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'There will be more deaths': COVID-19 outbreak in nursing home leaves small cottage community reeling – CBC.ca

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Lloyd Thomas wishes he was well enough to take his wife out of the Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont., where COVID-19 has killed nine residents since late last week

Thomas has nothing but praise for the nursing home, located in a town of around 3,500 people in Ontario’s cottage country about 150 kilometres northeast of Toronto, but the virus that has infected its residents has him fearing for her safety.

“I was afraid my wife’s going to die,” he said in an interview with CBC News. 

Thomas said a doctor at the facility told him his wife, Annabelle, is fine. But Thomas, who lives in Bobcaygeon, is 86, and Annabelle is two years older and has Alzheimer’s disease, meaning there’s little he can do but hope that she emerges healthy from the outbreak.

The facility is home to 65 residents. Since a news release went out March 26 reporting that two residents at the home had died, seven more have succumbed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Michelle Snarr, the medical director of Pinecrest, said three other residents have tested positive for COVID-19. More than a third of the home’s staff — 24 people — also tested positive, and test results for six other staff members are pending, according to the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.

‘It’s grim’

“There will be more deaths. It’s grim. It’s heartbreaking,” said Michelle Snarr, the medical director of Pinecrest. 

“We get more heartbreaking news all the time. I’ve been in practice for 32 years. I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff happen, but I don’t remember anything with this level of sadness.”

It’s unclear how the outbreak began, whether it came from a visitor to the facility or a new resident. But the number of cases and deaths within the small nursing home has stunned many in the community. 

“It’s pretty sad for a little community like this,” said area resident Bob Hetherington.

It was neighbours who first told Thomas about the deaths at the nursing home.

A sign of support sits outside Pinecrest Nursing Home, which is located in a small community in Ontario’s cottage country, about 150 km northeast of Toronto. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“Absolutely, I was shocked,” he said.

Sarah Gardiner, a nurse at Pinecrest who has worked at the home for 12 years, had a similar reaction. 

“I’ve been doing this a long time, never run into a situation like this,” she said.

“To have so much death occurring so quickly in such a short space of time and just to watch the effect on the community, not only the community of Pinecrest Nursing Home but the community of Bobcaygeon. 

“People are frightened, and it’s just overwhelming.”

Home turned upside down

When Gardiner arrived Saturday afternoon for work, having just returned from Vancouver, everything at the nursing home had changed, she said.

Equipment was all over the place, and everyone was walking around in full protective gear.

“The nursing home felt like a war zone,” said Gardiner.

Bobcaygeon, a small town made somewhat famous by the Tragically Hip song of the same name, is located in the Kawartha Lakes region, an area dotted with cottages.

Gardiner said she never imagined an outbreak like this could occur in such a small, out of the way, tourist area.

“You would think, OK, maybe in the city in one of the bigger [seniors] homes. But how it happened here, I don’t know,” she said.

“I really care about those people, and we’re losing them, and they can’t even see their family in many cases because we are in lockdown.”

Window visits

In some instances, family members are only able to communicate through the window of the nursing home, with a wave. 

“Unfortunately, by the point that happens, many of these residents are so ill that they’re not aware of what is happening around them and that their family is there,” Gardiner said.

“It’s a very lonely situation for the residents, and that makes it very heartbreaking.”

Ian Handscomb, right, his wife, Carol, left, and his father, Bill. Bill is a resident at Pinecrest Nursing Home, and his wife and son have been unable to visit him in person since the outbreak so have been waving to him through a window. (Submitted by Ian Handscomb )

Ian Handscomb and his mother have been doing regular “window visits” with his father, Bill, who suffers from advanced Parkinson’s disease.

“What we do is sit outside his window and [talk] through writing on signs. We’re able to kind of keep in contact through that way,” he told CBC’s As It Happens.

But the past week, he says, has been an emotional rollercoaster. 

“We think maybe we’ve got to a good spot where they’re starting to make some progress, then we hear it’s ramping up again,” he said.

“And it’s very emotional for the families, and the whole community in Bobcaygeon are touched by this horrible, horrible situation.”

Handscomb lives in Toronto but has relocated to Bobcaygeon to be with his mother.

“We never thought in little Bobcaygeon, away from a big metropolis, that it would be one of the [disease] epicentres of Ontario.”

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WHO resumes hydroxychloroquine trial on Covid-19 patients – ITIJ

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On May 25, WHO suspended the trial of the drug, which is usually used to treat malaria patients, after a study published in medical journal The Lancet found that Covid-19 hospitalised patients treated with hydroxychloroquine had a higher risk of death, as well as an increased frequency of irregular heartbeats, than those who weren’t treated with it. 

However, WHO officials have since asserted that there is no evidence that the drug reduces the mortality in these patients, and the study has since been retracted over data concerns. 

“The executive group received this recommendation and endorsed the continuation of all arms of solidarity trial including hydroxychloroquine,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press conference 3 June, adding that WHO planned to continue to monitor the safety of the therapeutics being tested in trials involving over 3,500 patients spanning over 35 countries. 

“WHO is committed to accelerating the development of effective therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics as part of our commitment to serving the world with science, solutions and solidarity,” Ghebreyesus said. 

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'Truly sorry': Scientists pull panned Lancet study of Trump-touted drug – National Post

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NEW YORK/LONDON — An influential study that found hydroxychloroquine increased the risk of death in COVID-19 patients has been withdrawn a week after it led to major trials being halted, adding to confusion about a malaria drug championed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Lancet medical journal pulled the study after three of its authors retracted it, citing concerns about the quality and veracity of data in it. The World Health Organization (WHO) will resume its hydroxychloroquine trials after pausing them in the wake of the study. Dozens of other trials have resumed or are in process.

The three authors said Surgisphere, the company that provided the data, would not transfer the dataset for an independent review and they “can no longer vouch for the veracity of the primary data sources.”

The fourth author of the study, Dr. Sapan Desai, chief executive of Surgisphere, declined to comment on the retraction.

The Lancet said it “takes issues of scientific integrity extremely seriously” adding: “There are many outstanding questions about Surgisphere and the data that were allegedly included in this study.”

Another study in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that used Surgisphere data and shared the same lead author, Harvard Medical School Professor Mandeep Mehra, was retracted for the same reason.

The Lancet said reviews of Surgisphere’s research collaborations were urgently needed.

The race to understand and treat the new coronavirus causing the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of research and peer-reviewed scientific journals are go-to sources of information for doctors, policymakers and lay people alike.

Chris Chambers, a professor of psychology and an expert at the UK Center for Open Science, said The Lancet and the NEJM – which he described as “ostensibly two of the world’s most prestigious medical journals” – should investigate how the studies got through peer review and editorial checks.

“The failure to resolve such basic concerns about the data” raises “serious questions about the standard of editing” and about the process of peer review, he said.

The Lancet did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. The NEJM could not immediately be reached for comment.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

The observational study published in The Lancet on May 22 said it looked at 96,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, some treated with the decades-old malaria drug. It claimed that those treated with hydroxychloroquine or the related chloroquine had higher risk of death and heart rhythm problems than patients who were not given the medicines.

“I did not do enough to ensure that the data source was appropriate for this use,” the study’s lead author, Professor Mehra, said in a statement. “For that, and for all the disruptions – both directly and indirectly – I am truly sorry.”

Many scientists voiced concern about the study, which had already been corrected last week because some location data was wrong. Nearly 150 doctors signed an open letter to The Lancet calling the article’s conclusions into question and asking to make public the peer review comments that preceded publication.

Stephen Evans, a professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said the retraction decision was “correct” but still left unanswered the question about whether hydroxychloroquine is effective in COVID-19.

“It remains the case that the results from randomized trials are necessary to draw reliable conclusions,” he said. (Reporting by Michael Erman, Peter Henderson, Kate Kelland and Josephine Mason Editing by Leslie Adler, Tom Brown, Giles Elgood and Carmel Crimmins)

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Possible link between more overdoses and pandemic isolation: Guelph health officials – CTV News

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GUELPH —
The number of suspect overdose deaths in Guelph since the outbreak of COVID-19 has already surpassed the number of deaths in all of 2019.

Health officials say isolation could be a contributing factor, as staff at the consumption treatment centre have seen about half of the regular users during the time of the pandemic.

“From mid March until just the end of May we’ve seen eight deaths,” said Raechelle Devereaux, executive director of the Guelph Community Health Centre.

In 2018, there were seven overdose deaths in Guelph.

Jade McAfee uses the CTS site and say she’s lost a lot of friends to overdoses.

“It is scary,” she said. “I myself have overdosed 13 times.”

While officials say a toxic supply is to blame for overdoses, the COVID-19 pandemic has added a hurdle when it comes to prevention.

“The same things that are keeping people safe during the pandemic like isolating and staying home are some things that work against us,” said Devereaux.

Registered nurse Danielle Castledine supervises injections and says they would normally see 30 people a day before the pandemic.

“Before we had an intermediate space where people could be before and after,” she said. “So even if they were waiting they were waiting with peer workers and nurses and social workers.”

To help with better spacing, they’ve opened a new booth to decrease wait times and encourage more people to use the services.

“[Before the crisis] you didn’t have to have a mask, get stopped, have your temperature taken when you could blow in and out easily,” said Eric Cunningham, a user of the CTS site.

Staff say the lack of foot traffic at the CTS is a bad sign and worry the alternative is using in isolation, which decreases the likelihood of potentially life-saving intervention.

“It’s better for anybody to not do it alone,” said McAfee.

The health centre says between March 17 and May 30 there were 63 overdoses.

In the same time period last year there were 74, but only one overdose death.

The Guelph Community Health Centre says the team is door knocking at vulnerable apartment and shelters to give more information on harm reduction to help those potential using alone.

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