According to Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam’s June 2 statement on COVID-19 in Canada, she says that disease activity indicators show decreasing transmission in most areas, an 8.4 per cent drop according to laboratory test positivity from May 25 to 31. Wastewater signals have plateaued or are declining in many areas although some areas still show variability.
Tam says severe illness trends are on the decline in most areas, although hospitalizations remain elevated and variable. Tam and her colleagues continue to closely monitor COVID-19s progress as it continues to evolve, producing new variants, including possible recombinant variants that can arise from genetic mixing during co-infection with two variants. Currently the BA.2 sub-lineage of Omicron remains the predominant among sequenced variants in Canada. She stresses that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine with a booster shot still provides over 90 per cent protection against severe outcomes of illness.
Tam says getting the booster shot is important for this enhanced protection, especially for those aged 50 years and over. She says that as of June 2, over 18.6 million third doses have been given, and as of May 22 over 2.5 million fourth doses have been administered. Over 86 per cent of seniors over 70 years of age as of May 22 and 62 to 77 per cent of those aged 50 to 69 years had gotten at least one additional does according to national data.
Tam emphasizes that during the transition phase of the pandemic and beyond, the best defence is to maintain caution and continue practicing personal protective habits like wearing a mask and staying home if you’re sick and keeping vaccinations up to date.
As of June 2 in Canada, there were 17,349 cases reported in the seven days prior, with 319 deaths over that same period. The total number of hospitalizations decreased from 5,728 to 4,962 from May 16 to 23, while the number of ICU cases went from 326 to 292 during that same time period.
In Ontario, as of June 5, there were 710 new cases reported. There were 419 hospitalizations, down 252 from the previous day and 111 people reported in the ICU as of that day, an increase of four cases. There were 13,288 deaths reported this week since the beginning of the pandemic, an increase of 62 cases since last week.
In Hastings Prince Edward, as of June 2, there were 20 new high-risk cases and active high-risk cases amounted to 45 people. There were three outbreaks in high-risk settings like LTC homes, and there were 59 deaths reported. There are 11 people who are currently hospitalized at Quinte Health Care hospitals and nobody in the ICU.
French study finds dogs more accurate than rapid tests in detecting COVID-19
A French study, published in the Plos One journal, has determined that dogs trained to sniff out COVID-19 infections can do so with a high degree of accuracy. The study was conducted in early 2021, so the dogs were detecting the original COVID-19 virus, not one of the variants. An earlier study in the United Kingdom found similar results.
The French study’s group of dogs sniffed sweat samples from humans and were able to discern positive COVID-19 cases 97 per cent of the time, and negative cases 91 per cent of the time. Rapid tests detect positive cases only 84 per cent of the time, while they better their canine competition by detecting negative cases 97 per cent of the time.
Another issue, according to the study’s lead author Dominique Grandjean, was that while rapid tests provide more false negatives, the dogs sniffed out more false positives, sometimes mistaking other respiratory ailments for COVID-19. However, the accuracy rate for the dogs’ detection of asymptomatic positive COVID-19 cases was 100 per cent.
The dogs the researchers used were procured from French fire departments and the Ministry of the Interior of the United Arab Emirates, and those with some form of scent detection could be trained to detect COVID-19 in three weeks, while it would take another two or three weeks for a canine not trained for scent detection.
Researchers are currently looking at the dogs’ abilities to detect variants of the virus, and Grandjean says that the study suggests the dogs would be useful at quickly detecting COVID-19 in large crowds, like schools, airports and sporting events.
However, some scientists doubt the dogs could be used to full effect outside of a laboratory setting, meeting that same level of accuracy seen in Grandjean’s study. They feel it would present a large hurdle, having a dog learn to translate from a sweat sample to a human being, which would present a more complex odour.
Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times