Provincial health officials announced three weeks ago that the restrictions would be removed on Sunday after nearly 70 per cent of residents 12 and older were vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
As of Saturday’s update, 739,331 residents 12 and older have been vaccinated with at least a first dose and 549,537 of those residents are fully vaccinated.
Buffets, nightclubs, dancefloors and karaoke bars are also able to reopen now for the first time since fall 2020.
Bars and licensed establishments will be able to serve alcohol past 10 p.m., a restriction that was put in place in October due to multiple outbreaks at Saskatoon nightclubs.
In early March 2020, the province implemented the first COVID-19-related public health order on gathering size limits. Later, more restrictions were placed on schools, businesses, and places of worship.
The mask mandate was put in place for the entire province on Nov. 13.
“I don’t think a government has ever asked so much of its citizens. This was very difficult for all of us, but it was necessary,” Premier Scott Moe said in a recent press conference.
Though restrictions are coming to an end, Moe cautioned that COVID-19 is still prevalent and the fight still needs to continue.
“Instead of trying to control the infection rate through government-imposed restrictions and government rules, we can now control COVID through vaccines,” Moe said.
‘Stark’ difference between those unvaccinated, fully vaccinated for COVID-19: Saskatchewan premier
Moe credited COVID-19 vaccines for low COVID-19 case numbers in recent weeks.
As of the July 10 update, there were 414 active cases in Saskatchewan.
Currently, everyone in the province over the age of 12 is eligible for both their first and second shots.
Moe said there is ample supply of vaccines at Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) clinics and pharmacies across the province.
“There’s absolutely no reason for anyone to not consider going out and getting vaccinated,” Moe told reports on July 7.
“The difference between being vaccinated and being unvaccinated is quite stark,” Moe added.
In June, there were about 2,000 COVID-19 cases reported in the province — over 80 per cent of those people were not vaccinated. Less than two per cent of the cases were fully vaccinated.
Regina businesses adjusting to COVID-19 restrictions being lifted
According to the SHA, there were no COVID-19-related deaths or ICU admissions of any resident who was fully vaccinated.
“The evidence that vaccines are working really couldn’t be much more stark than that,” Moe said.
Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, echoed Moe’s comments.
“Vaccinations remain our main path out of the pandemic,” Shahab said at the press conference.
Shahab pointed out the significant outbreak in the far north east where 101 cases were active as of July 10. He said the SHA is working with communities to provide vaccines closer to home.
COVID-19: How do Canadians navigate social tensions post-pandemic?
Some local business owners told Global News on Thursday they will ask patrons to consider wearing a mask.
Groovy Mama in Regina will be encouraging but not requiring masks. Owner Cara Zimmerman said her clientele is either trying to get pregnant, already pregnant or have young children, something she is worried about once the mask mandate is lifted as those 12 and under who cannot receive a vaccine.
At YWCA daycares, Senior Director of Community Programs and Childcare Tara Molson said some measures will still be followed past Sunday.
Molson said children will still remain in cohorts, and handwashing and sanitizing will continue.
Staff, parents and children will have the option to wear masks but won’t be required to.
The SHA said on Thursday that medical-grade masks must continue to be worn in all of their facilities, including hospitals, vaccine clinics and out-patient clinics. Patients are allowed to remove their masks when they are in their own room.
Level 1 family presence guidelines will also remain in place at SHA facilities, meaning each patient can designate two essential family members or support persons. Those two people must visit the patient one at a time. Two people can be present at the same time for intensive and palliative care, and maternal and children units.
More family members and supports can be designated for intensive and palliative care.
— with files from David Giles, Mickey Djuric, Jacob Carr
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada extends COVID-19 border measures until Sept. 30, including ArriveCan app
OTTAWA — The federal government will extend current COVID-19 public health measures for travellers entering Canada, including the use of the ArriveCan app, until at least Sept. 30.
In a release Wednesday, the Public Health Agency of Canada also said it will continue the pause of mandatory random testing for fully vaccinated travellers at all airports until mid-July.
It first announced the pause on June 11 and said in the release that it’s allowing airports to focus on streamlining their operations.
The public health agency said it’s moving forward with plans to relocate COVID-19 testing for air travellers outside of airports to select test provider stores, pharmacies or by virtual appointment.
Mandatory random testing is to continue at land border points of entry with no changes.
The release added that travellers who are not fully vaccinated and don’t have a valid exemption must continue to test on Day 1 and Day 8 of their 14-day quarantine.
“As we move into the next phase of our COVID-19 response, it is important to remember that the pandemic is not over. We must continue to do all that we can to keep ourselves and others safe from the virus,” said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos in a statement.
He also urged people to remain up to date with the recommended vaccinations to ensure they are adequately protected against infection, transmission and severe complications.
“As we have said all along, Canada’s border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, guided by science and prudence.”
All travellers will have to continue to use the ArriveCan app or website to provide their travel information within 72 hours before their arrival in Canada or before boarding a cruise ship destined for the country. The government said 95 per cent of land and air travellers are using the app and it’s taking steps to enhance compliance.
The government also said moving testing outside of airports will allow Canada to adjust to increased traveller volumes while still being able to monitor and quickly respond to new variants of concern or changes to the epidemiological situation.
It said border testing has been essential in helping Canada slow the spread of the virus, as data from the tests are used to understand the current level and trends of importation of COVID-19 into the country.
The testing program also allows for detection and identification of new COVID-19 variants of concern, it said.
Tourism groups and border-community mayors and MPs have called on the government to ease restrictions and scrap the ArriveCan app, saying the measures are limiting cross-border travel.
Transport Minister Randy Boissonnault said the government is deeply invested in growing Canada’s visitor economy.
“From our reputation as a safe travel destination to our world-class attractions and wide-open spaces, Canada has it all and we are ready to welcome back domestic and international tourists, while prioritizing their safety and well-being.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.
The Canadian Press
Western researchers use MRI to learn cause of long-COVID symptoms – BlackburnNews.com
Western researchers use MRI to learn cause of long-COVID symptoms
June 29, 2022 7:30am
A study led by researchers at Western University has revealed the cause of long-COVID symptoms.
New data published by Western professor Grace Parraga and the LIVECOVIDFREE study, based out of five centres in Ontario, is the largest MRI study of patients with long-COVID. The term long-COVID refers to symptoms of brain fog, breathlessness, fatigue and feeling limited while doing everyday things, often lasting weeks and months post-infection.
This is the first study to show a potential cause of long-COVID, which has helped physicians in the study target treatment for the patients.
“I think it is always a conundrum when someone has symptoms, but you can’t identify the problem,” said Parraga, a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Lung Imaging to Transform Outcomes at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. “If you can’t identify the problem, you can’t identify solutions.”
By using MRI imaging with inhaled xenon gas, researchers have identified that the symptoms are caused by microscopic abnormalities that affect how oxygen is exchanged from the lungs to the red blood cells.
Researchers used the technology to watch the function of the 300-500 million tiny alveolar sacs, which are about 1/5 of a millimetre in diameter and responsible for bringing oxygen to the blood.
“What we saw on the MRI was that the transition of the oxygen into the red blood cells was depressed in these symptomatic patients who had had COVID-19, compared to healthy volunteers,” Parraga said.
Further CT scans pointed to ‘abnormal trimming’ of the vascular tree, which indicated an impact on the tiny blood vessels that deliver red blood cells to the alveoli to be oxygenated.
Parraga said the study showed no difference in severity between patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and those who recovered without hospitalization. She said this is an important finding as the latest wave of COVID-19 has affected many people who did not receive hospital-based care.
To conduct the study, researchers recruited patients suspected to be suffering from long-COVID from London Health Sciences Centre’s Urgent COVID-19 Care Clinic and St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Post-Acute COVID-19 Program. Some participants experienced persistent shortness of breath more than six weeks post-infection, while others were still symptomatic after 35 weeks.
One of the participants is Alex Kopacz, a London-native and Canadian Olympic bobsleigh gold-medalist, who called his experience with COVID-19 “harrowing” and believed the virus would not affect him long-term as he is a young athlete.
“I was on oxygen for almost two months after COVID, and it took me almost three months to get to a place where I could go for a walk without gasping for air,” Kopacz said. “The take home message for me is that we have to remember that this virus can have very serious long-term consequences, which are not trivial.”
Researchers are now conducting a one-year follow-up to better understand these results.
The study was done in collaboration with researchers outside of London at Lakehead University, McMaster University, Toronto Metropolitan University and Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.
Stroke treatment breakthrough found in heart attack drug: Canadian researchers | CTV News – CTV News Calgary
A drug used to treat heart attacks has proven to be an effective treatment for the most common type of stroke, and an even better treatment than the current clinical standard, says a team of Canadian researchers.
Over 80 per cent of all strokes are ischemic strokes, caused by a blood clot blocking, or narrowing, an artery leading to the brain. For over 20 years, the standard of care has been the immediate delivery of a clot-busting medication called Alteplase (tPA).
In the largest study of its kind ever run in Canada, researchers at the University of Calgary and University of Toronto found that the drug Tenecteplase (TNK), currently used in heart attack treatment, is at least equally effective as tPA and possibly more effective in treating ischemic strokes.
“Tenecteplase is known to be an effective clot dissolving drug,” explained U of C researcher Dr. Bijoy Menon. “It is very easy to administer which makes it a game changer when seconds count to save brain cells.”
The Alteplase Compared to Tenecteplase study found Tenecteplase (TNK), a heart attack treatment drug, to be a much more favourable treatment for ischemic strokes than tPA as it’s easier to administer.
Menon says the findings of the AcT (Alteplase Compared to Tenecteplase) trial were so conclusive he expects TNK to become the standard of care worldwide in very short order.
“Guideline Committees get the results, they debate the results, and then the transition happens. So I see this move happening within the next few months,” said Menon.
“The results are very convincing. It’s quite clear at the end of the study that you now have a better choice, and because of the debilitating nature of stroke, there’s urgency to actually change care.”
The current standard of care, tPAm, is complex to administer. It takes up to an hour and requires an infusion pump that needs to be monitored. The pump makes it more difficult to transport patients within a hospital or by ambulance to a larger facility with a dedicated stroke center for treatment.
By comparison, TNK is administered with a single dose through a syringe. The method eases the burden on nurses and doctors, and shaves time off the delivery of the medicine. U of T researcher Dr. Rick Swartz says it also means it will be available as a treatment in more places.
“TNK could potentially be administered wherever the patient is seen first, at a medical centre or small hospital,” explained Swartz. “One of the reasons Tenecteplase is so effective is that in can be administered as a single immediate dose. That’s a big advantage, saving critical time and complication.”
TNK attaches itself to the clot for a longer period of time than tPA, meaning blood flow is restored faster and for a longer period of time. Project nurse lead Carol Kenney says it will save lives.
“In our field we say ‘time his brain’ and any minute or any second that we can save in treating a patient is critical,” said Kenney. “Giving them medication quicker, and trying to get rid of the clot in their brain and get them back to normal again quickly, is so important. It really matters for every patient.”
Stroke survivor André Lavoie, who suffered a stroke in 2015, was part of a focus group that helped guide researchers. While he has recovered from the stroke, Lavoie remains acutely aware of the need for effective, immediate treatment.
“It is really an advancement to get the people to survive, and the whole thing with a stroke is; you may survive a stroke, but it’s your quality of life that you will looking for,” said Lavoie
“So if you have a stroke, and you can have that drug within half an hour an hour, it’s much better than two hours, or three hours to get it. Brain cells usually do not regenerate. So when they die, they die.”
The cross-country AcT Trial included 1600 patients in 22 primary and comprehensive stroke centers across Canada. The results were presented at a conference in Montreal on Wednesday, and published in the medical journal The Lancet.
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