Hospitals across the province have been warned to have emergency measures in place. Shallima Maharaj breaks down why.
Hospitals across the province have been warned to have emergency measures in place. Shallima Maharaj breaks down why.
TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed Monday to get the pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympics this summer with ample coronavirus protection. In a speech opening a new Parliament session, Suga said his government would revise laws to make anti-virus measures enforceable with penalties and compensation. Early in the pandemic, Japan was able to keep its virus caseload manageable with non-binding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing and for people to stay home. But recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes toward the anti-virus measures, and doubts are growing as more contagious variants spread while people wait for vaccines and the Olympics draw closer. Suga said his government aims to start vaccinations as early as late February. “In order to restore sense of safety, I will get the coronavirus pandemic, which has raged worldwide and is now severely affecting Japan, under control as soon as possible,” Suga said. “I will stand at the frontline of the battle while I get the people's co-operation." Suga pledged to achieve the Olympics as “a proof of human victory against the coronavirus." “We will have full anti-infection measures in place and proceed with preparation with a determination to achieve the Games that can deliver hope and courage throughout the world," he said. Recent media polls show about 80% of the Japanese public think the Olympics will not or should not happen. Suga said the vaccine is the “clincher” of the pandemic and hopes to start vaccination when Japan's Health Ministry is expected to approve the vaccine developed by Pfizer, one of three foreign suppliers to Japan, as early as late February. But the pace of inoculation could be slow, as surveys have shown many people have safety concerns. Suga later told reporters that he created a new ministerial post to ensure smooth delivery of safe and effective vaccines, appointing Administrative Reform Minister Taro Kono to double as vaccine minister. Suga also said in his speech, just two days ahead of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, that he hoped to meet the new American leader soon to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance and to co-operate on the pandemic, climate change and other key issues. Japan has confirmed more than 330,000 infections and 4,500 deaths from COVID-19, numbers that have surged recently though they are still far smaller than many other countries of its size. Suga on Jan. 7 issued a state of emergency for the Tokyo area and expanded the step last Wednesday as the surge in infections strained medical systems. But he has been criticized for being slow to put preventative measures in place after the new surge began, apparently due to his government’s reluctance to further hurt the economy. He kept the state-subsidized “Go To” travel promotion campaign active until late December, which critics say misguided the public when people needed to practice more restraint. Suga in Monday’s speech made no mention of the “Go To” campaign, which was designed to support the tourism industry devastated by the pandemic. The state of emergency — covering more than half of Japan’s 127 million people — asks bars and restaurants to close by 8 p.m., employees to have 70% of their staff work from home and residents to avoid leaving home for nonessential purposes. It's set to end Feb. 7 but could be extended. One of the proposed changes to anti-virus measures would legalize compensation for business owners who co-operate with such measures and allow fines or imprisonment for those who defy them. Suga's government also plans to revise the infectious disease law to allow authorities to penalize patients who refuse to be hospitalized or co-operate with health officials, Economy Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, in charge of virus measures, said on a NHK public television talk show Sunday. Health officials believe a growing number of people are defying instructions from health officials to self-isolate or be hospitalized, spreading the virus and making contact tracing difficult. Opposition lawmakers and experts are cautious about punishment for the patients, citing human rights concerns. They also say such punishment is pointless when hospitals are running out of beds and forcing hundreds of people to wait at home. ___ Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press
The City of Ottawa says it plans to collect all fines issued during the COVID-19 pandemic, including ones handed out in parks that some in the legal community call "legally dubious." In the spring, the city moved to enforce pandemic restrictions, shutting facilities including parks and playground equipment. Dozens of fines were handed out during the first wave of the pandemic alone, including $880 tickets to people who allegedly sat on park benches or used off-limits payground equipment. Some who received those fines said they hoped the city would choose not to come after them, since parks and playground equipment have been kept open during more recent lockdowns. "It's disappointing, for sure, to know that I have to deal with this $880. [It's] a huge deal for a 24-year-old. I'm hoping that once I get in front of a judge, I can explain myself properly," said Alexandra Plante, who was fined for sitting on a park bench in Orléans in April. Plante, one of the first people fined during a bylaw blitz in the spring, said she had no idea she was breaking any rules. "I think there's a huge difference between sitting on a bench and being caught at a gathering with 30 people or failing to wear a mask," said Plante. City's stance an 'embarrassment' In April, refugee advocates called on bylaw to "warn and inform" after Quasi Alnofal, a young Syrian man with limited English, was fined $880 for briefly allowing his young siblings to climb on a closed play structure during an afternoon walk. "Government officials' attitudes on mental health, and people getting out and being able to exercise, have really changed," said Ronalee Carey, an immigration and refugee lawyer who was part of a group that helped sponsor the Alnofal family and bring them to Ottawa in 2017. "So if they're not penalizing people for doing that action now, because the science has changed ... why would they want to persecute people who were charged before?" Carey said she believes tickets handed out for "blatantly opposing the rules on gatherings" make sense, but she wants the city to bring in an "amnesty" for tickets given in parks. "I think, frankly, it's an embarrassment to the city for them to be pursuing these kinds of things," she said. 'Doesn't make sense' The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said it's "disappointed" the city is pursuing all tickets and doesn't believe it's in the public interest. "There were a lot of concerning fines and punitive enforcement handed out during the first wave of COVID that — even at that time — we weren't really sure how they connected to public health goals and what we knew about the spread of COVID," said the association's Abby Deshman. "Laws were changing extremely quickly, day-by-day, what you could and couldn't do changed ... It really doesn't make sense to me to proceed with these legally dubious tickets, given the pressing crisis in our justice system where we have murder trials that have been postponed for close to a year now." Deshman also said Ottawa stood out during the first wave as being "one of the cities that ticketed more than others." City waiting for courts to reopen In a statement, the city said would pursue the fines "once the courts reopen and defendants have had the opportunity to exercise one of the many options available to them." "We are still offering support to individuals through our online offerings. They can pay fines online, request a trial date, contest a parking ticket or plead guilty and make submissions as to penalty," said Alain Hyppolite, program manager of citizen services. A spokesperson for Mayor Jim Watson declined to comment, saying that "as an elected official," the mayor refrains from commenting "on matters that are within the Provincial Offences Court."
A new study paints a troubling portrait of potential climate change impacts on Arctic char in Labrador, amid calls for more research to better understand what the future holds for the species that occupies a place of immense value in Canada's North. The study, published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the result of years of field and laboratory work by a team of Canadian scientists. The researchers spent several summers sampling migratory Arctic char — the variant of the fish that moves from fresh to saltwater and back again — in rivers across the region, from its northern reaches in the Torngat Mountains all the way south to the tip of Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The study then analyzed the fish's genetic data and, combined with climate modelling from 2050, concluded the southernmost fish are the most vulnerable and "may be unable to adapt to pervasive warming in the Arctic." "What we think we're seeing with this data is that we can expect there to be declines in this region for decades to come, essentially. That we expect that we will be losing those migratory [southern] populations," said Kara Layton, a study co-author and an associate professor at Aberdeen University in Scotland. Predicting that the char will shift northward falls in line with already known science, said Layton. "We have seen this already in things, like plants and birds and that, so we know these sorts of trends, and this loss of the southern range contraction is happening elsewhere," she said. Scientific research on Labrador's Arctic char stocks is fairly thin, with study co-author Ian Bradbury saying the new work has helped map out the char's DNA and fill in some blanks about population, past and present. But overall, there's no solid understanding of just how many fish are out there. "We've started to scratch the surface in understanding which populations are going to be vulnerable, of Arctic char in Labrador. But I still think there's a lot of unknowns in terms of understanding how many individuals we have there and what the magnitude of these changes that are coming actually will be," said Bradbury, a research scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in St. John's. Labrador is predicted to warm much more than the island portion of the province, according to provincial climate data that shows Nain could be 7.3 C warmer in winter by 2050. With the new Arctic char knowledge assembled and published, Bradbury said it gives both scientists and communities information to help direct work around the species in a rapidly changing world. "It's something that I think really does further stress the need to mitigate climate change impacts, and it does give us something that we can start to monitor, so that we can start to prepare for these changes as they occur," he said. 'Crying' for more science: harvesters Arctic char is a highly prized traditional food in Inuit communities, such as the five within Nunatisavut territory on Labrador's north coast. The only commercial fishery for Arctic char in Newfoundland and Labrador is based in that region, where the Torngat Fish Producers Co-operative holds the distinction of operating the province's northernmost fish plant, in Nain. The head of the co-op said he doesn't get any comfort from the study's findings that his region's char could fare better than its southern counterparts. While Keith Watts welcomes the new research, he said far more of it needs to be done. "We've been crying and asking for more science from DFO, because it is their responsibility, for quite some time — decades," said Watts, the co-op's general manager. Watts said the co-op's annual harvest is well below the DFO-set quota, taking only up to 40 per cent of what's allowed. People in Nunatsiavut can also fish their own Arctic char through the Inuit domestic harvest program, but as Watts said that amount is also largely untracked, he's concerned about increasing commercial fishing in the face of so many unknowns. "We're not comfortable with the fact that there's not enough science on the abundance of the species. We don't want to put it into jeopardy," he said. From a business standpoint, the co-op's small catch doesn't make the Arctic char fishery viable, Watts said. The co-op offsets those losses from more lucrative species, as well as subsidies from the Nunatsiavut government, to ensure people can buy the fish either in Nain or the co-op's storefront in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. "Arctic char is very important to Nunatsiavut people and always has been, and always will be. Because of the decline of other things, such as caribou, and food insecurity in the north coast, Arctic char is very important," said Watts. Labrador: 'at the forefront of climate change' That cultural importance is not only cultural, but also ecological. Labrador's Arctic char live throughout the entire region's coast, which means they've adapted to very different temperature conditions, that Layton and Bradbury said can vary by as much as 10 C from its southern to northern edges, or what they call a "steep environmental gradient." That range in latitude, in a rapidly warming world, means an uncertain future for Labrador. "It's a region that I really think is going to be at the forefront of climate change impacts," said Bradbury. As such impacts happen, the char could act as a bellwether for Labrador's larger biodiversity, and better understanding how Arctic char have evolved to their current surroundings by looking at their DNA could help. "We know that its a really, really important species, and one that can tell us a lot, I think, about climate impacts more broadly," said Bradbury. As Watts and the co-op call for more science to be done, there is more research in the works. The Torngat Wildlife, Plants and Fisheries Secretariat is setting up a char-counting fence in the Fraser River, which empties into Nain Bay. Watts said the work was delayed for a year due to the pandemic. Bradbury said he'll continue the study's work, with more genetic sampling of char to come in summers ahead, in the hopes of refining their predictions and figuring out how many fish the future holds. "I think the only way we're actually going to start to get at that is through continued monitoring, and being in Labrador, and using some of these new approaches to start quantifying changes as we see them," he said. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 18, 2021. There are 708,619 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 708,619 confirmed cases (75,281 active, 615,324 resolved, 18,014 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 6,436 new cases Sunday from 70,499 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 200.27 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 47,285 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,755. There were 149 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,001 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 143. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.92 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,557,083 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 396 confirmed cases (nine active, 383 resolved, four deaths). There was one new case Sunday from 204 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.49 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 76,369 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 104 confirmed cases (nine active, 95 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday from 331 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 86,220 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,558 confirmed cases (29 active, 1,464 resolved, 65 deaths). There were four new cases Sunday from 743 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.54 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 195,810 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 947 confirmed cases (293 active, 642 resolved, 12 deaths). There were 36 new cases Sunday from 874 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 37.72 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 168 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 24. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of three new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 128,277 tests completed. _ Quebec: 242,714 confirmed cases (20,651 active, 213,008 resolved, 9,055 deaths). There were 1,744 new cases Sunday from 9,270 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 19 per cent. The rate of active cases is 243.38 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,893 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,985. There were 50 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 369 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 53. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.62 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 106.72 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,656,534 tests completed. _ Ontario: 237,786 confirmed cases (28,893 active, 203,484 resolved, 5,409 deaths). There were 3,422 new cases Sunday from 58,215 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 198.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 22,004 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,143. There were 69 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 380 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 54. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 37.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,633,584 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,511 confirmed cases (3,081 active, 23,661 resolved, 769 deaths). There were 189 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 224.98 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,194 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 171. There were eight new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 31 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.32 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 56.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 436,236 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 20,272 confirmed cases (4,121 active, 15,936 resolved, 215 deaths). There were 287 new cases Sunday from 862 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 33 per cent. The rate of active cases is 350.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,158 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 308. There were three new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 24 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.29 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 18.31 per 100,000 people. There have been 321,266 tests completed. _ Alberta: 116,837 confirmed cases (12,234 active, 103,167 resolved, 1,436 deaths). There were 750 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 279.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 769. There were 19 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 152 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 22. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.5 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.85 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,979,663 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 60,117 confirmed cases (5,955 active, 53,115 resolved, 1,047 deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 117.42 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,440 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 349. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 42 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is six. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 20.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,021,911 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (two active, 67 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 4.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,256 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 28 confirmed cases (four active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were three new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 8.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,323 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,558 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
Cape Breton Regional Municipality is holding on to a large stash of plastic film after a major shift in recycling a few years ago. Several hundred bales of the material, enough to fill 300 pickup trucks, remains stored inside a facility in Sydport. CBRM solid waste manager Francis Campbell said they've been able to unload some of the thin plastic film, but more keeps coming in weekly garbage collections. Finding a home for the material is another challenge. "That's been the issue over the last few years, that the markets have really dried up," Campbell said. "We've been trying to search out places and find people that are willing to take the material. It's been a hit or miss over the last couple of years." Recycling conundrum Campbell said North America must begin developing its own market for recycling materials. Three years ago, Campbell said CBRM and other municipalities were left in a lurch. After decades of sending material to China to be recycled into new material, the government decided it would begin relying on its own market. "It's been a real struggle," he said. In some instances, plastics — such as shopping bags and food wrap — are made into lumber. But in CBRM's experience, demands for recycled plastic film have been few and far between. Bag ban changes In order to recycle the plastic into new materials, Campbell said municipalities must store collections inside to avoid contamination. "Luckily, we've been able to do that," he said. "At the end of the day, if we do run out of space to store the material we would have to dispose of it. We don't want to do that." Campbell said he hopes less waste will appear in CBRM recycling, as the province implemented a plastic bag ban in October. But so far, he said, that has not been the case. In order to bury the plastic, CBRM would need special permission from the province's Department of Environment. MORE TOP STORIES
France is expanding the eligibility for people to get their COVID-19 vaccines. Around 6 million people can now have the jab. Those over 75 can have their first dose along with anyone in a high-risk group, such as those with serious health conditions.View on euronews
The Trump administration notified Huawei suppliers, including chipmaker Intel, that it is revoking certain licenses to sell to the Chinese company and intends to reject dozens of other applications to supply the telecommunications firm, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The action - likely the last against Huawei Technologies under Republican President Donald Trump - is the latest in a long-running effort to weaken the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker, which Washington sees as a national security threat. The notices came amid a flurry of U.S. efforts against China in the final days of Trump's administration.
EDMONTON — Albertans will be able to visit hair salons and tattoo parlours today as the province relaxes a few of its COVID-19 restrictions. Starting today, personal and wellness services, including hair salons and tattoo parlours, can open by appointment only. Outdoor social gatherings, which were previously banned, will be allowed in groups of up to 10 people. And the limit on the number of people who can attend funerals is increasing to 20, although receptions are still prohibited. Health Minister Tyler Shandro said last week that Alberta can't entirely ease up, but that it can make small adjustments to provide Albertans with some limited activities. Alberta's chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said that easing rules now will act as a test case, and that COVID-19 case numbers will have to be lower before any other restrictions are loosened. Since early December when COVID-19 infections spiked to well over 1,000 a day, outdoor gatherings were banned and restaurants and bars were limited to delivery and takeout. Casinos, gyms, recreation centres, libraries and theatres were closed. Retail stores and churches were allowed to open but at 15 per cent capacity. Alberta reported 750 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and 19 more deaths. Hinshaw said officials looked at the province's COVID-19 data along with research from other parts of the world, and she said funerals, outdoor gatherings and personal service businesses show a lower level of risk for transmission. Shandro said last week that hospitalizations and case numbers remain high and pose a threat to the province's health system capacity. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
Studies have suggested previous COVID-19 infections may result in promising levels of immunity to the virus, leading to questions of whether those who've already recovered from the disease still need a vaccine. And is there urgency to inoculate them, or can they move to the back of the vaccination line? Experts say a vaccine will likely offer the safest bet for longer-term protection, meaning those with previous infections should still get them. And prior COVID illness shouldn't determine someone's place in the queue. The exact level of immunity acquired from a natural infection is yet to be fully determined, says Dr. Andre Veillette, a professor of medicine at McGill who's also on Canada's COVID-19 vaccine task force. It may be that protection begins to wane quicker in some people, or that those with previous mild infections aren't as protected as someone who had more severe symptoms, he says. Still others may think they've had a COVID-19 infection but can't be sure if they didn't get tested at the time. "I would say the simple rule would be that we vaccinate people who've had prior infections, just like everybody else," Veillette said. "If you had the infection, yes, you may have some protection, but it may not last a long time, and it may not be as good as the vaccine." Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy in clinical trials in protecting against severe disease. But there are still questions around whether the vaccines can actually prevent someone from catching the virus and spreading it to others. While Moderna has some data that their product may protect against acquiring the virus, it's still unclear. Antibodies from natural infections suggest the same — that they may protect us from getting really sick again, but not from getting the virus a second time. While there have been some cases of reinfection around the world, immunology expert Steven Kerfoot says the fact we're not seeing more of those suggests the immune response from initial COVID-19 infections is probably "pretty strong." Kerfoot, an associate professor at Western University, says vaccines are designed in a way that should produce an immune response "at least as good or better" than what we get after a natural infection. "So it may help fill in holes where people may not have developed an immune response effectively to the virus," Kerfoot said. "If anything, the vaccine could as act as its own booster that would improve your immunity." While some studies have suggested antibodies may disappear relatively quickly after COVID-19 infections, others have found a more lingering immune response. An American study published this month showed antibodies present for at least eight months, and possibly longer. Even studies suggesting an early drop-off of antibody levels aren't concerning, Kerfoot says. Infections trigger the body to produce other immune cells and memory cells that reduce slowly over years and help fight off future invasions from the same virus. If the immune response in those with past COVID infection is expected to be lengthy, could there be justification to defer their inoculations, especially if vaccine supply is low? It will be up to provinces to decide priority in each stage of their rollouts, but Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist with the University of Manitoba, says that will be a tricky decision. "I don't think we can use prior infection as an indicator of priority, because we just don't know what that person's immune response actually is," Kindrachuk said. "We don't know what long-term immunity looks like in those folks. "The recommendations are going to be that everybody gets vaccinated because that way we know — across vulnerable groups and all ages and different demographics — they'll all get a robust immune response." Veillette adds that many people with previous COVID cases were also in higher-risk settings — either because of their jobs or living environments — that would theoretically put them at risk for reinfection. And if they were to get the virus again but not show symptoms, they could still pass it on to other people. "There's probably a whole spectrum of situations there, and when there's so many variables it's better to have a simple rule," he said. "So I think that's another reason to vaccinate previously infected people." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 18, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 27,451 new vaccinations administered for a total of 570,742 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,505.944 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 761,500 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 74.95 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,506 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,769 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,713 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 43.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 8,838 new vaccinations administered for a total of 146,694 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.144 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 162,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.45 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 11,007 new vaccinations administered for a total of 200,097 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.622 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.22 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.832 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 33,625 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 40.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 3,232 new vaccinations administered for a total of 20,159 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.096 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 24,400 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.62 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 4,374 new vaccinations administered for a total of 85,935 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.522 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 84,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 102.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 75,914 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.794 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 99,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.31 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,184 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 28.372 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.44 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 983 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 25.383 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.38 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 18 ... What we are watching in Canada ... OTTAWA - The premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan are condemning Joe Biden's plan to scrap the Keystone XL pipeline expansion on his first day as U.S. president. Biden's plan is outlined in transition documents seen by The Canadian Press. Jason Kenney and Scott Moe say halting construction on the controversial project will be disastrous for both the Canadian and U.S. economies. Kenney says his government -- which announced a $1.5 billion investment into the expansion last year -- is prepared to "use all legal avenues available to protect its interest in the project." Moe, meanwhile, is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with Biden and says his government will be in touch with its contacts in Washington. Trudeau has so far been silent on the issue, but his ambassador to the U.S., Kirsten Hillman, is defending the pipeline, saying it fits into Canada's climate plan and promises good jobs. TC Energy Corp. doubled down on that last night, confirming an ambitious plan to spend $1.7 billion US on a solar, wind and battery-powered operating system for the pipeline to ensure it is zero-emission by 2030, and to rely exclusively on union labour. --- Also this ... HALIFAX - Nova Scotia is the first jurisdiction in North America to implement presumed consent around organ donation as of today. Legislation passed in April 2019 finally takes effect this morning following more than 18 months of work to make sure the province's health-care system can cope with the change. Under the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act, all people in Nova Scotia will be considered potential organ donors unless they opt out. Dr. Stephen Beed, medical director of Nova Scotia's organ and tissue donation program, says the new opt-out system presents a rare opportunity to transform a part of the health care system. He believes organ donations could rise by as much as 30 to 50 per cent within five years. Beed says an opt-out registry has been developed and safeguards are in place such as double checking with families to ensure the last known wishes of a potential donor are respected. He says those who tell their families that they don't want to be donors will not be donors, even if they haven't opted out. --- And this ... TORONTO - Studies have suggested previous COVID-19 infections may result in promising levels of immunity to the virus, leading to questions of whether those who've already recovered from the disease still need a vaccine. And is there urgency to inoculate them, or can they move to the back of the vaccination line? Experts say a vaccine will likely offer the safest bet for longer-term protection, meaning those with previous infections should still get them. And prior COVID illness shouldn't determine someone's place in the queue. The exact level of immunity acquired from a natural infection is yet to be fully determined, says Dr. Andre Veillette, a professor of medicine at McGill who's also on Canada's COVID-19 vaccine task force. It may be that protection begins to wane quicker in some people, or that those with previous mild infections aren't as protected as someone who had more severe symptoms, he says. Still others may think they've had a COVID-19 infection but can't be sure if they didn't get tested at the time. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASINGTON, D.C. - U.S. defence officials say they are worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. That concern is prompting the FBI to vet all 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event. The massive undertaking reflects the extraordinary security concerns that have gripped Washington following the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters. And it underscores fears that some of the very people assigned to protect the city over the next several days could present a threat to the incoming president and other VIPs in attendance. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... MOSCOW- Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's arrest as he arrived in Moscow after recovering from his poisoning with a nerve agent drew criticism from Western nations and calls for his release, with Germany's foreign minister on Monday calling it “incomprehensible.” Navalny was detained at passport control at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after flying in Sunday evening from Berlin, where he was treated following the poisoning in August that he blames on the Kremlin. His arrest adds another layer of tension to relations between Moscow and the West that have long been strained and were worsened by his poisoning. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas noted that Navalny had returned of his own volition and said "it is completely incomprehensible that he was detained by Russian authorities immediately after his arrival.” European Council President Charles Michel tweeted that Navalny's detention is “unacceptable” and also called for his immediate release, a call echoed by France's foreign ministry and by Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau. U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for national security adviser called on Russian authorities to free Navalny. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday the stream of reactions to Navalny’s arrest by Western officials reflects an attempt “to divert attention from the crisis of the Western model of development.” --- ICYMI ... OTTAWA - Petty officer Richard Austin was sitting at his position on board HMCS Athabaskan when he heard a clang. It was 1991, and the Canadian destroyer was traversing an Iraqi minefield in the Persian Gulf, on its way to rescue a crippled American warship. “I remember waiting for the bang,” Austin recalls of those tense few moments nearly 30 years later. “Looking at the two pictures of my sons on the top of the weapons panel. The bang never came.” Austin’s story is one of several Canadian experiences from the first Gulf War that were collected by Historica Canada and released on Sunday as part of a new video on what is a largely forgotten chapter of Canada’s military history. Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm, the massive attack that eventually resulted in U.S.-led forces pushing the Iraqi military from Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded in August 1990 under then-president Saddam Hussein. The anniversary passed largely unnoticed by the government on Sunday, with no official statements by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan or Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay. That was despite Canada being one of dozens of countries to condemn Iraq’s invasion, with three Canadian warships as well as fighter aircraft, security personnel and medical troops deployed in support of the American coalition that liberated Kuwait. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021 The Canadian Press
MAMUJU, Indonesia — Aid was reaching the thousands of people left homeless and struggling after an earthquake that killed at least 84 people on an Indonesian island where rescuers intensified their work Monday to find those buried in the rubble. More rescuers and volunteers were deployed in the hardest-hit city of Mamuju and the neighbouring district of Majene on Sulawesi island, where the magnitude 6.2 quake struck early Friday, said Raditya Jati, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s spokesperson. He said nearly 20,000 survivors were moved to shelters and more than 900 people were injured, with nearly 300 of them still receiving treatment for serious injuries. A total of 73 people died in Mamuju and 11 in Majene, said Didi Hamzar, the disaster agency's director of preparedness. He said rescuers also managed to pull 18 people alive from the rubble of a collapsed houses and buildings. Mahatir, a relief co-ordinator for volunteer rescuers, said his team was trying to reach many people in six isolated villages in Majene district after the quake damaged roads and bridges. Aid and other logistic supplies can be distributed only by foot over the severe terrain, said Mahatir who goes by one name. In a virtual news conference, Hamzar said that three helicopters were taking aid supplies Monday to four cut-off villages in Majene. In other hard hit areas. water, which has been in short supply, as well as food and medical supplies were being distributed from trucks. The military said it sent five planes carrying rescue personnel, food, medicine, blankets, field tents and water tankers. Volunteers and rescue personnel erected more temporary shelters for those left homeless in Mamuju and Majene. Most were barely protected by makeshift shelters that were lashed by heavy monsoon downpours. Only a few were lucky to be protected by tarpaulin-covered tents. They said they were running low on food, blankets and other aid, as emergency supplies were rushed to the hard-hit region. Police and soldiers were deployed to guard vehicles carrying relief goods and grocery stores from looting that occurred in some areas, said Muhammad Helmi, who heads the West Sulawesi police’s operation unit. Jati said at least 1,150 houses in Majene were damaged and the agency was still collecting data on damaged houses and buildings in Mamuju. Mamuju, the provincial capital of nearly 300,000 people, was strewn with debris from collapsed buildings. The governor’s office building was almost flattened and a shopping mall was reduced to a crumpled hulk. The disaster agency said the evacuees are in dire need of basic necessities — blankets, mats, tents, baby food and medical services. The disaster agency’s chief, Doni Monardo, said authorities were trying to separate high- and lower-risk groups and provided tens of thousands of anti-coronavirus masks for those needing shelters. He said authorities would also set up health posts at the camps to test people for the virus. People being housed in temporary shelters were seen standing close together, many of them without masks, saying that they difficult to observe health protocols in this emergency situation. West Sulawesi province has recorded more than 2,500 cases of the coronavirus, including 58 deaths. Indonesia has confirmed nearly 908,000 cases and almost 26,000 fatalities. Many on Sulawesi island are still haunted by a magnitude 7.5 earthquake that devastated Palu city in 2018, setting of a tsunami and a phenomenon called liquefaction in which soil collapses into itself. More than 4,000 people were killed, including many who were buried when whole neighbourhoods were swallowed in the falling ground. Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is lined with seismic faults and is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. A magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra in 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. ____ Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia. Niniek Karmini And Yusuf Wahil, The Associated Press
CAIRO — The death toll from tribal violence between Arabs and non-Arabs in Sudan’s West Darfur province climbed to at least 83, including women and children, a doctor’s union and aid worker said, as sporadic violence continued Sunday. The ruling sovereign council met Sunday and said security forces would be deployed to the area. The deadly clashes grew out of a fistfight Friday between two people in a camp for displaced people in Genena, the provincial capital. An Arab man was stabbed to death and his family, from the Arab Rizeigat tribe, attacked the people in the Krinding camp and other areas Saturday. Among the dead was a U.S. citizen. Saeed Baraka, 36, from Atlanta, had arrived in Sudan less than two months ago to visit his family in Darfur, his wife, Safiya Mohammed, told The Associated Press over the phone. The father of three children rushed to relieve a neighbour amid the clashes in the Jabal village in West Darfur, when he was shot in his head Saturday, his brother-in-law Juma Salih said. Baraka's wife said the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum phoned her to offer condolences. The embassy did not return phone calls and emails from AP seeking comment. The violence led to local authorities imposing a round-the-clock curfew on the entire province. Besides the 83 killed, at least 160 others were wounded, according to Sudan’s doctors’ committee in West Darfur. It said there were troops among the wounded. It said clashes subsided by midday on Sunday and the security situation started to improve. The committee is part of the Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded a popular uprising that eventually led to the military's ouster of longtime autocratic president Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. The clashes pose a challenge to efforts by Sudan’s transitional government to end decades-long rebellions in areas like Darfur, where most people live in camps for the displaced and refugees. Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy and is being ruled by a joint military-civilian government. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “is deeply concerned” about the violence and “calls on the Sudanese authorities to expend all efforts to de-escalate the situation and bring an end to the fighting,” his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said. The bout of violence came two weeks after the U.N. Security Council ended the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force’s mandate in the region. The UNAMID force, established in 2007, is expected to complete its withdrawal by June 30. It also puts into question the transitional government’s ability to stabilize the conflict-ravaged Darfur region. Salah Saleh, a physician and former medical director at the main hospital in Genena, said clashes renewed Sunday morning at the Abu Zar camp for internally displaced people, south of the provincial capital. He said most of the victims were shot dead, or suffered gunshot wounds. Adam Regal, a spokesman for a local organization that helps run refugee camps in Darfur, said there were overnight attacks on Krinding. He shared footage showing properties burned to the ground, and wounded people on stretchers and in hospital beds. Authorities in West Darfur imposed a curfew beginning Saturday that includes the closing of all markets and a ban on public gatherings. The central government in Khartoum also said Saturday a high-ranking delegation, chaired by the country’s top prosecutor, was heading to the province to help re-establish order. A database by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, showed that inter-communal violence across Darfur region doubled in the second half of 2020, with at least 28 incidents compared to 15 between July and December 2019. West Darfur province experienced a “significant increase” of violence last year, with half of the 40 incidents reported in the entire Darfur region, OCHA said Sunday. Samy Magdy, The Associated Press
Rebecca Malaka owns a cleaning business and isn't able to work from home during the pandemic. So she's among those in Quebec who are relieved to see her teenagers heading back to school on Monday after a month at home. "It's so nice to know where my kids are going to be," she said. "I know when they're leaving the house in the morning, I know when they are coming back at the end of the day. It's less stressful all round." Her son, Talon, is happy to be returning to class as well as he doesn't enjoy online learning — something he's been forced to endure for about a week. "It's mostly on us to teach ourselves, kind of, and with our phones right there, you are not really motivated to open your textbook and learn," he said. The usual holiday break was extended across Quebec, with elementary students headed back to class a week before the older kids. Most students were expected to attend school online instead, some only for a few days before and others for more than a week. New safety rules aren't enough, advocate says There will be some new rules in place when Talon heads back class. Students will now have to be tested right away when they show any COVID-19 symptoms. They will also be removed from class if a member of their family shows symptoms and is awaiting test results. Olivier Drouin, founder of the website COVID Écoles Québec which traces cases in schools, has two daughters heading back to school this week. Given the recent epidemiological trends, he's not feeling any relief. "Montreal is on fire," he said on Sunday. "There are lots of cases. The level of community transmission is high, and if I had my say, they would not go back tomorrow." Drouin has been advocating for extra measures, such as deploying rapid testing in schools. Rapid testing as a preventative measure would be more effective than waiting for symptoms to appear, he has said. No more homemade masks Students in high school will be required to wear medical-grade masks. The EMSB confirmed they have all their supplies ready. Thorin Malaka, a 16-year-old student at Laurier Macdonald, said he understands the situation in Montreal is worrisome, but remains confident in his schools protocols "I feel safe with them, like with the mask, we have always been good with it," he said. "My class is already half the size so most of my classes have like 10 people max in them." Small classes are not a global norm, according to Heidi Yetman, president of the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers. "We are still teaching classrooms of 32 to 34," she said. "It makes no sense to me. I cannot understand. I do not understand." Then there's the time students spend outside of the classroom, wandering the halls or riding buses, said Drouin, who is among those who worry kids aren't able to maintain a safe, physical distance from others at all times. "Public transportation and lunch time supervision, I would say, are two of the loopholes in our strategy to try to reduce the risk in schools.It's highly risky in both those areas," he said. Yetman feels the same way, watching has kids keep a safe distance inside the classroom and then abandon the rules the minute class ends. "As soon as students leave the class, those bubbles don't exist anymore," she said. "They hang out at recess. They go on school busses with different people."
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia, for years one of the world's most prolific executioners, dramatically reduced the number of people put to death last year, following changes halting executions for non-violent drug-related crimes, according to the government’s tally and independent observers. The Saudi government’s Human Rights Commission said Monday it documented 27 executions in 2020. That's compared to an all-time high of 184 executions the year before as documented by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The change represents an 85% reduction in the number of people put to death last year, compared to 2019. "The sharp decrease was brought about in part by a moratorium on death penalties for drug-related offences,” the Saudi rights commission said. When asked by The Associated Press, the commission said the new law ordering a stop to such executions came into effect sometime last year. The new directive for judges does not appear to have been published publicly and it was not immediately clear whether the law was changed by royal decree, as is typically the case. The AP previously reported that Saudi Arabia last year also ordered an end to the death penalty for crimes committed by minors and ordered judges to end the controversial practice of public flogging, replacing it with jail time, fines or community service. The force behind these changes is 34-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has the backing of his father, King Salman. In an effort to modernize the country, attract foreign investment and revamp the economy, the prince has spearheaded a range of reforms curtailing the power of ultraconservative Wahhabis, who adhere to a strict interpretation of Islam that many Saudis still practice. For years, the kingdom's high rate of executions was in large part due to the number of people executed for non-lethal offences, which judges had wide discretion to rule on, particularly for drug-related crimes. Amnesty International ranked Saudi Arabia third in the world for the highest number of executions in 2019, after China where the number of executions is believed to be in the thousands, and Iran. Among those put to death that year by Saudi Arabia were 32 minority Shiites convicted on terrorism charges related to their participation in anti-government protests and clashes with police. While some crimes, such as premeditated murder, can carry fixed punishments under the Saudi interpretation of Islamic law, or Shariah, drug-related offences are considered “ta’zir,” meaning neither the crime nor the punishment is defined in Islam. Discretionary judgments for “ta’zir” crimes led to arbitrary rulings with contentious outcomes. The kingdom has long been criticized by independent rights groups for applying the death sentence for non-violent crimes related to drug trafficking. Many of those executed for such crimes were often poor Yemenis or low-level drug smugglers of South Asia descent, with the latter having little to no knowledge of Arabic and unable to understand or read the charges against them in court. Saudi Arabia carries out executions mainly by beheading and sometimes in public. The kingdom had argued that public executions and those of drug traffickers serve as a deterrent to combat crime. “The moratorium on drug-related offences means the kingdom is giving more non-violent criminals a second chance," the president of the government's Human Rights Commission, Awwad Alawwad, said. In a statement obtained by the AP, he said the change represents a sign the Saudi justice system is focusing more on rehabilitation and prevention rather than solely on punishment. According to Human Rights Watch, there were just five executions for drug-related crimes last year in Saudi Arabia, all in January 2020. Human Rights Watch Deputy Middle East Director Adam Coogle said the decrease in executions is a positive sign, but that the Saudi authorities must also address “the country’s horribly unfair and biased criminal justice system that hands down these sentences.” “As authorities announce reforms, Saudi prosecutors are still seeking the death penalty for high-profile detainees for nothing more than their peaceful ideas and political affiliations,” he said. “Saudi Arabia must immediately end all executions and death sentences for non-violent crimes.” ___ Follow Aya Batrawy on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ayaelb Aya Batrawy, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — During his only supper on Canadian soil, Donald Trump told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and their fellow G7 leaders that their table was incomplete. Come 2020, the American president promised to fix that by inviting Russia's Vladimir Putin to his G7 dinner. It was June 2018, four years since Russia had been expelled from what was then the G8 after the Kremlin's invasion and annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in February 2014. The Russian occupation of Crimea remains the worst breach of Europe's borders since the Second World War, but on the eve of the Canadian-hosted G7 in Quebec's scenic Charlevoix region, Trump tweeted about wanting to bring Russia back into the fold. Behind closed doors, Trump pursued it with his fellow leaders, recalled Sen. Peter Boehm, who was in the room then as Trudeau's chief G7 organizer, known as a sherpa. "Well, you know, we should have President Putin at the table. And when I host, I'm going to invite him," Boehm, in a recent interview, recalled Trump saying. So went the discussion among the some of the world's most powerful leaders on how to strengthen international co-operation — with the then leader of democratic free world embracing an authoritarian dictator. As the Trump presidency ends in ignominy, the focus is on his Jan. 6 incitement of the insurrectionist mob that stormed Capitol Hill leaving five dead and numerous more exposed to COVID-19. But his warm embrace of authoritarian strongmen around the world, from Putin to North Korea's Kim Jong Un, has also been a hallmark of the Trump presidency, one that played out behind closed doors during his only trip to Canada. Trump never paid an official bilateral visit to Canada, but when he visited for the G7 leaders' summit, he openly displayed his fondness for Putin over a feast of duck breast, Canadian lobster and beef filet, mushrooms and spelt fricassee. Trudeau, Boehm and their fellow Canadians wanted to host an incident-free summit that included Trump, in part to avoid embarrassment but mainly to do no damage to the efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement — which weren't going very well. Only a week earlier, Trump's commerce secretary imposed punitive sanctions on Canadian steel and aluminum in what Wilbur Ross all but admitted was a negotiation tactic. "Of course, I was working for (Trudeau), but I thought he did a pretty good job in maintaining the flow, showing due deference and keeping the discussion going" when Trump took the G7 leaders' conversations in unforeseen directions, said Boehm, now the chair of the Senate foreign affairs committee. That left it to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to challenge Trump on inviting Putin back to the G7. "This sparked some discussion with a few leaders saying that they did not think this was a very good idea, chief of whom was Angela Merkel," said Boehm. A day later, the iconic photo of the stern-faced German chancellor at a post-dinner meeting leaning into a seated Trump emerged, but as Boehm recalled there was more to it than the cropped version that Berlin released. "PM Trudeau is there. I'm in it. There's various versions of that," said Boehm. "But that was the last discussion point, was on the rules-based international order. And that's where there was a difference with the U.S. delegation. The leaders were involved in trying to bridge that difference, which was eventually done." The next day, Trump left the summit early and would later withdraw his support for the G7 communiqué, the agreed-upon closing statement. He tweeted insults at Trudeau from Air Force 1 after the prime minister reiterated his past criticism of Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs — arguments the president had already heard. The explosive finish to the summit obscured the controversy of Trump reaching out to Putin, as Trump jetted off to North Korea for his historic meeting with the reclusive Kim. Sen. Peter Harder, who was the sherpa for prime ministers Paul Martin and Stephen Harper, in earlier summits said it was "a tragedy in Russian history" to see the country kicked out of the G8 and the blame for that falls squarely on Putin. Russian "insecurity" led to actions in Crimea "and still continuing actions in Ukraine that are repugnant to democratic values and reflect a more traditional authoritarian-bent Russian history," Harder said in an interview. Harder was at Harper's side for his first meeting with Putin at the G8 summit in the Russian leader's hometown of St. Petersburg in 2006. "He's a forceful presence. And he was a proud host," said Harder, the deputy chair of the Senate foreign affairs committee. In discussions, Putin was seized with the threat of homegrown terrorism because of the carnage he was dealing with in Chechnya and was a spirited participant in discussions on climate change, African debt relief and battling polio and malaria in poor countries, said Harder. All of that changed when Putin invaded Ukraine in 2014, likely because he was threatened by NATO's accumulation of new members that used to be behind the Iron Curtain, he said. Putin's thirst to consolidate power within Russia made him a full-fledged authoritarian, but it is still a country that must be seriously reckoned with by Western leaders. "Russia's global power is not what it once was because its economic strength has been eclipsed by so many markets and countries. But it still is an important nuclear player," said Harder. That makes the return of steadier hand in the White House under Joe Biden, all the more crucial. "We've forgotten that nuclear proliferation is an important challenge for our time. The risks of nuclear engagement have not gone away, and they need to be managed regularly," said Harder. "By leadership." Despite Trump's 2018 bluster in Quebec, his G7 dinner with Putin never happened. Neither the did the American-hosted G7 summit that was scheduled for the summer of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged the United States under Trump, saw to that. Despite the fiascos of the 2018 Charlevoix summit, Boehm said he had good working relations with his American counterpart and his team of dedicated public servants. "There is certainly some scope for rebuilding morale in the U.S. foreign service. That's what I'm hearing. And they might be on track to do that." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is now the first jurisdiction in North America to implement presumed consent around organ donation, a move health officials believe could see a significant rise in the number of donors over the next few years. Legislation passed in April 2019 finally took effect Monday following more than 18 months of work to ensure provincial systems were equipped to handle the change. Under the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act, all people in Nova Scotia will be considered potential organ donors unless they opt out. "To my knowledge nobody else is close to considering this, but many places are thinking about it," said Dr. Stephen Beed, medical director of Nova Scotia's organ and tissue donation program. "We have an opportunity to transform a component of the health care system and that just does not happen very often." In an interview last week, Beed said the work to bolster the province's organ donation program has focused on planning, education and public awareness. He said the system has, in effect, been "rebooted" with the recruitment of several donation physicians and an increase to the number of system coordinators, who have also seen a change in their training. Overall, 27 new professionals have been brought into the system over the last three years. In addition, a donation data system has been developed to assess the program's performance. The province plans to spend $3.2 million this fiscal year to bolster the system. "Overall I honestly think that the system change is the most important part," Beed said of the shift to presumed consent. He said that was the message delivered to Premier Stephen McNeil when he first approached health officials with the idea for the legislation. "We said, 'If you change the law all you really have is words on a piece of paper, but if you change the law and then support the redesign of our system then you have reason to be optimistic'." Beed said organ donation rates increased by as much as 35 per cent in European countries such as Belgium and Spain after they adopted an opt-out system, though he noted other jurisdictions that made the switch have had the opposite experience. But one prospective organ recipient said the success stories abroad have left her more optimistic about matters closer to home. "I am very proud that Nova Scotia is the trailblazer for this," said Anita MacDonnell of Halifax, who is awaiting a kidney transplant. "I was very encouraged when they announced this back in 2019." MacDonnell, who turns 60 on Wednesday, was approved for a new kidney last May and started dialysis in October. She and her friend Brenda Mackenzie, also of Halifax, suffer from a genetic kidney disease that has seen several of their siblings and both of their mothers require transplants in the past. Both women undergo dialysis three nights a week for four hours at a time and liken the life-saving process to having a part-time job. Mackenzie, 60, describes her wait for a kidney as "pretty nerve-wracking." "So I guess my hope obviously would be that with this (change) that so many more people would be able to be transplanted," she said. "That's what the ultimate hope is." The new approach hasn't received universal support on its way to becoming provincial law. Some civil libertarians balked at the legislation when it was first proposed, raising concerns around governments having the power to tell people what to do with their bodies. Other opponents expressed potential cultural and religious concerns about the move. Beed said he believes those issues have been addressed through the development of an opt-out registry and safeguards such as double checking with families to ensure the last known wishes of a potential donor are honoured. Those who tell their families that they don't want to be donors will see those instructions respected, he said, even if they haven't formally opted out. In addition, certain groups will be exempt such as new immigrants, transient residents of Nova Scotia, and people who don't have capacity to make their own decisions. Beed said talks are also continuing with leaders of religious and faith communities to ensure they are "engaged" with the system. Peggy John, the acting director for the organ and tissue donation and transplantation program at Canadian Blood Services, agrees the opt out program will only be as good as the strength of the system put in place to support it. John, whose organization is the national collaborating body for provincial transplant systems, said the end goal should be to increase the opportunities for transplant for patients who are in need. According to the most recent figures compiled by Canadian Blood Services, 250 Canadians died while waiting for a transplant in 2019 — an increase from 223 in 2018. They also showed that Canada still has a shortage of organs, with 4,419 patients still waiting for transplants at the end of 2019. John said the new Nova Scotia law will be an opportunity to observe and to learn about what might work elsewhere to potentially boost donation rates. "We are keen to see what's going to happen," she said. "We know they (Nova Scotia) have been approaching this in the right way and we will continue to watch what the outcome will be." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — As new cases of COVID-19 surge across Canada, the federal government and the provinces have been imposing stricter measures to try to limit the illness's spread. The Canadian Press interviewed three leading Canadian experts in disease control and epidemiology, asking their thoughts on Canada's handling of the pandemic, the new restrictions on activities — and what else can be done. Here's what they had to say. John Brownstein, Montreal-born Harvard University epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital Having a national testing strategy in Canada that uses rapid tests people could do at home would limit the spread of the virus, Brownstein says. "That would enable us to get insight on infection and actually have people isolate," he says. No such tests have been approved in Canada yet. "We've been saying this all along, so it's not just a purely Canadian issue, but having a strategy that implements that kind of information would go a long way to drive infections down in communities while we wait for the vaccine." Brownstein says curfews have unintended consequences because they force people to get together over a shorter period of time during the day. "We haven't seen a lot of evidence that curfews have driven down infection." He says a mix of testing and quarantine is the best way to make sure international travellers don't cause outbreaks when they return from the pandemic hot spots. Testing alone is not enough, he says, because tests can come back negative during the novel coronavirus's incubation period; people should be careful about relying on test results that could give a false sense of security. Brownstein says pandemic fatigue is real and the governments' support for people suffering in the crisis should continue. He says promoting low-risk activities, including walking and exercising outdoors, is also important. "Whatever we can do to allow for people to spend more time outside, probably the better." David Juncker, professor of medicine and chair of the department of biomedical engineering at McGill University Canada needs a national strategy for how to use rapid tests for the virus that causes COVID-19, says Juncker. Juncker is an adviser for Rapid Test and Trace, an organization advocating for a mass rapid-testing system across Canada. "Initially the Canadian government (spoke) against (rapid tests) and then they pivoted sometime in October or September," he says. The federal government then bought thousands of rapid tests and sent them to the provinces, where they've mostly sat unused. "Every province is trying to come up with their own way of trying them — running their own individual pilots. There's a lack of exchange of information and lack of guidelines in terms of how to best deploy them," he says. Juncker says the testing regime based on swabs collected in central testing sites was working in the summer but it collapsed in the fall. He says medical professionals prefer those tests because they are more accurate and can detect low levels of the virus, which is important for diagnoses, but rapid tests can be useful for public health through sheer volume, if they're used properly. A federal advisory panel's report released Friday, laying out the best uses for different kinds of tests, is a step in the right direction, he says. "I'm happy to see we're slowly shifting from the point of view of 'Should we use rapid tests?' to a point of view (of) 'How can we best use them?'" More recent research suggests that rapid tests are more accurate than was previously thought, he says. "We still don't have enough capacity to test everyone so we'd have to use them in a strategic way." Juncker says the lockdowns in Ontario and Quebec should have happened earlier in the fall, when cases started to rise. He says the late lockdowns in Canada won't be as effective as those in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, where early lockdowns effectively stopped the disease from spreading. "Countries that were most aggressive early on, are the ones that have, I think, the best outcome." He says countries where health decisions are fragmented across the country, including Canada, have added challenges. "If you live in Ottawa-Gatineau, you have one province (that) allows one thing, the other province allows another thing, so this creates confusion among the citizens," he said. Donald Sheppard, chair of the department of microbiology and immunology in the faculty of medicine at McGill University and member of Canada's COVID-19 therapeutics task force: Canada's federal-provincial sharing of power over health care is highly inefficient and has led to major problems, says Sheppard. "There's a lot breakdown in communication, a lot of territorialism. It's greatly impacted the efficiency of the response," he says. The problems in long-term care homes are examples. "Quebec is screaming they want money but they're refusing to sign on to the minimum standards of long term care," he says. "I think it's heinous." He says highly centralized authority and decision-making has had a stifling effect on innovation. "It puts up roadblocks, and has led to the Canadian health-care system having lost any attempt to be innovative and nimble," he says. Sheppard says he doesn't think there will be mass vaccinations for Canadians this summer and the September timetable that the federal government is talking about for vaccinating everybody is optimistic. "Remember that we don't have vaccines that are approved in under-11-year-olds," he says. "There will still be opportunities for the virus to circulate in children, particularly children are in school settings." He suggested that the current immunization campaign's goal is not herd immunity, eliminating transmission of the virus and rendering is extinct. "The goal here is to create an iron wall of immunity around the 'susceptibles' in our population, such that this becomes a virus of the same public health importance as influenza." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2020 ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
Residents of the Edmundston region are on edge after a COVID-19 outbreak at a poultry plant forced the area back to red-phase restrictions. Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, announced 24 new cases in the Zone 4 region on Sunday. The jump in cases included 11 linked to Nadeau Poultry after mass testing, bringing the entire region to 76 active cases. While the Edmundston region had been on high alert over the past week, the single-day spike came as a surprise. Deputy Mayor Eric Marquis said two dozen cases were more than he could have anticipated. "We were aware that we were pretty close to red after the meeting we had with Dr. Russell this past Friday," he said in an interview. Marquis said he is urging residents to stay home as much as possible. "I'm pretty sure if we do that we're going to be back to orange and we're going to be back to yellow in the upcoming weeks," he said. Some businesses close The move to the red phase means some businesses in the area are forced to close, including gyms, spas, barbershops, hair salons and bars. Cathy Pelletier, executive director of the Edmundston Chamber of Commerce, said many anticipated the rollback to red. Some restaurants had already switched to take out and delivery under the orange phase. Under red restrictions, dining rooms must close. Pelletier said the business community remains hopeful the red phase will be brief and quickly improve the situation. "There will be some impact in the community for the businesses, the hair stylists, the gyms, everything that has to be closed once again," she said. "But a lot of them are pretty resilient." Retail businesses can remain open under COVID-19 operational plans. Plan in place for poultry supply chain The Madawaska region produces most of New Brunswick's chicken and is home to three processing facilities. Thomas Soucy, the president and CEO of Groupe Westco, said his poultry operation in Clair is also at risk of COVID-19. The company has employees that commute from Quebec and truck drivers that travel across the country but has yet to report a case of the illness. "It could have happened to anyone," he said in an interview. "We feel the pain the industry and our competitor is experiencing." A poultry plant in Berwick, N.S., was forced to halt operations last month after an outbreak including six cases. Soucy said the facilities in the Madawaska region helped out Eden Valley Poultry during the temporary closure. Groupe Westco would be prepared to step in if Nadeau is impacted. "The last thing we want to have to do is be forced to euthanize the chickens at the farms," he said. "There's not just us, the plants in Quebec, we all work together to make sure there's the least impact possible on the food chain." Nadeau Poultry is about 40 minutes west of Edmundston within the municipality of Haut-Madawaska. The processing plant has about 240 employees, according to Pelletier. Jean-Pierre Ouelette, the Haut-Madawaska mayor, said the sudden outbreak shows how no one is sheltered from the pandemic. "We need to be even more careful in trying to avoid spreading it," he said. Teachers expected schools to close New Brunswick's red phase guidelines initially included moving schools online. But Education Minister Dominic Cardy announced a change in plans on Sunday. "We're working to keep students in school as much as possible to help support our public health goals," he said. The New Brunswick Association of Francophone Teachers said its members are concerned about returning to the classroom and the decision to keep schools open came as a surprise. President Gérald Arseneault said teachers expected schools to close under the red phase and were prepared to switch to virtual learning. "All of a sudden, only a few minutes before the government announcement, they told us it wouldn't be the case," he said. "We can't forget that our teachers are also parents and worried like the rest of the community about this situation." If a case is confirmed at a red-phase school, it will close for three days. This will allow time for contact tracing and turning the building into a testing site. Students and staff will also be actively screened each day and those with one symptom will be asked to stay home. Pelletier said the community is upset over the decision to keep schools open. She's planning to keep her son home for a couple of days to see how the situation unfolds. She said about 30 part-time employees at the Nadeau poultry operation are students at Cité-Des-Jeunes-A.-M. Sormany, the high school in Edmundston. "A lot of people are worried why the schools are still open," Pelletier said.
More than 20 shellfish trucks parked on roads near the British parliament and Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Downing Street residence on Monday to protest against post-Brexit bureaucracy that has throttled exports to the European Union. Many fishermen have been unable to export to the EU since catch certificates, health checks and customs declarations were introduced at the start of this year, delaying their deliveries and prompting European buyers to reject them. "We strongly feel the system could potentially collapse," said Gary Hodgson, a director of Venture Seafoods, which exports live and processed crabs and lobsters to the EU.