Today’s coronavirus news: WSIB says quick tests, medical notes allowed for workplace claims; Thailand adopts guidelines to declare COVID-19 endemic

The latest coronavirusnuus from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated later in the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

5:58 am: Inuit in Nunavut getting a COVID-19 vaccine could end up with a brand new ride.

A new program means that Inuit living in each of the area’s 25 communities have a chance to win a snowmobile to get their chances.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the area’s land claims body, is holding Nunavut draws for vaccinated Inuit residents to win one of 25 machines.

Esther Powell, clinical manager for COVID-19 at NTI, said she was thinking of ways to encourage more Nunavut residents to be vaccinated.

“I had to think realistically about what would be most useful,” Powell told The Canadian Press from her Rankin Inlet office. “Snowmobiles made sense.”

Powell said it was not easy to buy 25 snowmobiles in each of the area’s fly-in communities, but local Northern stores were all willing to set one aside for the draw.

5:57 am: Ontarians who suspect they have caught COVID-19 at work can make claims to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, even without a positive result from a PCR test now that the gold standard assessment tool is no longer available to most residents.

However, a top manager at the board says that individuals should still try to get a medical opinion or quick test to confirm their infection.

“Our approach has not changed too dramatically,” said Scott Bujeya, chief operating officer of the board, who supports those injured at work. “The information gathering we do is very similar to what we would have done before Omicron.”

5:56 am: It’s hard to forget the tragic scenes that unfolded in the early days of the pandemic in long-term care homes across the country, as residents died in the thousands, isolated from their loved ones.

Although vaccines played a major role in protecting homes from the same deadly toll that hit the first wave of COVID-19 residents, the impact was still profound during the Omicron wave.

“It’s staggering when you just look at the number of homes that are breaking out,” says Dr. Samir Sinha, director of health policy research at the National Institute on Aging.

“It is just as sad when you consider that we have lost more than 300 residents in the last few weeks and how unforgiving this pandemic was, especially for those people who live in our long-term care and retirement homes.”

More than 34 percent of Canada’s 6,029 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak, the NIA’s latest figures show.

This is twice as many homes as the second highest peak in long-term care outbreaks, when 1,000 homes were infected last January, Sinha said.

The number of outbreaks has continued to rise since the Omicron wave first hit in mid-December, according to the Canadian Public Health Agency.

And just in the last few days, Canada has marked the 16,000th death in long-term care since the pandemic began.

COVID-19 also severely limited the sector with a shortage of staff as workers in the home became ill and had to be isolated.

This has led to concerns about the level of care that residents are left with, and the potential for the suffering and death of residents who do not have the virus.

5:55 am: Norway’s 84-year-old King Harald V will take a few days off with cold symptoms, the palace said on Friday, a day after meeting with Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt, who later tested positive for the coronavirus.

The royal household said in a brief statement that “all necessary investigations and tests will be carried out,” and that his son and heir, Crown Prince Haakon, has taken over his father’s duties.

In a statement to the Norwegian news agency NTB, Huitfeldt said that “I sincerely hope that I did not infect King Harald, Queen Sonja or Crown Prince Haakon” and wished the monarch “good recovery”.

5:54 am: The European Union ombudsman on Friday ruled that the bloc’s executive arm was responsible for “maladministration” after failing to provide text messages between its president and the CEO of pharmaceutical company Pfizer regarding the purchase of coronavirus vaccine. not.

Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly therefore recommended that the European Commission “conduct a more extensive search for the relevant messages.”

In April last year, a story published by the New York Times revealed that Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission and Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, exchanged text messages and calls about vaccine procurement for EU countries. .

A journalist then asked the Commission for access to the text messages and other documents, but the executive branch did not provide any text.

According to the ombudsman’s inquiry, the Commission did not clearly ask von der Leyen’s cabinet to search for the text messages.

“It falls short of reasonable expectations of transparency and administrative standards in the Commission,” O’Reilly said. “When it comes to the right of public access to EU documents, it is the content of the document that matters and not the device or form. If text messages relate to EU policies and decisions, they should be treated as EU documents. The EU administration needs to update its document-taking practices to reflect this reality. “

5:53 am: Thai health authorities on Friday approved new guidelines setting out the parameters for declaring the coronavirus pandemic an endemic disease.

Official figures show that the country already meets the three criteria, but Rungrueng Kitphati, spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Health, said it would still take between six months and a year before the government could make the decision to COVID-19 to start treating as a disease. it is here to stay, like flu or measles.

He said, among other things, that data from all of Thailand’s provinces should be checked, and authorities should be sure that the figures remain at current levels or improve before they can be declared endemic.

The guidelines drawn up by the ministry’s National Committee for Communicable Diseases consist of three criteria: that there are less than 10,000 new cases per day; that the mortality rate does not exceed 0.1% of those admitted to hospital with an infection; and that more than 80% of at-risk people had at least two vaccinations.

5:52 am: The Philippines will lift a ban on the entry of foreign tourists and business people next month after nearly two years, in a move to revive the battered tourism industry as the latest coronavirus outbreak began to ease, officials said Friday.

Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said the country would reopen its doors to travelers from more than 150 countries with visa-free privileges from February 10. Foreign travelers will no longer be required to be quarantined in government-designated centers upon arrival if they have been fully vaccinated and tested negative prior to arrival, officials said.

The government initially planned to lift the ban on December 1, but postponed it indefinitely as the more contagious Omicron variant spread, which also prompted authorities to reintroduce stricter restrictions.

5:51 am: Two days after Sarah Palin tested positive for the coronavirus, the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential nominee ate outdoors in New York on Wednesday night, disregarding the federal leadership that infected people isolate from others for at least five full days. .

Palin, who has not been vaccinated, returned to Elio’s, the Upper East Side restaurant where she was seen eating inside on Saturday, despite the city’s requirement that indoor guests show evidence of vaccination. Non-compliance can cost business owners a $ 1,000 fine.

Luca Guaitolini, a manager of the restaurant who confirmed both Palin’s visits last week, said they “just made a mistake” on Saturday.

In a statement Thursday, Guaitolini said she returned to the restaurant on Wednesday to “apologize for the fracas surrounding her previous visit.” He said Palin sat outside in accordance with the vaccine mandate and to protect the restaurant’s staff. “We are a restaurant that is open to the public, and we treat citizens the same,” he said.

5:50 am: How many times can I reuse my N95 mask?

It depends, but you should be able to use N95s and KN95s a few times.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says health care workers can wear an N95 mask up to five times. But experts say how often the average person can safely wear one will vary depending on how it is used.

Using the same mask to run to the grocery store, for example, is very different from wearing it all day at work.

The amount of time a mask is worn is more important than how often it is worn, says Richard Flagan, who studies masks and aerosols at the California Institute of Technology.

In general, he recommends limiting the use of an N95 mask to about two or three days.

With every breath you take an N95, particles collect on the mask, Flagan says. This can make it harder to breathe if the mask has trapped many particles.

“They degrade the performance of the mask,” says Flagan.

Friday 05:48: Hong Kong is cutting the length of mandatory quarantine for people arriving from overseas from 21 to 14 days, even while the southern Chinese city is fighting a new boom in COVID-19 cases.

Hong Kong is a major hub for business and finance and the strict restrictions on foreign travel have drawn complaints, especially from the large expatriate community.

The relaxation of rules does not meet calls for a reduction of almost all quarantine requirements, as some countries have done, but represents a break with China and its “zero tolerance” policy towards the virus that still requires all foreign arrivals for 21 years isolated. days, cut major domestic travel links and put millions under lock and key.

After leaving their quarantine hotels, travelers will still need to stay home for an extra seven days for self-monitoring.

Read Thursday’s coronavirus news.


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