Police were out in force early and opened fire in different parts of the biggest city of Yangon after stun grenades, tear gas and shots in the air failed to break up crowds. Several wounded people were hauled away by fellow protesters, leaving bloody smears on pavements, media images showed. "Police and military forces have confronted peaceful demonstrations, using lethal force and less-than-lethal force that – according to credible information received by the UN Human Rights Office – has left at least 18 people dead and over 30 wounded," the U.N. human rights office said.
(Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit) Health Canada's approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India's version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca's product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine. "I think Canada is hungry for vaccines," Sharma said in a briefing. "We're putting more on the buffet table to be used." Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca's vaccines added to Canada's options. "Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it's still reasonably good," Hota said. "What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this." Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX. WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine overview: Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. Here's a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out. What's different about this shot? The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material. AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna's product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.) The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca's vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world. "There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible," Hota said. Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca's vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. "We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations," Sharma said, based on a preprint. Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. How does it work? Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader. The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus. Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can't grow in humans. Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won't work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus. AstraZeneca is working on reformulating its vaccine to address more transmissible variants of coronavirus. How and where could it be used? Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities. "I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination," said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control. Boxes with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. "The reason why I'm encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally." Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. WATCH | Performance of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine so far: There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902) in the control group. No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy. Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the office of an Opposition legislature member. His denunciation came on Saturday shortly after Edmonton MLA Janis Irwin posted pictures showing the front window spray-painted with the words "Antifa Liar." Kenney issued a social media post Saturday saying that while there are "countless ways" to register disagreement with a lawmaker, but "vandalism is not one of them." He also noted that "many other MLA offices have been vandalized in recent months" and condemned those responsible. The premier was criticized for taking days to denounce anti-lockdown demonstrators who marched in Edmonton last weekend, some carrying tiki torches, which Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said are widely considered symbols of white supremacy and racism in that context. The NDP leader issued a tweet of her own some time after Kenney's, saying all forms of racism, misogyny and hate should be called out and she was proud to have Irwin on her team. Irwin, who is her party's critic for women and LGBTQ issues, said on Twitter that the vandalism has left her "sad and angry," but added her feelings are just "a fraction" of what members of racialized groups and other marginalized communities feel every day. Irwin said she's reported the incident to police and plans to talk with them about the possibility it may be connected to previous hateful messages she's received. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Two regions in Ontario are being placed back into lockdown shortly after leaving the province’s strictest pandemic measure. This comes after a rise in the number of COVID-19 and B.1.1.7 variant cases. As Morganne Campbell reports, business owners appear to be at their wits end over the province's approach to managing the pandemic.
LAGOS, Nigeria — Students, teachers and relatives abducted two weeks ago from a school in northern Nigeria have been freed. The students, teachers and family members were abducted Feb. 17 by gunmen from the Government Science College Kagara. Niger State Gov. Abubakar Sani Bello said he received 24 students, six staff and eight relatives on Saturday after they were released early in the morning. This number released differed from the 42 people that the governor had originally said were kidnapped by the attackers, indicating some may still be missing. The discrepancy was not explained. One of the students has been hospitalized for excessive exhaustion, he said, adding that the released will be medically checked and monitored for a few days before being reunited with family. Sani Bello said that joint efforts of security, traditional leaders and stakeholders helped secure the release. Their release was announced a day after police said gunmen had abducted 317 girls from a boarding school elsewhere in northern Nigeria, in Zamfara state. One resident said the gunmen also attacked a nearby military camp and checkpoint, preventing soldiers from interfering with the mass abduction. Several large groups of armed men operate in Zamfara state, described by the government as bandits, and are known to kidnap for money and to push for the release of their members from jail. Masauda Umar, 20, managed to escape from the school when the men arrived Friday. She told The Associated Press the bandits came to their sleeping quarters and after knocking on the main door, they hit the people who answered it and made everyone gather. “I was coming out from the door and I met somebody but ran back and hid under my bed,” she said. “I’m scared of going back to school because of what happened really got me scared but I will go back if the government tackles insecurity.” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said Friday the government’s primary objective is to get all the school hostages returned safe, alive and unharmed. “We will not succumb to blackmail by bandits and criminals who target innocent school students in the expectation of huge ransom payments,” he said. “Let bandits, kidnappers and terrorists not entertain any illusions that they are more powerful than the government.” Nigeria has seen several such attacks and kidnappings over the years, notably the mass abduction in April 2014 by jihadist group Boko Haram of 276 girls from the secondary school in Chibok in Borno state. More than a hundred of the girls are still missing. In December, 344 students were abducted from the Government Science Secondary School Kankara in Katsina State. They were eventually released. Sam Olukoya, The Associated Press
Toronto police say a 37-year-old man has been charged in the death of his mother, who they allege died after calling first responders seeking help while walking in a west-end park. They say Kathleen Hatcher of Toronto was located in the trail area of King's Mill Park on Friday morning with significant injuries. Hatcher was transported to hospital where she was pronounced dead. Police spokesman Const. Alex Li says Colin Hatcher, the victim's son, is now facing a charge of second-degree murder in the case. He declined to release the cause of Kathleen Hatcher's death and says the investigation is ongoing. Li says anyone who may have witnessed the incident, which he says took place along a popular walking route, is being urged to come forward. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
One of the provinces that's largely escaped the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly moved to stem a burgeoning outbreak on Saturday, while Canada's two long-standing virus hot spots marked a grim anniversary and braced to pass some sobering milestones in their respective fights against the pandemic. Prince Edward Island's newly announced "circuit-breaker" measures, which limit gathering sizes and social circles, are meant to clamp down on an outbreak of COVID-19 that officials believe is linked to the variant of the virus that first emerged in the United Kingdom. "We do seem to be stuck in this tangled spider's web of COVID and it won't really let us out of its grip," P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said Saturday. The measures come into effect Sunday and are set to last two weeks. They also prohibit indoor dining and receptions for weddings and funerals, while limiting occupancy in retail stores and gyms. The province counted six new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, all among people in their 20s. None of the cases are linked to travel outside the province. P.E.I. has had 127 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, 10 per cent of which are currently active. Ontario, meanwhile, is poised to cross the 300,000 case threshold on Sunday after the 1,185 new infections counted Saturday pushed the overall tally to 299,754. The province has been logging roughly 1,000 new cases per day in recent weeks. Ontario is also approaching 7,000 total deaths linked to the virus, with 6,960 recorded as of Saturday. The province is taking a regional approach to its pandemic response, and is set to push two public health units back into lockdown on Monday -- Simcoe-Muskoka and Thunder Bay. Meanwhile, restrictions will loosen Monday in the Niagara Region, Chatham-Kent; Middlesex-London; Southwestern; Haldimand-Norfolk; Huron Perth; and Grey Bruce public health regions. Meanwhile Quebec, Ontario's neighbour to the east, marked one year since detecting its first case of COVID-19. In that time, it's seen 287,003 cases of the virus, including 858 that were announced Saturday. It also logged 13 more deaths for a total of 10,385. But Premier Francois Legault said there was reason for optimism, as the infection rate has been relatively stable and the province has begun vaccinating members of the general public in some regions. "We should receive around 175,000 doses of vaccine per week in March and therefore we will move quickly," Legault wrote. "We still have a few critical weeks ahead of us, especially because of the spring break and the new variants." The province has 34 confirmed variant cases with 30 of them identified as the B.1.1.7 mutation first detected in the U.K. Elsewhere, New Brunswick reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, while Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador each added four. Manitoba recorded 88 new cases of the virus and four more deaths, while Saskatchewan added five deaths and 162 new infections. Alberta, meanwhile, reported six new deaths linked to COVID-19 and 415 new diagnoses. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The U.S. is getting a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19, as the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two. Health experts are anxiously awaiting a one-and-done option to help speed vaccinations, as they race against a virus that already has killed more than 510,000 people in the U.S. and is mutating in increasingly worrisome ways. The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents — protection that remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading. “The more vaccines that have high efficacy that we can get into play, the better,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said ahead of the FDA’s ruling. Shipments of a few million doses to be divided among states could begin as early as Monday. By the end of March, J&J has said it expects to deliver 20 million doses to the U.S., and 100 million by summer. J&J also is seeking authorization for emergency use of its vaccine in Europe and from the World Health Organization. Worldwide, the company aims to produce about 1 billion doses globally by the end of the year. On Thursday, the island nation of Bahrain became the first to clear its use. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Lauran Neergaard And Matthew Perrone, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department said Saturday it will appeal a judge’s ruling that found the federal government’s eviction moratorium was unconstitutional. Prosecutors filed a notice in the case on Saturday evening, saying that it was appealing the matter the to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge J. Campbell Barker ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevented had overstepped its authority and that the moratorium was unlawful. “Although the COVID-19 pandemic persists, so does the Constitution,” the judge wrote. The CDC eviction moratorium was signed in September by President Donald Trump and extended by President Joe Biden until March 31. Barker, who was nominated by Trump in 2018 to serve in the Eastern District of Texas, stopped short of issuing an injunction in the case. Several property owners had brought the litigation arguing that the federal government didn’t have the legal authority to stop evictions. “The federal government cannot say that it has ever before invoked its power over interstate commerce to impose a residential eviction moratorium,” Barker wrote. “It did not do so during the deadly Spanish Flu pandemic. Nor did it invoke such a power during the exigencies of the Great Depression. The federal government has not claimed such a power at any point during our Nation’s history until last year.” State and local governments had approved eviction moratoriums early in the pandemic for many renters, but many of those protections have already expired. To be eligible for protection, renters must have an income of $198,000 or less for couples filing jointly, or $99,000 for single filers; demonstrate they’ve sought government help to pay rent; declare that they can’t pay because of COVID-19 hardships; and affirm that they are likely to become homeless if evicted. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A first-ever Bassmasters Elite Series win is within Canadian Jeff Gustafson's grasp. The angler from Kenora, Ont., continues to lead the Elite Series event on the Tennessee River heading into the final round Sunday. Gustafson remained atop the leaderboard after weighing a five-fish limit of 15 pounds five ounces Saturday for an overall total of 48 pounds 13 ounces. American Steve Kennedy is second overall with 40 pounds 15 ounces. Kennedy's total of 20 pounds 14 ounces Saturday was tops among the 50 anglers competing in the semifinal round with Gustafson's limit second. Gustafson and Kennedy will be among the anglers vying for the US$100,000 top prize Sunday. The top-10 finishers through Saturday's round qualified for the final day of competition. Gustafson is one of just five anglers who'll compete Sunday to have posted a five-fish limit in all three previous rounds. Gustafson is vying to become just the second Canadian to win a Bassmaster Elite Series event. Chris Johnston, of Peterborough, Ont., accomplished the feat last year. Both Johnston and his older brother, Cory, of Cavan, Ont., competed in the semifinal round Saturday. Cory Johnston finished 45th overall (18 pounds, nine ounces) while Chris Johnston was 50th (13 pounds 12 ounces). All three Canadians are in their third season with the Elite Series and qualified last year for the Bassmaster Classic, the circuit's premier event that offers a $300,000 prize for the tournament winner. Gustafson's best-ever Elite Series finish was second in 2019. This will mark the fourth time he's cracked the top-10 in a circuit event. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021 The Canadian Press
(CBC - image credit) Stephen Welch has been in the book business for almost 40 years. For the last 15, he's operated his store on Saint-Viateur Street in Mile End, catering to the intellectuals and artists who make the neighbourhood a cultural hub. But now, facing a significant commercial rent hike, Welch says he's being forced out of his space. "At a certain point a buzz happens. And that's when large developers start to see that there's something going on on the street and want to get in on the action," he told CBC News. "You can be paying a fairly low rate as I was and then, when the lease is up, they can put it up as much as they want." Welch said his current lease ends in August, but when he tried to negotiate with the building's owner, real estate developer Shiller Lavy, they weren't able to come to an agreement. "I just said I want the same deal for two years and they said no, no no, we want the moon," said Welch. "I understand that Shiller Lavy is a business and they want to make money, that's what they're doing. But it doesn't have to be predatory and profits don't have to be so high as to alter and change the street." Developer Danny Lavy told CBC News in a phone interview that Welch's rent was originally low because he had a long-term lease with an outdated rate. He said the current hike amounts to an increase of about $1,500 per month. Lavy said he had no choice but to up the cost of rent for the bookstore because of what he pays in property taxes and insurance on the building. The storefront of S. W. Welch bookstore now has a 'for rent' sign in the window. For Welch, the hike comes after a particularly difficult financial year for non-essential businesses. "It's a pandemic, there's no tourists on the street, I was closed three months last year," he said. It's also the second time Welch has had to move because of increasing commercial rents. Welch was priced out of his previous location on St-Laurent Boulevard as real estate on the strip became more in demand. He added that small, independent shops like his give character to the neighbourhood and make it a destination. "You go to anywhere in Canada or the U.S., you go to the main strip, you're going to see exactly the same thing, the same big box stores, the same fast food stores. There's very little diversity. Holding onto diversity is a great thing if you can." Stephen Welch said he tried to negotiate with his landlord, but they were not able to come to an arrangement. More protections needed, says city councillor Welch said he'd like the province to bring in new legislation to protect small businesses from being driven out of trendy areas. Richard Ryan, city councillor for Mile End, told CBC News that there is a provincial registry designed to monitor commercial rent increases but it's not mandatory. He said making this registry mandatory was a key recommendation following city consultations on vacant storefronts in commercial areas. Ryan added that this is not the first time businesses in the area have suffered and closed due to sudden rental increases. He gave the example of the indie cafe and event space Le Cagibi, which was formerly located at the corner of St-Laurent Boulevard at St-Viateur Street. The business was forced to close and relocate to Little Italy due to a similar substantial rent increase. Lorraine Lévesque is the owner of Bohême Vintage in Mile End. Across the street from S. W. Welch, a vintage clothing store owner said she's worried the Mile End is losing a lot of the character that makes it unique. Lorraine Lévesque has been in business in the same spot since 1997, and has seen a shift recently. "It's been really bad. Because you can see vacant stores all the time, and it's just, it's killing the neighbourhood," said Lévesque. Lévesque said if the Mile End is to retain its characteristic charm, there needs to be limits on commercial rents the way there are on residential properties in Quebec. "We would wish that someone with some power could do something."
LONDON — Church bells rang out and a World War II-era plane flew Saturday over the funeral service of Captain Tom Moore to honour of the veteran who single-handedly raised millions of pounds for Britain's health workers by walking laps in his backyard. Soldiers performed ceremonial duties at the private service for Moore, who died Feb. 2 at age 100 after testing positive for COVID-19. Captain Tom, as he became known, inspired the U.K. during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic with his humble endeavour that raised almost 33 million pounds ($46 million) for Britain's National Health Service last year. The private service was small, attended by just eight members of the veteran's immediate family. But soldiers carried his coffin, draped in the Union flag, from the hearse to a crematorium and formed a ceremonial guard. Others performed a gun salute before a C-47 Dakota military transport plane flew past. “Daddy, you always told us ‘Best foot forward’ and true to your word, that’s what you did last year," Moore's daughter Lucy Teixeira said at the service. “I know you will be watching us chuckling, saying ‘Don’t be too sad as something has to get you in the end.’" His other daughter, Hannah Ingram-Moore, said the world was “enthralled” by her father's “spirt of hope, positivity and resilience.” “They, too, saw your belief in kindness and the fundamental goodness of the human spirit," she said. The service featured music that reflected the man being honoured, opening with the rendition of “You'll Never Walk Alone” that Moore recorded for charity with Michael Ball and the NHS Voices of Care Choir. The song reached number one in the U.K. singles charts last April. Singer Michael Bublé recorded a version of “Smile" for the funeral, and as requested by Moore, Frank Sinatra's “My Way” was played. A bugler sounded “The Last Post” to close the service. A church in Bedfordshire, England, where the family is based, rang its bell 100 times in Moore's honour. A post on Moore's Twitter account invited his admirers to remember him Saturday with a cup of tea and a slice of Victoria sponge cake Moore, who served in India, Burma and Sumatra during World War II, set out to raise a modest 1,000 pounds for Britain’s NHS by walking 100 laps of his backyard by his 100th birthday last year. But donations poured in from across Britain and beyond as his quest went viral, catching the imagination of millions stuck at home during the first wave of the pandemic. His positive attitude - “Please remember, tomorrow will be a good day” became his trademark phrase - inspired the nation at a time of crisis. Prime Minister Boris Johnson described him as a “hero in the truest sense of the word.? He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in July in a socially distanced ceremony at Windsor Castle, west of London. ___ A previous version was corrected to show the C-47 Dakota was a military transport plane, not a jet. Sylvia Hui, The Associated Press
People can view a spectacular projection display on the exterior of the two connected Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) - Qaumajuq buildings. The outdoor projections will feature contemporary artwork and imagery by Inuit artists along with Northern footage by Destination Nunavut, Travel Manitoba, and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). Leading up to the Qaumajuq’s grand opening in late March, the display will be played between 6 and 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays every 30 minutes until March 27. “We wanted to do something that would get the community excited about this historic opening, something that Winnipeggers could be inspired by during lockdown, all while showcasing Inuit artists,” said Amy Rebecca Harrison, Engagement Supervisor of the WAG on Tuesday. “The projections can be enjoyed outside from a safe distance while strolling past the gallery. Now that we're able to be open to the public again, visitors can enjoy both.” The series is curated by Jocelyn Piirainen, WAG-Qaumajuq Assistant Curator of Inuit Art, with video work by Glenn Gear and Zacharias Kunuk who are Inuit artists featured in Qaumajuq’s inaugural exhibition INUA. A video that uses archival footage from the NFB collection will also be displayed to show travellers coming together, children tending to the dog team, drum dancing as well as other Inuit artists and artworks. “It shows the importance of the qamotik ("sled") and the vastness and harshness of the arctic as crucial elements to the Inuit cultural heritage,” said Harrison. “Artist Geronimo Inutiq uses these archives as an opportunity to reconnect to Inuit heritage. These clips were selected by Geronimo to honour the ancestors and family members of artists and community members.” Inuk multimedia artist Geronimo Inutiq has also provided a dynamic soundscape throughout the display. The illumination will be on the WAG exterior wall facing Memorial Boulevard and the Qaumajuq facade facing St. Mary Avenue in downtown Winnipeg. Following the projections, a Northern Lights-inspired display will be presented outside the WAG-Qaumajuq buildings starting Feb. 28 on Sunday to Thursday nights until March 31. As well, the public can also enjoy two newly unveiled sculptures placed outside the buildings. One of the sculptures, Tuniigusiia/The Gift by Goota Ashoona, is a marble statue that is meant to reflect knowledge transfer through education and storytelling, as well as the important role played by teachers. The other sculpture is the Time to Play by Abraham Anghik Ruben, a large limestone carving of a family of bears playing. Visitors are advised to dress warmly as it might be cold while they walk around the buildings. This showcase is part of #Qaumajuq365, the Inuit art centre’s inaugural year. Qaumajuq aims to provide a new home for the world’s largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world. “Qaumajuq is all about celebrating the North in the South, and this series of projections is an amazing example of that,” said Stephen D. Borys, Director & CEO of Winnipeg Art Gallery in a press release. “The light of Qaumajuq is shining brighter as we get closer to the opening of the Inuit art centre in just a few weeks, and we invite everyone to come out for this safe outdoor activity.” Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun
CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island is introducing what it describes as new "circuit-breaker measures" to try to curb a recent spike in COVID-19 diagnoses that cannot be linked to travel outside the province. "We need to wrap our arms around this virus and prevent it from spreading to the full extent that we can," Premier Dennis King said at an unscheduled briefing late Saturday. "We will continue to ask people to stay apart as much as possible while at the same time being as active socially and physically as possible because we have learned over time how important both those aspects are to our overall well-being." The new restrictions, which take effect on Sunday, will limit gatherings to an immediate household, plus a consistent circle of 10 contacts. Sporting events, tournaments and competitions will be banned but team practices can continue. Organized gatherings for concerts, worship services and movies will be limited to 50 people while gyms, museums, retail stores and libraries can operate at 50 per cent capacity with additional cleaning. Restaurants can remain open for takeout and delivery only, while personal services may operate on an appointment basis provided masks are worn. The tighter restrictions are needed to "interrupt the chain of transmission," said Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief medical officer of health. "As this outbreak continues to evolve in the coming days, we are expecting to receive more positive cases," she said. "This outbreak is likely going to get worse before it begins to get better." Her comments came as the province reported six new COVID-19 infections, all among patients in their 20s. The province has recorded 14 new cases in four days – 12 of which have no connection to travel outside the province. Prince Edward Island has remained relatively unscathed by the pandemic, going long stretches without new infections. King said the current outbreak is not only disappointing but also worrisome, as the province is operating under the assumption that the new cases are a more contagious variant of the novel coronavirus. "It's discouraging from the perspective of all Islanders simply because we've done very, very well to date and we can see the finish line but we do seem to be stuck in this tangled spider's web of COVID and it won't really let us out of its grip." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Exactly a year after New Zealand recorded its first coronavirus case, the biggest city of Auckland woke on Sunday to a second lockdown this month, as authorities try to rein in a cluster of the more contagious UK variant. The seven-day lockdown of a population of nearly 2 million, announced late on Saturday by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, was prompted by the case of a person who had been infectious for a week but not in isolation. "It is more than likely there will be additional cases in the community," Ardern told a televised news conference, although no new cases were recorded on Sunday.
TORONTO — An Ontario cottage-country mayor called for a more flexible approach to COVID-19 containment on Saturday ahead of both new lockdown measures for his municipality and a sobering milestone in the province's efforts to curb virus transmission. The province's overall case count since the onset of the global pandemic inched towards 300,000, driven in part by rising numbers of infections linked to virus variants of concern. The 1,185 new infections added to the provincial total on Saturday pushed the overall tally to 299,754. The province, which has been logging around 1,000 new cases a day in recent weeks, is poised to cross the 300,000 threshold on Sunday. The rising number of cases tied to virus variants, which grew by 31 on Saturday, prompted the province to trigger a so-called "emergency brake" in the Thunder Bay and Muskoka Simcoe public health units on Friday in a bid to limit further transmission. The move didn't sit right with Bracebridge, Ont., Mayor Graydon Smith, who said the decision doesn't account for differences in infection rates within the Muskoka region. Smith wants the county's medical officer of health to treat Muskoka differently, saying most of the elevated infections are in the southern portion of the county in cities like Barrie, Ont. "While we recognize we're all one health unit, there are certainly different conditions and situations within that health unit that make us feel like we might be unduly affected by that blunt an instrument," Smith said in a telephone interview. Smith said the broad brush the government is deploying stands to harm local businesses struggling to get back on their feet after a provincewide stay-at-home order that only lifted two weeks ago. "I think business owners who have just been given an opportunity to get open and start functioning a little bit closer to normal right now are seeing that go away again, especially in the restaurant, beauty salon, gym side," he said. But another affected mayor said there were statistically sound reasons for a shift to the grey phase of the province's colour-coded pandemic response plan. Speaking ahead of the government's Friday announcement, Thunder Bay, Ont., Mayor Bill Mauro said the local public health unit had recorded more COVID-19 cases in February than throughout all of 2020. "We're in a difficult spot right now,'' he said at the time. "Clearly there is a situation here that we don't see ending in the near term.'' But even as two units prepare to see tighter public health restrictions take effect, such measures are set to ease in several other regions. The Niagara Region, Chatham-Kent, Middlesex-London, Southwestern, Haldimand-Norfolk, Huron Perth, and Grey Bruce will all move to less restrictive tiers of the province's pandemic response framework. Saturday's case counts showed long-standing COVID-19 hot spots continuing to lead the province in new infections. Health Minister Christine Elliott said Toronto saw 331 new cases in the past 24 hours, nearby Peel Region recorded 220 and York Region logged 119. Hospitalizations in the province declined by three to 680, with 276 patients in intensive care and 182 on a ventilator. Ontario is also nearing 7,000 total pandemic-related deaths, with the 16 reported on Saturday pushing the provincial total to 6,960. The province reached 200,000 cases 54 days ago on Jan. 5. Infection rates have slowed somewhat during that period — it took the province 47 days to progress from 100,000 to 200,000 total cases. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. Ross Marowits, The Canadian Press
(Submitted by AHS/Leah Hennel - image credit) Alberta reported 415 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and six more deaths from the illness. The number of active cases increased by 41 across the province, according to the latest update from Alberta Health, bringing the total to 4,546. Active cases have been trending up since over the past two weeks, after the daily average dropped to around 300 cases in mid-February. Cases of COVID-19 virus variants, of the kind that first surfaced in the U.K., increased by 30 to 393, the latest numbers show. Hospitalizations dropped by seven to 262 on Saturday, including 51 people who are being treated for COVID-19 in intensive care units. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer, often notes that hospitalization rates regularly follow the trend of active cases, but are delayed by one to two weeks. An additional 11,396 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered since the last update. As of Saturday, 218,696 doses had been administered, with 85,442 Albertans fully immunized with a second shot. Of the six reported deaths Saturday, two were women in their 90s linked to the outbreak at Bethany Meadows long-term care facility in Camrose. A man in his 40s from the South Zone died in connection to the outbreak at The Valleyview long-term care facility in Medicine Hat. While Alberta Health would not provide further information about the man's connection to the long-term care facility, the number of health-care workers who have died from COVID-19 remained unchanged, at six, according to Saturday's numbers. Other reported deaths included a man in his 50s and a woman in her 60s, both from the Calgary Zone, as well as a man in his 80s connected to the outbreak at the Revera Aspen Ridge supportive living site in Red Deer. Since the outset of the pandemic, 1,883 people have died from COVID-19 in Alberta. Here is the breakdown of active cases by health zone: Calgary zone: 1,545 Edmonton zone: 926 Central zone: 702 South zone: 314 North zone: 1,044 Unknown: 15
WINNIPEG — Manitoba Opposition New Democrats are promising to create a new Crown corporation to improve internet and cellular service in northern and rural areas. Delegates to the party's annual convention passed a resolution that calls for a government entity that would use Manitoba Hydro infrastructure to extend broadband connectivity. Party Leader Wab Kinew supports the idea and says the party will now have to work out the details. The Manitoba government issued a request for proposals from businesses last year that might be interested in the work, and that process is still underway. NDP delegates passed more than 20 other resolutions, including calls for a higher minimum wage, higher staffing levels in health care and a ban on new pipelines and fracking. Kinew says he thinks the NDP could raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the end of a first term in government. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021 The Canadian Press
The Canadian Medical Association has nominated its first Indigenous president-elect. Dr. Alika Lafontaine of Grand Prairie, Alta., is set to be confirmed as the CMA's president-elect at an annual general meeting in August. The association's presidency is rotated among the provinces, and Alberta's doctors chose Lafontaine, who has Anishinaabe, Cree, Metis and Pacific Islander ancestry. The CMA says he was born in Treaty 4 territory in southern Saskatchewan. The association notes that Lafontaine co-led the Indigenous Health Alliance from 2013 to 2017, a "health transformation project" involving 150 First Nations and several national health organizations. Once Lafontaine's nomination is ratified at the August meeting, he will officially become president-elect. His presidency is set to begin in August 2022. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Some students in Newfoundland and Labrador are headed back to school. Students in the central, western and northern parts of the province will return to in-class instruction starting on Wednesday, Education Minister Tom Osborne and Newfoundland and Labrador English School District CEO Tony Stack announced Friday. “I want to think Dr. Fitzgerald for her guidance with these enhanced protocols to keep students and staff safe in light of the new realities of the COVID-19 variant,” said Osborne. “I know these are significant changes for students, parents, teachers and staff, but as the chief medical officer of health indicated, the variant is a new virus. “Her guidance is meant to keep us safe.” The announcement comes on the heels of Friday’s public health update from the province’s chief medical officer of health. Dr. Janice Fitzgerald informed people the Avalon Peninsula will be held under Alert Level 5 of the pandemic response plan, while the rest of the province would move to Alert Level 4 starting at midnight Friday. Under Scenario 3 of the return-to-school plan, schools on the Avalon Peninsula will remain in virtual sessions for the next two weeks. That will take them to March 12 before a decision will be made to return students to in-school sessions. There is a provision to allow students with complex needs to have access to in-school learning if their families want to take advantage of that. The rest of the province’s students will spend the first two days of next week taking part in virtual classes and will return to in-school sessions on Wednesday. "Ordinarily, it is a 14-day cycle for most schools and all of the curriculum interaction will occur within those 14 days. It is just that it is going to be 50 per cent of the time,” said Stack. Further to the division for in-school sessions, schools in the other regions of the province will be further divided. Those schools that can manage it will return to Scenario 1 — close to normal — while others will move to Scenario 2 for intermediate and high school classes. That means those classes will be cut in half and students will attend sessions under a staggered schedule of in-school and virtual learning. There are 50 schools that will fall under this scenario, typically schools with high enrolment. Regardless of which of the above scenarios a school falls under, there are universal public health regulations that will be set for them. Students from kindergarten to Grade 3 are not required to wear a mask during the school day, but they will be required to wear one while on the bus. All students from Grade 4 to Grade 12 will be required to wear masks all day whether in class or on the school bus. Students in Grade 7 to Grade 12 are required to keep a distance of two metres (six feet) between them at all times. Staff will be required to wear a Level1 medical mask and a face shield at all times while teaching, and at any other time when a two-metre distance cannot be maintained. Personal protective equipment will be provided by the district. The school board does not anticipate when there will be a return of extracurricular activities such as school sports, choirs and bands. “I trust the guidance of Public Health and our chief medical officer of health,” said Osborne. “With the additional protocols that have been put in place, I believe that our schools are as safe as they can be and our early learning and child-care centres are as safe as they can be.” Included in the announcement was the indication that outside the Avalon Peninsula, regulated child care will be allowed to return to full capacity. Masks and face shields are mandatory. Because of this, the provincial government will no longer reimburse fees of absentee children for centres. As long as Avalon child-care centres stay in the current status, the government will to pay those fees. In a news release Friday afternoon, the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association said some of the increased health precautions were the correct move, but the NLTA has some concerns. The association said the decision to keep Avalon Peninsula schools under Scenario 3 is the right decision, and it supports some of the public health measures enacted for schools in other regions. “However, we still have concerns about the ability of many schools to maintain effective student cohorting and the continued challenges they will face with respect to proper physical distancing and poor ventilation,” NLTA president Dean Ingram stated. “We would certainly like to know more about what role interactions at school and school-sponsored activities played in the recent outbreak and how this, and the science around the B.1.1.7 virus variant, have been factored into the decisions made. “An abundance of caution should always be the rule.” The NLTA also sought clarification on whether teachers will be included in the second phase of vaccine rollouts around the province and said schools should not be the weak link in the province’s COVID-19 response. “Schools are where all of our homes, workplaces and community contacts come together,” said Ingram. “Strengthening protections for students and staff, and by extension their families, to make school re-entry safe and sustainable for all should be the focus.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice