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What’s the latest?
Some schools in western Quebec will host vaccination clinics as part of the provincewide effort to provide at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to every child between the ages of five and 11 before the winter holiday.
The Western Quebec School Board says it has been planning for Health Canada’s approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for younger children for months, along with the two local health authorities in its catchment area.
Ski hills in the greater Ottawa-Gatineau area say season passes are already going quickly — or are already gone.
With few other activities open to the public in 2020, families turned to the slopes to get outdoors and skiing saw a surge in popularity that’s holding steady this season.
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported 39 more COVID-19 cases Friday but no deaths.
How many cases are there?
As of Friday, Ottawa has had 31,578 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There are 365 known active cases, while 30,599 cases are considered resolved and 614 people have died from the illness.
Public health officials have reported more than 58,700 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 56,800 cases now resolved. Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 226 people with COVID-19 have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 223.
Akwesasne has had more than 1,050 residents test positive for COVID-19 and has reported 14 deaths between its northern and southern sections.
What are the rules?
Private gathering limits are 25 people inside and 100 people outside.
Under its green zone rules, 10 people are allowed to gather inside private residences and 20 people outdoors — which increases to 50 if playing sports.
The premier said in October the state of emergency that gives the government special powers will be lifted once kids aged five to 11 are vaccinated.
A vaccine passport is in place for most people age 13 and up in many public spaces. People can use an app or show paper proof; people from out of province can show proof from their province, territory or country.
Other groups in the region are also coming out with their own COVID-19 vaccine policies, including for staff and visitors.
What can I do?
This means it is important to take precautions such as staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed — keeping hands and surfaces clean and considering distancing from anyone you don’t live with.
Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands and have supplies in case they need to isolate.
The U.S. has reopened its land border with Canada. It requires all travellers — land, air and water — to be fully vaccinated. Some people with mixed doses will be allowed and it won’t require a recent test.
The prime minister said in late October he’s “very confident” countries around the world will accept provincial or territorial proof of vaccination.
Four COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and approved in Canada.
Canada’s vaccine task force says people can wait three to 16 weeks between first and second doses and it’s safe and effective to mix doses.
There have been more than 3.6 million COVID-19 first, second and third vaccine doses administered in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region, which has about 2.3 million residents.
Ontario is vaccinating anyone who will be age 12 or older in 2021. It hasn’t yet shared full details of its plans for younger children.
Local health units have some flexibility, so check their websites for details. They offer doses on short notice as campaigns look to fill gaps in vaccine coverage and cover expanded third dose eligibility.
The province has recommended people under 24 get the Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine because the Moderna Spikevax vaccine brings a mild risk of a rare heart condition.
Symptoms and testing
“Long-haul” symptoms can last for months.
If you have severe symptoms, call 911.
In eastern Ontario:
Ontario says to get tested by making an appointment at a clinic if you fit certain criteria, such as having symptoms, exposure or a certain job. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours.
Officials in Ottawa and Kingston have said they’re seeing more people coming to its sites after having symptoms for several days. Since delaying testing can increase the risk of spread, they ask people not to wait.
Rapid and take-home tests are available in some places, including pharmacies and some child-care settings when risk is high. A positive test will trigger a test at a clinic.
Travellers who need a test have local options to pay for one.
In western Quebec:
Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.
People can make an appointment or see if they’re near a walk-in option online. They can also call 1-877-644-4545 with questions during hours the line is running.
Gargle tests are being offered in some places instead of a swab.
Rapid COVID-19 tests are available in all Quebec preschools and elementary schools.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis:
First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, or someone travelling to work in a remote Indigenous community, are eligible for a test in Ontario.
Akwesasne has COVID-19 test and vaccine clinics, with information online or at 613-575-2341.
Anyone in Tyendinaga who’s interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and should watch the website for dedicated vaccine clinics.
Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing and vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.
Study suggests Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine only partially protects against Omicron – Toronto Sun
The Omicron variant can partially evade protection from two doses of Pfizer and partner BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, the research head of a laboratory at the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa said on Tuesday.
But the study showed that blood from people who had received two doses of the vaccine and had a prior infection was mostly able to neutralize the variant, suggesting that booster doses of the vaccine could help to fend off infection.
The Omicron variant, first detected in southern Africa last month, has triggered alarms globally of another surge in infections, with more than two dozen countries from Japan to the United States reporting cases.
The World Health Organization classified it on Nov. 26 as a “variant of concern,” but said there was no evidence to support the need for new vaccines specifically designed to tackle the Omicron variant with its many mutations.
Alex Sigal, a professor at the research institute, said on Twitter there was “a very large drop” in neutralization of the Omicron variant relative to an earlier strain of COVID-19.
A separate lab test by virologist Sandra Ciesek of the University Hospital Frankfurt painted a somewhat bleaker picture.
Exposing the blood of vaccinated individuals to different virus variants, she found that the ability to mount an antibody response to Omicron in people who had three shots of BioNTech/Pfizer was up to 37 times lower than the response to Delta.
An antibody response to Omicron half a year after a two-shot regimen of Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna or a mixed course of AstraZeneca/BioNTech was not even measurable, Ciesek added.
She posted only selected findings on Twitter, not including the number of samples, and the university said the paper had not yet been published.
“The set of data underscores that it makes sense to develop a vaccine that is adapted to Omicron,” Chiesek tweeted, adding that no conclusion could be drawn about protection against severe disease.
WHO’s chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, said a large drop in the antibody response of vaccinated people to Omicron had been expected.
“This does not mean the vaccine will not work – T-cell immunity (is) likely to persist,” she said on Twitter, referring to a cellular immune response that is believed to prevent severe disease as a second line of immune defence.
Researchers including Carsten Watzl of the German Society of Immunology and Penny Ward, visiting professor at King’s College London, said the findings underscored the need to get booster shots because a three-shot course would likely continue to protect against severe disease.
Sigal’s lab tested blood from 12 people who had been vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, according to a manuscript posted on the website for his lab. The preliminary data in the manuscript has not yet been peer reviewed.
Blood from five out of six people who had been vaccinated as well as previously infected with COVID-19 still neutralized the Omicron variant, the manuscript said.
“These results are better than I expected. The more antibodies you got, the more chance you’ll be protected from Omicron,” Sigal said on Twitter.
He said the lab had not tested the variant against blood from people who had received a booster dose, because they are not available in South Africa yet.
According to the manuscript, the lab observed a 41-fold decline in levels of neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant.
Sigal said on Twitter that figure is likely to be adjusted after his lab does more experiments.
While neutralizing antibodies are an indicator of the body’s immune response, scientists believe other kinds of cells such as B-cells and T-cells are also stimulated by the vaccines and help protect against the effects of the coronavirus.
The preliminary data does not indicate that the vaccine is less able to prevent severe illness or death. While lab tests are under way, BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said last week “we think it’s likely that people will have substantial protection against severe disease caused by Omicron.”
There is not significant data yet on how vaccines from Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and other drugmakers hold up against the new variant. All the manufacturers, including Pfizer and BioNTech, are expected to release their own data within weeks.
BioNTech’s Sahin told NBC News on Tuesday that the drugmaker has data coming on Wednesday or Thursday.
Seven Omicron variant cases in Simcoe County linked to travellers from Nigeria – BayToday.ca
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says it is investigating a household cluster in Simcoe County with seven confirmed COVID-19 cases that have a strong probability of being the Omicron variant of concern. All the cases are currently isolating at home.
“The cluster is linked to travellers who arrived in Simcoe County from Nigeria in late November,” says a news release.
“Although the health unit is awaiting whole genomic sequencing of the samples which should be available in the next 7 to 14 days, given the travel history and the preliminary laboratory screening results, the likelihood of an Omicron cluster is very high.”
The Unit’s case and contact management team is currently following up with each case to identify close contacts regarding isolation and testing.
“Scientific data about the Omicron variant is still emerging,” said Dr. Charles Gardner, Medical Officer of Health. “Early evidence suggests that the variant might be more transmissible. While we continue to closely monitor this local situation, I urge all residents to remain vigilant about following public health measures, to monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 and seek testing immediately if any should develop, and get vaccinated if they have not already done so.”
The rate of COVID-19 infection among the unvaccinated vaccine-eligible Simcoe Muskoka population is seven times higher than it is for the fully vaccinated population and the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations is 15 times higher says Gardner. Getting the vaccine can lower the risk of serious illness, hospitalization, and death.
Eating disorder symptoms and self-harm linked to higher levels of depression and anxiety during COVID-19 pandemic – Medical Xpress
Young adults with previous self-harm or eating disorders reported higher levels of depression and anxiety during the pandemic, even when restrictions had eased, according to new research.
The study, led by the University of Bristol and funded by Elizabeth Blackwell Institute, Medical Research Council and Medical Research Foundation, has been published in the Journal of Eating Disorders. It looked at questionnaire information for 2,657 individuals from world-renowned health study Children of the 90s (also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children) before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Researchers analyzed the relationship between previous reports of eating disorder symptoms and self-harm before the pandemic, and mental health problems (symptoms of depression and anxiety) and mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study also assessed whether lifestyle changes, such as more sleep, relaxation techniques, or visiting green space, could be linked to mental health and wellbeing in young adults with and without previous eating disorder symptoms or self-harm.
Researchers studied questionnaire data from 2017, when the participants were then aged 25 years, as well as data taken during the pandemic in 2020.
At age 25, 32 percent of the 2,657 young adults reported at least one eating disorder symptom, 9 percent reported self-harm, and 5.5 percent reported both an eating disorder symptom and self-harm in the last year.
During the pandemic, those with previously reported eating disorder symptoms and/or self-harm had more symptoms of depression and anxiety, and worse mental wellbeing, compared to individuals without previous symptoms. This remained the case after adjusting for their pre-pandemic levels of depression, anxiety and mental wellbeing.
Lifestyle changes appeared to have little effect on the increased risk for mental health problems in those with prior eating disorder symptoms or self-harm.
Lead author Dr. Naomi Warne, Senior Research Associate at the University’s Centre for Academic Mental Health, said: “Eating disorders and self-harm are common and troubling mental health problems among young adults. In the UK, approximately 1.25 million people are living with an eating disorder and almost 1 in 15 adults report self-harm.
“Our research has highlighted individuals with prior self-harm and eating disorder symptoms are key risk groups and further longitudinal research is needed to understand their ongoing mental health as well as risk and protective factors.
“Individuals with previous eating disorder symptoms and self-harm should be considered vulnerable to depression and anxiety throughout the pandemic and beyond. Funding for rapid and responsive service provision is essential to reduce the impact of the pandemic on those with mental health problems.”
Naomi Warne et al, Disordered eating and self-harm as risk factors for poorer mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic: a UK-based birth cohort study, Journal of Eating Disorders (2021). DOI: 10.1186/s40337-021-00510-9
University of Bristol
Eating disorder symptoms and self-harm linked to higher levels of depression and anxiety during COVID-19 pandemic (2021, December 8)
retrieved 8 December 2021
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