The COVID Brief: Are disinfectants causing more harm than good?

May 15, 2023
The COVID Brief

As the pandemic evolves, we'll be making some changes to The COVID-19 Brief. What would you like to see in this newsletter? What questions do you still have about COVID-19? Let us know by clicking here.

By the numbers
(as of 2 p.m. EDT Monday, May 15, 2023)

The Outbreak in Canada

4,665,486 cases
52,231 deaths

Current Hospitalizations

2,297 hospitalizations,
 133 ICU admissions


98,098,692 doses given

Variant Breakdown by Sample Collection

BA.2: 5.2%
BA.5: 4.5%
Other: 0%

XBB.1.5: 46.9%
Other: 43.4%


Here's what's been happening in Canada

Are cleaning products used against COVID-19 causing us harm? 

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, cleaning products such as disinfecting wipes became an important tool for many Canadians looking to make their homes as safe as possible. But a new study suggests that some cleaning products widely used during the pandemic might contain compounds linked to asthma, dermatitis and inflammation. Click here to read more about the health concerns posed by these chemical compounds, and some alternative products that may be safer to reach for. Click below for more stories on COVID-19 in Canada and tools used to protect against the disease:


A COVID legacy? When doctors say we should still mask up
COVID-19 is still with us even as WHO says it is no longer a global emergency: Duclos



Snapshot across Canada

As provinces scale back their COVID-19 reporting efforts, data compiled by shows a small drop in the number of disease-related hospitalizations week-over-week. According to the latest data from Ontario, there were 442 patients in hospital with COVID-19 as of May 11. Exactly one week prior, there were 480 COVID-19-related hospitalizations.

Residents of Quebec are also seeing a decline in hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 on a weekly basis. As of May 10, there were 911 patients in hospital with the disease, including those receiving intensive care. One week before, there were 1,009 COVID-19-related hospitalizations. This drop comes as pharmacies in the province stop distributing free rapid tests. As of May 15, these tests will only be available to certain residents free of charge, including those at high risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection. Those who don't meet the criteria will still be able to purchase rapid tests at pharmacies.

For a closer look at how the provinces and territories are doing, check out our interactive COVID-19 tracking map. Click below for more coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada:

B.C. sets record, delivers 350,000 surgeries last fiscal year, health minister says
Nova Scotia doctor waitlist climbs to new high
Business owners call for extension to repay COVID-19 loans

The latest headlines

In research, reports, and data

For those who suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), researchers from Ontario have discovered what they call the "most effective" treatment so far. Based on a systematic review of 14 clinical trials involving more than 3,000 people, results show solriamfetol is likely the best anti-fatigue medication for EDS. According to researchers, this data raises questions about how effective anti-fatigue drugs can be in addressing some of the symptoms associated with long COVID. Click here to read more about what researchers discovered. For additional stories on COVID-19 vaccines and disease-related research, reports and data, click below:

Mexico develops own COVID-19 vaccine, 2 years late
Sociologist says pandemic may have made Canadian youth less empathetic, meaner

Around the world

The United States continues to have the highest total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, according to data from the World Health Organization. Following the government's decision to end the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration on May 11, the U.S. is now seeing a large number of asylum seekers trying to cross the southern border from Mexico.

As the country's emergency declaration comes to an end, so do restrictions on asylum that allowed the U.S. to turn migrants away on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. In April 2022, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the restrictions, also known as Title 42, were no longer necessary to limit COVID-19 transmission, despite high case numbers. Click here to read more about Title 42 and U.S. immigration as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. For more international stories related to the coronavirus, click below: 

South Korea to lift quarantine mandate for COVID-19, end testing recommendation for travellers
Ukraine, Sudan conflicts fuel alarming surge in tuberculosis

One last thing…

There are plenty of ways to communicate the impacts of COVID-19 and the post-COVID condition, such as through digital newsletters. But one advocacy group based in Europe is using video games to raise awareness about the effects of long COVID.

Their project allows users to play video games such as Minecraft and Elden Ring while their avatars experience hurdles that mimic actual long-COVID symptoms. They include leaving items behind because of weak memory and difficulty with physical tasks due to fatigue, writes my colleague Alexandra Mae Jones.

"As gaming has become the most popular form of entertainment, overtaking film and TV, what better way to really show the impact of Long COVID than trying to beat Elden Ring, game of the year and notoriously difficult, while 'suffering' from the same symptoms in-game," Perri Karyal, a popular Elden Ring Twitch streamer, said in a press release.

Read the entire story here.

Thank you as always for reading,
Jennifer Ferreira, producer

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