Saint hasn't seen his sister since they were puppies. Today he got a surprise visit and he is beyond happy! @liljuaaaan
Saint hasn't seen his sister since they were puppies. Today he got a surprise visit and he is beyond happy! @liljuaaaan
(NASA/JPL-Caltech - image credit) When the Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars last month, it arrived with a B.C.-made tool in its figurative tool belt. The six-wheeled, plutonium-powered U.S. rover landed on the red planet on Feb. 18, with a mandate to drill down and collect tiny geological specimens that will be returned to NASA in about 2031. That drilling will be done using a drill bit tip designed and manufactured by a company based in Langford, B.C. "It has great wear and fraction resistance so it is perfect for a Mars application," said Ron Sivorat, business director for Kennametal Inc., during an interview on CBC's All Points West. The drill bit tip is made from K92-grade tungsten carbide blanks, which Sivorat said are one of the toughest grades used for drilling here on earth and he is confident it will be good enough for Mars. According to Sivorat, the company has had a relationship with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2014, when the space agency first began ordering and testing Kennametal Inc. drill bit tips. In 2018, the company learned NASA wanted to work with it to build a bit for Perseverance. Sivorat said staff built the drill bit to NASA's specifications and then sent it to the agency who finessed it somewhat for its Mars mission. When Perseverance landed safely on the fourth planet from the sun, it was an exciting moment for Kennametal Inc. employees, many of whom watched the landing online and are continuing to check on Perservance's daily progress updates. "We know that we are going to be part of, in one way or another, an historical event that will be remembered for many years to come," said Sivorat. Sivorat said he expects the drill bit built in B.C. to start penetrating the surface of Mars in the next couple of weeks. And B.C. is not the only Canadian province with a connection to Perseverance. Canadian Photonic Labs, based in Minnedosa, Man., manufactured a high-speed and highly-durable camera that played an instrumental role in landing the rover. The Manitoba company's relationship with NASA dates back roughly 15 years, he said — but much of the work that's happened in that time has been cloaked in secrecy.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Tuesday: ENGLAND Manchester City looks to make it 21 straight wins in all competitions by beating Wolverhampton to move 15 points clear in the Premier League. Wolves has caused City issues recently, beating Pep Guardiola's side home and away last season, but does not have star striker Raul Jimenez this time round as he recovers from a fractured skull. “The history against them shows us how tough it is and we know it perfectly," Guardiola said. “We know exactly the type of game we have to play — to be so intense but, at the same time, calm." City is in the middle of a hectic period featuring games every three or four days so will rotate again, with Raheem Sterling, Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva among those likely to be recalled. Manchester United is City's nearest challenger, 12 points back, and plays Crystal Palace on Wednesday. GERMANY Borussia Mönchengladbach has lost all three games since the club announced that coach Marco Rose will be joining Borussia Dortmund next season. The teams meet in the German Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday, when Rose will hope to end the negative spiral against his future employers. Gladbach’s troubles started before Rose’s departure was made known. It hasn’t won its last five Bundesliga games. While Gladbach has been on a slump, Dortmund’s fortunes are looking up after three wins in a row including a 4-0 rout of Schalke in the derby and a 3-2 win at Sevilla in the Champions League. Coach Edin Terzic seems to be enjoying his role now the pressure has been taken off with Rose’s arrival at the end of the season. Both teams know the German Cup is a realistic chance of a trophy with reigning champion Bayern Munich already knocked out of the competition. ITALY Injury-hit Juventus needs a win against lowly Spezia to boost its faltering title defence. The nine-time defending champion drew at Hellas Verona 1-1 last weekend to leave it 10 points behind Serie A leader Inter Milan, albeit having played a match less. Juventus will still be without Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Juan Cuadrado, Arthur and Paulo Dybala, who are all injured. Forward Álvaro Morata could recover enough for a place on the bench. Also, Lazio could move level with fourth-place Atalanta if it wins at home to relegation-threatened Torino. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's COVID-19 vaccination-booking web page was taken offline Monday after it experienced technical issues the first day it opened to people aged 80 and over. In a Twitter post earlier in the day, the Health Department said its web page had been temporarily disabled as a precaution after booking service CANImmunize reported a slowdown caused by high traffic to the site. The department said CANImmunize was investigating and in the meantime, it said people who wanted to book an appointment could do so by telephone — although it said call volumes were also high. By late afternoon there was still no word on when the website would be back in operation. About 48,000 people in Nova Scotia are at least 80 years old and eligible to get vaccinated at a series of community clinics scheduled to open this month across the province. A prototype community clinic ran for four days in Halifax last week, and the plan is to open another 10 clinics. The new clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Meanwhile, health officials reported one new case of COVID-19 on Monday and a total of 35 active known infections. They said that as of Sunday, the province had administered 32,856 doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with 12,845 people having received a booster shot. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week. MOVIES — Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall are back in Queens as Prince Akeem and Semmi in “Coming 2 America,” the sequel to the 1988 film, which is now coming straight to your living room Friday on Amazon Prime Video. Set to becoming the King of Zamunda, Murphy’s character returns to the U.S. to find a son he’s never met. Directed by Craig Brewer (“Hustle & Flow”) and co-written by Kenya Barris (“black-ish”), “Coming 2 America” adds a host of new talent, including Jermaine Fowler as said son, Leslie Jones as the mother, Tracy Morgan and “If Beale Street Could Talk’s” KiKi Layne. James Earl Jones, Shari Headley and John Amos also reprise their roles from the original. Unsurprisingly, the film was originally going to be a big theatrical release. — A more family friendly streaming option this week is the Walt Disney Co.’s computer animated “Raya and the Last Dragon,” featuring the voices of “Star Wars’” Kelly Marie Tran as Raya and Awkwafina as a dragon. The fantasy adventure finds a lone warrior, Raya, on a mission to track down a dragon (yes, it’s the last one) who has the powers to stop an evil invader and save humanity. Co-written by “Crazy Rich Asians” screenwriter Adele Lim and directed by Don Hall (“Big Hero 6”) and Carlos Lopez Estrada (“Blindspotting"), “Raya” also features the voices of Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh and Benedict Wong. The film will be available on Disney+ Friday with “Premier Access,” meaning it’ll cost $29.99 to rent. It’ll also be in theatres. — AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr MUSIC — Def Jam is releasing not one but two soundtracks to accompany the new film “Coming 2 America.” On Friday, the same day the film is out, Def Jam will drop “Coming 2 America Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” – which features the new track “I’m a King” by Bobby Sessions and Megan Thee Stallion and other songs – as well as “Rhythms of Zamunda,” an album inspired by Western, Eastern and South African soundscapes. The latter album includes songs by African artists including Nasty C, Tiwa Savage, Tekno, DJ Arafat and more. — Colombian singer Camilo won his first Latin Grammy in November for the global hit “Tutu” and he’s competing for his first Grammy at the March 14 show with his debut album, “Por Primera Vez.” Just before that, the rising star will release his sophomore album, “Mis Manos,” on Friday. The new record features the hit “Vida De Rico,” which peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Latin airplay chart, as well as the hits “Ropa Cara” and “Bebé.” — Judith Hill – a former backup vocalist for Michael Jackson who was one of the stars of the Oscar-winning documentary “20 Feet from Stardom” – will release a new album Friday. The big-voiced Grammy-winning singer self-produced “Baby, I’m Hollywood!” – which is a mix of soul music, piano ballads and funk sounds. Hill last released an album in 2018 and her 2015 debut, “Back In Time,” was co-produced by Prince. — AP Music Editor Mesfin Fekadu TELEVISION — ABC News’ “Soul of a Nation” promises to put “Black life in America front and centre.” The news magazine will explore themes including spirituality, activism in sports and, in the first installment airing 10 p.m. EST Tuesday, the demands for change that followed George Floyd’s death while in police custody. Sterling K. Brown of “This Is Us” will host the debut episode, with Sunny Hostin of “The View” moderating weekly discussions. A musical or spoken word performance will end each of the six announced episodes, with John Legend up first with a performance of “Never Break.” — “Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News” kicks off Thursday with a half-hour special on day one of the Paramount+ streaming service, the newly rebranded and expanded CBS All Access. Colbert is among the executive producers of the series, in which animated characters including anchor James Smartwood riff on the news and interview real-life guests. In a statement, Colbert promised that the show’s second season will feature “tasteful nudity, unapologetic slander and flat out lying,” as well as more incisive questions. — Here’s a real blast from the past: “It’s What’s Happening Baby,” a star-laden concert that aired in 1965, is coming to public TV stations starting Saturday (check local listings). Hosted by famed disc jockey Murray the K, the performers included Ray Charles, The Righteous Brothers, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Miracles, Herman’s Hermits, The Temptations and Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles. Newly restored from original video and audio master tapes and presented by producer TJ Lubinsky, the special includes recent interviews with Dionne Warwick, Little Anthony and others who took part. — AP Television Writer Lynn Elber ___ Catch up on AP’s entertainment coverage here: https://apnews.com/apf-entertainment. The Associated Press
(Shutterstock - image credit) The B.C. government says it is in the process of sending out apology letters, and is prepared to compensate the thousands of Grade 12 students who were issued incorrect transcripts in 2019. In a statement Monday, the province says it is accepting online applications for compensation from affected students who can "demonstrate losses or expenses that arose from the June 2019 provincial Grade 12 exam tabulation errors." It also says apology letters are being sent to all students whose exam marks were impacted. In 2019, the Ministry of Education admitted two tabulation errors resulted in incorrect exam results for 18,741 students who wrote provincial exams in June 2019. An August 2020 Office of the B.C. Ombudsperson report made recommendations, two of which were to apologize and compensate students who faced financial implications as a result of the errors. The ministry says it has now acted on all six of the report's recommendations and had previously implemented four of those relating to "processes and protocols for quality assurance, escalation of issues and communication protocols." It also says it made immediate changes to "ensure a more rigorous process for provincial assessments." According to the statement, an independent third party will provide adjudication services for the compensation fund which launched Monday. It says applicants will be notified of claim decisions by that third party and promises a detailed process for appealing denials. Claim submissions will be accepted until May 24, and compensation will be issued for validated claims by August 2021.
VANCOUVER — A lawyer for the Huawei executive facing extradition to the United States says there's evidence showing the case against her is "manifestly unreliable" and he wants that evidence admitted to the record. Meng Wanzhou's lawyer Frank Addario says emails between staff at the telecom giant and international bank HSBC show the bank was well aware that Huawei controlled another company called Skycom, therefore Meng wasn't responsible for any violation of U.S. sanctions again Iran by the bank. He told the B.C. Supreme Court hearing that staff at HSBC knew that Skycom was sold to Canicula, that Canicula was Skycom's parent company and that Huawei controlled the Canicula account. Addario is asking the judge to admit affidavits including emails and bank account information into evidence to support the defence team's case at Meng's committal hearing, to be heard in May. Meng was arrested at Vancouver's airport in 2018 on a request by U.S. officials who allege she misrepresented the relationship between Huawei and Skycom, causing HSBC to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran. Both she and Huawei deny the allegations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers have claimed goaltender Alex Stalock off waivers from the Minnesota Wild.The 33-year-old Stalock did not appear in a game for Minnesota this season.The native of St. Paul, Minn., has a record of 61-48-18 with nine shutouts, a 2.61 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage over 152 games with San Jose and Minnesota.Stalock will add depth to an Oilers goaltending group that includes Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen.Smith has been fantastic since returning to action after missing the first month of the 2020-21 season with an undisclosed injury, posting a 6-1-0 record with a 2.04 GAA and .934 save percentage.Koskinen has struggled with a 7-8-0 record, 3.26 GAA and .901 save percentage.The Oilers were scheduled to play their second of three games against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC - image credit) York Regional Police have identified a man who was found dead on a road in Vaughan, Ont. last week and say he died as a result of gunshot injuries. On Feb. 25, at approximately 8 a.m., officers received a call regarding a body located at the end of a dead end street on Teston Road at Rodinea Road, just east of Keele Street. When officers arrived, they located a man who was pronounced dead at the scene. The death was deemed suspicious and York police's homicide unit was called in to investigate. On Monday, the man was identified as 57-year-old Gus Kouboules of Richmond Hill. A post-mortem revealed his cause of death was as a result of gunshot injuries. Police didn't release any more information about the circumstances leading up to his death. Investigators are appealing to anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the area or anyone with home surveillance video to contact them.
B.C. is moving into the second phase of its immunization plan, vaccinating seniors in the community aged 80 and up over the course of this month. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry also said the second dose of the three approved vaccines—Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca—will be delayed to four months or 16 weeks, to provide more protection to more people sooner. Henry said the initial dose provides “a very high level of real-world protection.” In Phase 2, more than 400,000 people in B.C. will receive their first vaccine dose from March to early April, including: • seniors and high-risk people residing in independent living and seniors' supportive housing (including staff); • home-care support clients and staff; • Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, Inuit) peoples born in or before 1956 (65 years and older); and • seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years and older). Today, first-dose immunizations begin for those living and working in independent living centres and seniors' supportive housing, as well as home-care support clients and staff. Health authorities will directly contact those in this priority group to book appointments—there is no need to call. Beginning Monday (March 8), seniors aged 80+ and Indigenous peoples aged 65+ who are not living in independent living or seniors' supportive housing can make one call to book their appointment through their local health authority call centre according to a staggered schedule. This is to avoid long waits and system overload. Immunization clinic locations will be confirmed at time of booking, with vaccinations starting as early as March 15: • March 8: Seniors born in or before 1931 (90 years+) and Indigenous people born in or before 1956 (65 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment; • March 15: Seniors born in or before 1936 (85 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment; and • March 22: Seniors born in or before 1941 (80 years+) may call to book their vaccine appointment. Health authority contact information, complete call-in schedules, hours of operations and step-by-step instructions on how to call to book an appointment for yourself, for a family member, for a friend or neighbour will be available on March 8, here: www.gov.bc.ca/bcseniorsfirst "We can now see the light at the end of what has been a difficult and challenging time for us all. To get us through, we need to continue to work together and support each other," said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer. "We are working hard each and every day to make sure that everyone who wants a vaccine gets one, and my new provincial health officer order significantly expands the range of health professions and occupations who can support our immunization clinics, including dentists, midwives, pharmacy technicians, paramedics, firefighters and retired nurses." For health professionals who want to sign up to support B.C.'s immunization efforts as immunizers, visit: https://forms.hlth.gov.bc.ca/registry-covid-19 Immunizing other priority groups identified in Phase 2, many of whom have already received their first dose, is also underway, including: • Indigenous communities, Indigenous Elders, hospital staff, community general practitioners and medical specialists not immunized in Phase 1; • vulnerable populations living and working in select congregate settings; and • staff in community home support and nursing services for seniors. In mid-April, Phase 3 will begin mass vaccination of people aged 79 to 60 years, and people aged 16+ who are extremely clinically vulnerable, at community immunization clinics throughout B.C. Mobile clinics will be available in some rural communities and for people who are homebound due to mobility issues. In Phase 3, British Columbians will register and book their appointments to receive their first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine through an online registration tool. People born between 1942 and 1946 (ages 79-75), and Indigenous peoples born between the years of 1956 and 1960 (ages 64-60), will be able to register for an appointment online or by phone by March 31. As of last week, 252,373 people in B.C. have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, including 73,808 who have received their second dose. “Although there is light at the end of the tunnel, we are far from out of this,” said Premier John Horgan. “We have a long way to go.” Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
VANCOUVER — A new online tool allows Metro Vancouver residents to track the viral load of COVID-19 found in untreated wastewater at each of the region’s five wastewater treatment plants. Metro Vancouver, the regional district that delivers water, waste treatment and other services to the area's local governments, says the tool is now active on its website. A statement from Metro Vancouver says it worked with the public health laboratory of the BC Centre for Disease Control and the University of British Columbia to sample and test wastewater to track the presence and trends of the COVID-19 virus. Residents can click on a specific wastewater treatment plant on a map to see a snapshot of the COVID-19 virus trend for that area. Metro Vancouver says tracking the viral load can help health authorities evaluate how well COVID-19 containment measures are working. But they say it can't pinpoint the number of people who are infected or contagious. The chart for each wastewater treatment plant shows the amount of COVID-19 virus present per litre of wastewater before the liquid is treated. Dr. Natalie Prystajecky, program head of the public health lab at the BC Centre for Disease Control, says studying the virus in wastewater means researchers can "look at an entire population, rather than an individual person.” “Studies have demonstrated that about 50 per cent of COVID-19 cases have the virus in their feces,” she says. The virus that causes COVID-19 is non-infectious in feces and wastewater, the statement says. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
Mass vaccinations will be the key to controlling a potential third wave in Chatham-Kent, says the region’s top doctor. Chatham-Kent Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said the highly transmissible variants are keeping public health officials on their toes. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other health officials have warned a third wave could be the worst yet, but Dr. David Colby remains optimistic. “I really think that widespread vaccination will have a significant impact to blunt the effect of the third wave,” said Colby. “The worrying factor are these variants, and that’s really what is fueling the speculation about a third wave.” Colby said there are three variants of concern. “The common variant, the B.1.1.7 variant, remains susceptible to the immune response triggered by the vaccines that we have,” said Colby. “We need to push ahead with our vaccination program and get as many people vaccinated as we possibly can.” The interval between the first and second doses is 21 days for the Pfizer vaccine and 28 days for the Moderna vaccine. However, Colby said it could be up to 45 days as there isn’t an exact answer for how long a person can go between receiving the first and second dose. “There isn’t an exact answer, we have an agreed-upon regimen for these COVID vaccines, which is up to 45 days, but the Ontario government does not want to go out that far with the elderly population,” said Colby. He added that most of the protection happens with the first dose, while the second dose is to consolidate protection and ensure that it lasts for a longer time. “All I can say is that there’s a great deal of protection that’s afforded for quite a while with even one dose of any of the vaccines,” said Colby. On Feb. 23, the John D. Bradley Convention Centre opened its vaccination clinic. There were 700 appointments for health-care workers and essential caregivers on the first two days. Colby said the clinic is running smoothly. “It’s such an important step for Chatham-Kent,” said Colby. “The Bradley Centre clinic is really doing very, very well, and they hit the ground running.” While he could not go into detail regarding more vaccine shipments, Colby said we’re heading in the right direction. “All indicators that we have right now point to the fact that vaccine supplies will be stable or increasing over the next while,” said Colby. Meanwhile, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance CEO Lori Marshall is warning the public about recent robocalls claiming to be for booking vaccinations. These calls can be dangerous as they are really aimed at collecting people’s personal information. She said these calls are not official and should be ignored. Marshall said a live person will make all vaccination booking calls. “People will be contacted by a live person, and no one should be giving out their personal information like social insurance numbers and those kinds of things on the phone,” said Marshall. CK Public Health said Chatham-Kent Police are aware of the issue, and there is no need to report these calls to them at this time. Colby said people who can’t travel to Chatham would have an opportunity to get vaccinated at pop-up clinics across the municipality when they are set up. Paramedics will be vaccinating individuals who are housebound when they’re identified through their doctors. The homeless population falls under Phase 2. Additionally, Colby said there are mechanisms in place to get to those who are missed. Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
Greece’s government Monday said it won't intervene to grant a prison-transfer demand by a convicted killer in a far-left extremist group who has been on hunger strike for more than seven weeks, triggering public protests as well as arson attacks. Doctors treating Dimitris Koufodinas in intensive care at a hospital in central Greece said the 63-year-old suffered a “serious deterioration” at the weekend, several days after also refusing water. Koufodinas was the chief hit man in the now-defunct November 17 group and is serving 11 life sentences for the murders of prominent Greek businessmen, diplomats and military officials from the embassies of Turkey, Britain, and the United States, and others. His victims include conservative lawmaker Pavlos Bakoyannis, brother-in-law of the current Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Koufodinas’ lawyers argue that his transfer last year from a low-security prison in Athens to a high-security facility in central Greece occurred in violation of incarceration rules. They are seeking his transfer back to the prison where he had served most of his sentence so far. The centre-right government denies it violated transfer regulations. “Mr. Koufodinas is demanding privileged treatment outside legal norms,” government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni told reporters in an online briefing. “The state does not negotiate with convicts and will not relinquish its sovereign right to how to detain them. (He) has the ability to end the hunger strike and exercise the legal options at his disposal.” About 2,500 people held a peaceful protest in support of Koufodinas through central Athens late Monday. About as many demonstrators held a similar peaceful march through the northern port city of Thessaloniki. The leftwing Initiative for Prisoners' Rights group accused the government of engaging in “a ritual execution of a prisoner ... simply for reasons of family revenge and to impose the dogma or law and order.” The rights group warned that Koufodinas' life is “hanging from a thread” because of his hunger strike and refusal to take liquids. Koufodinas has staged another three hunger strikes in recent years, which he concluded after getting what he was seeking — including, in 2015, a demand not to be sent to the prison he is now asking to be transferred to. November 17, which mixed Marxism with nationalism, killed 23 people between 1975 and 2000. It was eradicated following a string of arrests in 2002 and subsequent convictions. The Associated Press
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has eased slightly more restrictions tied to COVID-19. Libraries can now open at 15 per cent capacity and gyms can now host indoors low-impact group activities, like Pilates and tai chi. Kenney had been expected to ease rules in other areas, such as retail capacity and hotels, but he says the COVID numbers have hit a plateau and they need more time to assess just to be safe.
Asymptomatic testing is set to begin in local schools in early March. The Directors of Education at the local public and Catholic school boards said the testing is voluntary, and where it will take place is still being determined. Following consultation with the Public Health Units in Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton, Education Director of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, Deb Crawford, said GVT Lab and Imaging Services would be doing the testing. While Chatham and Sarnia’s sites are yet to be determined, March 5, 2021, will be the first day of testing. Crawford said the private company has dedicated two teams to test students and staff for seven weeks from March 5, 2021, to April 16, 2021, including conducting targeted testing on Friday evenings and Saturdays. According to the Education Director of the Lambton Kent District School Board, John Howitt, school communities will get all of the information about where the testing sites are and how to register for appointments once the asymptomatic testing plan is complete. “We’re facilitating the testing within our facilities, but we are at an arm’s length from it,” said Howitt. “There will be communication as well to public health on the results so that public health can follow up on any confirmed cases that do come out of the testing.” Public School Board Director John Howitt previously said the plan is to have tests complete on staff and students at three public schools each week. This could include testing on weekends and evenings, but Howitt stressed the testing is not mandatory. “The weekly target is for approximately two percent of the population who are attending face-to-face learning,” said Howitt. Parental consent forms must be signed before the student testing is done. “This is not a School Board initiative, although it’s happening with our students,” said Howitt. “It might happen outside of the school day, including on weekends or in the evening.” According to Dr. David Colby, the local schools have done a great job keeping students and staff safe. “At the beginning of the pandemic, everybody thought the driver for community infection would be school children, and that has turned out absolutely not to be the case,” said Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health. “That’s not been the experience anywhere. Colby said there has been great success with the planning that has been done with School Boards to avoid transmission within schools. He added the schools are very organized to isolate cohorts if there are any school environment cases. “In almost all cases that have been positive in schools, it has been family contacts that have resulted in students being positive, not transmission in the school environment,” said Colby. The Province of Ontario announced expanded asymptomatic testing in early February to keep schools and child care settings safe. According to the Provincial Government, the tests will offer an additional layer of protection and help keep schools and child care centres safe by identifying cases that might otherwise have gone undetected; reducing transmission of COVID-19 from the community into schools and within schools, and reducing barriers and making it easier to get a test in your community. Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
Bashaw town council heard a report that the frigid weather in mid-February caused some issues with ice removal in the arena. The report was given at the Feb. 18 regular meeting of council held via Zoom to meet pandemic rules. Mayor Penny Shantz was absent from the meeting, so it was chaired by Coun. Rosella Peterman. During the regular report of Public Works Foreman Murray Holroyd, councillors heard that staff were not able to remove skating ice from the arena because of the cold weather. “It is still too hard to remove,” stated Holroyd in his report. However, he noted the decals and re-usable centre line were removed. The foreman reported that in the week leading up to the council meeting, several water and sewer lines froze up in the very frigid weather. Holroyd also reported water meter replacement work continues. The town was able to sell the old sander truck for $5,500 along with the old cardboard baler, which sold for $800. Holroyd also sits in on regular COVID pandemic updates from the provincial government and reported that masks are still mandatory in all public places in Alberta and that the provincial government is planning on easing some restrictions when the number of people in hospital with COVID drops down. Holroyd’s report was accepted for information. CAO report The town’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Theresa Fuller stated in her regular report that the town’s new computer server was approved for purchase in 2020, and the new item has been somewhat delayed. “It has taken some time to receive the server and all the migration of data etc.,” stated Fuller. “It is still in process, contacting the various external software providers to migrate data accurately.” New staff The CAO reported the town has a new employee. “Natasha Larkin was hired for the municipal treasurer position,” said Fuller. “She has started full-time with us in January 2021. Training has been progressing well. “This time of year there are ‘one-time’ activities, being year-end close out on each financial module preparation for audit, etc.” Internet service Councillors received a letter from Telus requesting a letter of support from the Town of Bashaw for an improved tower. “Telus is currently in the process of applying for funding through the Universal Broadband Fund to upgrade our tower site in the Town of Bashaw,” stated an email from Dan Johnson, real estate manager. “Our tower in Bashaw currently has 90 customers who receive their home internet from the tower. “This upgrade would allow us to offer additional speed to these customers.” Coun. Rob McDonald thought it was a great idea. “I think we should sign onto that,” said McDonald. Pension question Fuller presented to councillors the Local Authorities Pension Plan (LAPP) document and the town’s own policy, noting there was an issue with them. She stated the LAPP identifies 30 hours of work per week for eligibility while the town policy states 35. She recommended councillors alter the town policy to match the LAPP. Coun. Lynn Schultz asked if this would cost the town money, and Fuller stated no. Councillors approved a change to the pension policy to match the LAPP number. Committee reports During committee reports, it was noted the Boys & Girls Club is currently interviewing for a new facilitator. It was also noted at the Bashaw Agricultural Society annual general meeting that grant money from the provincial government has been confirmed. Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
GENEVA — A senior World Health Organization official said Monday it was “premature” and “unrealistic” to think the pandemic might be stopped by the end of the year, but that the recent arrival of effective vaccines could at least help dramatically reduce hospitalizations and death. The world’s singular focus right now should be to keep transmission of COVID-19 as low as possible, said Dr. Michael Ryan, director of WHO's emergencies program. “If we’re smart, we can finish with the hospitalizations and the deaths and the tragedy associated with this pandemic” by the end of the year, he said at media briefing. Ryan said WHO was reassured by emerging data that many of the licensed vaccines appear to be helping curb the virus' explosive spread. “If the vaccines begin to impact not only on death and not only on hospitalization, but have a significant impact on transmission dynamics and transmission risk, then I believe we will accelerate toward controlling this pandemic.” But Ryan warned against complacency, saying that nothing was guaranteed in an evolving epidemic. “Right now the virus is very much in control," he said. WHO's director-general, meanwhile, said it was “regrettable” that younger and healthier adults in some rich countries are being vaccinated against the coronavirus before at-risk health workers in developing countries. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said immunizations provided by the U.N.-backed effort COVAX began this week in Ghana and the Ivory Coast, but lamented that this was happening only three months after countries such as Britain, the U.S. and Canada began vaccinating their own populations. “Countries are not in a race with each other,” he said. “This is a common race against the virus. We are not asking countries to put their own people at risk. We are asking all countries to be part of a global effort to suppress the virus everywhere.” But WHO stopped short of criticizing countries who are moving to vaccinate younger and healthier populations instead of donating their doses to countries that haven't yet been able to protect their most vulnerable people. “We can't tell individual countries what to do,” said Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior WHO adviser. Tedros also noted that for the first time in seven weeks, the number of COVID-19 cases increased last week, after six consecutive weeks of declining numbers. He described the increase as “disappointing,” but said it wasn't surprising. Tedros said WHO was working to better understand why cases increased, but that part of that spike appeared to be due to the “relaxing of public health measures.” ___ AP Medical Writer Maria Cheng reported from London. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Maria Cheng And Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
Chatham-Kent is trending in the right direction. Chatham-Kent will move from ‘Red-Control’ to ‘Orange-Restrict’ under Ontario’s COVID-19 response framework. The move into Orange indicates Chatham-Kent saw a weekly incidence rate of 25 to 39.9 new cases per 100,000 residents. Based on the latest data, Chatham-Kent will move from ‘Red-Control’ to ‘Orange-Restrict’ in the Framework effective Monday, March 1, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. Windsor-Essex is expected to remain in ‘Red-Control’ for at least another week. The move brings some changes as Chatham-Kent changes restriction levels. Among the biggest changes is regarding gathering sizes in organized venues. Under ‘Orange-Restrict’, up to 50 people can now gather indoors and 100 outdoors as long as physical distancing can be maintained in places such as restaurants. Additionally, religious services can now move to 30 percent capacity indoors or 100 people outdoors. The limit on private gatherings remains at 10 for indoors and 25 outdoors with distancing and masking protocols in place. However, health officials continue to recommend not gathering indoors. While many restrictions that were in place under ‘Red-Control’ will continue, locations such as restaurants and bars may now remain open until 10 p.m. Additionally, dancing, singing, karaoke and musical performances are allowed with restrictions. Movie theatres and performance venues can also reopen with a limit of 50 people indoors and a number of restrictions in place, including masking, screening and collection of contact information. Despite the numbers trending in the right direction, Mayor Darrin Canniff said now is not the time to be complacent. “The more people that get vaccinated, the better off we’ll be,” said Canniff. “The light is at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine. We just need to be patient for another few months and, hopefully, most of this will be behind us after that.” On February 26, a third COVID-19 vaccine, “AstraZeneca,” was approved by Health Canada. A fourth vaccine, being developed by Johnson & Johnson, is still awaiting approval. “I’m really hoping that Health Canada approves it soon,” said Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health, “A single-dose product that only needs refrigeration; wow, we can really work with that and get it distributed in a widespread way. The vaccines that need freezing are very effective, but they’re cumbersome to transport and to deal with.” Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
MOSCOW — Two top U.N. human rights experts urged an international probe into the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and called Monday for his immediate release from prison. Agnès Callamard, the Special U.N. Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Irene Khan, the Special U.N. Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, said Navalny’s poisoning was intended to “send a clear, sinister warning that this would be the fate of anyone who would criticize and oppose the government.” “Given the inadequate response of the domestic authorities, the use of prohibited chemical weapons, and the apparent pattern of attempted targeted killings, we believe that an international investigation should be carried out as a matter of urgency in order to establish the facts and clarify all the circumstances concerning Mr. Navalny’s poisoning," they said in a statement. Navalny, the most prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, fell sick on Aug. 20 during a domestic flight in Russia and was flown while still in a coma to Berlin for treatment two days later. Labs in Germany, France and Sweden, and tests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, established that he was exposed to a Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent. Russian authorities have denied any involvement in the poisoning. In December, Navalny released the recording of a phone call he said he made to a man he described as an alleged member of a group of officers of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, who purportedly poisoned him in August and then tried to cover it up. The FSB dismissed the recording as a fake. Callamard and Khan, independent human rights experts working with the U.N., on Monday published their official letter sent to the Russian authorities in December and noted that “the availability of Novichok and the expertise required in handling it and in developing a novel form such as that found in Mr. Navalny’s samples could only be found within and amongst state actors.” The experts emphasized in the letter that Navalny “was under intensive government surveillance at the time of the attempted killing, making it unlikely that any third party could have administered such a banned chemical without the knowledge of the Russian authorities.” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova responded by charging that an international inquiry should look into Germany's refusal to share biological samples and other materials proving Navalny's poisoning with Moscow. Russia claims its medical experts found no evidence of poisoning. Navalny was arrested on Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from the nerve agent poisoning. The arrest triggered massive protests, to which the Russian authorities responded with a sweeping crackdown. Last month, Navalny was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating the terms of his probation while convalescing in Germany. The sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated — and which the European Court of Human Rights has ruled to be unlawful. Last week, Navalny was sent to serve his sentence to a prison outside Moscow despite the ECHR's demand for his release, which cited concerns for his safety. Officials haven't said what prison he was sent to, but Russian media reported it's in the city of Pokrov, 85 kilometres (53 miles) east of Moscow, which stands out among Russian penitentiaries for having particularly stringent rules. Former inmates said that Navalny would face hourly check-ups, including all night, and would be banned from speaking to others. Russian officials have dismissed demands from the United States and the European Union to free Navalny and stop the crackdown on his supporters. Mikhail Galperin, Russia's deputy justice minister, charged Monday that Moscow has contested the ECHR's ruling demanding Navalny's release in a letter sent to the Strasbourg-based court. Meanwhile, the UN rights experts noted that an international probe into Navalny's poisoning was “especially critical” now when he is in prison. They called for his immediate release and reminded Russia that it's “responsible for the care and protection of Mr. Navalny in prison and that it shall be held responsible for any harm that may befall him.” ___ Jamey Keaten in Geneva contributed to this report. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
The Rideau Waterway Land Trust (RWLT) has launched a fundraising campaign to purchase a large property on Opinicon Lake near Chaffey’s Lock. The 30-hectare (74-acre) piece of land in the heart of the Rideau Canal, Ontario’s only World Heritage Site, is also within the Frontenac Arch UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The location provides critical habitat for many species-at-risk, the RWLT said in a release on Monday, Mar. 1, 2021. The Frontenac Arch also provides a “land bridge” that connects the boreal forest of the Canadian Shield to the forests of the Adirondack and Appalachian Mountains. The organization says this link helps to maintain genetic diversity in plant and animal life as our climate continues to undergo change. According to the release, the land abuts provincially significant wetlands, is near the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS), and has been used for scientific research and education. The current owners now wish to sell the land and its acquisition is an ideal project to help the Trust celebrate its 25th year of successful operation. Since it’s incorporation in 1996, the RWLT has been able to preserve 20 significant properties through ownership and conservation easement while expanding its area of interest to include all the communities within the Rideau Corridor from Kingston to Ottawa. If RWLT is successful in this fundraising campaign, they say the property will be added to the Land Trust’s collection. A map of the properties protected by the RWLT can been seen here, and includes the popular Rock Dunder hiking trail near Morton, Ontario. The property up for purchase was once owned by Don and Mary Warren. Don was one of the founders of the Rideau Waterway Land Trust, an educator and activist who led the community’s resistance to the plan to electrify the Rideau Canal’s locks in the 1960s, according to the release. The organization says Mary was an enthusiastic supporter and was instrumental in convincing Don to purchase this property in 1965. The opportunity to establish the Warren Nature Reserve is a fitting tribute to their foresight, RWLT said in the release. RWLT is seeking to raise $120,000 towards the $435,000 project cost by April 2021; all donations will be used to leverage matching government funding. The RWLT expects the government funding to cover 40 per cent of the land acquisition cost, providing they are able to raise the other 60 per cent. RWLT has a very short timeframe to raise these funds, and say any and all donations from local communities would be greatly appreciated. Anyone interested can learn more about this project at www.rwlt.org/warren. Donations can be made at www.rwlt.org/donate, noting “Warren Property” in the donation comments. All donations will receive a charitable receipt. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com