Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is reporting two more local deaths related to COVID-19, but it’s also seeing a higher resolved rate of cases than ever before.
The local death toll is now at 240.
Eight new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the community on Thursday brings Ottawa’s total to 1,930 to date. Of those, 1,544 have been resolved, putting the city’s resolved rate at 80 per cent for the first time since the start of the pandemic.
Due to a lack of community testing, OPH says the overall case count could be anywhere from five to 30 times higher than what has been recorded. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches is urging anyone with even the slightest of symptoms to get tested. Residents who are asymptomatic, but would like to be tested are also welcome at the assessment centre at Brewer Arena or at one of the COVID-19 care clinics.
There are 37 Ottawa residents with COVID-19 currently in hospital and 18 outbreaks in local institutions.
Airborne coronavirus spread: Five things to know – Al Jazeera English
More than seven months after the new coronavirus was first detected, scientists and health experts are still trying to get a better understanding of how it spreads and how to curb the COVID-19 respiratory disease it causes.
The coronavirus is transmitted from person to person through “droplet transmission”, including direct contact with someone who has been infected, indirect contact with contaminated surfaces, droplets of saliva from coughing or discharge from the nose when sneezing, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Airborne transmission is also possible, but its effects and risks have recently sparked a scientific debate.
What is airborne transmission?
The WHO has long said the new coronavirus spreads mainly through small droplets released from the mouth and nose that fall from the air in a short period.
But some scientists and researchers are increasingly pointing out to evidence that the virus can also be transmitted by even smaller droplets called aerosols. Usually generated when people are shouting and singing, these remain suspended in the air for longer and can travel farther.
How is it different from droplet transmission?
The respiratory droplets sneezed or coughed out are larger in size – a diameter of five to 10 micrometres – and the range of exposure is one to two metres (three to six feet).
Aerosols, however, are less than five micrometres in diameter and travel beyond two metres from the infected individual.
“The new coronavirus can survive in both droplets and aerosol for up to three hours under experimental conditions, although this depends on temperature and humidity, ultraviolet light and even the presence of other types of particles in the air,” Stephanie Dancer, a consultant medical microbiologist in the UK, told Al Jazeera.
“Microscopic aerosols can project at least six metres in indoor environments, and possibly even further if dynamic air currents are operating. The distance depends upon how large the aerosol is.”
Animation: How does coronavirus behave?
How is COVID-19 spreading through the air?
As in droplet transmission, aerosols can be released in several ways including, breathing, talking, laughing, sneezing, coughing, singing and shouting.
“Breathing would not offer much projectile force, but shouting, singing, coughing and sneezing project aerosol through the air with a range of different velocities,” said Dancer.
“Even if one individual particle does not contain enough virus to cause infection, if you carry on breathing in these particles over time, you will acquire enough in your mouth, nose and respiratory tract to initiate infection.”
Airborne transmission can also occur in certain medical procedures that involve the patient generating aerosols, putting healthcare workers particularly at risk.
“Coronavirus can be spread by aerosol under special circumstances if using nebulisers, bronchoscopy, intubation, dental and other oral procedures using suction and lavage,” said Naheed Usmani, president of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA).
“This is particularly dangerous for healthcare workers who should only attempt these procedures wearing proper personal protective equipment (PPE), including N95 masks,” she told Al Jazeera.
Is airborne COVID-19 less contagious?
The extent to which the coronavirus can be spread by the aerosol route – as opposed to by larger droplets – remains disputed.
While the WHO has long maintained that the primary source of infection is through droplet transmission, it has acknowledged there was “emerging evidence” of airborne transmission.
“The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings – especially in very specific conditions, crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out,” Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, said in a news briefing this week.
This came after a group of 239 scientists from 32 countries and a variety of fields made the case in an open letter that there was a “real risk” of airborne transmission, especially in indoor, enclosed and crowded environments without proper ventilation.
Dancer, who was one of the signatories of the letter, said there is a lower risk of catching the virus the further you are from the source.
Jose-Luis Jimenez, a chemist at the University of Colorado, also told Al Jazeera the “virus loses infectivity over a period of an hour or so indoors”.
How can you protect yourself?
Wearing face masks properly and maintaining physical distancing are recommended at all times.
Experts also recommend avoiding crowded places, especially public transport and public buildings.
In closed spaces at schools, offices and hospitals, increasing proper ventilation with outdoor air by opening windows can also mitigate the risk of infection, Jimenez said.
“For spaces where ventilation cannot be increased, we recommend portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter air cleaners or possibly ultraviolet (UV) germicidal lights at the high end of need. We do not recommend other types of air cleaners.”
Follow Saba Aziz on Twitter: @saba_aziz
Essential workers during COVID-19 susceptible to 'moral injury' and PTSD, hospital says – CBC.ca
Health-care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic are at risk of severe stress that could cause long-term psychological damage, the Centre of Excellence on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder says.
The centre at the Royal Ottawa Hospital has teamed up with the Phoenix Australia Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health to develop a guide for facilities including hospitals and peer-support organizations in an effort to reduce the impact on those susceptible to so-called moral injury, a type of PTSD.
It can result from dilemma on the job from witnessing or performing an action that goes against someone’s beliefs, similar to what has been documented in war veterans, the centre says.
Dr. Patrick Smith, CEO of the Canadian centre, said the guide applies to anyone doing essential work, including in long-term care homes and grocery stores.
“We will be working with hospitals, clinics, provinces, municipalities,” he said Tuesday. “Everyone who’s already finding themselves trying to support their health-care workers, their essential workers, will be supported to use this guide.”
Many medical associations across the country have for decades implemented wellness programs focusing on doctors practising self-care to prevent burnout from working long hours, for example.
However, Smith said the guide calls on organizations to put widespread preventative measures in place to support staff grappling to make the right decisions during an unprecedented work experience while fearing their jobs may put themselves and their families at risk of becoming infected with COVID-19.
“They need to have the licence to put up their hands and say they are struggling,” he said.
“The obligation to protect essential workers falls on those in charge — the supervisors and administrators who may also be suffering moral stresses and dilemmas of their own as a result of sending workers into dangerous situations.”
The guide, which is available online, calls on employers to take measure such as rotating staff between high- and low-stress roles, establishing policies to guide them through ethically tough decisions and promoting a supportive culture.
It also urges workers, including doctors, nurses, lab technicians and social workers, to practise self-care through proper nutrition, exercise and social connection and to seek professional help when needed.
Fardous Hosseiny, the Canadian centre’s vice-president of research and policy, said first responders could develop a “moral injury” leading them to question whether their actions were justified, for instance if they led to poor outcomes from having to cancel someone’s surgery.
“One doctor we talked to said he and his team turned a COVID-19 patient on his back who then quickly started breathing. But when they tried the same technique the next day on another patient, that person flatlined,” he said, suggesting physicians may have felt guilty about their abilities with a decision that contributed to someone’s death.
‘Space suits’ create barrier to human contact
Hosseiny noted that while doctors and nurses in Canada have not had to decide which patients get access to ventilators, for example, they have faced risks from a lack of personal protective equipment in some parts of the country early in the pandemic.
Moral injury is not yet clinically diagnosable but is generally considered to include an experience that caused people moral conflict, guilt, shame and loss of trust in themselves as well as depression, anger or moral conflict, he said.
Health-care workers of colour have faced additional issues amid systemic inequities in health care and growing national attention to racism, Hosseiny said, adding Ontario residents living in ethnically diverse areas have twice the risk of dying from COVID-19.
“Health-care workers of colour have reported stress because of identification with patients and the need to keep their frustration with health inequities to themselves.”
Sarah Beanlands, a nurse at a supervised consumption site in Ottawa, said many of the usual clients are no longer accessing the service because they don’t recognize staff behind head-to-toe personal protective gear and staff is concerned about the well-being of those at risk of overdose.
WATCH | Hospital’s new normal
“Space suits” of face shields, gowns, masks and gloves create barriers between workers and clients, who are required to wear a mask, as part of a service that relies on human contact and trust, Beanlands said.
Staff can’t offer some services that are no longer available in the community and many clients have refused to stay in shelters, she said, adding multiple changes during the pandemic have led to connections with vulnerable people being fractured.
“All of this causes moral anguish for my co-workers and me. It weighs on us heavily as we try to provide the best service under these new circumstances.”
GlaxoSmithKline Inks New COVID-19 Vaccine Research Pact – The Motley Fool
GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) announced Tuesday that Medicago — a private company owned by Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma (OTC:MTZX.F) and Philip Morris International (NYSE:PM) — will use GlaxoSmithKline’s adjuvant in a COVID-19 vaccine it expects to enter phase 1 trials this month.
Medicago’s recombinant coronavirus “Virus-Like Particles” will be combined with Glaxo’s pandemic adjuvant system to boost immune response, potentially allowing for less antigen per dose and thus, more available vaccine doses.
In pre-clinical studies, Medicago’s antigen produced a “high level of neutralizing antibodies” after a single dose when combined with an adjuvant. A phase 1 trial utilizing GlaxoSmithKline’s adjuvant and an adjuvant from another undisclosed company will begin mid-July. The study will evaluate three vaccine dose levels on a one-dose and two-dose schedule.
If successful, the healthcare companies could make a vaccine from this collaboration available in early 2021. Medicago says it can produce up to 100 million doses by the end of 2021 and up to 1 billion doses per year by the end of 2023, when a new manufacturing facility under construction is complete.
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