Wildlife experts say the death of a mother grizzly bear and her two cubs — including a rare, blond-headed grizzly — in Banff National Park is a major loss to the population.Parks Canada has said that an adult bear was struck and killed Sept. 3 by a Canadian Pacific Railway train on a rail line through the Alberta park."She was about 10 years old and had been known to Parks Canada," Dwight Bourdin, resource conservation manager with the agency's Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay field unit, said in an interview this week.The bear, known as No. 143, spent most of her time in the backcountry of Banff and the adjacent Yoho and Kootenay national parks in British Columbia, Bourdin said.She was spotted earlier this summer with two cubs, including the one with a blond head and brown body. But Bourdin said neither cub has been spotted since before the mother bear was killed."One has not been seen since early June and one was not seen since Aug. 15," said Bourdin. "Both are believed to have perished prior to this incident."We've searched the area thoroughly. We continue to monitor the site. We have CP that will report any sightings."But we feel that the cubs did not survive."Parks Canada estimates on its website that there are 65 grizzly bears in Banff National Park.Bourdin said the two cubs, which are believed to be No. 143's second set as a mother, were likely killed by a large male grizzly or another predator in the park. It's not known whether her cubs from 2018 survived, he said.The portion of the track where the mother bear's death happened is between Castle Junction and Lake Louise and between the Bow River and a steep embankment."There were no grain spills on site and no carcasses on site that would have drawn her to that location," said Bourdin. "We believe she was using it as a travel route."Officials said an investigation showed there were also strong winds and flowing water at the location so the bear may not have heard the train.Colleen Cassady St. Clair, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alberta, led a five-year research project in Banff National Park to find out why so many grizzly bears were dying on the tracks.It noted that at least 17 bears died between 2000 and 2017.Cassady St. Clair said the location of the latest death holds many of the same characteristics that she and her team found pose a risk to bears."Mortalities occurred in the past more frequently where trains were travelling faster, where the track was close to water ... and where there was a curvature in the track," she said."It's attractive for bears to travel on the tracks under those circumstances ... and it's hard to get off of the track quickly."A paper published the day before the bear strike by one of her team members, Jonathan Backs, showed a warning system with flashing lights and bells could help reduce animal deaths because they would be alerted to oncoming trains and get off the tracks earlier.Cassady St. Clair said the death of No. 143, one of the bears in the research study, is disappointing."She's exactly the kind of bear that everyone wants to keep in the population," she said. "She was a well-behaved backcountry bear, a young mother."It is a big loss for the population."Bourdin said it's "definitely concerning" to lose a female bear, but that's why Parks Canada continues to do mitigation work around the tracks to prevent more deaths. "The research showed there was no single solution, no silver bullet, to the situations there," he said. "I think it's a matter of continuing to learn, continuing to do prescribed fire and habitat improvements for the species."A statement from CP didn't address the death, but said it continues to work with Banff National Park to try to reduce the number of grizzly deaths along the tracks.This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 16, 2020Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press
Barbados wants to remove Britain's Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and become a republic, the Caribbean island nation's government has said, reviving a plan mooted several times in the past. A former British colony that gained independence in 1966, Barbados has maintained a formal link with the British monarchy as have some other countries that were once part of the British empire. "The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind," said Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason, delivering a speech on behalf of the country's Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
The daughter of a man who died of COVID-19 paid tribute to him and other seniors who have lost their lives at a memorial she unveiled in the West End of Vancouver. The memorial features a poster of physiotherapist Garry Monckton who died April 2, his daughter Samantha says it’s is a reminder of how COVID-19 has touched almost everyone and the precautions people should take.
Smoke from uncontrolled wildfires along the U.S. West Coast is blowing eastward, stretching thousands of kilometres across Canada and covering several provinces. Dozens of blazes have raged with unprecedented scope across some 18,000 square kilometres in Oregon, California and Washington state since August, laying waste to several small towns, destroying thousands of homes and killing at least 36 people.The fires also have filled the region's air with harmful levels of smoke and soot, bathing skies in eerie tones of orange and sepia while adding to a public health crisis already posed by the coronavirus pandemic. That smoke was seen sweeping eastward Tuesday, with it blowing as far as Toronto and Ottawa, as well to the northeast, covering Alberta, according to satellite imagery captured by the U.S.-based National Weather Service (NWS). "Notice that the smoke originates across the west and then gets pulled to the east due to the jet stream aloft. The haziness may increase later today," NWS said.On Monday smoke blanketed Vancouver so thickly that Canada Post was forced to stop deliveries for the day, calling the conditions "unsafe." While on Sunday, the union representing B.C. teachers urged the province to close schools, citing the combined threat of wildfire smoke, which is affecting air quality, and the COVID-19 pandemic."The combination of COVID-19 pandemic and extremely poor wildfire air quality is deeply concerning for bced," the B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF) said on Twitter. "Teachers and students should not be in crowded classes with no ventilation or fresh air."Ten deaths have been confirmed during the past week in Oregon, the latest flashpoint in a larger summer outbreak of fires accompanied by catastrophic lightning storms, record-breaking heat waves and bouts of extreme winds in the U.S.
A spike in COVID-19 cases has health authorities worried the province may be losing ground to the pandemic.Both the Ontario Hospital Association and the University Health Network warned this week that exponential growth of the virus could spell trouble for the province's reopening plans.Monday saw 313 new cases of COVID-19 across Ontario, including 61 in Ottawa, the largest one-day increase since May. The province's health minister called the jump "disturbing and significant," and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson called it "concerning."Tuesday saw 52 more cases in Ottawa, plus four more deaths linked to an outbreak at the West End Villa long-term care home.But do more cases necessarily mean we're in greater danger of overloading our health-care system?"When you hear there's an uptick in cases, your antennas go up and you ask yourself, does this mean that we're going to see more hospitalizations or deaths?" said Kwadwo Kyeremanteng, an intensive and palliative care doctor at the Ottawa and Montfort hospitals.More testing, more casesKyeremanteng says behind the numbers, there's a more nuanced story.He points to a possible link between increased testing and the rise in confirmed cases, and the fact that many of the new cases are in younger people and are therefore "unlikely to translate into increased hospitalizations or mortality or ICU admissions." According to Ottawa Public Health, nine patients were being treated for COVID-19 in hospital on Tuesday, none in intensive care."So [increased case numbers are] a sign, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to translate into more work for us," Kyeremanteng told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.When it comes to hospitalization, the demographics haven't changed significantly changed the pandemic began, he said."The typical patient has been older [with] comorbidities," said Kyeremanteng. "The ones we've seen in the ICU have … diabetes, hypertension, obesity, all risk factors … associate[d] with poor outcomes with COVID."We're not seeing younger patients. We're not seeing marathon runners. We're not seeing people that are typically young and healthy."WATCH | Distancing measures keeping pressure off local hospitals, physician says:Young people still pose a riskStill, Kyeremanteng said it's a mistake to underestimate the risk those younger, healthier people pose if they do contract COVID-19."It's unlikely that a 22-year-old student will be sick from this, but if they pass it along to grandma, that's another story," he said."That's why it's important to continue public health measures, to continue to mask, to continue to social distance [and] to continue to wash your hands," Kyeremanteng said. "We have to make sure there aren't increased hospitalizations … because that's a signal that we're unfortunately passing it along to those that are more vulnerable." Kyeremanteng said he's noticed a significant change in attitude among medical professionals, a sense that "we can handle what's in front of us.... It is possible that we will get busier, but we really did create the infrastructure … and the capacity to increase ICU beds."We don't know what the fall is going to look like," he said. "But there is more confidence in the ability for us to care for patients, more confidence that we're just going to get through this."
Militants in Gaza launched rockets into Israel and Israeli aircraft hit targets in the Palestinian enclave in an explosive backdrop to the signing of pacts for formal ties between Israel and two Gulf Arab countries. The Israeli military said it launched about 10 air strikes in Hamas Islamist-run Gaza early on Wednesday and that 15 rockets had been fired from the territory at Israeli communities near the border, where sirens sounded before dawn. On Tuesday, a rocket from Gaza struck the coastal Israeli city of Ashdod, wounding two people, at the same time as Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain signed agreements at the White House to establish diplomatic relations.
With a sudden spike in cases prompting more people to get tested, Canadians are coping with hours-long lineups at COVID-19 testing centres across the country — and some medical experts are calling on Health Canada to approve new devices to deliver faster results.Concerned parents and their children faced four-hour waits at Ottawa's primary testing facility on Monday. A similar scene greeted those looking for a test on Tuesday. At Toronto's William Osler drive-thru testing centre, residents were kept waiting for more than three hours.Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said today that one approach to the crush of people looking for tests could be the deployment of rapid-testing devices. Seven months into this pandemic, these devices still are not available for use in Canada because Health Canada regulators haven't yet approved them."I totally agree with a number of comments from experts that we need to augment the portfolio of testing capabilities in Canada," Tam told a press conference."That's something we need to press hard at. The regulator at Health Canada has said it's prepared to work hard to get us tests that are accurate and reliable. I think people are just trying to be careful."While she urged caution, Tam said that "right now, I think, is the time to really accelerate getting Canadians this capacity."Watch: Dr. Theresa Tam on rapid COVID-19 testsTam's comments come after Dr. David Naylor, one of the country's leading doctors and a co-chair of the federal government's COVID-19 task force, urged regulators to give Canadians more testing options ahead of an anticipated fall surge in COVID-19 cases."We really desperately need some rapid testing to be done at points of congregation, or points of meetings, so that you can have use of some form of salivary testing or rapid nucleic acid testing, or even antigen testing in schools and work sites. That would really help things here," Naylor said in an interview with CBC's Power & Politics on Monday.A rapid test, or a test that uses antigen technology, can produce results in minutes and can be used in a wide range of settings, such as doctors' offices, pharmacies, walk-in clinics and long-term care homes.Some public health experts also have said rapid tests should be sent to schools and some workplaces to offer on-the-spot results in high-risk settings.The antigen tests — which, depending on the device, use matter collected from a nasal or throat swab — don't require the use of a lab to generate results.While much faster, these tests are considered by some to be less accurate than the "gold standard" — the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing process currently in use across Canada.If administered properly, PCR tests are highly accurate, identifying positive cases nearly 100 per cent of the time. Antigen tests are also considered highly accurate but they are not as sensitive as molecular PCR tests run through a lab.Two new tests approved in U.S.While Health Canada has been reviewing the efficacy of these antigen tests for months, U.S. agencies fast-tracked two such devices in the summer and they are already in wide use there.In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave approvals for Quidel Corporation's Sofia 2 SARS device through an emergency use authorization.According to the National Institutes of Health, thousands of Quidel analyzers were in place across the United States as of July. The analyzers can give electronic results within 15 minutes. Quidel claims its test has a 96.7 per cent sensitivity rate within five days of the onset of patient symptoms.In July, the FDA issued approvals for Becton Dickinson's Veritor System for Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2; the devices have since been deployed to 11,000 nursing homes across the U.S. to screen residents and staff. The company said it expects to have the manufacturing capacity for 2 million tests per week by the end of September.WATCH | Demand for COVID-19 tests soars as school resumes and cases rise:The company also announced Monday that it is investigating complaints about a "small number" of false-positives in some homes.In August, six states announced a plan to bulk buy millions of tests from Quidel and Becton Dickinson to ramp up the use of rapid antigen testing to help detect outbreaks more quickly."With severe shortages and delays in testing ... the states are banding together to acquire millions of faster tests to help save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19," said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a Republican, in announcing the multi-state pact.Both companies behind these devices and a third, Korean-based SD Biosensor, Inc., have applied for Health Canada approvals.As of Tuesday, all are listed as "under review."A spokesperson for the Health Canada said antigen tests "are being prioritized for review ... Health Canada continues to review all applications as quickly as possible without compromising patient safety.""There's a whole regulatory process that needs to be obviously respected for all these new tests, and potential new tools in the toolbox. We need to know the right way to use them and in the right context," added Dr. Howard Njoo, the deputy chief medical officer. "It may well be they don't perform as well as the PCR."But even if these antigen tests are not quite as accurate, Naylor said, they could be a crucial line of defence — and because of their lower cost and faster results, someone could take the test multiple times to weed out errors.When such tests show someone has COVID-19, he said, that person should be tested again immediately to confirm the result."That test will help rule out the false positive. If after those two tests you still got a positive, you say, 'OK, let's do a swab or send the swab to the public health lab,'" said Naylor.
The virus behind COVID-19 has a knack for slithering through society undetected. Not everyone gets a fever, and not everyone gets a cough. Instead, the range of symptoms can pop up in various parts of someone's body, like a nagging headache or upset stomach, mimicking a whole host of other ailments. Many people don't feel sick enough to worry, if they ever get symptoms at all.So when someone young and healthy does test positive for SARS-CoV-2 — as hundreds of Canadians now do every day — the question often is: Where'd they catch it? In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford often points the finger at crowded parties. "We can't have these big parties," he said earlier this month. "We can't have the big weddings."There are multiple recent reports of cases tied to bustling indoor spaces — from strip clubs to wedding events — that build on months of research showing the combination of crowds, close contact and closed settings for virus transmission is like kindling for a fire.But younger Canadians may also be fuelling the spread of COVID-19 in far more mundane ways, with potentially dire consequences. Emerging details from public health officials suggest a variety of social gatherings are helping SARS-CoV-2 find new hosts — and in Ontario, a majority of those virus carriers are under 40.They're getting infected at cottages, family gatherings, dinner parties — all kinds of indoor settings, and not always the ones with large, headline-making crowds."The vast majority of transmission is with close contact with someone who's infected, typically for a prolonged period of time in an indoor environment," said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a Toronto-based infectious disease specialist.Risks in indoor settingsThe notion that indoor settings are riskier is nothing new. For months, case studies from around the world have highlighted danger zones: cruise ships, a call centre, a choir practice.But the specifics of where real people are getting real infections in Ontario has been hazier, beyond now-obvious hot spots like long-term care homes and other institutional settings.In recent weeks, a clearer picture began emerging. On one end of the spectrum, there are the big, risky gatherings called out by Ford: A series of wedding events in Markham led to more than 20 cases, for example, while infected staff at two Toronto strip clubs sparked multiple confirmed cases and hundreds of possible exposures.In London, Ont., at least nine university students have tested positive for the virus so far, and public health officials suggested they socialized in the city's jam-packed downtown bar scene.WATCH | How to navigate daily challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic:Then there's the other end of the spectrum: smaller groups of friends and family meeting up indoors.In Windsor, public health officials recently carried out contact tracing and tracked more than 30 recent cases back to one family's social life — including parties and dinners with friends at home and a card game in a storage unit, the region's local newspaper reported.Toronto's medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, on Monday outlined several similar settings that led to recent infections, including one family gathering and another family's trip where time was spent with someone who wound up having COVID-19."Personal gatherings are the main driver of cases," Dr. Mustafa Hirji, acting medical officer of health for Niagara Region, noted in a tweet the same day.LISTEN | Helping Canadians under 40 stay safe from COVID-19:One striking case study from Ottawa involved a 10-person cottage trip. It's a gathering size allowed by the province, as long as there's physical distancing in place, but according to the city's medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches, the trip wound up being a cautionary tale."There was one person who developed cold-like symptoms while at the cottage party and then tested positive on their return home. Subsequently, seven of those friends tested positive for COVID-19," Etches recently told Ottawa's city council. "Within nine days, one person with symptoms became 40 confirmed people who tested positive."After leaving the cottage, some members of the group had visited work and retail locations, including two child-care centres that wound up shuttered to prevent further spread — and several people ended up hospitalized.'It leaves lasting damage'That's the ripple effect of young adults getting infected: They can pass it on to more vulnerable people, including the elderly and those in long-term care, who are more likely to wind up seriously ill or worse.Those younger Canadians themselves could also fare poorly, even if death is a rare outcome.According to a random sample of hospital outpatients from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 per cent of previously healthy adults between 18 and 34 weren't back to their usual health 14 to 21 days after testing positive, while thousands of others around the world say their symptoms are lasting far longer.Nada Forbes, a 37-year-old mother of two living in Oakville, Ont., has been suffering with lingering symptoms for six months after testing positive for the virus following a trip to Egypt in March.The illness started with chest pain, but Forbes never had a fever or cough, which are the usual symptoms. Instead, she wound up having various gastrointestinal issues and shortness of breath."You can get a moderate case, or a mild case, that goes on and on and on, and leaves lasting damage and leaves you with these lingering problems — when you started as a healthy person without any pre-existing conditions," she warned.Don't 'shame and blame'Months into the pandemic, health experts now say it's crucial the younger demographic is better informed about how to avoid spreading the virus, without any finger-pointing."Harm reduction is not about shame and blame," said Samantha Yammine, a Toronto-based neuroscientist and science communicator.Yammine said for many young adults, avoiding risk can be difficult. She recently surveyed her roughly 70,000 Instagram followers about their COVID-19 experiences, and hundreds of respondents cited various challenges — from living with roommates or in a multi-generational home, to working in sectors where safety measures aren't always followed. "Why did we ever open up indoor dining and have a setting where people would be talking loudly, with people in large groups, without wearing masks?" Yammine said.The province is holding off on the next phase of reopenings, but there's no word yet if officials will start scaling back limits on the size of gatherings or implementing any lockdowns to curb rising case counts.In the meantime, Bogoch said that for young adults trying to safely navigate daily choices, it's all about layering in protection to lower the risk as much as possible, such as increasing ventilation and wearing masks as much as possible."You want to get together for this wedding, for your friend's birthday, for some other ceremony, but let's make smart choices," he said. "So can you do it outside? Can you spread apart? Can you have fewer numbers?"Yammine said the aim can't be zero risk, since that's an impossible goal."If we focus on what we can do versus what we can't do, we can empower people to make decisions that are more safe but allow them to live their lives," she said. "Because this isn't going away any time soon."
OTTAWA — As fretful Canadian parents mull sending their children to school or opting for at-home learning, poorer countries are coming to grips with no school at all as the only option. Lebanon has become one of the latest countries to join those ranks as the fallout from the massive Aug. 4 port explosion in Beirut will keep tens of thousands of children out of classrooms because their schools were levelled or severely damaged. Peter Simms, the education adviser for Plan International Canada, says a lost year of school is threatening to compound the “toxic stress” that young people in Lebanon were already feeling after surviving the explosion. In Lebanon, 180 schools were damaged in the blast and that will keep 85,000 students out of classrooms.Across the globe, the lack of school will leave young girls, particularly teens, increasingly vulnerable to abuse, threats, pregnancy and forced marriage, said Simms. That is threatening to set back two decades' worth of progress in elevating the lives of women and girls in underdeveloped countries unless richer countries invest more in development spending, he said.“Anybody who tries to stick their head in the sand and say, don’t worry, we’ll just wait for the vaccine and then we’ll be fine, is ignoring the amount of work this will take.”The Lebanese crisis is one example of a deep and widening education deficit brought on by COVID-19. In a recent report, the United Nations Children’s Fund estimated that 463 million children were deprived of remote learning because of the pandemic lockdown, while 1.5 billion children were adversely affected by school closures.The UNICEF reported noted that sub-Saharan Africa was the most affected region, where half of all students were cut off from school.“Girls and boys across Canada are heading back to school, but millions of children in the world’s toughest places may never go back, including up to one million girls across sub-Saharan Africa,” said Michael Messenger, president of World Vision Canada.“The growing economic crunch caused by the pandemic has also created a child protection crisis. Both child labour and early marriages are on the rise. If we don’t act now to keep the most vulnerable children in school, the economic impact could be felt for generations.”A global survey of 25,000 children and their caregivers by Save the Children found that the pandemic had kept two-thirds of students away from learning, while the rate of domestic violence doubled and their family’s income plummeted. The survey produced a series of troubling findings.Two-thirds of children said they had no contact with teachers during the lockdown, while as few as one per cent in the poorest regions had access to the internet for remote learning. The survey also found that girls were disproportionately affected, with 63 per cent saying they did more work around house, compared with 43 per cent of boys.Bill Chambers, the chief executive of organization’s Canadian branch, said Canada needs to spend potentially billions more in poor countries, and work through multilateral organizations to protect an entire generation of children from losing their future. “Beyond direct funds, Canada must continue to be a strong voice in supporting debt relief in global forums like the G20,” said Chambers.“Countries should not have to continue to choose between investing in personal protective equipment, helping children to safely access school, food and safety and paying off interest rates.”This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 15, 2020.Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A group of Tamil Canadians is calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for legal changes to remove sovereign immunity as a defence for international crimes.Such a move would enable Sri Lankan families to seek justice for their disappeared loved ones, said Kumanan Kunaratnam, a Tamil activist in Ottawa, in a Parliament Hill news conference Monday.A civil war gripped the country between 1983 and 2009, with insurgents who sought a separate Tamil state battling a central government dominated by Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese.Amnesty International estimates at least 60,000 people have disappeared in Sri Lanka since the late 1980s, with the activists saying most of the victims are Tamil. Last year the United Nations noted that thousands of people in Sri Lanka don't know what happened to missing loved ones."This is an issue that must deeply concern all human beings," Kunaratnam said.The legal doctrine of sovereign immunity largely protects governments from court actions in other countries. There are exceptions, however, such as when a state engages in commercial activities.Kunaratnam said sovereign immunity should be removed. "If sovereign immunity can be removed as a defence for a commercial transaction, why cannot it be removed for international crimes?"He said that such legislation will not only benefit Tamils but also victims of enforced disappearances across the globe.Hundreds of thousands of people have vanished during conflicts or periods of repression in at least 85 countries around the world, according the United Nations.A group of four Tamil Canadians finished a 16-day "walk for justice" from Brampton, Ont., to Parliament Hill in Ottawa to raise awareness about the human rights violations in Sri Lanka. Another group of three activists walked from Montreal to Ottawa.The group also wants Canada to refer Sri Lanka to the committee established under the United Nations convention against enforced disappearance.Although Sri Lanka ratified the UN's convention against enforced disappearances in 2016, it invoked a provision of the international treaty that prevents victims from petitioning the committee over a country's violations of the convention. Only another country can make such a complaint against Sri Lanka.Canada, however, has not signed on to the convention at all, limiting its standing to make such a complaint.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2020.———This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said both Sri Lanka and Canada have signed the convention on enforced disappearances. In addition, it gave an incorrect spelling of Kumanan Kunaratnam's first name.
China is inoculating tens of thousands of its citizens with experimental coronavirus vaccines and attracting international interest in their development, despite expert concerns over the safety of drugs that have not completed standard testing. China launched a vaccine emergency use programme in July, offering three experimental shots developed by a unit of state pharmaceutical giant China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and U.S.-listed Sinovac Biotech <SVA.O>. A fourth COVID-19 vaccine being developed by CanSino Biologics <6185.HK> was approved for use by the Chinese military in June.
WestJet has announced it is now offering free COVID-19 travel insurance for its flyers — but Saskatchewan residents are the only people in Canada who do not qualify. Similarly, Air Canada is also now providing free COVID-19-related travel insurance, but Saskatchewan residents cannot accept that offer either. Both airlines cite provincial laws as the reason. But the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan says it's puzzled by the situation. "The issue has been brought to our attention and we are looking into the reason why Air Canada and WestJet are not offering this product to Saskatchewan residents," said the FCAA in a statement. The authority says it is not aware of any provision in The Insurance Act that prevents this type of insurance policy from being offered to Saskatchewan residents."We are working with the Insurance Councils of Saskatchewan and the airlines to promptly get to the bottom of this issue and work toward a resolution."On Sept. 18, WestJet's insurance will be added at no extra charge for passengers on international flights going to Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe, including the U.K., as long as the trips end before Aug. 31, 2021.If a Canadian traveller from the qualifying provinces gets COVID-19 while on a trip, the insurance covers medical and accommodation costs. WestJet's insurance will also pay for the guest's trip home after the 14-day quarantine period ends.In a statement to CBC, WestJet said it is working on a solution for Saskatchewan travellers. "At this time we are working with TuGo [the airline's insurance provider] in regards to our Saskatchewan resident exclusion and will have an update to provide prior to our effective date of Sept. 18," said the statement. Air Canada said it is working to meet the province's requirements so that Saskatchewan residents can also access the insurance offer.
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government went looking for a way to quickly set up exterior visitation rooms at personal care homes across the province — something that could keep residents and their loved ones safe during the COVID-19 pandemic but also comfortable during the frigid winter.On Tuesday, the government revealed the result: repurposed shipping containers, complete with insulation, heat and even interior finishings to make the boxy structures feel a little homey."This is going to make a difference for all those Manitobans who need to have that contact with their family and their friends and their loved ones, no matter what is happening outside of their personal care home," Health Minister Cameron Friesen said.He said the system is believed to be the first of its kind in Canada and other jurisdictions are looking at the idea.PCL Constructors Canada Inc. came up with the design. The company plans to refurbish 90 containers and set them up in locations across the province by late fall. The province is paying $17.9 million.The aim is to ensure that even if COVID-19 numbers grow and restrictions are put in place inside nursing homes, residents and their relatives can continue to meet in a separate space that is safe and cleaned between each visit.The 13-metre-long units will be connected directly to the exterior of the homes, so that residents are sheltered as they move back and forth. Visitors are to enter from a separate door. And if COVID-19 numbers climb and more protection is needed, a small divider can be put in place between residents and visitors.The air flow inside the containers is designed to also protect residents."The HVAC system draws in fresh air from the care home or the care facility side and ... the air gets drawn out through the visitation side, so that the resident sits on the fresh air side," said Monique Buckberger, PCL Winnipeg district manager.Personal care homes in Manitoba have not seen the kind of large-scale outbreaks that have occurred in Quebec and Ontario, but there have been some cases since the pandemic began in the spring.One of the worst outbreaks included the deaths of four residents at the Bethesda Place care home in Steinbach, southeast of Winnipeg. Bethesda is one of 10 long-term care facilities across the province that had restrictions on visitors as of Tuesday.Also Tuesday, the province reported 17 new COVID-19 infections, for a total active case count of 269. Sixteen people in Manitoba have died from the virus since the pandemic began, health officials said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 15, 2020.Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
With several Calgary schools already reporting COVID-19 outbreaks during the first weeks of classes, parents, students and teachers are wondering what happens to learning when some students and teachers have to go into quarantine?Joanne Pitman, superintendent of school improvement with the Calgary Board of Education, says the situation is still evolving."It is an ever changing situation, and as we experience different variables of this, we're making improvements as we go," Pitman told the Calgary Eyeopener. "Where we have a teacher who is quarantining along with their entire class, that teacher continues to teach online."Pitman says a teacher's online presence will provide a sense of continuity."Right now, what we have made sure of is all of our teachers are required to have an online presence either in Google classroom or through D2L, which is a learning management system," she said. "The focus for each of those is that they maintain a daily presence, and documentation of assignments and or instructions and course resources."Pitman conceded the first weeks back to school, and the now more than 35 school outbreaks, have presented challenges."In an earlier interview this spring, I referenced it as a return to school will take a herculean effort on the part of us all. And it is certainly taking that," Pitman said. "And we've seen incredible commitment. Having said that, managing the range of emotions, and the concerns that are continually identified, we have to work through those in a measured way."Outbreaks in schools are declared whenever there are two or more cases in a single school.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health for the province, reported Monday that the 35 Alberta schools had reported a total of 42 cases. That has increased today in Calgary, with more schools reporting new cases. With community transmission levels higher in the past few weeks, it is not surprising to see cases in schools, Hinshaw said. She urged parents to remain patient with the 14-day isolation requirement."I recognize that this is very inconvenient for families, and I regret the impact that this is having on those students and their families," she said.The Calgary schools with outbreaks are Notre Dame High School, Lester B. Pearson High School, Henry Wise Wood High School, Crescent Heights High School and Auburn Bay School. There is an outbreak at Ross Sheppard High School in Edmonton, and Chinook High School in Lethbridge. On Tuesday, St. Wilfrid Elementary School, which is part of the Catholic system, declared a watch. That means there are five or more cases and the disease could have been transmitted in the school.Some parents are growing concerned about how students can effectively keep learning as both teachers and students go in and out of quarantine. Additionally, teachers have to be prepared to do both in-person and online teaching depending on what happens with their students or their own children.The outbreaks mean that hundreds of students, and some teachers, are at home for at least two weeks.Parent concernsThe Calgary Eyeopener spoke with the parent of a Grade 10 student from Bowness High School who is now quarantined at home."It really surprises me that this hasn't been figured out. They had time to anticipate the upcoming challenges, and they don't seem prepared at all," said the parent, who did not want to be identified to protect the privacy of her son.She is concerned about the mental health of her son, who is now trying to learn in isolation after attending just four days of school. "It's been very challenging. He has a learning disability. So this is not kind of what we envisioned the year to look like, on top of the fact that he's isolating in the basement, away from his activities and his family and his friends, he's finding it very difficult to teach himself," she said."We've looked at bringing on a tutor to try to get him caught up because we're quite concerned that he's going to be behind at the start of the year."According to the CBE's website, only close contacts of a person who is a COVID-19 case are required to quarantine. Family members and secondary contacts are not required to quarantine — which explains why only some people from any given class are required to stay away.And that's just for those who choose to return to school in person. Families who signed up for the CBE's Hub online learning program say they're still waiting for elusive details on who their child's teacher is and when the online learning will begin. The concerned parent from Bowness High School said the online learning plan seems to rely on kids like her son being able to navigate everything on their own."He needs support at school. He needs to be taught how to do classes with direction and instruction. And he's not getting that," she said.She wondered why her son couldn't just video conference into the classroom, to lessen his sense of isolation.Privacy concerns with live streamingBut as Pitman points out, live streaming classrooms comes with a host of privacy concerns."There are absolutely some privacy concerns with live streaming into a classroom," Pitman said. "In terms of FOIP and privacy of what occurs within a school, we certainly have legislation and regulations that we need to make sure are followed carefully. But we also recognize the pressure on trying to create flexibility during absolute disruption." Pitman said one solution could be pre-recorded lessons from a teacher that the student could watch at home.Pitman said the CBE is also working on plans to ensure that no students are penalized for falling behind due to quarantine or if they become ill."It isn't solely that they can just maintain simultaneous handing in of assignments or assignment completion.… There may need to be certain assignments that are waived or certain assignments that are prioritized," she said. "All of it requires significant followup. There's no way to make this sound simple or make it an easy answer, because it is also really contextual to the individual as well."Students won't be penalizedPitman says the situation will continue to evolve."I think that we have seen incredible commitment on both our families, our staff, our administrators and all of the varied support staff and facilities," she said. "We've already made and continue to adjust plans to respond to the various pressures.… And also our staff have put forward an incredible effort as they also make sense of the realities, both for their professional and personal life."The CBE says parents will be notified by Alberta Health Services if their child may have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 at school, and public health officials will contact those who were in close contact with the person.With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.
A drive-by shooting wounded a federal security officer outside the U.S. courthouse in downtown Phoenix on Tuesday, and a person was later taken into custody, authorities said. The officer was taken to a hospital and was expected to recover, according to city police and the FBI. Jill McCabe, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Phoenix office, said someone was later detained and there was no indication of a further threat to the public.
NEW YORK — A detailed look at COVID-19 deaths in U.S. kids and young adults released Tuesday shows they mirror patterns seen in older patients.The report examined 121 deaths of those younger than 21, as of the end of July. Like older adults, many of them had one or more medical condition — like lung problems, including asthma, obesity, heart problems or developmental conditions.Deaths were also more common among those in certain racial and ethnic groups, according to the report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC found 54 were Hispanic, 35 were Black, and 17 were white, even though overall there are far more white Americans than Black and Hispanic.“It’s really pretty striking. It’s similar to what we see in adults,” and may reflect many things, including that many essential workers who have to go to work are Black and Hispanic parents, said Dr. Andrew Pavia, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at the University of Utah. He was not involved in the CDC study.The numbers of young deaths are small though. They represent about 0.08% of the total U.S. deaths reported to CDC at the time, though children and college-age adults make up 26% of the U.S. population.Fifteen of the deaths were tied to a rare condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which can cause swelling and heart problems.The report also found nearly two-thirds of the deaths were in males, and that deaths increased with age. There were 71 deaths among those under 17, including a dozen infants. The remaining 50 deaths were ages 18 to 20.Scientists are still trying to understand why severe illnesses seem to become more common as children age. One theory is that young children have fewer sites on their airway surfaces that the coronavirus is able to attach to, Pavia said. Another is that children may be less prone to a dangerous overreaction by the immune system to the coronavirus, he added.Thus far this year, the COVID-19 toll in children is lower than the pediatric flu deaths reported to the CDC during a routine flu season, which has been about 130 in recent years. But comparing the two is difficult for a number of reasons, including that most schools weren't open during the spring because of the pandemic.___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press
It's in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Section 6(2): "Everyone has the right to live in and take up residence in any province."The Atlantic bubble throws a bit of a wrench into that freedom.Beginning July 3, the Atlantic provinces "bubbled" together following months of regional restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.The change in policy meant open borders between Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick and putting strict conditions on anyone crossing the eastern border of Quebec — namely, a mandatory 14-day self isolation period for anyone entering, or re-entering, the Atlantic region.The questions experts are left pondering are whether that violates the charter and whether the extenuating circumstance of a pandemic is cause for exception.Support for the bubbleCOVID-19 is something many Atlantic Canadians, albeit not constitutional experts, think should be grounds for granting an exception."I don't think the Constitution took into perspective that there might be a global pandemic," said Nicolas Pike of Edmundston, N.B.Like many Atlantic Canadians, Pike and his partner, Danyka Boulay, took time this summer to explore the region in place of heading to Quebec or Ontario.Boulay says she supports the provinces' approach."They're just trying to keep us safe. They're doing a great job," she said.Boulay's confidence reflects a common East Coast opinion ever since leaders eliminated earlier provincial isolation measures in the region, shifting to a collective approach to protecting themselves from provinces to the west.A recent poll indicates nearly 80 per cent of Atlantic Canadians support the bubble although there has been constant worry and speculation since its creation that it might burst.Halifax business owner Don Mills said keeping the bubble comes at an increasing cost, especially to local companies already suffering."Our economy is being, you know, really hard hit," Mills said. "And the hard news about the economy is yet to come, because with the federal support of businesses and individuals, when that stops, we're going to see severe consequences. We're going to see lots of bankruptcies."Mills says the bubble can't be kept in place indefinitely, with the economy suffering:Even so, the mood among people in Halifax is generally upbeat."I feel like it's good," said Moe Ajha. "I think it's the best option for us, to stay closed down for now.""I feel very safe in the Atlantic bubble," said Kerry Sullivan. "It makes me feel very fortunate that we live where we do.""I'm not terribly interested in opening up to the rest of the country," said Karen Havert.The fact is, it is safer in these provinces. As of Sept. 15, Ontario has recorded more than 45,068 cases, with the Atlantic provinces only recording 1,608. Even with the populations accounted for, the numbers are telling.Other provincial comparisons illustrate the same picture. British Columbia has about double the population of the Atlantic provinces but more than four times the number of confirmed cases. Quebec has recorded nearly 40 times the cases over the course of the pandemic, with only 3.6 times the population of the East Coast.And perhaps driving home the success, Atlantic Canada is currently coping better than even New Zealand, which has been celebrated internationally for its ability to overcome COVID-19. The island nation, with double the population of Atlantic Canada, has 83 active cases. Atlantic Canada has seven, all of which are considered travel-related.Worth the waitWhether fuelled by the facts or by feeling, many people have decided the 14-day quarantine is worth doing, because of the freedom waiting at the end of it.That includes hundreds of university students from other provinces, putting in time in modest apartments — even residence rooms — in the Atlantic region to prove their will to be in the bubble."This is one of the safest areas in North America right now," said Saint Mary's University student Bryn de Chastelain, who had to isolate after a summer in Ontario. For him, it was a clear choice to do the time."I'm happy to be able to study and live in a place that is relatively COVID-free."The law says yes, for nowBut back to the idea of whether it's constitutional.University of Ottawa law professor Errol Mendes has been writing about this. He says Section 6(2) of the Constitution can't be interpreted without the application of Section 1."[Section 1] gives governments the ability to limit rights if they are reasonable limits, demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society," he said."It is my firm conviction that as long as the governments in the bubble can present cogent public health information and cogent scientific basis, and present the possibility of community spread from travellers from other parts of Canada, they can basically still keep the bubble being within the constitutional framework," Mendes said.So those 80 per cent of Atlantic Canadians who support the pandemic safety measures can breathe a sigh of relief. For now at least, the only thing that might break the bubble will be decisions made from inside it.MORE TOP STORIES
TORONTO — A funeral will be held today for a man who was killed outside a Toronto mosque where he volunteered.The International Muslim Organization of Toronto says it will honour Mohamed-Aslim Zafis, 58, who was stabbed to death Saturday eveningPolice say Zafis was killed by an unknown suspect while he sat outside the mosque as he controlled entry to the building in order to comply with public health protocols.Police say there are many similarities between Zafis' homicide and a nearby killing five days earlier.The mosque says the incident should not discourage congregants from attending service, despite the fear it has created in the community.Zafis' funeral will take place following early-afternoon prayers at the mosque.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2020.The Canadian Press
Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump and U.A.E. Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan participated in the signing of the Abraham Accords, normalizing relations between Israel and some of its Middle East neighbours.