The Canadian Press
Paul Maurice is cheering for only one thing when he watches two North Division rivals hit the ice from his couch. The Winnipeg Jets head coach wants the result decided inside 60 minutes — and definitely not in overtime or a shootout, where the losing side gets an extra point in the standings. “You’ve just got your fingers crossed every night that maybe there’s a blowout so you can rest easy towards the end of the game,” Maurice said with a little smirk. “You’re cheering for both teams in the last five minutes in a tie game. “Don’t care which one, just as long as one of them scores.” Regulation wins are always important in the NHL as the second tiebreaker in the standings behind points percentage, but perhaps never more than in this truncated, 56-game season with division-only play as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. When it’s all said and done, teams in the North Division — consisting of Canada’s seven franchises and created out of necessity due to border restrictions — will have played as many as 10 head-to-head matchups. A win is a win, but securing that two-point victory in regulation widens or tightens the gap between opponents compared to a guaranteed three-point result decided after normal time. In an 82-game season, a Western Conference team wouldn’t think twice about going to overtime against an opponent from the East. Not so in 2021. “You’ve got to try to give yourself some space,” Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau said. “You don’t want to see three-point games. Every point is crucial. When you are playing this amount of games against your divisional (rivals), every point matters.” “It’s a different look,” Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins added. “Getting the extra point with an overtime win is still going to be important — we still want that extra point — but at the same time we want to limit the other teams’ points.” The NHL began awarding a point for overtime losses ahead of the 1999-00 season before incorporating shootout defeats into the rule when ties were eliminated following the 2004-05 lockout. The system has been criticized for not providing teams enough of an incentive to push for regulation wins, but the pandemic — at least for this season — might nudge some in that direction as the abbreviated schedule progresses and knife-edged playoff races heat up. “It’s something we talked about before the season,” Maple Leafs forward Jason Spezza said. “You don’t want to find yourself in a slew of overtimes. “If you can beat teams in regulation, it creates a little more of a gap.” The Oilers lost their only OT contest up to this point, but avoided another extra-time affair when they scored with less than a second to go in the third period against Winnipeg late last month. “You certainly think about those,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said of the point denied the Jets that night. “We’ve talked about those. It’s funny, not just our games, but you’re watching other games around in our division (and) hoping for no three-point games. There’s extra points available. If one team gets two and the other team gets none, you’re way better off. “That’s something that’s certainly going to be a factor moving forward.” Flames head coach Geoff Ward, meanwhile, has already started counting. “The division is tight,” he said. “Those extra points add up by the end of the year.” But Maurice said he doesn’t expect it to be a factor in the level of urgency during games — at least for now. “There’s no difference on the bench,” he said. “Nobody’s saying, ‘Hey we’ve got to get this one in regulation.’ The intensity ramps up as a game goes, especially a close game, a tie game. “I don’t think you’re running your top end harder to get the win, because that happens naturally.” Vancouver Canucks head coach Travis Green said he isn’t focused on how victories are secured. “We dwell on the process, doing it the right way,” he said. “And at the end of the game, we should look up and be happy with the results. “I don’t think we need to talk about needing to win in regulation.” Jets captain Blake Wheeler said with so much out of players’ control, they can only worry about individual performances. “Whether it’s in regulation or overtime, you can’t dictate those types of things,” he said. “The race is going to be tight all year. It’s probably going to come down to the very last couple of games. “We believe wins and losses take care of themselves.” Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien said avoiding overtime as much as possible has been a topic of conversation around his team. “Absolutely. We’ve talked about those three-point games,” he said. “You don’t like to see three-point games being shared. “It probably has a little bit more emphasis with this year’s situation the way we’re all set up.” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe hasn’t discussed regulation versus overtime or shootouts with his roster since the games started, but adds the benefits and drawbacks are clear. “You want to win every game in regulation,” he said. “Even more so with every point remaining in the division.” Toronto captain John Tavares added he isn’t concerned about what the six other Canadian teams are doing, preferring instead to focus on his group. “We want to take care of our business and not really leave it up to that,” he said. “If we play the way we’re capable and continue to push the envelope and continuously try to get better … hopefully those things don’t matter.” But Ward said banter about avoiding overtime — both in Calgary’s games and when watching North Division tilts from afar — is already a hot topic around the Flames’ locker room. And that’s likely going to continue all season. “The division’s great … it’s tight,” he said. “It’s going to be that way right to the end.” -With files from Gemma Karstens-Smith in Vancouver. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2021. ___ Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
Monkeypox: Cases found and suspected in Portugal, Spain – CTV News
Portuguese authorities said on Wednesday they had identified five cases of rare monkeypox infection and Spain’s health services are testing eight potential cases after Britain put Europe on alert for the virus.
The five Portuguese patients, out of 20 suspected cases, are all stable. They are all men and they all live in the region of Lisbon and the Tagus Valley, the Portuguese health authorities said.
European Health authorities are monitoring any outbreak of the disease since Britain has reported its first case of monkeypox on May 7 and found six more in the country since then.
None of the eight suspected cases in Spain has been confirmed yet, the Spanish Health Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection similar to human smallpox, though milder, first recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1970s. The number of cases in West Africa has increased in the last decade.
Symptoms include fever, headaches and skin rashes starting on the face and spreading to the rest of the body.
It is not particularly infectious between people, Spanish health authorities said, and most people infected recover within a few weeks, though severe cases have been reported.
Four of the cases detected in Britain self-identified as gay, bi-sexual or other men who have sex with men, the U.K. Health Security Agency said, adding evidence suggested there may be a transmission in the community.
The agency in Britain urged men who are gay and bisexual to be aware of any unusual rashes or lesions and to contact a sexual health service without delay.
The Spanish Health Ministry and Portugal’s DGS health authority Spanish did not release any information on the sexual orientation of the monkeypox patients or suspected patients.
The two countries sent out alerts to health professionals in order to identify more possible cases.
(Reporting by Patricia Rua in Lisbon and Christina Thykjaer in Madrid; Editing by Inti Landauro and Alison Williams)
Long Covid Patients' Symptoms Helped After Vaccination in Study – BNN
(Bloomberg) — Fewer Covid-19 patients reported lingering symptoms from the infection after getting vaccinated, according to a study that suggests the shots could help alleviate the burden of long Covid.
A first vaccine dose after infection with the virus was associated with a 13% decline in the odds of having long Covid and a second shot with a 9% drop in the study published Thursday in the BMJ. Over the course of seven months in 2021, researchers regularly visited the households of more than 28,000 people to ask whether they were experiencing symptoms long after infection.
The findings, together with evidence that long Covid is reduced in those infected after vaccination, suggest that jabs may help decrease the prevalence of persisting symptoms.
“The large scale of this study means that we can be fairly confident about what has been observed, but it does not mean we can be sure what it means,” said Peter English, a former chair of the BMA Public Health Medicine Committee.
“The most obvious — and perhaps the most likely inference — is that vaccination does prevent at least some cases of long Covid, and may reduce the severity of symptoms,” he said in emailed comments. But “we cannot yet say this with any confidence.” English wasn’t involved in the research.
An estimated 1.8 million people in the UK had reported experiencing long Covid as of April 2022, with two in three people saying the symptoms had affected their day-to-day activities, according to the latest Office for National Statistics data.
The scientists who ran the study called for more research to “understand the biological mechanisms underpinning any improvements in symptoms after vaccination, which may contribute to the development of therapeutics for long Covid.”
©2022 Bloomberg L.P.
Europe, US on alert after new monkeypox cases emerge – Al Jazeera English
US, Spain and Portugal announce cases of rare viral infection, two weeks after UK identified its first case.
Health authorities are on alert for the spread of monkeypox, a rare viral disease first reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the 1970s, after new cases emerged in Europe, and the United States confirmed its first infection.
Portugal said on Wednesday it had identified five cases of monkeypox, Spain said it was testing 23 potential cases, and the US state of Massachusetts announced it had found a case in a man who recently travelled to Canada.
The United Kingdom was the first to confirm a case of monkeypox earlier this month. It has now detected seven cases and is working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to investigate the virus’s spread after being unable to make a link between the initial case, in a man who had travelled from Nigeria, and the more recent ones.
Health authorities suspect some of the infections may have occurred through sexual contact – in this instance among gay or bisexual men – with four of the UK cases identified among people who visited sexual health clinics after developing the rash associated with monkeypox.
“No source of infection has yet been confirmed for either the family or GBMSM clusters,” the WHO said in a statement in Wednesday. “Based on currently available information, infection seems to have been locally acquired in the United Kingdom. The extent of local transmission is unclear at this stage and there is the possibility of identification of further cases.”
Monkeypox, which is similar to human smallpox, typically begins with a flu-like illness and swelling of the lymph nodes, followed by a rash on the face and body. Most people recover from the illness, which is endemic in parts of central and western Africa and usually the result of close contact with infected animals, within a few weeks, but it can be fatal.
The five Portuguese patients, out of 20 suspected cases, are all in a stable condition, according to the country’s health authorities. They are all men who live in the region of Lisbon and the Tagus Valley, they added.
Health authorities in Madrid said the cases discovered in Spain appeared to be linked to sexual contact.
“In general, its transmission is via respiratory drops but the characteristics of the 23 suspected infections point to it being passed on through bodily fluids during sex relations,” they said in a statement, without giving further details.
“All of them are young adult males and most of them are men who have sexual relations with other men, but not all of them,” Elena Andradas, head of public health in the Madrid region, told Cadena Ser radio.
US health officials said the Massachusetts man who developed monkeypox went to Canada to see friends at the end of April and returned home in early May. He is currently being treated in hospital.
Jennifer McQuiston from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said while it was the only case the CDC was aware of, “I do think we are preparing for the possibility of more cases”.
The agency is in contact with its counterparts in the UK and Canada as part of the investigation, but McQuiston said no link had been established so far.
There are two types of monkeypox virus: the West African clade and Congo Basin (Central African) clade. The case-fatality ratio for the West African clade has been documented to be about 1 percent, and up to 10 percent for patients with the Congo Basin clade.
The WHO said that while smallpox vaccination has been effective against monkeypox, the end of mass vaccination programmes for smallpox meant people under the age of 40 or 50 no longer had that protection.
The UK has previously reported cases of monkeypox – all linked to travel to Nigeria – as has the US. An outbreak there in 2003 was traced to pet prairie dogs that had been housed with small animals imported from Ghana that were found to have the virus.
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