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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 26 –



Recent developments:

What’s happening today?

People staying away from health-care facilities out of fear of the coronavirus are hurting clinics that rely on fees, says the Ontario Medical Association, pointing to the closure of the Asclepios Medical Centre in east Ottawa.

WATCH: 9,000-patient clinic closing causing uncertainty

Carole Legault and Sophia Wright, who were both patients at Asclepios Medical Centre, say its closure has left them facing a lot of uncertainty made more stressful by the ongoing pandemic. 0:44

With drive-in theatres open in other jurisdictions and poised to open in Quebec Friday, eastern Ontario’s drive-ins say they’re ready to safely screen movies again when given the OK.

A teacher in Kazabazua, Que., tells CBC what it’s like to back in the classroom with students during the pandemic.

Two weeks back in class, Quebec teacher Letha Henry says kids are no longer worried they’ll get in trouble if they get too close to one other. She simply gives them a gentle reminder of the two-meter rule that has become a big part of school life. (Submitted by Letha Henry)

Send in your questions about COVID-19 and the workplace for CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning‘s weekly Q&A on Wednesday after 8 a.m.

How many cases are there?

There have been 1,901 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa and 234 deaths linked to the respiratory illness. There are more than 3,000 known cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

More than 2,100 people in the region have recovered from COVID-19.

The deaths of 49 people in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties and 30 more in the wider region have also been tied to the coronavirus. 

Confirmed cases are just a snapshot because not everyone can be tested and results take time to process, though testing criteria are being expanded.

What’s open and closed?

Ontario is in “stage one” of its three-stage reopening plan. When ready, its next stage should bring more offices, outdoor spaces and gatherings back.

Quebec now allows larger outdoor gatherings. Its libraries and museums can reopen Friday, with malls and services such as dentist offices and hair salons poised to reopen Monday.

Gatineau Park and provincial parks are now open with limits, like the National Capital Commission and Ottawa-Gatineau city parks

National parks start to reopen Monday.

This Sunday, the farmers market at Lansdowne Park reopens for preordering and picking up at a designated time.

The Ottawa Farmers’ Market at Lansdowne Park in early March 2020. There won’t be any payment at pickup points when the market resumes; all transactions will be done beforehand. (CBC)

Ontario schools are closed through summer. Post-secondary schools are moving toward more online classes this fall, with the province promising a fall plan for younger students by July.

Quebec elementary schools outside Montreal are open. Its high schools, CEGEPs and universities are closed to in-person classes until fall.

Ottawa has cancelled event permits until the end of August. Quebec has asked organizers to cancel events until September.

People pass a mural of a person wearing a mask by artist Dom Laporte in Ottawa, on Sunday, May 24, 2020. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Distancing and isolating

The coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People don’t need to have symptoms to be contagious.

That means physical distancing measures such as avoiding non-essential trips, working from home, not gathering and staying at least two metres away from anyone they don’t live with.

WATCH: COVID-19’s spectrum of risk

Living life during a pandemic can be confusing. But experts say you can navigate how to approach different settings and activities once you know the risks. 1:11

Ottawa Public Health recommends people wear a fabric or non-medical mask when they can’t always stay two metres from strangers, such as at a grocery store. 

Anyone who has symptoms, travelled recently outside Canada or, specifically in Ottawa, is waiting for a COVID-19 test result must self-isolate for at least 14 days.

The same goes for anyone in Ontario who’s been in contact with someone who’s tested positive or is presumed to have COVID-19.

People 70 and older or with compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions should also self-isolate.

Front-line worker Celine Robitaille wears a face shield and mask as she waits for a client to come to the door to pick up a meal at lunchtime at the Shepherds of Good Hope soup kitchen in Ottawa, on Sunday, May 24, 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a dry cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. 

Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. The Ontario government says in rare cases, children can develop a rash.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Where to get tested

In Ottawa any resident who feels they need a test, even if they are not showing symptoms, can now be tested.

Tests are done at the Brewer Arena from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., seven days a week, or at 595 Moodie Dr. and 1485 Heron Rd. those same hours on weekdays.

Testing has also expanded for local residents and employees who work in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit area.

There is a drive-thru test centre in Casselman and assessment centres in Hawkesbury and Winchester that don’t require people to call ahead and others in Rockland, and Cornwall that require an appointment.

In Kingston, the assessment centre at the Kingston Memorial Centre is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for anyone with symptoms. 

Napanee‘s test centre is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily for people who call for an appointment.

Ontario premier wants more people to get tested for COVID-19, even if they’re not showing symptoms of the virus. But is that an effective way to control community spread? We get an infectious disease expert to weigh in. 7:49

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark unit asks you to call it at 1-800-660-5853, ext. 2499 or your doctor if you have questions after doing the province’s self-assessment.

It has a testing site in Smiths Falls which requires a referral, as well as a walk-in site in Brockville at the Memorial Centre, Almonte by calling 613-325-1208 and a home test service for people in care or with mobility challenges.

WATCH: Slow return for Canada’s dental offices

Dental offices across the country are slowly reopening, but they have to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and many are having a hard time finding the necessary protective equipment. 2:05

The public health unit in the Belleville area is asking people to call it at 613-966-5500 or Telehealth with questions.

You can arrange a test in Bancroft, Belleville or Trenton by calling the health unit or in Picton by calling it, Telehealth or your family doctor. You may also qualify for a home test.

Renfrew County is also providing home testing under some circumstances. Residents without access to a family doctor can call 1-844-727-6404 if they have health questions, COVID-19-related or not.

If you’re concerned about the coronavirus, take the self-assessment.

In western Quebec:

Outaouais residents should call 819-644-4545 if they have symptoms. They could end up being referred to Gatineau’s testing centre.

First Nations communities

Local communities have declared states of emergency, put in a curfew or both.

Akwesasne has opened a mobile COVID-19 test site available by appointment only. Anyone returning to Akwesasne who’s been farther than 80 kilometres away is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Anyone in Tyendinaga who has symptoms can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse.

Pikwakanagan‘s council plans to let businesses reopen May 29 and Kitigan Zibi is keeping schools closed through the summer.

For more information

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‘Get tested’ for COVID-19 even if you’re fully vaccinated, Fauci says as Delta variant rages – Global News



As health officials warn of an imminent 4th wave of Delta-driven COVID-19 infections, America’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is stressing the importance of getting tested for the virus — even if you are fully vaccinated.

“We used to say if you’re vaccinated and you come into contact with an infected person, you don’t need to do anything. You don’t need to test. You don’t need to isolate,” Fauci said during an interview with Global News reporter Jackson Proskow. “Now, that’s changed. Now, the recommendation is that you should be tested even if you’re vaccinated.”

Fauci’s comments come on the heels of a new study by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which warns that the Delta COVID-19 variant could be as contagious as the chickenpox, and a report that points to a chain of outbreaks among vaccinated individuals.

The Delta variant, first detected in India, is “substantially more efficient in transmitting from person to person” when compared to other variants, and “no vaccine is 100 percent effective,” Fauci explained.

“When you measure the level of [the] virus in the nasal pharynx of a vaccinated person who has [had] a breakthrough infection with Delta,” Fauci said, the detected virus level is “high and equivalent to the level of virus in the nasal pharynx of an unvaccinated person.”

Read more:
Does Delta COVID-19 variant make you sicker? Doctors probing amid ‘wildfire’ spread

That is not the case with other variants.

For instance, the level of virus found in the nasal pharynx of a vaccinated individual who happens to be infected with the Alpha variant is much lower than that of an unvaccinated person.

This “strongly” suggests that the Delta variant’s ability to transmit is unhindered by an individual’s vaccination status, Fauci said.

“It is very clear now that [vaccinated people] can transmit the infection to others.”

Last week, the U.S. CDC recommended that fully vaccinated Americans should go back to wearing masks in indoor public places in regions where the coronavirus — and especially the Delta variant — are spreading rapidly.

The change marked a reversal of the agency’s earlier announcement in May that motivated millions of vaccinated Americans to drop their face coverings.

Click to play video: 'Delta COVID-19 variant now dominant worldwide, detected in 100 countries: Fauci'

Delta COVID-19 variant now dominant worldwide, detected in 100 countries: Fauci

Delta COVID-19 variant now dominant worldwide, detected in 100 countries: Fauci – Jul 16, 2021

Dr. David Doudy, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, said the CDC guidance was motivated by a change in infection patterns.

“We’re seeing this doubling in the number of cases every 10 days or so,” he said.

The CDC said that 63 per cent of U.S. counties had high transmission rates that warranted mask-wearing.

New cases per day in the U.S. have increased six-fold over the past month to an average of nearly 80,000, a level not seen since mid-February. And deaths per day have climbed over the past two weeks from an average of 259 to 360.

Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control at Colorado’s UCHealth said research from China suggests the Delta variant replicates much faster and generates 1,000 times more virus in the body compared to the original coronavirus strain, highlighting the biggest danger of this new wave.

“This is like a wildfire, this is not a smoldering campfire. It is full-on flames right now,” Barron said.

Other doctors said patients infected with Delta appeared to become ill faster, and sometimes showed more severe symptoms, than those they treated earlier in the pandemic.

“We are seeing more patients requiring oxygen sooner,” said Dr. Benjamin Barlow, chief medical officer at American Family Care, a 28-state chain of urgent care clinics.

Click to play video: 'Delta COVID-19 variant ‘greatest threat’ to U.S. pandemic response: Fauci'

Delta COVID-19 variant ‘greatest threat’ to U.S. pandemic response: Fauci

Delta COVID-19 variant ‘greatest threat’ to U.S. pandemic response: Fauci – Jun 22, 2021

At his clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, Barlow recorded 20 per cent of the patients testing positive for COVID-19, compared with the two-to-three per cent a few weeks ago.

David Montefiori, director of the Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Research and Development at Duke University Medical Center, said the Delta variant is more infectious and leads to faster onset of illness.

“Frankly there’s a severity that comes from this variant that is a little more severe,” Montefiori said on a webcast last week. “It’s not just easier to transmit, it makes you sicker.”

Fauci reiterated the same.

“It’s just a very dominant variant,” he told Global News. “It’s already in over one hundred and twelve countries. So the horse is out of the barn, as it were.”

“Wherever Delta has been, it invariably is so efficient in transmitting from person to person that it always seems to push out the other variants and become dominant,” Fauci explained. “We’ve seen that in the United States. A few months ago it was two, three or so percent. Then it went up to 20, then 50, then 80, and now it’s close to 90 percent.”

Read more:
Canada’s Delta-driven 4th wave of COVID-19 will be ‘different’ amid vaccinations: experts

Nevertheless, Fauci is optimistic.

He said adaption is key when it comes to dealing with this ever-evolving virus.

“[As] the science evolves, the evidence evolves,” he said. “Your approach and your guidelines and your recommendations need to evolve. And that’s exactly what happened in the United States with the change in the CDC guidelines.”

Canadian experts too are optimistic. However, they don’t think that a Delta-driven 4th wave would be as big as the previous ones given Canada’s current vaccinations rates.

Even with the country’s rise in cases, Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Queen’s University said that the virus would primarily affect unvaccinated communities, highlighting the fact that over 97 per cent of all new cases in Canada were among those who did not get a jab.

Canada added at least another 218 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing its total infections to 1,431,219. Two additional deaths were reported as well, with the country’s overall death toll now standing at 26,600. Over 1.39 million people have recovered from the coronavirus and more than 49.5 million vaccinations have been doled out so far.

Read more:
CDC now recommends fully vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors in some places

Dr. Ronald St John, former WHO director for the Americas and national manager for Canada’s response to SARS, also expressed caution when interpreting the findings of the internal CDC report.

Speaking on the Roy Green show, he mentioned that the data in the report was not peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.

“How often [the Delta variants] spread, the frequency of spread — that’s what’s not clear to me in the data that’s been presented so far,” he said. “I think it’s just been an internal document that’s been spread around. So I’m waiting to see a little more data.”

-With files from Global News’ David Lao and Reuters

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Study Will Test Different Time Intervals for COVID-19 Vaccines in Pregnant Individuals – Technology Networks



A new UK-based clinical trial will test the most appropriate time interval between two doses of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant individuals. 

COVID-19 vaccines and pregnancy

In 2020, clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines now authorized for human use did not include pregnant or breastfeeding individuals. This approach is typical for the clinical study of a new investigational medicinal product and is enforced by regulatory bodies such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to protect both mothers and pregnancies.

As the global rollout of several COVID-19 vaccines commenced, many pregnant individuals opted to be immunized against SARS-CoV-2 regardless. This enabled scientists to gather real-world retrospective data on the safety and efficacy of the different types of vaccines in this population. Based on the growing data supply, in April, the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that pregnant persons in the UK should be offered two doses of mRNA-based vaccines (Pfizer–BioNTech’s BNT162b2 or Moderna’s mRNA-1273) where available.

However, data gaps remain,  Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Paul Heath from St George’s University of London explained in a recent press release: “Tens of thousands of pregnant women have now been vaccinated in both the US and the UK with no safety concerns reported, but we still lack robust, prospective clinical trial data on COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women.”

More information is required to determine the best time schedule for administering the two mRNA COVID-19 vaccine doses in pregnant individuals in order to achieve the optimum immune response. A new study led by Heath – known as Preg-Cov – will provide this vital clinical information.

Vaccine dose intervals in pregnancy

Preg-Cov will recruit over 600 low-risk pregnant women aged 18-45-years-old across a number of sites in the UK. All participants will receive two doses of an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine (either Pfizer–BioNTech’s BNT162b2 or Moderna’s mRNA-1273). The eligibility criteria permits the inclusion of individuals that have received their first dose prior to enrolling in the trial. Speaking to Technology Networks, Heath said: “All will be blinded to the COVID-19 vaccine they receive except for the group that have received a dose before pregnancy – as they obviously know what they had already.”

Participants must be between 13 and 34 weeks pregnant on the date of the first COVID-19 vaccination, and will be divided into two groups: short interval and long interval dosing. The short interval group will receive their second COVID-19 vaccine between four to six weeks after their first dose, whereas the long interval group will receive their second dose between 8 and 12 weeks after their first. Consequently, some individuals will receive their second dose after delivering their baby. The study will follow all recruits for a period of one year.

“It’s important to highlight that all participants in this study will receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This is particularly important with the rising number of cases, the easing of restrictions and low vaccine uptake among pregnant women,” Professor Asma Khalil, lead obstetrician for the trial said.

Throughout the duration of the trial, various data will be collected. Recruits will be asked to maintain a symptom diary and blood samples will be obtained from the mother. In some instances, cord blood will also be extracted. “The blood samples are taken from all mothers but cord blood only from mothers at certain sites. This is because we don’t actually need to take as many samples to address the question about transfer of antibody from mother to baby in the cord blood,” Heath told Technology Networks.

The trial – which is now open for enrollment – is supported by £7.5 million worth of funding from the UK government. “Pregnant women are more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 and we know that vaccines are safe for them and make a huge difference – in fact no pregnant woman with two jabs has required hospitalisation with COVID-19,” said the Minister for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment, Nadhim Zahawi. “This government-backed trial will provide more data about how we can best protect pregnant women and their babies, and we can use this evidence to inform future vaccination programmes.”

Professor Paul Heath was speaking to Molly Campbell, Science Writer for Technology Networks. 

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Delta variant spreads 'like wildfire' as doctors study whether it makes patients sicker – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



LOS ANGELES, Aug 2 (Reuters) – With a new wave of COVID-19 infections fueled by the Delta variant striking countries worldwide, disease experts are scrambling to learn whether the latest version of coronavirus is making people – mainly the unvaccinated – sicker than before.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned that Delta, first identified in India and now dominant worldwide, is “likely more severe” than earlier versions of the virus, according to an internal report made public on Friday.

The agency cited research in Canada, Singapore and Scotland showing that people infected with the Delta variant were more likely to be hospitalized than patients earlier in the pandemic.

In interviews with Reuters, disease experts said the three papers suggest a greater risk from the variant, but the study populations are limited and the findings have not yet been reviewed by outside experts. Doctors treating patients infected with Delta described a more rapid onset of COVID-19 symptoms, and in many regions an overall increase serious cases.

But the experts said more work is needed to compare outcomes among larger numbers of individuals in epidemiologic studies to sort out whether one variant causes more severe disease than another.

“It’s difficult to pin down increase in severity and population bias,” said Lawrence Young, a virologist at the UK’s Warwick Medical School.

In addition, it is likely that the extraordinary rate of Delta transmission is also contributing to a greater number of severe cases arriving at hospitals, the experts said.

Delta is as contagious as chickenpox and far more contagious than the common cold or flu, according to the CDC report.

Shane Crotty, a virologist at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology in San Diego, said the clearest indication that the variant may cause more severe disease comes from the Scotland study, which found that Delta roughly doubled the risk of hospitalization compared to an earlier version.

The majority of hospitalizations and deaths from coronavirus in the United States are occurring in people who have not been vaccinated. But there is evidence that the shots are less effective in people with compromised immune systems, including the elderly.

For vaccinated, otherwise healthy individuals, the odds are that if they contract COVID-19 they will only experience asymptomatic or mild disease, said Dr. Gregory Poland, infectious disease expert at the Mayo Clinic.

“But they can pass it on to family members and others who may not be so lucky,” Poland said. “We have to be vaccinated and masked or we will, for the fourth time now, endure another surge and out of that will come worse variants.”


The rate of severe illness, especially in regions where vaccination rates are low, is again straining healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

“This is like a wildfire, this is not a smoldering campfire. It is full-on flames right now,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, senior medical director of infection prevention and control at Colorado’s UCHealth.

Research from China suggesting that the Delta variant replicates much faster and generates 1,000 times more virus in the body compared to the original strain highlights the biggest danger of this new wave, Barron said.

“It is hard to tell if they are more sick because of the Delta variant or if they would have been more sick anyway,” she said.

Other doctors said patients infected with Delta appear to become ill more quickly, and in some cases with more severe symptoms, than those they treated earlier in the pandemic.

“We are seeing more patients requiring oxygen sooner,” said Dr. Benjamin Barlow, chief medical officer at American Family Care, a 28-state chain of urgent care clinics.

At his clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, Barlow said that around 20% of patients are testing positive for COVID-19, compared with 2-3% a few weeks ago. Patients are assessed at that time for potential hospital admission and oxygen support.

David Montefiori, director of the Laboratory for AIDS Vaccine Research and Development at Duke University Medical Center, said the Delta variant is more infectious and leads to faster onset of illness – particularly for the unvaccinated.

“Frankly there’s a severity that comes from this variant that is a little more severe,” Montefiori said on a webcast last week. “It’s not just easier to transmit, it makes you sicker.” (Reporting by Deena Beasley in Los Angeles, Josephine Mason in London and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Daniel Wallis)

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