Near the Canada USA border in Calais, Maine FPM.news talked to nurse practitioner Monique Deslauriers with the Nurses Without Borders about what are the prospects for halting the spread of COVID-19 in North America.
“It is not known if Canada has the B.1.1.7 or 501.V2 variants of the coronavirus circulating from the United Kingdom and South Africa. Both are now in the UK,” the specialist nurse explained.
by Sharon Santiago
“Those variations are N501Y mutations. N501Y exists within the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein which is what it uses to exploit the human cells that have the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptor.”
“The ACE2 receptors are found on cells in lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, liver, heart and in the gastrointestinal tract. All of these organs and blood vessels can be seriously damaged by SARS-CoV-2, even causing death,” she explained.
“It is highly likely that both the British and South Affrican variants are in Canada given that there are over 300,000 visitors to Canada from the U.K. per month, in the last quarter of 2020 during which time the B.1.1.7 strain has been increasingly prevalent in the UK according to detailed reports in the Lancet. Canadians in the thousands went to Hawaii over Christmas as did British travelers,” she explained, adding that her group is tracking the spread of up to 13 different variants that are considered significant.
“There is one particularly worrisome mutation of the virus’ N501Y. Although the 501.v2 and the B.1.1.7 do not challenge existing vaccines, a new strain, the E484K is likely to diminish the effectiveness of vaccines because it is better able to disguise itself and thus fool the immune system. Vaccine makers will likely start testing that strain next week.
Hospitals in North America are filling up rapidly.
All available space is being converted to care units. Photo Credit: source Supplied. Art/Cropping/Enhancement: Rosa Yamamoto / Feminine-Perspective Magazine
What can people do to avoid infection of the new variants of SARS-CoV-2?
“Well, that hasn’t changed. But carelessness will not be forgiven by these maturing genomes of the virus. The SARS2 virus hasn’t been with humans for long. We need to assume that the incipient transition variant from animals to people was a rookie that is after a year, gaining considerable experience inside human bodies. No more mistakes. People must not be touching their faces; ignoring hygiene imperatives, ignoring social distancing guidelines or skip mask wearing,” she noted.
“Mask requirements for traveling vary depending on the country, but if it were me, I would not be traveling but if essential then I would be wearing a comfortable respirator, and nothing less. Procedure masks do not protect the wearer from very much, certainly not virus-sized particles,” she explained. “And with these more infectious variants, one mistake is all it takes to become very sick,” she added.
“Vaccination of the population is the way ahead against this pandemic but it may take years to accomplish that. At this point the United States is far behind its goals and Canada is learning that vaccinating even just a small percentage of the population is tricky and slow going.” (See the progress table below.)
|Prince Edward Island||1,950||1.221%|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||1,785||0.343%|
“For people who say they cannot find proper N-95 respirator masks to wear at home around a sick family member, Americans are buying them from Alibaba, maybe that would work for Canadians,” said Deslauriers.
A quick check revealed that the GB 2626-2006 respirator standard is accepted in North America.
NIOSH N95 Alternative Respirator Certification Standards
- Australia: AS/NZS 1716:2012
- Brazil: ABNT/NBR 13694:1996; ABNT/NBR 13697:1996; and ABNT/NBR 13698:2011
- People’s Republic of China: GB 2626-2006; and GB 2626-2019.
- European Union: EN 140-1999; EN 143-2000; and EN 149-2001
- Japan: JMHLW-2000
- Republic of Korea: KMOEL-2014-46; and KMOEL-2017-64
- Mexico: NOM-116-2009
Source: OSHA (USA Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
Clearly nothing else is working in Canada to stop the spread of COVID-19 and Canada is heading into extremely serious trouble with this pandemic according to all epidemiological models.
At this rate, Canada is headed for 1.2 million cases by May and death sums topping 28k in the same period. Mitigation behaviours must be sharpened fast, say experts.
Canada reached and exceeded projected cases to 2020 year end. The original worst-case scenario forecast for Canada was 600,000 cases by year-end 2020. Canada exceeded that number. At this rate, 1.2 million cases by May and 28,000 deaths. Source: Civil Society Partners for solidarity against COVID-19 disease.
“Hopefully vulnerable Canadians wear a respirator mask when going out, says nurse practitioner Deslauriers. “Essential workers should already know this but if not, it has been said, ‘wear a respirator mask’. In many parts of Asia, frontline workers are wearing a KN-95 with a procedure mask over top of that respirator and a full face-shield with the top end sealed to the forehead by a foam strip. That is a medical face shield. Anything else becomes a wind tunnel to direct all the ambient air past the wearer’s eyes,” she added, explaining that there is a lot of bogus PPE offered for sale.
Summarizing the takeaway points from this interview:
- Regardless of what mutations of the virus there may be, avoiding infection of any variant is the goal and that is achieved by following good public health guidelines.
- Anything less than a respirator mask will not protect the wearer sufficiently.
- The video below is a short course on how to use and re-use respirator masks.
- It is especially important to wear a respirator mask at home if a family member is ill with COVID-19 disease.
- Canada’s situation might approach the point where hospitals will tell first responders not to transport unless blood-oxygen levels are something awful; or not at all because, there are no beds. This must be avoided.
“It is equally important to maintain nearly obsessive hand-hygiene; personal habits that exclude touching any part of the face; and safe practice for area hygiene. It is important for families that have a COVID-19 patient at home to learn proper isolation and sterilization,” says Deslauriers.
How to don and doff a re-used respirator mask.
Canada daily case and death sums. Source: Civil Society Partners for solidarity against COVID-19 disease. Source: Civil Society Partners for solidarity against COVID-19 disease.
Canada heading for a million cases. Source: Civil Society Partners for solidarity against COVID-19 disease.
30 Nov 2023