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'The kids have been fine': Only 1.4% of children and teens with COVID hospitalized: stats – Yahoo News Canada

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Early data suggests children are much less likely than adults to develop severe cases of COVID-19.

Statistics from the Public Health Agency of Canada reveal only 1.4 per cent of 10,467 infected kids and teens ended up in hospital with the disease, compared to 13.5 per cent of 84,979 cases involving all ages.

That amounted to 149 patients younger than 20 who were hospitalized between April 1 and Aug. 26, 2020, including 29 sent to intensive care. There’s been at least one death in the under-20 set linked to complications from the novel coronavirus, a 19-year-old in Quebec who died in August. However there have been no reported COVID-related deaths in children.

The numbers are included in a joint study still underway by the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program that may ease parent fears about the risks of sending kids back to school, says principal investigator Dr. Fatima Kakkar.

“Really, the kids have been fine,” says Kakkar, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at CHU Sainte-Justine in Montreal.

“We’ve been open two weeks in Quebec and there are cases in kids, but we’re not seeing a jump at all in hospitalizations.”

Preliminary data from the program, a joint effort by PHAC and the Canadian Paediatric Society, focuses on a slightly younger cohort under 18.

The CPS surveillance program found just 111 children in that age group with SARS-CoV-2 infection have been hospitalized, and of those, 13 landed in intensive care.

Researchers caution the results are preliminary and cover cases that emerged when most schools were closed and most children had relatively little exposure to possible infection outside the home.

They say children and youth should still be monitored closely for symptoms and complications.

Still, the numbers back anecdotal reports that COVID-19 seems to have relatively mild effects on young people.

Among 89 patients for whom the cause of hospitalization was known, just half were admitted because of COVID-19 infection. The rest turned up with unrelated health needs, including surgery, and were only diagnosed by chance through the routine admission process.

“The most surprising is that it was the kids we least expected — they were admitted for fractures or appendicitis … and then in retrospect, we realized that the kids were very asymptomatic,” says Kakkar.

“I think in that first wave, the kids were getting it from their parents…. Now, going into the second wave, it’s probably going to be more kids getting it from their environment, other kids, families, friends. It’ll be interesting to compare the two.”

Much also needs to be known about transmission and who’s getting COVID, she adds.

Even if one family member gets it — such as a child infected at school — that doesn’t necessarily lead to spread through their household.

Kakkar recalls caring for infant twins, one of whom contracted COVID-19 while the other didn’t.

She suspects one reason is that many infected kids don’t cough or sneeze as much as infected adults.

“We had moms who were at their kid’s bedside for the duration of hospitalization, or they were taking care of their child before, and they wouldn’t become infected,” says Kakkar, whose hospital houses the largest neonatal care facility in Canada.

“It might be because a lot of their symptoms are gastrointestinal — so vomiting and maybe a little bit of diarrhea, abdominal pain — that it’s not being transmitted in the same way.”

Kakkar says her hospital has had to isolate at least 10 infants born to mothers infected by COVID-19, but the CPSP data does not include undiagnosed cases.

Nor does the interim study include analysis of patients with multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children, known as MIS-C, but researchers say that will be considered in a separate report expected in the coming weeks.

Kakkar says great strides have been made to better recognize and identify the rare condition, an acute inflammatory illness that appears much like Kawasaki disease.

“With all of the cases worldwide they’re getting a very good picture of what MIS-C is — what the blood tests look like, what the child looks like, and how they respond to treatment.”

The completed study is expected to include the epidemiology and risk factors for hospitalization, and a look at how children with co-morbidities fare. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 11, 2020.

Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

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St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto declares COVID-19 outbreak among ER staff – Sudbury.com

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TORONTO — Another hospital in downtown Toronto has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 among its staff.

Unity Health says there are five active coronavirus cases among emergency room staff at St. Michael’s Hospital.

In a statement Tuesday evening, the health network says “no patient cases have been identified to date” and the risk of patient exposure is low.

However, it recommends anyone who visited the ER at St. Michael’s within the last two weeks to self-monitor.

The hospital is one of four in Toronto that have declared COVID-19 outbreaks in recent days.

The others are St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto Western Hospital and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto declares COVID-19 outbreak among ER staff – pentictonherald.ca

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TORONTO – Another hospital in downtown Toronto has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 among its staff.

Unity Health says there are five active coronavirus cases among emergency room staff at St. Michael’s Hospital.

In a statement Tuesday evening, the health network says “no patient cases have been identified to date” and the risk of patient exposure is low.

However, it recommends anyone who visited the ER at St. Michael’s within the last two weeks to self-monitor.

The hospital is one of four in Toronto that have declared COVID-19 outbreaks in recent days.

The others are St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto Western Hospital and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2020.

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Correctional officer contracts COVID-19 after brief encounters with infected individuals – CTV News

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TORONTO —
A case study of a correctional officer who tested positive for COVID-19 despite having no sustained exposure of at least 15 minutes with any infected individual is providing new evidence that the virus can be transmitted in brief encounters.

The study, released Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, has prompted them to expand their definition of a “close contact.”

On July 28, the study states, six incarcerated or detained individuals who had not yet received their COVID-19 results arrived to a Vermont correctional facility from out of state, and were transported to a quarantine unit. In the process, all six — who were not displaying any COVID-19 symptoms — briefly interacted with a 20-year-old correctional officer.

The six tested positive for COVID-19 on July 29. In the contact tracing process, officials looked at every interaction the six had while they would have been infectious, and determined that the 20-year-old correctional officer was not a close contact who needed to be quarantined, according to the Vermont Department of Health’s rules, since he had never been within two metres of any of them for 15 minutes.

Thus, the correctional officer continued working — until August 4, when, at the end of his shift, he started feeling the symptoms of COVID-19, including a loss of smell and taste, a cough, a headache and shortness of breath, among other symptoms.

He tested positive for COVID-19 on August 11.

In order to find out how the correctional officer had contracted the virus, officials observed video surveillance on July 28 to tally up the time the officer had spent within two metres of any of the six individuals who had COVID-19.

“Although the correctional officer never spent 15 consecutive minutes within 6 feet of an [incarcerated person] with COVID-19, numerous brief (approximately one-minute) encounters that cumulatively exceeded 15 minutes did occur,” the case study stated. “During his eight-hour shift on July 28, the correctional officer was within six feet of an infectious [incarcerated person] an estimated 22 times while the cell door was open, for an estimated 17 total minutes of cumulative exposure.”

The study added that while the six incarcerated or detained people wore cloth face masks during some of these interactions, there were a few interactions in a cell doorway or the recreation room where they did not wear a mask.

The correctional officer was wearing a face mask and eye goggles at all times.

Since the officer had no travel-related exposure or any other known close contact exposures, officials surmised that he’d contracted the virus during one of his interactions on July 28.

A “close contact” according to the CDC is someone who was “within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset.”

In the wake of this study, they are adding to the definition anyone who spends 15 minutes cumulatively within six feet (two metres) of an infected person, even if those 15 minutes are the result of numerous brief interactions, and not in one go.

Fifteen minutes has never been the make-or-break length of time that is necessary for an exposure — there is no magic number detailing exactly how long it takes the virus to successfully make the jump from one body to another.

There are numerous factors that contribute to the risk of contracting COVID-19, and the 15-minute mark is merely a benchmark to allow officials to categorize at what point exposure is most likely, in order to know how to prioritize resources for contact tracing.

In Canada, the official COVID Alert app also uses the 15-minute rule, only alerting those who were closer than two metres for more than 15 minutes to a person who tested positive.

The risk of exposure can be minimized or increased by a number of things, including physical proximity, whether they’re in an enclosed space, whether there is adequate ventilation and air flow, as well as whether both individuals are wearing masks, among other factors.

The case study concluded by advising that public health officials consider the extra risk of cumulative exposure due to brief interactions in settings where frequent interaction within two metres of a person is necessary, such as within a correctional facility.

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