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Survey finds doctors worry supplies of flu vaccine, PPE will lag demand

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TORONTO — The Canadian Medical Association says doctors still face hurdles getting personal protective equipment and fear they won’t be able to adequately respond to increased demands for the flu shot.

With COVID-19 cases surging to new highs in parts of Canada, the CMA is calling for government action to bolster the health system so that it can handle the possibility of a devastating “twin epidemic.”

“There’s going to be an increased demand for PPE, probably over and above what the demand was at the beginning of the pandemic,” CMA president Dr. Ann Collins said Tuesday from Fredericton, pointing to the reopening of businesses and schools as compounding pressures.

“It is an issue for protection for frontline workers.”

A CMA survey conducted Aug. 19 to 24 found more than 86 per cent of 1,459 respondents worried influenza season will put additional strain on the health-care system.

Of the 598 doctors who offer the flu vaccine, half said they won’t have enough doses to meet demand and 85 per cent said the system needs more capacity.

The survey also found 54 per cent of respondents still faced challenges trying to acquire personal protective equipment.

Collins said that includes surgical masks, gowns, gloves and shields needed for routine doctor visits. She says that was already an issue back in August, before the current spike in cases, demand for COVID-19 testing and school openings.

“There were areas in the country where community based physicians were having challenges accessing PPE — they either couldn’t get it, it was not a sure-thing that when they ordered it they were going to get it, (or) that they would get it on time,” said Collins, who notes she had trouble supplying her own family practice back in the spring.

The survey found 68 per cent of doctors said they worried suppliers wouldn’t have enough PPE, 62 per cent expected orders to be delayed, and more than half worried global demand will hinder supply.

Nevertheless, three quarters believed the health-care system was better prepared with COVID-19 resurgences than during the first wave.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said Tuesday it was preparing for the potential of simultaneous outbreaks of the flu and COVID-19.

The agency said provincial and territorial governments have ordered more than 13 million doses of vaccine — an increase from last season’s order of 11.2 million doses.

Collins says the CMA has been assured by public health officials there will be enough doses to meet demand but says they cannot predict what the uptake will be. Still, they encourage all Canadians to get the vaccine.

Each province and territorial government decides how much to purchase for their populations, where they are distributed and when to begin the rollout.

While this varies, many start their vaccination programs in October or early November.

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford stressed multiple investments to bolster the health system as it attempts to address a backlog of surgeries while grappling with COVID-19 and the coming flu season.

“We put a billion dollars into testing and tracing, which is absolutely imperative. We also have the immunization program for the flu vaccine which is 5.1 million doses. That is the largest ever in Canadian history,” Ford said.

While virtual care has reduced in-person appointments, Collins said doctors still need to see some patients face-to-face.

In addition to PPE, she said each visit requires cleaning supplies to sanitize between visits and time and staff to do that work. Collins said that all costs money.

“Doctors need to know … that there’s a concerted effort to co-ordinate (resources) amongst those different bodies and to communicate clearly to physicians what is available and to support those physicians,” she said.

“There are people with all kinds of other health-care conditions that need to be seen, they need to be assessed. And so there needs to be protection for them, protection for the doctor seeing them.

“Because COVID is among us.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2020.

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

<!– Photo: 2020092912098-5f735c422abff6c972be8b91jpeg.jpg, Caption: A man wears a face mask as he waits outside a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Sunday, September 27, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. A new survey finds many doctors fear they won’t have enough of the flu vaccine to meet demand.

The Canadian Medical Association says more than 86 per cent of 1,459 respondents say they worry influenza season will put additional strain on the health-care system. Of those who offer the flu vaccine, half say they won’t have enough doses to meet demand and 85 per cent said the system needs more capacity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

–>

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Researcher predicts 4,000 daily new COVID-19 cases in Alberta by mid-December if measures not taken – CBC.ca

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A researcher is sounding the alarm about Alberta’s significant increase in the number of new and active cases of COVID-19, warning that things could rapidly get worse in the province should additional measures not be taken.

Malgorzata Gasperowicz, a developmental biologist and associate in the school of medicine at the University of Calgary, says that given the province’s current doubling time, the province could be reporting more than 1,000 new cases per day by Nov. 11.

But Gasperowicz also told CBC Calgary News at 6 that without “strong, decisive measures” given the province’s current doubling time, Alberta could see around 2,400 daily new cases of COVID-19 on Dec. 5, and 4,800 on Dec. 23.

WATCH | Malgorzata Gasperowicz discusses the COVID-19 numbers Alberta could be seeing in the coming months:

Malgorzata Gasperowicz, a developmental biologist at the University of Calgary, talks to CBC’s Rob Brown about what she’s seeing in the province’s latest COVID-19 numbers during CBC Calgary News at 6. 4:22

But even should the province shut everything down today, it’s not as though the numbers will instantly drop.

“They usually take like, what we [saw] in the first wave in [introducing restrictions], it took at least three or four weeks to see the cases drop down,” Gasperowicz said. “So we will still be doubling for three weeks at least.”

That would mean the province would still be seeing around 1,600 or 2,000 daily new cases before dropping down, Gasperowicz said.

Given a situation where the province shut down on Nov. 15, Gasperowicz said, the province would see 3,000 daily new cases before bending the curve.

Alberta at ‘a tipping point’

On Monday, Alberta introduced new social gathering restrictions, bringing in mandatory limits of 15 people in Edmonton and Calgary. 

“You have heard me say many times that we need to achieve a balance between minimizing the risk of COVID-19 and minimizing the risk of harms of restrictions,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said during a news conference.

“This requires us to keep the spread of COVID-19 manageable. We have now crossed a tipping point and are losing the balance we have been seeking.”

WATCH | Dr. Hinshaw says Alberta is at a tipping point for COVID-19 

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, says the province has ‘now crossed a tipping point and are losing the balance we have been seeking’ when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. 1:26

When asked whether the province would consider implementing another shutdown, Tom McMillan, a spokesperson with Alberta Health, pointed to the measures introduced Monday.

“We announced new measures on Monday. We are watching the data in Alberta closely and will consider if adjustments to the public health approach are needed in the days to come,” McMillan said in an email.

Speaking Thursday, Hinshaw reiterated that the province’s focus at this time was to strike “a difficult, but necessary balance when responding to COVID-19.”

“We must follow the evidence, and take the steps needed to prevent cases from rising exponentially and overwhelming our health system,” Hinshaw said.

“At the same time, every element of Albertans’ health is important. We must also limit the harms that our measures can have, as much as possible.”

Implementing ‘strong measures’

Gasperowicz pointed to a “cocktail of measures” that have worked to decrease numbers in other western jurisdictions.

“I’m convinced that if strong measures would be implemented, we would have the decrease,” she said. “But if we won’t implement strong measures and just have little tweaks, I don’t think it will slow the virus down.

“Strong measures worked in Australia, and they have zero cases now, and they’re celebrating.”

Speaking Thursday, Hinshaw said the choice is not between implementing another lockdown or letting COVID-19 run unimpeded.

“Instead, we must make it as easy and safe as possible for Albertans to live with this virus for the foreseeable future,” she said.

One day before Halloween, Alberta reported 622 new cases of the virus, a new daily record. It pushed the number of active cases in the province to a record 5,172.

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Fraser Health outbreaks push active COVID-19 infections in B.C. to all-time high of 2390 – Powell River Peak

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B.C. has never had more people actively battling COVID-19 infections, as new government data showed a total of 2,390 people suffering with the virus that has spurred a global pandemic. 

That’s 46 more people suffering with the illness than was the case yesterday and it comes as 272 people were newly identified as infected in the past 24 hours. With 10,420 tests conducted, the day’s positive-test rate was 2.6%.

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The hotspot for new infections remains the 1.8-million-resident Fraser Health region, which includes much of the eastern and southern Lower Mainland, including 20 communities, such as Burnaby, Coquitlam, Surrey, Delta, Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack, but not Richmond or Vancouver.

Only about two-thirds of the new cases are from Fraser Health today, however. That’s down from the average in the past week, which had seen about three-quarters of all new cases located in the Fraser Health region. 

Here is the breakdown of all 14,381 detected COVID-19 cases in B.C., by health region, with new cases identified overnight in brackets:
• 4,664 in Vancouver Coastal Health (76);
• 8,219 in Fraser Health (183);
• 256 in Island Health (no change);
• 741 in Interior Health (seven);
• 412 in Northern Health (six); and
• 89 people who reside outside Canada (no change).

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital fell by six to 78, with 25 of those people having infections serious enough to be in intensive care units. 

The vast majority of those infected are self-isolating at home. Health officials are keeping tabs on a record 6,003 people because those individuals have come into contact with others who are known to be carrying the virus.

The vast majority of COVID-19 patients recover: 11,670, or more than 81%.

One new death was recorded overnight, pushing the provincial death toll from the disease to 263. That leaves 58 patients unaccounted for, and health officials have told BIV that it is likely that they left the province without alerting authorities.

“There has been one new community outbreak, at Suncor Firebag Oil Sands,” provincial health officer Bonnie Henry, and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a joint statement. “There continue to be exposure events around the province.”

One hospital in Fraser Health, Surrey Memorial Hospital, has had an outbreak for weeks. That health authority earlier this week declared that the outbreak at Delta Hospital is over.

There are three new outbreaks at seniors’ homes and healthcare facilities:
• Hawthorne Seniors Care Community in Port Coquitlam;
• CareLife Fleetwood in Surrey; and 
• Queen’s Park Hospital: Unit 3C NMSK 2.

Three such outbreaks have been declared over: 
• Fort Langley Seniors Community in Fort Langley;
• Sunset Manor in Chilliwack;
• The Village in Langley.

Fraser Health yesterday declared that the outbreak at Good Samaritan Victoria Heights, in New Westminster, is over, and the province confirmed that news today.

Other seniors’ long-term care and assisted living facilities in B.C. that have active outbreaks, include:
• Gateway Assisted Living for Seniors in Surrey;
• Mayfair Terrace Retirement Residence in Port Coquitlam;
• Louis Breyer Home and Hospital in Vancouver;
• Revera Lakeview long-term care home in Vancouver;
• Evergreen Baptist Care Society in White Rock;
• Queens Park Care Centre in New Westminster;
• Three Links Care Centre in Vancouver;
• Royal Arch Masonic Home in Vancouver;
• Haro Park Centre long-term care facility in Vancouver;
• Banfield Pavilion 4 West in Vancouver;
• Peace Portal Seniors Village in Surrey;
• Rosemary Heights Seniors Village in Surrey;
• Zion Park Manor in Surrey;
• Laurel Place in Surrey;
• Amenida Seniors Community in Surrey;
• Baillie House in Maple Ridge;
• Fellburn Care Centre long-term care facility in Burnaby;
• St. Michael’s Centre long-term care facilityin Burnaby;
• Fair Haven Homes Burnaby Lodge in Burnaby; and
• Agassiz Seniors Community in Agassiz.

“As we all enjoy Halloween tomorrow, make it about the treats and not the tricks,” Henry and Dix said.

“Respect homes that are choosing not to participate this year and give everyone the space to stay safe, both indoors and outdoors.”

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom

 

 

 

 

 

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Family Thanksgiving dinner linked to 13 cases of COVID-19 in Renfrew County – CTV Edmonton

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OTTAWA —
Three weeks after Thanksgiving weekend, a family dinner is Renfrew County is being linked to 13 cases of COVID-19.

Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Cushman tells CTV News Ottawa between 15 and 20 people attended an intergenerational Thanksgiving dinner over the holiday weekend.

Dr. Cushman says it appears someone at the dinner was asymptomatic or didn’t pay attention to the symptoms.

The Renfrew County and District Health Unit says 13 positive cases are linked to the Thanksgiving dinner, including two new cases Thursday. Not all 13 positive cases attended the dinner.

“What you see is the spread, now into the third group from those at the dinner,” said Dr. Cushman, noting there is now second and third generational spread of the virus.

Two family members who tested positive for COVID-19 were high school students.

“Luckily, no further spread yet (at schools), thanks to excellent public health precautions at the school,” said Dr. Cushman.

Seventy students at the school were tested for COVID-19, while 90 students returned to school on Friday after being asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Dr. Cushman says four outstanding students who developed symptoms on days 14 and 15 are now being retested, and will remain in isolation.

The Renfrew County and District Health Unit is also investigating a COVID-19 outbreak at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratory at Chalk River. Six people have tested positive for COVID-19.

“This virus is very wily,” said Dr. Cushman, noting CNL has solid public health measures in place.

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