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Whitehorse Daily Star: Probable COVID case was a false positive – Whitehorse Star



The probable case of COVID-19 announced last Saturday was a false positive, according to the chief medical officer.

By Gabrielle Plonka on October 14, 2020

The probable case of COVID-19 announced last Saturday was a false positive, according to the chief medical officer.

“We can be confident … that this person did not have active COVID infection in the Yukon, is not contagious, and could not have introduced any infection into Yukon,” Dr. Brendan Hanley said during a COVID-19 update late this morning.

The individual was tested over the long weekend using the GeneXpert rapid testing machine at Whitehorse General Hospital.

The machine can garner a test result within 45 minutes, but can also be unreliable and requires a secondary test result from a lab in B.C.

“Our local testing machine, that uses PCR technology to amplify the presence of viral nuclear material, it will pick up even small amounts of the virus (and) it is subject to some interpretation,” Hanley said.

The individual’s GeneXpert test result showed low levels of virus, but the confirming test result from B.C. returned negative.

It’s possible that the individual was sick with a different virus, or residual COVID-19 viral material was confusing the test result, Hanley explained.

“It’s consistent with a past COVID infection and continued shedding, but we can’t prove it,” Hanley said.

The chief medical officer explained that the GeneXpert machine, while convenient for its quick result, can be unreliable due to its sensitivity. 

“It actually picks up smaller amounts of virus than the larger machines, but what the larger machines are better at doing is telling us what is more practical to know,” Hanley said.

Larger machines are better at gauging infectious virus levels, he explained.

Ultimately, gauging whether someone has a contagious case of COVID-19 is the most important piece of information for contact tracing and mitigating spread of the disease.

He noted that because the GeneXpert machine is so sensitive, it’s unlikely to show a false negative result in an individual showing COVID-19 symptoms.

The GeneXpert machine has been in use for about three weeks, and Hanley said he is not reconsidering its use despite its limitations.

“It’s been humming away and being useful for us quietly in the background, in certain clinical scenarios especially in the hospital,” Hanley said.

“Every technology has its limitations.”

The chief medical officer noted that these occasional events should serve as a reminder to remain cautious against the virus and uphold the “safe six.”

“We’ve demonstrated we can handle these occasional introductions of COVID into our territory,” Hanley said.

When the probable case was announced last weekend, the chief medical officer noted that he heard many rumours about the identity of the individual.

“We are close and well-connected; we are each a degree or two away from knowing everyone else, so rumours circulate well ahead of actual information,” Hanley said.

He emphasized the importance of protecting individuals’ privacy, so that people are willing to come forward with honest information when possible infection occurs.

He also warned against “erroneously identifying” individuals on social media or elsewhere.

“There’s clearly a strong public interest in knowing as much information as possible; there’s also a strong ethical and societal value in protecting privacy.”

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'Massive' coral reef taller than the Empire State Building discovered in Australia – CTV News



A “massive” new reef measuring 500 metres has been discovered in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, making it taller than some of the world’s highest skyscrapers.

Scientists found the detached reef, which is the first to be discovered in more than 120 years, in waters off North Queensland while on an expedition aboard research vessel Falkor, ocean research organization Schmidt Ocean Institute announced Monday.

The reef was first discovered on October 20, as scientists completed an underwater mapping of the seafloor of the northern Great Barrier Reef.

At 500 metres high, it is taller than the Empire State Building (381 metres to the top floor), the Sydney Tower (305 metres) and the Petronas Twin Towers (451.9 metres.)

Using an underwater robot named SuBastian, the team explored the reef on Sunday, and live streamed footage of the exploration.

Experts say that the base of the “blade-like” reef measures 1.5 kilometres wide, rising 500 metres to its shallowest depth of 40 metres below the ocean surface.

There are seven other tall detached reefs in the area, including the reef at Raine Island — a significant green turtle nesting site.

Robin Beaman, who led the expedition, said he was “surprised” by the discovery.

“To not only 3D map the reef in detail, but also visually see this discovery with SuBastian is incredible,” he said in a statement.

“This unexpected discovery affirms that we continue to find unknown structures and new species in our ocean,” Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Ocean Institute, said in a statement.

“The state of our knowledge about what’s in the ocean has long been so limited. Thanks to new technologies that work as our eyes, ears and hands in the deep ocean, we have the capacity to explore like never before. New oceanscapes are opening to us, revealing the ecosystems and diverse life forms that share the planet with us.”

The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef, covers more than 214,000 square kilometres and is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 411 species of hard corals and dozens of other species.

But the reef is facing a crisis — recent studies have shown that it has lost 50% of its coral populations in the last three decades, with climate change a key driver of reef disturbance.

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Surrey vet offers tips as Canada reports first COVID-19 case in dog in Ontario – News 1130



SURREY (NEWS 1130) – As Canada’s first case of COVID-19 among dogs is reported in Ontario, a Surrey-based vet is providing some advice to pet owners who may have concerns.

Dr. Sajjid Ijaz with Lifetime Veterinary Clinic says research on COVID-19 in pets is still evolving, but at this point, there’s little evidence to suggest dogs can transmit the virus to humans.

He notes many owners have flagged their COVID-19 concerns with him and his staff over the past few months.

“Obviously, at this point because we do not have any data to give any concrete answers to them, so, we have just been telling them to be careful about going out of their own bubble, as far as their own personal self, as well as the pets themselves. So what we’ve been telling them is to try and limit the pet access to dog parks and all that stuff, and be careful about it,” he explains.

Ontario dog tests positive for COVID-19

A dog in Ontario’s Niagara area has been identified as the first canine to test positive for COVID-19 in Canada. Experts have said this isn’t cause for panic.

The dog apparently belongs to a household where four people tested positive for COVID-19.

Experts told the Toronto Star the dog “had no symptoms and a low viral load, suggesting that dogs remain at relatively low risk of becoming gravely ill or passing on COVID to others.”

Ijaz says while they’re not pushing that message too hard, he and his staff want pet owners to continue to be smart.

Pets and your social bubble

Because of the uncertainty around how the coronavirus is transmitted among pets, Ijaz says it’s wise to apply the same advice to pets when it comes to humans and their social bubbles.

“So, yes, I’ve been telling my clients to limit access, not just totally isolate them, but just to be smart about it,” he explains.

Ijaz understands that pets are often a big part of any family, which is why he believes it’s best to be safe rather than sorry.

“As much as we can limit the bubble, that will help,” he says, adding your social bubble shouldn’t exclude these animals.

According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, there’s been no report of pets spreading COVID-19 to people. There have been reports of possible transmission from mink at a farm in the Netherlands to humans, however, the federal government says this is still being studied.

-With files from 680 NEWS

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Hockey Twitter demands a Lunar Classic after NASA reveals moon has a lot more ice than previously believed – Russian Machine Never Breaks



NASA made a special announcement on Monday that had the hockey world buzzing.

“Several studies have showed that water on the moon surface is in its permanently shadowed craters,” Paul Hertz, director of astrophysics at NASA Headquarters, said according to CBS News. “Today, we are announcing that for the first time, water has been confirmed to be present on a sunlit surface of the moon.

It is believed that there are at least 15,000 square miles of the moon’s surface that have deposits of water ice, meaning future astronauts could live off the land.

And Hockey Twitter is hoping those future astronauts are NHL players.

The ridiculousness began early in the day when the NHL on NBC Twitter photoshopped the Blackhawks and Bruins facing off on the moon. “MOON. HOCKEY. 🌕,” they wrote. “We’re ready, @NASA!”

“Call it the Lunar Classic,” the Ducks demanded.

“The Lunar Classic is going to be out of this world!” the Blackhawks added with an excellent pun.

The Hurricanes were excited about some “space hockey.”

So were the Devils.

Later, on their Instagram page, NHL on NBC photoshopped Alex Ovechkin, Roman Josi, and David Pastrnak as astronauts.

Hockey Twitter imagined hockey scenarios on the moon, while another fan, Matthew Henderson, created an elaborate media kit promoting a fake moon hockey event.

I want this to happen so badly now.

Headline photo: Pixabay images

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