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Rapid tests slow to be used as health officials unsure of reliability, best use – Burns Lake Lakes District News

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More than 3.8 million rapid tests for COVID-19 are now in the hands of provincial health authorities but many jurisdictions are still evaluating how the devices might help battle the pandemic.

Health Canada has approved more than three dozen different tests for COVID-19, but only six of them are “point-of-care” versions more commonly referred to as rapid tests.

The “gold-standard” COVID-19 tests need to be processed in a lab, and usually take at least a day to provide results. Rapid tests can be processed in the same place a patient is tested, sometimes in as few as 15 minutes, but they are generally considered less reliable than lab results.

There are two different kinds of rapid tests. One, like the traditional lab-based version, looks for the genetic material of the novel coronavirus. The other looks for the specific markers the virus leaves on the outside of a cell, known as antigens.

Since Sept. 29, Canada has announced plans to buy nearly 38 million rapid tests from five different manufacturers, and began sending the first shipments to provinces in the late last month.

As of this week, more than 3.8 million have been delivered.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called rapid tests “an absolute game changer” the day the federal government announced its deal with Abbott Diagnostics to buy 7.9 million of its ID Now genetic tests.

They aren’t changing much yet.

Most jurisdictions are still not whether they can fully trust the results, or figure out the best way to use them. In almost all cases, the rapid-test results are still being verified by also testing a patient with the lab-based version.

Ontario Health said Friday the province has started to “roll out” some rapid tests focused on detecting outbreaks and in rural settings where lab tests are harder to access.

Ontario Health will study the results of the initial rollout “to inform possible expansion of the use of this technology,” the department’s spokespeople said in a written statement.

Dr. Vera Etches, the medical officer of health in Ottawa, says her city’s testing team is looking at some pilot projects to use rapid tests, such as at a long-term care home with a suspected outbreak. But she said there are still concerns rapid tests might not be as reliable as the lab tests.

“We’re still needing to study how much would COVID be missed by tests that are falsely negative,” she said.

British Columbia health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday that her province is still validating the ID Now tests at the BC Centre for Disease Control.

She said B.C. has also received some antigen tests but those aren’t yet being used.

“The challenges we have are that they’re not as sensitive, so they don’t pick certain things,” she said.

“But we do know that they can play an important role in places like where we have a cluster of people with an illness and we need to rapidly determine if it is COVID or not. If several people are tested and they’re all negative, that’s reassuring. If one of them is positive, that tells you that this is probably an outbreak that you’re dealing with.”

ALSO READ: Interpreters for B.C.’s COVID updates would boost awareness of pandemic protocols, advocate says

Manitoba has sent several ID Now test kits to remote communities where lab tests can take longer, and to a Winnipeg hospital in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak. But health workers are still learning how to use them. The swabbing must still be done by trained professionals.

A spokeswoman for Manitoba Health said this week the tests will likely start being used there by the end of the month.

As with Ontario and B.C., Manitoba Health is viewing the rapid tests as experimental, verifying most rapid tests with the lab-based model and then studying the results overall to see how they’re working.

Manitoba Health plans to use the antigen tests it received only as a screening tool, but is still validating the accuracy of antigen tests overall.

A spokeswoman for the Quebec health ministry said Friday Quebec has received 30,000 ID Now tests, and 547,000 antigen tests, known as Panbio, made by Abbott Laboratories.

Marjorie Larouche said in a written statement that the rapid tests are “less sensitive” than lab-based tests.

“Deployment must therefore be carried out in a very supervised and co-ordinated manner,” she said.

An expert committee was set up in Quebec to decide how the tests should be used and is evaluating them in several pilot projects in hospitals in the Montreal and Quebec City areas.

Quebec is looking at using the tests in remote areas, for health workers, screening clinics, long-term care facilities and schools.

“The date for the distribution of tests has not yet been determined,” she said, adding it is expected before the end the year.

— With files from Brenna Owen in Vancouver.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


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Canada COVID surge sees 100,000 new cases in two weeks – Medical Xpress

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Canada’s second wave of COVID-19 infections has led to 100,000 new cases reported in just the last two weeks, data compiled by public broadcaster CBC showed Friday.

There has now been a total of 400,031 cases in the country of 38 million people. The illness has been blamed for 12,470 deaths.

It took just 18 days to go from 300,000 to 400,000 cases in a second wave of COVID-19 that has prompted several regions to reintroduce measures to curb its spread.

They include Quebec province cancelling Christmas plans for many people with new rules restricting holiday gatherings and Alberta looking to set up field hospitals to help treat patients.

By comparison, Canada did not cross the threshold of 100,000 infections until June, three months after its first COVID-19 cases were reported.

In the past month, the average number of new daily cases has doubled to about 6,000.

Almost 75,000 people have been tested for the illness each day with 7.4 percent having tested positive.

An average of 2,377 Canadians with severe infections have also been hospitalised each day, 466 of whom are being treated in intensive care units.

Both community transmission and outbreaks are contributing to the spread, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said in a statement.

She noted that cases are increasing among , with those aged 80 years and older currently having the highest incidence rate.

More and larger outbreaks are occurring in long-term care homes and hospitals while also spreading to and other .

“These developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies,” Tam said.


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More city-level COVID-19 data would jeopardize public health, BC provincial health agency says – Nanaimo News Bulletin

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The health of B.C. residents would be jeopardized if it provided more data about how COVID-19 was affecting individual cities, according to the provincial health agency responsible for the BC Centre for Disease Control.

The mayors of several Fraser Valley municipalities have written the province, saying better city-level data would help municipalities better respond to the pandemic.

But the Provincial Health Services Authority has justified redacting city-specific data in documents released to The News by saying the information could threaten someone’s “safety or mental or physical health” if it was made public. The province also suggests individual’s privacy could be compromised by the release of city-level data – even for those municipalities with hundreds of cases.

Last month, The News filed a freedom of information request more granular data on how COVID-19 is affecting different parts of Abbotsford and the Lower Mainland. Currently, the province only provides daily data on the B.C.’s six provincial health authorities and weekly data on 16 “Health Service Delivery Areas,” most of which span multiple cities and are home to hundreds of thousands of people

The province responded to The News’s request with figures for individual Local Health Areas – which roughly correspond to the boundaries of Abbotsford and hundreds of other B.C. cities and towns. But the information only includes monthly data for August and September. The BC CDC has also released community-level figures for October. But the province has balked at releasing more information about how COVID-19, despite pleas by politicians and journalists who have asked for more comprehensive and timely city-level data.

Recently, the mayors of several Lower Mainland municipalities jointly wrote a letter to the province saying better city-level data would help.

“A better understanding of community transmission levels will help us make informed decisions regarding our facilities and the associated safety plans,” they wrote in a letter to Premier John Horgan. “More detailed local COVID-19 data will also guide our decision-making and resource allocation processes while working with local businesses and community organizations as they work to stay safe, open and economically viable.”

The Kootenay East Regional District made a similar plea to Interior Health. That health authority responded that they are following the provincial rules for reporting COVID-19 cases.

“As this is a provincial approach to reporting, I have asked that our Medical health Officers and Epidemiology team raise this issue with their provincial counterparts and colleagues in other health authorities for further discussion,” chief medical health officer Dr. Albert de Villiers wrote.

So far the province has deemed that releasing any more detailed information would jeopardize the health of some people. It hasn’t clarified how, exactly, releasing any municipal information would hurt people.

In the document released to The News, officials redacted the number of cases confirmed in each Local Health Area during two two-week time periods in September and October. Officials cited two sections of British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacty Act for the redactions. The PHSA declared that the redactions were necessary because the release of the figures would “be an unreasonable invasion of a third party’s personal privacy” and/or “would be harmful to a third party’s personal privacy.”

The News has asked the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to review the redactions.

It’s not clear why information cannot be released for at least some of the Local Health Areas. Regular data is already released on a weekly basis for Richmond and Vancouver – the only two municipalities that are also considered Health Service Delivery Areas. The province already releases data regularly for such HSDAs, the size and population of which very vary greatly.

While the BC CDC releases data on the number of people in the Northeast health region, where fewer than 80,000 people live, it says privacy and safety concerns prohibit it from providing the same information for Surrey, where more than half-a-million people live.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
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The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020 – moosejawtoday.com

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The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020.

There are 402,569 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Canada: 402,569 confirmed cases (69,977 active, 320,096 resolved, 12,496 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 6,300 new cases Friday from 86,410 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.3 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,505 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,215.

There were 89 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 602 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 86. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.24 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 11,826,099 tests completed.

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 343 confirmed cases (27 active, 312 resolved, four deaths).

There were three new cases Friday from 304 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.99 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 63,887 tests completed.

_ Prince Edward Island: 73 confirmed cases (five active, 68 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Friday from 425 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. 

There have been 62,046 tests completed.

_ Nova Scotia: 1,358 confirmed cases (117 active, 1,176 resolved, 65 deaths).

There were 15 new cases Friday from 1,014 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 92 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 13.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 151,573 tests completed.

_ New Brunswick: 528 confirmed cases (111 active, 410 resolved, seven deaths).

There were eight new cases Friday from 727 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 51 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is seven.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 104,518 tests completed.

_ Quebec: 147,877 confirmed cases (13,145 active, 127,549 resolved, 7,183 deaths).

There were 1,345 new cases Friday from 10,981 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,714 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,388.

There were 28 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 199 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 28. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.34 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 84.66 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 2,226,791 tests completed.

_ Ontario: 123,526 confirmed cases (14,997 active, 104,792 resolved, 3,737 deaths).

There were 1,780 new cases Friday from 54,170 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.3 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,310 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,759.

There were 25 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 142 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.65 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 6,251,327 tests completed.

_ Manitoba: 18,069 confirmed cases (9,172 active, 8,535 resolved, 362 deaths).

There were 318 new cases Friday from 3,075 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 10 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,437 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 348.

There were nine new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 82 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.86 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.43 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 357,524 tests completed.

_ Saskatchewan: 9,527 confirmed cases (4,116 active, 5,356 resolved, 55 deaths).

There were 283 new cases Friday from 2,048 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 14 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,836 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 262.

There was one new reported death Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 11 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.68 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 267,348 tests completed.

_ Alberta: 64,851 confirmed cases (18,243 active, 46,018 resolved, 590 deaths).

There were 1,828 new cases Friday from 6,850 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 27 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,746 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,678.

There were 15 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 71 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.5 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 1,502,472 tests completed.

_ British Columbia: 36,132 confirmed cases (9,982 active, 25,658 resolved, 492 deaths).

There were 711 new cases Friday from 6,753 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 11 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,248 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 750.

There were 11 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.7 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 822,120 tests completed.

_ Yukon: 51 confirmed cases (11 active, 39 resolved, one deaths).

There was one new case Friday from 34 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.9 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been nine new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. 

There have been 5,522 tests completed.

_ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths).

There were zero new cases Friday from 29 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. 

There have been 6,511 tests completed.

_ Nunavut: 206 confirmed cases (51 active, 155 resolved, zero deaths).

There were eight new cases Friday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 47 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is seven.

There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. 

There have been 4,384 tests completed.

This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 5, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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