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Tourists among those getting monkeypox shots in Montreal as global emergency declared – Global News



Tourists were among those lining up to get monkeypox vaccines in Montreal on Saturday, as the World Health Organization declared the virus a global health emergency.

Brian Maci was one of several New Yorkers who was waiting to get the shot at an outdoor walk-in clinic in the city’s Gay Village.



Brian Maci, from New York, receives a monkeypox vaccine at an outdoor walk-in clinic in Montreal, Saturday, July 23, 2022. Tourists are among those lining up to get monkeypox vaccines in Montreal, as the World Health Organization declares the virus a global health emergency.


Maci, who was already in Montreal on vacation, said he was prompted to get the vaccine in Canada after trying unsuccessfully to book an appointment back home.

“It’s like concert tickets,” he said of the process in New York.

READ MORE: Monkeypox cases spike in Canada – has the risk level changed in the country?

He said he went online right when appointments opened up at 6 p.m., only to have to constantly refresh a stalled app and eventually be told no appointments were available.

Later, at a drag show, he heard an announcement that vaccines were available in Montreal, including for tourists.

“They mentioned that this was here and it’s the best thing ever because the community is reaching out, and I can get it without having to deal with the U.S,” he said.

Another vacationing couple from New York told a similar story about trying to book a vaccine appointment back home.

“I was kicked out of the system maybe five or six times and eventually there were no more appointments, and no telling when more appointments would be released,” said Brad, a 36-year-old who did not want to give his last name.

“We were able to come here and get a walk-in vaccine and it’s amazing, an incredible service,” he said.

READ MORE: Monkeypox spread in U.S. could become entrenched as new STD, experts say

Montreal is offering vaccination against the disease to all men who have sex with men, as well as to people who have been exposed to monkeypox.

On Saturday, about a dozen health care workers sat under pink and blue tents on Ste-Catherine street, providing information to people who stopped by to inquire about the vaccine.

Men were asked for their health cards or, in the case of tourists, for a piece of ID, and sat under the tents or perched on a nearby wall waiting for their turn.

McGill University infectious diseases specialist Michael Libman said opening up the vaccine to tourists makes “perfect sense” and is the right thing to do to stop the disease from spreading.

“The big problem is not local spread, but people moving the disease from place to place,” he said in a phone interview.

The World Health Organization announced Saturday that monkeypox now qualifies as a global emergency, noting it has spread to more than 70 countries.

A global emergency is the organization’s highest level of alert, but the designation does not necessarily mean a disease is particularly transmissible or lethal. Similar declarations were made for the Zika virus in 2016 in Latin America and the ongoing effort to eradicate polio, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the decision on calling monkeypox a global emergency despite a lack of consensus among experts on the U.N. health agency’s emergency committee, saying he acted as “a tiebreaker.” It was the first time a U.N. health agency chief has unilaterally made such a decision without an expert recommendation.

“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little,” he said. “I know this has not been an easy or straightforward process and that there are divergent views.”

Although monkeypox has been established in parts of central and west Africa for decades, it was not known to spark large outbreaks beyond the continent or to spread widely among people until May, when authorities detected dozens of epidemics in Europe, North America and elsewhere.

There were 681 confirmed cases of monkeypox across five provinces in Canada as of Saturday, including 331 in Quebec, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Case numbers have doubled since July 1, the agency said, noting it’s also logged the first diagnosis involving a female and the first infections in the province of Saskatchewan during the same time period.

“Since the beginning of the outbreak, the Government of Canada’s top priority has been protecting the health of all Canadians,” read a statement issued after the WHO’s declaration. “The Government acknowledges the WHO’s determination and will continue its work with provinces and territories as it has since the start of the monkeypox outbreak.”

The Quebec government said Friday in an email that monkeypox in the province is “relatively contained” despite numbers that continue to creep upward.

The province said it did not keep numbers on how many of the 13,000 vaccines administered so far went to tourists from outside the province.

“In general, we recommend that people get vaccinated in their province or region of origin so that the vaccine has time to be effective before their visit to Quebec or Montreal,” the Health Department wrote.

Libman said the WHO’s declaration of a global emergency constitutes a “call to action” that countries need to contain it.

He says that for now, the disease is mainly being transmitted among a small segment of the population — men who report intimate contact with men — which makes it controllable as long as health officials act quickly.

But he notes anyone can get monkeypox, which is spread through prolonged close contact via respiratory droplets, direct contact with skin lesions or bodily fluids, or through contaminated clothes or bedding.

That means if it isn’t brought under control, it will “inevitably” spread to other groups, including households, he said.

Most of the men lining up in Montreal said they weren’t overly worried about getting monkeypox, or about the WHO announcement.

“For me it’s more about prevention, but you never know,” said Mario Thouin, a resident of Drummondville, Que.

Twenty-three year old Isaiah Hagerman, on the other hand, said he’d already been mulling getting vaccinated, but the WHO announcement gave him the push he needed.

“If somebody gave me a pamphlet maybe a week ago, I probably would have walked past this,” he said.

Maci, for his part, said he felt uplifted by the warm welcome he received in Montreal as well as the community effort to protect people.

“(Monkeypox) doesn’t scare me because of this,” he said, gesturing at the pink and blue tents. “New York is stressful.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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Marburg virus outbreak in two African countries



Early this year, Equatorial Guinea and Tanzania reported outbreaks of Marburg virus disease (MVD), the first-ever outbreak of the disease in these countries. As the countries respond to the outbreaks through contact tracing and restricting movement across affected regions, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the risk of spread of the disease as “very high” across both countries.


Explained | The Marburg virus and the recent outbreak caused by it


The Marburg virus was first identified in 1967 during outbreaks in Germany and Serbia and is known to cause severe and fatal viral haemorrhagic fevers in humans.


The virus is closely related to another deadly virus, Ebola and is rated as a high-risk pathogen by the WHO. Marburg virus is transmitted to humans through contact with infected animals such as fruit bats, and further human-to-human transmission can occur through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected patient or contaminated surfaces resulting in outbreaks.

Since its initial detection in 1967, several outbreaks of Marburg virus have been detected between 1975 and 2023, with African countries being the most affected and often with high fatality rates up to 90%, depending on the early access to quality care.

In recent years, and for the first time, isolated cases have been reported in Guinea and Ghana in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

New outbreaks

An outbreak of unknown haemorrhagic fever linked to a funeral ceremony was reported from Equatorial Guinea on February 7, 2023, which was later confirmed as Marburg virus on February 13 by the WHO. A month later, Tanzania reported an outbreak of MVD on March 21, after the detection of eight suspected cases, five of which were fatal. The genome sequence of a Marburg virus from Equatorial Guinea was quickly made available in public domain by researchers. The sequence shows high similarity with Marburg virus genomes previously found in fruit bats, suggesting a potential zoonotic origin.

Is there a concern?

There are no approved vaccines, antivirals or monoclonal antibodies for Marburg virus yet and supportive care to manage symptoms and prevent complications forms the mainstay. However, the WHO aims to accelerate trials of some investigational vaccines. Case detection through contact tracing, molecular diagnosis and quarantine is central to managing the spread of the disease.

While the two outbreaks have triggered a rapid res- ponse to control the spread, the outbreak in Equatorial Guinea has spread to multiple provinces and has even crept into a populous city, Bata. Equatorial Guinea has, so far, reported a total of 35 con- firmed cases and 27 deaths. The large geographic spread of the infection in the country and the unidentified epidemi- ological links between many of the reported cases suggest a wider range of transmission of the virus.

The large geographic spread of the infection in the country and the unidentified epidemiological links between many of the reported cases suggest a wider range of transmission of the virus.


As the affected countries continue to make efforts to contain the disease and another country, Burundi, investigates a suspected outbreak of viral haemorrhagic fever, surveillance of emerging viral diseases is crucial to help early detection, monitoring the circulation and evolution, and develop effective diagnostics, prevention and control measures.

It is only natural that the concept of One Health is increasingly taking centre-stage.

(The authors are researchers at the CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, New Delhi. All opinions expressed are personal)



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A glass of wine or beer per day is fine for your health: new study



A new Canadian study of 4.8 million people says a daily alcoholic drink isn’t likely to send anyone to an early grave, nor will it offer any of the health benefits touted by previous studies, even if it is organic red wine.

Low and moderate drinkers have similar mortality rates to those who abstain entirely, researchers from the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research explain. On the other hand, women who enjoy more than one standard drink per day are at least 20 per cent likely to die prematurely.

“In this updated systematic review and meta-analysis, daily low or moderate alcohol intake was not significantly associated with all-cause mortality risk,” the study’s authors write, “while increased risk was evident at higher consumption levels, starting at lower levels for women than men.”

Published Friday in the medical journal JAMA Open Network, the study comes on the heels of a report by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) that said Canadians should have no more than two alcoholic drinks per week in order to minimize the health risks associated with alcohol.


Lead researcher Dr. Jinhui Zhao and his co-authors wanted to better understand the link between alcohol and all-cause death, including theories advanced by previous studies that a small amount of alcohol can provide health benefits, and that “moderate drinkers” live longer and are less likely to die from heart disease than non-drinkers.

They reviewed 107 studies from between 1980 and 2021 involving 4.8 million people and found that consuming more than one standard drink per day raised the risk of premature death significantly, especially for women.

In Canada, a standard drink is defined as a 341-ml bottle of five per cent alcohol beer or cider, a 142-ml glass of 12 per cent alcohol wine or a 43-ml shot glass of 40 per cent alcohol spirits. Each standard drink contains 13.45 grams of pure alcohol.

“There was a significantly increased risk of all-cause mortality among female drinkers who drank 25 or more grams per day and among male drinkers who drank 45 or more grams per day,” the authors wrote. “Low-volume alcohol drinking was not associated with protection against death from all causes.”

When they looked at previous studies that suggest people who drink a little are less likely to die early or from heart disease than people who don’t drink at all, they found the evidence was skewed by systematic bias.

“For example, light and moderate drinkers are systematically healthier than current abstainers on a range of health indicators unlikely to be associated with alcohol use, (like) dental hygiene, exercise routines, diet, weight (and) income,” they wrote.

Meanwhile, abstainers may be statistically more likely to experience poorer health, since many have had to stop – or never started drinking in the first place – for health reasons. They also found most of the studies they reviewed overrepresented older white men in their data, failing to account for the experiences of women, racialized people and people from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.

When Zhao and his colleagues adjusted the data to account for these variables, they couldn’t find any evidence that drinking a low or moderate amount of alcohol had any kind of positive effect on life expectancy or heart health.

“Our meta-analysis… found no significant protective associations of occasional or moderate drinking with all-cause mortality, and an increased risk of all-cause mortality for drinkers who drank 25 g or more,” the authors conclude.

“Future longitudinal studies in this field should attempt to minimize lifetime selection biases by not including former and occasional drinkers in the reference group, and by using younger cohorts more representative of drinkers in the general population at baseline.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or mental health matters, the following resources may be available to you:

  • Hope for Wellness Helpline for Indigenous Peoples (English, French, Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut): 1-855-242-3310
  • Wellness Together Canada: 1-866-585-0445
  • Drug Rehab Services: 1-877-254-3348
  • SMART Recovery:
  • Families for Addiction Recovery: 1-855-377-6677
  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868



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U of A teaming up with researchers to get people moving in a virtual gym



Game creators at the University of Alberta (U of A) teamed up with their Japanese counterparts in hopes to get more people exercising and having fun in a virtual reality game called Slice Saber.

The U of A said in a recent news release that they’re looking at things like what it sounds like when someone slices through a watermelon with a lightsabre. And after it’s been sliced, what are the physics of the watermelon cut up?

The game is one of many available on Virtual Gym, an exercise platform still in development, where gamers of all ages can slip into a virtual reality headset and try climbing mountains, a wide range of stretching, balloon popping, shooting arrows, or yes, even slicing through fruit that is flying at you in real-time.

The game’s co-creator and computing science professor Eleni Stroulia shared Virtual Gym with counterparts at the Ritsumeikan University, which according to the Ritsumeikan Center for Game Studies website, is the only academic organization in Japan that offers the field of game studies.


“Our Japanese colleagues proposed to make Virtual Gym more enjoyable and motivating for younger adults, which is particularly relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, where people can be stuck at home,” said Stroulia in the news release.

It’s not just sound that the team is looking to experiment with, either; they’re looking at visual effects as well as haptics, or touch effects, in the game.

Virtual Gym is being developed by a U of A computing science research team led by Stroulia and Victor Fernandez, a post-doctoral fellow in the computing science department. While it is designed to entice people to exercise, it’s also collecting game-play data which evaluates how the player is performing. It then tailors the game to their capabilities.

“In our case, we’re working with seniors who may not be able to go out to exercise, to give them an opportunity to maintain the flexibility, balance and level of activity that is good for avoiding frailty,” Stroulia said.

There is no date yet for when the platform will be released to the public.



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