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The key lesson from SARS that Canada failed to heed when COVID-19 hit –



This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.

In the years that followed the 2003 SARS outbreak that infected over 400 Canadians and killed 44, an independent inquiry was launched in Ontario to investigate the response to the outbreak and learn from the mistakes made.

Some of the experts involved in that inquiry say there was one key lesson learned at the time — which Canada failed to apply when the coronavirus pandemic hit. 

At the helm of the 2007 SARS Commission was Justice Archie Campbell, a superior court judge with an “insatiable curiosity,” who colleagues say was determined to ensure the lessons from the outbreak were never forgotten.   

As Campbell met with advisers in the library of a federal building in downtown Toronto, he noted how decades of previous royal commission reports were there just collecting dust on the shelves.

“We would look around the room and he’d point out a royal commission and he’d say, ‘As far as I know, that is as far as the recommendations of that royal commission got. They’re sitting on the library shelf,'” remembers lawyer Doug Hunt, chief counsel for the commission. “And he said, ‘I do not want ours to end up that way.'” 

WATCH | Health-care workers put at risk as lessons from SARS not applied in COVID pandemic:

Lessons learned from SARS in 2003, including ensuring the availability of personal protective equipment and access to sick leave, were not applied to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that put the lives of health-care workers at risk, a report commissioned by Canada’s nurses’ unions says. 2:01

That was the driving force behind the inquiry, which aimed to thoroughly investigate the outbreak and make clear recommendations that governments would want to follow in the face of future infectious disease outbreaks. 

“We had great hope at the time,” said Hunt. “But I think in the end, from a government standpoint, it did end up just on the shelves of that library.” 

Canada didn’t ‘err on the side of caution’ early in pandemic

Canada has faced a much more dire situation in the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 190,000 COVID-19 cases and 9,700 deaths in the eight months since it began. 

But experts who worked on the SARS Commission say if the lessons from SARS had been better applied early on, the country could have fared much better.  

“Canada, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan had more than 90 per cent of all SARS cases and deaths, so they’re the ones who we should be comparing ourselves to,” said Mario Possamai, a senior adviser to Campbell on the SARS Commission. “Canada now has more COVID-19 deaths and cases than China, Taiwan and Hong Kong combined.”

He said the most important lesson from the SARS Commission was a concept called the “precautionary principle,” a strategy that future governments could apply to ensure the situation didn’t get out of control.

Mario Possamai, a senior adviser on the 2007 SARS Commission, said the precautionary principle was not successfully followed by the federal government at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

The basic tenet of that principle is to always take the safest approach in an outbreak and not wait for all of the scientific evidence before acting. 

“What Justice Campbell said was that when there is scientific uncertainty, err on the side of caution and protect health care workers and protect Canadians,” said Possamai. “And we didn’t do that.” 

Possamai said early hesitation on closing borders to international travellers, the resistance to recommending the use of masks for the general public and the impact of a depleted national stockpile of PPE had devastating consequences on Canada’s ability to control COVID-19. 

“In case after case, a precautionary approach would have made a difference,” said Possamai. “We were not only late in moving in that direction, but there was a real lack of transparency.” 

Time and time again the Public Health Agency of Canada assured Canadians it was using the best guidance available, but declined to cite the specific scientific evidence behind its decisions, like its reluctance to acknowledge asymptomatic transmission and the possibility of airborne spread of the virus — something Possamai said caused confusion. 

“What were the studies? What was the science?” he asked. “It’s completely opaque.” 

Hunt said the lack of personal protective equipment available to frontline health-care workers at the beginning of the pandemic was “inexcusable,” and called the decision to destroy millions of expired N95 masks last year “mind-boggling.”

The federal government was widely criticized early in the pandemic for failing to maintain an adequate supply of personal protective equipment in the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS), and for sending 16 tons of PPE to China, leading to a scramble to procure supplies. Canada has since become almost entirely self-sufficient in producing its own PPE, and China has repaid the donation.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam finally conceded this week that the science is “evolving” on whether COVID-19 can be transmitted via aerosols — or microscopic airborne particles — yet PHAC’s guidelines still make no mention of it.

“In key areas, we just didn’t take a precautionary approach,” Possamai said. “The kinds of arguments that the federal government made at the time didn’t make sense then, and make even less sense now.” 

Canada ‘must do a lot better’ at protecting elderly in 2nd wave

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded to questions last week about whether Canada’s lessons from SARS had been followed, after the release of a report Possamai authored that alleged Canada put health-care workers at undue risk of COVID-19. 

“As we look back on those first months, there are a lot of things we could have done differently, we should have done differently, and things we’re learning from,” Trudeau said during a news conference on Oct. 5.

“At the same time, many of the things that we were able to do successfully in those first months of the COVID-19 pandemic were based on lessons learned from SARS.”

WATCH | Dr. Theresa Tam reflects on Canada’s early COVID-19 response:

Part 1 of 3 of Rosemary Barton’s exclusive interview with Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam about Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 9:44

Tam said the government did “learn a lot” from the SARS outbreak, noting that both PHAC itself and her position were created because of the inadequacies that were identified in the aftermath. 

“Every outbreak or pandemic is different,” she said. “This one is magnitudes bigger than SARS itself, so I know we will learn even more from this than we did the last time around.

“We need to broaden pandemic preparedness going forward.” 

Tam said that includes expanding beyond hospitals into long-term care homes, adding that the government “must do a lot better” at protecting elderly residents and health-care workers who work in them. 

To date, more than 21,000 Canadian health-care workers have contracted COVID‐19, about one in five cases, while over 70 per cent of deaths from COVID-19 occurred in those aged over 80 — about twice the average of rates from other developed countries.

“The precautionary principle, this time, is a disgrace,” said Doris Grinspun, the head of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario who worked on the front lines of SARS in 2003 and called for an inquest into the outbreak.

“We should have known that we needed to be better prepared.” 

Grinspun said while communication and co-operation between different levels of government has improved since SARS, she feels Canada needs to learn from the mistakes of the first wave to contain the spread of COVID-19 more successfully in the second.

“This time, we are better prepared than the first wave,” she said, adding that following the precautionary principle for residents of long-term care in the second wave would mean hiring more staff.

“We have been saying ‘hire, hire, hire,’ because come the fall with the twindemic — the flu and COVID — we will be in trouble.” 

To read the entire Second Opinion newsletter every Saturday morning, subscribe by clicking here.

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Ontario reports 841 new coronavirus cases, 9 more deaths – Global News



Ontario reported 841 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 67,527.

Thursday’s case count is an increase from Wednesday which saw 790 new cases and Tuesday’s at 821. It also marks the second-highest case count ever recorded. Active cases in Ontario now stand at 6,390.

According to Thursday’s provincial report, 335 new cases were recorded in Toronto, 162 in Peel Region, 106 in York Region, 72 in Ottawa and 29 each in Durham and Halton regions.

All other public health units in Ontario reported under 35 new cases.

Read more:
Ontario drivers face higher auto insurance premiums, even in a pandemic

The death toll in the province has risen to 3,071 as nine more deaths were reported. Nine deaths were also reported on Wednesday.

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Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said more than 38,900 tests were processed in the last 24 hours. The government has said it hoped to increase testing capacity to 50,000 per day by mid-October.

The per cent positivity for processed tests and positive cases in Thursday’s report was 2.2 per cent, down from yesterday’s at 2.4 and Tuesday’s at 3.4.

However, there is currently a backlog of 34,784 tests that need results. A total of 4,785,832 tests have been completed since the pandemic began.

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Here is a breakdown of the total cases in Ontario by gender and age:

  • 32,426 people are male — an increase of 429 cases.
  • 34,687 people are female — an increase of 417 cases.
  • 6,627 people are 19 and under — an increase of 123 cases.
  • 24,356 people are 20 to 39 — an increase of 318 cases.
  • 19,277 people are 40 to 59 — an increase of 259 cases.
  • 10,281 people are 60 to 79 — an increase of 110 cases.
  • 6,975 people are 80 and over — an increase of 33 cases.

The province notes that not all cases have a reported age or gender.

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The province also notes that the number of cases publicly reported each day may not align with case counts reported by the local public health unit on a given day. Local public health units report when they were first notified of a case, which can be updated and changed as information becomes available.

Meanwhile, 58,066 Ontarians have recovered from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, which is 86 per cent of known cases. Resolved cases increased by 741 from the previous day.

Ontario has 270 people hospitalized due to COVID-19 (up by 10 from the previous day), with 74 patients in an intensive care unit (up by three) and 48 patients in ICUs on a ventilator (down by one). All hospitalizations have, overall, increased over the last several weeks.

The newly reported numbers for Thursday’s report are valid as of 2 p.m. Wednesday for Toronto, Ottawa and Middlesex-London public health units, and 4 p.m. Wednesday for the rest of the province.

Read more:
Coronavirus can live on skin for 9 hours, study shows. But experts say not to panic

Ontario child care centres and schools

Meanwhile, government figures show there have been a total of 1,641 school-related COVID-19 cases in Ontario — 920 among students and 241 among staff (480 individuals were not identified). This is an increase of 74 more cases from the previous day.

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In the last 14 days, the province indicates there are 444 cases reported among students and 101 cases among staff (250 individuals were not identified) — totaling 795 cases.

The COVID-19 cases are currently from 501 out of 4,828 schools in the province.

Five schools in Ontario are currently closed as a result of positive cases, the government indicated.

There have been a total of 349 confirmed cases within child care centres and homes — an increase of seven (three new child cases and four new staff cases).

Numbers for cases in schools and child care centres is updated weekdays only, at 10:30 a.m.

Ontario long-term care homes

According to the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there have been 1,910 deaths reported among residents and patients in long-term care homes across Ontario, which is an increase of two since the previous day. Eight health-care workers and staff in long-term care homes have died.

There are 80 current outbreaks in homes, an decrease of six.

The ministry also indicated there are currently 203 active cases among long-term care residents and 243 active cases among staff — down by 13 and up by 17 cases respectively in the last day.

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Kelowna school at centre of COVID-19 outbreak may have to close due to staff shortage, says superintendent –



The superintendent of the school district at the centre of B.C.’s first COVID-19 school outbreak says the school may have to close while many of its students and staff self-isolate.

About 160 students and staff are staying home after B.C. health officials declared an outbreak Wednesday at Kelowna’s École de l’Anse-au-sable.

Five cases have been confirmed at the school as of Thursday. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said both students and staff have tested positive. 

Interior Health has shut down all classes between pre-kindergarten and Grade 3 at the school, and ordered students and some staff to self-isolate for 14 days. 

Michel St-Amant, the superintendent of School District 93, which oversees all of B.C.’s French-language schools, said the school had to quickly enlist extra staff the day after the outbreak was declared, and that decisions will be made day to day.

“I’m expecting that at one point we’re going to have to make the choice to close the school just because we don’t have enough staff,” he said.

Investigation underway

Henry said health officials are containing the spread to the involved cohort. The timing of the first exposure isn’t known, but the investigation started on Sunday, she said.

Health officials determined someone brought the virus in from outside, and it spread within the school.

Interior Health said students and staff were exposed Oct.13, 14 and 15.

“While it is obviously not what any of us want to see, it is not unexpected as we know COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities,” Henry said. 

Public health teams are on site and piecing together how students and staff were infected, Henry said.

If their investigation finds other exposures, it may mean another cohort might isolate or the school will close, but Henry said those options are unlikely. 

She said the school is working with families to make sure they can continue with lessons. 

‘Best to stay positive’

Brigitte Diemand, who has two kids in grades 2 and 8 at the school, said some parents are surprised that not all students have been asked to stay home, given there are siblings in different grades. 

But she said she’s happy overall with how the school responded.

Brigitte Diemand and her son Joseph, who’s a Grade 8 student at École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Submitted by Brigitte Diemand)

“The school did everything it could to keep our kids safe,” she said.

“And unfortunately, we just happened to get the first case in Kelowna at a school.” 

Her son Joseph, a Grade 8 student, said he’s still waiting on school work, and is filling his time with video games, books and board games. 

“There’s really nothing else we can do, so it’s best to stay positive about it,” he said.

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Coronavirus: Who is most likely to suffer long Covid symptoms? – AlKhaleej Today



Thank you for reading the news about Coronavirus: Who is most likely to suffer long Covid symptoms? and now with the details

Scientists in the UK have uncovered the risks of suffering the phenomenon known as ‘long Covid’ – long-lasting symptoms of Covid-19.

King’s College London researchers estimate that one in 20 people are sick with the novel coronavirus for at least eight weeks.

They say old age and a wide array of initial symptoms increase the risk of enduring Covid-19 for an extended period of time.

Being female, overweight and having asthma also increases the risk of suffering ‘long Covid’.

The research, which uses data from the Covid Symptom Study App currently being used by 4.3 million Britons, suggested ‘long Covid’ affects around 10 per cent of 18 to 49-year-olds who become indisposed with coronavirus.

Public Health England (PHE) discovered that around 10 per cent of people with Covid-19, who were not hospitalised, had revealed symptoms lasting more than four weeks.

The symptoms of long Covid include extreme fatigue, prolonged loss of taste or smell, respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms, and mental health problems.

They also include hair loss, pain and inflammation throughout the body, rashes and blood-clotting issues.

According to BBC News, scientists scoured the data for patterns that could predict who would get long-lasting illness.

The results, which are set to be published online, illustrate that long Covid can affect anyone, but some factors do increase the risk.

“Having more than five different symptoms in the first week was one of the key risk factors,” Dr Claire Steves, from Kings College London, told BBC News.

As per BBC News’ report, somebody who had a cough, fatigue, headache and diarrhoea, and lost their sense of smell – which are all potential symptoms – would be at higher risk than somebody who had a cough alone.

The risk also rises with age – particularly over 50 – as did being female.

Dr Steves said: “We’ve seen from the early data coming out that men were at much more risk of very severe disease and sadly of dying from Covid, it appears that women are more at risk of long Covid.”

No previous medical conditions were linked to long Covid except asthma and lung disease.

Fatigue is common in long-Covid sufferers, but symptoms vary from one patient to the next.

The exact symptoms of long-Covid vary from one patient to the next, but fatigue is typical.

Vicky Bourne, 48, started off with a fever and a “pathetic little cough” in March, which became “absolutely terrifying” when she struggled to breathe and needed to be given oxygen by a paramedic.

She was not hospitalised but is still – in October – living with long Covid.

Vicky’s health is improving, but her vision has changed and she still gets “waves” of more serious illness. Even walking the dog makes her suffer, so much so that she can’t talk at the same time.

She told the BBC: “I have strange, almost arthritic joints and weirdly, two weeks ago, I lost my sense of taste and smell again, it just went completely.

“It’s almost like there’s inflammation in my body that’s bouncing around and it can’t quite get rid of it, so it just pops up and then it goes away and pops up and goes away.”

These were the details of the news Coronavirus: Who is most likely to suffer long Covid symptoms? for this day. We hope that we have succeeded by giving you the full details and information. To follow all our news, you can subscribe to the alerts system or to one of our different systems to provide you with all that is new.

It is also worth noting that the original news has been published and is available at Khaleej Times and the editorial team at AlKhaleej Today has confirmed it and it has been modified, and it may have been completely transferred or quoted from it and you can read and follow this news from its main source.

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