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Rattled Manitobans rushing to get flu shots after deaths of 2 young people

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More Manitobans are rolling up their sleeves for preventative shots after the unexpected deaths of two young people from the flu, providers say.

One walk-in clinic said it’s seen three times as many patients looking for the shot this week compared to last week, while a pharmacist says he’s administering about twice as many shots every day as he usually does at this time of year.

While many people are aware influenza can kill healthy young people, pharmacist Jason Hoeppner said, it still shocks people when it happens.

“I think it shakes us a bit more when we see that, and kind of reminds us that it’s not something to be taken lightly,” said Hoeppner, who runs the Medicine Shoppe on south Osborne Street.

The uptick in vaccinations follows news this week of the deaths of a 17-year-old high school student and a 24-year-old woman. Their familes say the deaths were due to influenza.

Hoeppner said he’s now seeing more high school students and recent graduates at his pharmacy.

Shaken by death

“It’s a younger sort of demographic than sort of our typical crowd,” he said.

Not everybody explains why they’re getting the vaccine, but a number of people, including those who are younger, are citing the unexpected deaths, he said.

Blaine Ruppenthal, a Grade 12 student at Kelvin High School in Winnipeg, died Monday after suffering complications from the flu.

 

Blaine Ruppenthal, a 17-year-old student at Kelvin High School, died after suffering complications due to influenza. (Submitted by Mary-Anne Clarke/Facebook)

 

Ruppenthal, 17, went into cardiac arrest twice on Jan. 7 and was rushed to St. Boniface Hospital, where he was put into an induced coma and received hypothermic therapy, according to a Facebook post from his cousin.

He had Type A influenza, she wrote.

Meanwhile, the death of Joanne Ens from Morden, Man., also made news this week. The 24-year-old contracted a bacterial infection she was unable to recover from, her obituary said.

Doctors believe she had influenza B, her husband said.

 

Joanne Ens died earlier this month after suffering complications with influenza, her family says. (Marissa Naylor Photography)

 

Health officials say the province is dealing with a spike in cases of Type A and Type B influenza. Occurrences of influenza B, though, are happening “at much higher levels than we normally see for this time of year,” chief provincial public health officer Brent Roussin told CBC earlier this week.

Last week, there were 70 lab-confirmed cases of influenza A and 67 cases of influenza B, bringing the total this flu season to 240 and 418 cases, respectively.

To grapple with the surge in sick patients, overwhelmed hospitals are asking employees to work additional hours, while St. Boniface Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg postponed non-urgent surgeries because they don’t have the space.

Nesreen Moussa, a family physician at Seine River Medical Clinic, is noticing an increase in patients herself.

She said the walk-in clinic in southeast Winnipeg administered 25 flu shots from Jan. 4 to 11 of this year. That more than tripled in the five days following, when the clinic gave 84 shots.

Around 30 patients showed up on Thursday night, she said.

“Most of them got worried” by the death of the high school student, Moussa said. They’re “especially bringing their children now to get vaccinated.”

The clinic offered no vaccinations for a month last fall due to a nationwide shortage. Moussa said the clinic is now running out and asking for another shipment.

‘Everybody is rushing’ to get the shot

The province said Friday afternoon it has enough vaccine to meet the demand.

At least one Shoppers Drug Mart location (in Tuxedo Park) ran out of the vaccine, according to an email to customers. Loblaws did not respond to a request for comment Friday afternoon.

Amal Awad, manager assistant at Prana Family Medical Centre on Regent Avenue, said “everybody is rushing” to get the vaccine, with many parents bringing in their kids.

The province said 22.5 per cent of Manitobans have received the seasonal influenza vaccine so far. It’s too soon to say if there’s been a spike in that number in the last few days, a spokesperson said.

In south Osborne, Hoeppner said around a dozen people a day are getting the flu shot at his pharmacy right now. That’s about double the usual number for mid-January, he said, when most people who want the vaccine have already received it.

He still encourages people to get immunized. The flu season isn’t over and will stretch until March, he said.

“You can still protect yourself and those around you.”

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Coronavirus outbreak: All the latest updates – Al Jazeera English

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Hopes that the coronavirus would be contained to China have vanished as the first case in sub-Saharan Africa was announced in Nigeria and stock markets took a pounding amid fears of a global recession.

In China – the epicentre of the deadly disease – the National Health Commission reported on Friday at least 44 new coronavirus deaths, bringing to 2,788 the number of fatalities nationwide.

Coronavirus has killed more than 2,800 people and infected about 83,000 worldwide.

More:

Here are the latest updates:

Friday, February 28

I’ll be handing over this page shortly to my colleague Usaid Siddiqui in Doha.

Here’s a quick summary of the latest developments:

Nigeria becomes the first sub-Saharan country to confirm a coronavirus case, while several Asian European countries and New Zealand also confirm their first infections.

Meanwhile,it’s becoming increasingly clear the virus will take a large toll on the global economy, as the markets have their worst week since 2008.

06:15 GMT – Kyrgyzstan resident in Japan tested positive for virus

A Kyrgyz citizen staying in Japan has tested positive for coronavirus and will be hospitalised there until full recovery, Kyrgyz deputy foreign minister Nurlan Abdrakhmanov said.

The man was one of the crew of the Diamond Princess cruise ship berthed in Japan’s port of Yokohama. Kyrgyzstan has reported no coronavuris cases on its own territory.

06:05 GMT – New Zealand reports first virus patient; case linked to Iran

New Zealand health officials said the country had its first coronavirus case, a person in their 60s who recently returned from Iran.

The person was being treated at the Auckland City Hospital and members of their household had also been isolated as a precaution.

Authorities said the patient arrived on an Emirates flight that landed in Auckland on Wednesday. They said anybody on the flight who had any concerns should contact health experts.

05:35 GMT – Stock markets take a pounding worldwide

California reports first ‘unknown’ coronavirus case

Stock markets around the world have plummeted as it has become increasingly clear the virus will take a huge toll on the global economy.

Stock markets in Asia plunged again in opening trade on Friday morning, tracking huge losses in the United States and Europe.The Dow shed nearly 1,200 points, or 4.4 percent, on Thursday, taking its losses for the week to more than 11 percent.

“There was more coronavirus carnage on the markets,” Spreadex analyst Connor Campbell said.”One of the worst weeks in recent memory and terrifyingly, it’s not over yet. Friday is a tricky proposition.”

Share prices were on track for the worst week since the global financial crisis in 2008.

05:15 GMT – Coronavirus fear touches off a global run on face masks

Fear of the spreading coronavirus has led to a global run on sales of face masks despite medical experts’ advice that most people who aren’t sick don’t need to wear them.

Many businesses are sold out, while others are limiting how many a customer can buy. Amazon is policing its site, trying to make sure sellers don’t gouge panicked buyers.

Ordinary people trying to protect themselves from the outbreak are not the only ones encountering shortages. Some health care professionals are seeing them as well.

05:10 GMT – Virus detected in sub-Saharan Africa, global stocks tank

Nigeria reported the first new coronavirus case in sub-Saharan Africa on Friday, as global stock markets tanked on deepening fears of a pandemic and the World Health Organization warned against the “fatal mistake” of complacency.

On Friday, Nigeria reported its first case: an Italian man who returned to densely populated Lagos early this week. Cases had previously been reported in Egypt and Algeria, but not in the sub-Saharan region.

The low number of cases across Africa, which has close economic ties with China, has puzzled health specialists and raised questions about authorities’ capabilities to detect the virus.

Commissioner Akin Abayomi said the man was transferred to Lagos State Biosecurity Facilities for isolation and testing. The patient was clinically stable with no serious symptoms and was being managed at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba, Lagos.

03:58 GMT – Lithuania confirms first case of coronavirus

Lithuania’s government reported the country’s first confirmed case of coronavirus in a woman who returned this week from a visit to Italy’s northern city of Verona.

Italy is the European nation worst hit by the virus, with its death toll at 17, while the numbers of those testing positive for the illness increased by more than 200, to 350.

In a statement, the Lithuanian government said the stricken woman had been isolated in hospital in the northern town of Siauliai.She has been under observation since and is showing only slight symptoms.

The woman, aged 39, was attending a conference with colleagues in Italy before flying to the southern city of Kaunas, Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga said.

03:40 GMT – K-pop group BTS cancel concerts over coronavirus scare

K-pop megastars BTS on Friday cancelled four Seoul concerts due in April as the number of novel coronavirus cases in South Korea passed 2,000.

The seven-piece boy band – currently one of the biggest acts in the world – had scheduled four gigs at the capital’s Olympic Stadium to promote their new album, Map of the Soul: 7.

More than 200,000 fans were expected to attend, their agency Big Hit Entertainment said in a statement, with “a number of global production companies and a large group of expert international crew” also involved.

03:30 GMT – New Zealand limits entry of travellers from Iran

New Zealand said on Friday that it was placing temporary restrictions on incoming travellers from Iran as a precautionary measure to protect against the coronavirus outbreak.

“This means people will not be able to travel from Iran to New Zealand and anyone who has been in Iran in the last 14 days will need to self-isolate,” Health Minister David Clark said in a statement.

The death toll in Iran from coronavirus had risen to 26, by far the highest number outside China.

01:56 GMT – Tokyo Disneyland to close through mid-March on coronavirus concerns

Tokyo Disneyland will be closed starting on Saturday through to March 15 amid an outbreak of coronavirus infections in Japan, operator Oriental Land Co Ltd said on Friday.

Both Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea will be affected, the company said.

Is the spread of coronavirus out of control?

The move comes after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for all schools to close to stop the coronavirus from spreading. The government has also urged that big gatherings and sports events be scrapped or curtailed for two weeks.

01:01 GMT – South Korea reports 256 new coronavirus cases, total 2,022 – KCDC

South Korea reported 256 new coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing the total number of infected in the country to 2,022, the Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention said.

Of the new cases, 182 were in the southeastern city of Daegu, the location of a church at the centre of South Korea’s outbreak, the KCDC said in a statement.

The death toll from the virus stood at 13, unchanged from the day earlier.

The coronavirus, which originated in China, has rapidly spread to more than 40 other countries and territories.

A worker disinfects journalists visiting the Mengniu dairy factory in Beijing on Thursday [Ng Han Guan/AP]

00:02 GMT – Coronavirus risk to Americans low, but can change: US health secretary

The risk to American people from coronavirus is low, but that could change, US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Thursday.

“We have really been able to keep the risk to the Americans low right now so that everyday Americans don’t need to be worried, but that can change and that’s why it’s important for all of us to prepare,” Azar said at a White House event with President Donald Trump.

23:48 GMT – Thursday – US grants sanctions waiver for humanitarian trade to Iran

The US on Thursday granted a licence to allow for certain humanitarian trade transactions with Iran’s sanctioned central bank, a move it said was in step with the formalisation of a Swiss humanitarian trade channel.

The newly created channel, which the US Treasury Department said became fully operational on Thursday as it granted the licence, would allow for companies to send food, medicine and other critical supplies to Iran.

This comes as Iran is grappling with a rapidly increasing number of coronavirus cases which have already killed at least two dozen people.


Hello and welcome to Al Jazeera’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus from our bureau in Kuala Lumpur.

Click here to read updates from Thursday, February 27.

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Coronavirus in California: What You Need to Know – The New York Times

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California officials said this week that they had bolstered efforts to confront the growing threat of the coronavirus, declaring that they were prepared and pursuing aggressive measures to thwart its spread.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Thursday that the state had pushed for improved and expanded testing, urging federal officials to alter a testing protocol that he considered “inadequate” to address the situation California faces. He also said officials were actively monitoring people who might have come into contact with the pathogen.

California has had more coronavirus cases than any other state and has also been the nucleus of quarantine efforts in the United States. The sense of concern became more heightened after officials confirmed what is believed to be the first documented case of community transmission, in Solano County.

The governor sought to strike a delicate note by quelling fears over the virus while acknowledging the seriousness of the situation. He told residents that the overall number of cases remained low and that the state government was well positioned to keep it that way.

“We have been in constant contact with federal agencies,” Mr. Newsom, a Democrat, said in a news conference on Thursday. “We have history and expertise in this space. We are not overreacting, but nor are we underreacting to the understandable anxiety that many people have as it relates to this novel virus.”

Mr. Newsom has resisted declaring a state of emergency, a step taken by some local officials largely in an effort to muster public health resources. But there are worries about the economic fallout, with events having already been changed or canceled. Both Facebook and Microsoft said they were pulling out of conferences scheduled for March and May.

Thirty-three people have tested positive for the virus in California, said Dr. Sonia Angell, the director of the California Department of Public Health. Out of that group, 24 were from repatriation flights, seven were related to the patients’ travel and one had contracted it from an infected spouse. The most recent case was the one involving community transmission, which was reported in Solano County.

Mr. Newsom said five people had moved out of the state after testing positive. In addition, at least 8,400 people who have returned from overseas are being monitored in 49 jurisdictions.

One confirmed coronavirus case that cropped up in Solano County, between San Francisco and Sacramento, is especially worrisome to health officials. The patient had not had contact with anyone known to be infected, and had not traveled recently to a country where the virus is known to be in circulation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was the first such case reported in the United States, and it raised the possibility that someone who is asymptomatic may be carrying the virus and infecting others without knowing it.

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The Coronavirus Outbreak

  • Answers to your most common questions:

    Updated Feb. 26, 2020

    • What is a coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crownlike spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The C.D.C. haswarned older and at-risk travelers to avoid Japan, Italy and Iran. The agency also has advised against all nonessential travel to South Korea and China.
    • Where has the virus spread?
      The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 80,000 people in at least 33 countries, including Italy, Iran and South Korea.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is probably transmitted through sneezes, coughs and contaminated surfaces. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have been working with officials in China, where growth has slowed. But this week, as confirmed cases spiked on two continents, experts warned that the world was not ready for a major outbreak.

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The patient, a woman, became ill and was first treated in a hospital in Vacaville, then transferred to the UC Davis Medical Center. Doctors there suspected coronavirus and requested a test. But the C.D.C. did not perform the test for days, because it was restricting testing to sick people known to have been exposed to the virus. The day after her case was confirmed, the C.D.C. broadened its criteria to allow testing of people like her who appear to be ill from coronavirus but have no known point of exposure.

Solano County is also the location of Travis Air Force Base, where many Americans who were infected in Asia have been quarantined.

A government whistle-blower has filed a complaint saying that the federal health officials sent to interact with quarantined people at the base were not given proper training or protective gear, were not monitored or tested, and were allowed to move freely around and off the base — practices that potentially could have spread the virus into the community. The Department of Health and Human Services said it was looking into the complaint.

Similar things may have happened at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego, another base where American coronavirus evacuees from Asia were taken to be quarantined, according to a person with direct knowledge of the efforts there.

California officials said on Thursday that the C.D.C. had promised to vastly expand the state’s ability to test patients for the coronavirus. Mr. Newsom repeatedly said the previous system had been “inadequate” to keep the virus from spreading.

Mr. Newsom said the director of the C.D.C. had promised him that physicians would have a much greater ability to test patients who were showing symptoms of the infection, changes the governor said “can’t happen soon enough.”

“Testing protocols have been a point of frustration for many of us,” Mr. Newsom said, referring to health officials in California and governors of other states. State officials said California had just 200 testing kits left.

Even as the governor resisted declaring a statewide emergency, officials in San Francisco and Orange County announced they were taking that step. But officials in both places stressed that the move was less an acknowledgment of an active crisis and more about mobilizing the resources to prevent one.

“This declaration of emergency is all about preparedness,” San Francisco’s mayor, London Breed, told reporters on Wednesday.

Nichole Quick, the health officer for Orange County, said the formal declaration there would enable local officials to be “more nimble and flexible” in their response.

“This is a rapidly evolving situation,” Ms. Quick said on Wednesday, according to The Orange County Register, which reported that there had been one confirmed case of the virus in the county.

State officials planned to move people infected with the virus to a state-owned facility in Costa Mesa, a city of more than 100,000 in Orange County. But city leaders are fighting to keep them out.

The authorities in California selected the site after the Defense Department informed them that patients who tested positive for the virus could no longer stay at Travis Air Force Base.

Federal officials had planned to move the patients to a government facility in Alabama, court documents said, but officials in California thought that moving the group, most of them said to be residents of the state, would be detrimental to their health and well-being.

Instead, state officials said the people would be moved from the base in Solano County to the facility in Southern California, where they would remain in isolation while recovering.

But the decision touched off a legal fight with Costa Mesa. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order to stop the move. The judge said she would reconsider the issue after state and federal authorities provide more details about how they plan to protect the health of the community, as well as the people with the coronavirus. The judge set a hearing for March 2.

“This is a new one in terms of claiming a right not to have infectious disease introduced into your community,” said Polly Price, a professor of law and global public health at Emory University. Although cities and towns once claimed “an absolute right” to guard against disease, she said, state-level control over isolation and quarantine has been the norm for more than a century.

Blair Zong, 33, was among hundreds of Americans who were evacuated on flights arranged by the U.S. government and have had to wait through mandatory 14-day quarantines on military bases.

Ms. Zong, who lives in San Jose, Calif., was visiting her mother and grandparents in Wuhan, China, where she grew up, when the coronavirus outbreak became an epidemic.

She agreed to keep a daily journal of her time in quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego.

Reporting was contributed by Patrick J. Lyons, Sean Plambeck, Roni Caryn Rabin, Farah Stockman, Louis Keene, Emily Cochrane, Margot Sanger-Katz and Noah Weiland.

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Public health officials taking stock of supplies, equipment to prepare for possible coronavirus pandemic – CBC.ca

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Canada’s top public health officer says federal and provincial officials are now taking stock of the medical supplies and equipment they’d need to respond to a coronavirus pandemic — but the responsibility for ensuring those inventories are adequate lies with the provinces.

During a briefing call with reporters Thursday, Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said the Public Health Agency of Canada serves a national coordination role for planning and preparing for health emergencies, and can do bulk purchasing on the provinces’ behalf. While there is a federal stockpile of some medical supplies, it’s normally reserved for rare, “high-impact” biological or radiological events.

Tam said that in those cases, the federal government can top up provincial and territorial supplies in the event they run short.

“As a result of the changing landscape because of COVID-19, we are pulling together that kind of information right now,” she said.

“Of course, we have to adapt to … the evolution of the outbreak in order to fine-tune some of these estimates. But that’s the kind of exercise that’s being undertaken right now. But the granularity of the system’s preparedness is, of course, left to the provinces and territories.”

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Tam noted that there are now more cases of COVID-19 — the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus — being reported outside China than inside the country where the outbreak started. About 50 countries are now affected — some with isolated travel-related cases and others with outbreaks of their own, such as South Korea, Italy and Iran.

Seven countries — Brazil, Georgia, Greece, Macedonia, Norway, Pakistan and Romania — have only recently reported cases for the first time, World Health Organization (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a daily briefing Thursday.

“This virus does not respect borders,” he said.

No pandemic call by WHO

WHO has declared the epidemic a global health emergency but has not called it a pandemic.

To date, there have been 13 cases confirmed in Canada, but no reports of transmission through communities.

Tam said Canadian health authorities are in close contact with their counterparts in the U.S. — which only recently confirmed a case of the virus that does not appear to be linked to international travel.

The Trump administration has requested an additional $2.5 billion to respond to the coronavirus, even as the president expressed confidence there would not be a widespread outbreak in the U.S.

CBC News has asked if the federal government is earmarking extra funds for a response, but has not yet received an answer.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said it would be prudent for Canadians to prepare for a possible illness in their households by setting aside a week’s supply of medicine and food.

Tam repeated that advice today, suggesting Canadians prepare by ensuring medication supplies and making back-up child care arrangements.

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