March 6, 2022

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Children’s viruses that disappeared during pandemic lockdowns are back, doctors say

As children emerge from their homes after COVID-19-related lockdowns, common viruses that all but disappeared during the pandemic are re-emerging too, doctors say.

“This time of year in pediatric hospitals, it’s usually quiet,” said Dr. Fatima Kakkar, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at CHU Sainte-Justine in Montreal. “But now we’re seeing a surge of respiratory infections.”

The level of non-COVID illnesses is what Kakkar usually sees in the fall, she said, when children are out and about in daycares or schools.

While the public health measures taken in the last year — including physical distancing, masking and staying home — were used to stop the spread of COVID-19, they also had the side benefit of preventing other respiratory viruses, including colds, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and human parainfluenza virus, which causes croup.

But experts say that also means because children haven’t come in contact with those viruses for a long time, they haven’t built up the antibodies they normally would — and they won’t have the immunity they might otherwise have.

WATCH | Common viruses returning as COVID-19 precautions lift: 


“What’s happened to us is we … had no exposure,” said Dr. Allison McGeer, an infectious diseases specialist and microbiologist at Sinai Health in Toronto.

“Now that we’re getting back to normal and kids can see each other, we’re starting to see those infections [again] in children.”

Kids will usually recover from most of these illnesses on their own, but Kakkar said pediatricians are especially worried about a rise in RSV. Although it’s a common virus, it can cause breathing problems in infants and toddlers that are so severe they require hospital care, she said. Read more on this story here.

Tornado leaves ‘catastrophic’ damage in Barrie, Ont.

Residents leave their homes after a tornado caused significant damage, in Barrie, Ont., on Thursday, July 15, 2021. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

(Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

Residents leave their homes after a tornado hit Barrie, Ont., on Thursday. The twister tore through a southeastern neighbourhood of the city, leaving four people hospitalized with serious injuries and about 25 buildings damaged. “I can’t tell you how incredible it is that nobody has been killed,” Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman said. Read more on the tornado here.

In brief

Fully vaccinated Americans could be allowed into Canada by mid-August, the Prime Minister’s Office disclosed yesterday. In a readout issued by the PMO from a COVID-19 status update with Canada’s premiers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated “that we could expect to start allowing fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents into Canada as of mid-August for non-essential travel.” The prime minister also indicated that fully vaccinated travellers from around the world could begin arriving by early September, provided the current vaccination rate remains on an upward trajectory. The readout from the PMO didn’t include details on whether eligible U.S. visitors would be required to show proof of vaccination when they cross the border. Read more on Trudeau’s comments about travel.

Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc is calling on the federal government and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Catholic order that operated dozens of residential schools in Canada, to provide records and resources as the First Nation continues to uncover potential burial sites near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. In a presentation Thursday, the First Nation renewed commitments to continue work at the site, where approximately 200 potential burial sites have been identified using ground-penetrating radar (GPR). Though preliminary findings in May indicated there could be as many as 215 potential burial sites, archeological reports about excavations and assessments done in the same area in the late 1990s and early 2000s prompted ground-penetrating radar specialist Sarah Beaulieu to revise that number down to 200. She said that number may go much higher eventually, since she surveyed only one hectare of a 65-hectare area and there is still forensic investigation and excavation work to be done. Read more on this story here.

WATCH | Survivor stories, discovery of tooth led to search of former B.C. residential school grounds: 

Former chief of defence staff Jonathan Vance has been charged with one count of obstruction of justice related to an ongoing military investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct. The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) announced the single charge against the country’s retired former top military commander yesterday. The service would not provide details about what is alleged to have taken place, but said that it happened sometime after the CFNIS began investigating Vance on Feb. 4, 2021. Provincial court documents, released late Thursday, allege that Vance attempted to obstruct “the course of justice in a judicial proceeding by repeatedly contacting Mrs. KB by phone and attempting to persuade her to make false statements about their past relationship to the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service.” Vance is due in provincial court on Sept. 17. Read more on the charge

WATCH | Jonathan Vance charged with obstruction of justice over sexual misconduct investigation: 

More than 1,500 properties in B.C. remained under evacuation order Thursday due to wildfires raging nearby, with thousands more on standby to leave their homes at a moment’s notice. The growing number of blazes prompted interior health authorities to evacuate several long-term care homes in the 100 Mile House and Ashcroft areas, while others are preparing to evacuate. Many communities under evacuation alert this week were among those hardest hit by the devastating wildfires in 2017, when thousands had to suddenly flee their homes after shifting winds pushed fires closer. “We’ve been through this before, so everybody’s working together,” said Mitch Campsall, mayor of 100 Mile House. Read more about the fire situation in B.C.

Psychiatric nurses embedded inside the RCMP’s operational command centre in Regina are taking 911 calls from people in mental distress and coaching front-line officers as part of a pilot project in Saskatchewan that the police force says is the first of its kind in Canada. The nurses are able to access an individual’s electronic health records and history — off-limits to police — when they speak to a person in a mental health crisis or as they assist RCMP officers in real-time during a mental health emergency. “We’re working with mental health professionals to deliver a much better service than we have in the past,” said RCMP Sgt. Burton Jones. “We’re trained to help … how to de-escalate situations that involve mental health, but we’re not professionals — we know that.” Read more about the project.

WATCH | Pilot project pairs Sask. RCMP with mental health supports: 

Now for some good news to start your Friday: Residents at a temporary home for P.E.I. residents recovering from addictions and co-occurring mental health disorders were treated to 30 pounds of lobster this week thanks to an anonymous donation. Erin Henry, chef at Lennon House in Rustico, P.E.I., said the donor told staff they’d won a Lobster P.E.I. contest and wanted to pass their winnings along to Lennon House. She said residents were “really excited” about the donation. “We’re a not-for-profit, so we don’t really have the budget to buy lobster for our residents generally. We’re in a pretty tight budget for food.” Read more about the donation.

Front Burner: What’s next for the victims of Kamloops Indian Residential School?

In late May, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation shocked Canadians with a preliminary finding of unmarked graves near the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School. 

Yesterday, the nation released more details. An expert said some 200 possible graves have been identified, but added that number might rise since 64 hectares remain unsurveyed and more forensic investigation and excavation work is needed. CBC Vancouver’s Angela Sterritt breaks down what we now know —  and tells us what’s next.

Front Burner25:52What’s next for the victims of Kamloops Indian Residential School?

Today in history: July 16

1945: The first atomic bomb is exploded during a test  in New Mexico. It remained a closely guarded secret until after the announcement that an atomic bomb had been dropped on Japan.

1969: Apollo 11 blasts off from Florida on the first manned mission to the moon’s surface.

1981: The Burgess Shale, a 530-million-year-old fossil deposit in B.C.’s Yoho National Park, is officially recognized as Canada’s fifth UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2008: Hudson’s Bay Co. announces it has been bought by New York-based NRDC Equity Partners. It marked the second time that Canada’s oldest company changed hands in less than three years.

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