Tag: COVID19

Emergency department visits and hospital admissions for suicidal ideation, self-poisoning and self-harm among adolescents in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic had profound effects on the mental wellbeing of adolescents. We sought to evaluate pandemic-related changes in health care use for suicidal ideation, self-poisoning and self-harm.

Methods: We obtained data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information on emergency department visits and hospital admissions from April 2015 to March 2022 among adolescents aged 10–18 years in Canada. We calculated the quarterly percentage of emergency department visits and hospital admissions for a composite outcome comprising suicidal ideation, self-poisoning and self-harm relative to all-cause emergency department visits and hospital admissions. We used interrupted time-series methods to compare changes in levels and trends of these outcomes between the prepandemic (Apr. 1, 2015–Mar. 1, 2020) and pandemic (Apr. 1, 2020–Mar. 31, 2022) periods.

Results: The average quarterly percentage of emergency department visits for suicidal ideation, self-poisoning and self-harm relative to all-cause emergency department visits was 2.30% during the prepandemic period and 3.52% during the pandemic period. The level (0.08%, 95% confidence interval [CI] −0.79% to 0.95%) or trend (0.07% per quarter, 95% CI −0.14% to 0.28%) of this percentage did not change significantly between periods. The average quarterly percentage of hospital admissions for the composite outcome relative to all-cause admissions was 7.18% during the prepandemic period and 8.96% during the pandemic period. This percentage showed no significant change in level (−0.70%, 95% CI −1.90% to 0.50%), but did show a significantly increasing trend (0.36% per quarter; 95% 0.07% to 0.65%) during the pandemic versus prepandemic periods, specifically among females aged 10–14 years (0.76% per quarter, 95% CI 0.22% to 1.30%) and females aged 15–18 years (0.56% per quarter, 95% CI 0.31% to 0.81%).

Interpretation: The quarterly change in the percentage of hospital admissions for suicidal ideation, self-poisoning and self-harm increased among adolescent females in Canada during the first 2 years

new COVID-19 variants and fall vaccines

A late summer increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations and the emergence of new coronavirus variants raises concerns about how best to counter infection and who should receive the newly-approved vaccines. Although data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the recent surge of cases remains far beneath peak pandemic-era numbers, worries have circulated about what precautions might be necessary to protect public health.

Lisa M. Lee, a professor of public health at Virginia Tech, answered questions about factors for concern and the importance of vaccination. Lee is an epidemiologist and bioethicist who has worked in public health and ethics for 25 years, including 14 years with CDC.

Q: When will the new COVID vaccine be available and who should get it?

“The newest COVID vaccines were deemed safe and effective by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Sept. 11, 2023. On Sept. 12, CDC recommended the vaccinesfor all persons over six months of age.  The new vaccines should be available in less than a week.  The data showed clear benefits of vaccination in reducing serious illness, hospitalizations, and deaths. This is especially important for persons at high risk for severe COVID — young children, older adults, people with chronic conditions including obesity, and people with compromised immune systems. CDC recommends that everyone over six months of age get this year’s new COVID vaccine, as it is effective against the newer variants we are seeing in circulation this year. If you’ve recently had COVID or recently gotten one of the older COVID vaccines, check with your health care provider about the best timing for getting the updated shot.”

Q: Does coronavirus remain a major threat to public health?

“COVID-19 remains a risk this fall and winter season, especially for people with less robust immune systems—people 65

Health department renews vaccine call with COVID-19 uptick, looming flu season

As summer vacation nears its end and students start back to school, health care providers are bracing for a return of respiratory viruses — especially the flu and COVID-19.

After a largely quiescent summer COVID-19 is beginning to rise again, nationally and in Wisconsin, according to the state health department. 

Ryan Westergaard, M.D.
Ryan Westergaard, M.D., Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services

“COVID has never stopped continuing to spread,” Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer for the Bureau of Communicable Diseases at the state Department of Health Services (DHS), said in a media briefing Wednesday. Just as influenza and colds increase in the fall and winter when people are more likely to gather indoors, COVID-19 infections are likely to grow more common in the coming weeks, he said.

In anticipation, public health providers are urging people to ramp up vaccines both for the flu and COVID-19, as well as RSV — respiratory syncytial virus, an illness that can be especially harmful to infants. One RSV vaccine in development is intended for expectant mothers late in pregnancy to help protect them and their newborns. 

The number of Wisconsin residents getting a flu vaccine has been falling, Westergaard said, with less than 40% of the population eligible getting the shot last year. “That leaves over 60% of people not as well protected from a potentially severe infection [as] they could be,” he said.

For COVID-19, a new shot formulated to target the currently circulating varieties of SARS-cov-2, the virus responsible for the illness, is tentatively planned for release about Oct. 1. 

Three and a half years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, “I think life has returned to normal,” Westergaard said. “But there’s still a viral threat of respiratory disease that we didn’t have five years ago. And so the new normal is to treat

COVID-19 Vaccines Advice

Why get vaccinated against COVID-19?

The emergency phase of COVID-19 is over, but the virus continues to spread and evolve. COVID-19 remains a threat, especially to older persons and adults with underlying health conditions.

Safe and effective vaccines help ensure that COVID-19 does not result in severe disease and death. Vaccination protects against COVID-19 and reduces the likelihood of new variants from emerging.  

Take all COVID-19 vaccine doses, including booster doses, as recommended to you by your health authority.   

COVID-19 vaccines are safe.

Strict precautions are in place to help ensure the safety of all COVID-19 vaccines.

Before receiving validation from WHO and national regulatory agencies, COVID-19 vaccines must undergo rigorous testing in clinical trials to prove that they meet internationally agreed benchmarks for safety and efficacy.

Unprecedented scientific collaborations, extensive prior research and substantial public funding enabled swift COVID-19 vaccine development to be completed in record time – while maintaining high safety standards.

As with all vaccines, WHO and regulatory authorities continuously monitor the use of COVID-19 vaccines to identify and respond to any safety issues that might arise. Through this process, we establish that COVID-19 vaccines remain safe worldwide.

Read more on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines:

Who should get vaccinated and boosted?

On March 2023, WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group on Immunization (SAGE) updated the recommendations on COVID-19 vaccination in the context of the circulating Omicron variant and high population immunity.

The updated recommendations outline three priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination: high, medium, and low. The recommendations are summarized below.

Further details are in this document: WHO SAGE Roadmap for prioritizing uses of COVID-19 vaccines (March 2023)

    High priority group


  • Older adults;
  • Younger adults with significant comorbidities (e.g., diabetes and heart disease) or severe obesity;
  • People, including children aged 6 months and older, with serious immunocompromising conditions

Federal government struggling to get rid of millions of extra COVID-19 rapid tests

The federal government is sitting on a stockpile of 39 million extra rapid tests for COVID-19 and is struggling to get rid of them without chucking them in the trash, an internal Health Canada memo shows.

As the Omicron variant of the virus began to tear across Canada at the end of 2021, the government rapidly bought up rapid antigen tests, distributing most of them to the provinces so people could swab themselves for the virus at home. 

Now that far fewer people are subjecting themselves to the brain-tickling sensation of a COVID-19 test outside of hospitals and other health-care settings, the government appears to have more than it knows what to do with.

“Acknowledging the volumes of tests in play and the challenge of divesting such quantity over a time-bound period, it is expected that disposal of expired tests would be required,” staff wrote to Health Canada’s deputy minister in a memo signed March 25.

The memo was obtained through federal access-to-information laws. 

Rapid tests were considered both important and valuable in early 2022, as regular test capacity was reserved only for certain cases in most provinces. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canada has spent roughly $5 billion on rapid tests. 

Even after the initial rise in Omicron infections settled down, the government continued to accumulate tests in case the country was hit with another large wave of infections.

That wave never came, and as public health restrictions were gradually lifted, the government found itself with a stockpile of some 93 million tests as of March 21.

By July 25, the store of tests was still sitting at over 90 million, Health Canada said in a statement.

Provinces and territories now have enough supply of their own to give eight tests to each Canadian. The federal health department

Fact Sheet: End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

Based on current COVID-19 trends, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning for the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE) for COVID-19, declared under Section 319 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, to expire at the end of the day on May 11, 2023.

Since HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra’s February 9, 2023, letter to Governors announcing the planned end of the COVID-19 PHE, the Department has been working closely with partners—including Governors; state, local, Tribal, and territorial agencies; industry; and advocates—to ensure an orderly transition out of the COVID-19 PHE.

Today, HHS is releasing a Fact Sheet with an update on current flexibilities enabled by the COVID-19 emergency declaration and how they will be impacted by the end of the COVID-19 PHE on May 11.

What has been accomplished:

Due to the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to combatting COVID-19, we are now in a better place in our response than at any point of the pandemic and well-positioned to transition out of the emergency phase and end the COVID-19 PHE. Over the last two years, the Biden-Harris Administration has effectively implemented the largest adult vaccination program in U.S. history, with over 270 million people receiving at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Administration has also made lifesaving treatments widely available, with more than 15 million courses administered. And through COVIDTests.gov, the Administration has distributed more than 750 million free COVID-19 tests shipped directly to more than 80 million households. The Administration has also administered more than 50 million diagnostic tests in-person at pharmacy and community-based sites. As a result of these and other efforts, COVID-19 is no longer the disruptive force it once was. Since January 2021, COVID-19 deaths have declined by 95% and hospitalizations are down nearly 91%.

As we approach the end of

Health department offers guidance on COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ending

The Biden administration plans to end both the COVID-19 national emergency and the public health emergency on May 11, 2023.

Based on current COVID-19 trends, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is ending the public health emergency declared for COVID-19. 

The declaration officially expires at the end of the day on Thursday, May 11.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, since the peak of the omicron surge at the end of January 2022:

  • Daily COVID-19 reported cases are down 92 percent
  • COVID-19 deaths have declined by over 80 percent
  • New COVID-19 hospitalizations are down nearly 80 percent

“Access to COVID-19 vaccinations and antiviral treatments such as Paxlovid will generally not be affected by the ending of the public health emergency,” said Dr. Joshua Meyerson, Health Department of Northwest Michigan’s medical director. “With better immunity from vaccinations and previous infection and the availability of effective medications for those at increased risk for severe disease, we are in a much better place than we were three years ago.”

Do you need a booster?

Regardless of past vaccination status with the monovalent/original mRNA vaccine, health department officials said everyone who hasn’t yet can receive a single omicron booster, which is also called the Bivalent vaccine. This can provide additional protection against circulating strains.

The newer Bivalent booster rolled out last fall and contains components from the original virus strain as well as the BA.4 and BA.5 omicron variants. It is now the standard for COVID-19 boosters and can be given as a primary first dose too.

According to the health department, the current simplified guidelines include:

  • Everyone 6 years of age and older should get one Bivalent Covid-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) to be considered up to date.
  • People aged 65 years and older may get a second updated booster (at least four months after they had their first).
  • For those under 65, only people who are 

‘Pink eye’ among symptoms of new COVID-19 strain, health officials warn

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is warning residents that the newest Omicron strain of COVID-19 may come with some new symptoms. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts the new variant, a strain called XBB.1.16 and known as “Arcturus,” currently accounts for 8% of COVID-19 cases in California and 10% nationwide. 

Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as “pink eye,” is the newest possible symptom of this variant of the Coronavirus. So far, the L.A. County Health Department has confirmed three reported cases of the new strain. 

“Observational data suggests that people infected with XBB.1.16 may be more likely to experience conjunctivitis as a symptom of their COVID infection, along with more traditional COVID symptoms, such as fever, cough and shortness of breath,” the Health Department said in a statement. “Historically, conjunctivitis was reported in 1 to 3% of COVID-19 cases.” 

However, with the limited data available, the Department of Public Health says that it is “too early to know with certainty” if XBB.1.16 is truly associated with higher rates of conjunctivitis. 

“Residents should be aware that itchy, watery or red eyes may be a sign of a COVID-19 infection and these symptoms should not be simply dismissed as a result of pollen or seasonal allergies, especially if someone more vulnerable to severe illness could be exposed,” the Health Department said. “The fact that we are seeing new strains, with possibly new and different symptoms, tells us that COVID continues to evolve and the way we think about our protections should reflect what we know.” 

Older adults and individuals with underlying health conditions are encouraged to take extra precautions to avoid infection, which include staying up to date on vaccinations, frequent hand washing and staying home when feeling sick.

Biden Weaponized Health Care on Abortion, Transgender, COVID-19

FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—A coalition of conservative leaders and former federal government political appointees has compiled a game plan for the next conservative president to restore the Department of Health and Human Services to a focus on health care rather than forcing a leftist agenda down Americans’ throats.

From the COVID-19 pandemic to abortion funding and transgender mandates, HHS has twisted federal law and the pursuit of public health to marginalize people of faith and promote bureaucrats and leftist activism, warns a report edited by Roger Severino, former director of the HHS Office of Civil Rights under President Donald Trump. He argues that the next conservative president must reverse these abuses and return HHS to its proper role: the promotion of public health.

“Few areas of life are more important, and more subject to abuse, than public health,” Severino, vice president of Domestic Policy at The Heritage Foundation, told The Daily Signal in a statement Monday. “Unfortunately, our public health agencies have replaced science and medicine with politics and ideology, and Americans now face shorter life spans as a result. Reform can only happen if entrenched special interests, from lawless bureaucratic leaders and Big Pharma, are reined in and rooted out.” (The Daily Signal is The Heritage Foundation’s news outlet.)

Severino organized and edited a major report in the book “Mandate for Leadership,” compiled by the 2025 Presidential Transition Project, noting that after the COVID-19 pandemic was over, U.S. life expectancy continued to drop precipitously. A copy of the report on HHS was provided exclusively to The Daily Signal for this article.

The Heritage Foundation helped launch the 2025 Presidential Transition Project (also known as Project 2025) to equip a potential conservative president to govern effectively from Day One.

HHS has an outsized impact on the federal government, from

Department of Health write off HUGE sum after failing to get 800 people to pay Covid-19 mandatory hotel quarantine bill

THE Department of Health has officially given up chasing 800 people who refused to pay their mandatory hotel quarantine bills with officials writing off almost €1 million in debts, we can reveal.

Documents obtained by the Irish Sun show that officials in the Department wasted €230,000 chasing down people over six months but only managed to get back €42,000 from travellers who left the mandatory hotel quarantine system without paying.

The Defence Forces provided logistical support to the mandatory hotel quarantine system


The Defence Forces provided logistical support to the mandatory hotel quarantine systemCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly introduced the system during the Covid-19 crisis


Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly introduced the system during the Covid-19 crisisCredit: PA

During the Covid-19 crisis in 2021, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly made the controversial decision to introduce a system that would see people travelling from certain countries forced to undergo almost two weeks of mandatory quarantine.

A number of hotels owned by Tifco were contracted by the State as accommodation for the quarantine system with private security and the Defence Forces working on site.

The State paid up front for the hotels with accommodation costs of €12.2million while the entire cost of the quarantine system ran to almost €25m.

Travellers were asked to pay almost €2,000 for their stay which would be returned to the exchequer to offset the costs of running the system.

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During the six months that the system was in operation, some 10,398 people stayed at the quarantine hotels with the State receiving almost €9.5m.

However, 1,400 people left the quarantine hotels without paying and left the taxpayer on the hook for up to €2.5m in payments.

The Department of Health set up a team of ten officials to track down people who refused to pay their bill and claw back the cash for the State.

However, after six months, the Irish Sun can reveal

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