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Sask. monkeypox response questioned at international conference in Montreal –



Saskatchewan’s track record for dealing with infectious diseases has been called into question on the international stage.

The 24th International AIDS Conference was held in Montreal last week. The world’s increasing number of monkeypox outbreaks became a topic of discussion, given the spread of cases in recent months.

One researcher expressed concern that some regions do not take such outbreaks seriously enough, singling out Saskatchewan in the process.

“We know that in Saskatchewan there’s been many challenges, both with HIV and sexually transmitted infections, especially among vulnerable populations including Indigenous communities,” said Marina Klein, research director and professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases and chronic viral illnesses service at McGill University in Montreal.

While Saskatchewan has only reported two cases of monkeypox, both in July, there have been more than 19,000 cases reported in 78 countries in the last several months.

Comparisons have been made to HIV because the disease is most easily transmitted through prolonged face-to-face or sexual contact. The majority of the cases reported have been among men who have sex with other men.

Saskatchewan has seen elevated HIV transmission rates for years, often having the highest rates in Canada.

There were a record-breaking 237 diagnoses in 2021, an increase of nearly 30 per cent from the previous year and more than double the national average.

The province also struggles with other sexually transmitted infections.

For example, Saskatchewan’s rate of syphilis cases grew by 891 per cent from 2016 to 2020, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, also two to three times higher than the national rate. Much of those increases are seen in vulnerable communities, including among First Nations.

Saskatoon’s Prairie Harm Reduction has begun providing information to clients about the risks and cautions associated with monkeypox.

Kayla DeMong, the executive director, says groups such as hers have reason to be concerned as any easily spread disease or sickness is worrisome to agencies that work with the vulnerable in Saskatchewan.

“It’s hard to put a lot of faith in our province when we’ve consistently seen some massive gaps when it comes to sufficient planning for health pandemics and endemics in vulnerable populations,” she said.

Kayla DeMong, executive director at Prairie Harm Reduction, says groups such as hers have reason to be concerned because they work with the vulnerable. (Submitted by Kayla DeMong)

She chalks that up to a lack of consideration from those who lead the fight to contain these diseases.

“Often when plans are made, they’re not made [with] vulnerable populations in mind,” she said. “They’re made for a general population.”

She noted that numerous Saskatoon-based organizations that work with vulnerable people meet regularly to discuss the challenges facing their clients, including monkeypox. 

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry will only say the risk of catching the disease is low in Saskatchewan, and that the province is keeping a close eye on cases.

“The Saskatchewan Ministry of Health is working with the Public Health Agency of Canada to investigate all reports of potential cases of monkeypox in Saskatchewan. Public health authorities and clinicians are advised to be vigilant and to consider monkeypox in their differential diagnosis of patients presenting with unusual rash, plus other clinical signs consistent with monkeypox,” a written statement provided by the ministry reads. 

The statement also indicates that information is being disseminated. 

“Public awareness and education is being provided through the Government of Saskatchewan website, social media and various outreach efforts. The Saskatchewan Health Authority is currently in the midst of doing outreach work with identified high risk groups. The Ministry of Health is also working with various community organizations and businesses (food banks, gyms, clubs, etc.) to better inform the public about potential risks.”

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Canadian Blood Services in talks around paid donations of plasma as supply dwindles



Canadian Blood Services is in talks with companies that pay donors for plasma as it faces a decrease in collections.

The blood-collection agency issued a statement on Friday saying it is in “ongoing discussion with governments and the commercial plasma industry” on how to more than double domestic plasma collection to 50 per cent of supply.

Canadian Blood Services has previously cautioned that letting companies trade cash for plasma — a practice banned in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec — could funnel donors away from voluntary giving.

The bulk of the non-profit agency’s supply currently comes from abroad, including via organizations that pay donors.

It issued a plea earlier this week for donors to book and keep appointments, noting collections have been falling since July 1 despite a constant need for plasma in transfusions for surgery, cancer patients and accident victims.

The number of people who donate blood regularly dropped by 31,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the organization with its smallest donor base in a decade, it said.

The agency has opened five new plasma donor centres in the last few years, with six more planned by 2024 in an effort to draw 25 per cent of its supply from Canadian donors.

“But this only gets us halfway there. More needs to be done,” Canadian Blood Services said in the statement.

Working with private partners may offer one way to reach the 50 per cent threshold.

“Any options considered must necessarily include controls to ensure plasma collected in Canada is used exclusively to manufacture immunoglobulins for patients in Canada, while also ensuring no negative impacts on Canadian Blood Services’ current and future blood and plasma collections network,” the agency said.

It said Monday it had only four days’ worth of O+ blood type supply and five days’ worth of O- and B- blood types.

The O- type is the one most commonly used in transfusions for traumas and emergency surgeries, since anyone can receive its red blood cells. The O+ blood type is also in high demand due to its compatibility with any other positive red blood cell.

Spokeswoman Delphine Denis said ongoing illness and isolation requirements related to COVID-19, heat-related weather issues and the return of pre-pandemic activities and summer travel that have left many people with less time to donate are all factors contributing to the shortage.

There are 57,000 open appointments that must be filled before the end of August across Canada, the agency said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 13, 2021.


Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

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Canada hasn’t needed to declare monkeypox an emergency, top doctor says. Here’s why – Global News



Canada has not needed to declare an emergency over the monkeypox virus the same way the United States and the World Health Organization have as mechanisms are already in place to tackle the outbreak, the country’s top doctor said Friday.

Dr. Theresa Tam’s comments came a week after the U.S. declared a public health emergency in response to the monkeypox outbreak, which followed the WHO declaring monkeypox a global health emergency last month.

“There’s a very different approach in terms of accessing authorities and funding in the United States compared to Canada,” said Tam during a virtual news conference.

“We have different approaches … with the provinces being able to declare crises, emergencies at their level,” she added.

Read more:

The U.S. declared monkeypox a health emergency. Should Canada follow suit?

Tam noted that when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Canada over two years ago, there was no actual declaration at the federal level for a public health emergency under the Emergencies Act.

“For monkeypox, we’ve been already doing all the things that the U.S. is also doing — being able to mobilize vaccines, being able to mobilize therapeutics,” she said, adding that the local and provincial authorities have the flexibility to do what they need to respond.

“Health Canada regulatory authorities are there for emergency purposes as far as needed as well,” Tam said.

Click to play video: 'About 50% of monkeypox vaccine supply used, Canada passes 1,000 cases: Tam'

About 50% of monkeypox vaccine supply used, Canada passes 1,000 cases: Tam

About 50% of monkeypox vaccine supply used, Canada passes 1,000 cases: Tam

In Canada, as of August 10, 1,059 monkeypox cases have been reported across the country, with Ontario leading the case count with 511 infections, followed by Quebec with 426.

To date, there have been 28 hospitalizations, including two ICU admissions, due to monkeypox, but no deaths in Canada.

Tam said there were some “early signs” that cases are slowing down in the country, but it’s “a little too soon to tell.”

The growing threat of monkeypox has raised alarm in countries, including Canada, not accustomed to seeing such a surge as much still remains unknown about the viral infectious disease.

Click to play video: '‘Too soon to tell’ if monkeypox plateauing in Canada, but some early signs of slow down'

‘Too soon to tell’ if monkeypox plateauing in Canada, but some early signs of slow down

‘Too soon to tell’ if monkeypox plateauing in Canada, but some early signs of slow down

Globally, more than 31,000 cases have been confirmed in 91 countries, according to the WHO. Tam said this represents a 19 per cent increase in global cases over one week.

On July 23, WHO’s chief declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern, citing the unprecedented rapid spread of the virus to many countries; the risk it poses to human health, and the potential for interference with international traffic.

Under the International Health Regulations (IHR), when a “public health emergency of international concern” is declared, international efforts are required to stop the spread of the virus. This could include sharing vaccines and treatments among countries and taking travel-related measures.

Read more:

Monkeypox cases in Canada surpass 1K, with most in Ontario

In Canada, the federal government has deployed to provinces and territories more than 99,000 doses of the Bavarian Nordic’s Imvamune or MVA-BN vaccine, normally used to treat smallpox.

More than 50,000 people have been vaccinated, as of August 11, said Tam.

U.S. health officials on Tuesday authorized a plan to stretch the nation’s limited supply of monkeypox vaccine by giving people just one-fifth the usual dose, citing research suggesting that the reduced amount is about as effective.

Tam said it was “an important approach to explore” and gather information to see if the same can be implemented in Canada.

“But for now, we are working together with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization for really pushing out the approach of one-dose first to reach as many people as possible in our most highly-affected populations,” she said.

Click to play video: 'Experts urge Canadian officials to take more action on monkeypox spread'

Experts urge Canadian officials to take more action on monkeypox spread

Experts urge Canadian officials to take more action on monkeypox spread – Aug 5, 2022

Monkeypox is primarily transmitted through prolonged close contact with an infected person and the majority of cases reported in the current outbreak involve men who had intimate sexual contact with other men.

The current outbreak in Canada is largely from person-to person spread, said Tam, but the virus can also spread through direct contact with contaminated objects such clothing, sheets or other personal items.

Symptoms of monkeypox include a painful rash that could last between 14 and 28 days, which can be accompanied by fever, chills, headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle pain, joint pain, back pain or exhaustion.

Click to play video: 'Monkeypox: Canada exploring fractional vaccine doses, but focused on 1st dose push'

Monkeypox: Canada exploring fractional vaccine doses, but focused on 1st dose push

Monkeypox: Canada exploring fractional vaccine doses, but focused on 1st dose push

— with files from the Associated Press 

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Coronavirus Update: Pregnant women who receive mRNA COVID-19 vaccines aren't more at risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, new study confirms – The Globe and Mail



Good evening. The coronavirus newsletter now publishes Mondays and Fridays.

Top headlines:

  1. Pregnant women who received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines were not more likely to experience miscarriage, stillbirth or other severe health events compared to unvaccinated pregnant women, a new study says
  2. ‘It’s hard to explain how much we’ve seen and how much we’ve been through’: A growing number of health professionals have been harassed and abused by individuals promoting COVID-19 conspiracies online and in person – despite a federal law that makes it illegal
  3. The Canadian economy was losing between $2.6-billion and $5.2-billion a week as a result of the countrywide trucker convoy blockades, newly disclosed cabinet documents show

An increasing number of health agencies have changed how they’re reporting data on the coronavirus. A look at the current numbers in Canada for reported cases, deaths from COVID-19 and for hospitalizations can be found here.

COVID-19 updates from Canada and the world

Looking for more top headlines? Subscribe to our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters to get caught up on our latest stories.

Pandemic recovery

  • The pandemic has changed a lot about how we work, but it hasn’t changed when we are most productive, according to the results of a new survey. Daniel Pink, author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, says that these patterns provide a strong argument for greater autonomy and flexibility in the workplace. While research has proven that workers are equally or more productive when they get to choose their work location, he believes there’s even more productivity to be gained by providing employees with greater control over when they work.
  • Outdoors activities were among the many things that got more expensive and difficult to enjoy when the pandemic hit. Here’s a list of a few relatively low- and medium-cost outdoor activities to pursue, as the pandemic heads further into recovery.
  • New Zealand welcomed the first cruise ship to the country since the coronavirus pandemic began, signalling a long-sought return to normalcy for the nation’s tourism industry.
  • Manulife missed analyst profit expectations after a $1.6-billion drop in earnings owing to market turmoil and extended COVID-19 restrictions in Asia.

Want in-depth analysis on what governments are doing with your tax dollars? Subscribe to our Tax & Spend newsletter.

Globe opinion

John Ibbitson: Pierre Poilievre’s goal to block COVID-19 vaccine mandates doesn’t reconcile with public harm it would cause

Campbell Clark: The convoy wasn’t leaving town – but that’s not the Emergencies Act question

David Parkinson: The Great Resignation has arrived in Canada

Want to hear more from our columnists? Subscribe to the Opinion newsletter, and get it in your inbox, Monday to Saturday.

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Thank you for subscribing to our Coronavirus Update Newsletter. As the pandemic eases, we plan to wind this down and eventually cease sending, but have many other newsletters to keep you informed, including Globe Climate, Carrick on Money and Breaking News.

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