Happy Thanksgiving and More COVID-19 News
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with your loved ones.
Thank you for the lovely feedback last week. I am grateful for the opportunity to educate you each week. I appreciate it when you share the newsletter with friends; let’s get objective, evidence-based information out there!
As we do each week, let’s review the bad news, the good news, the most common questions of the week, and my silver lining.
What is the bad news?
236 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide, with 4.8 million deaths. Canada has seen 1.65 million cases and almost 27,000 deaths.
The United States still had the highest daily number of new infections and death in the world. The projected number of COVID deaths is starting to decrease for the first time since June. The United Kingdom has the second-highest number of daily infections. Daily infections are surging in Russia. A slow vaccination rollout and minimal restrictions are leading to 900 deaths a day and over 213,000 deaths so far.
Canadian military workers are working in an Edmonton hospital, bursting with COVID patients. Cases in Saskatchewan continue to rise, with record numbers of hospitalizations this week. Patients in Northern British Columbia are being flown more south for care due to a surge of cases.
The COVID positivity rate is now 8% in Alberta, with over 1,300 new cases a day. More than 750 schools in Alberta have cases, with 54 outbreaks representing 10% of all public schools. New Brunswick had more than a dozen school closures last week.
What’s the good news?
88% of Canadians have received their first dose of a COVID vaccine, and 82% have received both.
Worldwide, almost 6.5 BILLION vaccines have been given. 46% have received one dose, and 35% have received both.
Vaccine requirements for work are increasing across the country. For example, last week, Ottawa announced that ‘core’ federal public servants will need to be fully vaccinated or put on leave.
All plane and train travellers in Canada will require complete vaccination.
In British Columbia, visitors to healthcare settings will be mandated. In Ontario, long-term care staff require complete vaccination, and there are rumblings all healthcare workers will be directed to follow suit soon. In Quebec, no religious exemptions will be allowed for healthcare workers.
What is the deal with rapid antigen tests for kids in schools?
Last week, the Ontario government announced that rapid antigen tests will be available to unvaccinated, asymptomatic kids with no known COVID-19 exposure in areas of high risk COVID transmission.
For clarity, rapid antigen tests will be available to the following kids:
- No known COVID exposure
- High-risk areas
This is not the same as PCR testing for symptomatic kids or those who had a high-risk exposure.
Local medical officers of health will determine which schools and childcare settings in which areas will receive the tests.
These tests are voluntary and will be completed at home.
The goal is to better understand the burden of COVID in our schools among asymptomatic kids.
A rapid antigen test cannot be used to diagnose COVID-19 or clear someone who has symptoms to go back to school or daycare.
Anyone with symptoms, a known COVID exposure, or a positive result on a rapid antigen test should get a PCR test and stay home from school or daycare until they have test results and improved symptoms.
Who should get a third COVID-19 vaccine dose?
The Ministry of Health updated the third dose vaccination recommendations last week to include:
• Patients taking certain immunosuppressant medications
• Elderly individuals living in assisted living facilities, chronic care hospitals, naturally occurring congregate retirement settings/congregate seniors apartment buildings
• Eligible patients who are moderate to severely immunocompromised can be referred for third doses by their physician.
Do you have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine in kids?
• The Hospital for Sick Children has launched a COVID-19 Vaccine Consult Service for kids 12 years of age and older and their families to answer questions about the vaccine. The free phone consultations are with Sick Kids health professionals and are available in many languages. OHIP coverage is not required.
• To book a phone appointment, complete the online form at Vaccine Consult Service for Youth or call 437-881-3505.
Really cool news!
With so much focus on COVID, many people are unaware of the significant burden malaria plays in the lives of so many kids. Malaria infects more than 200 MILLION people a year, with over 400,000 deaths PER YEAR!
More than half of these are children in Africa. For the first time, kids across Africa will be vaccinated against malaria. Decades of work will make a significant difference in the lives of so many families.
My silver lining of the week
It’s been quite the year. I am so thankful that we are where we are now, compared to last October. In Ontario, we celebrated Thanksgiving with loved ones with less fear of illness due to our stable case rate and high vaccination rate.
That is something to be thankful for!
Have a wonderful week, everyone,
Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.