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The Coronavirus in Canada: Everything we know

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Health officials in Canada continue to be on high alert, as more cases of the Wuhan coronavirus are investigated across the country from as far east as Montreal, to as far west as Vancouver.

Here’s how the situation is currently unfolding across the country, as well as internationally.

Quebec

Three people are being investigated in the province for potential cases of the coronavirus, according to Quebec’s health and social services ministry.

Last Thursday, five potential cases of the virus were ruled out by Quebec authorities.

Quebec’s public health board reiterates that “no confirmed cases of the new 2019 coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have been reported in Quebec,” but monitoring a potential outbreak remains critical.

The provincial health board wishes to reassure the population that even as the outbreak is “evolving rapidly,” all necessary actions have been taken to diagnose cases that could arise in Quebec.daily

Ontario

On Saturday, the provincial government confirmed its first “presumptive case” of coronavirus at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital.

According to the province, on Thursday, January 23, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre admitted a patient brought in by paramedics who had fever and respiratory symptoms.

They say the patient, a man in his 50s, was screened and recent travel history to Wuhan, China, was confirmed and the patient was immediately put under isolation.

On Monday morning, the Government of Ontario confirmed that the wife of the province’s first case of the Wuhan novel coronavirus had tested positive for a presumptive version of the virus.

They also confirmed that since arriving in Toronto with her husband, she has been in self-isolation.

Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, said the new second case is less severe, and the new patient did not need the same level of acute care as her husband.

She is “recovering and is currently doing well” at home, according to Toronto Public Health.

The husband also continues to recover in hospital. Both the man and woman are reportedly in their mid-50s.

The province said that there are currently 19 cases under investigation, and that they have ruled out 16 patients at this time.

Alberta

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer said on Tuesday that the risk to Albertans when it comes to coronavirus is considered to be low, with zero confirmed or probable cases in the province.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Alberta, provided an update on Alberta’s response to the novel coronavirus in a press conference Tuesday, saying that the province is working to ensure the health systems are prepared.

“While it is normal to be worried about new threats to our health, the risk to Albertans is still considered to be low,” said Hinshaw. “There are no cases of the novel coronavirus in Alberta at this time.”

British Columbia

The first presumptive case of coronavirus was confirmed in BC on Tuesday.

“We are here to let you know that late yesterday, we had our first case confirmed of a person here in BC,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer, in a joint statement with Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, this morning.

The man is in his 40s and regularly travels to China for work. He was in Wuhan last week on a work trip.

He is a resident of the Vancouver Coastal Health region, which comprises Vancouver, Richmond, North and West Vancouver, along the Sea-to-Sky Highway, Sunshine Coast, and BC’s Central Coast.

“On Sunday, January 26, he followed public health messaging, contacted a primary health-care provider to notify them that he had travelled to Wuhan City, was experiencing symptoms and would be coming for assessment and care,” said Henry.

“Following established protocols, the primary-care provider notified the Vancouver Coastal Health medical health officer and administered the diagnostic test,” said Henry. “Last night the test came back positive. Public health officials are in regular contact with the man and he is in isolation at his home.”

On its website, the BCCDC says the risk to British Columbians “is considered low” but is being monitored closely.

Airlines

Concerns in the travel industry surrounding coronavirus continue to grow as multiple airlines have issued offerings for fee waivers allowing passengers more time to change their flights to China.

American Airlines has implemented a “special exception policy to (its) travel partners that is now available for mutual customers due to the possible effect from the Coronavirus.”

The change fee waiver applies for travel dates been January 24 to March 31, 2020, meaning that individuals who were scheduled to fly between these days to Beijing or Shanghai now have the option to change flights without having to pay a fee to do so.

Delta implemented a similar policy between January 24 to February 29, 2020, for flights to Beijing and Shanghai, with the waiver permitting customers the flexibility to make a “one-time change” to their travel itinerary without having to pay a change fee.

“Travellers with Wuhan in their journey are being screened by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) upon arrival to New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago-O’Hare, and Los Angeles, in addition to screenings in China. Other US airports are also reportedly screening passengers who have Wuhan as part of their travel journey,” the airline explained in a statement on their website.

United Airlines is also offering refunds to travellers venturing to Wuhan if they purchased their ticket by January 21, and are expected to travel there from now until March 29, 2020.

Additionally, United is allowing for additional flexibility for those journeying to other destinations within China.

The airline also explained that “customers travelling to and from China will need to complete additional health screenings upon arrival and departure.”

The CDC issued a level 3 travel advisory on Monday, its highest level, recommending travellers avoid nonessential travel to China.

It’s not just airlines in the US that are making these changes, however.

Air Canada has also extended a “goodwill policy” relating to coronavirus and flights journeying to Beijing and Shanghai.

“If you are scheduled to travel during the affected period, you can retrieve your booking and change your flight free of charge, subject to availability in the cabin you originally purchased. Otherwise, any fare difference will apply,” the airline stated on their website on Tuesday.

Customers travelling to, from, or through Wuhan also have the option of cancelling their flight for a full refund.

Global risk

As of January 27, 2020, there have been 2,888 globally confirmed cases (2,846 of these within regions of China). There have also been 81 deaths, which have all occurred within regions of China.

Cases of the virus were first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. BCCDC says illnesses associated with the new coronavirus are “similar to several respiratory illnesses and include fever, dry cough, sore throat and headache.”

Global Affairs Canada has also increased its travel risk advisory to parts of China.

According to Global Affairs, Canadians should also avoid all travel to Hubei, including the cities of Wuhan, Huanggang, and Ezhou, “due to the imposition of heavy travel restrictions in order to limit the spread of a novel coronavirus.”

The federal government said that on January 22, Chinese authorities asked the public to avoid all non-essential travel to and from the city of Wuhan, Hubei, “in the hopes of containing a novel coronavirus.”

François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the government is in contact with and providing assistance to Canadians currently on the ground.

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What is the Delta variant of coronavirus with K417N mutation?

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 India said on Wednesday it has found around 40 cases of the Delta coronavirus variant carrying a mutation that appears to make it more transmissible, and advised states to increase testing.

Below is what we know about the variant.

WHAT IS DELTA PLUS?

The variant, called “Delta Plus” in India, was first reported in a Public Health England bulletin on June 11.

It is a sub-lineage of the Delta variant first detected in India and has acquired the spike protein mutation called K417N which is also found in the Beta variant first identified in South Africa.

Some scientists worry that the mutation, coupled with other existing features of the Delta variant, could make it more transmissible.

“The mutation K417N has been of interest as it is present in the Beta variant (B.1.351 lineage), which was reported to have immune evasion property,” India’s health ministry said in a statement.

Shahid Jameel, a top Indian virologist, said the K417N was known to reduce the effectiveness of a cocktail of therapeutic monoclonal antibodies.

WHERE ALL IT HAS BEEN FOUND?

As of June 16 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/994839/Variants_of_Concern_VOC_Technical_Briefing_16.pdf, at least 197 cases has been found from 11 countries – Britain (36), Canada (1), India (8), Japan (15), Nepal (3), Poland (9), Portugal (22), Russia (1), Switzerland (18), Turkey (1), the United States (83).

India said on Wednesday around 40 cases of the variant have been observed in the states of Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, with “no significant increase in prevalence”. The earliest case in India is from a sample taken on April 5.

Britain said its first 5 cases were sequenced on April 26 and they were contacts of individuals who had travelled from, or transited through, Nepal and Turkey.

No deaths were reported among the UK and Indian cases.

WHAT ARE THE WORRIES?

Studies are ongoing in India and globally to test the effectiveness of vaccines against this mutation.

“WHO is tracking this variant as part of the Delta variant, as we are doing for other Variants of Concern with additional mutations,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement sent to Reuters.

“For the moment, this variant does not seem to be common, currently accounting for only a small fraction of the Delta sequences … Delta and other circulating Variants of Concern remain a higher public health risk as they have demonstrated increases in transmission,” it said.

But India’s health ministry warned that regions where it has been found “may need to enhance their public health response by focusing on surveillance, enhanced testing, quick contact-tracing and priority vaccination.”

There are worries Delta Plus would inflict another wave of infections on India after it emerged from the world’s worst surge in cases only recently.

“The mutation itself may not lead to a third wave in India – that also depends on COVID-appropriate behaviour, but it could be one of the reasons,” said Tarun Bhatnagar, a scientist with the state-run Indian Council for Medical Research.

(Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar in Pune, Bhargav Acharya and Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru and Alistair Smout in London; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Giles Elgood)

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Colon Cancer Rates Have Increased: How Can You Improve Your Gut Health?

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The majority of colon cancer cases are more common among older citizens. However, research has found that colorectal cancer rates have been rising in healthy people under 50. The rate has increased over the ten years. Medical professionals recommend screening from age 45. A colorectal screening test is done to ensure that the individual does not have any signs of cancer.

A study found that there has been a surge in colorectal cancer in younger generations and could become the dominant cause of cancer-related deaths by 2030. Since the risk is alarming, everyone needs to take their gut health seriously. Here are some things that people can do to improve their well-being.

Consider Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is a type of colon cleanse that treats digestive issues such as constipation and bloating. Chronic constipation can lead to colon cancer, so it is vital to deal with the issue before it worsens. Colon hydrotherapy is offered at a few places, including a wellness colonic clinic in Toronto where the staff is committed to providing solutions for their clients’ digestive health.

Cleansing your colon can help improve digestion, relieve constipation, reduce gas, rejuvenate skin, and increase energy. The process involves flushing the colon with a large volume of water. It can be beneficial to speak to the professionals at the clinic and discuss your concerns with them. They will educate you about the process and answer any concerns you may have. The treatment can seem overwhelming but can also be helpful for your gut health.

 

Consume Sensibly

Your food intake plays a significant role in your gut health. If you have gut problems, it may be worthwhile to speak to a doctor and change your diet. You should also consider finding out if you have any food intolerance. There may be trigger foods such as oil or dairy that could be causing discomfort.

Even if you do not have any problems with your food consumption, it is never wrong to watch what you eat. Foods with probiotics or high fibre content can be good for you. Eating the right foods can improve your overall health too.

Stay Hydrated

Water almost seems like a magical drink sometimes. From skin problems to digestive issues, it can improve many situations. Consuming a good amount of water every day can balance good bacteria in the gut and promote your health. Hydration can also help your organs function properly and improve cognitive function.

Say Goodbye to Extreme Stress

It can be challenging to bid farewell to stress forever. However, chronic high levels of stress can impact your abdomen and your overall health. There is a connection between the brain and gut, and stress can cause your stomach to become anxious.

Long-term stress can trigger several gut problems such as indigestion, constipation, or diarrhea. Look for ways to reduce stress levels so that your gut can remain healthy.

Some health problems are inevitable with age, but you can do your best to stay healthy and deal with any issues you face. Prepare yourself to fight any disease beforehand, and your body will thank you.

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Biden’s vaccine pledge ups pressure on rich countries to give more

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The United States on Thursday raised the pressure on other Group of Seven leaders to share their vaccine hoards to bring an end to the pandemic by pledging to donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to the world’s poorest countries.

The largest ever vaccine donation by a single country will cost the United States $3.5 billion but Washington expects no quid pro quo or favours for the gift, a senior Biden administration official told reporters.

U.S. President Joe Biden‘s move, on the eve of a summit of the world’s richest democracies, is likely to prompt other leaders to stump up more vaccines, though even vast numbers of vaccines would still not be enough to inoculate all of the world’s poor.

G7 leaders want to vaccinate the world by the end of 2022 to try to halt the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 3.9 million people and devastated the global economy.

A senior Biden administration official described the gesture as a “major step forward that will supercharge the global effort” with the aim of “bringing hope to every corner of the world.” “We really want to underscore that this is fundamentally about a singular objective of saving lives,” the official said, adding that Washington was not seeking favours in exchange for the doses.

Vaccination efforts so far are heavily correlated with wealth: the United States, Europe, Israel and Bahrain are far ahead of other countries. A total of 2.2 billion people have been vaccinated so far out of a world population of nearly 8 billion, based on Johns Hopkins University data.

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have agreed to supply the U.S. with the vaccines, delivering 200 million doses in 2021 and 300 million doses in the first half of 2022.

The shots, which will be produced at Pfizer’s U.S. sites, will be supplied at a not-for-profit price.

“Our partnership with the U.S. government will help bring hundreds of millions of doses of our vaccine to the poorest countries around the world as quickly as possible,” said Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla.

‘DROP IN THE BUCKET’

Anti-poverty campaign group Oxfam called for more to be done to increase global production of vaccines.

“Surely, these 500 million vaccine doses are welcome as they will help more than 250 million people, but that’s still a drop in the bucket compared to the need across the world,” said Niko Lusiani, Oxfam America’s vaccine lead.

“We need a transformation toward more distributed vaccine manufacturing so that qualified producers worldwide can produce billions more low-cost doses on their own terms, without intellectual property constraints,” he said in a statement.

Another issue, especially in some poor countries, is the infrastructure for transporting the vaccines which often have to be stored at very cold temperatures.

Biden has also backed calls for a waiver of some vaccine intellectual property rights but there is no international consensus yet on how to proceed.

The new vaccine donations come on top of 80 million doses Washington has already pledged to donate by the end of June. There is also $2 billion in funding earmarked for the COVAX programme led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), the White House said.

GAVI and the WHO welcomed the initiative.

Washington is also taking steps to support local production of COVID-19 vaccines in other countries, including through its Quad initiative with Japan, India and Australia.

(Reporting by Steve Holland in St. Ives, England, Andrea Shalal in Washington and Caroline Copley in Berlin; Writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Keith Weir;Editing by Leslie Adler, David Evans, Emelia Sithole-Matarise, Giles Elgood and Jane Merriman)

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