A new study by Simon Fraser University (SFU) researchers has found clear evidence that wearing a mask can have a significant impact on the spread of COVID-19. The researchers, from SFU’s Department of Economics, have determined that mask mandates are associated with a 25 per cent or larger weekly reduction in COVID-19 cases.
The finding of their study, still in preprint and not yet peer-reviewed, conclude that mandating indoor masks nationwide in early July could have reduced the weekly number of new cases in Canada by 25 to 40 per cent in mid-August, which translates into 700 to 1,100 fewer cases per week.
The study analysed the impact of mask mandates that were implemented across Ontario’s 34 Public Health Units (PHUs) over the course of two months.
Researchers compared the results of PHUs that adopted mask mandates earlier to those that adopted mandates later. They determined that, in the first few weeks after their introduction, mask mandates were associated with an average weekly reduction of 25 to 31 per cent in newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases, relative to the trend in mask mandate absence, in July and August.
A further Canada-wide analysis with province-level data found a significantly negative association between mask mandates and subsequent COVID-19 case growth – up to a 46 per cent average reduction in weekly cases in the first several weeks after adoption.
These results were supported by additional survey data that showed mask mandates increase self-reported mask usage in Canada by 30 percentage points, suggesting that the policy has a significant impact on behaviour.
Jointly, these results suggest that mandating indoor mask wear in public places is a powerful policy measure to slow the spread of COVID-19, with little associated economic disruption in the short term.
The study also found that relaxed restrictions on businesses and gatherings (including retail, restaurants and bars) were positively associated with subsequent COVID-19 case growth – a factor that could offset and obscure the health benefits of mask mandates.
The most stringent restrictions on businesses and gatherings observed in the data were associated with a weekly decrease of 48 to 57 per cent in new cases, relative to the trend in the absence of restrictions.
The study authors note that while the results are significant, their sample period does not allow them to definitively say whether the effect of mask mandates persists or weakens beyond the first few weeks after implementation. However, they conclude that, combined with other policy measures, mask mandates can be a potent policy tool for slowing the spread of COVID-19.
- Mask mandates are associated with a 25 to 46 per cent average reduction in weekly COVID-19 cases across Canada.
- Requiring indoor masks nationwide in early July could have reduced new COVID-19 cases in Canada by 25 to 40 per cent in mid-August, which translates into 700 to 1,100 fewer cases per week.
- Mask mandates were shown to increase self-reported mask usage in Canada by 30 percentage points.
- The most stringent restrictions on businesses and gatherings (including retail, restaurants and bars) were associated with a weekly decrease of 48 to 57 per cent in new cases, relative to the trend in the absence of restrictions.
SMH Sim Lab Trains Healthcare Workers To Handle COVID-19
Surrey Memorial Hospital Simulation Lab is Game Changer in Training Healthcare Workers to Handle COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis
Surrey Hospitals Foundation Investing $100,000 in New Simulation Technology
The Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) Simulation Lab has been credited as a “game changer” in helping train healthcare workers to better handle COVID-19 pandemic crisis situations.
The Surrey Hospitals Foundation is investing another $100,000 for new simulation technologies for the SMH Simulation Lab, contributing a total of $1.3 million including seed funding since 2015.
The SMH simulation Lab is one of two regional simulation centres supporting the Fraser Health region. It is a partnership between Surrey Memorial Hospital, Fraser Health and the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine.
“Our Simulation Lab has been very successful in training and preparing healthcare workers in various emergency situations and ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it has been instrumental in helping frontline hospital staff handle crisis situations,” says Lisa Ewart, Clinical Practice Consultant and Simulation Program Lead in Fraser Health.
“In addition, our Simulation Lab has facilitated and identified ongoing improvements in healthcare procedures, especially related to COVID-19, that has been adopted and implemented across the region.”
Between March and June 2020 alone, the SMH Simulation Lab has conducted 217 COVID-19 process simulations and trained over 900 hospital staff, using scenarios that were developed based on current pandemic guidelines from the Emergency Operations Committee.
These simulations occurred in emergency, intensive care, cardiac care, medical/surgical cohort units, COVID-19 testing centers and involved interdisciplinary participation.
The SMH Simulation Lab allows learners to practice high risk, low-frequency procedures – such as trauma from a car accident, or how to care for a patient in a pandemic – in a safe, risk-free environment.
Simulation encourages team training, by building on teamwork and communication skills, identifying roles or practicing use of protocols during a crisis or code blue situations.
The Simulation Lab supports healthcare workers, hospital staff, students, social workers, lab technicians and other learning groups such as community first responders.
Pediatric Emergency Department Simulation Practice
The Simulation Lab also takes part in the Surrey Hospital Foundation’s Mini Med School Education Program which gives high school students an opportunity to explore a variety of medical specialties with small-group workshops with physicians and technicians.
Interesting facts about the Surrey Memorial Hospital Simulation Lab:
- 3 high tech rooms, 2 debrief rooms, 3 skill rooms, 1 virtual reality surgical simulation room.
- Pediatric simulations to support pediatric emergency department, child health centre and pediatric psychiatry.
- In 2020 alone, the SIM Lab completed more than 2,400 hours of simulation education and more than 800 simulation sessions compared to 401 hours and 153 sessions in 2016.
- The pediatric mannequins that were bought in 2020 have been used in more than 60 simulations sessions and over 110 hours of clinical training.
- The adult mannequins from 2015 have had 17,000 compressions, been ventilated 2,400 times and been shocked 700 times.
“Our Foundation provided the seed funding when the SIM lab was first launched in 2015, and we are proud to continue supporting this crucially important education program to help improve the quality of our healthcare and health outcomes of our patients,” says Jane Adams, President and CEO of the Surrey Hospitals Foundation.
About Surrey Hospitals Foundation:
Surrey Hospitals Foundation is the largest non-government funder of health care for families in Surrey and surrounding Fraser Valley communities.
The Foundation supports the major health facilities in the region, Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) and Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre (JPOCSC), as well as numerous specialized programs for newborns, children, adults and seniors.
The Foundation invests in the future of health care by funding innovative research in Surrey that can lead to medical breakthroughs.
BC Government Announces Additional AstraZeneca Vaccines Available At 20 London Drugs Locations In The Lower Mainland
London Drugs Opens Online Appointment Booking System for those Aged 55 to 65
London Drugs will open up online appointment booking after the province has announced limited additional supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Starting at 12:45 p.m. (PST) on Monday April 5, those aged 55 to 65 can visit the online booking system at LondonDrugs.com/covid19 and follow the prompts to find available appointments.
2200 doses will be distributed amongst 20 London Drugs locations in the Lower Mainland before the end of day Monday April 5 with additional supply expected in the coming weeks.
“With the overwhelming demand, we are happy to see the government now accelerating the distribution of the vaccine through our pharmacies,” said Chris Chiew, General Manager of Pharmacy at London Drugs.
Patients will now be able to join a waitlist on a first-come-first-serve basis so that when vaccine inventory is depleted, they will be notified when more appointments become available.
Patients on the waitlist will also be notified if there are “no shows” to previously booked appointments. Everyone wanting an appointment must go through the same online booking system.
“We are doing everything we can to quickly respond to changing vaccine supply and help the government ensure a widespread, easily accessible and equitable vaccination campaign as we do every year for flu,” said Chiew. “Thank you to our customers and patients for their patience. And to our pharmacy staff for their early efforts in what will be one of the largest public immunizations efforts ever undertaken in the province.”
For months, London Drugs pharmacists have been assisting with the Province’s vaccination efforts by administering the COVID vaccine on-site at various assisted living facilities and hospitals in B.C. to help speed up delivery to those most at-risk.
AstraZeneca Vaccines will be available for eligible British Columbians aged 55-65 at the following locations:
About London Drugs
Founded in 1945, B.C.-based London Drugs sells to every province and territory in Canada through its online store www.LondonDrugs.com and has 81 physical stores in more than 35 major markets throughout British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
London Drugs offers consumers a range of products from personal protection equipment for pandemic safety, to digital cameras and cosmetics to computers and televisions. Renowned for its creative approach to retailing, the company employs more than 9000 people with pharmacy and health care services being the heart of its business.
Committed to innovation and superior customer service, London Drugs has established itself as a reputable and caring Canadian company that supports Canadian brands and continues to position itself for future growth and development.
Mayor Doug McCallum Urges Everyone To Do Their Part And Get Vaccinated When Turn Comes Up
Surrey, BC – Mayor Doug McCallum is asking everyone to get vaccinated when their turn comes up. Eligibility to book an appointment in Mayor McCallum’s age bracket came into effect yesterday. The Mayor promptly went online and scheduled an appointment for his immunization shot, which he received this afternoon.
“The light in this long tunnel that we have been travelling in is getting brighter everyday. We can get there sooner if everyone gets vaccinated when it is their turn. I can assure you that booking an appointment was easy and fast through Fraser Health’s online process and that the shot I received today was done safely, quickly and virtually pain-free. Let’s stamp out COVID. Book your immunization shot as soon as your turn comes up.”
The City of Surrey is supporting Fraser Health’s mass immunization clinics by offering space at three Recreation Centres. Eligible residents can book vaccination appointments beginning March 29 for clinics at Cloverdale Recreation Centre and South Surrey Recreation & Arts Centre. Fraser Health is planning to open a third Surrey clinic at Guildford Recreation Centre and a date will be announced soon.
Visit fraserhealth.ca/vaccine to learn more or to book a COVID vaccination appointment.
3 Surrey Recreation Centres To Serve As Mass Immunization Clinics For Fraser Health Authority
Surrey, BC – In support of Fraser Health Authority’s (FHA) COVID-19 vaccination rollout, gymnasiums at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre, South Surrey Recreation & Arts Centre, and Guildford Recreation Centre will serve as sites for mass immunization clinics.
“As vaccine distribution is set to ramp up, the City is proud to do its part in supporting Fraser Health’s safe vaccination rollout by offering the gymnasium space at these three civic facilities,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “Vaccinating over 600,000 residents is no small feat, but we are confident that by offering these large distribution centres, everyone who wants to be immunized will have access to one near their home.”
Eligible residents can currently book vaccination appointments for clinics within Surrey at both the Cloverdale Recreation Centre and South Surrey Recreation & Arts Centre. FHA is planning to open a third clinic in Surrey at Guildford Recreation Centre and a date will be announced soon.
Each site will include a drop-off location for immunization appointments, and residents are encouraged to take public transit when possible. Free parking is available.
Eligible residents can book vaccination appointments by visiting fraserhealth.ca/vaccinebooking or by calling the Fraser Health vaccination appointment line at 1-855-755-2455, which is available 7 days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Please call only when it’s your turn.
Recreational programming will continue at these facilities utilizing separate entrances, and City staff are working to minimize programming disruptions.
Find the latest information on COVID-19 on the City’s social media channels at www.surrey.ca/Covid19.
A Proudly Canadian Solution to Canada’s Chronic Drug and Vaccine Shortages
Ensuring Canadians have access to the medications they need means supporting Canadian manufacturers, says London Drugs.
The pandemic has highlighted a glaring weakness in Canadian healthcare: reoccurring shortages of essential drugs and vaccines.
London Drugs says it is important to work now to find solutions to drug and vaccine supply. As the company prepares to join Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts, it is pledging support to Canadian pharmaceutical manufacturers to help reduce reliance on foreign suppliers and improve domestic supply of essential medicines and vaccines.
“There is a proudly Canadian solution to the medication and vaccine shortages: supporting domestic drug manufacturers,” says Clint Mahlman, President and COO, London Drugs.
“It’s the right thing to do for our pharmacy patients, for the industry and for the country.” An overwhelming majority of Canadians agree.
A recent survey among members of the online Angus Reid Forum found due to the pandemic, 96 per cent of Canadians feel that it is important to have a strong domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing presence.
Drug shortages have been a challenge for Canada’s pharmacies for many years including epipens and other treatments. The result of longstanding global supply chain issues, shortages can have a real impact on the health of Canadians. Domestic manufacturing may offer a long-term solution.
London Drugs has a long history of supporting local Canadian products and Canadian suppliers. Proudly Canadian signage in stores and online make it easier for customers to find locally made products. Consistent with its commitment to supporting local, in April 2020, London Drugs offered up shelf space in stores to local small businesses who had to close their doors due to COVID-19; the ‘Local Central’ initiative raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Canadian small businesses.
With respect to drug and vaccine shortages, London Drugs is in continuous discussions with Apotex Inc., and other Canadian manufacturers on this issue.
Apotex, Canada’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer says that its fully integrated manufacturing facilities underscore the importance of having a domestic manufacturing capability.
“We have the ability to adjust our manufacturing and distribution in order to meet urgent government and patient needs,” says Raymond Shelley, SVP Commercial Operations- Canadian & Caribbean, Apotex.
In April 2020, the world saw a growing demand of hydroxychloroquine. Apotex shifted its priorities by scaling up production to manufacture more hydroxychloroquine to meet the increased demand. Being its home market, Canadians were the first priority before product was shipped to other markets.
“With support from other Canadian companies like London Drugs, we can help make Canada self-sufficient by ensuring a stable, secure supply of medication and bring new drugs to market,” says Shelley. “That not only means better care for Canadians, but also thousands of new, high-quality, highly skilled jobs.”
*According to StatsCan, the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry in Canada employs approximately 30,000 people. With an increased pharmaceutical manufacturing presence, Canadians will see a direct economic impact through a growth in employment opportunities.
“As a Canadian owned and operated company, we understand the importance of supporting Canadian businesses. And given the option, we would want more domestic suppliers helping to keep our pharmacies stocked – ensuring our patients get the crucial medications and vaccines when they need it,” says Mahlman.
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