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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6 – CBC.ca

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Recent developments:

What’s the latest?

Ottawa’s medical officer of health explains why she signed a letter saying the current Ontario shutdown is not enough to end the pandemic’s third wave, pushed to new highs with more dangerous coronavirus variants.

Dr. Vera Etches says she’ll change rules in the capital if the province doesn’t change them across the board, but argues they’re more effective if done widely. She expects an answer this week.

People at or above age 60 in the Outaouais can now make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

WATCH | The harms of ongoing fundraising challenges:

Jocelyn Formsma, executive director of the National Association of Friendship Centres in Ottawa, says fundraising activities had to be paused during the pandemic, leaving the group struggling to offer the usual support to friendship centres around the country. 1:02

How many cases are there?

As of Monday, 18,260 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 1,815 known active cases, 15,977 resolved cases and 468 deaths.

Some of its case counts and averages are at record high levels.

Public health officials have reported more than 33,200 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 29,200 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 147 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 174.

Akwesasne has had more than 270 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and seven deaths. It’s had 560 cases when its southern section is added.

Kitigan Zibi has had 21 confirmed cases and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had nine, with one death.

CBC Ottawa is profiling those who’ve died of COVID-19. If you’d like to share your loved one’s story, please get in touch.

What can I do?

Eastern Ontario:

A top science advisor says Ontario’s COVID-19 spread is out of control, while Ottawa Public Health has said its contact tracers can’t keep up with the pace and its test sites lack capacity.

Those sorts of factors explain why Ontario is now in a provincewide shutdown until at least early May.

WATCH | Ottawa’s request for provincial rule changes:

The medical officers of health from three Ontario regions are pleading with the government to implement a stay-at-home order as case counts reach ‘horrific’ levels. 3:38

Indoor gatherings are not allowed, except for people who live together and the usual exception for those who live alone. Outdoor gatherings can have a maximum of five distanced people. Religious events have different rules.

Gyms and personal care services must close, while restaurants are only available for takeout and delivery. 

Non-essential businesses can open at 25 per cent capacity. Essential ones can go to 50 per cent.

Local health units can also set their own rules, like what Prince Edward County’s is doing around travel.

Ottawa’s medical officer of health is one of the officials asking the province for stronger rules, including a stay-at-home order similar to early winter, paid sick leave, travel restrictions within Ontario and more online learning in places where school outbreaks are a problem.

Western Quebec

Quebec is now in its third wave. Premier François Legault said the situation is critical in Gatineau and is asking people there to only leave home when it’s essential.

Schools, gyms, theatres, personal care services and non-essential businesses are closed until Monday at 5 a.m. in Gatineau and in the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais, which almost entirely surrounds the city.

Private gatherings are banned, except for a person who lives alone seeing one other household. 

Distanced outdoor exercise is allowed in groups up to eight people. Places of worship can have a maximum of 25 people.

The curfew there now starts at 8 p.m.

The beginning of golf season in Gatineau on Monday, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Olivier Plante/CBC)

The rest of the Outaouais is under red-zone rules, which closes restaurant dining rooms but keeps schools, gyms, theatres, personal care services and non-essential businesses open with restrictions.

The start of the curfew in this area remains at 9:30 p.m.

People across the Ottawa-Gatineau area are asked to only have close contact with people they live with, be masked and distanced for all other in-person contact and only leave their immediate area for essential reasons.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person speaks, coughs, sneezes, or breathes onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. New coronavirus variants can be more contagious and are spreading quickly in some places.

This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future like staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed — as well as keeping hands and surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don’t live with, even with a mask on.

WATCH | This wave’s problems for hospitals:

The fast-spreading third wave of COVID-19 is making younger people sicker and it’s renewing the pressure on hospitals across the country. 1:49

Masks, preferably ones that fit snugly and have three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec.

OPH says residents should wear masks outside their homes whenever possible.

WATCH | School changes have forced some students to essentially drop out:

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close, tens of thousands of students never moved to online learning and many have effectively dropped out. 2:03

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get help with errands.

People have to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land without a fine and have to pay for their stay in a quarantine hotel if entering by air.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who’ve been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Quebec and Ontario.

Vaccines

Four COVID-19 vaccines have been approved in Canada.

Canada’s task force said first doses offer such strong protection that people can wait up to four months to get a second.

About 312,000 doses have been given out in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since mid-December, including about 130,000 doses to Ottawa residents and about 45,000 in western Quebec.

Ontario’s first doses of Phase 1 generally went to care home residents and health-care workers.

All health units in eastern Ontario are now vaccinating people aged 70 and older. People can book appointments online or over the phone.

Phase 2 should include people with underlying health conditions in April, followed by people who can’t work from home or are 60 and older in June.

Phase 3, slated to begin in July, will involve vaccinating anyone older than 16.

Local health units have some flexibility in the larger framework, so check their websites for details.

Some Ottawans in certain neighbourhoods can check their eligibility online and call the city at 613-691-5505 for an appointment. So can Indigenous people over age 16.

People who are above or turning age 55 can contact participating pharmacies for a vaccine appointment as part of a pilot project. 

Quebec also started by vaccinating people in care homes and health-care workers.

The vaccination plan now covers people age 60 and older at western Quebec clinics. That will be followed by essential workers and finally the general public.

Officials expect everyone who wants a shot to be able to get one by by Fête nationale on June 24.

People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone. Pharmacists there will also be giving shots and people can book their appointments now in Grenville-sur-la-Rouge.

Symptoms and testing

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children tend to have an upset stomach and/or a rash.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help.

In eastern Ontario:

Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment

Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you’ve been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria.

People without symptoms but who are part of the province’s targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies.

Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one.

Check with your area’s health unit for clinic locations and hours. Some are offering pop-up or mobile clinics.

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.

Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.

There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki and Petite-Nation.

Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

Akwesasne has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only and a curfew of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. It’s closed to non-essential visits until April 11.

Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who’s been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-1175. Anyone in Tyendinaga who’s interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and in Kitigan Zibi, 819-449-5593.

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.

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Canada will not restrict AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, says benefits outweigh risk

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OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada‘s health ministry said on Wednesday it would not restrict use of AstraZeneca Plc’s COVID-19 vaccine after a review showed the benefits outweighed the very rare risk of blood clots.

A separate advisory council had earlier recommended Canada stop offering the vaccine to people under 55. The panel is now reviewing that advice, the health ministry said in a statement.

Denmark on Wednesday became the first country to stop using the vaccine altogether over a potential link to the rare blood clots. Other nations have imposed limits on its use.

But Health Canada, the federal health ministry, said in a statement that a review of data from Europe, Britain and AstraZeneca had not identified specific risk factors.

“Therefore, Health Canada is not restricting the use of the vaccine in any specific populations at this time … The potential risk of these events is very rare, and the benefits of the vaccine in protecting against COVID-19 outweigh its potential risks,” it said.

Canada on Tuesday said it had recorded its first case of blood clotting with low platelets after someone received the AstraZeneca shot. The patient in question, a woman from Quebec, is recovering. (Graphic on vaccines: https://tmsnrt.rs/3tUM8ta)

COVID-19 cases are surging in Canada with the country reporting a near-record number of new cases recently. (Graphic on cases: https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi)

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa and Allison Martell in Toronto; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Factbox-Some countries limit AstraZeneca vaccine use, US pauses J&J shot

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(Reuters) -Some countries are restricting use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to certain age groups or suspending use after European and British regulators confirmed possible links to rare blood clots.

Denmark became the first country to stop using the vaccine altogether, as it said results of investigations showed “real and serious side-effects”.

Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine has also been hit by concerns over blood clots, with European regulators reviewing such cases and U.S. federal health agencies recommending pausing its use for a few days. J&J noted no clear causal relationship had been established between the clots and its vaccine.

The developments pose a risk to vaccination plans in Europe.

Regulators have said the benefits of the AstraZeneca shot outweigh risks.

Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca said it was working with regulators to list the possible brain blood clots as “an extremely rare potential side effect” on the vaccines labels.

As of April 4, the European Medicines Agency had received reports of 169 cases of a rare brain blood clot known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), after 34 million doses had been administered in the European Economic Area. Most cases were in women under 60 years of age.

ASTRAZENECA VACCINE BEING USED, WITH OR WITHOUT RESTRICTIONS

AUSTRALIA

Said on April 8 it recommends people under 50 should get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in preference to AstraZeneca’s shot.

AUSTRIA

Has resumed use.

BRAZIL

Authorities said they would not limit use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, saying benefits outweigh risks.

BRITAIN

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has said an alternative to the vaccine should be given for people under 30 where possible, but people should continue to have a second shot if they have received a first dose.

BULGARIA

Resumed inoculations from March 19.

CYPRUS

Resumed inoculations on March 19.

CANADA

Authorities said in early April they would pause offering the vaccine to people under 55 and require a new analysis of the shot’s benefits and risks based on age and gender. On April 13, the country said it had recorded its first case of blood clotting with low platelets.

ESTONIA

Suspended use of the vaccine for people under 60 on April 7.

FRANCE

Approved resumption of the vaccine on March 19 but said it should be given only to people aged 55 and over. On April 9, recommended that recipients of a first dose of the AstraZeneca shot who are under 55 should receive a second dose with a messenger RNA vaccine.

FINLAND

Resumed using the AstraZeneca vaccine from March 29, but only for people aged 65 and over.

GEORGIA

Has limited use of the vaccine following the death of a nurse from anaphylactic shock, and vaccinations will continue only in full-fledged medical centres, Russian news agency TASS reported on March 19.

GERMANY

Sticking to its guidance from March 31 to limit use of the vaccine to those aged over 60. On April 1, Germany’s vaccine commission recommended people under 60 who have had a first shot of the vaccine should receive a different product for their second dose.

HUNGARY

Continuing the vaccine’s rollout.

ICELAND

Resumed use on March 25 after suspending it on March 11.

INDONESIA

Resumed using the vaccine on March 22 but warned against its use in people with a low blood platelet count.

IRELAND

On April 12, the country said it was restricting use of the vaccine to those over 60.

ITALY

Has recommended the vaccine be used only for people over 60, the country’s top health adviser said.

LATVIA

Announced it was restarting administering the shots from March 19.

LITHUANIA

Restarted use on March 19.

MEXICO

Drug regulator Cofepris said on April 7 it did not “at this time” plan to limit the vaccine’s use but was investigating the information raised by Britain.

NETHERLANDS

Limited use of the vaccine to people over 60, the Dutch government said on April 8.

NORTH MACEDONIA

Health minister said on March 31 the vaccine would be limited to people aged over 60 as a precautionary measure.

PHILIPPINES

Suspended use of the vaccine for people under 60 on April 8.

ROMANIA

Has resumed use of the vaccine after temporarily stopping vaccinating people with one batch of the vaccine on March 11.

SOUTH KOREA

Resumed use of the shot for people aged 30 or older on April 12. On April 7, it had suspended providing the AstraZeneca shot to people under 60.

SPAIN

From April 8, it was giving the vaccine only to people over 60.

SWEDEN

Resumed use of the vaccine on March 25 for people aged 65 and older.

THAILAND

Began use on March 15 after delaying rollout the week before.

COUNTRIES WHERE ASTRAZENECA VACCINE USE SUSPENDED

CAMEROON

Suspended administration of the vaccine it was scheduled to receive on March 20 as part of the global vaccines sharing scheme COVAX, the health ministry said.

DENMARK

In a world first, Denmark decided to stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine altogether after initially suspending use of the shot.

NORWAY

Authorities said on March 26 Norway would delay a decision on use of the vaccine, with a decision expected by April 15.

J&J VACCINE DELAYS AND RESTRICTIONS

UNITED STATES

On April 13, U.S. federal health agencies recommended pausing use of J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine for at least a few days after six women under the age of 50 developed rare blood clots after receiving the shot.

EUROPEAN UNION

The company said it would delay the rollout of the vaccine to Europe, after regulators said they were reviewing rare blood clots.

Widespread use in the EU had not yet started after the company began delivering the doses in the week beginning April 12. The European drug regulator recommended storing doses already received until its safety committee issues an expedited recommendation

SOUTH AFRICA

Suspended use of J&J’s vaccine on April 13.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka, Yadarisa Shabong, Manas Mishra, Vishwadha Chander, Amruta Khandekar and Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; editing by Josephine Mason, Alison Williams, Timothy Heritage, Larry King, Barbara Lewis)

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Ontario hospitals may have to withhold care as COVID-19 fills ICUs

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By Allison Martell and Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Doctors in the Canadian province of Ontario may soon have to decide who can and cannot receive treatment in intensive care as the number of coronavirus infections sets records and patients are packed into hospitals still stretched from a December wave.

Canada‘s most populous province is canceling elective surgeries, admitting adults to a major children’s hospital and preparing field hospitals after the number of COVID-19 patients in ICUs jumped 31% to 612 in the week leading up to Sunday, according to data from the Ontario Hospital Association.

The sharp increase in Ontario hospital admissions is also straining supplies of tocilizumab, a drug often given to people seriously ill with COVID-19.

Hospital care is publicly funded in Canada, generally free at the point of care for residents. But new hospital beds have not kept pace with population growth, and shortages of staff and space often emerge during bad flu seasons.

Ontario’s hospitals fared relatively well during the first wave of the pandemic last year, in part because the province quickly canceled elective surgeries.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario told doctors last Thursday that the province was considering “enacting the critical care triage protocol,” something that was not done during earlier waves of the virus. Triage protocols help doctors decide who to treat in a crisis.

“Everybody’s under extreme stress,” said Eddy Fan, an ICU doctor at Toronto’s University Health Network. He said no doctor wants to contemplate a triage protocol but there are only so many staff.

“There’s going to be a breaking point, a point at which we can’t fill those gaps any longer.”

In a statement, the health ministry said Ontario has not activated the protocol. A September draft suggested doctors could withhold life-sustaining care from patients with a less than 20% chance of surviving 12 months. A final version has not been made public.

Ontario’s Science Advisory Table had been forecasting the surge for months, said member and critical care physician Laveena Munshi. During a recent shift she wanted to call the son of a patient only to discover he was in an ICU across the street.

“The horror stories that we’re seeing in the hospital are like ones out of apocalyptic movies,” she said. “They’re not supposed to be the reality we’re seeing one year into a pandemic.”

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