Nearly five years ago, Yassin Dabeh’s family fled war-torn Syria for a better life in Canada.
Now the family has been confronted with the unspeakable horror of watching Dabeh become the youngest person in the Middlesex-London area to die after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Dabeh, 19, worked as a contract cleaner at the Middlesex Terrace Long Term Care home in Delaware, Ont., just west of London, and died after contracting the virus, said Mohamad Fakih, a businessman and philanthropist, who spoke with the young man’s father.
“In 2016, they arrived as immigrants from Syria,” said Fakih, CEO of Paramount Fine Foods, who reached out to the grieving family to offer financial assistance for the funeral. “He said that the community came together and paid for the funeral.”
Fakih said the teenager, who had three brothers and one sister, died on Thursday and was buried on Friday.
To honour Dabeh’s life in his own way, Fakih asked the organizers of a biweekly community outreach event in which 500 meals are cooked for those in need in Regent Park, if Sunday’s event could be held in Dabeh’s memory. They agreed.
Fakih said Dabeh’s father cried when he told him the meals would be served in his son’s honour.
“People need to feel that they’re not alone, especially if they’re refugees,” said Fakih, an immigrant himself who came to Canada from Lebanon more than 20 years ago. “We want to show them that … Canadians, we’re all one big family and they’re not alone. He was very appreciative, the father.”
Details around Dabeh’s death, and its cause, are still emerging.
Dr. Alex Summers, Middlesex-London Health Unit’s associate medical officer of health, told the Star he couldn’t confirm Dabeh’s identity, but only that a male between the ages of 10 and 19 who worked at a long-term-care home had died after testing positive for the virus.
“Obviously a death amongst somebody recently diagnosed with COVID in this age group is a surprise to many and something that is tragic,” said Summers, adding that the deceased was the youngest individual in the health unit region to have died after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
“The public health unit investigation is primarily on understanding where individuals contracted an infectious disease such as COVID and where it might be spread and trying to intervene to limit transmission,” he noted.
He said that the case in question was considered “resolved,” meaning that the patient was no longer infectious.
“Certainly COVID as a virus can have implications for people well beyond whether or not somebody’s infectious,” Summers said. “Sometimes the repercussions can extend beyond the infectious period certainly. In this instance, all I can share is unfortunately a person of that age recently diagnosed with COVID has passed away.”
According to the Middlesex-London Health Unit, an outbreak was declared at the Middlesex Terrace Long Term Care Home on Dec. 23 and remains “active.” The number of infections at the home is not published.
In the health unit as a whole, there have been 601 COVID-19 cases, 292 of which have been among residents and 309 in staff members, as well as 79 deaths.
Mary Raithby, CEO of APANS Health Services, the company that owns the network of homes to which Middlesex Terrance belongs, said in an email to the Star that “we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Yassin.”
“Out of respect for their loss and grief, we are declining any interview or statement requests at this time,” she said.
Unifor Local 302, which represents employees at Middlesex Terrace, told the Star that Dabeh was not one of its members, but that it sends its “deepest sympathies to this young man’s family and friends.”
Some politicians took to social media Sunday to express their thoughts on Dabeh’s death.
On Twitter, federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh called Dabeh’s death “a tragedy.”
“Essential workers are at risk every day,” Singh wrote. “Paid sick days, faster vaccine rollout and access to PPE are needed urgently — to save lives.”
“My sincerest condolences to this young man’s family, friends, & loved ones — and all victims of COVID-19,” tweeted London mayor Ed Holder. “The virus doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, race, religion, or creed. Everybody needs to take this seriously, otherwise anybody can find themselves at risk.”
Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at the Sinai Health System and University Health Network, said the vast majority of young people who get COVID-19 experience mild, asymptomatic courses. But he said there is a very small segment of young people who get serious and hard-to-treat bouts of the virus that require hospitalization.
“One of the biggest reasons people die due to influenza is not actually due to influenza but because influenza can actually trigger other issues,” he said. “For a lot of older people, influenza can actually trigger a pneumonia or a co-infection with something like pneumonia. It can also, if you have something like heart disease, trigger you to actually have a heart attack or other things.”
Sinha noted that it is really hard to say at this stage what may have happened to Dabeh.
“It could have been something completely unrelated … or it might have been that COVID-19 triggered something else or caused something else to get worse.”
Source:e – Toronto Star
Polio virus found in New York City wastewater, suggesting local transmission – CBC News
Health officials identified the virus that causes polio in New York City’s wastewater, suggesting local transmission of the virus, state authorities said on Friday, urging unvaccinated New Yorkers to get vaccinated.
“The NYC Heath Department and the New York State Department of Health have identified poliovirus in sewage in NYC,
suggesting local transmission of the virus,” the city’s health department said in a statement on Friday.
“Polio can lead to paralysis and even death. We urge unvaccinated New Yorkers to get vaccinated now.”
The identification comes weeks after a case of polio in an adult was made public on July 21 in Rockland County, marking the nation’s first confirmed case in nearly 10 years.
Earlier this month, health officials said the virus was found in wastewater in the New York City suburb a month before health officials there announced the Rockland County case.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said at the time that it was not clear whether the virus was actively spreading in New York or elsewhere in the United States.
Evidence of virus in London
There is no cure for polio, which can cause irreversible paralysis in some cases, but it can be prevented by a vaccine made available in 1955.
New York officials have said they are opening vaccine clinics to help unvaccinated residents get their shots.
Inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) is the only polio vaccine that has been given in the United States since 2000, according to the CDC. It is given by shot in the leg or arm, depending on the patient’s age.
On Wednesday, British health authorities announced they will offer a polio booster dose to children aged one to nine in London, after finding evidence the virus has been spreading in multiple regions of the capital. Britain’s Health Security Agency said polio virus samples were found in sewage water from eight boroughs of London, but there were no confirmed infections.
Polio is often asymptomatic and people can transmit the virus even when they do not appear sick. But it can produce
mild, flu-like symptoms that can take as long as 30 days to appear, officials said.
It can strike at any age but the majority of those affected are children aged three and younger.
Monkeypox: gov’t has no plans to call public health emergency – CTV News
Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says there are no plans at the moment to declare monkeypox a public health emergency.
While the World Health Organization and the United States have both recently done so, Tam said there is little benefit to declaring a federal public health emergency in Canada, because of the structure of regional and provincial public health authorities.
She said a federal emergency declaration would involve the Emergencies Act — which hasn’t even been invoked to address the nearly two-and-a-half-year COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. Tam said thus far, Canada has already been able to mobilize vaccines, therapeutics, and funding to tackle monkeypox.
Tam also said local and provincial authorities have more flexibility, and have been able to respond to the rise in monkeypox cases. Local and provincial authorities could also decide to declare the virus a public health emergency at those levels, as many did with COVID-19.
“To date our discussions have focused on testing, working with community organizations to raise awareness on ways to limit spread the virus, and deployment of the Imvamune vaccine and therapeutics,” Tam said. “As the global monkeypox outbreak continues to be a serious concern, focusing efforts on the impacted communities in Canada and worldwide, including with vaccinations, we have an opportunity to contain the spread.”
To day, approximately 99,000 doses of Imvamune have been deployed to the provinces and territories, and more than 50,000 people have been vaccinated, Tam said.
Canada’s Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the approach continues to be vaccinating higher risk communities first, and there are currently enough doses to do so.
Tam says there have been approximately 31,000 cases of monkeypox reported globally, with 1,059 in Canada, mostly in Ontario.
While cases of the virus first started popping up in Quebec, Ontario has since surpassed it in its number of infections.
To date, there have been 28 hospitalizations — two in intensive care — from monkeypox in Canada, and no deaths. Tam said it’s too soon to tell whether the number of cases has plateaued in Canada.
COVID-19 vaccine side-effects less likely in pregnant people, says study – CP24
Pregnant people experienced lower rates of side-effects from the COVID-19 vaccine than their counterparts who weren’t pregnant, a new Canadian study suggests.
The Canadian National Vaccine Safety Network collected data from 191,360 vaccinated women aged 15 to 49 between December 2020 and November 2021. The researchers asked participants to report “significant health events” that were serious enough to make them miss school or work, seek medical attention or disrupt their routines.
Of 5,597 pregnant participants, four per cent reported a significant health event within seven days of receiving their first dose of an mRNA vaccine, and 7.3 per cent of 3,108 pregnant respondents said they had side-effects from their second shots.
Among those who weren’t pregnant, 6.3 per cent of 174,765 respondents reported a significant health event after dose one, and 11.3 per cent of 10,254 participants said they felt sick after dose two.
“One of the things that was really striking was that the rates of these events happening in pregnant people was lower than the rates happening in non-pregnant people at the same age,” said Manish Sadarangani, lead author of the paper published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal on Thursday. “It’s very reassuring around the safety of COVID vaccines and pregnancy.”
Studies on other vaccines have found that pregnant people experience side-effects at roughly the same rate as those who aren’t pregnant or even slightly higher, said Sadarangani, an investigator at BC Children’s Hospital.
More research is needed to understand why this might not be the case for mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, Sadarangani said, but he suspects the physical transformation of pregnancy could be a factor.
“There’s a lot of hormonal and immunological and physiological changes happening during pregnancy, and some of them we understand, some of them we don’t,” he said. “I’m presuming that some of these changes are leading to these lower rates.”
Thursday’s study found that rates of serious health events after getting a COVID-19 vaccine, such as hospitalization, were similarly rare across all groups.
There was no significant difference in the rates of miscarriage or stillbirth among participants who were vaccinated and those who weren’t.
Researchers are conducting a followup survey to see if participants experienced any side-effects six months after their COVID-19 shots, Sadarangani said.
Pregnant people are at increased risk of COVID-19 complications, he said, so it’s all the more important that researchers continue to study how vaccination affects them and their babies.
“All of the data we have really highlight the safety of all of these vaccines in pregnancy,” said Sadarangani. “Ultimately, this is the best way to protect this group of people in our population.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2022.
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