Hospitals across Southern California are dealing with waves of new COVID-19 patients after the Thanksgiving holiday and now expect many more because of family gatherings during the Christmas season. (Dec. 23)
Hospitals across Southern California are dealing with waves of new COVID-19 patients after the Thanksgiving holiday and now expect many more because of family gatherings during the Christmas season. (Dec. 23)
NEW DELHI — India started inoculating health workers Saturday in what is likely the world's largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign, joining the ranks of wealthier nations where the effort is already well underway. India is home to the world’s largest vaccine makers and has one of the biggest immunization programs. But there is no playbook for the enormity of the current challenge. Indian authorities hope to give shots to 300 million people, roughly the population of the U.S and several times more than its existing program, which targets 26 million infants. The recipients include 30 million doctors, nurses and other front-line workers, to be followed by 270 million people who are either over 50 or have illnesses that make them vulnerable to COVID-19. For workers who have pulled India’s battered health care system through the pandemic, the vaccinations offered confidence that life can start returning to normal. Many burst with pride. “I am happy to get an India-made vaccine and that we do not have to depend on others for it,” said Gita Devi, a nurse who was one of the first to get a shot. Devi has treated patients throughout the pandemic in a hospital in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state in India's heartland. The first dose was administered to a sanitation worker at the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences in the capital, New Delhi, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi kick-started the campaign with a nationally televised speech. “We are launching the world’s biggest vaccination drive and it shows the world our capability,” Modi said. He implored citizens to keep their guard up and not to believe any “rumours about the safety of the vaccines.” It was not clear whether Modi, 70, had received the vaccine himself as other world leaders have in an effort to demonstrate the shot’s safety. His government has said politicians will not be considered a priority group in the first phase of the rollout. Health officials haven’t specified what percentage of India's nearly 1.4 billion people will be targeted by the campaign. But experts say it will almost certainly be the largest such drive globally. The sheer scale has its obstacles and some early snags were identified. For instance, there were delays in uploading the details of health care workers receiving the shots to a digital platform that India is using to track vaccines, the Health Ministry said. Shots were given to at least 165,714 people on Saturday, Dr. Manohar Agnani, a Health Ministry official, said at an evening briefing. The ministry had said that it was aiming to inoculate 100 people in each of the 3,006 vaccination centres across the country. News cameras captured the injections in hundreds of hospitals, underscoring the hope that getting people vaccinated is the first step to recovering from the pandemic that has devastated the lives of so many Indians and bruised the country's economy. India is second only to the U.S. in the number of confirmed cases, with more than 10.5 million. The country ranks third in the number of deaths, behind the U.S. and Brazil, with over 152,000. India on Jan. 4 approved emergency use of two vaccines, one developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca, and another by Indian company Bharat Biotech. Cargo planes flew 16.5 million shots to different Indian cities last week. But doubts over the effectiveness of the homegrown vaccine have created a hurdle for the ambitious plan. Health experts worry that the government's approval of the Bharat Biotech vaccine — without concrete data showing its efficacy — could amplify vaccine hesitancy. At least one state health minister has opposed its use. “In a hurry to be populist, the government (is) taking decisions that might not be in the best interest of the common man,” said Dr. S.P. Kalantri, the director of a rural hospital in Maharashtra, India’s worst-hit state. Kalantri said the regulatory approval was hasty and not backed by science. In New Delhi, doctors at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, one of the largest in the city, demanded they be administered the AstraZeneca vaccine instead of the one developed by Bharat Biotech. A doctors union at the hospital said many of its members were a “bit apprehensive about the lack of complete trial” for the native vaccine. “Right now, we don’t have the option to choose between the vaccines,” said Dr. Nirmalaya Mohapatra, vice-president of the hospital’s Resident Doctors Association. The Health Ministry has bristled at the criticism. It says the vaccines are safe and that health workers will have no choice in deciding which vaccine they get. Against the backdrop of the rising global COVID-19 death toll — it topped 2 million on Friday — the clock is ticking to vaccinate as many people as possible. But the campaign has been uneven. In wealthy countries including the United States, Britain, Israel, Canada and Germany, millions of citizens have already been given some measure of protection by vaccines developed with revolutionary speed and quickly authorized for use. But elsewhere, immunization drives have barely gotten off the ground. Many experts are predicting another year of loss and hardship in places like Iran, India, Mexico and Brazil, which together account for about a quarter of the world’s COVID-19 deaths. More than 35 million doses of various COVID-19 vaccines have been administered around the world, according to the University of Oxford. While the majority of the COVID-19 vaccine doses have already been snapped up by wealthy countries, COVAX, a U.N.-backed project to supply shots to developing parts of the world, has found itself short of vaccines, money and logistical help. As a result, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, warned this week that it is highly unlikely that herd immunity — which would require at least 70% of the globe to be vaccinated — will be achieved this year. “Even if it happens in a couple of pockets, in a few countries, it’s not going to protect people across the world,” she said. ___ Associated Press writer Biswajeet Banerjee in Lucknow, India, contributed to this report. Aniruddha Ghosal And Sheikh Saaliq, The Associated Press
A look at what’s happening around European soccer on Sunday: ENGLAND It's a meeting of the top two teams in the Premier League as Liverpool hosts Manchester United in what is traditionally the biggest game on the English soccer calendar. United moved into first place in midweek, and is leading this deep into the season for the first time in eight years, when Alex Ferguson was still in charge. Liverpool, the defending champion, is three points behind and will reclaim first place with a win, courtesy of its superior goal difference. Last-placed Sheffield United won for the first time in the league during the week and looks to back that up when Tottenham visits. Manchester City is unbeaten in 14 matches in all competitions and goes for an eighth straight win in a home game against Crystal Palace. SPAIN Barcelona is hoping to have Lionel Messi back fully fit and ready to play the final of the Spanish Super Cup against Athletic Bilbao. Messi missed the semifinal against Real Sociedad because of an unspecified fitness issue. Barcelona prevailed without him in a penalty shootout. Bilbao reached the final in Seville after defeating Real Madrid in the other semifinal. Barcelona won at Bilbao 3-2 in the league less than two weeks ago, with Messi scoring twice. Coach Ronald Koeman says Messi “will have the last word” on whether he plays. He trained individually on Friday and Saturday. In the Copa del Rey, Valencia, Villarreal, Real Betis, Eibar, Osasuna and Granada all play at lower-division opponents in the round of 16 hoping not to join the growing list of top-flight clubs to have been upset. GERMANY After two successive defeats, Bayern Munich aims to get back on track with a win at home to Freiburg. Another loss would lead to talk of crisis at the club given the high standards it has set itself. Hansi Flick’s team lost only once in 2020 and the German Cup defeat to second-division Holstein Kiel on Wednesday was only his fourth overall since taking over as coach in November 2019. “The form in the first half of 2020 up to our treble (Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League) was also not normal for Bayern,” Flick said. “I thought that our drop would come sooner, but the team kept it going to the end of the year with a remarkable mentality.” Flick said he felt there was less communication between his players lately compared to before. Bayern’s defensive frailty was already an issue, with 24 goals conceded in 15 Bundesliga games so far. Leon Goretzka, Kingsley Coman and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting were unavailable against Kiel, but Flick said they can return against Freiburg. Freiburg is on a five-game winning run in the Bundesliga, testament once again to cult-coach Christian Streich’s man-management. But Bayern has never lost at home to Freiburg in the league. “It will be an intensive game, Freiburg is known for that, and they’re the strongest form team in the league,” Flick said. Eintracht Frankfurt hosts Schalke in the other game. ITALY Juventus’ match at title rival Inter Milan headlines the weekend in Serie A. Inter is second in Serie A, just three points behind city rival AC Milan, and a win would send it to the top on goal difference for 24 hours at least, with the Rossoneri playing Cagliari on Monday. Juventus is four points behind Inter but has played a match less than the Milan teams. The Bianconeri are without the injured Paulo Dybala, while Matthijs de Ligt, Alex Sandro and Juan Cuadrado are out with the coronavirus. Inter coach Antonio Conte has never won against the team he played for and coached. Atalanta and Napoli could move into the top four with wins at home to Fiorentina and Genoa respectively. Bottom-placed Crotone welcomes promoted Benevento and Sassuolo hosts Parma. FRANCE Lyon needs to beat mid-table Metz at home to reclaim top spot from defending champion Paris Saint-Germain by one point. Veteran Algeria forward Islam Slimani could make his debut for Lyon after joining on loan from English Premier League side Leicester. Slimani did well last season when he was loaned out to Monaco, scoring nine goals and assisting on several more with his astute passing. Elsewhere, Lille can move six points clear in third place if it wins at home to Reims, while injured Bordeaux winger Hatem Ben Arfa will miss the trip to face his former club Nice. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — With coronavirus restrictions forcing bars and restaurants to seat customers outside in the dead of winter, many are scrambling to nab erratic supplies of propane that fuel space heaters they’re relying on more than ever to keep people comfortable in the cold. It's one of many new headaches — but a crucial one — that go with setting up tables and tents on sidewalks, streets and patios to comply with public health restrictions. “You’re in the middle of service and having staff run up and say, ‘We’re out of propane!’" said Melinda Maddox, manager of a whiskey tasting room in Colorado. Propane long has been a lifeline for people who live in places too remote to get natural gas piped to their homes for heat, hot water and cooking. This winter, 5-gallon (18-litre) propane tanks have proven a new necessity for urban businesses, too, especially in places like the Rocky Mountains, where the sun often takes the edge off the chill and people still enjoy gathering on patios when the heaters are roaring. The standard-size tanks, which contain pressurized liquid propane that turns to gas as it's released, are usually readily available from gas stations, grocery stores or home improvement stores. But that's not always the case lately as high demand leads to sometimes erratic supplies. “I spent one day driving an hour around town. Literally went north, south, east, west — just did a loop around Fort Collins because every gas station I went to was out. That was frustrating,” said Maddox, who manages the Reserve By Old Elk Distillery tasting room in downtown Fort Collins, about 65 miles (105 kilometres) north of Denver. Nearly all states allow at least some indoor dining, but the rules nationwide are a hodgepodge of local regulations. In Fort Collins, indoor seating at bars and restaurants is limited to 25% of normal capacity, so there's a strong incentive to seat customers outside despite the complication and expense. Local propane tank shortages result not just from higher demand but household hoarding similar to the pandemic run on toilet paper and other goods. One national tank supplier reported a 38% sales increase this winter, said Tom Clark, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Propane Association. But Clark says the supply is there, it just may mean searching a bit more than normal. If there are 10 suppliers in a neighbourhood, “maybe 1 out of 10 may be out of inventory. Certainly, you can find propane exchange tanks if you look around,” Clark said. Franklin, Tennessee-based tank manufacturer Manchester Tank has been paying workers overtime and boosting production in India to meet demand, company President Nancy Chamblee said by email. So far, the surge in demand for small-tank propane hasn't affected overall U.S. propane supply, demand and prices, which are running similar to recent winters, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But trying to find a steady supply of propane can cost already-stressed businesses time and money they lack in the pandemic. Gas stations are better than home improvement stores for propane tank runs because you can park closer, said Maddox, but shops that refill tanks are best because it's cheaper and not as complicated as trying to run every tank dry. “The issue there is it takes longer,” Maddox said. “You just have to build that into your day and say OK, it’s going to take 40 minutes instead of 25 minutes.” Across the street, Pour Brothers Community Tavern owners Kristy and Dave Wygmans have been refilling tanks for their 18 or so heaters and fire bowls at a supplier at the edge of town after a nearby shop stopped offering refill service. They discovered that propane tanks carry a date-of-manufacture stamp. Propane shops won't refill tanks older than 12 years unless they have been re-certified in five-year increments. “We’re learning more and more about propane," Dave Wygmans said. They also have gained insight into the market for space heaters, which more than doubled in price last fall due to surging demand, and outdoor furniture for their street-parking-turned-outdoor-patio area that can seat up to 44 people, Kristy Wygmans said. Their employees also had to quickly learn to hook up propane tanks and light heaters, needed in a place where temperatures can plunge well below zero (minus 18 Celsius) in winter. Keeping customers comfortable has taken on a new dimension outdoors, Dave Wygmans said. “Before it was just drinks and food, right? And now, we think the priority is drinks and food but maybe the customer thinks the priority is the heat. And so now we have to balance one more priority that some customers might care about," he said. "It’s almost like another service that we’re providing is outside heat,” Wygmans said. ___ Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver. Mead Gruver, The Associated Press
Some restaurants in Nova Scotia are adopting a new system of contact tracing after 10 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Collecting contact information at restaurants became mandatory in Nova Scotia in late November, meaning restaurants have had to write down the names and phone numbers of everyone who has visited as a way to trace possible exposures. Now, there's a better alternative to pen and paper, according to the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia. "It's definitely the high-tech version, for sure," Gordon Stewart, the executive director of RANS, told CBC's Mainstreet on Friday. "It's very simple, it's fast, it's in a secure database — the restaurants don't have to worry about managing the data or holding on to it or releasing the data. The Department of Public Health people have direct access to the database." SimplyCast, a communication platform company based in Dartmouth, N.S., developed software that allows restaurants to collect information from customers through a single text message. Restaurants that sign up for the system will be provided a keyword that patrons will use to submit their name and phone number into a database. When they enter a participating restaurant, patrons will be asked to send the keyword via text message. They will then receive a confirmation code to show to the host before they can enter. "This actually logs their visit in a report that can be exported as needed for the specific time stamp," said Alyssa MacDougall, the content manager for SimplyCast. Restaurants and bars in the Halifax Regional Municipality and Hants County recently reopened to dine-in service after more than a month of restrictions brought on by multiple COVID-19 exposures. Now, all restaurants in the province may open for dine-in service but must close by 11 p.m. MacDougall said anyone who doesn't have a mobile device will still be able to submit their information online using a computer or tablet provided by the restaurant. Stewart said this new system allows restaurants to provide more accurate information to the Department of Health, which can start contact tracing immediately. "The challenge with tracing right now is it takes a long time," Stewart said. "So if you went to a restaurant a month ago and they gave you a bunch of paper with names and numbers on it, it's pretty hard to go through that, whereas you could take an automatic database, line it up and and you're away to the races right away." The system launched earlier this week. Stewart said he's still waiting for information about what restaurants have signed up for the service. MORE TOP STORIES
Un homme a été blessé gravement vers 10h30 ce matin, dans le secteur du lac Vert à Hébertville. Selon les informations rapportées par la Sûreté du Québec, l’arbre que l’homme buchait se serait abattu sur lui. L’individu, qui était seul, a eu besoin des secours des policiers et ambulancier pour le sortir de sa position. Il a ensuite été transporté en centre hospitalier, où l’on craint pour sa vie. Un enquêteur est actuellement sur place afin de déterminer les causes de l’accident. Janick Emond, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Lac St-Jean
MONTREAL — Quebec is reporting 2,225 new COVID-19 cases and 67 further deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. The number of hospitalizations dropped for a second day, this time by 22 for a total of 1,474 patients, with four fewer patients in intensive care for a total of 227. Health Minister Christian Dube tweeted that all Quebecers need to continue to follow public health rules to ensure cases and hospitalizations go down. The province's Health Department reported 2,430 more recoveries, for a total of 210,364. Quebec currently has 21,640 active cases. The province has now reported 240,970 confirmed infections and 9,005 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 2,225 new COVID-19 cases and 67 further deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. The number of hospitalizations dropped for a second day, this time by 22 for a total of 1,474 patients, and four fewer patients in intensive care for a total of 227. The province added 2,430 more recoveries, for a total of 210,364. The province has now reported 240,970 confirmed infections and 9,005 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. --- 10:45 a.m. Ontario is reporting 3,056 new cases of COVID-19 today along with 51 new deaths related to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliot says 903 of the latest diagnoses are in Toronto, with 639 in neighbouring Peel region and 283 in York Region. The province says 1,632 COVID-19 patients are currently in hospital, with 397 in intensive care. Elliott says the province had administered 189,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of 8 p.m. on Friday. --- 10:30 a.m. Ontario says a shipping delay from Pfizer BioNTech means residents who receive an initial dose of the company's COVID-19 vaccine will have to wait longer than expected to receive their second one. The government says long-term care residents and staff who have been inoculated already will wait up to an extra week before a second dose is administered. Anyone else receiving the Pfizer vaccine were initially supposed to get a econd dose after 21 days, but will now see that timetable extended to a maximum of 42 days. The government says it's on track to ensure all long-term care residents, essential caregivers and staff, the first priority group for the vaccine, receive their first dose by mid-February. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press
Northwest Territories health officials are urging anyone who has been in self-isolation in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1 to arrange for a COVID-19 test. On Thursday, public health officials said wastewater testing suggested there are one or more cases of COVID-19 in the area. The Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory also reports a "persistent positive COVID-19 signal in Hay River wastewater" collected on Jan. 11, said Dr. Andy Delli-Pizzi, N.W.T.'s deputy chief public health officer, in a news release issued Saturday. But so far, no one who has tested for COVID-19 since then has been a positive case, said Delli-Pizzi. "Currently, there is not enough information to confidently assess public risk," he said. "But with evidence pointing towards at least one undetected case of COVID-19 in Hay River, we are asking the public to assist in containing the situation quickly to prevent transmission." Public health officials are also asking anyone who is self-isolating because they entered N.W.T. from another jurisdiction, and has been in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1, to be tested. Residents who fit that criteria should be tested, regardless of symptoms. Previously, public health officials had focused on people who were self-isolating between Jan. 1-6. Public health officials are also urging essential workers, who were not self-isolating because they had an exemption to work in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1, to arrange for testing. "High-risk essential service workers" who are not symptomatic and were already tested as part of their permission to work, such as health-care workers, are exempt, said Delli-Pizzi. People who were self-isolating in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1, but who have since left those communities, should contact the local health centre to arrange for a test. Hay River testing clinic open this weekend To accommodate the testing, public health officials are extending the hours of a dedicated testing clinic. The testing clinic in Hay River, located at 52 Woodland Drive, will run Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Residents looking to get tested should call public health at 867-874-8400 to book an appointment and a public health nurse will call back. The nurse can also help with arrangements for transportation to the clinic for those who need it. Public health officials are urging those arriving for drive-thru testing to follow the signs, stay in their vehicles and wait their turn. They're also reminding people to wear a mask when they go for their test. Delli-Pizzi is reminding people that if they do get a positive result, public health officials will follow up for contact tracing and to try to find where a person may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Ottawa is reporting 136 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. Western Quebec has confirmed 43 new infections today. Today's Ottawa update Ottawa Public Health (OPH) recorded 136 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. OPH also declared 111 more cases resolved and reported no new deaths. The infection rate in Ottawa has risen to record levels since around Christmas, prompting OPH to declare the city is once again in a COVID-19 crisis. The current lockdown in eastern Ontario went into effect Dec. 26, and is now scheduled to last until Feb. 11. A provincial stay-at-home order is also in effect. Numbers to watch 88.9: The number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 Ottawa residents, down from Friday. 1.01: The average number of people infected by a single COVID-19 case, or R(t), has been in gradual decline this month but remains unchanged since Friday. OPH aims to keep the number below one. 4.1%: Ottawa's average test positivity percentage, down from 4.5 per cent. Across the region Health authorities in western Quebec are reporting 43 new cases of COVID-19 but no more deaths. Quebec's lockdown lasts until Feb. 8. It includes an 8 p.m. curfew that went into effect last weekend.
In order for a personal support worker employed in a long-term-care home to make ends meet in Toronto, they’d have to clock at least 50 hours every week. Here’s how the numbers break down: PSWs in unionized long-term-care homes start at about $20.80 per hour, and can earn up to about $22 hourly. If they are paid for 37.5 hours of work per week, they will gross $40,560 in a year at the starting rate, but the take home after tax is closer to $32,000. But this is over $10,000 short of the 2020 cost of living in Toronto, estimated by lowestrates.ca. The insurance company found that for a single person renting a one-bedroom apartment, the cost of living is close to $42,500. Meanwhile, in 2015, $55,117 was the median income for single-adult households in Toronto, according to Statistics Canada, which is just below the amount needed to meet the cost of living today, after tax. Someone earning that amount would only have to put in about 20 extra hours over the course of a year to make ends meet — less than half an hour a week. Cost of living can be greater too if the person is supporting a family, and it would be even more challenging if the person is the sole breadwinner for their household. Long-term-care homes have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, shedding light on a system that has been dysfunctional for years. With cases and deaths climbing in the sector, the need to address ongoing issues has been made all the more urgent. In Ottawa, a COVID-19 outbreak in a women’s shelter was linked to two long-term-care workers who were staying in the facility because they could no longer afford rent with their income. Where PSWs are concerned, there is no oversight body, like there is for nurses, which advocates say has caused issues with low pay, precarious work and high turnover. Matthew Cathmoir, the head of strategic research at the Service Employees International Union which represents health-care workers in Ontario, said PSWs wind up working as much overtime as possible to supplement their income. “They accept as much overtime as possible; they’ll work doubles. So, they’ll work a 16-hour shift, which is unsustainable ... it’s incredibly difficult work — hard on the body, hard on the mind (but) they have to do it,” he said. Many PSWs also had more than one job, which was restricted during the pandemic to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Pandemic pay has offered a $3 per hour wage bump for eligible long-term-care workers, but Cathmoir notes that there have been challenges with the rollout. All the while, in a recent survey the SEIU posed to its members working in long-term care, 92 per cent of the 700 or so respondents reported feeling overworked and understaffed during the pandemic. “It’s difficult work. It’s dangerous,” Cathmoir said. “It takes a special type of person to work, specifically, and that goes for all (health-care positions).” Angelyn Francis is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering equity and inequality. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Angelyn Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
Quelques semaines après avoir vu les images de vacanciers passant Noël dans des « tout inclus » au soleil, le député Maxime Blanchette-Joncas ne décolère pas, a pu constater Le Mouton Noir lors d’une entrevue. Il a encore en travers de la gorge le fait que ces voyageurs, partis pour des raisons non essentielles, puissent être admissibles à la Prestation canadienne de maladie pour la relance économique (PCMRE) de 1000 $ s’ils ne peuvent se présenter à leur travail en raison de la quarantaine obligatoire. Au tout début de l’année, le gouvernement Trudeau a pourtant réagi rapidement lorsqu’il s’est rendu compte qu’une zone grise dans son programme permettait des abus de ce type : à partir du 3 janvier, plus possible de s’engouffrer dans la faille, a prévenu le premier ministre. Insuffisant pour le Bloc québécois, qui veut que la rectification soit appliquée rétroactivement à partir de la date d’entrée en vigueur de la PCMRE, le 2 octobre dernier. « C’est un non-sens, c’est une aberration, c’est encore un cafouillage total, je dirais même que c’est de la sottise, un manque de jugement flagrant », s’emporte le député de Rimouski-Neigette-Témiscouata-Les Basques, qui assure qu’il se met au diapason de la population qu’il représente en utilisant un tel vocabulaire. « C’est la première fois que je voyais une telle révolte : les gens m’ont envoyé des milliers de messages, par courriel, sur les réseaux sociaux ou par téléphone. Ils étaient outrés de la situation, à raison. » On peut effectivement vérifier cette frustration sur les réseaux sociaux, où de nombreuses personnes ont partagé leur sentiment d’injustice : alors qu’elles se sont astreintes à respecter les règles sanitaires et n’ont reçu personne dans le temps des fêtes, voilà que d’autres voient leurs mojitos remboursés par le gouvernement fédéral (donc, in fine, par les contribuables restés bien sagement à la maison) qui leur avait pourtant fortement recommandé de ne pas voyager! Si certains de ces voyageurs ont touché les 1000 $ de PCMRE, ils doivent les rembourser, dit M. Blanchette-Joncas. Cela pourrait se faire au moment du rapport d’impôt, par exemple. Surtout, il ne veut aucune exemption pour ceux ayant voyagé avant que le gouvernement ne se rende compte de sa bourde, même si ces gens n’ont rien fait d’illégal – ils ont simplement ignoré une recommandation gouvernementale. « Pourquoi ça serait plus légitime pour la personne revenue le 25 décembre plutôt que le 3 janvier d’avoir accès à la PCMRE? On ne peut pas corriger une inégalité en en créant une autre! » Peu de gens concernés Le député rimouskois ne connait pas le nombre de personnes qui pourraient avoir bénéficié de la PCMRE après un voyager « dans le sud ». On peut penser qu’il est très faible puisque d’une part, les conditions pour en bénéficier sont assez restrictives : il faut avoir été empêché de retourner au travail par une quarantaine et ne bénéficier d’aucune autre prestation – cela exclut donc les étudiants, les retraités, les chômeurs ou tous ceux qui font du télétravail. Par ailleurs, avant que les médias ne mettent cette faille en évidence, bon nombre de voyageurs l’ignoraient tout bonnement… D’après les chiffres fournis par le gouvernement du Canada, il n’y a pas eu d’explosion de nombres de demandes de PCMRE dans la semaine du 27 décembre au 2 janvier, c’est-à-dire au moment où ceux partis pour Noël sont revenus. Au contraire, c’est la période où il y a eu le moins de demandes (20 600) depuis l’entrée en vigueur du programme en octobre, alors que certaines semaines, le cap des 60 000 demandes a été franchi. Maxime Blanchette-Joncas se défend de faire un « show de boucane » à partir d’un nombre marginal de profiteurs insouciants. Pour lui, peu importe « que ce soit 2500 personnes ou 40 personnes, c’est une question de principe ». La confiance que la population porte aux institutions en dépend, ajoute-t-il. Plutôt que de devoir corriger une situation qui a choqué la population, le gouvernement Trudeau aurait pu contrôler le flux de voyageurs en forçant les compagnies aériennes à rembourser les billets d’avion annulés plus tôt en 2020, comme cela a été fait en Europe, ajoute le député. Disposant plutôt d’un crédit voyage qu’elles ont eu peur de perdre, plusieurs personnes ont décidé de l’utiliser dans le temps des fêtes. « Quand on veut prévenir une situation, il faut agir. Le gouvernement fait la sourde oreille et pense régler la situation en faisant des remaniements ministériels en vue d’élections générales », assène le député Blanchette-Joncas. À entendre son ton combatif, nul doute que lui aussi est près pour partir en campagne…Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
A group of fishermen found the body of missing canoeist Kenneth Surette on Saturday in coastal waters off Yarmouth County. A search for Surette, 69, began Tuesday after the body of an unnamed woman was discovered along the shoreline of Morris Island, N.S. RCMP have said the pair were paddling together. Search and rescue crews scoured the area for two days and found their canoe on the morning of Jan. 13, also near Morris Island. Surette's body was recovered from the water near where his boat was found. RCMP Sgt. Andrew Joyce said it was "very, very fortunate" to have located the body, given how much tides and currents can move things around in coastal waters. The formal search was called off mid-week and turned over to the RCMP as a missing persons case, but Joyce said some local fishermen never stopped searching. Joyce said the RCMP investigation will continue at least until the provincial medical examiner completes an autopsy. RCMP are not classifying Surette's death as suspicious. MORE TOP STORIES
WASHINGTON — Far-right media personality Tim Gionet, who calls himself “Baked Alaska,” has been arrested by the FBI for his involvement in the riot at the U.S. Capitol, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. Gionet was arrested by federal agents in Houston on Saturday, according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter before the public release of a criminal complaint and spoke on condition of anonymity. Thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress was meeting to vote to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral win. Five people died in the mayhem. Law enforcement officials across the country have been working to locate and arrest suspects who committed federal crimes and so far have brought nearly 100 cases in federal court and the District of Columbia Superior Court. Gionet posted video that showed Trump supporters in “Make America Great Again” and “God Bless Trump” hats milling around and taking selfies with officers in the Capitol who calmly asked them to leave the premises. The Trump supporters talked among themselves, laughed, and told the officers and each other: “This is only the beginning.” Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Canada's Alimentation Couche-Tard and European retailer Carrefour SA have decided to work on partnership opportunities after takeover talks failed, the two companies said in a joint statement on Saturday. Couche-Tard dropped its 16.2 billion euro ($19.57 billion) bid for Carrefour after the French government opposed the deal, citing food security concerns. The decision to end merger talks came after a meeting on Friday between French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Couche-Tard's founder and chairman, Alain Bouchard.
LONDON — Michail Antonio scored in his first English Premier League start for West Ham since November in a 1-0 win over Burnley on Saturday. Antonio side-footed home from close range in the ninth minute after a left-wing cross from Pablo Fornals flicked off the top of Burnley defender Ben Mee's head and into the path of the West Ham forward, who was free at the back post. West Ham has missed the mobility and presence up front of Antonio, who was sidelined before Christmas with a hamstring injury and has been eased back into action by manager David Moyes given his importance to the team. He came on as a substitute against Southampton and Everton over the festive period, and played in the win over Rochdale in the FA Cup on Monday. Moyes has few other alternatives for the striker role, especially with Sebastien Haller recently leaving to join Ajax in the Netherlands, so keeping Antonio fit is particularly important if West Ham is to finish in the top half of the standings. Burnley thought it equalized before halftime when a cross by Chris Wood was turned into his own net by West Ham defender Aaron Cresswell, but the goal was disallowed because Wood was offside in the buildup. While West Ham is unbeaten in its last four league games, keeping three straight clean sheets in the process, Burnley has lost three of its last four games and dropped to fourth-to-last place, one above the relegation zone. Scoring is its biggest problem — Sean Dyche's team has just nine goals in 17 games, tied for the fewest in the league with last-placed Sheffield United. Relegation is a distinct possibility for the northwest club, which became the latest league team to be owned by Americans when ALK Capital’s sports investment arm, Velocity Sports Partners, bought an 84% stake in December. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Three Ontario Provincial Police officers and another person have been charged, while four other officers have been suspended in connection with an ongoing investigation into the towing industry in the GTA, the force said Saturday. In a news release, the OPP said its professional standards unit received an internal complaint in February of 2019 alleging members of the OPP Highway Safety Division were providing preferential treatment to tow operators within the Greater Toronto Area. A joint investigation involving the force's criminal investigation branch commenced in October of last year into the situation. Now, three OPP officers — all with more than 20 years of service — have been charged with secret commissions and breach of trust contrary to the Criminal Code. The officers are: 53-year-old Const. Simon Bridle, who is attached to the highway safety division's 407 detachment. 52-year-old Const. Mohammed Ali Hussain, with the Toronto detachment. 57-year-old Const. Bindo Showan, who is with the 407 detachment. Bridle has also been charged with obtaining sexual services for consideration, police say. Showan is currently out of the province, the OPP said, and a warrant has been issued for his arrest. The other officers were arrested earlier this week. 4 more OPP officers suspended with pay All three members have been or will be served notices of suspension with pay, the OPP said. Additionally, as a result of the criminal investigation, four more OPP officers — including two commissioned officers from the highway safety division — have been suspended with pay. These members remain under investigation but have not been charged with an offence, the OPP said. The OPP has also charged a 52-year-old Toronto man with aiding and abetting breach of trust and secret commissions. The accused is expected to appear in court on April 16 at the Ontario Court of Justice, Finch Avenue in Toronto. Investigators are asking anyone with information regarding this ongoing investigation to call the OPP non-emergency number at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers.
Fiona Brinkman, a researcher in bioinformatics and genomics at SFU, discusses the different COVID strains that have shown up in B.C. and the implications in our fight to beat the pandemic.
Britain's government said on Saturday it would give financial aid to airports before the end of March, after the industry called for urgent support as tighter COVID-19 rules for international travellers start on Monday. Aviation minister Robert Courts said the government would launch a new support program this month. "The Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme will help airports reduce their costs and we will be aiming to provide grants before the end of this financial year," he announced on social media, adding that more details would follow soon.
NEW YORK — All federal prisons in the United States have been placed on lockdown, with officials aiming to quell any potential violence that could arise behind bars as law enforcement prepares for potentially violent protests across the country in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. The lockdown at more than 120 federal Bureau of Prisons facilities took effect at 12 a.m. Saturday, according to an email to employees from the president of the union representing federal correctional officers. “In light of current events occurring around the country, and out of an abundance of caution, the decision has been made to secure all institutions,” the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement. The lockdown decision is precautionary, no specific information led to it and it is not in response to any significant events occurring inside facilities, the bureau said. To avoid backlash from inmates, the lockdown was not announced until after they were locked in their cells Friday evening. Shane Fausey, the president of the Council of Prison Locals, wrote in his email to staff that inmates should still be given access in small groups to showers, phones and email and can still be involved in preparing food and performing basic maintenance. Messages seeking comment were left with Fausey on Saturday. The agency last put in place a nationwide lockdown in April to combat the spread of the coronavirus. During a lockdown, inmates are kept in their cells most of the day and visiting is cancelled. Because of coronavirus, social visits only resumed in October, but many facilities have cancelled them again as infections spiked. One reason for the new nationwide lockdown is that the bureau is moving some of its Special Operations Response Teams from prison facilities to Washington, D.C., to bolster security after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Authorities are concerned there could be more violence, not only in the nation’s capital, but also at state capitals, before Trump leaves office Jan. 20. A Bureau of Prisons spokesman said the agency was co-ordinating with officials at the Justice Department to be ready to deploy as needed. Earlier this month, about 100 officers were sent to the Justice Department's headquarters to supplement security staff and were deputized by the U.S. Marshals Service and given special legal powers to “enforce federal criminal statutes and protect federal property and personnel,” said the spokesman, Justin Long. The specialized units typically respond to disturbances and other emergencies at prisons, such as riots, assaults, escapes and escape attempts, and hostage situations. Their absence can leave gaps in a prison’s emergency response and put remaining staff at risk. “The things that happen outside the walls could affect those working behind the walls,” Aaron McGlothin, a local union president at a federal prison in California. As the pandemic continues to menace federal inmates and staff, a federal lockup in Mendota, California, is also dealing with a possible case of tuberculosis. According to an email to staff Friday, an inmate at the medium-security facility has been placed in a negative pressure room after returning a positive skin test and an X-ray that indicated an active case of tuberculosis. The inmate was not showing symptoms of the lung disease and is undergoing further testing to confirm a diagnosis, the email said. As a precaution, all other inmates on the affected inmate’s unit were placed on quarantine status and given skin tests for tuberculosis. The bacterial disease is spread similarly to COVID-19, through droplets that an infected person expels by coughing, sneezing or through other activities such as singing and talking. Mendota also has 10 current inmate cases and six current staff cases of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, the last day for which data was available, there were 4,718 federal inmates and 2,049 Bureau of Prisons staff members with current positive tests for COVID-19. Since the first case was reported in March, 38,535 inmates and 3,553 staff have recovered from the virus. So far, 190 federal inmates and 3 staff members have died. __ Balsamo reported from Washington. __ On Twitter, follow Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak and Balsamo at twitter.com/mikebalsamo1 Michael R. Sisak And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
LAVAL, Que. — Alimentation Couche–Tard Inc. and the French grocer it was courting say they have abandoned takeover talks but will consider future operational partnerships. The Laval-based convenience store chain and Carrefour SA issued a joint statement saying they recently discussed a possible deal, but are no longer continuing with those conversations after recent events. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire told Couche-Tard founder Alain Boucher on Friday in Paris that he refused to let a potential $25-billion takeover proceed because he felt the deal would put food security at stake. Now Couche-Tard and Carrefour say they will look at how they can collaborate around fuel, purchasing volumes and private labels. They will also examine partnerships that use innovation to enhance the customer experience and optimize product distribution across their overlapping networks. If Couche-Tard's friendly takeover attempt had been approved, the Quebec company would have taken control of a fifth of France's groceries market and strengthened its international presence. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:ATD) The Canadian Press