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Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Dec 18, 2023  2 months, 3 days, 3 hours, 2 minutes ago

COVID-19 News-Canada: Leading Researcher Warns About Alarming Surge in COVID-19 Deaths And Reporting Discrepancies In Newfoundland And Labrador

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COVID-19 News-Canada: Leading Researcher Warns About Alarming Surge in COVID-19 Deaths And Reporting Discrepancies In Newfoundland And Labrador
Nikhil Prasad  Fact checked by:Thailand Medical News Team Dec 18, 2023  2 months, 3 days, 3 hours, 2 minutes ago
Leading Canadian Infectious Disease Researcher Tara Moriarty Raises Concerns On Increasing COVID-19 Deaths In Newfoundland and Labrador.
 
COVID-19 News-Canada: As the holiday season approaches, Newfoundland and Labrador is grappling with a concerning surge in COVID-19 cases, prompting leading infectious disease researcher and University of Toronto professor Dr Tara Moriarty to voice her apprehensions. Despite the province's relatively better situation compared to other regions, Moriarty asserts that the reported statistics are not providing an accurate reflection of the gravity of the situation, raising questions about the effectiveness of current public health measures.


Dr Tara Moriarty-Professor and researcher at the University of Toronto

Increasing Infections and Excess Mortality
Moriarty's research indicates a notable surge in COVID-19 cases across the country, with Newfoundland and Labrador showing a prevalence of about one in every 37 residents being infected. She reveals a staggering 9,000 infections per week or 1,300 per day, projecting a potential 17% excess mortality related to COVID-19, translating to approximately 19 deaths per week.
 
Excess mortality, as measured by Statistics Canada, estimates the impact of COVID-19-related deaths through various methods, such as wastewater testing and test positivity rates.
https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/71-607-x/71-607-x2021028-eng.htm
 
The data also reveals a stark reality: the province is witnessing rapidly increasing excess mortality since July 1, indicating that the severity of outcomes for infected individuals is exacerbated by a significant portion of the population being undervaccinated.
 
The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that only 16.3% of the province's population has been fully vaccinated with the latest vaccines. Moriarty expresses deep concern over this undervaccination trend, emphasizing the urgent need for increased vaccination efforts to curb the escalating crisis.
 
Rising Prevalence of Long COVID
Moriarty's research not only highlights the immediate impact of rising infections but also sheds light on the increasing prevalence of long COVID, particularly among individuals who have experienced multiple infections. The estimated prevalence of long COVID in the Canadian population has risen, posing additional challenges for healthcare systems. Moriarty emphasizes the need for proactive measures and comprehensive support for individuals dealing with the long-term effects of the virus.
 
The rising prevalence of long COVID is a pressing concern, as it not only affects the health and well-being of individuals but also places an added strain on healthcare resources. This underscores the importance of not only controlling the spread of the virus but also addressing the long-term consequences for those who have been infected.
 
Concerns About Reporting Practices
Moriarty raises concerns about the transparency of COVI D-19 statistics reporting in Newfoundland and Labrador. While the Department of Health updates its respiratory virus dashboard weekly, the researcher suggests that the province's irregular updates contribute to the discrepancy between reported and actual numbers. This inconsistency hinders effective public health responses and decision-making.
https://health-infobase.canada.ca/covid-19/#a1
 
The Department of Health responds to Moriarty's concerns, indicating that the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI), used in her research, is not the same data source the province uses in its COVID-19 reporting.
https://www.cihi.ca/en/covid-19-resources
 
The statement to various COVID-19 News-Canada outlets, emphasizes that CIHI statistics may or may not require care due to COVID-19, and the province's reporting focuses on suspect and laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases that result in hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and deaths.
 
Life Expectancy Decline and COVID-19 Impact
Epidemiologist Dr Patrick Parfrey, deputy minister of health transformation, adds another layer to the unfolding crisis by pointing out a worrying trend: life expectancy has dropped for the third consecutive year in Newfoundland and Labrador. The province's life expectancy now stands at 78.7 years, down from 80 years in 2019.
 
Dr Parfrey acknowledges the role of the COVID-19 pandemic in this decline, with 276 deaths attributed to the virus in 2022. However, he notes that many COVID-19 deaths occurred among older populations, which has a less dramatic effect on overall life expectancy. What is more surprising is that the life expectancy impact was greater in Newfoundland and Labrador than it was in Canada as a whole.
 
Chronic Diseases and Underlying Factors
Dr Parfrey emphasizes that the biggest proportion of deaths in the province is due to chronic diseases, and this is an area that needs urgent attention. Even before the pandemic, life expectancy for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians was shorter than elsewhere in Canada, with people in this province living two and a half years less than other Canadians.
 
While the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly played a role in the decline in life expectancy, addressing chronic diseases and their underlying factors is crucial for long-term health improvement. Parfrey stresses the need to put emphasis on tackling these chronic diseases to improve overall health outcomes in the province.
 
Other Contributing Factors and Opioid Impact
Statistics Canada analyst Patrice Dion provides a broader perspective, noting that life expectancy has decreased in Canada for the third year in a row, and the data in Newfoundland and Labrador is still preliminary. Dion emphasizes the need for more analysis to understand how different factors, including COVID-19 in combination with other underlying health issues, impact life expectancy.
 
Dion points out that age plays a significant role in overall life expectancy. While COVID-19 affects more older people, other factors such as drug overdoses, particularly opioid-related deaths, could influence life expectancy, especially in younger demographics. Dion notes that more deaths in younger demographics could lead to a faster decline in overall life expectancy.
 
In 2022, there were 30 opioid deaths in Newfoundland and Labrador, contributing to the larger discussion about factors influencing life expectancy. However, Statistics Canada says it needs more data to precisely understand the impact of opioids on life expectancy in this province.
 
Conclusion
As Newfoundland and Labrador grapples with an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases, incomplete reporting practices, and a decline in life expectancy, the urgency for comprehensive and coordinated action becomes apparent. Researchers, health officials, and the public must work collaboratively to address vaccination gaps, mitigate the impact of long COVID, and implement effective measures to curb the spread of the virus. The province's health authorities should also reevaluate reporting practices to ensure accurate and timely information is available for informed decision-making.
 
The multifaceted challenges facing Newfoundland and Labrador require a holistic approach that addresses not only the immediate crisis but also the underlying health issues contributing to the decline in life expectancy. It is crucial to prioritize public health initiatives, increase vaccination coverage, and implement targeted interventions to improve overall health outcomes in the province. The insights provided by researchers and analysts serve as a call to action, urging stakeholders to unite in the face of a complex public health crisis.
 
For the latest COVID-19 News-Canada, keep on logging to Thailand Medical News.

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