It’s premature to talk about “immunity passports” for Canadians who have been infected with COVID-19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday, because the science is unclear about whether those who have recovered from the virus are protected from catching it again.
As provinces begin opening up their economies from COVID-19 lockdowns, Trudeau said none of those recovery plans hinge on people being immune to catching COVID-19 twice.
Trudeau said he spoke to premiers Friday and they discussed a basic framework that provinces will use as they reopen businesses, schools and other institutions. The focus, he said, is on preventing the spread of the virus through physical distancing and personal protective equipment.
“It is very clear that the science is not decided on whether or not having had COVID once prevents you from having it again,” he told reporters. “It’s something we need to get clearer answers to and until we get those clearer answers, we need to err on the side of more caution.”
Trudeau was responding to a recent World Health Organization brief stating there is no evidence that people who have recovered from the virus have antibodies that protect them from getting infected again.
The WHO issued the brief after some countries announced the possibility of providing so-called “immunity passports” or “risk-free certificates” to citizens who have already been infected.
But on Saturday, the international body walked that back some.
“We expect that most people who are infected with COVID-19 will develop an antibody response that will provide some level of protection,” the organization wrote on Twitter. “What we don’t yet know is the level of protection or how long it will last.”
The WHO said scientists around the world are working to answer that key question.
In Canada, the provinces have varying approaches to relaxing public health orders that were put in place to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, for instance, continue to urge citizens to stay home as much as possible, while New Brunswick announced Friday low-risk outdoor activities such as golf, hunting and fishing were permitted to resume.
Ontario and Quebec announced they would present their recovery plans in the coming week, with Quebec Premier Francois Legault saying his government would detail separate plans for schools and then for businesses.
Legault and the province’s director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, have been pushing the idea of “herd immunity” as an approach to re-opening schools. That strategy involves exposing a large proportion of Quebecers to the novel coronavirus in a measured, gradual way, to help them develop a natural immunity.
That theory follows the logic of a vaccination program. When people receive a vaccine, they are given a weakened form of the virus, allowing their immune system to build antibodies to kill it.
“The idea is to go very gradually so that people who are less at risk can develop antibodies to be able to become immune,” Legault told reporters earlier in the week.
But Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, warned against that approach Saturday. She said the federal government has put in place an immunity task force that will investigate how people’s immune systems are responding to COVID-19.
She said that since many Canadians have followed physical distancing orders, the percentage of the immunized population is “quite low.” And despite evidence that the virus is particularly dangerous to older people and those with underlying health conditions, younger people are still at risk.
“So the idea of generating natural immunity is actually not something that I think should be undertaken,” she said. “I personally think that as medical officers, we would be extremely cautious about that kind of approach.”
The case count in Canada topped 45,000 on Saturday. The global death toll, meanwhile, climbed above 200,000.
Many of the deaths in Canada have been people in seniors’ homes and long-term care facilities, which have struggled to manage outbreaks among residents and staff.
Five of the six deaths connected to COVID-19 that were reported Saturday in Nova Scotia, for example, occurred at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax Regional Municipality. There are 10 licensed long-term care homes and unlicensed seniors’ facilities in Nova Scotia with cases of COVID-19, involving 191 residents and 90 staff.
The situation is far worse in Quebec, where 65 per cent of the province’s 1,446 COVID deaths have occurred at long-term care facilities, many of which are severely understaffed. Another 15 per cent of the province’s death total comes from senior homes.
In Ontario, frontline workers in facilities such as long-term care homes, will receive a raise of $4 per hour for the next four months, Premier Doug Ford announced Saturday.
Aside from the long-term care homes, the premier said the bonus will be available for workers in seniors’ residences, emergency shelters, supportive housing, social services congregate care settings, corrections institutions and youth justice facilities, home and community care providers and some staff in hospitals.
The premier made the announcement as dozens of protesters took to the provincial legislature to defy physical distancing measures set by the province.
“It just burns me up,” said Ford, who called the protesters “reckless” and “selfish.”
“We have health-care people working tirelessly, but then we have a bunch of yahoos sitting there protesting as they’re breaking the law and putting workers in jeopardy.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 25, 2020.
3 new coronavirus cases confirmed in New Brunswick connected to health-care professional – Globalnews.ca
New Brunswick confirmed on Thursday three new active cases of the coronavirus that appear to have a connection to a health-care professional who worked in the Restigouche area.
The person travelled to Quebec earlier this month and did not self-isolate upon their return.
The new cases are of an individual under 19, another between 40 and 49 and the third over 90, who all reside in the Campbellton region.
At Thursday’s press briefing, Premier Blaine Higgs said information on this health-care professional has been passed along to the RCMP to determine exactly what took place and whether charges are warranted.
“I understand the person’s employer is also looking into the matter and I am confident the appropriate steps to address this incident will be taken.”
CEO of Vitalité Health Network Gilles Lanteigne said it has been contact-tracing since Wednesday afternoon and has so far tested 50 to 60 employees who had been in direct or indirect contact with the physician.
“We do the staff and the physicians that are under Vitalité and then probably help test the community contacts by doing over 100 tests,” said Lanteigne.
Campbellton Regional Hospital
As a result of the recent case of the health-care professional, the province announced that the emergency department at the Campbellton Regional Hospital is closed until further notice due to the increased risk of COVID-19.
“Non-urgent or elective health-care services at the hospital have also been put on hold. For now, patients seeking emergency care are asked to visit the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst,” the province said in a statement.
Higgs said many Zone 5 health-care workers and their families “are concerned about their potential exposure to the virus.”
“They are doing the right thing by getting tested and self-isolating until they have the results. Health-care workers in Bathurst are being asked to take on additional patients while their colleagues in Campbellton are unable to work,” he said.
Back to Orange level
On Wednesday, Zone 5 transitioned back to Orange level under the province’s COVID-19 recovery plan.
“The only reason we went back to Orange in that case (was) because we have a lot of contact tracing to do… so being very aware and needing to close the hospital in the region right now,” said Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health.
So far, she said 811 has received many calls, and about 290 people will be tested.
“We have great capacity to do that.”
In the meantime, Russell said the province could see transmission of the virus in other parts of New Brunswick if people have travelled to Zone 5 (Campbellton region) and did not maintain physical distancing.
Russell also noted that testing in the coming days will reveal a lot of information about the extent of transmission that may have taken place.
According to the province, the following rules apply to Zone 5 only:
- A two-household bubble is permitted. Your household can join up with one other household if both households mutually agree. You must not have close contact with anyone else. You cannot join up with more than one household or bubble.
- Non-regulated health professionals and businesses such as acupuncturists and naturopaths cannot operate at this time.
- Personal services businesses such as barbers, hairstylists, spas, estheticians, manicurists, pedicurists and tattoo artists cannot operate at this time.
The province said officials from WorkSafeNB and the Department of Public Safety are in the area to ensure compliance.
“They will closely monitor and assess the situation in the days ahead,” the province said in a statement.
All other zones in New Brunswick will remain at Yellow level.
The state of emergency has also been extended for another 14 days.
Both cabinet and the all-party cabinet committee have approved the extension. New Brunswick has been under a state of emergency since March 19.
To date, 23,693 tests have been conducted in New Brunswick. There have been 126 confirmed cases. The number of active cases is six and 120 people have recovered from their illness. None of the active cases are in hospital.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Three New COVID-19 Cases In Campbellton Region
New Brunswick Public Health is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 today and all are in the Campbellton region (Zone 5).
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says these new cases are connected to the three cases previously announced in Zone 5.
The three new cases are an individual under age 19, an individual in their 40’s and an individual over age 90.
Dr. Russell believes there will likely be more cases in that region in the days ahead.
Public Health has placed Zone 5 back into the Orange Phase of recovery.
The current active cases appear to have a connection to a health care professional who worked at the Campbellton Regional Hospital and travelled to Quebec earlier this month and did not self isolate upon return.
“Information on this health care professional has been passed along to the RCMP to determine exactly what took place, and whether charges are warranted,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “I understand the person’s employer is also looking into the matter and I am confident the appropriate steps to address this incident will be taken.”
As a result, the emergency department at the Campbellton Regional Hospital is closed until further notice due to the increased risk of COVID-19.
While the rest of the province is now in the Yellow Phase of recovery, Higgs announced today that further reopenings in this phase which were scheduled for tomorrow – May 29 – will be delayed until next Friday, June 5.
Those reopenings are the following:
- Outdoor gatherings with physical distancing of 50 or fewer (June 5)
- Religious services, weddings and funerals of 50 or fewer (June 5)
- Increase in elective surgeries and other non-emergency health care services (June 5)
- Swimming pools, saunas and waterparks (June 5)
- Gyms, yoga and dance studios (June 5)
- Rinks and indoor recreational facilities (June 5)
- Pool halls and bowling alleys (June 5)
- Low-contact team sports (June 5)
Higgs has extended the provincial state of emergency for another 14 days.
Border restrictions will also remain in place until further notice.
Source: – country94.ca
Edited By Harry Miller
New cat virus found at B.C. SPCA prompts science journal publication – Times Colonist
VANCOUVER — The outbreak of a fast-spreading disease at the SPCA’s animal centre in Vancouver has led to the discovery of a new feline virus that affected 43 cats in B.C.
It started when eight cats fell ill on a single day in 2018 with symptoms like a human stomach flu, but Dr. Emilia Gordon, the senior manager of animal health, says they became concerned when tests came back negative for parasites.
Gordon says in a news release they knew within days that they were dealing with a virus or bacteria they hadn’t faced before.
Outbreak tracing found two cats in the Quesnel shelter introduced the illness to Vancouver’s facility, where it spread rapidly before being detected.
A research team at the University of California, San Francisco found the new species of parvovirus, which isn’t related to COVID-19, and those findings were recently published in the science journal Viruses.
Gordon says the high rate of recovery was due to a quick response and stringent control measures, although two of the 43 cats that were ill were euthanized because of other medical problems.
“As soon as we understood we were dealing with something unusual, our first goal was to stop the outbreak so more cats wouldn’t get sick,” Gordon says. “Our second goal was to try to get answers for our teams, for the cats, and for other shelters and veterinarians facing unexplained gastrointestinal outbreaks in cats under their care.”
She says being part of the discovery of the new virus was very exciting, however data from a single outbreak isn’t enough to be certain the virus can cause disease and more research will need to be done.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2019.
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