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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Alberta on Saturday, Oct. 3 – CBC.ca

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The latest:

  • An outbreak has been declared at the Calgary Remand Centre with five cases of COVID-19 confirmed.
  • A sixth patient has died and a new unit has an outbreak at Calgary’s Foothills hospital. There are 36 patient cases linked to the outbreaks and 31 health-care workers have tested positive.
  • Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, 200 Albertans have been infected with COVID-19 through outbreaks at hospitals, leading to 17 deaths.
  • Another 122 people in Alberta tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total active cases to 1,558, down 38 since the last update on Thursday.
  • Across the province, 52 schools have reported outbreaks of two to four cases. Another seven schools are on the watch list, meaning they have five or more cases. 
  • Cases of COVID-19 have been rising among school-aged kids and teens in Alberta over the past week, but so too has the number of young people being tested.
  • Data from Alberta Health shows the number of new daily cases increasing among both five- to nine-year-olds and 10- to 19-year-olds.
  • Mount Royal University in Calgary announced Friday that it will continue delivering most classes online during the Winter 2021 semester.

What you need to know today in Alberta:

There is now an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Calgary Remand Centre, with five cases confirmed so far. Two cases were previously confirmed at the correctional facility in May.

A sixth patient at the Foothills Medical Centre has died from a COVID-19 infection as seven units now have reported outbreaks, according to the latest update from Alberta Health Services. 

As of Thursday, 290 health-care workers were self-isolating. AHS said that number would be updated twice weekly.

An outbreak has also been declared in one unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. According to Alberta Health Services, the outbreak involves three health-care workers. At-risk patients in the unit have been tested and no positive COVID-19 cases have been identified among patients. AHS did not identify which health unit was affected.

The largest outbreak at a health-care institution so far in the province involved the Misericordia Community Hospital in west Edmonton, which has reopened after closing its doors to new patients in early July in response to a full-facility outbreak that killed 11 and infected 58.

There are 1,558 active COVID-19 cases in Alberta as of Friday. Of the 64 people in hospital, 15 are in intensive care.

Here’s the regional breakdown of active cases reported on Friday:

  • Edmonton zone: 835 cases, down 16 from Thursday’s update.
  • Calgary zone: 568 cases, down 19.
  • North zone: 104 cases, up 2.
  • South zone: 31 cases, down 1.
  • Central zone: 19 cases, unchanged.
  • Unknown: 1 case, down 4.

(CBC)

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says the province won’t be cancelling Halloween over COVID-19 fears.

The province has released a series of guidelines on its website about how both trick-or-treaters and candy handers can enjoy the night safely.

A snapshot of the active cases by neighbourhood in Calgary as of Oct. 2. (CBC)

Find out which neighbourhoods or communities have the most cases, how hard people of different ages have been hit, the ages of people in hospital, how Alberta compares to other provinces and more in: Here are the latest COVID-19 statistics for Alberta — and what they mean

What you need to know today in Canada:

As of 10:20 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 163,312 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 138,049 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,409.

The federal government is giving $600 million to help small- and medium-sized businesses deal with possible lockdowns amid a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Radio-Canada has learned.

The funding — aimed at sectors including tourism, manufacturing and technology — will be added to the $962 million already invested in the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund. The announcement will be made Friday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The Liberal government is also spending $10 billion in infrastructure initiatives such as broadband, clean energy and agricultural projects as part of its plan to boost growth and create one million jobs after the pandemic pummelled the economy.

Most Quebecers began a 28-day quasi-quarantine period on Thursday in a state of confusion about what, suddenly, they aren’t allowed to do. 

The five million people living in Quebec’s COVID-19 red zones — which include Montreal and Quebec City — have been ordered to keep their interactions with friends and family to the bare minimum. But the wording of the new rules is hazy in places, and has generated a litany of questions about what possible exceptions might apply.

Air Canada has ordered 25,000 testing kits that can detect COVID-19 in someone in as little as five minutes, a key hurdle for an industry that’s desperately trying to make it safe and possible for travellers to fly again.

The first batch of tests will be for employee volunteers, now that the devices by Abbott Laboratories have been approved for use in Canada by federal health and safety authorities, the airline said Thursday.

Canadians living in the United Kingdom are weighing whether to return home as they watch coronavirus case numbers rise sharply in that country.

As many as 95,000 Canadians are estimated to have been living in the U.K. in  2019, according to data from Britain’s Office for National Statistics.

Canada’s economy continued its recovery in July from the first wave of COVID-19, with the country’s gross domestic product expanding by three per cent.

Statistics Canada reported Wednesday that all 20 sectors of the economy grew as businesses continued to reopen and tried to get back to some sense of normal after lockdowns in March and April.

The federal government is offering to send the Canadian Red Cross into COVID-19 hotspots as case numbers rise and parts of the country slip into a second wave, according to sources.

A senior government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the government has been reaching out to hard-hit regions recently experiencing outbreaks and surges.

Self-assessment and supports:

Alberta Health Services has an online self-assessment tool that you can use to determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19, but testing is open to anyone, even without symptoms. 

The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.

If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared. 

You can find Alberta Health Services’ latest coronavirus updates here.

The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day. 

Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.

There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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Canadian ICUs brace for COVID-19 resurgence on top of the flu – CBC.ca

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Intensive care physicians and nurses share their concerns as they brace for an influx of patients that threatens to overwhelm hospitals due to the resurgence of the coronavirus and the flu.

When Canadians successfully flattened epidemic curves during the summer, the goal was to prevent hospitals and intensive care units from facing a crush of too many patients with COVID-19 all at once. Health officials wanted to avoid what happened in hospitals in New York City, where refrigerated trailers were used as temporary morgues.

But the recent surge of new coronavirus cases in all provinces beyond Atlantic Canada has already thwarted surgery plans and led to the cancellation of surgeries such as hip replacements at one hospital in Toronto and postponements in Edmonton.

Dr. Bram Rochwerg, an associate professor at McMaster University and critical care lead at the Juravinski Hospital in Hamilton, anticipates a surge of patients with COVID-19, and he worries they won’t be able to accommodate them all as more surgeries resume.

Unlike in the spring, beds and crucial staffing need to be reserved for medical and surgery patients, too. Traditionally, autumn in hospitals means scrambling for health-care workers such as nurses and respiratory therapists to backfill those sick with the cold and flu or who need to stay home to care for sick children.

“We’re all worried about it,” Rochwerg said. “You see the provincial [COVID-19] numbers creep up day by day. We see that critical care numbers [of ICU patients] creep up.”

ICU nurse Patty Tamlin prepares to work with COVID-19 patients in Toronto. Cardiac arrests in hospital are now treated as protected code blues requiring full PPE, which can be fatiguing to wear. (Byron Piedad)

The challenge, Rochwerg said, is to find a balance between adding restrictions to protect vulnerable populations such as residents in long-term care homes while preserving crucial aspects of society.

Lessons learned

Rochwerg also pointed to several lessons physicians worldwide have learned to help take better care of patients critically ill with COVID-19 during the resurgence.

“We should treat them like we would any other patient,” he said. “Sometimes, you just need [to insert] a breathing tube.”

When patients are on a ventilator, it takes the skilled hands of four to six hospital staff, including a respiratory therapist who regularly checks the breathing set up and tubing to ensure the airway is protected, as well as nurses to safely turn or “prone” them onto the stomach to improve ventilation.

WATCH | COVID-19 resurgence raises hospital capacity concerns:

There is growing concern that Ontario hospitals and ICUs, especially in Ottawa and Toronto, may not have enough capacity for COVID-19 patients after weeks of rising infections. 1:55

The importance of getting patients up and out of bed, including those on ventilators when possible, as well as excellent nursing care and other day-to-day supportive care can’t be minimized.

“Supportive care is not the sexy part of it, but it’s so crucial,” Rochwerg said.

It gives patients’ bodies time to heal themselves, he said.

Fear of flood of sick patients

Patty Tamlin, registered nurse working in critical care at a hospital in Toronto’s east end, said she’s also concerned about the coming cold-and-flu season.

“One of the biggest concerns is you may be overrun by patients,” Tamlin said.

A nurse tends to a patient suspected of having COVID-19 in the ICU at North York General Hospital in Toronto in May. It can take up to six staff to safely turn a patient on a ventilator onto their stomach. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Her message to Canadians? “Tell everyone to get their flu shot.”

In the spring, the Ontario government created more beds for patients needing long-term ventilated care at a rehabilitation hospital. Even if administrators find more space for more beds, adding temp agency nurses can only go so far, she said.

“It’s going to be a long time,” Tamlin said. “It’s fatiguing … to have this constantly on our head all the time about COVID on top of our regular work.”

Experience, though, has helped ICU staff to prepare for a resurgence of COVID-19 patients.

“The more you do something, the more comfortable you are with going in and out of a room,” for example, to perform CPR during a “protected code blue” for cardiac arrest when wearing full personal protective equipment, which can be exhausting. The masks, gowns and gloves need to be donned and removed carefully to avoid health-care workers contaminating themselves.

Dr. Eddy Fan, medical director of the Extracorporeal Life Support (ECLS) program at Toronto’s University Health Network, said the increase in COVID-19 cases so far is “manageable.”

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is like an artificial heart and lung machine to support the sickest patients. People with COVID-19 who were intubated at hospitals across Ontario and didn’t improve with conventional therapy were transported to Toronto General for ECMO. 

Still, Fan said, “We’re going to need to brace ourselves for another potential flood of very sick patients.”

During the spring, patients were transferred to Toronto General, but family members could not visit. Fan said cutting off patients from their relatives harmed morale not only among loved ones, but it pained people working in the hospital, too.

Dr. Eddy Fan is medical director of the Extracorporeal Life Support program and a scientist at Toronto General Hospital Research Institute. Fan said doctors now recognize how similar COVID-19 is to other viral infections, as well as some important differences. (Submitted by Eddie Fan)

But influenza season also typically brings patients with lung failure who may need ECMO.

“Their families ask questions like ‘they’re dying of the flu?'” Fan said. “COVID is no different as a viral infection. We see even young patients come with very severe lung failure requiring ECMO.”

During Toronto’s first wave of COVID-19, the team successfully treated a 22-year-old with ECMO.

While respiratory failure from COVID-19 can resemble that of the flu, doctors say the scale is much larger.

Dr. Gregory Haljan, head of Surrey Memorial Hospital’s critical care department in British Columbia, said influenza has vaccines and medical treatments to shorten symptoms and improve death rates. COVID-19 doesn’t, aside from corticosteroids for severe cases.

When Haljan and his co-authors across the Lower Mainland looked at 117 people with COVID-19 who were admitted to ICU between Feb. 20 and April 17, they found the mortality rateranged from one in six to one in 10.

In comparison, the first studies from China and Italy showed mortality rates as high as one in two or one in three.

A clinician demonstrates how to use a device applied to the finger to monitor oxygen levels over a video conference. Virtual hospitals to keep patients safe at home help prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases. (Women’s College Hospital)

Safety ‘our primary focus’

Haljan credited having time to prepare, Dr. Bonnie Henry’s “outstanding” leadership as the provincial health officer, the support of British Columbians, hard work and luck.

“We never got overwhelmed,” he said.

To prevent being overwhelmed, Haljan said the hospital and its health region focused on basics, including:

  • Engaging patients in the community and long-term care homes through a virtual hospital to keep patients safe at home.
  • Improving communication with centralized repositories of information to avoid mixed messages.
  • Adapting as the science changes.

“It can be a challenge in that things change very, very slowly because safety is our primary focus,” said Haljan, who works at one of the hospitals caring for among the highest volume of patients in the emergency department, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

“Research is how we keep change safe.”

Haljan said that includes research  not only on vaccines and drugs but also measuring patterns and assessing them in areas such as delivering health services.

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Flu vaccine available soon at public health clinics – Smithers Interior News

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It’s that time of the year again. Flu shot clinics are starting to be offered in the Bulkley Valley. Avoiding the flu is especially top of mind for most people as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is still being passed around.

Northwest Medical Health Officer and Acting Northeast Medical Health Officer Dr. Raina Fumerton said this year it is more important than ever to get the flu shot, not only to protect yourself but others around you and healthcare workers.

“There is no COVID vaccine yet,” she said. “But we do have a safe and effective flu vaccine and that will help to take influenza out of the mix of the respiratory season. In the midst of a global pandemic, it is important to get vaccinated against the flu.”

She is expecting more people than normal to roll up their sleeves this fall.

“People are anxious about having multiple circulating viruses around and knowing that there isn’t a vaccine for COVID-19, at least knowing that they can do something to reduce their risk of influenza and help reduce the potential for a co-infection of influenza and Covid at the same time.”

Dr. Fumerton hasn’t heard any predictions about the upcoming flu season and if it will be a banner year or not but also has not been made aware to anticipate anything unusual.

She added there are some ways to stay healthy this season.

“Aside from getting the flu shot, which I recommended anyone who is six months or older do — unless there is some sort of medical contraindication, the best way to protect yourself is get that shot, stay home if you are sick, follow all the health precautions including washing your hands.”

Beginning the week of November 2, the seasonal influenza vaccine will be available through Northern Health during flu clinics to be held in the gymnasium of Smithers Christian Reformed Church on Walnut Street. There are different days depending on age and last name. For a full list of details visit immunizebc.ca

Some pharmacies in Smithers have already started giving out the vaccine.

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Ottawa Public Health flu shot clinics open, new appointments available at 9 a.m. – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Ottawa residents will be able to roll up their sleeves and get the flu shot starting today at Ottawa Public Health clinics across the city.

The health unit will also release more appointment slots for the flu shot at 9 a.m., after the first seven days were booked within 18 hours last week.

Flu shot clinics will operate by appointment-only at six locations across the city seven-days a week, from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The flu shot clinic locations are:

  • Notre-Dame-Des-Champs Community Hall, 3659 Navan Road, Orléans
  • Ottawa Public Library-Orleans Branch, 1705 Orléans Blvd., Orléans
  • Lansdowne – Horticulture Building, 1525 Princess Patricia, Glebe
  • Mary Pitt Centre, 100 Constellation Dr., Nepean
  • Chapman Mills Community Building, 424 Chapman Mills Drive, Barrhaven
  • Eva James Memorial Centre, 65 Stonehaven Drive, Kanata

All six flu shot clinic locations will be appointment only, and no walk-up appointments are available.

Last Thursday, the health unit launched the appointment system to book a slot at the six clinics for the first seven days of the flu shot clinics from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4. Nearly 10,000 people booked an appointment for the first seven days within 18 hours.

Approximately 1,500 spaces are available daily at the six flu shot clinic locations. 

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches told reporters this week that new appointments will become available to book online starting at 9 a.m. Thursday.

The flu shot clinics will continue until everyone gets the flu shot that wants to get a flu shot.

Ottawa Public Health’s goal is to have 70 per cent of the population receive the flu shot this fall and winter.

For more information about the flu vaccine and to book an appointment, visit www.ottawapublichealth.ca/flu

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