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You can pick up free take-home fentanyl testing strips in Vancouver | News – Daily Hive



Vancouver Coastal Health will begin offering free take-home fentanyl testing strips from several locations in the city starting next week.

The strips reveal whether your recreational drugs are contaminated with fentanyl — a potent and deadly opioid that’s been found in drugs sold as heroin, cocaine, and MDMA.

“Providing people with a simple, convenient way to check if their drugs contain fentanyl may help them avoid an overdose, and reduce the number of lives lost due to the contaminated illegal drug supply on our streets,” Judy Darcy, BC’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, said in a news release.

The strips will be available at Insite, Molson overdose prevention site, Overdose Prevention Society, and St. Paul’s Hospital overdose prevention site next week.

Later this month, they’ll also be available at Three Bridges and Robert and Lilly Lee community health centres, plus locations in Powell River, the Sunshine Coast, and the Sea to Sky region.

The strips were originally used to test urine samples for fentanyl, but you can test a drug before using it by dissolving a small amount in a few drops of water and dipping the test strip in the solution. It should tell you in a few seconds whether your drugs contain fentanyl.

VCH already offers free drug-testing at several of its overdose prevention sites, but that requires people to bring their drugs in person to be tested by staff.

“We know that not everyone can or wants to go to these sites, especially in light of the stigma that people who use drugs can face,” said Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, medical health officer with VCH.

New research suggests at-home testing is just as effective at preventing overdoses, which prompted VCH to offer the take-home strips for free.

The research by VCH, Interior Health, and the BC Centre for Disease Control found 27% of 994 people in the province given take-home testing kits made a safer choice if their substance tested positive for fentanyl. A safer choice includes not using the substance, using less of it, using it at an overdose prevention site, or using with a friend.

Nearly all of the study participants said they’d use a take-home fentanyl testing kit again.

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Medicine Hat's active COVID-19 case count drops to four – CHAT News Today



Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the low number on Friday is the net difference between Thursday and Friday after adjusting for previously clinically reported cases.

The total number of COVID-19 cases across the province stands at 17,749. There are 1,549 active cases, up 52 from Friday, and 15,935 recovered cases, up 350.

There are currently 63 Albertans in hospital, 15 in ICU. There have been 265 deaths, an increase of four from Friday.

The province conducted 51,264 tests in the past 72 hours – 16,318 on Sept. 25, 16,365 on Sept. 26 and 18,581 on Sept. 27.

Hinshaw addressed recent questions she’s heard about herd immunity, saying estimates of the percentage of immune people needed to achieve successful herd immunity for coronavirus range from 50 to 70 per cent and that she disagrees with herd immunity.

“Serology studies in Canada have estimated that we are only at about one per cent or less of our population who have been infected.”

She said the suggestion that because young people are generally at low risk of severe outcomes that the virus should be allowed to spread quickly among that population does not take into account the drawbacks of the approach.

“COVID-19 can spread rapidly and we are all interconnected. Adopting a herd immunity approach would have a serious and deadly impact on many people in the population,” she said. “Even if we could put perfect protection in place for those who live in congregate settings like long-term care while letting the virus spread freely elsewhere, we cannot simply dictate where and how the virus will spread.”

“Adopting an approach focused on herd immunity would place many older Albertans or those with underlying conditions at-risk and lead to many more deaths across our province.”

In Alberta, the risk of death for those diagnosed with COVID-19 is about 18 per cent for those over 70 years old, less than half a per cent for those 40-69 and “vanishingly small” for those under 40.

She also said that death is not the only severe outcome. One in every 67 people between the ages of 20 and 39 diagnosed with COVID has needed hospitalization. The number rises to one in 18 for those 40-69 and one in four for those over 70.

The health system could be overloaded by that much of an increase in hospitalization, Hinshaw said.

She said collective action is the key to protecting each other from the risks of the virus and risks of strict restrictions.

Hinshaw provided her update via video after she developed a sore throat last week.

“As I have said many times, it is important to stay home when sick and get tested even if the symptoms are mild,” she said, adding her COVID test was negative and she will be working from home until her symptoms resolve.

She asked people to follow her lead, but acknowledged not everyone can do their job remotely.

“I know that staying home is not easy and that many Albertans face difficult financial or other choices. Most of us have worked with sore throats or runny noses many, many times. However, during COVID that’s not a risk that I or anyone else should take.”

Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced at the regular media availability that more than one million Albertans have been tested for COVID-19 at least once during the coronavirus pandemic, which he called a remarkable accomplishment for the health-care system.

Shandro said that Alberta has the strongest and most dynamic testing program in the country.

“While other provinces have faced massive lineups or consistently narrow testing criteria, Alberta has been a leader,” he said. He praised the early efforts of Alberta Health Services to order lab supplies, offer asymptomatic testing and work with community pharmacies to increase capacity.

He said work to speed up testing and expand capacity further will continue.

There are now 47 schools in the province where outbreaks have been declared. Alberta Health’s threshold for declaring an outbreak in school is two cases being in a school while infectious within 14 days.

No local schools are classified as having outbreaks on the provincial website.

The website Support Our Students is tracking instances of cases in schools across the province. The only local school on the list remains Ecole St. John Paul II, which was added in late August.

There are eight new cases in the South Zone, which now has 1,828 total cases. There are 38 active cases and 1,765 recovered. There are currently six COVID-19 cases in hospital in the South Zone, two in the ICU, and the zone total remains at 25 deaths.

Cypress County has totaled 33 cases – the two new cases and the rest recovered.

The County of Forty Mile has 40 total cases. There are 13 active cases and the rest are recovered.

The MD of Taber has 44 total cases — four active cases and the rest recovered.

Special Areas No. 2 has 13 total cases, all of which are recovered.

Brooks has 1,133 total cases —1,121 are recovered and three are active. Brooks has recorded nine deaths.

The County of Newell has a total of 32 cases — 30 recovered and there have been two deaths.

The County of Warner has 63 total cases. There is one active case, 61 are recovered cases and there has been one death in the county.

The City of Lethbridge has a total of 172 cases. There are three active cases, 167 recovered and there have been two deaths. Lethbridge County has 48 cases, five active cases and the rest recovered.

The figures on are “up-to-date as of end of day Sept. 27, 2020.”

Read the full Sept. 28 update from the province here.

Saskatchewan reported 48 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, none in the South Zones.

Saskatchewan has a total of 1,892 cases, 149 considered active. There are 1,719 recovered cases and there have been 24 COVID-19 deaths in the province. On Saturday, two cases were removed from the provincial total after they were deemed to be non-Saskatchewan residents.

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Montreal restrictions tighten, as Ontario warns of 'more complex' second wave of COVID-19 –



Quebec on Monday ordered new restrictions on bars and restaurants in coronavirus hot spots, while Ontario’s premier warned of a “more complex” second wave, as Canada’s two most-populous provinces saw big increases in COVID-19 cases.

Quebec, the Canadian province hit hardest by the novel coronavirus, will curb social gatherings in homes and limit bar and restaurant service to takeout for 28 days in Montreal and two other regions, Premier Francois Legault said. It reported 750 new coronavirus cases on Monday.

“It’s time to take action,” Legault told reporters in Montreal. “The situation is at the limit.”

The restrictions, which start on Thursday in the three regions, will not close businesses or schools.

But Legault introduced restrictions like allowing only people living at the same address to be there at the same time. Libraries, movie theaters and museums will close and protesters will have to wear masks during demonstrations, he said.

Earlier on Monday, Ontario, Canada’s most-populous province, reported a new daily high of 700 cases, with a bit more than a day’s worth of samples still pending at labs. The number of patients in hospital was also rising steadily, reaching 128, data showed.

“We know that this wave will be more complicated, more complex, it will be worse than the first wave we faced earlier this year,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford told reporters in Toronto.

The Ontario Hospital Association called on the province to bring back restrictions in some regions on indoor dining and bars, places of worship, weddings, gyms and other non-essential businesses.

Canada garnered praise earlier this month after it reported zero coronavirus deaths for the first time since March. But health officials are now warning that some local authorities could be overwhelmed unless the wave of infections is curbed.

In Alberta, where cases have also been rising, the provincial government postponed dozens of surgeries and imposed visiting restrictions at a Calgary hospital because of an outbreak. Twenty-six patients and 27 staff have confirmed infections and more than 100 staffers are in isolation. Four patients have died.

Overall, cases in Canada rose by 1,454 to 153,125, while six more deaths took the total to 9,268, according to data released on Sunday.

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Doctors worry supplies of flu vaccine, PPE won't meet demand, survey suggests –



A new survey suggests many doctors fear they won’t have enough of the flu vaccine to meet demand this season.

The Canadian Medical Association says more than 86 per cent of 1,459 survey respondents said they worry influenza season will put additional strain on the health care system.

Of those doctors who offer the flu vaccine, half said they won’t have enough doses to meet demand and 85 per cent said the system needs more capacity.

The survey, conducted Aug. 19 to 24, also found 54 per cent of respondents still struggle to acquire personal protective equipment.

The survey found 68 per cent worry suppliers won’t have enough PPE, 62 per cent expect orders to be delayed and more than half fear global demand will hinder supply.

Extra flu vaccines ordered

Nevertheless, three quarters of those asked said they believe the health care system is better prepared for COVID-19 resurgences than it was during the first wave.

Canadian health officials have said that additional flu vaccines have been ordered this year to meet expected demand.

Earlier this month, a Public Health Agency of Canada spokesperson told The Canadian Press the agency ordered 13 million doses of the flu vaccine, up from 11.2 million last year.

CMA president Dr. Ann Collins said influenza immunization “is more important than ever this year.”

“We need to avoid a possible twin epidemic of flu and COVID-19 as it can be devastating to patients and our ability to sustain health care delivery,” Collins said Tuesday in a media release.

“We need to focus on greater funding and resourcing of public health to support mass vaccination efforts.”

She also said it’s “imperative” that governments ensure front line workers are protected by PPE as COVID-19 surges in many parts of Canada.

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