The number of daily COVID-19 tests appears to be dropping in Waterloo Region now that testing at long-term care home and retirement homes has been completed.
A week after testing was opened up to anyone with symptoms of the virus, daily testing numbers only increased by 207 over a two-day stretch to end the week.
As of Wednesday, 14,500 tests had been completed. By Friday, that number had only risen to 14,707.
When asked whether testing guidelines would or should be widened to include asymptomatic people, Acting Medical Officer Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said the region would continue to follow the province’s guidance on the issue.
“I think it’s important for us locally to continue to follow the best-available expert guidance on those things,” she said at a Friday news conference.
“It sounds like there’s going to be further information that will be provided in the near future about testing again, we’ve had updates to the testing guidelines over the course of this pandemic to date, so it’s to be expected that we’ll continue to have updates.”
During his daily press conference on Thursday, Premier Doug Ford said that officials are working on coming up with a plan to expand testing.
We can’t just be testing people with symptoms, we have to start going to the broader public and start testing as many people as possible, asymptotic people,” he said.
“And until we do that – and I’m not a medical expert, I’ve said it a thousand times – but, until we do that we can’t get our hands around the whole system.”
Testing of asymptomatic health-care workers and a second round of testing in long-term care and retirement homes is set to begin this weekend.
On Friday, the federal government also announced it would soon be “strongly recommending” that Canadians download a contact-tracing application so they can be notified if they’ve been exposed to someone who has the virus.
Until then, federal employees are prepared to make thousands of daily contact tracing calls.
As a province, Ontario has had issues maintaining its daily goal of 20,000 tests done per day: earlier this week, the number of tests dipped as low as 5,813 tests done in a 24-hour period.
Ford wasn’t shy about his disappointment with those numbers on Thursday.
“Am I frustrated? Yes, I’m frustrated, but I have confidence in the team,” Ford said at the Thursday press conference.
“They are working hard, they are doing everything they can. We will hit those numbers and I will be like an 800-pound gorilla on their backs every single day if I have to until I see these numbers go up.”
In Waterloo Region, there are 1,066 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 697 have been marked resolved, while 112 people have died.
Public health working to contain latest COVID-19 outbreaks – WellandTribune.ca
'No benefit' from hydroxychloroquine for virus: UK trial – The Jakarta Post – Jakarta Post
A major British clinical trial has found hydroxychloroquine has “no benefit” for patients hospitalized with COVID-19, scientists said Friday, in the first large-scale study to provide results for a drug at the center of political and scientific controversy.
Hydroxychloroquine, a decades-old malaria and rheumatoid arthritis drug, has been touted as a possible treatment for the new coronavirus by high profile figures, including US President Donald Trump, and has been included in several randomized clinical trials.
The University of Oxford’s Recovery trial, the biggest of these so far to come forward with findings, said that it would now stop recruiting patients to be given hydroxychloroquine “with immediate effect”.
“Our conclusion is that this treatment does not reduce the risk of dying from COVID among hospital patients and that clearly has a significant importance for the way patients are treated, not only in the UK, but all around the world,” said Martin Landray, an Oxford professor of medicine and epidemiology who co-leads the study.
The randomized clinical trial—considered the gold standard for clinical investigation—has recruited a total of 11,000 patients from 175 hospitals in the UK to test a range of potential treatments.
Other drugs continuing to be tested include: the combination of HIV antivirals Lopinavir and Ritonavir; a low dose of the steroid Dexamethasone, typically used to reduce inflammation; antibiotic Azithromycin; and the anti inflammatory drug Tocilizumab.
Researchers are also testing convalescent plasma from the blood of people who have recovered from COVID-19, which contains antibodies to fight the virus.
Researchers said 1,542 patients were randomly assigned to hydroxychloroquine and compared with 3,132 patients given standard hospital care alone.
They found “no significant difference” in mortality after 28 days between the two groups, and no evidence that treatment with the drug shortens the amount of time spent in hospital.
“This is a really important result, at last providing unequivocal evidence that hydroxychloroquine is of no value in treatment of patients hospitalized with COVID-19,” said Peter Openshaw, a professor at Imperial College London, in reaction to the results.
He added that the drug was “quite toxic” so halting the trials would be of benefit to patients.
Hydroxychloroquine has been in use for years but it has a number of potentially serious side effects, including heart arrhythmia.
Researchers from the Recovery trial said they would share their data with the World Health Organization (WHO), which on Wednesday restarted its own trials of hydroxychloroquine.
They were temporarily halted last month because of a now-retracted observational study in The Lancet medical journal that had suggested hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, a related compound, were ineffective against COVID-19 and even increased the risk of death.
Authors of The Lancet research said on Thursday that they could no longer vouch for the integrity of its underlying data, in the face of serious concerns raised by fellow scientists over a lack of clarity about the countries and hospitals that contributed patient information.
The scandal cast a shadow over The Lancet and another top medical journal, but it did nothing to clear up the increasingly politicized question of whether or not hydroxychloroquine works as a treatment for COVID-19.
Openshaw said the Recovery trial should be credited with continuing the research until they could reach a definitive conclusion on hydroxychloroquine.
“Everyone regrets that it doesn’t work, but knowing that allows us to focus on finding drugs that actually help recovery from COVID-19,” he added.
Oxford professor Peter Horby, the lead investigator on the Recovery Trial, said there was probably a “very large number” of people around the world taking hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19, with countries including the US, China and Brazil authorizing it.
A separate clinical trial on Wednesday in the US and Canada found that taking hydroxychloroquine shortly after being exposed to COVID-19 does not work to prevent infection significantly better than a placebo.
If you want to help in the fight against COVID-19, we have compiled an up-to-date list of community initiatives designed to aid medical workers and low-income people in this article. Link: [UPDATED] Anti-COVID-19 initiatives: Helping Indonesia fight the outbreak
No new coronavirus cases in Manitoba on Saturday – Globalnews.ca
Manitoba health officials say there are no new cases of the coronavirus identified as of Saturday morning.
Health officials say the total number of lab-confirmed positive and probable cases in the province remains at 300.
There are nine active cases as of Friday and 284 individuals who have recovered from COVID-19.
The number of deaths due to COVID-19 remains at seven.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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