Navigating the new normal: Canada’s rising Covid-19 cases worry schools

A grassroots group of health experts is urging British Columbia to impose mask mandates in schools and hospitals to prevent a new “triple epidemic” of COVID-19, RSV and influenza infections that has sent hospitals across the province into verge of collapse last fall.

With increasing COVID-19 infections in British Columbia and two additional viral sub-variants on the horizon, Protect Our Province BC believes the province should act sooner rather than later.

More than a dozen doctors, nurses, researchers, teachers, and professionals have joined forces to campaign for evidence-based pandemic policies.

“We’ve known since last year that children and schools were hit hard, and if the goal is to keep children learning in school, we must do everything we can to prevent the spread of the virus this fall,” said Dr. Lyne Filiatrault, former member of the ER. physician in Vancouver and committee member.

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Back-to-school jitters: Canada’s rising Covid-19 cases worry schools

Back-to-school concerns grow as Covid-19 cases riseCredit: CBC

Masks should be mandatory in schools and healthcare facilities, according to Protect Our Province BC, and the province should prioritize air filters and ventilation in classrooms to limit the risk of transmission.

“If the goal is to keep kids learning in school, we must do everything we can this fall to prevent the viral spread of COVID and other airborne viruses,” Filiatrault said.

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While COVID-19 is sending fewer people to the ICU this year compared to 2022, hospitalizations increased by nearly 20% between April 2022 and March 2023 compared to the previous year, according to new statistics from the Canadian Center for Information on Health.

And, according to data released by the British Columbia Center for Disease Control on August 23, virus concentrations have stabilized across the province and appear to be increasing in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, as well as elsewhere. from Canada.

Back-to-school concerns grow as Covid-19 cases riseCredit: Canva

However, because the vast majority of the population is at least somewhat protected by vaccination or previous infection with COVID-19, it is not clear if the new variants EG.5 and BA.2.86 will cause infections to increase from the same way as the original Omicron. The variant did.

Early research suggests that EG.5 does not cause more severe disease, but may be more transmissible than earlier Omicron subvariants found in British Columbia.

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, it accounted for about 28% of cases in Canada during the week of August 6, but the World Health Organization says the global risk level is “low.”

Little is known about the severely altered variety BA.2.86, which has recently been detected in several countries, but not in Canada.

According to infectious disease experts, a large number of mutations can make BA.2.86 more severe, although this cannot be determined at this early stage and with so few diagnosed cases.

Back-to-school concerns grow as Covid-19 cases riseCredit: Canva

There are things you can do to protect yourself: experts

As cases rise and we learn more about new varieties, Labos believes it makes sense to mandate masks in schools and healthcare settings. “It’s not just about the properties of the virus or the variant; it’s also the environmental situation in which we put the virus, the ease with which we allow it to spread, and whether or not we have public health measures in place to prevent it from spreading.” spread.” Labos explained.

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Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, stressed that parents and their children should stay home from school and work if they are sick, regardless of whether a test shows they have COVID-19. 19.

“No matter what the virus is, let’s just prevent disease in the community with that simple measure,” Bogoch added.

Bogoch, Labos, and Filiatrault also urged parents to vaccinate their children against COVID-19 and influenza, noting that vaccination rates for children under 12 years of age are substantially below rates for adolescents and adults in Columbia. British.

Adults should also get vaccinated, according to Filitrault, especially if new vaccines targeting Omicron’s most current strains become available later this fall.

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Source: vtt.edu.vn

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