BEIJING – Two World Health Organization experts were heading to the Chinese capital on Friday to lay the groundwork for an investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
An animal health expert and an epidemiologist will meet Chinese counterparts in Beijing to work out logistics, places to visit and the participants for a WHO-led international mission, the U.N. organization said.
A major issue will be to “look at whether or not it jumped from species to human, and what species it jumped from,” WHO spokesperson Dr. Margaret Harris said at a briefing in Geneva.
Scientists believe the virus may have originated in bats and was transmitted to another mammal such as a civet cat or an armadillo-like pangolin before being passed on to people.
A cluster of infections late last year focused initial attention on a fresh food market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, but the discovery of earlier cases suggests the animal-to-human jump may have happened elsewhere.
In an effort to block future outbreaks, China has cracked down on the trade in wildlife and closed some markets, while enforcing strict containment measures that appear to have virtually stopped new local infections.
The WHO mission is politically sensitive, with the U.S. — the top funder of the U.N. body — moving to cut ties with it over allegations it mishandled the outbreak and is biased toward China.
“China took the lead in inviting WHO experts to investigate and discuss scientific virus tracing,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Friday.
In contrast, he said, the U.S. “not only announced its withdrawal from the World Health Organization, but also politicized the anti-epidemic issue and played a buck-passing game to shift responsibilities.”
More than 120 nations called for an investigation into the origins of the virus at the World Health Assembly in May. China has insisted that WHO lead the investigation and for it to wait until the pandemic is brought under control. The U.S., Brazil and India are continuing to see an increasing number of cases.
The last WHO coronavirus-specific mission to China was in February, after which the team’s leader, Canadian doctor Bruce Aylward, praised China’s containment efforts and information sharing. Canadian and American officials have since criticized him as being too lenient on China.
An Associated Press investigation showed that in January, WHO officials were privately frustrated over the lack of transparency and access in China, according to internal audio recordings. Their complaints included that China delayed releasing the genetic map, or genome, of the virus for more than a week after three different government labs had fully decoded the information.
Privately, top WHO leaders complained in meetings in the week of Jan. 6 that China was not sharing enough data to assess how effectively the virus spread between people or what risk it posed to the rest of the world, costing valuable time.
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Associated Press journalist Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this report.
No COVID-19 cases at Deerhurst – My Muskoka Now
HUNTSVILLE, ON-Deerhurst Resort has confirmed that none of its staff have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus after servicing a large group.
Over the August long weekend, a large group of 30 visited the resort, but upon their return home, which is outside Muskoka, 11 of them tested positive for the virus.
When the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit was notified of the active cases, contact tracing led them to believe one staff member of the resort was a potential risk of contracting the virus. With this result of the employee testing negative for the virus, all outstanding concerns have been put to rest.
“While we were hoping this would not happen, the possibility of COVID transmission is exactly why all of our stringent prevention measures have been in place since we re-opened,” said General Manager of the resort, Jesse Hamilton. “Everything from capping occupancy, fully disinfecting guest rooms after each departure, frequent sanitization, social distancing in all facilities and mandatory face coverings for staff in all areas of the hotel operation have proven effective, for which we are grateful.”
As the resort has been closely working with the SMDHU, the assessment of the contact risk and the high degree of compliance of infection control practises, has led to the green light being given to Deerhurst to stay open.
Hamilton said they appreciate the concern of staff, guests and their community when hearing about the presence of COVID at the resort.
She noted that until important facts were fully known, they didn’t want to add any potential misinformation or alarm to the situation.
“We put our trust and confidence in the public health authorities from whom we took direction and in our safety protocols, which appear to have passed a test we never hoped to take.”
More than 500 people may have been exposed to COVID-19 at Toronto strip club – CTV Toronto
More than 500 people may have been exposed to COVID-19 after visiting an adult entertainment club in Toronto, public health officials say.
According to Toronto Public Health, an employee at Brass Rail Tavern, located near Yonge and Bloor streets, has tested positive for the disease.
The employee worked at the facility on the following dates: Aug. 4 ( 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 5), Aug. 5 (8 p.m to 3 a.m. on Aug. 6), Aug. 7 ( 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Aug. 8) and Aug. 8 (7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. to Aug. 9).
“As a precaution, TPH is advising anyone who attended the Brass Rail Tavern during these dates and times to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms for the 14 days after their last visit during this time period,” officials said in a news release issued on Friday.
“There was no risk to anyone attending the Brass Rail Tavern outside of these dates and times.”
Toronto Public Health said they have followed up with all known close contacts of the employee and have asked those individuals to self-isolate for 14 days and get a COVID-19 test. Officials are also notifying customers directly through the establishment’s contact tracing log.
The Brass Rail Tavern is cooperating with public health to ensure all COVID-19 Stage 3 reopening protocols are in place, officials said.
Approximately 550 people passed through the establishments on the dates the employee worked, Toronto Public Health said, and those individuals should visit the government’s website and use their COVID-19 assessment tool. They also say there is no need to self-isolate and “people can continue their routine daily activities if an individual remains healthy and does not develop symptoms.”
Anyone who develops symptoms should immediately contact Toronto Public Health, take a COVID-19 test and self-isolate.
City warns hundreds may have been exposed to COVID-19 at Brass Rail strip club – CBC.ca
The City of Toronto says about 550 people may have been exposed to COVID-19 at a downtown strip club earlier this month.
Toronto Public Health says it is notifying people who visited the Brass Rail Tavern at 701 Yonge St. about a potential exposure.
Officials say an employee who tested positive for the virus was at the club on these dates and times:
- Aug. 4 from 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 5
- Aug. 5 from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Aug. 6
- Aug. 7 from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Aug. 8
- Aug. 8 from 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 9
Public health says there was no risk to anyone who went to the club outside of those dates and times.
“As a precaution, [Toronto Public Health] is advising anyone who attended the Brass Rail Tavern during these dates and times to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms for the 14 days after their last visit during this time period,” the city said in a news release.
Public health officials say they have followed up with “all known close contacts” of the person who tested positive, and asked those people to self-isolate for two weeks and go get tested.
They are also directly notifying people who gave their name and contact information to the club for its contact tracing log, according to a news release.
“The establishment is collaborating with [public health] to ensure all COVID-19 Stage 3 reopening protocols are in place in this setting, including staff and patrons wearing masks, infection prevention and control measures are in place, and appropriate physical distancing measures are followed,” the news release reads.
According to the city’s website, as of the afternoon of Aug. 12, 15,548 cases of COVID-19 to Toronto Public Health, while 14,132 people have recovered.
Health officials recommend that anyone who has symptoms or feels as though they may have been exposed to COVID-19 use the province’s COVID-19 self-assessment tool.
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