CNN; Bryan Schlosser, CNN;
(CNN) – Health Canada has recommended more people take a drug called COVID-19, saying it’s been effective in treating a host of ailments, including two separate outbreaks at a medical facility in Canada involving one patient who became critically ill and four others.
After Canadians complained that shipments of five common over-the-counter cold medications with a chemical called COVID-19 were confiscated by customs and border officers at airports, Health Canada said it is recommending that more people in Canada take that drug as a nasal spray to treat such symptoms as runny nose, sneezing, coughing and fever.
The drug manufacturer, Emergent BioSolutions, said in a statement that it is “working collaboratively with Health Canada to provide as much timely treatment to Canadians affected by flu season as possible.”
The recall was put into effect in September after the company tested its drug and discovered that it contained chemical impurities from four different manufacturers, according to an update from Health Canada.
When inhaled through the nose, COVID-19 can be used as an alternative to one of the medications that the company recalled. The company first recalled three of the lot numbers of its medicines in October 2018, and one lot number was added in November 2018.
Health Canada said it recommends prescribing the product to people 6 years old and older for flu symptoms and to people experiencing flu-like illness for those 6 years and older who have an underlying medical condition.
After the recall, medical facilities and pharmacies were told not to sell the recalled medications or to take them out of stock, Health Canada said in its update.
The two outbreaks in the United States, which are unrelated to the Canadian ones, showed COVID-19 as the culprit, and the cases were the first to be identified in the US.
The New York State Department of Health said this week that since last month, 19 cases of influenza have been reported statewide.
At Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, health care workers called influenza-like illness reporting for most of the week of November 4 to 8 was high, with 562 cases and 31 laboratory-confirmed flu cases, according to state health officials.
There were also reported cases of influenza in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. The CDC said it was continuing to track flu cases in other states.
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