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Coronavirus: Eight new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba

There are now 72 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba, public health officials announced Sunday.

That’s an increase of eight cases from Saturday to Sunday.

Public health officials are now investigating how the new patients contracted the virus and are speaking to people they have been in contact with.

One person is in intensive care battling the disease, and another is in hospital, said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer.


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Pope Francis backs UN chief’s call for global ceasefire amid coronavirus pandemic

Pope Francis on Sunday backed a call by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for a global ceasefire so the world can focus on fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at his weekly blessing, delivered from the official papal library instead of St. Peter’s Square because of the lockdown in Italy, Francis specifically mentioned the appeal Guterres made in a virtual news conference on Monday.

Saying the disease knows no borders, Francis appealed to everyone to “stop every form of bellicose hostility and to favor the creation of corridors for humanitarian help, diplomatic efforts and attention to those who find themselves in situations of great vulnerability.”

More than 662,700 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus across the world and 30,751 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

About a third of the deaths have been in Italy, where the toll passed 10,000 on Saturday, a figure that made an extension of a national lockdown almost certain.

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Confirmed cases in Italy stood at 92,472, the second-highest number of cases in the world behind the United States.

The Vatican, a 108-acre city-state surrounded by Rome, has had six confirmed cases and on Saturday spokesman Matteo Bruni said tests were carried out after a priest who lives in the papal residence tested positive.

Bruni said the pope and his closest aides did not have the disease.

The social effects of the pandemic have drawn comparisons with painful periods such as World War Two, the 2008 financial crisis and the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.

The United Nations has been trying to mediate an end to conflicts in countries including Syria, Yemen and Libya, while also providing humanitarian assistance to millions of civilians.

Guterres warned that in war-torn countries health systems have collapsed and the small number of health professionals left were often targeted in the fighting.

In his Sunday address, Francis also appealed to authorities to be sensitive to the particular problem coronavirus poses in prisons around the world, many of them overcrowded.

He said the prison situation “could become a tragedy.”

Prisoners have rioted in a number of countries, including Italy, where at least six inmates died earlier this month. Prisoners rioted at a jail in northeastern Thailand on Sunday.

Several countries, including Germany, Sudan and Iran, have released inmates in order to reduce the strain on their prison systems.

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Operations continue at Irving sawmill after employee confirmed to have COVID-19

One of Nova Scotia’s cases of COVID-19 has been confirmed to be an employee at the Irving Sawmill near Truro, N.S.

J.D. Irving confirmed the news in a press release on Saturday.

Irving says that the employee has received the proper medical care and is self-isolating.

The employee’s last shift at the sawmill was on March 22, according to J.D. Irving.

Social distancing, new protective barriers and personal protective equipment have also been made available on site.

The company says that Nova Scotia’s department of public health has informed them that operations at the sawmill can continue.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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Children and Coronavirus: Research Finds Some Become Seriously Ill

“The main conclusion,” Dr. Murthy continued, “is that children are infected at rates that may be comparable to adults, with severity that’s much less, but that even within the kids, there’s a spectrum of illness and there’s a handful that require more aggressive therapy.”

More than 60 percent of the 125 children who became severely ill or critically ill were age 5 or younger, the study reported. Forty of those were infants, under 12 months old.

Dr. Tong said he believed that younger children were more susceptible to infection because their respiratory systems and other body functions are rapidly developing.

Dr. Andrea Cruz, an associate professor of pediatrics of Baylor College of Medicine and co-author of a commentary about the study, said that preschoolers and babies likely get sicker because of their “immune system immaturity.”

“They haven’t been exposed to viruses before and therefore they can’t mount an effective immune response,” she said in an interview.

Scientists are actively trying to determine why so many children appear to emerge relatively unscathed by the new coronavirus, a pattern that also characterized the earlier outbreaks of the closely-related SARS virus in China and MERS in the Middle East. Cases of children with the new coronavirus infection in Italy, Singapore and South Korea seem to be similar, Dr. Murthy said.

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A theory that is gaining increasing currency is that the receptor or protein in human cells that the viral particles bind to, called the ACE2 receptor, is not expressed as prominently in young children or might be a different shape, Dr. Murthy said.

“It might not be as developed in children as in adults,” he said, which might make it tougher for the spikes on the tiny viral particles to bind and gain entry to the cells so the virus can replicate.

Another theory is that “most kids have healthier lungs” than adults, Dr. Cruz said. Adults have likely been more exposed to pollution over their lifetime and adults with severe coronavirus disease have tended to have underlying health conditions or weakened or aging immune systems.

It’s also possible, experts say, that children’s immune systems don’t rev up to attack the virus as much as adult immune systems do. Doctors have found that some of the serious damage infected adults have endured has been caused not just by the virus itself, but by an aggressive immune response that creates destructive inflammation in the body’s organs.

The new study, while large and included cases across China, not just where the outbreak originated in Wuhan, leaves many unanswered questions. For example, the researchers found that more of the severe and critical cases were in children with suspected — instead of confirmed — coronavirus infection, raising the possibility that other infections wreaked havoc on their bodies, in addition to or possibly even instead of Covid-19.

It’s also unclear whether the United States can expect the relatively small numbers of child cases reported in China or should brace for more.

“The age pyramid in China is really different than the U.S. — they have a lot fewer kids than we do,” said Dr. Cruz, who believes, as other experts do, that large numbers of people with mild or asymptomatic disease have not been recorded because testing was not done in those cases. “You’ve had a lot of under-testing in children because the focus has been on adults. It’s likely we’ve been underestimating the disease burden in kids.”

Answering questions about coronavirus in children could reverberate well beyond the pediatric population. It could shed light why some patients are most at risk. And, said Dr. Murthy, studying the physiology of those who are less affected could help in the development of treatment and a vaccine.

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Your Nose Itches. Is It Allergies, Flu or the Coronavirus?

“There’s a feeling of overall malaise that is associated with viral infections,” Dr. Adalja said. Except for seasonality, it can be hard to tell the two apart.

“Unfortunately, there’s no reliable way to distinguish between early symptoms of the flu and coronavirus,” Dr. Adalja said. “The only way to distinguish the two clinically is with a diagnostic test.”

According to reports from nearly 56,000 laboratory-confirmed cases in China, people infected with the coronavirus develop symptoms like a dry cough, shortness of breath and a sore throat, in addition to fever and aches.

Around 5 percent of patients may also experience nausea or vomiting, while roughly 4 percent develop diarrhea. Researchers are not sure why some people develop gastrointestinal symptoms with coronavirus infections.

“But that’s not something you usually see with influenza in adults,” Dr. Adalja said.

Severe coronavirus infections can result in lung lesions and pneumonia. But the vast majority of those infected get only mild cases that often resemble the flu.

Your personal history can give doctors clues to what’s going on. If you traveled to an area with large clusters of coronavirus cases, or were in contact with someone who later tested positive for the virus, you may have caught it, too.

Doctors and health care workers have to work with these possibilities because tests are still available only in limited quantities in the United States, Dr. Adalja said.

How bad is it?

Pay close attention to whether your symptoms worsen over time. Discomfort due to allergy remains consistent until you treat it or the allergen goes away. Symptoms of the flu tend to resolve in about a week.

The new coronavirus, on the other hand, seems to cause more severe symptoms than the average seasonal flu and seems to have a higher fatality rate, although the numbers are a bit uncertain.

If you are elderly or have other health conditions, such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes or immunodeficiency, you are more vulnerable to viral infections and are more likely to develop severe disease if infected with the coronavirus.

Early estimates from China show that the average death rate among coronavirus patients is around 2 percent, but that figure rises to 8 percent in people 70 years or older, and about 15 percent in people 80 years or older.

But nobody is certain how many cases are very mild or asymptomatic.

What to expect

The general advice for people who get sick with the flu or coronavirus is very similar: Rest and drink plenty of fluids.

Mild cases of the flu resolve by themselves within a few days. Although coronavirus infections tend to last a little longer, most people with mild cases get better in about two weeks, Dr. Adalja said.

Severe cases may take three to six weeks to resolve. Doctors can only give supportive care, providing patients with intravenous fluids, medicines to keep the fever down or oxygen to help with breathing.

There are no approved treatments for coronavirus infections, although a few clinical trials are underway that test antiviral drugs such as remdesivir.

It’s up to you to take precautions to prevent a coronavirus infection, and to take stock of your medical and travel history. But you don’t need to go to the doctor for every sniffle or scratchy throat.

“You should be going to the doctor for something that would trigger concern, even before you had heard of the coronavirus,” Dr. Adalja said.

“So if you’re somebody that’s elderly or somebody that has another medical condition, if you develop shortness of breath, if you develop extreme fatigue, those are real indicators to call your physician and go to the hospital.”

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