No timeline for when businesses would open
Local health officials say it is still too early to begin opening up the region to allow businesses to regain economic stamina.
Following the province’s announcement of a framework for how the government would reopen Ontario, the Porcupine Health Unit said Tuesday during the mayor’s daily health roundtable that the region is in a different stage of the pandemic than the rest of the province.
“We are increasing our testing to be able to gain a better understanding of the COVID situation in our area. This will provide us with a better perspective on where we are at compared to the province,” said Chantal Riopel, the health unit’s chief nursing officer and manager of foundational standards.
“As Premier (Doug) Ford has stated, this will be a gradual and staged approach to reopening and getting back to some type of normal in our province.
“These are challenging times, but it’s critical that we all keep it up. Even though things are looking up across the province, we will remain diligent and follow our precautions closely so that we progress in the right direction and we follow the path to less cases in our area as well.”
The report released by the Ford government outlines criteria that the province’s top doctor and other health experts will use to advise the provincial government on how to loosen the emergency measures that are in place. It also provides guiding principles to gradually open businesses, services and public spaces.
The plan to open Ontario was divided into three stages.
Each stage would last for about two to four weeks to allow provincial health officials to closely monitor for any impacts or a potential rebound in the number of cases. Following each two-to-four-week period, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health David Williams could advise the government to either reapply or tighten certain public health measures in response to a surge in cases or outbreaks, maintain the status quo and continue to closely monitor impacts, or give the go ahead to progress to the next stage.
“As public health measures are lifted and as economic activity resumes, the public will need to continue to maintain physical distancing and hand washing, along with self-isolation when experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. Remote work arrangements should continue where feasible,” reads the report.
“By taking this incremental approach, the government can ensure there are appropriate measures in place to reopen the province safely and limit any risks to people and public health. Each stage requires careful assessment and monitoring to know whether to adjust, tighten or loosen measures.”
In the first stage, businesses that were ordered to close or scale back their operations would be allowed to open as long as they are able to modify their operations to meet the public health guidelines. Some outdoor spaces such as parks would also be opened while allowing an increased number of people to attend some events. Hospitals would also begin to offer certain non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, as well as other health care services.
The second stage would see additional workplaces open their doors based on risk assessments, which could include certain service industries and additional office and retail employment. Some larger public gatherings would be allowed, and more outdoor spaces would open.
The third and final stage would see the opening of all workplaces “responsibly” and restrictions on public gatherings relaxed further.
The report states each stage would have continued protections for vulnerable populations, along with the continued practice of public health measures such as physical distancing, hand washing, among others, to limit health risks.
To reopen the economy, the Ford government said it would consider factors such as the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and the ability to implement protective measures to keep workplaces safe.
The criteria that Williams and other health experts would provide advice to the government about include: A consistent decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases over a two-to-four-week period; ample acute and critical care capacity, as well as access to ventilators and the ongoing availability of personal protective equipment; the ability for 90 per cent of new COVID-19 contacts to be reached by local public health officials within one day, with guidance and direction to contain community spread; and ongoing testing of suspected COVID-19 cases, especially vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly.
Additionally, the Ford government would consult with key sectors in all regions of Ontario to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the province’s economy and develop a plan to move forward. The report said MPPs would likewise speak with business associations, chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, the postsecondary sector, corporate leaders, small business owners, community and social service providers, Indigenous partners, Franco-Ontarians, entrepreneurs and others.
With no specific timeline given as to when the province would begin its framework, Blaise MacNeil, the hospital’s president and chief executive officer, warned that loosening public health restrictions cannot be “rushed.”
“Relaxing important public health measures too early could lead to the undoing of the progress that we achieved so far,” he said, noting the rise in COVID-19 cases across Ontario shows that it is clear the health unit catchment area is “not out of the woods yet.”
“It is vital to our community health care sector and the health of our front-line workers that we follow the advice of public health to ensure this pandemic is as short as possible.”
While speaking to reporters, Riopel said it is too soon to tell if the province’s plans to relax restrictions will arrive later in the region. She reinforced the need for the PHU to continue with its ramped-up testing procedures to determine where the region is at on the trajectory of the pandemic.
“Once we have a better idea and we move forward, we’ll be able to look at trends, we’ll be able to look at the number of confirmed cases or contacts,” Riopel explained. “Once the province is moving forward with the action plan, then we’ll be able to assess what that looks like in our community.”
Riopel did not give a timeline as to when residents could expect to see some restrictions gradually lifted, although she did say it would depend on what the directives are from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
She expects the ministry would provide the health unit with information based on an assessment of the province and the PHU region.
“I’m not too sure what that’s going to look like. We’ll have to wait and see,” she said.
On Tuesday, the Porcupine Health Unit reported one new case of COVID-19 among residents.
This brings the total number of positive cases to 59 in the health unit area.
A Timmins man in his 70s is the 59th case. He was tested on Sunday and is at home in self-isolation.
The man was identified as part of the institutional outbreak at Timmins and District Hospital.
The health unit said Tuesday in a media release that the investigation is still ongoing to determine any potential linkages.
As of Tuesday morning, the PHU had completed 1,789 tests, of which 59 were positive, and 524 were still under investigation. Of the 59 positive cases, 43 were resolved and three resulted in death.
When questioned by reporters about why the man is self-isolating at home if they were identified as being part of the outbreak, MacNeil said he could not comment on the specifics of the case. However, the executive conceded that “if he’s associated with the outbreak, by definition he would have been a patient.”
BlackburnNews.com – Six more COVID-19 recoveries in Lambton – BlackburnNews.com
Six more COVID-19 recoveries in Lambton
June 6, 2020 7:02am
Lambton Public Health is reporting six more COVID-19 recoveries.
The health unit reported Friday night that of 267 confirmed cases, 223 have now recovered.
The death toll remains unchanged since Tuesday at 24.
Lambton Public Health has now received the results from 7,861 tests, 96 per cent of which have been negative for COVID-19.
Bluewater Health reported Friday that 12 patients were in hospital confirmed to have the virus, and 26 were in hospital suspected of having it with tests pending.
Trucker brings in another case of COVID-19 as two new cases emerge Friday – Winnipeg Sun
Another case of COVID-19 in a truck driver, and one in a close household contact of that driver, were reported by public health officials on Friday.
The two new cases bring the province’s total to an even 300 since the outbreak began in early March. The cases are both from Winnipeg. One is in a man in his 30s and another in a man in his 20s.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, said the trucker who tested positive had travelled outside of the province.
Other details were sparse, including if the driver had self-isolated or not.
“I don’t have a lot of details on that as of yet, the public health investigation is ongoing,” Roussin said.
Last week, two cases in truck drivers that had travelled into the U.S. for work were also reported.
Roussin said no new measures are going to be implemented in terms of testing truck drivers or requiring them to self-isolate upon return from international or domestic travel.
Currently, all truck drivers can access asymptomatic testing, but Roussin said they cannot disrupt supply chains into the province.
The province’s active caseload jumped to nine with the two new cases as no new recoveries were announced. There have been 284 total recoveries thus far.
The death toll in Manitoba remains at seven, and no one is in hospital at the moment.
The Cadham Provincial Laboratory processed 671 tests on Thursday, bringing the running total since early February to 47,372.
Meanwhile, changes to the hours of operation at community testing sites in Brandon, Portage la Prairie, Steinbach and Winkler, as well as at Thunderbird House in Winnipeg, come into effect this weekend.
Due to low patient volumes, these sites are now closed on Sundays.
KNOWLEDGE, ROAD TESTS RESUME
Manitoba Public Insurance is resuming knowledge tests for all licence classes and road test bookings for Class 1 licences effective immediately, a release said on Friday.
Customers are encouraged to book Class 5 and 6 knowledge tests online. For those who cannot book online, MPI is allowing customers who phone their Autopac agent to perform certain critical transactions over the phone or by email.
For Class 1 road tests, drivers will be required to provide and wear their own mask, be screened prior to the test and sanitize all touchpoints in their vehicle.
Knowledge test customers will be asked to arrive on-site 15 minutes prior to their appointment.
Ripples from coronavirus research scandal rocks global scientific community – RFI English
Issued on: 06/06/2020 – 12:02Modified: 06/06/2020 – 12:02
The first research scandal of the coronavirus pandemic has created unnecessary distraction around the politically divisive drug hydroxychloroquine, scientists say.
This as questions swirl around the tiny health care company at the center of the affair.
On Thursday, most of the authors of major studies that appeared in The Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) retracted their work.
The issued apologies, saying they could no longer vouch for their data after the firm that supplied it — Chicago-based Surgisphere — refused to be audited.
At any other time the matter might have led to hang-wringing within academia, but it has taken on a new dimension as the world grapples with a virus that has claimed some 400,000 lives.
Of particular interest was the paper in The Lancet that claimed to have analyzed the records of 96,032 patients admitted to 671 hospitals across six continents, finding that hydroxychloroquine showed no benefit and even increased the risk of death.
Its withdrawal is seen as a boost to backers of the decades-old anti-malarial drug, who include US President Donald Trump and his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro.
“It’s very politicized — there is a group, probably not particularly small, who have learned to mistrust science and scientists, and this just feeds into that narrative,” Gabe Kelen, a professor of emergency medicine at Johns Hopkins University, told French new agency AFP.
This is despite the fact that even without The Lancet paper, evidence has been building against hydroxychloroquine’s use against COVID-19.
On Friday, results from a fourth randomized controlled trial — carefully designed human experiments considered the most robust form of clinical investigation — showed it had no impact against the virus.
The Lancet, which first published in 1823, is one of the world’s most trusted medical journals.
As a result, the hydroxychloroquine paper had an outsized impact: the World Health Organization, Britain and France all suspended ongoing clinical trials.
But things soon began unravelling after researchers noticed numerous red flags, from the huge number of patients involved to the unusual level of detail about the doses they had received.
Both The Lancet and the equally prestigious NEJM, which had published a paper on whether blood thinners elevated the risk of COVID-19 that relied on the same company, issued expressions of concern — before the authors themselves pulled both papers.
Role of Surgisphere
Surgisphere, founded in 2007 by vascular surgeon Sapan Desai, had refused to share data with third-party reviewers, saying it would violate privacy agreements with hospitals.
However, when science news site The Scientist began reaching out to hospitals throughout the US to ask whether they had participated, it found none.
Surgisphere’s internet profile has also raised numerous questions. Only a handful of employees could be found on LinkedIn, and most have now deactivated their accounts.
According to the Guardian newspaper, its employees included an adult model and until last week the contact page on its website redirected to a WordPress template for a cryptocurrency website, leaving it unclear how hospitals could have reached out to them.
Meanwhile Desai, who according to court records has three outstanding medical malpractice suits against him, has written extensively in the past on research misconduct.
“The most serious cause of fraud in medical publishing is manufactured data that authors use to support high impact conclusions,” he said in a 2013 paper.
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