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Editorial

Covid-19 vigilance

It was good news on Monday this week when US Vice President Kamala Harris was found to be negative for Covid-19. Six days earlier, she had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Harris was prescribed the antiviral treatment Paxlovid. Less than a week later a rapid antigen test returned a negative result; she was then cleared to return to work, and was back at the Oval Office yesterday.

Harris’ recovery following an intervention of Paxlovid is reassuring. Now among the anti-viral treatments that was last month made available here in Ontario, it is on the list of interventions, and Covid-19 assessment tests, that the Ontario government has deployed for high-risk persons infected with the coronavirus.

When Ontario did so on April 12, it was following the advice of Health Canada, the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and the Science Advisory Table in making anti-viral medications such as Paxlovid available, while at the same time expanding PCR and rapid antigen tests to high-risk, vulnerable, and immuno-compromised groups.

Paxlovid, along with Remdesivir, and other treatments, are now available for free by prescription to eligible persons with a higher risk to Covid-19 infections that could severely escalate and trigger hospital stays.

As the provincial government’s website notes, for the infected to be considered eligible for these anti-viral treatments means having a positive Covid-19 result that has been done using either a PCR or rapid antigen test.

Also required prior to dispensing these medications is an assessment by a health care provider, who must determine the right course of treatment, and whether the patient is at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms that would lead to hospitalisation.

As the province has noted, among those at a higher risk and requiring anti-viral treatments and other interventions are the immuno-compromised, persons who are over 70 years old, and those with conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and other co-morbidities.

Also, for communities such as ours, Ontario has indicated it is working with health care providers to prioritise higher-risk individuals for treatment who are Black and members of other racialised communities, or belong to Indigenous communities, and may be at heightened risk due to increased barriers to health care, and other contributory social and health-related factors.

It is important for a community as ours to keep in mind the availability of expanded PCR and rapid antigen testing, and anti-viral treatments now that we may be entering the endemic phase of the Covid-19 visitation.

Also, with the province’s lifting of most of the Covid-19 regulations, it is wise to remain informed about the progress of the coronavirus in the areas where we live.

A look at Ontario’s Covid-19 hospitalisation and intensive care unit admission numbers on Monday revealed an upward tick. However, the good news was there were no families in mourning, since there were no new deaths reported that were linked to Covid-19.

No deaths reported as a consequence of Covid-19 was a first in close to a month for Ontario.

Meanwhile, Ontario’s Ministry of Health reported the numbers revealed 1,423 patients had tested positive for Covid-19 in hospitals over the weekend and earlier this week. Also, there was a total of 211 people infected with the coronavirus in ICUs, an increase of 24 from Sunday. It was also reported a total of 90 patients in ICUs were breathing with the help of ventilators.

It is wise for us to also heed the words of Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Deanna Hinshaw, when she advised Albertans to remain vigilant, wear medical grade masks, and walk with hand sanitiser when out in public.

Said Hinshaw: “Ultimately, it is all about multiple layers of protection... there’s no single intervention that will guarantee safety.” Also, there will always be some risk; it is a matter of assessing it, and taking appropriate precautions.

As well, it is important to know what resources are available; and importantly, to remain Covid-19 vigilant.