1. Determine whether getting coverage for a prescription drug is necessary. Coverage for prescription medications is provided under the Canadian basic insurance plans. However, you may be limited to a specified monthly amount. Hence, if you are required to take multiple prescription drugs whereby the government health plan does not sufficiently cover costs, you might want to consider getting additional prescription drug coverage.


  1. Consider how far and how safely you drive if you fly several times a year, whether, for business or personal reasons, you can take travel insurance into account while looking for Canadian health insurance quotes since simple policies do not usually protect individuals who travel more than a week at a time.


  1. Obtain multiple health insurance quotes every time. Without a doubt, getting health insurance quotes from a few insurance providers helps in your search for the cheapest yet most appropriate health insurance coverage out there. Fortunately, this task is made more accessible now that it can be readily done online. Fill out the online forms provided on the insurers’ websites you have selected, and you can get multiple quotes within minutes. Remember, if the information you provide is nearly precise, you will obtain relatively accurate quotes.


  1. Compare plans based on the coverage and not on the price. As thrift-minded consumers, we often tend to buy the first cheap health insurance plan we are offered. Now, this practice can initially save you money, but should a case of illness in the family occur, and you may be left with insubstantial coverage. So when you are checking out insurance plans, make sure you do not assess them merely on cost and the details of the coverage.


  1. Opt to enlist the assistance of a third-party. Examining Canadian health insurance quotes can be tedious and time-consuming, but there is a way to expedite the process. A third-party firm can review the various insurance health plans you have investigated so that the task of meticulously examining and comparing the insurance coverage is simplified. Not only will it save you time, but it will also enable you to make informed decisions.


Bear in mind that the insurance quotes you obtain online may not be exact. For that reason, you must consult with a health insurance agent to get precise calculations for the coverage you want and, at the same time, get answers to all your insurance questions.

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Next crop of COVID-19 vaccine developers take more traditional route – Reuters



CHICAGO/BERLIN (Reuters) – The handful of drugmakers dominating the global coronavirus vaccine race are pushing the boundaries of vaccine technology. The next crop under development feature more conventional, proven designs.

FILE PHOTO: Small bottles labelled with “Vaccine” stickers stand near a medical syringe in front of displayed “Coronavirus COVID-19” words in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The world will need several different vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, given the sheer size of global need, variations in effects on different populations, and possible limits of effectiveness in the first crop.

Many leading candidates now in final-stage testing are based on new, largely unproven technology platforms designed to produce vaccines at speed.

They include messenger RNA (mRNA) technology used by Moderna Inc MRNA.O and Pfizer Inc PFE.N with partner BioNTech SE 22UAy.F, and inactivated cold virus platforms used by Oxford University/AstraZeneca Plc AZN.L, Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N and CanSino Biologics 6185.HK, whose vaccine has been approved for military use in China.

Merck & Co MRK.N in September started testing a COVID-19 vaccine based on a weakened measles virus that delivers genes from the new coronavirus into the body to stimulate an immune response to the coronavirus.

Of these, only the technology offered by J&J and CanSino that use cold viruses as vectors to deliver coronavirus genetic material have ever produced a licensed vaccine – for Ebola.

The next set of candidates – with late-stage trial results expected in the first half of 2021 – are heavily skewed toward approaches that have produced successful vaccines.

Conventional methods include using a killed or inactivated version of the pathogen that causes a disease to provoke an immune response, such as those used to make flu, polio and rabies vaccines.

Also more common are protein-based vaccines that use purified pieces of the virus to spur an immune response. Vaccines against whooping cough, or pertussis, and shingles employ this approach.

French drugmaker Sanofi SASY.PA is developing a protein-based COVID-19 vaccine employing the same approach it uses for its Flublok seasonal flu vaccine. Sanofi expects to start the final phase of testing in early December, with approval targeted in the first half of 2021.

While Novavax Inc NVAX.O has not yet produced a licensed vaccine, it is using similar purified protein technology and expects to start a late-stage U.S. trial involving 30,000 volunteers in late November.

“Those are more traditional approaches, so we can feel more comfortable that we have a lot of experience with them,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Offit also sees promise in some of the inactivated virus vaccines being developed by Chinese researchers, including Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group (CNBG), one of the few first-crop developers using a traditional technique.

Other second-wave developers are making vaccines based on virus-like particles (VLPs), which mimic the structure of the coronavirus but contain no genetic material from it.

VLP vaccines can be produced in a variety of different types of cells, including mammal, bacterial, insect, yeast and plant cells. This approach has been used to develop vaccines for hepatitis B and human papillomavirus.

Quebec’s Medicago is testing a VLP COVID-19 vaccine grown in tobacco plants with the backing of tobacco company Philip Morris PM.N.

Medicago has yet to produce an approved vaccine, but has completed large-scale testing for a seasonal flu vaccine using this approach. It plans to begin mid-stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine next month and aims to make up to 1 billion doses a year by 2023.

Others are looking at alternative delivery methods, such as the nasal spray vaccine being developed by a team at Xiamen University, Hong Kong University and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, which is based on a modified flu virus.


The second crop, however, could face problems completing large studies if the current leaders bring their vaccines over the finish line in the coming months.

“If we get a super vaccine in December, from company x, which is on the market, it will be difficult to recruit participants into other studies,” said Peter Kremsner from the University Hospital in Tuebingen, Germany.

“Then everyone will say, if the vaccine exists, I will get vaccinated now with this vaccine. This will definitely prove a problem for recruitment,” added Kremsner, who is testing CureVac’s CVAC.O mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in early clinical trials with backing from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

On the flip side, it is easier and faster to prove efficacy when community spread of the virus is rampant as is happening again in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, a potential advantage for companies starting large-scale vaccine trials in the near future.

Reporting by Rocky Swift in Tokyo and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Additional reporting by Kate Kelland in London, Ludwig Burger, Caroline Copley in Berlin, Sangmi Cha in Seoul and Allison Martell in Toronto; Writing by Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Miyoung Kim, Peter Henderson and Bill Berkrot

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