The CBC's Rosemary Barton chats with Patricia Gauthier on details about when the first vaccines will arrive and timelines for future shipments.
The CBC's Rosemary Barton chats with Patricia Gauthier on details about when the first vaccines will arrive and timelines for future shipments.
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
WILMINGTON, Del. — In a dig at the outgoing Trump administration, President-elect Joe Biden said the team of scientific advisers he introduced Saturday will lead with "science and truth. We believe in both.” Biden is elevating the position of science adviser to Cabinet level, a White House first, and said that Eric Lander, a pioneer in mapping the human genome who is in line to be director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, is “one of the most brilliant guys I know.” Lander said Biden has tasked his advisers and “the whole scientific community and the American public” to “rise to this moment." Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris used the rollout of the science team to recall her late mother, a cancer researcher whom she credited with teaching her to think critically. “The science behind climate change is not a hoax. The science behind the virus is not partisan,” Harris said. “The same laws apply, the same evidence holds true regardless of whether or not you accept them.” Both Biden and Harris veered from their prepared texts to hold up the scientists as examples to children across the country. “Superheroes aren’t just about our imagination,” Harris said. “They are walking among us. They are teachers and doctors and scientists, they are vaccine researchers ... and you can grow up to be like them, too.” Lander is the founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and was the lead author of the first paper announcing the details of the human genome. He would be the first life scientist to have that White House job. His predecessor is a meteorologist. The president-elect is retaining the director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, who worked with Lander on the human genome project. Biden also named two prominent female scientists to co-chair the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Frances Arnold, a California Institute of Technology chemical engineer who won the 2018 Nobel Prize in chemistry, and MIT vice-president for research and geophysics professor Maria Zuber will lead the outside science advisory council. Lander held that position during Obama administration. Collins, in an email statement, called Lander “brilliant, visionary, exceptionally creative and highly effective in aspiring others.” “I predict he will have a profound transformational effect on American science,” Collins said. The job as director of science and technology policy requires Senate confirmation. Science organizations were also quick to praise Lander and the promotion of the science post to Cabinet level. Elevating the position "clearly signals the administration's intent to involve scientific expertise in every policy discussion,” said Sudip Parikh, chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general scientific society. Biden picked Princeton's Alondra Nelson, a social scientist who studies science, technology and social inequality, as deputy science policy chief. Lander, also a mathematician, is a professor of biology at both Harvard and MIT and his work has been cited nearly half a million times in scientific literature, one of the most among scientists. He has won numerous science prizes, including a MacArthur “genius” fellowship and a Breakthrough Prize, and is one of Pope Francis' scientific advisers. Lander has said in talks that an opportunity to explain science is his “Achilles' heel": “I love teaching and more than that, I firmly believe that no matter what I do in my own scientific career, the most important impact that I could ever have on the world is going to be through my students.” ___ Borenstein reported from Kensington, Maryland. Bioll Barrow And Seth Borenstein, The Associated Press
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
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Brazil's Vanessa Melo won a unanimous decision over Canadian bantamweight Sarah (Cheesecake) Moras on a UFC card Saturday. The judges scored it 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 for Melo, who came into the bout as a betting underdog. Moras's mouth fell open in surprise when the decision went against her. Former featherweight champion Max (Blessed) Holloway, ranked No. 1 among 145-pound contenders, faced No. 6 Calvin (The Boston Finisher) Kattar in Saturday's main event at Etihad Arena. Moras and Melo were originally slated to meet in November but the fight was pushed back to January. The five-foot-seven Moras, who held a two-inch height and reach advantage, looked to connect from distance in the first round. Moras kept circling, trying to avoid Melo's power, while attacking the Brazilian with low kicks and jabs. Moras (6-8-0) lost her mouthpiece early in the second round after absorbing a blow to the face and was soon bleeding from the nose and mouth. Melo kept coming forward with Moras dancing away. Melo fought off a late Moras takedown attempt in the round. It was more of the same in the third with Moras throwing jabs on the move and Melo unsuccessfully trying to chase her down. Both fighters were in need of a win. Moras, a native of Kelowna, B.C, who fights our of Las Vegas, has now lost five of her previous six fights. The 32-year-old was coming off a decision loss last May to Sijara (Sarj) Eubanks, currently ranked 14th among 135-pound contenders. It was the first outing for the Canadian since September 2019 when she defeated Georgia's Liana (She Wolf) Jojua by third-round TKO at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi. Melo (11-8-0) had lost all three of her previous UFC fights, all by decision. Moras, whose UFC career has been interrupted by injuries, is 3-6-0 in the promotion. Her Cheesecake nickname came after a friend dared her to come out to her first pro fight to the song "Cheesecake'" by the Muppets. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021 The Canadian Press
IQALUIT — A sliver of orange rose over Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, earlier this week, tinting the sky pink and the snow a purple hue. The sun washed over the frozen tundra and sparkling sea ice for an hour — and was gone. Monday marked the return of the sun in the Arctic community of about 1,700 after six weeks of darkness, but an overcast sky that day meant the light couldn't get through. Pamela Gross, Cambridge Bay's mayor, said the town gathered two days later, on a clear day, to celebrate. Gross, along with elders and residents, rushed down to the shore as the darkness broke around 10 a.m. "It was joyous. It's such a special feeling to see it come back," Gross said. Elders Mary Akariuk Kaotalok and Bessie Pihoak Omilgoetok, both in their 80s, were there. As Omilgoetok saw the sun rise, she was reminded of a tradition her grandparents taught her. Each person takes a drink of water to welcome and honour the sun, then throws the water toward it to ensure it returns the following year. Gross filled some Styrofoam cups with water and, after taking a sip, tossed the rest at the orange sky behind her. "I didn’t know about that tradition before. We learned about it through her memory being sparked through watching the sun rise." Although the sun's return was a happy moment, the past year was especially difficult for the community, Gross said. She wouldn't elaborate. "Being such a small community, people really know each other, so we feel community tragedies together. There were a few that we’ve gone through this year," she said. Gross said restrictions on gatherings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic meant losses in the community felt even more heavy. "It made it extra challenging to be close as a community ... and for your loved ones if they’re going through a hard time." Getting the sun back helps. "It's hard mentally to have a lack of sun, but the feeling of not having it for so long and seeing it return is so special. You can tell it uplifts everyone." The return of the sun is celebrated in communities across Nunavut. Igloolik, off northern Baffin Island, will see the sun return this weekend. But the community of about 1,600 postponed its annual return ceremony to March because of limits on gathering sizes during the pandemic. In the territory's more northern areas, the sun slips away day by day in the fall, then disappears for months at a time. Grise Fiord, the most northern community in Nunavut, loses sun from November to mid-February. But in the summer, the sun stays up 24 hours a day. Now that the sun has returned in Cambridge Bay, the community will gain 20 more minutes of light as each day passes. “The seasons are so drastic. It really gives you a sense of endurance knowing that you can get through challenging times," Gross said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. ___ This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News fellowship Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press
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
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
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.
BERLIN — Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus missed a penalty in a 1-1 draw with lowly Mainz while Leipzig again missed the chance to move to the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday. Leipzig, which was denied top spot in losing to Dortmund 3-1 last weekend, could manage only 2-2 at Wolfsburg and it remains a point behind league leader Bayern Munich. Bayern hosts Freiburg on Sunday. Dortmund was looking for its fourth win in five league games under new coach Edin Terzic but was frustrated by a committed performance from Mainz in Bo Svensson’s second game in charge. The draw was enough for Mainz to move off the bottom on goal difference from Schalke, which visits Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday. Dortmund got off to a fine start with Erling Haaland firing inside the left post in the second minute. But the goal was ruled out through VAR as Thomas Meunier was offside in the buildup. Jude Bellingham struck the post toward the end of the half and it was as close as Dortmund came to scoring before the break. Mainz defended doggedly and took its chance in the 57th when Levin Öztunali eluded Mats Hummels with a back-heel trick and let fly from 20 metres inside the top right corner. The visitors almost grabbed another shortly afterward when Alexander Hack struck the crossbar with a header. The 16-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko had just gone on for Dortmund and he played a decisive role for his side’s equalizer in the 73rd, keeping the ball in play before sending in a cross that was cleared by Mainz defender Phillipp Mwene – only as far as Meunier, who fired back in to equalize. Meunier was then fouled in the penalty area by Hack, giving Reus a chance to score from the spot. The Dortmund captain sent his kick outside of the left post. It could have been worse for Reus’ team as Mainz captain Danny Latza hit the post late on. Dortmund remained fourth, four points behind Bayern, which has a game in hand. Werder Bremen scored late to beat Augsburg 2-0 at home, Cologne drew with Hertha Berlin 0-0, and Hoffenheim vs. Arminia Bielefeld also ended scoreless. Stuttgart hosted Borussia Mönchengladbach in the late game. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press
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
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.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said it is "deeply disappointed" by Mexico's decision to close its investigation of ex-Defense Minister Salvador Cienfuegos, after the Mexican attorney general decided not to press charges. The decision, which Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador publicly backed on Friday, and a document dump by Mexico's government of U.S. evidence against Cienfuegos, threatens to strain strategic U.S.-Mexico security ties. On Friday, on Lopez Obrador's instructions, the foreign ministry tweeted the link to a 751-page document that included detailed logs of alleged Blackberry communications.
The organisers of the march called for a total review of legislation.View on euronews
Residents of the village of Pemberton, B.C., know their odds aren't good, but they are vowing to fight to keep the community's only bank. More than a dozen people spent Wednesday camped outside the Scotiabank holding signs saying, "Please Stay" and "Save our Bank." The local branch of the Scotiabank, which has been there for over 60 years, is set to close July 15, 2021, according to announcements posted on the doors last week. Customers are being told to take their business to the Whistler branch. But customers, the town council and local First Nations want the bank to stay. They believe it is an essential service in the fast growing community, and the drive to Whistler is not an option for many, especially during a pandemic. They also say online banking is a challenge because many in the area struggle with cell service and internet connections. There is a credit union in the village of 2,500, but many worry it won't be able to serve their needs. Marina Cruz, holding a sign saying "Please don't close our bank," said many local seniors and elders are worried about losing a familiar branch. "I feel so bad, because it is so important for me and all the seniors in town. It is ridiculous not to have a bank," Cruz said. "I want to cry right now," said Katherine Tekekwithia Peters after learning the news, listing off all the people who work there and have helped her over the years. "I've been dealing with them for 42 years. It is going to affect me and a lot of other people." An online petition has garnered more than 2,000 signatures as of Jan. 15. Village council voted Tuesday night to write a letter to the bank's headquarters to try to convince them to change their minds. Mayor Mike Richman says the local government wasn't given any warning the move was coming. "It feels like the kind of decision that was made, using a set of metrics, looking at numbers on a paper at a distance, not recognizing, the demographics of our town, the complexities of it and the level of growth," Richman said. A long drive Sheldon Dowswell, the chief administrative officer with the Lower Stl'atl'imx Tribal Council representing five of the 11 Stl'atl'imx Nation communities in the area consisting of about 2,700 people, said he was disappointed in the decision. "I'd say it is borderline between disappointment and anger," Dowswell said. "Connectivity can be very limited, definitely for at least three of our five First Nations. So having the ability to actually see somebody in person is super important." He says for some communities, the drive to Pemberton in bad weather can take three hours on forestry roads and up to five hours to Whistler. While some communities do arrange group transportation into Pemberton, lengthening the trip will add strain to already limited resources, he said. There is also fear that COVID will still be a major concern in July when the bank is slated to close. "I think people don't want to leave their homes anymore than they have to, and I think that you're adding a really unnecessary risk when going to a place like Whistler that is very heavy with tourists." Business community concerns The local Chamber of Commerce has also written a letter. President Steve McCloskey says there are federal regulations around the closures of bank branches and wants to make sure the decision was made with due process. "We understand that there are difficult business decisions that have to be made," he said. Some local businesses fear if people head to Whistler to do their banking, the money they take out may stay there. "There are a significant number of people that come to the bank on a regular basis on payday. They get their cheque, they get cash and they walk out of the bank with a fistful of dollars," said David MacKenzie, the general manager of the Pemberton Valley Lodge. "They just start basically spending that cash directly right here in our town, whether it be the grocery stores, drug store, liquor store, the deli." Not a decision made lightly: Scotiabank In a statement to CBC, Scotiabank said it did not make the decision lightly, and understands that this will have an impact on the Pemberton community. "We feel that this relocation will help us provide better service and greater resources to our customers in both Pemberton and Whistler," the statement went on to say. As for any potential job losses, the company says it is still finalizing its staffing plans and that it is working with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to ensure it follows all guidelines. The credit union in town, BlueShore Financial, says it is working to fill the gap. "We remain committed to Pemberton, " said CEO Chris Catliff. "We've been in operation for just coming up to 18 years, and don't see any changes."
The provincial government has begun vaccinating British Columbia's most vulnerable against COVID-19 and an advocacy group for people with Down syndrome is hoping the group it represents will be added to this priority queue. Wayne Leslie, CEO of the Burnaby-based Down Syndrome Resource Foundation (DSRF), laid out his reasons why in a letter addressed to Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry earlier this week. Down syndrome is a genetic condition that can result in physical, mental, and developmental disabilities and, as a result, people with the condition can have complex health and mental health needs. In his letter to Henry, Leslie says people over the age of 40 with Down syndrome can develop high-risk medical conditions that are comparable to someone over the age of 70 in the general population. Leslie's complete letter to the province on behalf of the DSRF can be found here. According to the foundation, the average life span of a person with Down syndrome is approximately 60 years. The average life expectancy for British Columbians, according to 2017 Statistics Canada data, is 84 for women and 79.9 for men. The province has taken a phased-in approach to its vaccination program, with the first available doses being doled out to front-line health-care workers, and staff and residents in long-term care facilities. After that, the plan is to primarily vaccinate people by age, beginning with the most elderly. The priority vaccine groups can be found here. Recommendations to province Leslie's letter makes two recommendations — that adults with Down syndrome over the age of 40 be considered high priority for vaccination, and that individuals with Down syndrome between the ages of 16 and 39 also be given priority consideration. His letter highlights that adults with Down syndrome are four times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and 10 times more likely to die from the virus. Leslie's statistics are based on research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in October that looked at a cohort of over eight million adults, of which just over 4,000 had Down syndrome. Twenty-seven of those with Down syndrome died of COVID-19. "One of the key reasons is that someone in their forties typically has the health issues associated with aging of the typical population in its seventies," Leslie told Stephen Quinn, host of CBC's The Early Edition, on Thursday. He said people with Down syndrome in the 16 to 39 category should be considered a priority because many individuals in that age group, due to the pandemic, are without critical programs and services such as mental health supports. People with developmental disabilities, including Down syndrome, often also depend heavily on predictable routines to successfully navigate daily life — routines that have been completely upended by COVID-19. "It's very hard for me and my friends," said 27-year-old Andrew Bingham, who has Down syndrome and is an ambassador for the foundation. Bingham said while he tries to stay connected with friends by text message, COVID-19 has already cost him a job, sports, and his social life. Provincial responses Premier John Horgan, addressing reporters on a wide range of issues Thursday, said he has received "piles of mail" from individuals and groups asking to be prioritized for a vaccine. "We want to start, I think the rule of thumb, is the older you are the more at risk you are," said Horgan. In a Thursday statement to CBC, the Ministry of Health said vaccines are not available to everyone at once and because of the challenges in storing and shipping the doses, certain groups have been prioritized. "As Dr. Henry has said, everybody is important in B.C. and everyone who the vaccine is recommended for will have access to it. But we know that some people are at higher risk, and that is why they are getting immunized first," said the statement. Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix will provide an update next week about when the general population in B.C. will be able to receive the vaccine. Leslie is optimistic the province will respond to his letter and consider his request. Using general population figures, the foundation estimates the Down syndrome population in B.C. to be somewhere between 3,500 and 4,000 people and about 2,000 of that group to be over age 16. Tap here to listen to Wayne Leslie and Andrew Bingham interviewed on CBC's The Early Edition.
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have signed defensive back Josh Johnson on a one-year contract extension. The four-year CFL veteran originally signed with Winnipeg in February 2020. Johnson has appeared 64 career regular-season games – including 58 starts — in stops with the B.C. Lions (2014-15), Ottawa Redblacks (2018), Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2018) and Edmonton (2019). Johnson started 17 games for Edmonton in 2019 at both halfback and cornerback, finishing with 43 tackles, two interceptions, one sack, nine pass knockdowns and one tackle for a loss. He has three interceptions in Edmonton’s Eastern semifinal win over the Montreal Alouettes, becoming the first player in the CFL to have three picks in a playoff game since Darrell Moir of Toronto in 1986. He added a team-high six tackles and a sack in the Eastern final loss to Hamilton. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press
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
TORONTO — Ontario Provincial Police say they've charged three of their own veteran officers and suspended four others over allegations of corruption related to the province's tow truck industry. The force alleges the accused officers provided preferential treatment to towing companies within the Greater Toronto Area.The charges and suspensions stemmed from an investigation first launched in October 2019. The officers facing charges all have at least 20 years of service with the OPP and served with either its Highway Safety Division or the Toronto detachment. Const. Simon Bridle and Const. Mohammed Ali Hussain were both arrested this past week, while a warrant is out for the arrest of Const. Bindo Showan who is believed to be out of the province. All three are charged with secret commissions and breach of trust, while Bridle faces an additional charge of obtaining sexual services for consideration. OPP says the four other officers remain under investigation, but are not currently facing any criminal charges. The Canadian Press
Moose Jaw Pride has opened a temporary warming space for anyone trying to get out of the cold in the southern Saskatchewan city's downtown, the non-profit organization says. "We know there are a lot of folks who spend their days outside with few options to warm up. With COVID, there are even less places and more rules to follow, so we decided to help out where we can," said Elliece Ramsey, a Moose Jaw Pride peer navigator, in a news release. The warming space, located at 345 Main St. N., will be open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday to Friday. The warming space shares a building with the Moose Jaw Pride offices and Rainbow Retro Thrift Shop, the release says. The warming centre is open to everyone and offers free hot coffee, snacks, free winter clothing, personal hygiene kits, books, and phone and internet access, the release says. People stopping by can also connect with a Pride peer navigator, who can provide companionship and help people access various community resources that offer services such as health care, shelter and food. Masks will be mandatory, and all visitors must adhere to physical distancing, per Saskatchewan's public health restrictions, the release said. Moose Jaw Pride already has a couple of partners who have offered food or financial support for the warming space. But the organization is looking for more groups to help, in order to extend the operational hours of the warming centre, the release says.
The recent discovery of about 100 dead and discarded turrs in Flatrock has one seabird biologist concerned about best hunting practice and lack of regulation. Bill Montevecchi told CBC Radio's The Broadcast images were sent to him after a hiker stumbled upon the flock of dead birds floating in the ocean and was worried there may have been a "catastrophe." But, he said, the best he could decipher from the images was that the birds were killed by hunters, and only their breasts had been taken while the carcasses were left behind to waste. "I get concerned. If somebody is going to shoot this magnificent bird, and cherry pick out the prime cut and then chuck the bird away, you know, you killed a bird that is quite fantastic," he said. "Eat it. Use it." Montevecchi said many hunters are agreeing with him that the scene in Flatrock this week was "cheating," while others have been on his case accusing him of wanting to halt the hunt. He said that isn't the case — that he supports the hunt, but doesn't support the overkill or wastefulness. Montevecchi acknowledged the fact that the possession limit is 40 birds, and that the large culling in Flatrock could have come from more than one person that day, meaning a group of hunters would have been within their limit. Even still, he said buying or selling migratory game birds — such as turr — and the fact that there were about 100 dead in the water is concerning. "If somebody is breasting birds, and there's more than 100, I really hope those aren't being sold. But, I have no idea," he said. "Let's assume it's from three guys, they're not over their possession limit, and they're going to eat the birds. But, they still chucked an awful lot of it away. I just have trouble resolving it." Bigger problems But Montevecchi said the bigger problem is with the regulators, such as Environment Canada, which he says aren't doing their jobs. "It's like they're hiding under a rock or something," he said. "And don't take my word for it. Ask any hunter, look on social media, they know." He said the RCMP can also enforce federal regulations, and game wardens in Newfoundland and Labrador can do the same if asked. As for Environment Canada, he said it's turning a blind eye to the problem and should be accountable for the population of turr. "We know in Witless Bay the murres are having a really tough time, and those are the common murres. Mostly what gets hunted here and the thick-billed murres from the Arctic," he said. "[The] Canadian Wildlife Service and Environment Canada says those populations are OK, but I think there's a lot of uncertainty in those estimates." Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador