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Residents 'not worried' in China's pneumonia-stricken Wuhan – RFI

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Issued on: 12/01/2020 – 10:40Modified: 12/01/2020 – 10:27

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Wuhan (China) (AFP)

Wuhan, the Chinese city known as the home of a new virus that has sickened dozens, killed one man and sparked international concern, is not an obvious holiday destination.

But Tian, a tourist from another metropolis around three hours’ drive away, decided to make the trip despite trepidation from his family over reports of a mysterious pneumonia outbreak.

“I said I should be fine, so I came,” he told AFP after checking out of his hotel on Sunday, wearing a face mask as a precaution nonetheless.

Residents of the central city seem just as unconcerned about the disease, believed to be from the same family as SARS — an infectious coronavirus that killed hundreds of people in mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003.

So far 41 people with pneumonia-like symptoms have been diagnosed with the new virus in Wuhan, with authorities disclosing on Saturday the death of a 61-year-old man two days earlier.

The outbreak began just weeks before China’s busiest annual travel period, and national plane and rail authorities are closely watching developments as millions prepare to visit family at Lunar New Year.

No clear evidence of human-to-human transmission has yet been detected, according to the local health commission.

Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in the city centre — where multiple pneumonia patients worked — is still cordoned off after being shut down on January 1.

But multiple restaurants sharing the same building were open and serving customers early Sunday morning.

Initial reports about the virus had raised fears that SARS was back, prompting authorities to punish eight people for posting false information online.

While the outbreak sparked a run on face masks at pharmacies in Hong Kong, where scientists urged people to stay vigilant, few on the streets of central Wuhan were sporting masks this weekend.

Most of the guards stationed around the seafood market were not wearing protective gear, although one group of security staff who had entered the market area wore masks and hats and were instructed at a morning briefing to stay covered at all times.

Multiple people without safety equipment were seen exiting and entering the market, however, while some guards appeared more concerned about the spread of unflattering images than contagion.

One of them threatened to track down AFP reporters for filming a confrontation between the guards and an elderly man who wanted to enter the market.

The same guard said merchants had been allowed to enter the facility to check on their stalls, accompanied by security staff.

-‘Nothing you can do’-

Chinese scientists said last week they believe the pathogen is a previously unknown type of coronavirus — a broad family ranging from the common cold to more serious illnesses like SARS.

Hong Kong’s Department of Health said Saturday that genetic sequencing of the virus found in one of the Wuhan patients indicated it was 80 percent similar to SARS found in bats.

But they said it was too soon to conclude that it was a SARS strain.

Outside the medical centre in Wuhan where the infected are being treated, patients discharged after being seen for other illnesses waited for buses and taxis, some without face masks.

Visitors were free to enter and exit the hospital compound, although a guard physically blocked AFP from filming a group of patients moving between buildings, saying it was a “sensitive” scene.

Two women surnamed Yan and Shu who had been discharged said on Sunday that hospital authorities had pushed overnight for as many patients unrelated to the pneumonia outbreak to be sent home as possible.

“Most of the building is empty,” Shu said, adding that she believed more pneumonia patients would soon be transferred there.

Another woman surnamed Yan, waiting for a bus near the hospital with her husband and three-year-old daughter, said she was concerned about the virus but felt there was little point in worrying.

“If the illness looks for us, there’s nothing we can do,” she said.

Her husband Cao said most of their neighbours in the Wuchang district across the river from Huanan market were “not worried”, as they rarely crossed over to the other side of the city.

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Nova Scotia reports 23 new COVID-19 cases, 26 recoveries – Vancouver Is Awesome

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HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is reporting 23 new cases of COVID-19.

Thirteen cases have been identified in the central zone, which includes Halifax, six cases are in the western zone, three cases have been found in the northern zone and one case is in the eastern zone.

Authorities say 26 recoveries have also been reported.

The province now has 160 active infections with 15 people in hospital, four of whom are in intensive care.

Officials also reported that two schools received COVID-19 exposure notices Thursday, both of them in the Amherst area.

And officials continue to monitor an outbreak of the disease in a non-COVID unit at Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville where five cases of COVID-19 have been identified.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2021.

— 

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version based on an erroneous Health Department news release said there were 11 people in hospital.

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Get COVID-19 and flu shot at the same time – Windsor Star

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You can get a COVID-19 vaccination and annual flu shot at the same time, Windsor Essex County Health Unit director of health protection Kristy McBeth said Thursday.

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The National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which makes recommendations on the use of vaccines in Canada, recommended recently that the COVID-19 vaccine can be administered at the same time or any time before or after other vaccines, including the flu shot.

Previously, the committee had recommended that COVID-19 vaccines be administered at least 28 days before or 14 days after other shots as a precautionary measure.

After reviewing the evolving evidence on COVID-19 vaccines and considering the extensive data on administering other routine vaccines at the same time or within days of each other, the committee has determined that the earlier, precautionary approach is no longer necessary.

The new recommendation is expected to help the rollout of the flu shot this fall as well as make it easier for people to get  other vaccines they may have missed during the pandemic.

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The flu shot is free in Ontario and available at doctors’ offices and pharmacies. Hospitals, long-term care homes, doctors’ offices, walk-in clinics and pharmacies here have already received their supplies.

People over age 65 and those at risk of complications from flu have been given priority and are receiving the vaccine now. The shot will be available to the general public in November.

The health unit will begin promoting the shot more widely next month.

“We will be doing some extra promotion, urging people to get it,” McBeth told the health unit’s board of directors.

Between 150,000 and 200,000 doses are expected to be administered here this season, up from 97,000 last year.

Ontario has ordered 7.6 million doses this year, 1.4 million more than last year, Health Minister Christine Elliott said Tuesday.

There were few cases of flu last season because many people worked from home, their children learned remotely and the economy and society were locked down.

But more cases are expected this season because many people have returned to offices, schools have reopened and many restrictions have been lifted, allowing people to be out in the community more and to socialize and travel.

People are being urged to get the flu shot to avoid overwhelming hospitals that are still caring for COVID-19 patients.

ajarvis@postmedia.com

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Canada scraps COVID-19 travel advisory; Ontario to end mask, vaccine rules by March

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Canada has scrapped an official advisory urging its citizens to shun  non-essential foreign travel, given its successful campaign to inoculate people against COVID-19, the country’s top medical officer said on Friday.

Hours later, Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, issued a timeline to lift all remaining COVID-19 restrictions, with the aim of removing all proof of vaccination and mask requirements by March 2022.

Canada’s travel warning was issued in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted.

Ottawa removed the advice to avoid unnecessary travel late on Thursday, however it is still telling people to avoid cruise ship travel outside of the country.

“The beginnings of the transition away from the more blanket approach really recognizes vaccines are very effective at preventing severe outcome,” Chief Medical Officer Theresa Tam told a briefing.

According to official data, just under 82% of eligible Canadians had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct 8.

Tam said the latest surveillance data showed “a continued decline in disease activity nationally and in most jurisdictions.”

“Now is not the time to just freely go wherever,” she added, citing high cases of coronavirus in some nations.

Ontario laid out a six-month timeline to lift all COVID-19 restrictions, starting with removing capacity limits in the “vast majority” of public venues on Oct. 25, and culminating in an end to all mask and proof of vaccination requirements by March.

The timeline will be dependent on “the absence of concerning (pandemic) trends,” it said in a statement.

“This plan is built for the long term,” Premier Doug Ford said. “It will guide us safely through the winter and out of this pandemic, while avoiding lockdowns and ensuring we don’t lose the hard-fought gains we have made.”

Ontario spent much of the past 18 months in some form of  lockdown due to high infection rates and hospital bed occupancy of COVID-19 patients.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Paul Simao and Bill Berkrot)

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