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Timmins declare COVID-19 outbreak

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A COVID-19 outbreak has been declared at the Timmins and District Hospital after a patient tested positive for the virus, according to the Porcupine Health Unit.

PHU medical officer of health Dr. Lianne Catton said they are declaring the outbreak as per the Ministry of Health guidelines.

“As a result of the enhanced surveillance measures, our staff quickly identified the change in patient symptoms and immediately completed testing and moved the patient to an isolated location,” stated Blaise MacNeil, President and CEO at the TADH, in a news release. “Our pandemic planning process ensures we are ready to quickly respond to any changes required throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our focus remains on doing everything we can to ensure the continued safety of our patients and staff.”

According to the health unit, access to the hospital has been restricted and there is enhanced surveillance. The hospital is supporting the health unit to reach out to any potential contacts.

“To safeguard the privacy of patients, staff and their families, TADH will not comment on the current status of any patients or staff in hospital,” reads the news release.

“The control measures that have been put in place to date include the restriction of visitors and volunteer programs, enhanced PPE requirements and active screening at all Hospital entrances. To ensure the safety of all those attending the Timmins and District Hospital, all patients and staff who provide direct patient care or work in patient care areas are required wear a mask while on site.

As of this morning, the health unit was reporting 49 confirmed cases of the virus in the region. Of those, 30 are resolved and two people have died.

The Timmins and District Hospital outbreak is the fourth at a Timmins facility.

The first was at Extendicare Timmins and has since been ended.

There are also outbreaks at Spruce Hill Lodge in South Porcupine, where two residents have tested positive, and St. Mary’s Gardens where an employee tested positive.

The health unit is doing expanded testing on people with milder symptoms for a limited time.

The expanded list of symptoms include cough, fever, and difficulty breathing as well as sore throat/hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing, loss of smell or taste, fatigue, muscle aches, runny nose, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and nausea or vomiting.

There are COVID-19 assessment centres in Timmins, Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Kapuskasing and Hornepayne. They are by appointment only and you must be referred by your primary healthcare provider or the health unit. A centre is expected to open in Hearst this week as well.

The PHU COVID-19 hotline is open during the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It can be reached at 705-267-1181 or 1-800-461-1818.

Updated on April 20, 2020

By Harry Miller

 

Credit: timminstoday.com

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Market day is on its way, once the new rules are in place – The Review Newspaper

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As organizers of local farmers markets anxiously await to re-open their weekly events, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is working out the details and practices over how exactly the markets will function during these public health-conscious times.

Locally, farmers’ markets are planning to re-open in Vankleek Hill and Maxville.

According to EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, outdoor farmers’ markets are less likely to contribute to the spread of coronavirus and its more dangerous variant, COVID-19.

Roumeliotis said that the EOHU is working with neighbouring health units on developing protocols and procedures that will allow outdoor farmers’ markets to operate.

Municipalities throughout the EOHU territory have been notified by the EOHU and they are assisting with getting the rules in place.  They will be finalized and displayed on the EOHU website during this week.

Farmers’ markets will be limited to a modified walk-through format to permit physical distancing, or a pre-order format with curbside pick-up.  Merchandise sold at farmers’ markets will be limited to food products.

Roumeliotis said he wants to encourage residents to support the local entrepreneurs who sell products at farmers markets.  He also acknowledged that the market season is important to them because it is a short window of time for vendors to earn income.


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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 26 – CBC.ca

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Recent developments:

What’s happening today?

People staying away from health-care facilities out of fear of the coronavirus are hurting clinics that rely on fees, says the Ontario Medical Association, pointing to the closure of the Asclepios Medical Centre in east Ottawa.

WATCH: 9,000-patient clinic closing causing uncertainty

Carole Legault and Sophia Wright, who were both patients at Asclepios Medical Centre, say its closure has left them facing a lot of uncertainty made more stressful by the ongoing pandemic. 0:44

With drive-in theatres open in other jurisdictions and poised to open in Quebec Friday, eastern Ontario’s drive-ins say they’re ready to safely screen movies again when given the OK.

A teacher in Kazabazua, Que., tells CBC what it’s like to back in the classroom with students during the pandemic.

Two weeks back in class, Quebec teacher Letha Henry says kids are no longer worried they’ll get in trouble if they get too close to one other. She simply gives them a gentle reminder of the two-meter rule that has become a big part of school life. (Submitted by Letha Henry)

Send in your questions about COVID-19 and the workplace for CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning‘s weekly Q&A on Wednesday after 8 a.m.

How many cases are there?

There have been 1,901 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa and 234 deaths linked to the respiratory illness. There are more than 3,000 known cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

More than 2,100 people in the region have recovered from COVID-19.

The deaths of 49 people in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties and 30 more in the wider region have also been tied to the coronavirus. 

Confirmed cases are just a snapshot because not everyone can be tested and results take time to process, though testing criteria are being expanded.

What’s open and closed?

Ontario is in “stage one” of its three-stage reopening plan. When ready, its next stage should bring more offices, outdoor spaces and gatherings back.

Quebec now allows larger outdoor gatherings. Its libraries and museums can reopen Friday, with malls and services such as dentist offices and hair salons poised to reopen Monday.

Gatineau Park and provincial parks are now open with limits, like the National Capital Commission and Ottawa-Gatineau city parks

National parks start to reopen Monday.

This Sunday, the farmers market at Lansdowne Park reopens for preordering and picking up at a designated time.

The Ottawa Farmers’ Market at Lansdowne Park in early March 2020. There won’t be any payment at pickup points when the market resumes; all transactions will be done beforehand. (CBC)

Ontario schools are closed through summer. Post-secondary schools are moving toward more online classes this fall, with the province promising a fall plan for younger students by July.

Quebec elementary schools outside Montreal are open. Its high schools, CEGEPs and universities are closed to in-person classes until fall.

Ottawa has cancelled event permits until the end of August. Quebec has asked organizers to cancel events until September.

People pass a mural of a person wearing a mask by artist Dom Laporte in Ottawa, on Sunday, May 24, 2020. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Distancing and isolating

The coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People don’t need to have symptoms to be contagious.

That means physical distancing measures such as avoiding non-essential trips, working from home, not gathering and staying at least two metres away from anyone they don’t live with.

WATCH: COVID-19’s spectrum of risk

Living life during a pandemic can be confusing. But experts say you can navigate how to approach different settings and activities once you know the risks. 1:11

Ottawa Public Health recommends people wear a fabric or non-medical mask when they can’t always stay two metres from strangers, such as at a grocery store. 

Anyone who has symptoms, travelled recently outside Canada or, specifically in Ottawa, is waiting for a COVID-19 test result must self-isolate for at least 14 days.

The same goes for anyone in Ontario who’s been in contact with someone who’s tested positive or is presumed to have COVID-19.

People 70 and older or with compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions should also self-isolate.

Front-line worker Celine Robitaille wears a face shield and mask as she waits for a client to come to the door to pick up a meal at lunchtime at the Shepherds of Good Hope soup kitchen in Ottawa, on Sunday, May 24, 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a dry cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. 

Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. The Ontario government says in rare cases, children can develop a rash.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Where to get tested

In Ottawa any resident who feels they need a test, even if they are not showing symptoms, can now be tested.

Tests are done at the Brewer Arena from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., seven days a week, or at 595 Moodie Dr. and 1485 Heron Rd. those same hours on weekdays.

Testing has also expanded for local residents and employees who work in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit area.

There is a drive-thru test centre in Casselman and assessment centres in Hawkesbury and Winchester that don’t require people to call ahead and others in Rockland, and Cornwall that require an appointment.

In Kingston, the assessment centre at the Kingston Memorial Centre is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for anyone with symptoms. 

Napanee‘s test centre is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily for people who call for an appointment.

Ontario premier wants more people to get tested for COVID-19, even if they’re not showing symptoms of the virus. But is that an effective way to control community spread? We get an infectious disease expert to weigh in. 7:49

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark unit asks you to call it at 1-800-660-5853, ext. 2499 or your doctor if you have questions after doing the province’s self-assessment.

It has a testing site in Smiths Falls which requires a referral, as well as a walk-in site in Brockville at the Memorial Centre, Almonte by calling 613-325-1208 and a home test service for people in care or with mobility challenges.

WATCH: Slow return for Canada’s dental offices

Dental offices across the country are slowly reopening, but they have to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and many are having a hard time finding the necessary protective equipment. 2:05

The public health unit in the Belleville area is asking people to call it at 613-966-5500 or Telehealth with questions.

You can arrange a test in Bancroft, Belleville or Trenton by calling the health unit or in Picton by calling it, Telehealth or your family doctor. You may also qualify for a home test.

Renfrew County is also providing home testing under some circumstances. Residents without access to a family doctor can call 1-844-727-6404 if they have health questions, COVID-19-related or not.

If you’re concerned about the coronavirus, take the self-assessment.

In western Quebec:

Outaouais residents should call 819-644-4545 if they have symptoms. They could end up being referred to Gatineau’s testing centre.

First Nations communities

Local communities have declared states of emergency, put in a curfew or both.

Akwesasne has opened a mobile COVID-19 test site available by appointment only. Anyone returning to Akwesasne who’s been farther than 80 kilometres away is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Anyone in Tyendinaga who has symptoms can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse.

Pikwakanagan‘s council plans to let businesses reopen May 29 and Kitigan Zibi is keeping schools closed through the summer.

For more information

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Promising results from VIDO-InterVac's COVID-19 vaccine pre-clinical trials – News Talk 650 CKOM

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The results from the COVID-19 vaccine trials at the University of Saskatchewan’s VIDO-InterVac research lab using ferrets, has hit a new and positive milestone.

According to the centre’s director, Dr. Volker Gerdts, teams were able to demonstrate that the ferrets were protected from the disease and specifically showed significantly reduced viral infection in the respiratory tract.

“That is of particular importance,” explained Gerdts. “It not only speaks to the severity of the disease, but also the ability of the animals to infect others.”

Ferrets were chosen for the study because of their similarity to human respiratory systems.

Several weeks ago, two doses of vaccine were given to the animals. Time was needed to then assess their immune response against a control group.

So how effective exactly is the vaccine so far?

“In the vaccinated animals – the ones that responded to the vaccine – we saw almost undetectable amounts of virus afterwards,” says Gerdts. “So, that’s very good news, and in comparison to the control group per swap… this is a range in a 50,000 fold reduction of it.”

All of the ferrets that were infected received what Gerdts says is a ‘high’ dose, or one million particles of the disease. Depending on exposure levels, it’s not even in the range of what a human would be exposed to, even with a high ‘virus shedder.’

Data on the lungs of the ferrets is still being analysed, but initial results indicate a very high immune response as well as high levels of neutralizing antibodies. It does not appear as though any other organs were affected by the virus either.

At this point, Gerdts says they are now in the midst of producing clinical grade vaccine doses that can be used in humans. He calls it the most time consuming part of the vaccine development.

In the meantime, they’re also conducting safety studies – which are required by regulators to essentially move on to human trials.

“In these safety studies, we’ll address whether there’s any unwanted effects or any adverse events to the vaccine. And also with this particular disease there is concern about what is called ‘disease enhancement’ where the vaccine would actually enhance the disease. So, there’s particular studies that will help us to rule out that our vaccine will do that.”

Gerdts admits that there is some concern that certain vaccines being developed currently may actually make the disease worse. It happened when a vaccine was developed for the virus that causes Dengue Fever several years ago.

“The technology that we have chosen is one that has a very well proven track record in humans and animals… and the advantage of that, is that it’s easily ‘scalable.’ So, at the end, we can produce millions of doses in a single run in a manufacturing facility. So while maybe it’s a bit slower at the moment, the advantage of our vaccine will be that it’s easier to scale and more cost effective.”

If all goes well, human trials are scheduled to begin in the fall.

“This is a vaccine made by Canadians for Canadians. So, we will make sure that our vaccine is available to Canadians at the highest priority.”

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