With much of the world struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still some good-news stories to report. Here's a brief roundup
With much of the world struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still some good-news stories to report. Here's a brief roundup
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool’s woeful home form is developing into a full-blown crisis after Chelsea’s 1-0 victory on Thursday inflicted a fifth straight league loss at Anfield on the Premier League champions — the worst run in the club’s 128-year history. With Liverpool's title defence already over, this was billed as a battle for a Champions League place and Mason Mount’s 42nd-minute goal lifted Chelsea back into the top four. Chelsea’s previous win at Anfield, in 2014, effectively ended the title hopes of Brendan Rodgers’ side. This one was a blow to Liverpool’s chances of a top-four finish under Jurgen Klopp. Klopp’s side is four points adrift of Chelsea and with Everton and West Ham also ahead. Liverpool has now gone more than 10 hours without a goal from open play at Anfield. The hosts failed to register an effort on target until the 85th minute and Georginio Wijnaldum’s weak header was never going to beat Edouard Mendy. They have taken one point from the last 21 on offer at home since Christmas and scored just two goals, one of which was a penalty. None of Liverpool's established front three — Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino — impressed but the sight of Salah, the Premier League’s leading scorer, being substituted just past the hour mark was baffling. The Egypt international certainly thought so as he sat shaking his head, having been replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Chelsea, by contrast, looked full of threat with Timo Werner — a player Liverpool was interested in but decided it could not afford last summer — a constant problem. Despite one goal in his previous 17 league outings, he caused problems with his movement, drifting out to the left then popping into the middle to give Fabinho a real headache on his return to the side. The Brazil midfielder, replacing Nat Phillips after he became the latest centre back to pick up an injury, was partnering Ozan Kabak in Liverpool’s 15th different central-defensive starting partnership in 27 league matches. Faced with a statistic like that, it is perhaps understandable why there was a lack of cohesion at the back and Werner should really have profited. He fired one early shot over and then failed to lift his effort over Alisson Becker, back in goal after the death of his father in Brazil last week. Even when Werner did beat Alisson, VAR ruled the Germany international’s arm had been offside 20 yards earlier in the build-up. Liverpool’s one chance fell to Mane but Salah’s first-time ball over the top got caught under his feet and Mane missed his shot with only Mendy to beat. Chelsea was still controlling the game and caught Liverpool on the counterattack when N’Golo Kante quickly sent a loose ball out to the left wing, from where Mount cut inside to beat Alisson having been given far too much time to pick his spot. All five of Mount’s league goals have come away from home. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel spent the first five minutes of the second half screaming at his players to press harder and play higher up the pitch but Liverpool’s players were equally vocal when Firmino’s cross hit the raised arm of Kante from close range. No penalty was awarded. Andy Robertson cleared off the line from Hakim Ziyech after Alisson parried Ben Chilwell’s shot as Chelsea continued to look more dangerous. Klopp’s attempt to change the direction of the game saw him send on Diogo Jota for his first appearance in three months, along with Oxlade-Chamberlain. Jota’s first touch was a half-chance from a deep cross but he was not sharp enough to take it. Werner, meanwhile, was doing everything but score as Alisson’s leg saved another shot as he bore down on goal. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — As Lionel Desmond completed an 11-week program for veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder in August 2016, those responsible for his care were worried about something they couldn't figure out. Though he displayed symptoms considered common among combat soldiers diagnosed with PTSD, he was making little progress under treatments that usually produced results. Kama Hamilton, a social worker at the Montreal hospital where Desmond was treated in 2016, told a provincial inquiry Thursday he suffered from angry outbursts, combat-related flashbacks, impulsivity, irritability and hyper-vigilance. Yet, she said, "he didn't stand out as particularly (different) from the others." Hamilton, who tried to help Desmond with anger management and social connections, said the Ste. Anne's Hospital team was concerned that something was interfering with his treatment, given the fact that he had lost trust in the staff and still faced a "long road" to recovery when he was discharged on Aug. 15, 2016. The inquiry is investigating why, less than five months later, Desmond bought a rifle and fatally shot his 31-year-old wife, Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, and his 52-year-old mother, Brenda, before turning the gun on himself in their rural Nova Scotia home. During her testimony, Hamilton said she came to the conclusion that Desmond had a constant fear of being abandoned, a condition she said could be the result of a personality disorder or a head injury that impaired his cognitive abilities. On Tuesday, psychiatrist Robert Ouellette told the inquiry that Desmond appeared to have "mixed personality traits," including obsessive compulsiveness and paranoia. Ouellette said the paranoid traits caused Desmond to mistrust virtually everyone, including his wife. Desmond repeatedly told staff at the hospital that his main goal was to become a good husband and father, but he often expressed jealousy and anger towards his wife. During her testimony Thursday, Hamilton said she learned that aside from flashbacks to his combat duty in Afghanistan, her patient also complained about gruesome nightmares about his wife being unfaithful. Hamilton said that during an hour-long telephone conversation, Shanna Desmond told her that in the dream, her husband caught her sleeping with another man and responded by "chopping her to pieces." Despite the violent nature of the nightmare, Hamilton said she was confident Shanna Desmond was not in any danger, mainly because Lionel Desmond's recollection was intended as a cry for help rather than a threat. As well, she said Shanna Desmond had made it clear she and the couple's nine-year-old daughter had never been subjected to physical violence, and she didn't believe her husband would ever hurt them. Hamilton said Shanna Desmond was deeply concerned about her husband's welfare, noting that he had unpredictable, angry outbursts that resulted in him throwing furniture — but that was the extent of the violence she had witnessed during their marriage. Still, Hamilton said she also learned that the former infantryman would sometimes resort to passive threats of suicide as a means of controlling his wife. She said Shanna Desmond recalled one disturbing incident, when he texted her to say he would soon be watching his daughter "from above," and when she returned home, she found him obsessively cleaning a rifle he owned. "If someone is feeling vulnerable, they may try to find ways to gain control," Hamilton said. "Abandonment is a situation where you feel helpless." On another front, Hamilton said her patient complained about suffering a head injury while he was training at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in New Brunswick, though he was deemed medically fit after he regained consciousness. That led to speculation at Ste. Anne's about a possible brain injury, which could explain why Desmond had some cognitive challenges, including troubles with concentration, memory, organization and language. The treatment team agreed that Desmond should undergo a full neurological assessment, which was a recommendation that was submitted to Veterans Affairs Canada as he was preparing to leave the program. The assessment was beyond the scope of the hospital. Desmond never received that assessment. In the four months before the Jan. 3, 2017 triple murder and suicide in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., Desmond received no therapeutic treatment. Earlier in the hearings, a psychiatrist at the hospital in nearby Antigonish, N.S., told the inquiry that Desmond desperately needed help when he returned home to Nova Scotia, but it was apparent he was "falling through the cracks." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. — By Michael MacDonald in Halifax The Canadian Press
The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) has told Terrace city council it is “highly alarmed and disappointed” following the recent resignation of Jessica McCallum-Miller from city council. “We are heartbroken to hear that rather than being empowered and supported by her colleagues, Jessica instead suffered great mental, spiritual, and emotional turmoil and stress, forced to grapple with the intolerance, exclusion, and narrow-mindedness that continues to be the lived reality of Indigenous peoples in this country,” an open letter to council states. McCallum-Miller, the youngest and also first Indigenous councillor in Terrace’s history, resigned on Feb. 22. She said in a Facebook post that she questioned whether truth and reconciliation was a priority for council, and levied allegations of systemic racism and sexism. The letter urges council to examine its practices, undergo cultural competency training and bring forward issues around cultural training and inclusion at the Union of BC Municipalities annual convention. “We call upon you to support a thorough investigation, not by an ombudsperson who may perpetuate the colonial attitudes prevalent in the council, but by an Indigenous person who is well informed on Indigenous title and rights and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.” At a Feb. 25 committee of the whole meeting, councillors unanimously agreed to direct staff to review its current policies and pursue an independent review by the ombudsperson’s office, which investigates complaints about public agencies in B.C. A spokesperson for the B.C. Ombudsperson’s Office said in an email on March 3 that they were aware of the issue through media reports and have been assessing it in relation to the ombudsperson’s role. Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration's nominee for top Pentagon policy adviser was met with sharp criticism from Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, including accusations that he has been too partisan. Colin Kahl, who served as national security adviser to then-Vice-President Joe Biden during the Obama administration, faced repeated questions on his previous support for the Iran nuclear deal and how he would approach that issue now. And a number of GOP senators said they were troubled by partisan tweets Kohl put out during Donald Trump's presidency and they would oppose his nomination. It wasn't clear whether there was enough opposition to derail his nomination. “We know that there is a new administration and that we will have policy disagreements that we will all try to work through,” said the ranking Republican on the panel, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. “But how will you rectify the fact that many Americans, including those who work at the Department of Defence, know you only through your very partisan comments? How can we be confident that you will be a model of nonpartisan policy analysis — which is what the job requires — if you are confirmed?” Kahl said he worked on a bipartisan basis in his previous jobs in the Obama administration, which included a stint as deputy defence secretary for Middle East issues at the Pentagon from 2009 to2011. And he told the panel, “This is not a political job, it’s a policy job ... I have a long track record of putting politics aside and working on policy.” Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and others read a number of Kahl's tweets that condemned Republicans and the Trump administration. Cotton said the “volatile” tweets would hurt his ability to work with Congress, adding “your judgement around war and peace are almost always wrong.” In response, Kahl offered an apology, saying the last few years have been politically polarizing and there were times he got swept up in that on social media. “There were a number of positions that President Trump took that I strongly opposed,” he said. "I think the language that I used in opposing those was sometimes disrespectful, and for that, I apologize.” Kahl got broader support from Democrats, including Sen. Maizie Hirono of Hawaii, who chastised committee members for slamming Kahl's tweets. ““That kind of criticism regarding tweets from folks who didn’t say anything about the kind of lying, racist tweets out of the former president, I think, is pretty rich,” she said. Others, including the panel chairman, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., sought commitments on improving Pentagon policies and relations with other countries that soured during Trump's tenure. Reed said he hoped that Kahl would help establish a strong defence policy office to ensure there is a unified effort on national security challenges and to repair ties with NATO and other allies. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
Canada's premiers are demanding that Ottawa immediately give them an extra $28 billion for health care this year, with a promise of at least a five-per-cent hike in the annual transfer payment each year thereafter.
One of Canada's top public health officials sought to reassure Canadians today that a recommendation from a federal vaccine advisory committee to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses is a sound one. Yesterday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months due to limited supplies. Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the advice is based on real-world data that shows doing so would lead to more people being protected from COVID-19 in a shorter time period. "This recommendation is based on clinical trial reports and emerging real-world evidence from around the world. Data shows that several weeks after being administered, first doses of vaccines provide highly effective protection against symptomatic disease, hospitalization and death," Njoo told a technical briefing today. Confusion over conflicting advice Njoo's comments appeared to be addressing the confusion created by the fact that NACI's recommendation conflicts with those issued by Health Canada when it granted regulatory approvals for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. Regulatory documents provided by Health Canada upon approval of each vaccine state that the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech should be taken three weeks after the first, the second Moderna shot should come four weeks after the first, and the second AstraZeneca dose should be delivered between four and 12 weeks after the first. All of those recommendations are in line with the product monograph provided by the manufacturers. Adding to the confusion, NACI recommended on Monday against giving the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to people 65 and older, although Health Canada has authorized it for use in adults of all ages. But Njoo said the discrepancies can be explained by the fact that Health Canada is a regulator and NACI is an advisory body made up of medical experts. "You have likely noticed that NACI's recommendations are sometimes different, possibly broader or narrower than the conditions of vaccine use that Health Canada has authorized. As the regulator, Health Canada authorizes each vaccine for use in Canada according to factors based on clinical trial evidence, whereas NACI bases its guidance on the available and evolving evidence in a real-world context, including the availability of other vaccines," Njoo said. "What we expect is that NACI recommendations will complement — not mirror — those of Health Canada." WATCH: Njoo comments on NACI recommendation to delay second COVID-19 vaccine doses The issue burst into the open on Monday when B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Some medical experts questioned that decision. Canada's chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, said doing so without proper clinical trials amounts to a "population level experiment." Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., told the Washington Post that the science doesn't support delaying a second dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. He said there isn't enough evidence to determine how much protection is provided by one dose of those vaccines, and how long it lasts. Despite those warnings, several provinces followed Henry's lead and even more have indicated they intend to stretch the dosage interval. While it appeared to some at the time that Henry was moving faster than the science, Njoo said that NACI's experts briefed provincial medical officers of health over the weekend on the results of their analysis before releasing their recommendations publicly. NACI concluded that stretching the dosing interval to four months would allow up to 80 per cent of Canadians over the age of 16 to receive a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, without compromising vaccine effectiveness. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. As for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, Njoo said it is safe and that evidence shows it provides protection against very serious disease and death in people of all ages. He said Health Canada has a rigorous scientific review process and only approves vaccines that meet high standards for safety, efficacy and quality. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said expert advice will continue to change as more data becomes available from ongoing mass vaccination campaigns, and she urged provinces and territories to consider recommendations and evidence from both bodies when making decisions about their vaccine strategies. "The messaging would be simpler if we had one set of data and we had one message and it never changed, but that's not what science does," said Sharma. Decision on Johnson and Johnson imminent At today's briefing, health officials also indicated that a regulatory decision on whether to approve Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is expected soon. "The review of the Johnson & Johnson submission is going very well, it's progressing, and we're expecting to have that completed and a decision in the next few days. I would say in the next seven days or so," said Sharma. The company has said its vaccine is 66 per cent effective at preventing moderate to severe illness in a global clinical trial, and much more effective — 85 per cent — against the most serious symptoms. Canada has agreed to purchase up to 38 million doses if it is approved. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for use in that country last Saturday. The approval of a fourth vaccine would give a significant boost to Canada's vaccine rollout. Johnson and Johnson's vaccine is widely seen as one of the easiest to administer because it requires only one dose and can be stored for long periods of time at regular refrigerator temperatures. Njoo said additional vaccines, coupled with the NACI recommendation on dosage intervals, could allow Canada to meet the goal of inoculating all adults who want a vaccine "several weeks" before the current target date of the end of September. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading Canada's COVID-19 vaccine logistics, said that while more vaccines would be good news, the current target remains the end of September.
KINGSTON, Ont. — Public health officials in Kingston, Ont., are prohibiting alcohol sales after 10 p.m. during the week of St. Patrick’s Day in an effort to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health says increasing concerns with COVID-19 variants and the risk of spread related to St. Patrick's Day celebrations make the measures necessary.The order will take effect from midnight on March 13 to March 21 at 11:59 p.m.It says businesses that serve alcohol should be closed between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. and not allow dancing, singing and live music performances.The unit says alcohol can only be sold and served from noon to 10 p.m. and cannot be consumed in the business outside those hours.Failure to comply with the rules could result in fines of up to $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for corporations.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021.This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
RCMP are asking witnesses to a violent incident to come forward, after a man was discovered seriously injured outside a Richmond, B.C., shopping mall Wednesday afternoon. Police were called around 2:40 p.m. PT to the parking area on the north side of the Lansdowne Centre, where the 40-year-old man was found lying injured on the ground, according to an RCMP statement Thursday. The Vancouver resident was taken to a local hospital where he remains in critical condition, police said. RCMP say the incident does not appear to have any criminal connections, and there doesn't appear to be any risk to the public. Anyone who might have witnessed Wednesday's incident is asked to contact the Richmond RCMP at 604-278-1212, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 if they want to remain anonymous.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday made it harder for longtime immigrants who have been convicted of a crime to avoid deportation. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion for a 5-3 conservative majority that ruled against a Mexican citizen who entered the U.S. illegally and has lived in the country for 25 years. The man, Clemente Avelino Pereida, had been charged in Nebraska with using a fraudulent Social Security card to get a job and convicted under a state law against criminal impersonation. Not all criminal convictions inevitably lead to deportation, but Gorsuch wrote for the court that Pereida failed to prove he was not convicted of a serious crime. Under immigration law, “certain nonpermanent aliens seeking to cancel a lawful removal order must prove that they have not been convicted of a disqualifying crime,” Gorsuch wrote. In a dissent for the three liberal justices, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the court instead should have ruled for Pereida because he was convicted under a law that includes serious offences, falling into the category of crimes of moral turpitude, and less serious ones. “The relevant documents in this case do not show that the previous conviction at issue necessarily was for a crime involving moral turpitude," Breyer wrote. Immigrants with criminal convictions who are facing deportation can ask the attorney general to allow them to remain in the country, if the conviction wasn't for a serious crime and they have lived here at least 10 years, among other criteria. Based on Thursday's ruling, Pereida can't seek that relief. Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not take part in the case because she had not yet joined the court when the case was argued in October. The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The federal Liberals are setting aside some of the billions of dollars planned in short-term transit spending to help municipalities further green their bus fleets. The hope is that the $2.75 billion in traditional grant money will dovetail with the $1.5 billion an infrastructure-financing agency is supposed to invest toward the same cause. Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says the grant money is supposed to help cover the upfront cost of purchasing electric buses to replace the diesel-powered ones rumbling through Canadian streets. She says federal funding has helped cities buy 300 buses and the government hopes the funding will help them add 5,000 zero-emission buses over the next five years. But she acknowledged there are added costs that need to be addressed, including having charging stations on transit routes and in existing depots. The Liberals are hoping cities then turn to the Canada Infrastructure Bank to finance the cost of the remaining work. The bank's chief executive, Ehren Cory, says the energy savings expected from not having to buy diesel could, for instance, be used to pay off a low-interest loan from his agency. "It's quite a from-the-ground-up reinvestment and the savings will pay for a lot of that, but not for all of it," he said, via video link. "That's why the combination of a grant from the government, a subsidy, combined with a loan against savings together will allow us to get the most done, allow us to make wholesale change quickly and do so at minimal impact to taxpayers." Garth Frizzell, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, welcomed the funding as a way to speed up work in cities to replace diesel buses. "We are already putting more electric vehicles on our streets, and this major funding to electrify transit systems across the country will reduce GHG emissions, boost local economies, and help meet Canada’s climate goals," he said in a statement. McKenna made the same connections multiple times during an event Thursday in Ottawa, where she stood near the city's mayor, Jim Watson, with Cory and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne joining by videoconference. Joanna Kyriazis, senior policy adviser at Clean Energy Canada, noted that the investments could help the country's six electric-bus manufacturers scale up to compete internationally. “As Canada develops its battery supply chain — from raw metal and mineral resources to our North-America-leading battery recycling companies — we must build the market for electric vehicles and their batteries at home," she said in a statement. The Liberals are promising billions in permanent transit funding as part of a post-pandemic recovery, including $3 billion annually in a transit fund starting in five years. Cities have seen transit ridership plummet through the pandemic as chunks of the labour force work remotely. Demand for single-family homes well outside urban cores suggests some workers are expecting remote work to become a more regular fixture of their post-pandemic work lives. McKenna said her thinking about public transit hasn't been changed by that shift, saying her only thought is that Canada needs more and better systems. It's up to cities and transit agencies to set routes and priorities, she said. "The reality is many of our essential workers have no other option than to take public transit. And I think we've recognized how important it is for people to be able to get around in a safe way," McKenna said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Premier Blaine Higgs raised the possibility of a faster rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations and a quicker reopening of provincial borders on Thursday. The premier said with a new federal recommendation that second doses can be delayed by up to four months, New Brunswick could get everyone their first shot by the end of June. He also raised the possibility during a news conference with fellow premiers of re-establishing the Atlantic bubble and even getting borders to the rest of Canada "opened up" and "getting ourselves back to normal this spring." But speaking to New Brunswick journalists later, Higgs qualified that statement, saying it would depend on vaccination levels and other factors. He said talks with other Atlantic premiers on reopening borders within the bubble will probably happen in April. Factors that will determine reopening Higgs said it could be a reality "for this summer, but I'd like to get beyond that, and that'll depend on how many vaccines we have access to" as well as whether vulnerable groups and people who cross the borders regularly are vaccinated. "The move to the rest of Canada will be very dependent on the condition in the rest of Canada, in the big major centres, and what the vulnerability is for our province and the Atlantic region. That won't change unless we see a substantial change in those regions." The National Advisory Committee on Immunization told provinces this week that second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines can all be delayed by four months. Several provinces have said they'll take that advice. Higgs says the all-party COVID-19 committee will discuss soon whether to delay second vaccination doses by four months.(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press) Higgs said New Brunswick's all-party COVID-19 committee will make a decision on it next Tuesday, "but I would suggest we will be moving in that direction as well." That would allow the province to stretch its expected vaccine deliveries enough to provide more people their first dose sooner, possibly reaching everyone by the end of June, Higgs said. "That's what I'm focused on," he said. Given one dose reduces the risk of transmission significantly, Higgs said, that could see New Brunswick get "back to normal" by the end of June rather than the end of September, the target Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has set for immunization of all willing Canadians. "The potential of moving that forward is real," Higgs said. Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island both said Thursday they believe everyone who wants to be vaccinated can get a first dose by the end of June. There are currently 36 active cases in New Brunswick.(CBC News) 5 new cases in three zones Public Health reported five new cases in three zones on Thursday and said a presumptive case of a variant has been confirmed as the B117 variant strain. That previously reported case, which had been sent to Winnipeg's National Microbiology Laboratory for sequencing, was in the Miramichi region, Zone 7. The new cases break down in this way: Moncton region, Zone 1, one case: an individual 20 to 29 years old. The case is travel-related. Edmundston region, Zone 4, three cases: two people 20 to 29 an individual 70 to 79 Miramichi region, Zone 7, one case: an individual 20 to 29. The case is under investigation. All of these people are self-isolating. The number of confirmed cases in New Brunswick is 1,443, and there are now 36 active cases. Since Wednesday, six people have recovered for a total of 1,378 recoveries. There have been 28 deaths. Three patients are in hospital, and two are in intensive care. A total of 231,307 tests have been conducted, including 767 since Wednesday's report. Two days of mass testing are underway at Miramichi's Dr. Losier Middle School. The clinics, for asymptomatic residents, continue Friday.(Horizon Health Network/Twitter) Mass testing underway in Zone 7 Mass testing clinics have been set up to help determine if there has been any further spread in the Miramichi region following several new cases and the confirmation of the variant's presence this week. The tests are available on a walk-in basis — no appointment necessary — for people who do not have any symptoms of COVID-19. Testing is being held Thursday until 7 p.m. and Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the gymnasium of the Dr. Losier Middle School, 124 Henderson St. No time to let up precautions, epidemiologist says More people are being vaccinated each day and the number of COVID-19 cases has been dwindling for the most part, but there is still a chance Canada could face a third wave of the disease, an epidemiologist says. "We have learned from the past just as quickly as they go in the right direction they can go in the wrong direction," Cynthia Carr, an epidemiologist in Winnipeg, told Information Morning Fredericton on Thursday. A third wave of COVID-19 in Canada is still hard to predict, she said. Germany and the Czech Republic are already experiencing third waves of the respiratory virus. Carr said a third wave of COVID-19 in Canada would mean something has changed, including the virus itself. It would also mean an increase in cases, although with vaccine rollouts underway, the virus could be milder. A combination of personal vigilance and Public Health measures is still needed. "The virus cannot spread and thrive if we don't give it a chance to pass from one person to another." Public exposure notifications Public Health has identified a positive case in a traveller who may have been infectious while on the following flight: Air Canada flight 8906 on Feb. 20, from Montreal to Moncton, departed at 7:10 p.m. Anyone who took this flight should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after the flight. people who develop COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate and take the self-assessment online or call 811 to get tested. On Wednesday, Public Health issued a list of potential public exposures to the virus at the following locations in Zone 7. Individuals who tested positive were in these establishments. The department does not have the exact times these people were in the businesses on the list, "but it is believed it was for a short duration on these dates." Sobeys, 273 Pleasant St., Feb. 15, Feb. 19, Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 Atlantic Superstore, 408 King George Hwy, Feb. 15, Feb. 23 and Feb. 28 Shoppers Drug Mart, 397 King George Hwy, Feb. 15, Feb. 17 and Feb. 26 Dollarama, 100 Douglastown Blvd., Feb. 20 Winners, 2441 King George Hwy, Feb. 22 and Feb. 24 Giant Tiger, 2441 King George Hwy, Feb. 24 Walmart, 200 Douglastown Blvd., Feb. 24 Bulk Barn, 100-99 Douglastown Blvd. on Feb. 27 NB Liquor, 221 Pleasant St., Feb. 27. What to do if you have a symptom People concerned they might have COVID-19 symptoms can take a self-assessment test online. Public Health says symptoms shown by people with COVID-19 have included: A fever above 38 C. A new cough or worsening chronic cough. Sore throat. Runny nose. Headache. New onset of fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, loss of sense of taste or smell. Difficulty breathing. In children, symptoms have also included purple markings on the fingers and toes. People with one of those symptoms should: Stay at home. Call Tele-Care 811 or their doctor. Describe symptoms and travel history. Follow instructions.
VANCOUVER — Results of a study led by Metro Vancouver's transit operator reveal copper on high-touch surfaces is lethal to bacteria. A statement from TransLink says the findings of the industry-leading trial show copper products kill up to 99.9 per cent of all bacteria within one hour of surface contact. As part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, TransLink was the first transit agency in North America to test copper on high-touch surfaces. The pilot study was launched after unrelated studies showed copper is both durable and effective at killing germs. Phase 1 of the pilot, which was fully funded by mining firm Teck Resources, began last November and continued for five weeks on surfaces of two buses and two SkyTrain cars. A second phase will begin in the coming months using a larger sample to verify the results, testing copper over a longer period on more transit vehicles, and focusing tests on the most effective products identified from Phase 1. TransLink interim CEO Gigi Chen-Kuo says they are excited to find out more about the impact of copper on viruses such as the ones that cause COVID-19. "This research could help us, other transit agencies, and anyone with surfaces in shared public spaces keep high-touch areas as clean as possible,” she says in the statement. The project stems from a partnership between TransLink, Teck, Vancouver Coastal Health, the University of British Columbia and the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. Teck funded the initial phase as part of its Copper & Health program and the company will also support Phase 2. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
YELLOWKNIFE — Residents of the Northwest Territories who are from Norman Wells and Fort Simpson can now self-isolate at home if they leave the territory. A previous public-health order required anyone who left N.W.T. to isolate for 14 days in Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Hay River or Inuvik. The territory's chief public health officer, Dr. Kami Kandola, says the order was changed because Norman Wells and Fort Simpson both have a wastewater surveillance program to test for COVID-19. The two communities also have adequate medical resources to support new infections. Kandola says only residents of Normal Wells and Fort Simpson will be allowed to self-isolate there. They must also submit a self-isolation plan to the territory's public-health office. There are currently two active cases of COVID-19 in the territory. The Canadian Press
LONDON — Banksy appears to have thrown his support behind a campaign to turn a former prison in the English town of Reading into an arts venue, a town spokesman said on Thursday, after the street artist confirmed that artwork that appeared on a red brick wall of the prison was of his making. The elusive artist confirmed the picture was his when he posted a video of him creating it on his Instagram account. The monochrome picture shows a man escaping using a rope made of paper from a typewriter. It appeared Monday outside Reading Prison, famous as the location where writer Oscar Wilde served two years for “gross indecency” in the 1890s. The prison closed in 2013, and campaigners want it turned into an arts venue. Britain’s Ministry of Justice, which owns the building, is due to decide mid-March on its future. In his Instagram video, Banksy is shown stealthily stenciling and spraying paint to create the artwork, titled “Create Escape.” The footage is juxtaposed with an episode of a traditional art instruction video called “The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.” The campaign to turn the former prison into an arts venue has won the backing of actors including Judi Dench, Stephen Fry and Kenneth Branagh. A spokesman for Reading Borough Council said it was “thrilled that Banksy appears to have thrown his support behind the council’s desire to transform the vacant Reading Gaol into a beacon of arts, heritage and culture with this piece of artwork he has aptly called ‘Create Escape’.” “The Council is pushing the Ministry of Justice, who own the site, to make suitable arrangements to protect the image,” the authority said. The Associated Press
TORONTO — Growing up in Alberta, actor Rohan Campbell spent summers at friends' Canmore mountain cabins, where he'd crack open old "Hardy Boys" books that adorn many a cottage bookshelf. "Every time I was at a cabin with no internet or something like that, they were the books I would read before bed," he said in an interview. "So I felt really close to them, and it was just absurd to be able to make my vision of Frank come to life." Campbell was referring to his leading role as teenage amateur sleuth Frank Hardy, alongside Toronto actor Alexander Elliot as younger brother Joe Hardy, in the new Ontario-shot family series "The Hardy Boys." Premiering Friday on YTV in Canada after its U.S. debut on Hulu in December, the mystery drama is based on the time-honoured stories written under the pseudonym by Franklin W. Dixon by numerous authors, including Ontario-raised Leslie McFarlane. The Canadian cast, crew and creators filmed in and around Toronto, Hamilton and Cambridge, Ont. Filming wrapped just a couple of weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns hit. In this version of the story, 16-year-old Frank and 12-year-old Joe grapple with a family tragedy and investigate strange events in the small town of Bridgeport in the 1980s. Nova Scotia-raised James Tupper of "Big Little Lies" plays their dad. There's a bigger age gap between the two brothers in the YTV original series compared to the books, which "breeds a different sort of conflict in the sense that they do things differently," said Campbell, 23, from Vancouver. "The Hardy Boys" books debuted in 1927 and have had several incarnations, but they weren't a big part of 16-year-old Elliot's childhood and he didn't read them until he got the role. "I found this huge community that grew up with these books, and now it's an honour to be a part of it with all these people who, these books shaped their childhood," he said. Given the books' long legacy, the stars felt some pressure to live up to the source material. "Day 1, you get super excited, and then you go to shoot it and all of a sudden that air of responsibility comes to you and you really want to do justice for the people that grew up with these books," said Campbell. "These books are, like, 100 years old, right? So you have such a different demographic of audience, age-wise and maturity, whatever it is. So I think it was really important to us to give a little piece of the books to every different age group." Elliot also felt the pressure but his worries went away when he saw lovers of the books praising the show after its U.S. premiere. "We put a lot of work into this show and we're really hoping that the diehard fans enjoyed it as much as we hoped they did," he said. "We're trying to bring this to all-age groups, and this is kind of like a new generation of 'The Hardy Boys.'" The series is also set before Elliot's time and the young star said he did some research to learn how to use some of the props from that decade. "I feel like everybody was expecting like, 'Oh, he's a kid, he doesn't know how any of this tech works,' and they hand me a Walkman and I know how it works perfectly," he said with a laugh. "I love the '80s," he added. "I love the music, the movies. Everything about the '80s. Even before 'The Hardy Boys,' I loved everything from the '80s. I have a whole playlist of hundreds of songs from the '80s on my Spotify. Some of my favourite movies are from the '80s — 'Back to the Future,' 'Beetlejuice.' All these classics." The show's premise of boys solving dark mysteries in the '80s is drawing comparisons to the Netflix series "Stranger Things," which Elliot called "an absolute honour." Beyond the nostalgic appeal, having such tales set in that decade also helps the storytelling, said Campbell. "It's like, you give two kids Google — it's not very exciting to watch them solve a mystery," he said with a laugh. "Yeah, there's not going to be that many episodes," added Elliot. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
A Chihuahua sporting a First Nations dog blanket captured hearts across Canada for his small stature and enormous sense of pride. Now, seven-year-old Rikki can savour the glory of Internet stardom with treats and toys as one of five furry winners at this year's Yukon Rendezvous festival. "I was excited that he was one of the winners," said his owner Velma Olsen, who beaded the dog blanket specifically for the contest. The pet parade is one of the popular events organized as a part of the annual Whitehorse winter festival. Like many contests this year as a result of pandemic, it was held online. "The great thing about going virtual is that we got entries that we normally probably couldn't have seen such as a little hedgehog and a snake," said festival executive director Saskrita Shresthra. "It was a really great way to make it inclusive of all animals, and considering the response we got on all of those posts, it was very successful. Everybody did a phenomenal job, and it was a great activity to do in the winter during these times. It brought a lot of smiles to a lot of people's faces." Olsen, who is Northern Tutchone and a member of the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun, said she's been overwhelmed with joy to the reaction Rikki and the dog blanket received online. "Quite a few people were feeling inspired to make dog blankets now. There's someone locally here who made one for her Chihuahua, too, so it was quite nice to be an inspiration," said Olsen. Rikki, a seven-year-old Chihuahua, compared to one of the sleds used in the annual Yukon Quest dog sled race. (Submitted by Velma Olsen) Dog blankets are embellished fabric that drapes over a sled dog's back and are a longstanding tradition among First Nations across the Yukon and Northwest Territories. "It makes me feel all warm inside because it's a part of our history and to have it be responded to like that with Rikki's dog blanket it was heartwarming," said Olsen. As for next year's festival, Olsen said she's ready to sign Rikki up for another pet parade. "I've got to come up with something bigger and better next year," she said.
HALIFAX — Glen Assoun has reached a compensation deal with the Nova Scotia and federal governments for his wrongful conviction and almost 17 years in prison. Nova Scotia Justice Minister Randy Delorey said Thursday the recently signed deal is confidential, and Assoun's lawyers Sean MacDonald and Phil Campbell said the amount of the settlement and its details are not being released. In an interview with The Canadian Press last October, Assoun said he feared he might die before reaching a final settlement with Ottawa and the province. Reached by telephone on Thursday at his home, Assoun said he felt relief that his financial future is now secure. "They (the governments) did the right thing, and I'm grateful for that," Assoun said. "It feels good that I can leave my family something and I'm not worrying any longer about how I'll make ends meet." Assoun's lawyers praised the two levels of government for the money to be provided and the signal it sends in acknowledging their client's mistreatment by the justice system. "It's gratifying to see and I hope it serves as an example for similar cases in the future," Campbell said in an interview Thursday. Assoun lived under strict parole conditions for nearly five years after he was released from prison, before a Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruling in March 2019 reversed his 1999 conviction for the murder of Brenda Way in Halifax. The 1995 killing has never been solved. The 64-year-old Halifax man suffered mental illness in prison, and he said he was diagnosed with a heart condition that required the insertion of stents — small mesh tubes that are placed in a narrowed coronary artery. He has also said he suffered severe beatings while in prison. Assoun has been living off funds provided by the province and Ottawa in a preliminary agreement, which was also confidential. He said he is still seeking justice in his case, particularly in regard to police actions. In 2019, it was revealed that a joint RCMP-Halifax Regional Police unit had destroyed evidence regarding alternative suspects to Assoun, prior to his unsuccessful appeal in 2006. Nova Scotia's Serious Incident Response Team, a police oversight agency, has said it is investigating whether there was criminal wrongdoing, and it has brought in outside investigators to assist. "There's a potential criminal investigation underway that has to be completed before any broader issues can be addressed in this case," Campbell said. Assoun's compensation deal is one of several that have emerged in recent decades as a result of cases pursued by lawyers with Innocence Canada, formerly known as the Association in Defence of the Wrongfully Convicted. David Milgaard, who was wrongfully convicted for the rape and murder of nursing assistant Gail Miller in Saskatoon and spent 23 years in prison, received $10 million in compensation. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in 2007 that Steven Truscott's conviction for the rape and killing of a 12-year-old girl was a "miscarriage of justice." Less than a year later, a retired judge recommended Truscott receive $6.5 million in compensation, plus legal costs, from the Ontario government. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit Pour la troisième journée consécutive, la santé publique a publié, jeudi matin, un bilan de moins de 1000 cas quotidiens de COVID-19 répertoriés la veille. Mercredi, 994 Ontariens ont reçu un diagnostic de COVID-19. Depuis maintenant une semaine, le nombre de cas rapportés quotidiennement diminue. La province a fait état jusqu’à présent 644 cas du variant du Royaume-Uni, 31 de l’Afrique du Sud et trois du Brésil. En tout, 304 757 infections au coronavirus ont été enregistrées en Ontario. Jeudi, le premier ministre ontarien Doug Ford s’est joint virtuellement à ses homologues des autres provinces pour réitérer au gouvernement fédéral la demande d’augmenter les transferts de fonds en santé aux provinces. Les dirigeants provinciaux demandent au gouvernement de Justin Trudeau d’augmenter ces dépenses de 22% à 35%, ce qui ferait passer les 42 milliards $ octroyés actuellement aux provinces à 70 milliards $. Décès Mercredi, 10 Ontariens ont perdu la vie en raison du virus. La COVID-19 a emporté 7024 personnes en province. Mercredi, 641 personnes étaient à l’hôpital en raison de symptômes de la COVID-19. Parmi ces patients, 281 aux soins intensifs étaient aux prises avec des symptômes plus graves, dont 183 sous respirateur. FSLD En foyers de soins de longue durée (FSLD), la COVID-19 n’a entraîné aucun décès, mercredi, selon la santé publique. En tout, 3745 résidents et 11 employés de ces établissements ont perdu la vie en raison du virus. D’après le plus récent bilan de la province, deux résidents et sept employés ont reçu un résultat de COVID-19 au cours de la journée de mercredi. Vaccination L’Ontario a établi, mercredi, un nouveau record de doses du vaccin contre la COVID-19 administrées en une journée, soit de 30 049. Malgré les nouveaux approvisionnements de vaccins prévus en Ontario et après avoir reçu l’aval fédéral pour prolonger la période d’intervalle entre la première et la deuxième dose du vaccin contre le virus, le gouvernement Ford n’a toujours pas dévoilé de mise à jour de son plan de vaccination, jeudi. Jusqu’à présent, 268 118 Ontariens ont reçu leurs deux doses jugées nécessaires par les fabricants pour être immunisés contre la COVID-19. L’Ontario avait octroyé au total 784 828 doses du vaccin, en date de mercredi, 20h30. Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
The Toronto Raptors are once again severely short-handed heading into Thursday's game against the Celtics in Boston. For the second straight night, the Raptors will be without five players, head coach Nick Nurse and six other members of the coaching staff due to the NBA's health and safety protocols. Starters Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby will not be available, as well as Malachi Flynn and Patrick McCaw. Without the key players and members of the coaching staff, the Raptors were thumped 129-105 by visiting Detroit on Wednesday with assistant coach Sergio Scariolo in charge for the second straight game. Meanwhile, Jalen Harris has returned to Toronto's G League affiliate, Raptors 905. Harris and Donta Hall were added to the Raptors from the 905 squad Wednesday. Thursday's announcement was expected. General Manager Bobby Webster said in an availability Tuesday that it was unlikely that any player or member of staff who missed Wednesday's game would be available for the contest in Boston. The NBA goes into its all-star break after Thursday's action, which will offer a welcome respite for the Raptors. Toronto's next game is March 11 against Atlanta. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press