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Wuhan pneumonia outbreak: A new virus may be the cause – Vox.com

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The mysterious outbreak in China causing dozens of people to fall sick with pneumonia may be the result of a new coronavirus, a member of the same family of viruses that caused SARS.

On Thursday, a report on the state broadcaster China Central Television said 15 of the people who had become ill tested positive for the new virus. In one patient, Chinese investigators conducted whole genome sequencing, confirming the “typical coronavirus appearance,” Xu Jianguo, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering who led the assessment, told state TV.

The World Health Organization confirmed the finding and applauded China’s efforts. “Preliminary identification of a novel virus in a short period of time is a notable achievement and demonstrates China’s increased capacity to manage new outbreaks,” the agency said in a statement. In the SARS outbreak of 2003, China was heavily criticized for withholding information about the outbreak for too long.

The new outbreak was first identified on December 30 in Wuhan, a mainland city of 19 million and the capital of Hubei, one of China’s most populous provinces, according to a January 5 update from Wuhan’s municipal health commission. The outbreak has been linked to a food market, where vendors peddle seafood and animals, such as birds and rabbits, which could mean the new disease has made the leap from animals to humans. To date, there are 59 cases in Wuhan. Seven of the patients are seriously ill, though no one has died. Separately, Hong Kong has reported possible cases.

Coronaviruses attack the respiratory system and can target the cells deep within the lungs. “There are tons of coronaviruses,” said Vincent Munster, an emerging viral diseases researcher at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Most infect mammals and birds. Two of the six that are known to infect humans, SARS and MERS, can cause severe pneumonia and even death. The rest lead to milder symptoms, like a common cold. In the case of SARS, the virus was discovered in China in 2003 after it jumped from civet cats — a food delicacy in China — to humans. It went on to spread to two dozen countries and eventually killed 774 people and infected more than 8,000.

In the current outbreak, there are some reassuring signs. “According to Chinese authorities, the virus in question can cause severe illness in some patients and does not transmit readily between people,” the WHO said in a statement. So far, the main symptoms reported are fever followed by difficulty breathing, the WHO said. In chest X-rays, patients appear to have lesions in both lungs. While seven of the 59 cases in Wuhan are serious, no one has died as a result of the disease, according to Chinese authorities.

WHO is not recommending any measures for travelers and advising against travel or trade restrictions on China, even on the cusp of China’s Lunar New Year holiday, during which hundreds of millions of people are expected to travel, according to the South China Morning Post.

But it’s still early days. Researchers will need to confirm that this new virus is without a doubt the driver of the outbreak, said Marion Koopmans, who studies emerging infectious diseases as director of the department of virology at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam. They’ll then need to confirm which patients have the virus, and figure out what type of illness it causes in the confirmed cases.

“If [the new virus] is indeed the likely cause, and seeded at the market, a key question is how transmissible this is,” Koopmans said. Viruses that spill over from animals may not be very transmissible “if they sit deep in the lungs and are not shed easily,” she added. That would mean, Munster said, that “the epidemic potential of this virus might still be limited.” Health officials would also need to find out which animal is spreading the virus to humans — the “natural reservoir” of the virus — and how the virus made the jump, and then make sure that animal is contained.

It’s also possible we’ll learn that human-to-human transmission is indeed occurring in this outbreak, despite the early reports. As David Hui, an expert in emerging infections at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told the New York Times, the minimum incubation period for some viral infections — 15 days — hadn’t even passed since the outbreak was first reported. This means more of the contacts of the known cases may fall sick in the coming days.

For now, all the known patients are in isolation, and 163 contacts of the sick in Wuhan are being followed to see if they develop symptoms.

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KFL&A reports 34 new COVID-19 cases, 304 active – Globalnews.ca

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The Kingston region is once again over the 300 active cases mark, as Wednesday’s 34 new cases bring the daily active case count to 304.

Of the new cases, 10 are in the five-to-11 age group.

Nineteen people remain in hospital, with 11 of those cases are in the intensive care unit. Six people are on ventilators.

Read more:

COVID-19 — Influx of cases causing strain on Kingston hospitals

The cases per 100,000 over the past week is up slightly to 104.7, from 102.8 Tuesday.

The rise in cases locally has also forced the postponing of at least one local event. The Marine Museum of the Great Lakes was scheduled to have its grand opening on Dec. 5 from 2 to 4 p.m.

“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to have significant impacts throughout our communities, the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston is committed to supporting the community through this time of heightened risk and uncertainty,” the Marine Museum said in a statement Wednesday.

“We consider the safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors paramount.”


Click to play video: 'As Covid-19 cases rise in the Kingston region the community reacts'



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As Covid-19 cases rise in the Kingston region the community reacts


As Covid-19 cases rise in the Kingston region the community reacts

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

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Roussin takes aim at HIV stigma – Brandon Sun

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Wednesday was World AIDS Day and the province is getting behind the message to end the stigma of the disease.

There were 117 new cases of HIV identified in the province in 2020, slightly fewer than in 2019.

“Even though there are fewer cases, there was also significantly less testing,” Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, said Wednesday.

“Around 25 per cent of people with HIV are unaware they have it, and that can contribute to the spread.”

The stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS continues to be a significant public health issue in the province. Roussin said the populations most at risk are also facing problems of accessibility caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roussin urged people who may be at risk to get regular testing and speak to their health-care providers regarding prevention, testing and treatment options.

All these services are confidential and free of charge.

Those living with HIV are also encouraged to stay connected to care and treatments.

Roussin said it is considered a chronic infection and there are effective treatments for HIV, with many being able to get the virus level down to undetectable levels and minimizing risk of transmitting it to other people.

» The Brandon Sun

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COVID-19 vaccines: 18% of Ottawa kids 5-11 have 1st doses – Globalnews.ca

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Nearly 14,000 Ottawa kids have gotten their first COVID-19 vaccine shots in their first week of eligibility, according to the local health unit.

Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard reports that 13,887 kids aged five to 11, representing 18 per cent of the total age group in the city, have their initial shots as of Wednesday morning.

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health, said earlier this week that 40 per cent of local kids in this youngest eligible demographic have appointments booked through the provincial vaccination system. This doesn’t account for shots booked at pharmacies or doctors’ offices.

Read more:

No need for new restrictions yet in Ottawa amid Omicron cases, Dr. Etches says

City-wide, 86 per cent of the population aged five and older now have at least one dose.

Meanwhile, OPH reported 50 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, surpassing the 32,000-case mark since the start of the pandemic.

The number of active infections held relatively steady at 329 in the latest report.

There are now 11 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Ottawa, two of whom are in the intensive care unit.


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