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Risk to Canadians of Chinese coronavirus low, health minister says – Saskatoon StarPhoenix



Patty Hajdu said one person was cleared of having the virus, but health officials are monitoring the others

OTTAWA — Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu says several people in Canada are under observation for signs they may have contracted a coronavirus from China, but that the risk to Canadians remains low.

Hajdu said five or six people are being monitored in Canada, including at least one in Vancouver and another Quebec.

She said one person was cleared of having the virus, but health officials are monitoring the others.

“At this point, there has not been a positive case in Canada,” Hajdu told reporters ahead of a meeting of Liberal MPs on Parliament Hill on Thursday. “The risk is low to Canadians.”

The head of Quebec’s public health authority said in fact five people in that province are currently under surveillance for possible exposure.


The five, from the Montreal and Quebec City areas, had travelled to China “and have a history that could be compatible with the fact they could have been exposed,” Dr. Horacio Arruda said.

At least 17 people have died in China. The city at the centre of the outbreak, Wuhan, is under quarantine as health officials scramble to understand the mysterious disease and keep it from spreading.

The World Health Organization is contemplating whether to declare a global health emergency because of the disease, which has infected at least 500 people in China, with cases popping up in other countries as well.

“Obviously, we take very seriously this issue of the coronavirus,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

“Our health minister is engaged with her partners at the provincial level and we’re working with international partners as well to ensure that we have the best response possible.”

For now, people flying into Canada from overseas are being encouraged to self-report if they are experiencing any flu-like symptoms.

Trudeau said the government is “of course looking at any extra measures that need to be taken to keep Canadians safe and to prevent the spread of this virus.”

Hajdu said it is too early to determine what additional measures may be required.

“I think it’s important that we’re not alarmist, but that we’re cautious and we’re prudent, and that’s exactly what Canada is doing,” Hajdu said.

For comparison, annual outbreaks of seasonal influenza typically sicken three million to five million people and kill 290,000 to 350,000 around the globe, according to the World Health Organization.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2020.

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‘Something has to do be done:’ Plaintiff in Northwood class action lawsuit wants accountability –



Erica Surette says her mother, Patricia West, struggled to adapt to life at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax.

The “fiery” Cape Bretoner valued independence and loved having her own space, but with declining health due to dementia, she required additional supervision.

In March, Northwood staff suggested moving West from a private room to a shared room where her care needs could be met — a move Surette says she objected to in the midst of a pandemic.

“The fact that I couldn’t be there to help her get settled in her room, to help show her around, help her understand that this new room was going to be okay… I knew it wasn’t going to be good,” she told Global News.

West was moved into a shared room at the end of March and by mid-April, she was sick with COVID-19. She died around April 22 at the age of 66.

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Patricia West is seen with her mother in a photo provided by Erica Surette.

READ MORE: Class action lawsuit filed against Northwood for handling of COVID-19 pandemic

Surette is now the representative plaintiff in a class action lawsuit filed against Northwood earlier this week, alleging “negligence” in its care for residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fifty-three of its seniors have died of complications from the virus and more than 200 have been infected since March.

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“There needs to be accountability because my mom and all other residents who have passed, all the families who have lost loved ones, it can’t be for nothing,” said Surette.

“And if they’re talking about another wave coming, or what other virus — who knows what could come along — something has to be done. They have to change the way they’re operating.”

Since news of the class action became public, more than 20 relatives of Northwood residents who passed have expressed interest in joining the case.

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READ MORE: Northwood seeks private rooms after COVID tragedy, but will N.S. fund the fix?

Representatives for Northwood did not respond to requests for comment on this story, but a statement emailed out on Tuesday said the company “remains committed” to the care and safety of staff and residents as the pandemic continues.

“We appreciate the support and understanding we have been receiving from our healthcare colleagues, residents, and the community,” wrote spokesperson Murray Stenton.

“We have received notification of legal action and we will carefully review and vigorously respond.”

Coronavirus outbreak: Class action lawsuit filed against Northwood

Coronavirus outbreak: Class action lawsuit filed against Northwood

READ MORE: Nova Scotia health minister breaks silence on Northwood coronavirus outbreak

Bob Rosborough, who lost his father Doug to COVID-19 in April, told Global News he has “zero interest” in suing Northwood, whose staff worked “tirelessly and selflessly” with his father in his final days. He said the public ought to hold itself more accountable for its “status quo” approach to care of the elderly.

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“The fault with our care homes is a fault with all of our acceptance of the way our society has grown comfortable or complacent with the way our elderly are dealt with,” he explained by email.

“The Northwood staff were placed in that battlefield of woe and horror by our collective societal neglect of our elders, ill-prepared for such a disastrous event as a global pandemic.”

Rosborough said rather than engage in litigation, society should “realize and act on huge lessons learned.”

READ MORE: Strang urges Nova Scotians to have ‘appropriate expectations’ ahead of reopening

As of Wednesday, the Northwood had three residents and two staff members with active cases of COVID-19. The class action lawsuit comes as calls for a public inquiry into its handling of the tragedy grow louder.

Dalhousie University law professor Wayne MacKay said both the lawsuit and an inquiry could proceed “carefully” at the same time, but he’s surprised a legal action has been filed so quickly.

“It’s difficult at this point, I would think, to be precisely clear about where the problem is in terms of the tragedy at Northwood,” he said.

“…It seems to be kind of early to be proceeding with this until there’s some greater knowledge about what actually did go wrong, and perhaps who is at most — if anyone — is at fault in this case.”

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The class action must be certified by a judge before it can proceed in the courts. The law firm behind it, Wagners, has suggested that with pandemic delays to the judicial system, that could take until 2021.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Hydroxychloroquine does not prevent COVID after exposure to the virus: study – Ponoka News



MONTREAL — Hydroxychloroquine is not effective in preventing the development of COVID-19 in people exposed to the novel coronavirus, a new study involving Canadian researchers concludes.

The results are published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The clinical trial was led in Canada by Dr. Todd Lee and Dr. Emily McDonald of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, in conjunction with partners at the University of Manitoba and University of Alberta.

The Canadian research is co-ordinated with a large study by Dr. David Boulware at the University of Minnesota.

It is the first double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial to be completed assessing the effectiveness of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in preventing COVID-19.

“We conducted an international, randomized controlled trial to look at whether the use of hydroxychloroquine in patients who’d had a high-risk exposure to COVID-19 would prevent the development of symptomatic disease compared to placebo,” Lee said in an interview.

Participants were recruited from Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta and across the United States. In total, the study involved 821 asymptomatic adults who had been exposed at home or in the health-care setting to someone with COVID-19.

Among them, 719 participants reported a high-risk exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19 — being within two metres of the person for more than 10 minutes — without adequate personal protective equipment.

Most of these people were healthy young adults living in the community, with an average age of 40.

Within four days of exposure, participants received the placebo or hydroxychloroquine by mail, to be taken for a period of five days, beginning with a higher dose on the first day. Researchers and participants were not told which treatment was being administered.

“The approach was if we could load the patient with hydroxychloroquine in the tissues before the incubation period was over, then maybe we could prevent those people who’ve been exposed from getting sick,” Lee said.

“There was some observational, anecdotal stories suggesting that this was going to be effective, and the purpose of the randomized controlled trial was to demonstrate whether that was true or not true.”

Out of 821 participants, 107 developed COVID-19 — confirmed either by a test or by compatible symptoms — during the 14 days of followup.

Among those who received hydroxychloroquine, 49 developed the disease or symptoms like fever and cough, compared to 58 in the group who received the placebo, meaning that statistically, the drug was no more effective than the placebo.

“We found that there was no statistical difference between patients who got the placebo — which was a vitamin pill — versus those who received the active drug hydroxychloroquine,” Lee said.

Two patients were hospitalized, one from each group, but no one has died.

Side effects from the medication, such as nausea and abdominal discomfort, were more common in patients taking hydroxychloroquine than in those receiving placebo.

Hydroxychloroquine is still being studied around the world, including whether it could reduce the risk of infection during exposure or lower the risk of hospitalization in infected patients. U.S. President Donald Trump has said he is taking hydroxychloroquine even though he has not tested positive for the coronavirus.

At the McGill University Health Centre, a trial looking at early treatment in the community is underway.

“I would have loved to have a positive study, but in circumstances like this you need the negative studies too so you can redirect attention,” Lee said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2020.

Jean-Benoit Legault, The Canadian Press


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N.B. reports two new cases of COVID-19 in Campbellton region; case involving doctor takes ugly, racist turn – CTV News



There are two new cases of COVID-19 in the Campbellton region of New Brunswick.

“One case is linked to a close contact of a previously identified case in the outbreak and the other one is linked to Manoir de la Vallée, a long-term care facility in Atholville,” the government said in a news release.

The new cases are a person in their 40s and a person in their 60s.

New Brunswick public health said a Quebec resident has also tested positive for COVID-19 and the case is linked to the Atholville long-term care facility. The case will be counted in Quebec’s statistics.

The Campbellton COVID-19 cluster started when a child in the Campbellton region was diagnoed on May 21.

Five days later, an individual in their nineties tested positive in the same zone.

The next day, the province announced a person in their fifties had tested positive and that the two previous cases were linked to this individual, a health-care worker.

A total of 15 cases make up the Campbellton cluster.

The situation has sparked rumours and speculation about the doctor on many social media feeds.

The doctor has been publicly criticized for his action and now, the case is taking on an ugly racist tone.

Including, posts like this one:

Today, the medical society said it’s deeply concerned that the physician — Dr. Jean Robert Ngola — has been the target of racist attacks.

“It is understandable that citizens are concerned and upset about the COVID-19 outbreak in northern New Brunswick,” said Dr. Chris Goodyear, the president of the Medical Society of New Brunswick. “Dr. Ngola has admitted making an ‘error in judgment’ by crossing the border into Quebec and returning to New Brunswick without self-isolating. However, there is no excuse for the dissemination of his personal information or the racist verbal attacks and false reports to police that he has endured.”

Campbellton-Dalhousie MLA Guy Arseneault says the behaviour is unpardonable.

“There’s racism in Canada, there’s racism anywhere, it’s what level it’s at, and I think that it heightens in a state of anxiety,” he said.

Arseneault returned home after the house adjourned late last week and went into self-isolation.

He was tested and it came back negative.

“Let’s get all the facts, let’s not pass judgement,” Arseneault. “Let’s concentrate on the virus and put all our energies and our thoughts there.”

Since the outbreak began, five residents and three staff at an Atholville special care home have tested positive for COVID-19.

Of the five residents, three are in hospital.

Social Development Minister Dorothy Shephard says they are in stable condition.

“We put three admin supports in, and those supports, who are also familiar with the home and the residents, are in contact with families on a daily basis,” Shephard said.

Shephard also said because of extra-mural help staffing levels at the home are stable after 10 staff resigned last week.

‘Remain vigilant’

The province’s chief medical officer of health cautioned people to not let their guard down as they try to enjoy the nice weather.

“I remind New Brunswickers to remain vigilant and watch for symptoms since COVID-19 is going to be with us for a long time,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell.

The two new cases bring New Brunswick’s total of confirmed cases to 135. Of those, 120 had recovered before the Campbellton cluster emerged. That includes all of the province’s 15 active cases.

Five of those people are hospitalized with one in an intensive care unit. As of Wednesday, the province had performed 31,791 tests.

Check for symptoms

Anyone showing two of the following symptoms should contact Tele-Care 811 or their primary health-care provider for further direction:

  • fever above 38 C or signs of fever (such as chills);
  • new cough or worsening chronic cough;
  • sore throat;
  • runny nose;
  • headache;
  • new onset of fatigue;
  • new onset of muscle pain;
  • diarrhea;
  • loss of sense of taste or loss of sense of smell; and
  • in children, purple markings on the fingers or toes. In this instance, testing will be done even if none of the other symptoms are present.

self-assessment will help you determine if you should be tested for COVID-19.

Up-to-date information about COVID-19 is available online.

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