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N.L. reports 519 new COVID-19 cases, 20th death and a move to Alert Level 4

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The Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald announced Monday that Newfoundland and Labrador will switch to a modified version of Warning Level 4 at midnight. (Government of Newfoundland and Labrador)

Newfoundland and Labrador will move to a modified alert level 4 from 2022 to deal with the record numbers of COVID-19, the provincial government announced on Monday.

The province reported 519 new cases – the seventh straight day, a new daily record – and the 20th death related to COVID-19 of a woman aged 50 in the Central Health area. The active case number is 2,925, also a new record.

As cases of the highly transmissible variant of Omicron continue to spread, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Chief Medical Officer of Health, said it is inevitable that most of the people in the province will develop COVID-19 at some point.

“I know we all feel we are done with COVID, but COVID is not quite done with us yet. Living with COVID means celebrating the good days and using all of our courage and strength to see through the bad days, ”said Fitzgerald of the Provincial Briefing on Monday afternoon.

There are 276 new cases in the Eastern Health region, 125 in the Labrador-Grenfell Health region, 64 in the Central Health region, 43 in the Western Health region, and 11 from private testing where the region is unknown.

In the past 24 hours, 134 people have recovered from the virus, leaving 2,925 active cases. One person is in hospital for COVID-19.

A little more than 3,300 tests have been completed since Sunday, bringing the number of tests completed to 404,008.

Fitzgerald said the surge in cases marginalized the province’s health system, saying it couldn’t withstand record cases day in and day out.

“The reality of this virus is that it is so contagious that most people get it, but our health system cannot withstand the pressure of everyone getting infected at the same time,” she said. At the same time, it is difficult to assess the full effect of the Omicron variant.

“We’re trying our best to follow a map for a road under construction.”

Fitzgerald said many people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms that could be due to the province’s high vaccination rates.

Warning level 4

Under the modified Warning Level 4, which comes into effect at midnight and will be reassessed on January 17, informal gatherings are limited to 10 people, which Fitzgerald has referred to as a “tight 10”. She said the goal of reducing a person’s number of contacts is to limit the spread of the virus.

Funerals, weddings, funerals, and religious gatherings are limited to 50 people or 25 percent capacity, whichever is lower. Businesses – including gyms, dance studios, and arenas – will follow the same rules. Dancing at formal gatherings is again prohibited, with the exception of ceremonial dances.

Check out the full briefing here:

Retail stores, including in shopping malls, can remain open with reduced capacity, while restaurants with 50 percent capacity can remain open as long as the distance between the tables can be maintained. Tables are limited to six people, buffets are prohibited.

There are no changes to childcare services that can be operated at full capacity or personal care facilities that can be opened according to public health guidelines.

Bars, lounges and cinemas will remain closed. Fitzgerald encouraged people feeling the stress of high caseloads and isolation to reach out to family or friends, saying that people in the province are navigating the COVID-19 storm together, but in different boats.

“Feeling afraid or lonely is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of being human as we all are.”

Healthcare diversions

Health workers in the Eastern Health and Labrador-Grenfell Health regions will be rerouted to keep the provincial pandemic response updated.

In a statement to CBC News, Eastern Health said more than 200 new employees were hired, including nurses, support workers and other workers. Staff are deployed to help with tests and vaccinations, in other urgent areas where they may already have work experience, or to replenish isolated workers.

Eastern Health CEO David Diamond, as of Monday afternoon, around 625 healthcare workers were in isolation because they were either exposed to COVID-19 or tested positive on their own waves.

“We had this in the previous waves, but this is more intense within the health system than within the community,” he said.

Some health care workers in Eastern Health are being reassigned to keep up with demand as COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Newfoundland and Labrador. (Emily Elconin / Reuters)

With the diversions, appointments are canceled for some patients.

In a media release on Sunday evening, Eastern Health said it will focus exclusively on emergency services at health locations as of Tuesday to redeploy staff to help respond to the pandemic.

The health department announced that emergency appointments will continue to take place in the following areas:

  • Ambulances for adults.
  • Regional medicine program.
  • Child and Women’s Health.
  • Rehabilitation, palliative medicine and geriatric medicine.

Only patients whose appointments are due will be contacted, Eastern Health said.

For surgery, Eastern Health said emergency, heart, and cancer surgeries will be performed. Patients whose procedures are being performed will be contacted.

Medical imaging will also continue; however, in these cases, patients will only be contacted if their appointment has been canceled.

For the health of children and women, all maternal fetal exams and prenatal appointments will continue. For all other appointments, patients whose appointments are brought forward will be contacted for confirmation.

All radiotherapy and chemotherapy appointments are carried out. Patients will be contacted directly if their clinic appointments change, Eastern Health said.

Finally, all non-urgent outpatient laboratory service appointments between Tuesday and Friday will be canceled, but emergency laboratory testing and services will continue. Ambulatory blood collection sites are limited to urgent blood collection, including blood tests for patients in need of INRs, tests to monitor therapeutic drug levels, and, for cancer patients, monitoring of cancer clinic profiles and other necessary cancer-related tests.

The diversions also come as the province continues to grapple with the impact of the cyberattack on the health system in late October. Diamond said the cyberattack put things off for several weeks, but professionals are working on the backlog.

“If we hadn’t had the IT failure, most of our backlog from a COVID perspective would have been settled by the end of December and a little by the end of March,” he said. “Now we have another unexpected rash.”

Test changes

Fitzgerald also announced changes to testing requirements and testing priority, and advised anyone with COVID-19 symptoms who is in close high-risk contact with a previous case to assume they are positive for the virus.

Anyone who has asymptomatic close contact or lives in a high-risk environment should still be tested, she said.

The province also lifted the requirement that close contacts from a previous case be tested a third time between days 11 and 13 of their isolation period. Fitzgerald said the wait from filling out a test recommendation form to removing swabs has decreased to about 48 hours, but results can take up to three days with the current workload in the province.

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Women’s Health

Dubai’s Arab Health to examine why women had fewer babies during Covid-19 pandemic

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Obstetrics and gynecology experts will meet at the Arab Health Summit in Dubai this month to discuss why women have decided not to have babies because of the pandemic.

The Arab Health Obstetrics and Gynecology Conference will discuss trends in women’s health, including the impact of Covid-19 on reproduction and fertility.

dr Human Fatemi, medical group leader at ART Fertility Clinics in Abu Dhabi, said the pandemic has caused people to reconsider their plans to have children.

As an infertility specialist, I would not worry about Covid-19 and pregnancy

dr Human Fatemi, Medical Group Leader of ART Fertility Clinics

“The pandemic has definitely shifted the desire to become parents and the desire to have a child,” he said.

“For some patients, especially women with reduced ovarian reserve and aging, the pandemic will significantly affect their ability to have children.

“As an infertility specialist, I would not be concerned about Covid-19 and pregnancy. The key message is to maintain hygiene, wear masks, ensure social distancing and be careful. If you have a reduced ovarian reserve and want to get pregnant, don’t delay.”

Several research results show a direct link between the pandemic and women’s desire to have children.

According to research by the United Nations Population Fund, public health crises and economic shocks have long been recognized as conditions that alter reproductive behavior.

Data from the US, Europe and East Asia show sharp falls in births as of October 2020 compared to the same months last year, suggesting that Covid-19 has caused short-term fertility declines in many countries.

Research from the Australian Institute of Family Studies shows that one in five Australian women changed their baby plans because of the pandemic, and one in seven women said it likely affected when they would have children, with most study cohorts ( 92 percent) decided to delay pregnancy.

This was supported by a study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, which reported the link between the pandemic and births in 22 high-income countries and found particularly sharp declines in southern Europe – Italy (-9.1 percent), Spain (-8.4 percent) and Portugal (-6.6 percent).

But doctors said the research doesn’t prove there’s a greater risk for pregnant women. You should follow precautions and deliver babies safely.

dr Kiran Mehndiratta, a specialist obstetrician and gynecologist at NMC Specialty Hospital Abu Dhabi, told The National in May 2020 – during the peak of the first wave – that pregnant women are not at increased risk compared to others.

However, she added, it is important to know that pregnant women’s immunity is reduced to ensure the baby is not rejected by the mother as half of its genes come from the father.

That means people with pregnancy complications like diabetes or high blood pressure, which are known risk factors for severe Covid-19, could also be at higher risk.

Most of the “very small number” of pregnant women who die at NMC Specialty Hospital, where Dr. Mehndiratta works who tested positive for Covid-19 were also asymptomatic.

“Only a few of them gradually developed a cough,” she said.

This supports theories that suggest pregnant women are no more vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19 than others.

The Obstetrics and Gynecology Conference is a regular feature of Arab Health, taking place from 24th to 27th January at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

The conference will host several key sessions on fertility, reproduction and Covid-19, including a session on ‘Covid-19 and the Fetus’, presented by Prof Asma Khalil, who specializes in Obstetrics and Maternal-Fetal Medicine at St George’s University Hospital specializes. London. A session on ‘Covid-19 and the impact on fertility’ will be given by Dr. Johnny T Awwad, Executive Chairman of Women’s Services and Head of Reproductive Medicine at Sidra Medicine & Research Centre, Qatar.

Updated January 19, 2022 2:27 p.m

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Women’s Health

Menopause brings an onslaught of changes to women’s bodies. Why don’t we talk about it?

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Menopause affects 50 million women in the United States, especially when they are at the peak of their careers and personal relationships. It is usually diagnosed 12 months after a woman’s last period.

Menopause begins around age 51, on average, and brings with it a serious drop in estrogen levels that affects the body from head to toe, says Dr. Somi Javaid, a board-certified gynecologist and founder of HerMD, a growing chain of health clinics in Cinncinati specializing in menopause and sexual health.

She explains that women experience hot flashes, trouble sleeping and memory, increased anxiety and depression, dry skin, weight gain, joint problems, decreased sex drive, vaginal dryness, problems with orgasm, and no menstrual cycles for 12 straight months. And in the months or years leading up to menopause — a period known as perimenopause — there’s still some bleeding, and estrogen levels still drop, but not as much.

People don’t talk much about menopause because it’s a generational thing, says Sally Mueller, a former Target executive and now co-founder and CEO of wellness company Womaness.

“I’m 57, my mother hasn’t talked about her menopause. And so the baby boomers and even Gen Xers really grew up being uncomfortable talking about it because their moms didn’t talk about it. And I see it really, really changing with millennials. Millennials are breaking every taboo and starting to open the conversation, so thank goodness.”

Despite the physical symptoms, women at this stage feel confident, have wisdom to share, and feel empowered and creative, Mueller points out.

hormone replacement therapy

According to Javaid, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is safe for millions of women and can effectively address many of the symptoms mentioned above, as well as other hidden problems such as bone loss and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Timing is important with HRT. “When hormones are prescribed within the first five years of menopause, they are actually cardioprotective. As for the increased risk of breast cancer, yes, if you have an estrogen receptor or progesterone receptor positive tumor, you can definitely accelerate growth. However, we still haven’t proven that HRT actually causes the cancer cells to start in the first place. But for patients who have a history or a strong family history, or who have genetic mutations such as BRCA, we do not recommend hormone replacement therapy for them.”

Does HRT help women become younger again? Javaid says that in her 20 years of clinical practice, women have said their skin changes, acne disappears, and joints hurt less.

“Yes, patients are seeing a return or resolution of some of their ailments. But I want to be clear: I’m not going to take a 51-year-old patient and make her 21 again. But they definitely feel better.”

There are now non-hormonal options, such as radiofrequency treatments and CO2 lasers, that are used for vaginal dryness, Javaid points out.

Start early – learn and adapt

It’s important to understand that menopause can lead to longer-term health effects, and many women aren’t informed until they’re already through menopause, Mueller says. “It would be a much easier transition if they were educating themselves even in their 30s and early 40s.”

Javaid says she begins educating her patients in her 30s. “I always tell my patients: nobody knows your body better than you do. If your provider is not listening to you, you need another provider. … I truly encourage women to live their best life, to understand what’s going on with them, and to seek the care that fits both their choices and their lifestyle. I think the sooner they find out about this, the better they will do with their healthcare.”

Javaid says women need to eat differently, too, and she’s a big proponent of intermittent fasting to lower insulin levels, which helps with weight gain during menopause.

Also, turn to weight loads to counter osteoporosis and do pelvic floor strength training to maintain sexual function and stay continent, she adds. “We don’t want to pee on ourselves when we’re exercising, coughing, or laughing with friends.”

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Women’s Health

Do advanced therapies have a place in women’s health?

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Lehr participated in a biotech showcase session titled “Women’s Health: Progress and Innovation Continue to Generate Investor Interest.” The panel included executives from Context Therapeutics, EndoCyclic Therapeutics, Gennev, iSono Health and Univfy.

What is women’s health?

Defining women’s health seems deceptively simple, but there are many definitions, according to Biotech Showcase panelists. For some companies and investors, it is defined by certain diseases, such as hormonal diseases or diseases that affect women differently than men. For others, the term is limited to just breast cancer.

An evolving term – femtech – has emerged to refer to technologies focused on women’s health. Panelists explained that the classification helped increase visibility and make investors (traditionally a male-dominated space) intrigued and motivated to explore and learn more about the category. Ultimately, the committee called for more female investors.

Recently, femtech-focused companies and products have emerged. But according to Lehr, the innovations of this group are only incremental improvements. What the industry needs are logarithmic changes that catalyze a massive step forward toward healing.

One such innovation that has the potential to create that logarithmic jump is immunotherapy, Lehr said. Investors are already interested in this space, and getting investors to invest in female cancer immunotherapy could be transformative.

Advanced therapies for women’s cancer

Lehr explained that Context Therapeutics is a mission-driven company dedicated to women’s oncology. The company strives to develop products that improve the quality of life for women living with cancer.

The Company’s lead candidate is Onapristone Extended Release (ONA-XR), a progesterone receptor antagonist that inhibits the progesterone receptor by binding to chromatin, which in turn downregulates cancer stem cell mobilization and blocks immune evasion. The progesterone receptor is a ligand-activated transcription factor that promotes progesterone-dependent cancers such as ovarian, uterine (endometrial) and breast cancer.

These cancers hijack progesterone to stimulate cancer cell proliferation, metastasis, regeneration and immune evasion. ONA-XR is currently being evaluated in four Phase II studies and the Company expects to report results from these studies in 2022.

Context is also developing Claudin 6 bispecific, an anti-CD3 x, anti-Claudin 6, antigen bispecific monoclonal antibody that redirects T cell-mediated lysis to malignant cells that express Claudin 6. Claudin 6 is a target for a tight junction protein and is particularly enriched in ovarian and endometrial tumors. The combination of precision medicine and immunotherapy aims to attack tumors directly without damaging normal tissue.

As excitement and innovation in the field continues to grow, Lehr and other Biotech Showcase panelists expressed optimism about near- and long-term progress in bringing advanced therapies and transformative technologies to the women’s health sector.

Do you have a unique perspective on your research related to women’s health or femtech? Contact the publisher today to learn more.

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