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N.S. reports two COVID-19 related deaths and first case of vaccine-related blood clotting

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HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is reporting two deaths related to COVID-19, along with 17 new cases on Wednesday, as the active number of cases in the province drops to 311.

In a release, Nova Scotia health officials say two men, both in their 60s, have died in the province’s Central Zone. There have now been 87 COVID-19 related deaths in the province.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends on behalf of all Nova Scotians,” said Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin during a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.

The province also reported 17 new COVID-19 cases, as well as 72 recoveries on Wednesday.

According to a release from the province, 12 of Wednesday’s new cases are located in the province’s Central Zone – eight of the cases are close contacts of previously reported cases, two are related to travel and two are under investigation.

Three new cases are located in the province’s Eastern Zone, and are close contacts of previously reported cases.

There is one new case in the province’s Northern Zone, related to travel outside of the province.

There is one new case in the province’s Western Zone, which is currently under investigation.

Public Health says there is now “limited community spread” in the Central Zone. The Eastern, Northern and Western Zones continue to be closely monitored for community spread.

The province says 72 previously reported cases are now considered resolved, with the total number of active cases dropping to 311, the lowest number of active cases reported in the province since April 25.

FIRST CASE OF VACCINE-RELATED BLOOD CLOTTING CONFIRMED

The province has confirmed its first case of a rare blood clotting condition known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT).

The province says the case involves a man in his 40s who received his first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in early May. He developed symptoms about two weeks after vaccination, has received treatment and is recovering.

“He become symptomatic a couple of weeks after getting his first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine. He has been treated and is thankfully recovering,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.

Anyone who received a first dose of AstraZeneca is able to choose to get a second dose of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna.

Anyone who received a first dose of Pfizer or Moderna can choose either vaccine for their second dose.

“There’s evidence coming out of both Britian and Spain that suggests that not only is it safe to take a different vaccine for the same dose but also that it may also be very effective for stimulating your immune response,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Lisa Barrett.

PREMIER, TOP DOC SAY STEADY APPROACH IS SAFEST

On Wednesday, Nova Scotia officially moved into Phase 1 of a five-phase reopening plan with each phase expected to last two to four weeks.

It’s hoped Phase 2 will start by June 16, Phase 3 by the end of the month, phase 4 by mid-July, and Phase 5 in September.

“It’s really important that we listen to the current restrictions in place or we won’t achieve those dates,” Rankin said. “What I won’t do is put hard dates out there and commit to them.”

Rankin and Strang rejected criticism that the province was re-opening too slowly.

“It would be irresponsible for us to just choose an arbitrary date,” Rankin said. “We’re taking an incremental approach, based on vaccine uptake and hospitalization.”

Strang said he understands that people want dates, or more certainty, but it’s not possible.

“Some people want more certainity and some want us to reopen faster, but there is no certainity with COVID-19,” said Strang.

Strang said that until 75 per cent of the population is protected with two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccine alone does not provide the herd immunity required to drop restrictions.

“That’s why we will need to have some restrictions over the summer,” Strang said. “Our current slow and steady approach will ensure that once we open, we stay open.”

Strang said that to get to the 75 per cent figure in the overall population, 85 per cent of all eligible age groups would need to be vaccinated.

“Population immunity is coming,” Strang said. “Being a tortoise among hares is a good for our collective health.”

As for travellers being able to provide proof of vaccination to avoid needing to quarantine for 14 days, Strang said it’s an issue that is being addressed at the federal level so there is the same standard across the country.

When asked why a special system is needed and people just can’t provide proof themselves, Rankin was blunt.

“People were less than honest and that’s what caused the third wave,” Rankin said. “We want a credible system. We want to make sure that we are protecting Nova Scotians.”

CASE DATA

On Tuesday, Nova Scotia labs processed 4,254 tests, and a total of 824,369 since the start of the pandemic.

There have been 5,596 cumulative COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. Of those, 5,197 people have recovered, and 87 have died due to COVID-19.

According to the province’s online dashboard, there are currently 38 individuals in hospital, 15 of whom are in the intensive care unit.

Since April 1, there have been 3,853 positive COVID-19 cases and 21 deaths. Of the new cases since April 1, 3,521 are now considered resolved.

There are cases confirmed across the province, but most have been identified in the Central zone, which contains the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The provincial government says cumulative cases by zone may change as data is updated in Panorama, the province’s electronic information system.

The numbers reflect where a person lives and not where their sample was collected.

  •  Western Zone: 279 cases (6 active)
  •  Central Zone: 4,484 cases (213 active)
  •  Northern Zone: 290 cases (20 active)
  •  Eastern Zone: 542 cases (72 active)

The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, 2020, has been extended to June 13, 2021.

VACCINE UPDATE

Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 online dashboard provides an update on the number of vaccines that have been administered to date.

As of Wednesday, 594,708 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with approximately 56.1 per cent of the province’s overall population having received at least one dose.

Nova Scotia has received a total of 651,950 doses of COVID-19 vaccine since Dec. 15.

COVID-19 vaccination appointments can be made online or by phone at 1-833-797-7772.

Appointments cannot be booked directly through a community clinic, pharmacy or physician. Walk-ins will be turned away.

NOVA SCOTIANS ENCOURAGED TO SEEK ASYMPTOMATIC TESTING

Public health is strongly encouraging Nova Scotians to seek asymptomatic COVID-19 testing, particularly if they have had several social interactions, even with their own social circle.

COVID-19 tests can be booked through the province’s online self-assessment COVID-19 tool, or by calling 811.

People can also visit one of Nova Scotia’s rapid pop-up testing sites that continue to operate throughout the province.

  •  Alderney Gate Public Library (60 Alderney Dr., Dartmouth), from noon to 7 p.m.
  •  Centennial Arena (27 Vimy Ave., Halifax) from noon to 7 p.m.
  •  Centre 200 (481 George St, Sydney), from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  •  Cole Harbour Place (51 Forest Hills Parkway), from noon to 7 p.m.
  •  Halifax Central Library (5440 Spring Garden Rd, Halifax, NS), from noon to 7 p.m.
  •  Halifax Convention Centre (1650 Argyle St., Halifax), from noon to 7 p.m.

COVID ALERT APP

Canada’s COVID-19 Alert app is available in Nova Scotia.

The app, which can be downloaded through the Apple App Store or Google Play, notifies users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Nova Scotia Health release a list of public exposures on Wednesday evening.

LIST OF SYMPTOMS

Anyone who experiences a fever or new or worsening cough, or two or more of the following new or worsening symptoms, is encouraged to take an online test or call 811 to determine if they need to be tested for COVID-19:

  •  Sore throat
  •  Headache
  •  Shortness of breath
  •  Runny nose/nasal congestion  
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Hundreds of Indonesian healthcare workers contract COVID-19 despite vaccination, dozens hospitalised

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JAKARTA: More than 350 Indonesian doctors and healthcare workers have contracted COVID-19 despite being vaccinated with Sinovac and dozens have been hospitalised, officials said, as concerns rise about the efficacy of some vaccines against more virulent virus strains.

Most of the doctors were asymptomatic and self-isolating at home, said Badai Ismoyo, head of the Kudus district health office in Central Java, but dozens were in hospital with high fevers and declining oxygen saturation levels.

Kudus is battling an outbreak believed to be driven by the more transmissible Delta variant which has pushed bed occupancy rates above 90 per cent in the district.

Designated as a priority group, Indonesian healthcare workers were among the first to be vaccinated when the inoculation drive started in January.

Almost all have received the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac, according to the Indonesian Medical Association.

While the number of Indonesian healthcare workers dying from COVID-19 has decreased significantly – dropping from 158 deaths this January to 13 this May, according to data initiative group LaporCOVID-19 – public health experts say the Java hospitalisations are cause for concern.

“The data shows they have the Delta variant so it is no surprise that the breakthrough infection is higher than before because as we know the majority of healthcare workers in Indonesia got Sinovac, and we still don’t know yet how effective it is in the real world against the Delta variant,” said Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist from Australia’s Griffith University.

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China’s Covid-19 vaccine flops in Singapore too

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New Delhi: In a major setback to Chinas Covid vaccines, Singapore is not counting its citizens who received Sinovac Biotech shots as being vaccinated against Covid-19 due to lack of data to show that the doses are effective against coronavirus, especially the Delta strain.

“We don’t really have a medical or scientific basis or have the data now to establish how effective Sinovac is in terms of infection and severe illnesses on Delta,” local media cited health minister Ong Ye Kung as saying at a press conference on Wednesday.

The decision comes close on the heels of serious doubts arising over Chinese vaccines in Indonesia as those who have received the shots are also contracting Covid-19 and infections are surging in the country.

The Delta variant is currently the dominant strain of Covid-19 in Singapore and was identified in the city state in May. Only people who have received the Moderna and Pfizer shots, are being considered as vaccinated in the official records.

Singapore had allowed some private clinics to offer the Sinovac shot, CoronaVac, from mid-June. Around 17,000 people are reported to have received one dose of CoronaVac.

Local media had also reported Singapore’s director of medical services saying last month that evidence from other countries showed people who had taken CoronaVac were still getting infected.

Most of the vaccines being used by Indonesia have also come from China’s Sinovac Biotech. Some health workers inoculated with Sinovac jabs have been hospitalized due to Covid-19. A few have even died despite being fully immunized, according to a report in Nikkei Asia.

The Indonesian Doctors Association says that of the 14 doctors who died from the virus between February and May, ten had been fully vaccinated with Sinovac, while the rest had been given one dose.

Although there is a serious problem with Chinese vaccines due to inadequate data to show their efficacy, some countries are being forced to opt for them because of the cute shortage of vaccines worldwide amid the devastating pandemic.

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102 people qualify for S$451,000 in Covid-19 vaccine injury financial aid to date: Ong Ye Kung

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SINGAPORE — The authorities have approved S$451,000 worth of financial aid to people who had suffered serious side effects from Covid-19 vaccines in Singapore, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Tuesday (July 6).

The payments have either been paid out or are being processed to 102 applicants under the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (Vifap) introduced by the Government in January.

They were among a total of 292 applicants who had submitted a complete Vifap application as of June 25, Mr Ong said.

Of these, 159 did not meet the eligibility criteria and 31 applications are waiting to be reviewed by an independent clinical panel or pending more medical information from the applicant’s doctor.

Mr Ong was responding in a written answer to a parliamentary question filed by Ms He Ting Ru, Member of Parliament for Sengkang Group Representation Constituency, who had asked about the applications made and payments approved under the programme.

TODAY has asked the Ministry of Health (MOH) for details of these approved payouts.

Vifap provides three tiers of support to people assessed to be adversely affected by their Covid-19 inoculation.

The first is a one-time payout of S$2,000 for patients who need hospitalisation and medical intervention and who later recover.

The second is a payout of up to S$10,000 that will be given to those who were hospitalised and required care in a high dependency or intensive care unit, but later recover from the side effects caused by the vaccine.



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