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Scientists find COVID-19 coronavirus variant linked to milder infections – CBC.ca

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Researchers in Singapore have discovered a new variant of the COVID-19 coronavirus that causes milder infections, according to a study published in The Lancet medical journal this week.

The study showed that COVID-19 patients infected with a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 had better clinical outcomes, including a lower proportion developing low blood oxygen or requiring intensive care.

The study also showed the variant, which has a large deletion in a part of its genome, elicited a more robust immune response.

The study involved researchers from various Singapore institutions, including the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), the Duke-NUS Medical School and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.

“These studies provide the first convincing data showing that an observed genetic change (mutation) in SARS-CoV-2 has affected the severity of disease in patients,” said Gavin Smith at Duke-NUS.

Implications for vaccine development, treatments

The scientists said the findings had implications for vaccine development and treatments for COVID-19.

The variant, which likely came from Wuhan, China, was detected in a cluster of infections that occurred from January to March 2020. In Singapore, the virus was transmitted from person-to-person across several clusters before being contained.

An expert told Reuters this week that mutations in viruses may be “a good thing.”

Viruses tend to become less virulent as they mutate so as to infect more people but not to kill them as they depend on the host for food and shelter, according to Paul Tambyah at Singapore’s National University Hospital.

However, at least some scientists expressed skepticism about the discovery.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, suggested in a tweet that the sample size may be too small, and the findings have no immediate practical implications.

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COVID-19: Quebec reports nearly 700 new cases as infections continue to surge amid beginning of second wave – Global News

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Health authorities reported 698 new confirmed COVD-19 cases on Saturday as the number of infections continues to surge in Quebec.

Seven more deaths were also reported, which occurred between Sept. 19 and 24. This brings the total COVID-19 death toll to 5,821 in the province.

Hospitalizations have gone up by 18 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 217 — 45 of which are in intensive care (up two from Friday).

According to public health’s latest data, 33,148 tests were conducted on Sept. 24. Quebec has so far administered 2,233,455 tests since the beginning of the health crisis.

Quebec has seen 71,005 positive novel coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Quebec asks citizens to stop social gatherings to ‘break’ second coronavirus wave

On Friday Quebec health officials asked all citizens to limit their social gatherings for 28 days as the number of novel coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to increase amid the second wave of the pandemic.

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“We’re asking you for a month of effort to break the second wave,” said Health Minister Christian Dubé.

The plea comes as the province surpassed the grim milestone of 70,000 cases of COVID-19 on Sept. 25.

The government also raised the alert level to orange for the entire Greater Montreal area, including the north and south shores. The designation calls for moderate alert and tighter restrictions for 82 municipalities.

READ MORE: Quebec asks citizens to stop social gatherings for 28 days to ‘break’ second coronavirus wave

Dubé said the evolving situation in Montreal, which has been the epicentre of the virus’s outbreak in Canada, remains worrying as the second wave of the virus begins.

Quebec has not yet placed any regions in the red zone, the highest alert level which calls for stricter controls, but Dubé stressed everyone — regardless of where they live — must do their part to limit the spread of the virus and cap community transmission.

This means cancelling social outings such as dinners, parties and barbecues, he said, in order to avoid another surge in cases and a possible second lockdown. The government is not planning on closing bars or restaurants for now.

Dubé said the government is not planning on closing bars or restaurants for now, partly to avoid driving people to hold more private events.

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–With files from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise


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Coronavirus: Health minister urges Quebecers to cancel plans for gatherings


Coronavirus: Health minister urges Quebecers to cancel plans for gatherings

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Toronto Public Health orders 3 King Street West businesses to close to slow COVID-19 spread – CBC.ca

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Toronto Public Health has ordered three establishments on King Street West to close to protect the public from COVID-19.

In a news release on Saturday, the public health unit said the establishments are:

  • MARBL, 455 King St. W.
  • King Taps, 100 King St. W.
  • Casa Mezcal, 291 King St. W.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health, issued the orders to the three businesses on Friday night under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.

Toronto Public Health (TPH) said a fourth establishment will also be forced to close once it is served with the order. It was not named in the release.

“These closure orders were undertaken based on Toronto Public Health investigations, including contact tracing data, which has shown that each establishment has not taken the necessary steps to sufficiently protect both the public and employees from the spread of COVID-19,” the news release said.

The public health unit said it found that many people were connected to more than one of the three businesses. In some cases, people infected with COVID-19 worked at more than one of the locations.

One business in particular served food buffet style, which is prohibited under provincial regulations to slow the spread of COVID-19. Another business has been uncooperative with investigations and impeded the investigation.

“Staff have also been found to be working while ill or pressured to work while ill,” the news release said.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said in the release that enforcement officials identified the specific businesses and the city is taking action to slow the virus in the city.

“I hope this enforcement will ensure we are protecting employees and customers. Thankfully the vast majority of residents and businesses in our city are doing the right thing and following public health advice. We need that cooperation to continue so we can defeat this virus,” Tory said.

Coun. Joe Cressy, who represents Ward 10 Spadina-Fort York and is chair of the Toronto Board of Health, said the city is trying to prevent new cases and enforcement is needed now.

“New data shows that unsafe social activity at a select number of bars and nightclubs is contributing to the rise in COVID-19 cases in our city. That’s why our Medical Officer of Health is taking swift action to shut down four high-risk establishments until further notice,” Cressy said.

“Right now, we need to stop the spread of COVID and keep people safe, while also making it possible for kids to go to school, people to go to work and public services to operate safely.”

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Coronavirus in private school prompts class cancellations in Montreal – CTV News Montreal

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MONTREAL —
An elite Montreal private school is among those in Qubec forced to cancel classes after a COVID-19 outbreak.

Lower Canada College (LCC) in Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grace (NDG) borough confirmed that six high school students and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19.

“Upon receiving the notifications, and in an effort to limit further transmission, the school acted immediately, in collaboration with public health and according to protocols,” the school said in a statement Friday night. “This has included asking ALL students in the affected cohorts to stay home and be tested for the virus. Teachers who were at moderate risk, as defined by public health, were also asked to be tested and quarantined as directed by La Direction regionale du sante publique de Montreal.”

According to Quebec’s list, there have been 489 schools with at least one confirmed COVID-19 case since the school year started, and there are 722 active cases.

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