April 28, 2020 12:00 pm
- The total number of cases in Canada to date is 49,025 (35,392 on April 16). The number of daily new cases and deaths has dropped in the last days, which is cause for optimism that restrictions may soon be relaxed.
- Only 6.8% of those tested for Coronavirus are “positive”, indicating that the vast majority of those tested do NOT have the disease.
- In addition to the now-well-known symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath, six new symptoms have now been added to the list for Coronavirus:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Loss of taste or smell
SOCIAL DISTANCING AT WORK
Along with frequent handwashing for 20 seconds, social distancing (2 metres apart) is a mainstay of workplace prevention. New evidence suggests that when face-to-face contact is essential, disease transmission is minimized if contact is kept to less than 15 minutes. Hence, a recent recommendation by NIH (National Institute of Health) in the U.K.:
- Where it is not possible to remain 2 metres apart, staff should work side-by-side, or facing away from each other, rather than face-to-face, if possible
- Where face-to-face contact is essential, this contact should be kept to 15 minutes or less wherever possible
- After some much-publicized media reports that the anti-malarial drug Chloroquine was effective against Coronavirus – and provoking a “run” on the medication to the extent that it has become virtually unavailable – further work has not confirmed any effectiveness of this medication against COVID-19 and has indeed raised questions about the drug’s safety. The use of Chloroquine for COVID-19 is now classed as “experimental”.
- Unfortunately, no drug has proven effective and safe for treatment of Coronavirus. .
AN “IMMUNITY PASSPORT”?
- A new word has entered our everyday lexicon, “Immunity Passport” (or a Risk-free Certificate), a document that would be issued as certification that a person has come into contact with Coronavirus and is now considered “immune”, based on “antibody” blood tests, and thus cannot become re-infected with COVID-19.
- Presumably, this document would be used to allow a person to return to work, cross international borders, etc. The World Health Organization (WHO) has come out against this idea, with the current state of knowledge; it is not known for sure how reliable blood “antibody” testing is as a gauge of a person’s immunity to COVID-19.
- At the present time, it is not certain to what extent infection with COVID-19 confers immunity to re-infection. As well, it is not known if the COVID-19 virus will eventually “mutate” (change) and present with a second wave of infections. Mutation is a problem with the influenza virus, which mutates rapidly almost annually, resulting in a new epidemic every year or so, to which we are not immune.
COVID-19 IN PETS
- COVID-19 apparently can occur in pets, most notably seen by two cats in the same household in New York City. There have been no known cases of humans infected by cats yet, although the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S advises owners to observe “social distancing” for pets as well.
- As long as you have not been diagnosed with Coronavirus yourself and are feeling well, going for a walk with your pet appears to be safe in these times of self-isolation. Exercise is healthy and therapeutic for you too!
April 17, 2020 12:30 pm
In MedExtra’s view, this has been a frustrating week for the public due to:
- Conflicting advice given by various Public Health authorities
- No signs that the peak of the pandemic is behind us
- Statements that there will be no relaxation of social distancing as of yet
- Public criticism of Public Health policymakers, sometimes with the benefit of hindsight
- The total number of cases in Canada to date is 30,670 (28,899 on April 16).
- Unfortunately, the number of “Daily New Cases” continues to remain high, and there has been no indication that the peak has been reached yet. We will keep our clients informed.
- There has been some research into the role of “aerosol” particles released during speech and their role in the transmission of COVID-19. Medextra will keep our clients informed of developments as there are still many unknowns as to how COVID-19 is transmitted.
- Studies show that 12% of COVID-19 cases have diarrhea and that the virus is “shed” in stools. This highlights the importance of regular cleaning and disinfection of common bathrooms, as mentioned in past Newsletters.
- It is increasingly clear that infected persons can be “infectious”, i.e. transmit the disease for 2-3 days before they develop symptoms, another reason to enforce “social distancing” rigorously at all times in the workplace.
MENTAL DISEASE EFFECTS
- The toll of stress on the general population and the workforce is becoming more and more recognized.
- The Government of Canada has created a Website that has Mental Health Evaluation Tools and resources that may be of interest. See link below.
April 15, 2020 12 pm
- The total number of cases in Canada to date is 27,557 (19,774 on April 9), with about half the cases in Quebec and 60% of the remainder in Ontario.
- After virtually quadrupling between March 28 and April 9, the rate of increase has moderated somewhat in the last few days, which is perhaps behind the optimism some public figures are starting to express.
- Perhaps this moderation of the rate of increase in new cases reflects the results of isolation measures put into place 3-4 weeks ago.
- Canada’s fatality rate is 3%, which is about 30x that of its annual influenza outbreaks, where the fatality rate is 0.1%.
- About half of the mortalities have been in our most “vulnerable” older citizens, especially residents of Chronic Care facilities. Families are beginning to remove their loved ones from these facilities and bringing them home. Employers may see increased demands for time off from employees to take care of their elderly parents.
- At this stage, expert opinion is that there is “no proven treatment” for COVID-19. While the lay press has given massive publicity to drugs such as chloroquine, azithromycin, and remdesivir, the best expert opinion is that there is “insufficient evidence” of the effectiveness of these medications.
MENTAL DISEASE EFFECTS
- For the first time in living memory, the general population is facing mass home-confinement directives, including Stay-at-Home Directives, Quarantine and Isolation, plus the added stresses of conflicting messages from Public Health Authorities and financial loss.
- Happily, we know, both from personal experience and from studies of natural disasters, that people are surprisingly resilient, most of us recover quickly and unscathed from adversity, and some of us find new strengths!
- Due to the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures used to “contain” it, concern has been raised over how people will react, both individually and collectively.
- Recent reviews of quarantined people and healthcare providers have revealed a range of emotional responses such as stress, depression, irritability, insomnia, fear, confusion, anger, frustration, boredom, and the stigma associated with quarantine, some of which persisted after the quarantine was lifted.
- In these difficult times, Canada’s Human Resources Departments can best help by:
- Doing their best to welcome returning employees back and avoiding the stigma of quarantine
- Doing what they can to alleviate the financial stresses of employees
- Preparing for the possibility of increased demands for time off from employees to take care of elderly parents
- Using whatever mental health resources they have to help stressed employees cope with their stress and remain productive at work and in their lives