Tag Archives: ‘long

Ivanie Blondin, Canadian skaters thrilled to be competing, but with lowered expectations after long layoff

Coming off one its most successful seasons in the history of the program, Canadian speed skaters were looking to carry the momentum of their 31 World Cup medals into this year. 

Then the pandemic hit, the Calgary Oval broke down in September, and now it’s been more than 10 months since speed skaters have laced up for a competitive event.

To say it’s been a nightmarish season is an understatement.

“I’m not going to say I didn’t panic. I did panic. There were a couple times over the last while I asked what I was doing,” Ivanie Blondin told CBC Sports this past week from Heerenveen, Netherlands. “Especially when other skaters were competing. They were posting all these fast times and I hadn’t even been on the ice.”

The 30-year-old Calgary resident is one of 12 Canadian long track skaters who have entered the Netherlands “bubble” and are gearing up to compete in a pair of unique World Cup events starting this weekend. It will all lead to the world championships Feb. 11 – 14.

These will be the team’s first events since the COVID-19 pandemic brought international competition to a halt last March.

WATCH | Canadian skaters excited for start of season:

This weekend on Road to the Olympic Games, World Cup speed skating action returns and Kitzbühel hosts the most anticipated downhill skiing event of the season. 3:14

“In my mind I’m telling myself this is training camp to lay off the pressure,” said Blondin, who won the mass start event gold medal at last year’s world single distance championships. “I’m trying to be realistic. I don’t think there will be many podiums and that’s OK.”

CBC Sports will have live streaming coverage of all competition days, as well blocks of televised coverage as part of their ‘Road to the Olympic Games’ program. 

It’s been quite the adventure for the Canadians just to get to this point. While athletes around the world were still able to find indoor oval ice to train and compete on, Canadian speed skaters had to think outside the box — that included taking their skating outside. 

Photos and videos of Canada’s long track speed skaters training on icy lakes with picturesque mountains in the background have been making the rounds. Yes, the speed skaters from Canada have been training on lakes to stay in shape and in form. And while it may look pretty, it’s not ideal for preparing for international competitions.

WATCH | Canada’s top speed skaters dazzle onlookers with practice on wild ice:

Tyson Langelaar posted this video of Team Canada’s training session out at Alberta’s picturesque Gap Lake in late November after maintenance and COVID restrictions put a stop to ice time in Calgary. 0:24

“The ice is really different and so bumpy. Of course you’re enjoying it because it’s picturesque. But for training, it’s not a controlled environment. You are far from the limit,” said Ted-Jan Bloemen, the 2018 Olympic champion in the 10,000 metres. “We haven’t been able to do intensive training.”

Bloemen was born and raised in the Netherlands. The bubble the team is in is about 90 minutes from where he grew up. He moved to Canada in 2014 after being snubbed by the Dutch and since then has ascended to speed skating greatness. 

There were some really dark times these past 10 months for Bloemen. When he speaks about skating you can hear the joy in his voice, something he lost when he wasn’t able to be on the ice. But now he’s back doing what he loves and is more motivated than ever. 

“I was so happy. It felt so good to glide again. I want to be skating. I love that feeling so much. I would want to make other people feel the way I do when I’m skating,” he said. 

Sure, the Canadians are happy to be skating again. But they’re also realistic about how they’ll perform in these World Cup events.

“For me the next few weeks to race is about practice. We haven’t had the best lead up,” Isabelle Weidermann said. “I’m struggling a little bit feeling race ready.”

Weidermann, from Ottawa, will be competing in the 1,500m and 3,000m events. She says she’s never trained so much in a season and is excited to see what will come of it. 

“I’ve never biked or ran this much, or spent this much time in the weight room. We’ve chatted a lot about it. Everyone has the same feelings about not being ready.”

Weidermann, Blondin and Bloemen are making very clear that Canadian skating fans should not panic and race to any conclusions about where the team is at a year out from Beijing 2022. Instead, as a team, they’ve decided this is valuable practice that will lead them into a full season of competition beginning next fall. 

“It’s not going to be pretty but the important thing is we’re on ice now,” Blondin said.

And building for Beijing. 

Canadians competing in Heerenveen, along with the individual distances they have qualified for:

  • Ivanie Blondin (Ottawa, Ont.): 1,000m, 1,500m, 3,000m, mass start
  • Kaylin Irvine (Calgary, Alta.): 500m, 1,000m
  • Béatrice Lamarche (Quebec City, Que.): 1,000m
  • Valérie Maltais (Saguenay, Que.): 1,500m, 3,000m, mass start
  • Abigail McCluskey (Penticton, B.C.): 1,500m, 3,000m
  • Heather McLean (Winnipeg, Man.): 500m, 1,000m
  • Isabelle Weidemann (Ottawa, Ont.): 1,500m, 3,000m
  • Jordan Belchos (Toronto, Ont.): 5,000m, mass start
  • Ted-Jan Bloemen (Calgary, Alta.): 5,000m
  • Alex Boisvert-Lacroix (Sherbrooke, Que.): 500m
  • Laurent Dubreuil (Lévis, Que.): 500m, 1,000m
  • Connor Howe (Canmore, Alta.): 1,000m, 1,500m
  • Gilmore Junio (Calgary, Alta.): 500m

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CBC | Sports News

Toronto FC still grappling with ‘bitter’ loss that ended long, tough season

One of Toronto FC’s biggest stars isn’t thinking about whether or not he’ll be named the league’s most valuable player this season.

After all, while some other nominees are still fighting for Major League Soccer’s top prize, Alejandro Pozuelo and his teammates are already back home.

“For me, the MVP, it’s not important,” the 29-year-old Spaniard said on a video call Friday. “I feel no good when we lose in the first round [of the playoffs].”

Toronto appeared poised for a long playoff run after finishing the regular-season campaign with a 13-5-5 record, second best in the league.

But the club’s year came to an abrupt end Tuesday when it lost 1-0 in overtime to expansion side Nashville SC in East Hartford, Conn.

Three days later, the result is still “bitter,” and the players feel some guilt because they know they could have gone further, said goalkeeper Quentin Westberg.

“It stays and it sticks and it’s going to be hard to wash off,” he said.

WATCH | TFC’s season ends early with loss to Nashville:

Daniel Rios scored in the 108th minute as Nashville SC upset Toronto FC 1-0 in round one of the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs. 1:40

The disappointing finish punctuated a long, hard season that saw Toronto’s players and staff face unprecedented challenges, from injuries and a condensed schedule to months spent on the road and games in empty stadiums.

The uncertainty of 2020 has been difficult for everyone, said midfielder Jonathan Osorio, including professional athletes who saw seasons come to a screeching halt in March as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in North America.

“You’re dealing with a lot of things that happen so quickly but so slowly at the same time,” he said. “It was tough.”

TFC played just one game in front of fans at BMO Field before the hiatus. When play resumed, it was in a bubble near Orlando, Fla., with the MLS is Back tournament, followed by an all-Canadian nine-game series in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

Then, in mid-September, border restrictions forced all three Canadian clubs to move south. TFC set up a temporary home in East Hartford.

“You had to have a lot of patience this year, I think. It was tough,” Osorio said. “It was tough to get your body ready for games and then stop for long periods of times and then start again so quickly. An overall tough year for everybody.”

A wave of injuries also impacted Toronto. Star striker Jozy Altidore and veteran defender Justin Morrow both missed time, and captain Michael Bradley was twice sidelined, first by an ankle injury and then by a knee sprain.

Going through surgery, rehab and training was difficult, Bradley said.

“It’s a frustrating year from a personal standpoint,” said the 33-year-old midfielder. “It was a crazy year. That’s not meant in any way to be an excuse. It’s just reality.”

Pozuelo reveals injury

Pozuelo revealed Friday that he, too, had dealt with a leg injury through the final two or three weeks of the season. He did not detail the nature of the injury but said he and the club kept it quiet because he wanted to continue playing.

“This is no excuse,” he said. “I play a lot of games because I want to play. And I feel good [to] play.”

Pozuelo saw action in all 23 of Toronto’s regular-season games, and was on the field for the full 120 minutes of Tuesday’s playoff loss.

He led TFC in scoring with nine goals and 10 assists, and was tied with two other players for most assists in MLS through the regular season.

The MLS pandemic-condensed schedule, which saw most teams play two games a week, was hard on the athletes’ bodies, Pozuelo said.

“In football, I learned that we cannot play every three or four days because we kill the players,” he said. “It’s difficult. It’s difficult to play every two, three, four days.”

Now that the season has ended, Bradley is looking forward to training consistently and pushing himself physically. He said the off-season will be the first time all year that he’s been able to work out for more than four or five weeks in a row.

“I feel good. I feel strong,” he said.

The prospect of an indefinite off-season kept TFC centre back Omar Gonzalez up Thursday night. It’s hard to know how to prepare when you don’t know when you’ll play your next game, he explained.

“We have to be ready to fight for another trophy at the beginning of the year, whenever it comes,” he said. “So we have to be ready. I want to be ready for my teammates, for my team.”

After everything the club went through in 2020, being ousted from the playoffs in the first round hurts, Gonzalez said, particularly because TFC is a club that sets its standards high.

But he hopes the season of adversity will hold some lessons moving forward.

“It’s definitely a year that we’ll look back on and take a lot from,” Gonzalez said. “Because I think we have a lot of strong people on this team. And I think there’ll be a lot of growth from this year.”

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CBC | Soccer News

After death of father, long break, Mikaela Shiffrin grateful just to be racing again

Set for a return to ski racing after 300 days away, Mikaela Shiffrin is looking for the answer to a question she has been asking herself since March.

How will it feel to compete again?

“Hopefully it is a positive experience. And I don’t mean, `hopefully I win,’ but hopefully it is a positive experience to be a ski racer, still, and hopefully that will be the driving force,” Shiffrin said Thursday, two days before the longest break in her decade-long World Cup career is expected to end at a slalom in Levi, Finland.

“It didn’t really feel it was that long of a break,” she said. “This spring, summer, fall, this period since I last raced has been the busiest, most stressful time of my life. … I feel like racing is actually going to be like going on a vacation. Right now, I am just so grateful to be here.”

The two-time Olympic gold medallist and three-time overall World Cup champion is approaching her first race since Jan. 26, when she picked up her 66th career win at a super-G in Bulgaria.

Her father, Jeff Shiffrin, suddenly died a week later following an accident at the family’s home in Colorado.

A heartbroken Shiffrin took a five-week break before attempting a comeback at mid-March races in Sweden, having lost her lead in the overall rankings to Federica Brignone and in the slalom standings to Petra Vlhova. However, the event in Sweden was cancelled, as was the remainder of the season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

WATCH | Shiffrin made history with 41st World Cup slalom win:

American Mikaela Shiffrin won her 41st World Cup slalom in Levi, Finland, surpassing Swedish great Ingemar Stenmark. 1:47

“In February, after several weeks at home, I felt like skiing would be therapeutic,” Shiffrin said. “If possible, I wanted to try to race before the end of the season. But we got to Sweden and we tried, and I was like ready to step into the starting gate. Even if it was cancelled, that was a really big step.”

While the pandemic limited training opportunities, much of her time over the summer went to taking courses on finance, taxes and bookkeeping in order to keep the family business running, a task previously handled by her father.

In October, a second attempt at a comeback also failed, as Shiffrin tweaked her back a week before the season-opening giant slalom in Austria.

“I haven’t got a whole lot of training in,” she said. “I have only been able to train slalom with the back injury. We narrowed the focus down and did one hour at a time.”

Balancing expectations

Having been the dominant force on the women’s World Cup over the last few years, expectations will naturally be high when Shiffrin returns to the start gate. The American herself doesn’t really know what to expect, though.

“I try to keep expectations really low,” she said. “But my standards for the level of skiing that I want to bring are high. I want to ski well, which includes skiing fast.”

While she has racked up 43 career wins in slalom, more than any male or female skier in the history of the sport, records have never been her focus.

“No matter what, if I ski well, if I put in a good effort but it doesn’t go as I hoped, it is hard to be disappointed with that after everything,” Shiffrin said about her approach to Saturday’s race.

Shiffrin held a big lead in both the slalom and overall World Cup standings last season before her break, but she insisted that losing out on those titles didn’t make her angry.

So, Saturday’s return “is not about settling scores.”

“I am incredibly angry, but not about the way last season ended. I am angry that my dad died, I am angry how lonely I feel most days,” she said. “But on the flip side, I am incredibly grateful that I have my mom here with me so often. I have never been a person to be motivated by anger. … If I learned something over the last 300 days, it is that you really have to take what life serves you. It might not taste good, but you have to eat it anyway.”

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CBC | Sports News

Why is it taking this long to count ballots in some U.S. states?

Americans won’t know the winner of the U.S. presidential election until well into Wednesday — if not beyond that.

The main reason? Many states made it easier for voters to request mail-in ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic and concerns about crowded polling places.

But mail-in ballots generally require more time to process than those cast in person.

And to top it off, states have different rules on how mail-in ballots can be counted.

In Canada, all federal elections are conducted by Elections Canada and operate under that agency. The U.S. does not have an equivalent, and it is up to each individual state to conduct the election and make their own rules. 

Here are some of the reasons why it’s taking well past election night on Tuesday to see results in some states. 

In some states, mail-in ballots can’t be counted until election day

Some states with extensive experience in using mail-in ballots have adjusted for those extra steps.

They allow the counting of ballots prior to election day, which makes a big difference in when the outcome is known.

In Florida, clerks can start counting ballots 22 days before an election. In North Carolina, county boards insert approved ballots into a voting machine beginning five weeks before the election, allowing for a prompt tabulation on election day.

But states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — all with Republican-led legislatures and all of them swing states — made a conscious decision to wait so there would be no counting of mail-in ballots prior to election day. 

Wisconsin and Michigan were nevertheless both called for Joe Biden Wednesday afternoon.

WATCH | Philadelphia rushes to count mail-in ballots:

A large vote-counting operation has been set up at the Philadelphia Convention Center to count mail-in ballots. Machines called extractors separate the ballot from the main envelope and the security envelope and then the ballots are scanned. They can scan 30,000 an hour. 0:40

The wrangling in the states over the use of mail-in ballots has come as U.S. President Donald Trump claims that mail voting is ripe for fraud.

Some ballots may not arrive for days

And here’s another wrinkle that could delay the naming of a winner: In some key states, mail-in ballots can arrive several days after election day and still be counted, as long as they are postmarked by then.

Democrats have argued that the flood of absentee ballots and slow mail delivery in some areas make such a precaution necessary.

For example, mail-in ballots from Nevada voters are not due until Nov. 10 if postmarked by election day while in North Carolina, mail-in ballots aren’t due until Nov. 12 if postmarked by election day.

Legal challenges ahead 

Pre-election day polling indicated that a majority of Trump’s supporters had planned to cast their ballot on election day while more than half of Biden’s backers had planned to vote by mail.

The Trump campaign has already announced legal actions challenging the validity of some ballots cast in key swing states.

The campaign said Wednesday it is suing to halt the vote count in Michigan and temporarily stop the vote count in Pennsylvania, claiming lack of “transparency.”

WATCH | How the election unfolded:

Watch highlights of our coverage of the U.S. presidential election. 7:09

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CBC | World News

No need to cancel Halloween, says Dr. Tam — as long as everyone follows the rules

Canada’s top public doctor says there’s no need to cancel Halloween this year — as long as trick-or-treaters respect the new realities of the pandemic.

“I think finding that balance of trying to provide some degree of normality, even though it is actually different from any other year, most public health leaders think that that is actually important,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told a briefing in Ottawa this morning.

Tam advised parents and kids to maintain physical distancing while trick-or-treating outside, to stick to pre-packaged treats and to have hand sanitizer readily available.

She also said that a creative use of “different fabrics” can turn a day-to-day face mask into part of a costume.

“There’s some really interesting ideas where people are handing out treats at the end of a hockey stick or something, using a pool noodle to tell your kids how far they should be standing apart from each other,” she said. “So there are ways to actually manage this outdoors.”

Tam stressed that parents and children should follow guidelines set by local health authorities, as some local COVID-19 caseloads are far larger than others.

For example, in Ottawa — which moved to red on its COVID alert scale after a recent surge in cases —  the local public health agency has put forward a series of suggestions that include holding virtual costume parties and limiting trick-or-treating to the people in a household.

WATCH: Dr. Theresa Tam’s tips for a pandemic Halloween

Chief Public Health Officer Dr Theresa Tam offered guidance today to parents on how to have a safe Halloween. 1:30

Both Tam and her colleague, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo, said more tips will be posted to the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website soon.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer, told reporters at her daily news conference today that no door-to-door trick-or-treating will be permitted in regions of the province currently in the orange phase of recovery.

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CBC | Health News

Fourth of July Outfit Ideas to Try for the Long Weekend

Fourth of July Outfit Ideas to Try for the Long Weekend | Entertainment Tonight

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Military report reveals what sector has long known: Ontario’s nursing homes are in trouble

Jacqueline Mitchell hasn’t been able to hug her 94-old-mother since March, and now, in the face of a shocking Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) report into the state of five Ontario long-term care homes, she is aghast. 

Mitchell’s mother has Alzheimer’s disease, and has been a resident at Etobicoke, Ont.’s Eatonville Care Centre since 2017. That’s one of the homes listed in the report, which details disturbing observations made by military members who were called in to help after some of the province’s long-term care facilities were overrun by COVID-19 outbreaks.

The CAF report outlines instances in which members spotted equipment used on both infected and non-infected patients without being disinfected, as well as rotten food, cockroach infestations and a startling disregard for basic cleanliness.

“It is scandalous. It is shameful. It is shocking,” Mitchell said. “Our senior generation is living in that, and that is a national atrocity.”

There are many signs the provincial government knew, or should have known, what’s happening inside these homes, but it took military intervention to bring the details to light. 

WATCH | Minister of Long-Term Care discusses military report: 

Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario Minister of Long-Term Care, says the province is committed to fixing long-term care homes in need of help after a report by the Canadian military on conditions in five facilities. 2:02

For weeks, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has been saying the province’s long-term care system is “broken.” And on Tuesday he said that he saw firsthand the limitations of the system when his brother, former Toronto mayor Rob Ford, was in palliative care before his death in 2016.

That, to Mitchell, signalled an acknowledgement on the premier’s part that something was very wrong with the system.

“That should have alerted him on a personal basis to what was happening in these homes.… He should not be surprised,” she said.

Since the first weeks of the pandemic, Ford has been advocating for the need to put an “iron ring” around Ontario’s long-term care homes, with the province touting measures it has enacted to keep people safe, like limiting visitors and preventing most caregivers from working at multiple homes. The province then asked for the military’s help late last month.

As of Tuesday, the Ministry of Long-Term Care was reporting 1,538 deaths linked to COVID-19, while the Public Health Ontario Daily Epidemiologic Summary listed 4,892 cases among residents.

Provincial officials have asked the military to continue its mission assisting at nursing homes for an additional 30 days. (CBC)

In a statement issued Tuesday, Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath slammed the government’s response, and called for the resignation of Minister of Long-Term Care Merrillee Fullerton.

“It’s shocking that the Canadian Armed Forces needed to lift the veil when Doug Ford and Merrilee Fullerton ought to have known about these horrific conditions, and did nothing to take the homes over,” Horwath said. “The premier cannot pass the buck, finger-point and express outrage about what his own government is doing on his watch.”

System ‘neglected and ignored’ for decades

Fullerton said it was the novel coronavirus that pushed some of the province’s long-term care homes to the brink.

“This is something that everyone has known about for years. Our population is aging. Long-term care was ignored. Long- term care was neglected,” she said.

“We were shining a light on this. We were looking at fixing a system that had been neglected and ignored for decades — and then COVID … tipped the homes that were having difficulties with staffing already right over the edge.”

WATCH | Marissa Lennox of CARP says the system has long been broken:

CARP Chief Policy Officer, Marissa Lennox, says long-term care is something people don’t want to think about, and that the system has long been broken. 10:08

Ford said Tuesday that it took a constant, watchful eye from the military to truly uncover the scope of the problem.

“Yes, inspections happen and these folks come in there, but it took the military to be there 24/7,” the premier said, adding it’s impossible to know the extent of the problems plaguing the system “until you live, breathe, eat it … until you’re there around the clock, at nighttime and during the day.”

Fullerton said Tuesday that the province conducted nearly 3,000 inspections last year at long-term care facilities, spurred by so-called critical incidents and complaints reported to an “action line” for families, residents and staff. 

But a recent CBC News investigation found that last year just nine out of 626 homes in Ontario actually received resident quality inspections (RQIs), which are unannounced and more comprehensive than those arising from incident reports. 

CBC News reviewed inspection reports from the last five years for all long-term care homes in the province and found that while most received an RQI in 2015, 2016 and 2017, the number dropped to just over half in 2018 and nine last year.

‘Immediate attention’ needed

In a news release issued Tuesday, Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) president Vicki McKenna said the association has contacted the Ministry of Labour about working conditions in long-term care homes, but the ministry has written few orders and has “rarely been on site to conduct physical inspections.”

“This sector needs immediate attention,” she said. “Government must act now to halt these outbreaks.”

ONA’s statement also notes that a number of long-term care reports have been issued in the last two decades that continue to make the same recommendations to improve the sector: more staffing, more funding, better training and increased resources.

A 2017-2018 public inquiry into the safety and security of residents in long-term care homes found “systemic vulnerabilities” in the system. The Ontario Health Coalition has for years been issuing reports about problems in long-term care, including understaffing and excessive violence.

The Ontario Personal Support Workers Association also said in a statement that these are not new problems.

“We have been working through these difficult conditions for years,” the statement reads. “They have worsened over the last three months.”

Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of national seniors’ advocacy organization CanAge, told CBC News in an interview it’s very telling that the state of these long-term care homes could shock even soldiers who go on peacekeeping missions.

“How much more do we need for this government and our provinces and territories to take needed action?” she asked.

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CBC | Health News

How COVID-19 symptoms develop, and how long they last

How COVID-19 progresses from incubation to recovery has implications for everything from how long people may spread it before showing symptoms, to how long people can be expected to occupy resources such as ICU beds and ventilators in hospitals. 

Here’s a closer look at what has been learned about how symptoms develop from international studies and interviews with front-line doctors.

Note that the averages represent typical cases, and there tends to be a wide range at all stages of the disease.

Incubation period

The period in which a person is infected but shows no symptoms appears to average around five to six days, although it can vary from one to 14 days, according to the World Health Organization and Chinese data.

Because people without symptoms aren’t usually tested, positive tests typically represent infections that happened on average five days and up to two weeks earlier. Studies also suggest people with no symptoms or mild symptoms are responsible for most of the spread.

Mild to moderate symptoms

Even those who go on to experience more severe symptoms typically begin with mild symptoms, most often fever and a dry cough, although they can also include more unusual symptoms such as loss of taste and smell.

Symptoms will remain mild in about 80 per cent of cases, the WHO says, until recovery in about 14 days. Typically, the cough lasts a week longer than the fever, a Chinese study found. Patients with mild or moderate symptoms are told to recover at home.

A key, more severe symptom that sometimes leads to hospitalization is shortness of breath or dyspnea, which shows up on average five to six days after symptoms began, Chinese researchers reported in medical journals JAMA and The Lancet.

For more details, read these personal accounts of what it’s like to have a milder case of COVID-19 from Kym Murphy of Saint John, N.B., David Anzarouth of Toronto and Todd Rowan of Saskatoon.

(CBC News)


Studies in China and the U.S suggest that most patients who are hospitalized are admitted, on average, about a week after symptoms begin.

In Canada, patients appear to be sickest at about that time, said Dr. Bram Rochwerg, site lead at the Juravinski Hospital intensive care unit in Hamilton and an associate professor at McMaster University.

However, other studies show wide variations in when patients are hospitalized — the average time from symptom onset varied from 1.5 days in one Chinese study to 11 days in another

The rate at which people are hospitalized and admitted to ICU and how long they spend there can vary from country to country.

Rochwerg said that timing depends partly on criteria for hospitalization. Some hospitals in China admitted most patients who showed up, while many hospitals in the U.S. and Canada have been more restrictive, sending patients home unless their symptoms are severe.

Two Chinese studies found that patients who are hospitalized in general wards typically stayed for an average of 10 or 12 days.

Those who died in general wards tended to do so in about the same amount of time, the same studies found.

WATCH | COVID-19 patient ‘would beg’ Canadians to listen to top doctors:

B.C. resident Erin Leigh, 38, is recovering from the novel coronavirus in hospital. She told CBC News she had never experienced an illness like COVID-19. 7:00

ICU admission and stay

A key symptom that often leads to ICU admission is acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS. That is lung inflammation and fluid build-up in the lungs that stops air from getting in and causes blood oxygen levels to drop. Acute respiratory distress syndrome typically requires life support such as mechanical ventilation that must be administered in the ICU.

The onset of ARDS has been reported to average eight or 11 days after symptoms begin (about one to three days after hospital admission) in Chinese studies in JAMA and The Lancet. ICU admission typically follows within two days.

Rochwerg said at his hospital in Hamilton it’s not unusual for patients with ARDS to be admitted straight from the emergency room into the ICU.

ARDS is part of an exaggerated immune response called a “cytokine storm,” that can also lead to complications such as acute kidney damage. 

This chart, based on a study of hospitalized patients in China, shows the progression of symptoms and major interventions over the course of the disease for those who survived the illness and those who did not. (Fei Zhou/The Lancet/Elsevier)

Very sick patients died on average four or five days after being admitted to ICU, Chinese studies found. In Italy, patients averaged seven days in the ICU before death.

Those who eventually recovered spent longer in the ICU, averaging eight, nine and 14 days in studies from China, Italy and the U.S. respectively. There’s a wide variation.

Dr. Rob Fowler, chief of Sunnybrook Hospital’s trauma and critical-care program in Toronto, told CBC News earlier in April that dozens of COVID-19 patients have come through his ICU and required care lasting for “many, many days to many, many weeks.”

Rochwerg noted that while the virus is the trigger, it’s actually the body’s own response that generates severe complications, such as ARDS.

“That’s the reason they stay critically ill for five days, a week, two weeks,” he said.

That’s much longer than the three days spent in ICU by average critically ill patients without COVID-19. This is why experts say COVID-19 patients tend to accumulate in ICUs and the pandemic poses such a challenge for health systems.

Paramedics transfer a patient from an ambulance into the LaSalle Hospital in Montreal on April 25, as COVID-19 cases rise in Canada and around the world. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Post-ICU recovery

Most studies didn’t describe how long patients spent recovering in hospital after leaving the ICU. However, Dr. Kenneth Lyn-Kew, an associate professor of pulmonology and critical care medicine at National Jewish Health in Denver, told Scientific American that it can take two days to two weeks.

Rochwerg said patients typically discharged from the ICU spend at least as much time as they spent in the ICU recovering in general hospital wards, if not more. “But everyone is different.” 

Some, he said, may even require extensive rehab or long-term care afterward.

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CBC | Health News

Amber Rose Totally Transforms With New Long Hair Look, Shows Off Face Tattoos: Pics

Amber Rose Totally Transforms With New Long Hair Look, Shows Off Face Tattoos | Entertainment Tonight

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Why Canada is taking so long to start testing blood for COVID-19

With shortages of masks, gloves and testing kits hampering the fight against the coronavirus in Canada, there is one important weapon that remains unused — rapid blood tests that will tell within 15 minutes if someone has been exposed.

These tests cannot detect early infections because the body’s immune system hasn’t had time to produce antibodies against the virus. But about five to seven days after symptoms show up, they could be used to determine who has been infected and who has not — which would provide a more accurate picture of Canada’s epidemic, including identifying people who were asymptomatic or had only mild infections.

The rapid blood tests are already being used in Europe, Asia, Australia and the U.S. Some academic laboratories are also developing COVID blood tests.

But so far none of those tests has been approved for use in Canada.

One company, BTNX Inc., in Markham, Ont., is shipping thousands of rapid tests to hospitals in the U.S. 

Mitchell Pittaway, the company’s chief financial officer, said he would rather be distributing the tests in Canada.

“The response [from Health Canada] has been a bit longer than what we would have liked to have seen,” Pittaway said. “The U.S. has been much quicker.”

Similar to blood glucose test

This week his company shipped 20,000 tests to U.S. hospitals. It will be sending another 200,000 to the U.S. next week.

“As a Canadian company with Canadian staff, ideally we would love to have all of this capacity blocked off for Canada, but we’re not able to step back and not address needs coming from other countries.”

BTNX Inc., in Markham, Ont., is one of several companies awaiting approval of rapid blood testing technology in Canada. Meanwhile, BTNX is shipping thousands of its tests to hospitals in the U.S., where approval was fast-tracked. (BTNX Inc.)

The test kit sells for about $ 10 US and it uses a simple finger-prick of blood to reveal whether someone has been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“It’s similar to a blood glucose test,” said Pittaway. “Put a droplet of blood in the sample well, followed by two droplets of buffer, and after 15 minutes there will be a reaction.” That’s if the person has been infected with COVID-19. There will be no red lines on the test paper if there are no antibodies detected in the blood.

The company reports that the test is highly sensitive and specific for the COVID-19 virus, but does not recommend it as stand-alone confirmation of an infection, and the test can be complicated if a person has been infected by milder coronavirus strains.

Still, Pittaway said the test could help reduce the current strain on the laboratory testing system by prioritizing anyone who gets a positive result on the blood test.

Health Canada reviewing

There is a risk of false positives and false negatives with any test. That’s one reason Health Canada is taking a close look at the rapid blood tests before approving them for use in Canada

“The department is working with the National Microbiology Laboratory to validate testing and research, along with expert advice, so that we can have confidence in the test results,” Health Canada spokesperson Geoffroy Legault-Thivierge said in an email.

In the U.S., the FDA granted expedited approval for their use by health care professionals only.

“And that’s the same as we’re pursuing in Canada,” said Pittaway There are more than a dozen companies ready with blood tests and waiting for Health Canada to give them the go-ahead.

“Our application to Health Canada was submitted and under review,” Bryan Fang, a spokesperson for Healgen Scientific said in an email. “Health Canada will release the information once it is approved.”

An illustration of Healgen Scientific’s rapid COVID-19 blood test, which has been approved for use in the U.K., France and Italy, and is awaiting approval in Canada. (Healgen Scientific)

Fang said his company received European approval back in February to supply a rapid COVID-19 test to the U.K., France and Italy. 

“We are increasing our capacity every day,” Fang said Wednesday. “As of today, we can make 500-600K per day.”

Swab test kits prioritized

Two weeks ago, Canada’s health minister signed an interim order to speed up approvals for COVID-19 tests and other medical devices. Rapid blood tests are being considered under that order

“These tests are also being accepted for review; however, the World Health Organization does not currently recommend serological tests for clinical diagnosis, and Health Canada is following this advice,” said Legault-Thivierge, adding that Health Canada officials are giving the traditional PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing kits priority under the interim order.

The laboratory-based PCR test, like the one pictured, is the only one that can detect an infection in the early stages, using a nasal swab inserted into a patient’s nose. (Evan Tsuyoshi Mitsui/CBC)

The laboratory-based PCR test is the only one that can detect an infection in the early stages, using a nasal swab inserted into a patient’s nose. That sample is sent to a hospital or provincial lab, where specialized machines try to detect the virus’s genetic material.

But a cross-Canada shortage of testing kits, machines and trained laboratory staff means many COVID-19 cases are being missed, and provincial case counts are underestimating the extent of the epidemic in Canada.

People are still shocked to learn that they might not be tested despite having symptoms or being in close contact with someone who is infected. Even in nursing homes with active COVID-19 outbreaks, Ontario is still only testing people with symptoms.

Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at Toronto’s Sinai Health Systems, told CBC Toronto’s Mike Crawley that everyone in an affected long-term care facility should be tested.

“That’s important so that we don’t miss cases that could allow us to further spread this virus around and potentially kill more people,” he said.

Across Canada, researchers are scrambling to increase PCR testing capacity. At the University of Toronto, Keith Pardee is developing a portable test system that uses different chemicals than the ones currently running short. His test is not yet approved for use, but he hopes to have patient trials completed by early next month.

At the University of Calgary, Dr. Dylan Pillai is developing another alternative to the PCR test that would also be portable and use different chemicals. He said he could be ready within two weeks to help take the load off the laboratories.

“We have a working assay already developed and we’re just in the process of validating that,” he said.

With new research suggesting there could be a substantial number of people infected without showing any symptoms, experts are increasingly recommending the use of population-wide rapid blood tests as an important tool in the process of returning to normal. The blood tests will reveal how many people have already been exposed, and could therefore be expected to have at least some short-term immunity to the virus.

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