HealthBeat: Good morning! Today in health news, April 13

Metrolinx says some GO bus trips to be cancelled Monday as staff vaccine policy comes into effect; Ontario sees 340 new cases of COVID-19 Good morning, We are watching closely as news continues to…

HealthBeat: Good morning! Today in health news, April 13

Metrolinx says some GO bus trips to be cancelled Monday as staff vaccine policy comes into effect; Ontario sees 340 new cases of COVID-19

Good morning,

We are watching closely as news continues to unfold over the coronavirus in the United Kingdom and we have additional announcements to make on the latest information on the coronavirus.

Effective today, Metrolinx has updated their vaccine policy, a change that is expected to affect some GO bus riders as travel options become more limited on Monday, April 15.

Workers at the GO Transit Corp. are now required to receive a swine flu vaccination that includes the least effective vaccine, either the anti-viral Tamiflu or the most potent vaccine from GlaxoSmithKline. An Ontario news release explains:

Employees will need to be immunized by injection, although subject to restrictions that may apply as to their work. At this time, it is difficult to predict the duration of the employee immunization period, and follow-up care will be required as such. The employee will require to get their immunization follow-up from an independent medical practitioner – they must not receive it from an employer. The employee will be advised of the best course of immunization if it will not cause any adverse effects. The employee must confirm with the independent medical practitioner that the approved vaccine should be administered. According to the Ontario government, while the current level of protection from vaccination for H7N9 infections seems to be high, many of the recent deaths may have occurred because infection occurred relatively early in the course of infection, and the deaths also may have been caused by pre-existing conditions that were difficult to treat.

The government also continues to encourage all Ontarians to get a flu shot if they haven’t already.

For more information on the current global risk posed by the coronavirus and related news, see my latest post at Health Policy in The Age of the Coronavirus

In the United Kingdom, as of Thursday, 325 suspected and confirmed cases have been seen in the country, up from 174 at the end of last week. The most affected patients are between the ages of 5 and 64, but this tends to vary according to social class, and the highest age range tends to be 55 and up.

In early April, the World Health Organization declared the situation a global public health emergency, and WHO staff and experts continue to work around the clock to get a better understanding of the nature of the virus.

So far, the infection has been found in people of many different nationalities, cultures and backgrounds. The spread of the infection to two separate countries on the same continent of Europe has been a unique twist that has caught the global public’s attention, the WHO said.

So far, the report noted, no imported cases have been recorded.

Britain has announced a number of measures to minimize the risk of the virus spreading. A screening regime has been put in place at selected ports of entry as well as between airports and airports in the United Kingdom. All flights from infected countries have been quarantined for a number of days at an airfield or another location where screening is underway. This includes passengers on two flights that took passengers from Saudi Arabia to Luton, England on April 3 and 5.

In Canada, cases of the coronavirus have been found across all provinces, including 27 in Ontario, with an additional 16 in Quebec. Though the Toronto-based Public Health Agency of Canada has not released a timeline of transmission, a January report noted that Ontarians who have been infected had “close contact” with those who were in contact with people infected with the virus.

In the United States, New York City officials have not reported any cases of the virus.

Any tips on how to deal with the new flu that you have in mind?

Sara Stewart contributed to this report.

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