After witnessing firsthand the devastation in New York City during the first months of the pandemic, funeral director Pat Marmo has a renewed appreciation for life. (Dec. 16)
After witnessing firsthand the devastation in New York City during the first months of the pandemic, funeral director Pat Marmo has a renewed appreciation for life. (Dec. 16)
OTTAWA — As new cases of COVID-19 surge across Canada, the federal government and the provinces have been imposing stricter measures to try to limit the illness's spread. The Canadian Press interviewed three leading Canadian experts in disease control and epidemiology, asking their thoughts on Canada's handling of the pandemic, the new restrictions on activities — and what else can be done. Here's what they had to say. John Brownstein, Montreal-born Harvard University epidemiologist and chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital Having a national testing strategy in Canada that uses rapid tests people could do at home would limit the spread of the virus, Brownstein says. "That would enable us to get insight on infection and actually have people isolate," he says. No such tests have been approved in Canada yet. "We've been saying this all along, so it's not just a purely Canadian issue, but having a strategy that implements that kind of information would go a long way to drive infections down in communities while we wait for the vaccine." Brownstein says curfews have unintended consequences because they force people to get together over a shorter period of time during the day. "We haven't seen a lot of evidence that curfews have driven down infection." He says a mix of testing and quarantine is the best way to make sure international travellers don't cause outbreaks when they return from the pandemic hot spots. Testing alone is not enough, he says, because tests can come back negative during the novel coronavirus's incubation period; people should be careful about relying on test results that could give a false sense of security. Brownstein says pandemic fatigue is real and the governments' support for people suffering in the crisis should continue. He says promoting low-risk activities, including walking and exercising outdoors, is also important. "Whatever we can do to allow for people to spend more time outside, probably the better." David Juncker, professor of medicine and chair of the department of biomedical engineering at McGill University Canada needs a national strategy for how to use rapid tests for the virus that causes COVID-19, says Juncker. Juncker is an adviser for Rapid Test and Trace, an organization advocating for a mass rapid-testing system across Canada. "Initially the Canadian government (spoke) against (rapid tests) and then they pivoted sometime in October or September," he says. The federal government then bought thousands of rapid tests and sent them to the provinces, where they've mostly sat unused. "Every province is trying to come up with their own way of trying them — running their own individual pilots. There's a lack of exchange of information and lack of guidelines in terms of how to best deploy them," he says. Juncker says the testing regime based on swabs collected in central testing sites was working in the summer but it collapsed in the fall. He says medical professionals prefer those tests because they are more accurate and can detect low levels of the virus, which is important for diagnoses, but rapid tests can be useful for public health through sheer volume, if they're used properly. A federal advisory panel's report released Friday, laying out the best uses for different kinds of tests, is a step in the right direction, he says. "I'm happy to see we're slowly shifting from the point of view of 'Should we use rapid tests?' to a point of view (of) 'How can we best use them?'" More recent research suggests that rapid tests are more accurate than was previously thought, he says. "We still don't have enough capacity to test everyone so we'd have to use them in a strategic way." Juncker says the lockdowns in Ontario and Quebec should have happened earlier in the fall, when cases started to rise. He says the late lockdowns in Canada won't be as effective as those in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, where early lockdowns effectively stopped the disease from spreading. "Countries that were most aggressive early on, are the ones that have, I think, the best outcome." He says countries where health decisions are fragmented across the country, including Canada, have added challenges. "If you live in Ottawa-Gatineau, you have one province (that) allows one thing, the other province allows another thing, so this creates confusion among the citizens," he said. Donald Sheppard, chair of the department of microbiology and immunology in the faculty of medicine at McGill University and member of Canada's COVID-19 therapeutics task force: Canada's federal-provincial sharing of power over health care is highly inefficient and has led to major problems, says Sheppard. "There's a lot breakdown in communication, a lot of territorialism. It's greatly impacted the efficiency of the response," he says. The problems in long-term care homes are examples. "Quebec is screaming they want money but they're refusing to sign on to the minimum standards of long term care," he says. "I think it's heinous." He says highly centralized authority and decision-making has had a stifling effect on innovation. "It puts up roadblocks, and has led to the Canadian health-care system having lost any attempt to be innovative and nimble," he says. Sheppard says he doesn't think there will be mass vaccinations for Canadians this summer and the September timetable that the federal government is talking about for vaccinating everybody is optimistic. "Remember that we don't have vaccines that are approved in under-11-year-olds," he says. "There will still be opportunities for the virus to circulate in children, particularly children are in school settings." He suggested that the current immunization campaign's goal is not herd immunity, eliminating transmission of the virus and rendering is extinct. "The goal here is to create an iron wall of immunity around the 'susceptibles' in our population, such that this becomes a virus of the same public health importance as influenza." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2020 ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON — Albertans will be able to visit hair salons and tattoo parlours today as the province relaxes a few of its COVID-19 restrictions. Starting today, personal and wellness services, including hair salons and tattoo parlours, can open by appointment only. Outdoor social gatherings, which were previously banned, will be allowed in groups of up to 10 people. And the limit on the number of people who can attend funerals is increasing to 20, although receptions are still prohibited. Health Minister Tyler Shandro said last week that Alberta can't entirely ease up, but that it can make small adjustments to provide Albertans with some limited activities. Alberta's chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said that easing rules now will act as a test case, and that COVID-19 case numbers will have to be lower before any other restrictions are loosened. Since early December when COVID-19 infections spiked to well over 1,000 a day, outdoor gatherings were banned and restaurants and bars were limited to delivery and takeout. Casinos, gyms, recreation centres, libraries and theatres were closed. Retail stores and churches were allowed to open but at 15 per cent capacity. Alberta reported 750 new COVID-19 cases Sunday and 19 more deaths. Hinshaw said officials looked at the province's COVID-19 data along with research from other parts of the world, and she said funerals, outdoor gatherings and personal service businesses show a lower level of risk for transmission. Shandro said last week that hospitalizations and case numbers remain high and pose a threat to the province's health system capacity. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
A new study paints a troubling portrait of potential climate change impacts on Arctic char in Labrador, amid calls for more research to better understand what the future holds for the species that occupies a place of immense value in Canada's North. The study, published recently in the journal Nature Climate Change, is the result of years of field and laboratory work by a team of Canadian scientists. The researchers spent several summers sampling migratory Arctic char — the variant of the fish that moves from fresh to saltwater and back again — in rivers across the region, from its northern reaches in the Torngat Mountains all the way south to the tip of Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula. The study then analyzed the fish's genetic data and, combined with climate modelling from 2050, concluded the southernmost fish are the most vulnerable and "may be unable to adapt to pervasive warming in the Arctic." "What we think we're seeing with this data is that we can expect there to be declines in this region for decades to come, essentially. That we expect that we will be losing those migratory [southern] populations," said Kara Layton, a study co-author and an associate professor at Aberdeen University in Scotland. Predicting that the char will shift northward falls in line with already known science, said Layton. "We have seen this already in things, like plants and birds and that, so we know these sorts of trends, and this loss of the southern range contraction is happening elsewhere," she said. Scientific research on Labrador's Arctic char stocks is fairly thin, with study co-author Ian Bradbury saying the new work has helped map out the char's DNA and fill in some blanks about population, past and present. But overall, there's no solid understanding of just how many fish are out there. "We've started to scratch the surface in understanding which populations are going to be vulnerable, of Arctic char in Labrador. But I still think there's a lot of unknowns in terms of understanding how many individuals we have there and what the magnitude of these changes that are coming actually will be," said Bradbury, a research scientist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in St. John's. Labrador is predicted to warm much more than the island portion of the province, according to provincial climate data that shows Nain could be 7.3 C warmer in winter by 2050. With the new Arctic char knowledge assembled and published, Bradbury said it gives both scientists and communities information to help direct work around the species in a rapidly changing world. "It's something that I think really does further stress the need to mitigate climate change impacts, and it does give us something that we can start to monitor, so that we can start to prepare for these changes as they occur," he said. 'Crying' for more science: harvesters Arctic char is a highly prized traditional food in Inuit communities, such as the five within Nunatisavut territory on Labrador's north coast. The only commercial fishery for Arctic char in Newfoundland and Labrador is based in that region, where the Torngat Fish Producers Co-operative holds the distinction of operating the province's northernmost fish plant, in Nain. The head of the co-op said he doesn't get any comfort from the study's findings that his region's char could fare better than its southern counterparts. While Keith Watts welcomes the new research, he said far more of it needs to be done. "We've been crying and asking for more science from DFO, because it is their responsibility, for quite some time — decades," said Watts, the co-op's general manager. Watts said the co-op's annual harvest is well below the DFO-set quota, taking only up to 40 per cent of what's allowed. People in Nunatsiavut can also fish their own Arctic char through the Inuit domestic harvest program, but as Watts said that amount is also largely untracked, he's concerned about increasing commercial fishing in the face of so many unknowns. "We're not comfortable with the fact that there's not enough science on the abundance of the species. We don't want to put it into jeopardy," he said. From a business standpoint, the co-op's small catch doesn't make the Arctic char fishery viable, Watts said. The co-op offsets those losses from more lucrative species, as well as subsidies from the Nunatsiavut government, to ensure people can buy the fish either in Nain or the co-op's storefront in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. "Arctic char is very important to Nunatsiavut people and always has been, and always will be. Because of the decline of other things, such as caribou, and food insecurity in the north coast, Arctic char is very important," said Watts. Labrador: 'at the forefront of climate change' That cultural importance is not only cultural, but also ecological. Labrador's Arctic char live throughout the entire region's coast, which means they've adapted to very different temperature conditions, that Layton and Bradbury said can vary by as much as 10 C from its southern to northern edges, or what they call a "steep environmental gradient." That range in latitude, in a rapidly warming world, means an uncertain future for Labrador. "It's a region that I really think is going to be at the forefront of climate change impacts," said Bradbury. As such impacts happen, the char could act as a bellwether for Labrador's larger biodiversity, and better understanding how Arctic char have evolved to their current surroundings by looking at their DNA could help. "We know that its a really, really important species, and one that can tell us a lot, I think, about climate impacts more broadly," said Bradbury. As Watts and the co-op call for more science to be done, there is more research in the works. The Torngat Wildlife, Plants and Fisheries Secretariat is setting up a char-counting fence in the Fraser River, which empties into Nain Bay. Watts said the work was delayed for a year due to the pandemic. Bradbury said he'll continue the study's work, with more genetic sampling of char to come in summers ahead, in the hopes of refining their predictions and figuring out how many fish the future holds. "I think the only way we're actually going to start to get at that is through continued monitoring, and being in Labrador, and using some of these new approaches to start quantifying changes as we see them," he said. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
A woman involved in a fatal collision on Circle Drive last week says barriers separating lanes on the busy stretch of road might have saved the life of a 24-year-old woman. Nicole Gamble was on her way back to the Beardy's and Okemasis's Cree Nation with her husband Hilary when their vehicle was struck head on by a car that had travelled the wrong way into their lane. The woman driving that car died at the scene. Gamble's dealing with bumps and bruises all over and a shattered wrist, and says both she and her husband, who was driving, are feeling sore following the collision — one she says might have not ended in tragedy if something had been separating traffic. "Maybe if there was a barrier, that may have helped to save her life," Gamble said in a phone interview Sunday. What exactly happened on Circle Drive North on Friday that resulted in the collision, which took place between College and Attridge Drive, is still under investigation by the Saskatoon Police Service's collision analyst unit. But Gamble said while the crash appeared to happen in "slow motion," it took place in an instant. "I just looked up and I see the vehicle flying across the other side of the road," she said, as she was texting her children to let them know they were on the way home. "It jumped through the meridian … the little ditch thing, and it just came straight for us. I just remember closing my eyes. It happened so fast, I can still hear the metal crunching. I can't sleep at night thinking of it." She and her family have been smudging and praying for the young woman who lost her life, noting it was a life ended far too soon. "She was too young to go," Gamble said, the pain clear in her voice. "She was just a baby herself." Both her and her husband extend their condolences to the family who is mourning and want to thank those who helped them out of the wreck, which closed traffic for several hours as police responded. Ward 3 Councillor David Kirton campaigned on traffic safety during the recent municipal election. Kirton, who worked as a reporter before he was a city councillor, recalls covering serious collisions on this same stretch of road in the past. Now he hopes to raise the issue of barriers in the area with city administration to see if something can be done to make the stretch of road safer. Kirton says the fact the road has seen more than one serious collision should be enough for the city to take action, without having to do a number of studies to find out the area is dangerous. "We have our own statistical information that this happens, and obviously, it's happened a number of times too many when we have, not just one, but more than one loss of life over the last number of years," he said. "I would love to be able to talk to administration and see if there might be a way that we can get past our mind sometimes, on studies and statistics, and think about, well I guess, the reality that is out there — and that reality took a tragic turn on Friday," he said. When CBC reached out to the City of Saskatoon for a response to the concerns, a city representative pointed to a post on the city's official Twitter account where it indicated it's aware of the incident, noting that sections of Circle Drive "have been identified to receive safety barriers from the Municipal Economic Enhancement Program."
The Trump administration notified Huawei suppliers, including chipmaker Intel, that it is revoking certain licenses to sell to the Chinese company and intends to reject dozens of other applications to supply the telecommunications firm, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The action - likely the last against Huawei Technologies under Republican President Donald Trump - is the latest in a long-running effort to weaken the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker, which Washington sees as a national security threat. The notices came amid a flurry of U.S. efforts against China in the final days of Trump's administration.
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia is now the first jurisdiction in North America to implement presumed consent around organ donation, a move health officials believe could see a significant rise in the number of donors over the next few years. Legislation passed in April 2019 finally took effect Monday following more than 18 months of work to ensure provincial systems were equipped to handle the change. Under the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act, all people in Nova Scotia will be considered potential organ donors unless they opt out. "To my knowledge nobody else is close to considering this, but many places are thinking about it," said Dr. Stephen Beed, medical director of Nova Scotia's organ and tissue donation program. "We have an opportunity to transform a component of the health care system and that just does not happen very often." In an interview last week, Beed said the work to bolster the province's organ donation program has focused on planning, education and public awareness. He said the system has, in effect, been "rebooted" with the recruitment of several donation physicians and an increase to the number of system coordinators, who have also seen a change in their training. Overall, 27 new professionals have been brought into the system over the last three years. In addition, a donation data system has been developed to assess the program's performance. The province plans to spend $3.2 million this fiscal year to bolster the system. "Overall I honestly think that the system change is the most important part," Beed said of the shift to presumed consent. He said that was the message delivered to Premier Stephen McNeil when he first approached health officials with the idea for the legislation. "We said, 'If you change the law all you really have is words on a piece of paper, but if you change the law and then support the redesign of our system then you have reason to be optimistic'." Beed said organ donation rates increased by as much as 35 per cent in European countries such as Belgium and Spain after they adopted an opt-out system, though he noted other jurisdictions that made the switch have had the opposite experience. But one prospective organ recipient said the success stories abroad have left her more optimistic about matters closer to home. "I am very proud that Nova Scotia is the trailblazer for this," said Anita MacDonnell of Halifax, who is awaiting a kidney transplant. "I was very encouraged when they announced this back in 2019." MacDonnell, who turns 60 on Wednesday, was approved for a new kidney last May and started dialysis in October. She and her friend Brenda Mackenzie, also of Halifax, suffer from a genetic kidney disease that has seen several of their siblings and both of their mothers require transplants in the past. Both women undergo dialysis three nights a week for four hours at a time and liken the life-saving process to having a part-time job. Mackenzie, 60, describes her wait for a kidney as "pretty nerve-wracking." "So I guess my hope obviously would be that with this (change) that so many more people would be able to be transplanted," she said. "That's what the ultimate hope is." The new approach hasn't received universal support on its way to becoming provincial law. Some civil libertarians balked at the legislation when it was first proposed, raising concerns around governments having the power to tell people what to do with their bodies. Other opponents expressed potential cultural and religious concerns about the move. Beed said he believes those issues have been addressed through the development of an opt-out registry and safeguards such as double checking with families to ensure the last known wishes of a potential donor are honoured. Those who tell their families that they don't want to be donors will see those instructions respected, he said, even if they haven't formally opted out. In addition, certain groups will be exempt such as new immigrants, transient residents of Nova Scotia, and people who don't have capacity to make their own decisions. Beed said talks are also continuing with leaders of religious and faith communities to ensure they are "engaged" with the system. Peggy John, the acting director for the organ and tissue donation and transplantation program at Canadian Blood Services, agrees the opt out program will only be as good as the strength of the system put in place to support it. John, whose organization is the national collaborating body for provincial transplant systems, said the end goal should be to increase the opportunities for transplant for patients who are in need. According to the most recent figures compiled by Canadian Blood Services, 250 Canadians died while waiting for a transplant in 2019 — an increase from 223 in 2018. They also showed that Canada still has a shortage of organs, with 4,419 patients still waiting for transplants at the end of 2019. John said the new Nova Scotia law will be an opportunity to observe and to learn about what might work elsewhere to potentially boost donation rates. "We are keen to see what's going to happen," she said. "We know they (Nova Scotia) have been approaching this in the right way and we will continue to watch what the outcome will be." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press
Armin Laschet, the new leader of Germany's Christian Democrats, has yet to convince voters he would be a better choice than Bavarian premier Markus Soeder to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel after elections in September, a poll showed on Monday. Centrist Laschet positioned himself on Saturday as the man to heal divisions among Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) after party delegates chose him to lead the party, putting him in pole position to succeed her as chancellor. However, 36% of voters would still prefer Soeder to be chancellor candidate for Merkel's conservative alliance, a survey of 2,000 voters by pollster Forsa for broadcaster RTL/ntv conducted after Saturday's vote showed.
Miramichi Youth House has stepped up and started the process to bring a homeless shelter for adults to the Miramichi. The group's mandate is to provide services to youth ages 16 to 19. The youth house, running under executive director Samantha Fairweather, provides overnight shelter beds, low cost housing and an outreach program. But Fairweather, like many others working in the sector in Miramichi, sees a desperate for services for adults. "Unfortunately, it just seemed that nothing was being done, nothing was coming to life," she said. "So that's where we were inspired to create the project manager position." Fairweather applied to Reaching Home, a federal grant program, and received funding to hire someone. Kaitlin Carroll left her job as a social worker with Horizon Health to become the project manager of the homeless shelter. "It was something that I felt very passionate about," said Carroll. She said exact numbers are hard to come by, but working with different agencies in the region, she estimates there are anywhere from 40 to 80 people experiencing homelessness. "We have folks sleeping in wooded areas in tents, cardboard boxes (and) other types of shelters, sleeping in condemned buildings, cars, breaking into places to stay warm, bank vestibules." said Carroll. And then there are the people who are less visible, those who are couch surfing. "That is the urgent need that is boiling over in our community," said Carroll. She said Miramichi Youth House receives calls on a weekly basis from people looking for a place to stay. After doing a survey of the province and country to see what has worked in other centres of a similar size, Carroll decided the place to start is a six to eight bed shelter, set up in a retrofitted house. The shelter would be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Carroll said the Department of Social Development has made an NB Housing unit available, but Robert Duguay, director of communications with the department said the location is still up for discussion. "We are still having discussions to determine how the province can support this initiative," he said. "The type of support will depend on the specifics of the project, funding by other levels of government, as well as stakeholders and the needs identified within the community." Carroll said funding is the barrier every step of the way. She said operational costs are covered, but salaries have not, and Carroll said a number of grant requests have been written and different groups in the Miramichi region have been approached. She'll know by February if the applications were successful, so the best case scenario is the shelter is open in March. "We're ready to press the go button," she said. It can't happen soon enough for Patricia Michaud, executive director of the Miramichi Emergency Centre for Women. Her shelter would normally have 12 beds for woman and children fleeing domestic violence, but since COVID restrictions came into affect, only seven spaces are available, and they are all currently full. Michaud said the shelter receives five to 10 calls a month from women who fall outside her mandate, and she can't accept them. "It's horrible and we hate doing that," she said, adding that exceptions are sometimes made but it depends on how much space is available. "There's always been someone trying to open up something, trying to get a homeless shelter because we've helped them with stats and things like that, but it's never come to fruition," said Michaud. "It's desperately needed." She said she's spoken to Carroll, and has seen how far the project has come in a short time and is hopeful it will happen. But Carroll isn't stopping at a shelter because she understands it's not a solution to the problem. The next step is affordable housing. Miramichi has a 1.3 per cent vacancy rate, much lower than Campbellton's, a city of comparable size, whose vacancy rate is 4.2, according to Statistics Canada. "There's a lot of luxury townhouses and apartments, but not a lot in the affordable housing range," said Carroll. She said it's too early to go into details, but the group is also working on two affordable housing developments, one on each side of the Miramichi River.
TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed Monday to get the pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympics this summer with ample coronavirus protection. In a speech opening a new Parliament session, Suga said his government would revise laws to make anti-virus measures enforceable with penalties and compensation. Early in the pandemic, Japan was able to keep its virus caseload manageable with non-binding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing and for people to stay home. But recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes toward the anti-virus measures, and doubts are growing as more contagious variants spread while people wait for vaccines and the Olympics draw closer. Suga said his government aims to start vaccinations as early as late February. “In order to restore sense of safety, I will get the coronavirus pandemic, which has raged worldwide and is now severely affecting Japan, under control as soon as possible,” Suga said. “I will stand at the frontline of the battle while I get the people's co-operation." Suga pledged to achieve the Olympics as “a proof of human victory against the coronavirus." “We will have full anti-infection measures in place and proceed with preparation with a determination to achieve the Games that can deliver hope and courage throughout the world," he said. Recent media polls show about 80% of the Japanese public think the Olympics will not or should not happen. Suga said the vaccine is the “clincher” of the pandemic and hopes to start vaccination when Japan's Health Ministry is expected to approve the vaccine developed by Pfizer, one of three foreign suppliers to Japan, as early as late February. But the pace of inoculation could be slow, as surveys have shown many people have safety concerns. Suga later told reporters that he created a new ministerial post to ensure smooth delivery of safe and effective vaccines, appointing Administrative Reform Minister Taro Kono to double as vaccine minister. Suga also said in his speech, just two days ahead of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, that he hoped to meet the new American leader soon to further strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance and to co-operate on the pandemic, climate change and other key issues. Japan has confirmed more than 330,000 infections and 4,500 deaths from COVID-19, numbers that have surged recently though they are still far smaller than many other countries of its size. Suga on Jan. 7 issued a state of emergency for the Tokyo area and expanded the step last Wednesday as the surge in infections strained medical systems. But he has been criticized for being slow to put preventative measures in place after the new surge began, apparently due to his government’s reluctance to further hurt the economy. He kept the state-subsidized “Go To” travel promotion campaign active until late December, which critics say misguided the public when people needed to practice more restraint. Suga in Monday’s speech made no mention of the “Go To” campaign, which was designed to support the tourism industry devastated by the pandemic. The state of emergency — covering more than half of Japan’s 127 million people — asks bars and restaurants to close by 8 p.m., employees to have 70% of their staff work from home and residents to avoid leaving home for nonessential purposes. It's set to end Feb. 7 but could be extended. One of the proposed changes to anti-virus measures would legalize compensation for business owners who co-operate with such measures and allow fines or imprisonment for those who defy them. Suga's government also plans to revise the infectious disease law to allow authorities to penalize patients who refuse to be hospitalized or co-operate with health officials, Economy Revitalization Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, in charge of virus measures, said on a NHK public television talk show Sunday. Health officials believe a growing number of people are defying instructions from health officials to self-isolate or be hospitalized, spreading the virus and making contact tracing difficult. Opposition lawmakers and experts are cautious about punishment for the patients, citing human rights concerns. They also say such punishment is pointless when hospitals are running out of beds and forcing hundreds of people to wait at home. ___ Follow Mari Yamaguchi on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 18, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 27,451 new vaccinations administered for a total of 570,742 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,505.944 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 761,500 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 74.95 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,506 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,769 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,713 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 43.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 8,838 new vaccinations administered for a total of 146,694 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.144 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 162,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 90.45 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 11,007 new vaccinations administered for a total of 200,097 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.622 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 72.22 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.832 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 33,625 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 40.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 3,232 new vaccinations administered for a total of 20,159 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.096 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 24,400 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.62 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 4,374 new vaccinations administered for a total of 85,935 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.522 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 84,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 102.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 75,914 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.794 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 99,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.31 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,184 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 28.372 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.44 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 983 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 25.383 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.38 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
David Pontone's voice still shakes as he recalls having to crawl out of Toronto's Humber River Hospital on his hands and knees. "The pain was unbearable," said Pontone. "To be able to walk properly was impossible." It happened on April 18, 2018, but involved a lengthy battle for his family to obtain video footage of the event. The 45-year-old had gone to emergency, complaining of excruciating pain in his legs. Pontone also told medical staff he took medication for bipolar affective disorder — a mental illness that causes severe depression and episodes of mania — but that he'd been stable for seven years. He says that disclosure affected his treatment. "They thought I was faking it because I was bipolar," Pontone told Go Public. "There are no words to describe what I went through that night." One of Canada's leading psychiatric experts says overlooking serious physical health issues in people who struggle with mental illness is a widespread problem — and that it can severely shorten their lifespans. "We are failing this population miserably," said Dr. Vicky Stergiopoulos, psychiatrist and physician-in-chief at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada's largest mental health teaching hospital. WATCH | Video shows man crawling from hospital after calls for help dismissed: "They go in for a broken leg and get sent to psychiatry to check their head." Pontone says he hopes sharing his story will prevent others from experiencing an ordeal like his. "I was mistreated. Misjudged. It should never be repeated, with any person," he said. When Pontone arrived at emergency he was seen by a doctor who ordered an MRI but also referred him to an on-call psychiatrist after learning about his mental illness. In medical records obtained by Go Public, the psychiatrist noted that "anxiety" seemed to be Pontone's most dominant symptom — despite Pontone having said he was in a great deal of pain and had been suffering from increasing leg pain for a month. Another note says the reason for Pontone's visit is "bipolar" — not his inability to walk. When the MRI didn't find anything unusual, the psychiatrist discharged Pontone. "As soon as they got the results … they took off the blankets and started saying, 'Come on, get up! You're fine, there's nothing wrong with you!'" said Pontone. 'Totally helpless' Video cameras at the exit captured Pontone as he was ordered to leave. The footage shows Pontone lying on the hallway floor, struggling to stand. As he gets to his hands and knees and crawls toward the exit, a nurse walks next to him, escorting him out. Passersby stop to look at the spectacle, but the nurse encourages Pontone to keep going. "The nurse kept saying, 'You're a big boy! You're strong! Come on, big boy, stand up!'" said Pontone. "I've always been a gentleman, but I was angry. I felt totally helpless." It took Pontone about 20 minutes to reach the exit. A security guard later helped him to a waiting taxi. He says the doctors had made him think his pain was "all in his head," so a few days later, he made his way to CAMH, where a psychiatrist immediately determined that his suffering had nothing to do with his mental health. An ambulance took him to Toronto Western Hospital in downtown Toronto, where a neurologist diagnosed Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the nerves. Five weeks later, the family met with Humber management. They hadn't seen the video yet, but chief nursing executive Vanessa Burkoski had screened it and told them she was disturbed by what she saw. She apologized, and told the family they could have the video once people's faces had been blurred for privacy. In a follow-up meeting two months later, the family viewed the video for the first time. "They let him go, like a dog, outside," said Pontone's mother, Lucia. "Nobody should be treated like that." "It's hard to understand how the hospital thought this was OK," said Pontone's sister Laura. "It was humiliating. It was not OK." Pontone wanted a copy of the video, but in spite of Burkoski's earlier assurances, the hospital now said it couldn't hand the footage over, in case Pontone unblurred the faces of other people. The hospital took the matter to Ontario's Privacy Commissioner, stating it didn't feel comfortable giving Pontone the video and that a cybersecurity expert would have to be hired for about ten hours to use multi-layered obscuring technology, so Pontone couldn't unblur the faces later. It also said Pontone would have to pay the cost and sign an agreement, promising not to share the video. The Pontones met with Toronto personal injury lawyer Harrison Cooper, who offered to work pro bono after hearing about his ordeal. "In Canada we pride ourselves on evolving to understand mental illness," said Cooper. "And we don't want incidents like this — where someone who has a mental illness isn't treated the same way someone without mental illness is treated." The fight took two years to resolve. The privacy commissioner ruled Pontone could have the footage if basic blurring was done, stating that Pontone had shown no indication he wanted to reveal other people's faces. The hospital paid for the blurring and shared the footage. Hospital 'deeply troubled' Go Public requested an interview with a spokesperson for Humber River Hospital, which was declined. In a statement spokesperson Joe Gorman said the hospital was "deeply troubled" by Pontone's experience and that the staff involved "were dealt with accordingly." "Every patient at Humber River Hospital deserves compassionate, professional and respectful care from our staff," Gorman wrote. Go Public has learned that the nurse who escorted Pontone out of the hospital was fired. Gorman wouldn't say whether any of the doctors were disciplined. 'Diagnostic overshadowing' Stergiopoulos was not involved when Pontone visited CAMH. But she says it's so common for health-care professionals to blame mental illness for people's physical health concerns that there's a term for it — "diagnostic overshadowing." She recalls, several decades ago, "having to take a patient of mine with serious mental illness to the oncologist who had refused to treat her just because she had a mental illness." "It was through advocacy that I managed to get her into treatment and she was treated successfully," she said. "And to see that persist so many years later, it's really heartbreaking. I think we can do better and I think we should do better." A 2019 Lancet Psychiatry Commission reviewed the findings of almost 100 systemic reviews that examined the presence of medical conditions among people worldwide with mental illness. It found that people with serious mental illness have a life expectancy that's up to 25 years shorter than the general population. "The statistics are indeed shocking," said Stergiopoulos. "And what is most shocking is that they're persisting despite us knowing about these issues for many years now." She says several factors can be behind the shortened life expectancy for people with mental health issues — such as a sedentary lifestyle or a lack of disease prevention services — but a key reason is stigma and discrimination by health-care workers. At the root of the problem, says Stergiopoulos, health-care professionals see physical and mental health as separate. "This is flawed and we need to do a better job at seeing people as human beings." Pontone spent almost four months undergoing intensive rehabilitation, but considers himself lucky to be able to walk again — Guillain-Barré Syndrome can worsen rapidly and attack the organs. It can also lead to full-body paralysis and possibly death. His mother hopes that speaking out will benefit other people with mental illness who need help with a physical problem. "I want the hospital to change the way they look at mental health," she says. "So that this doesn't happen again."
OTTAWA — During his only supper on Canadian soil, Donald Trump told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and their fellow G7 leaders that their table was incomplete. Come 2020, the American president promised to fix that by inviting Russia's Vladimir Putin to his G7 dinner. It was June 2018, four years since Russia had been expelled from what was then the G8 after the Kremlin's invasion and annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in February 2014. The Russian occupation of Crimea remains the worst breach of Europe's borders since the Second World War, but on the eve of the Canadian-hosted G7 in Quebec's scenic Charlevoix region, Trump tweeted about wanting to bring Russia back into the fold. Behind closed doors, Trump pursued it with his fellow leaders, recalled Sen. Peter Boehm, who was in the room then as Trudeau's chief G7 organizer, known as a sherpa. "Well, you know, we should have President Putin at the table. And when I host, I'm going to invite him," Boehm, in a recent interview, recalled Trump saying. So went the discussion among the some of the world's most powerful leaders on how to strengthen international co-operation — with the then leader of democratic free world embracing an authoritarian dictator. As the Trump presidency ends in ignominy, the focus is on his Jan. 6 incitement of the insurrectionist mob that stormed Capitol Hill leaving five dead and numerous more exposed to COVID-19. But his warm embrace of authoritarian strongmen around the world, from Putin to North Korea's Kim Jong Un, has also been a hallmark of the Trump presidency, one that played out behind closed doors during his only trip to Canada. Trump never paid an official bilateral visit to Canada, but when he visited for the G7 leaders' summit, he openly displayed his fondness for Putin over a feast of duck breast, Canadian lobster and beef filet, mushrooms and spelt fricassee. Trudeau, Boehm and their fellow Canadians wanted to host an incident-free summit that included Trump, in part to avoid embarrassment but mainly to do no damage to the efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement — which weren't going very well. Only a week earlier, Trump's commerce secretary imposed punitive sanctions on Canadian steel and aluminum in what Wilbur Ross all but admitted was a negotiation tactic. "Of course, I was working for (Trudeau), but I thought he did a pretty good job in maintaining the flow, showing due deference and keeping the discussion going" when Trump took the G7 leaders' conversations in unforeseen directions, said Boehm, now the chair of the Senate foreign affairs committee. That left it to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to challenge Trump on inviting Putin back to the G7. "This sparked some discussion with a few leaders saying that they did not think this was a very good idea, chief of whom was Angela Merkel," said Boehm. A day later, the iconic photo of the stern-faced German chancellor at a post-dinner meeting leaning into a seated Trump emerged, but as Boehm recalled there was more to it than the cropped version that Berlin released. "PM Trudeau is there. I'm in it. There's various versions of that," said Boehm. "But that was the last discussion point, was on the rules-based international order. And that's where there was a difference with the U.S. delegation. The leaders were involved in trying to bridge that difference, which was eventually done." The next day, Trump left the summit early and would later withdraw his support for the G7 communiqué, the agreed-upon closing statement. He tweeted insults at Trudeau from Air Force 1 after the prime minister reiterated his past criticism of Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs — arguments the president had already heard. The explosive finish to the summit obscured the controversy of Trump reaching out to Putin, as Trump jetted off to North Korea for his historic meeting with the reclusive Kim. Sen. Peter Harder, who was the sherpa for prime ministers Paul Martin and Stephen Harper, in earlier summits said it was "a tragedy in Russian history" to see the country kicked out of the G8 and the blame for that falls squarely on Putin. Russian "insecurity" led to actions in Crimea "and still continuing actions in Ukraine that are repugnant to democratic values and reflect a more traditional authoritarian-bent Russian history," Harder said in an interview. Harder was at Harper's side for his first meeting with Putin at the G8 summit in the Russian leader's hometown of St. Petersburg in 2006. "He's a forceful presence. And he was a proud host," said Harder, the deputy chair of the Senate foreign affairs committee. In discussions, Putin was seized with the threat of homegrown terrorism because of the carnage he was dealing with in Chechnya and was a spirited participant in discussions on climate change, African debt relief and battling polio and malaria in poor countries, said Harder. All of that changed when Putin invaded Ukraine in 2014, likely because he was threatened by NATO's accumulation of new members that used to be behind the Iron Curtain, he said. Putin's thirst to consolidate power within Russia made him a full-fledged authoritarian, but it is still a country that must be seriously reckoned with by Western leaders. "Russia's global power is not what it once was because its economic strength has been eclipsed by so many markets and countries. But it still is an important nuclear player," said Harder. That makes the return of steadier hand in the White House under Joe Biden, all the more crucial. "We've forgotten that nuclear proliferation is an important challenge for our time. The risks of nuclear engagement have not gone away, and they need to be managed regularly," said Harder. "By leadership." Despite Trump's 2018 bluster in Quebec, his G7 dinner with Putin never happened. Neither the did the American-hosted G7 summit that was scheduled for the summer of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic, which ravaged the United States under Trump, saw to that. Despite the fiascos of the 2018 Charlevoix summit, Boehm said he had good working relations with his American counterpart and his team of dedicated public servants. "There is certainly some scope for rebuilding morale in the U.S. foreign service. That's what I'm hearing. And they might be on track to do that." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
BRUSSELS — Women in Europe doing jobs requiring the same skills as jobs done by men are still being paid significantly less, according to a study by the the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). The major trade union organization, which represents 45 million members in 38 European countries, compared wages in two countries from Western and Eastern Europe — Germany and Romania — looking at women working in the sector of household appliances and men working in car manufacturing. The organization looked at several criteria including skills, physical effort and responsibility. It compared full-time workers of the same age and with a permanent contract working for medium-sized companies. In Germany, ETUC said, women in the white goods sector earn €865 less per month in gross income than men making cars, for jobs requiring similar skills. In Romania, where wages are significantly lower, the average difference in net income is €244, ETUC said. “Comparing the pay of women and men in the manufacturing sector shows clearly how women are paid less even when their jobs require the same levels of skill and physical effort as those of men,” ETUC deputy general secretary Esther Lynch said. “The COVID crisis has also exposed the deep-rooted bias behind wages for professions dominated by women, with carers and cleaners recognized as ‘essential’ despite being amongst the lowest paid.” Last year, using data from the EU's statistical office, the trade union organization said women would have to wait for another 84 years and the next century to achieve equal pay at the current pace of change. ETUC called on the European executive commission to quickly come forward with its pay transparency directive. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen had planned to present measures to introduce binding pay transparency measures in the first 100 days of her mandate, but the proposals have yet to be unveiled. “Quality is more important than speed in this case,” EU commission spokesman Christian Wigand said. “We'll come forward with proposals in the coming months." The Associated Press
France is expanding the eligibility for people to get their COVID-19 vaccines. Around 6 million people can now have the jab. Those over 75 can have their first dose along with anyone in a high-risk group, such as those with serious health conditions.View on euronews
It's been nearly a year since some P.E.I. gymnasts have had a chance to test their skills at a competitive level, but this weekend they got a taste of it. Provincial championships were cancelled and some athletes lost their opportunity to compete at the national level. It's all due to COVID-19 and the travel restrictions created by it. However, on Sunday, the Island Gymnastics Academy hosted a test competition. "It's just to … get their feet wet and get a feeling of all the jitters of trying to perform," said Shelley Ferguson, competitive program director at the academy. Usually the test happens right before Christmas, but circuit-breaker restrictions closed the academy for 10 days, Ferguson said. "The end of February, first of March, was our last actual competing time but they have been training since June," she said. "We feel very blessed because there are a lot of clubs across Canada that are completely closed." Island gymnast Isabelle MacKinnon, in Grade 8 at Queen Charlotte Intermediate School, said she was worried she may have forgotten a few things. But it all came back when she hit the floor. "The last time I competed was back last February, so it feels a little weird to get back, but it feels good," she said. "I like seeing my friends and like competing. Competing is really fun, especially at … floor because you have your own music." MacKinnon said she hopes she can get back to competing outside of P.E.I. soon. Parents, physically distanced and wearing masks, were able to watch as the gymnasts practised on floor, bars, vault and beam. "This is sort of the first competitive event that our gymnasts have had in which they are able to put on their gym suit and perform in front of judges," said Nick Murray, executive director of the academy. "I think everybody is delighted. I know the gymnasts have been really excited the last couple weeks. It gives the parents an opportunity as well. They haven't been in the gym in 10 months." Competition season usually runs from January until around May. 2021 competitions? Murray said he already knows the Eastern Canadian championships has been cancelled and there is a question mark around the nationals. "We just have to be grateful for what we got," he said. "The fact we are able to … run a program, it certainly is a good thing for us as a club." More from CBC P.E.I.
CAIRO — The death toll from tribal violence between Arabs and non-Arabs in Sudan’s West Darfur province climbed to at least 83, including women and children, a doctor’s union and aid worker said, as sporadic violence continued Sunday. The ruling sovereign council met Sunday and said security forces would be deployed to the area. The deadly clashes grew out of a fistfight Friday between two people in a camp for displaced people in Genena, the provincial capital. An Arab man was stabbed to death and his family, from the Arab Rizeigat tribe, attacked the people in the Krinding camp and other areas Saturday. Among the dead was a U.S. citizen. Saeed Baraka, 36, from Atlanta, had arrived in Sudan less than two months ago to visit his family in Darfur, his wife, Safiya Mohammed, told The Associated Press over the phone. The father of three children rushed to relieve a neighbour amid the clashes in the Jabal village in West Darfur, when he was shot in his head Saturday, his brother-in-law Juma Salih said. Baraka's wife said the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum phoned her to offer condolences. The embassy did not return phone calls and emails from AP seeking comment. The violence led to local authorities imposing a round-the-clock curfew on the entire province. Besides the 83 killed, at least 160 others were wounded, according to Sudan’s doctors’ committee in West Darfur. It said there were troops among the wounded. It said clashes subsided by midday on Sunday and the security situation started to improve. The committee is part of the Sudanese Professionals Association, which spearheaded a popular uprising that eventually led to the military's ouster of longtime autocratic president Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. The clashes pose a challenge to efforts by Sudan’s transitional government to end decades-long rebellions in areas like Darfur, where most people live in camps for the displaced and refugees. Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy and is being ruled by a joint military-civilian government. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “is deeply concerned” about the violence and “calls on the Sudanese authorities to expend all efforts to de-escalate the situation and bring an end to the fighting,” his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said. The bout of violence came two weeks after the U.N. Security Council ended the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force’s mandate in the region. The UNAMID force, established in 2007, is expected to complete its withdrawal by June 30. It also puts into question the transitional government’s ability to stabilize the conflict-ravaged Darfur region. Salah Saleh, a physician and former medical director at the main hospital in Genena, said clashes renewed Sunday morning at the Abu Zar camp for internally displaced people, south of the provincial capital. He said most of the victims were shot dead, or suffered gunshot wounds. Adam Regal, a spokesman for a local organization that helps run refugee camps in Darfur, said there were overnight attacks on Krinding. He shared footage showing properties burned to the ground, and wounded people on stretchers and in hospital beds. Authorities in West Darfur imposed a curfew beginning Saturday that includes the closing of all markets and a ban on public gatherings. The central government in Khartoum also said Saturday a high-ranking delegation, chaired by the country’s top prosecutor, was heading to the province to help re-establish order. A database by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, showed that inter-communal violence across Darfur region doubled in the second half of 2020, with at least 28 incidents compared to 15 between July and December 2019. West Darfur province experienced a “significant increase” of violence last year, with half of the 40 incidents reported in the entire Darfur region, OCHA said Sunday. Samy Magdy, The Associated Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 18, 2021. There are 708,619 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 708,619 confirmed cases (75,281 active, 615,324 resolved, 18,014 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 6,436 new cases Sunday from 70,499 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 200.27 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 47,285 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,755. There were 149 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,001 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 143. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.92 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,557,083 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 396 confirmed cases (nine active, 383 resolved, four deaths). There was one new case Sunday from 204 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.49 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been three new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 76,369 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 104 confirmed cases (nine active, 95 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday from 331 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 86,220 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,558 confirmed cases (29 active, 1,464 resolved, 65 deaths). There were four new cases Sunday from 743 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.54 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 30 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 195,810 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 947 confirmed cases (293 active, 642 resolved, 12 deaths). There were 36 new cases Sunday from 874 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 37.72 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 168 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 24. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of three new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 128,277 tests completed. _ Quebec: 242,714 confirmed cases (20,651 active, 213,008 resolved, 9,055 deaths). There were 1,744 new cases Sunday from 9,270 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 19 per cent. The rate of active cases is 243.38 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,893 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,985. There were 50 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 369 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 53. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.62 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 106.72 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,656,534 tests completed. _ Ontario: 237,786 confirmed cases (28,893 active, 203,484 resolved, 5,409 deaths). There were 3,422 new cases Sunday from 58,215 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 198.35 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 22,004 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,143. There were 69 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 380 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 54. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 37.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,633,584 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,511 confirmed cases (3,081 active, 23,661 resolved, 769 deaths). There were 189 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 224.98 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,194 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 171. There were eight new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 31 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.32 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 56.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 436,236 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 20,272 confirmed cases (4,121 active, 15,936 resolved, 215 deaths). There were 287 new cases Sunday from 862 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 33 per cent. The rate of active cases is 350.88 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,158 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 308. There were three new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 24 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.29 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 18.31 per 100,000 people. There have been 321,266 tests completed. _ Alberta: 116,837 confirmed cases (12,234 active, 103,167 resolved, 1,436 deaths). There were 750 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 279.87 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,385 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 769. There were 19 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 152 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 22. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.5 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.85 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,979,663 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 60,117 confirmed cases (5,955 active, 53,115 resolved, 1,047 deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 117.42 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,440 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 349. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 42 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is six. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 20.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,021,911 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (two active, 67 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 4.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,256 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 28 confirmed cases (four active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were three new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 8.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,323 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,558 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 18, 2021. The Canadian Press
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 18 ... What we are watching in Canada ... OTTAWA - The premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan are condemning Joe Biden's plan to scrap the Keystone XL pipeline expansion on his first day as U.S. president. Biden's plan is outlined in transition documents seen by The Canadian Press. Jason Kenney and Scott Moe say halting construction on the controversial project will be disastrous for both the Canadian and U.S. economies. Kenney says his government -- which announced a $1.5 billion investment into the expansion last year -- is prepared to "use all legal avenues available to protect its interest in the project." Moe, meanwhile, is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet with Biden and says his government will be in touch with its contacts in Washington. Trudeau has so far been silent on the issue, but his ambassador to the U.S., Kirsten Hillman, is defending the pipeline, saying it fits into Canada's climate plan and promises good jobs. TC Energy Corp. doubled down on that last night, confirming an ambitious plan to spend $1.7 billion US on a solar, wind and battery-powered operating system for the pipeline to ensure it is zero-emission by 2030, and to rely exclusively on union labour. --- Also this ... HALIFAX - Nova Scotia is the first jurisdiction in North America to implement presumed consent around organ donation as of today. Legislation passed in April 2019 finally takes effect this morning following more than 18 months of work to make sure the province's health-care system can cope with the change. Under the Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act, all people in Nova Scotia will be considered potential organ donors unless they opt out. Dr. Stephen Beed, medical director of Nova Scotia's organ and tissue donation program, says the new opt-out system presents a rare opportunity to transform a part of the health care system. He believes organ donations could rise by as much as 30 to 50 per cent within five years. Beed says an opt-out registry has been developed and safeguards are in place such as double checking with families to ensure the last known wishes of a potential donor are respected. He says those who tell their families that they don't want to be donors will not be donors, even if they haven't opted out. --- And this ... TORONTO - Studies have suggested previous COVID-19 infections may result in promising levels of immunity to the virus, leading to questions of whether those who've already recovered from the disease still need a vaccine. And is there urgency to inoculate them, or can they move to the back of the vaccination line? Experts say a vaccine will likely offer the safest bet for longer-term protection, meaning those with previous infections should still get them. And prior COVID illness shouldn't determine someone's place in the queue. The exact level of immunity acquired from a natural infection is yet to be fully determined, says Dr. Andre Veillette, a professor of medicine at McGill who's also on Canada's COVID-19 vaccine task force. It may be that protection begins to wane quicker in some people, or that those with previous mild infections aren't as protected as someone who had more severe symptoms, he says. Still others may think they've had a COVID-19 infection but can't be sure if they didn't get tested at the time. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASINGTON, D.C. - U.S. defence officials say they are worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. That concern is prompting the FBI to vet all 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event. The massive undertaking reflects the extraordinary security concerns that have gripped Washington following the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters. And it underscores fears that some of the very people assigned to protect the city over the next several days could present a threat to the incoming president and other VIPs in attendance. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... MOSCOW- Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's arrest as he arrived in Moscow after recovering from his poisoning with a nerve agent drew criticism from Western nations and calls for his release, with Germany's foreign minister on Monday calling it “incomprehensible.” Navalny was detained at passport control at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after flying in Sunday evening from Berlin, where he was treated following the poisoning in August that he blames on the Kremlin. His arrest adds another layer of tension to relations between Moscow and the West that have long been strained and were worsened by his poisoning. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas noted that Navalny had returned of his own volition and said "it is completely incomprehensible that he was detained by Russian authorities immediately after his arrival.” European Council President Charles Michel tweeted that Navalny's detention is “unacceptable” and also called for his immediate release, a call echoed by France's foreign ministry and by Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau. U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for national security adviser called on Russian authorities to free Navalny. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday the stream of reactions to Navalny’s arrest by Western officials reflects an attempt “to divert attention from the crisis of the Western model of development.” --- ICYMI ... OTTAWA - Petty officer Richard Austin was sitting at his position on board HMCS Athabaskan when he heard a clang. It was 1991, and the Canadian destroyer was traversing an Iraqi minefield in the Persian Gulf, on its way to rescue a crippled American warship. “I remember waiting for the bang,” Austin recalls of those tense few moments nearly 30 years later. “Looking at the two pictures of my sons on the top of the weapons panel. The bang never came.” Austin’s story is one of several Canadian experiences from the first Gulf War that were collected by Historica Canada and released on Sunday as part of a new video on what is a largely forgotten chapter of Canada’s military history. Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of Operation Desert Storm, the massive attack that eventually resulted in U.S.-led forces pushing the Iraqi military from Kuwait, which Iraq had invaded in August 1990 under then-president Saddam Hussein. The anniversary passed largely unnoticed by the government on Sunday, with no official statements by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan or Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay. That was despite Canada being one of dozens of countries to condemn Iraq’s invasion, with three Canadian warships as well as fighter aircraft, security personnel and medical troops deployed in support of the American coalition that liberated Kuwait. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021 The Canadian Press
When the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved in Canada, Ketty Samel and her 76-year-old husband Morris believed the end to the long months of isolation was in sight. Since last March, the Thornhill, Ont., couple has been hunkering down in their home. "We're living in fear. For me to go to a grocery store right now, I'm in a total sweat. I'm stressed, I walk in and I walk out. I grab whatever I need off the shelves and that's it." Under Ontario's vaccination rollout plan, Samel, 71, and her husband will be vaccinated in Phase 2 — a phase that could begin as early as March, according to government officials, and will continue through to July. It's a tiered system by age groups, starting with those 80 years of age or older, then decreasing by five-year increments. "They've told us from the beginning of this pandemic that we were vulnerable. [After] long term care we were the next vulnerable population," said Samel. "And all of a sudden we're expendable. That's our feeling." The Ontario Ministry of Health says the roadblock to vaccinating more people faster is supply, which is expected to increase in Phase 2. But in the meantime, some are questioning whether everyone getting a dose in Phase 1 is as vulnerable as seniors in the community, with figures from Public Health Ontario showing that more than a third of COVID-19 deaths are adults over 60 who aren't in long-term care. Federal guidelines The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends adults 70 and older to be part of the first stage of immunization rollout, alongside residents and staff in seniors' congregate living settings, health-care workers, and adults in Indigenous communities "where infection can have disproportionate consequences." Actual plans vary by province. In Ontario, Phase 1 of the rollout involves vaccinating all residents, staff, essential and other workers in long term care and retirement homes, health care workers, adults in First nations, Metis and Inuit populations and recipients of adult chronic home care. Seniors in the community aren't slated to be vaccinated until Phase 2. This discrepancy between federal guidelines and Ontario's planned rollout is one that 76-year-old Toronto resident Brian Corcoran calls frustrating. "We're not considering elderly people. They don't have that criteria in Ontario," said Corocoran. Corcoran, like many other seniors in Ontario, has called his local health clinic to try to find out when he'd be vaccinated, only to be told staff have received no direction. "By having the seniors in limbo is not good for a lot of people. A lot of people will get depressed. A lot of people will be isolated." Corcoran said he believes in the importance of vaccinating seniors in long-term care homes and front line workers first, but said he doesn't understand why older adults like him aren't included in the first phase after them. It's a sentiment shared by Samel and her husband. "If we should contract COVID, it's most likely that we are going to end up taking up a hospital bed and end up not surviving. That's the bottom line," she said. 'The numbers don't lie' According to Public Health Ontario's figures as of Friday, there have been 5289 COVID deaths in the province. A closer look at the numbers show that of the estimated 5289 deaths, 96 per cent — 5064 people — are aged 60 and over. (The majority — 3137 deaths — have been seniors in long-term care homes, but nearly 2000 estimated deaths have been seniors not in long-term care.) Those figures are prompting some medical professionals and advocates to call for Ontario's vaccination plan to look more closely at older adults. "The numbers don't lie," said Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at Mount Sinai and the University Health Network Hospitals in Toronto. "And yet our government is basically following a kind of a plan that I don't actually think really follows the science." Sinha questions why some essential workers in hospitals — who don't interact with patients — are being vaccinated before older adults. "The science says that when 96 per cent of the people dying in this pandemic are people older than 60. Why would you make that population wait until April, that 3.5 million people, and start vaccinating 1.5 million essential workers months in advance of that?" Sinha pointed to other countries — such as Israel — that he said have already vaccinated more than 70 per cent of its population over the age of 60 in a matter of weeks. Each province has its own timeline for vaccinating seniors. In British Columbia for example, only those 80 years of age or older who live in the community will be vaccinated before April. In Quebec, the provincial government plans to start vaccinating those 70 years and older by February 15 with the hope that all Quebecers over 70 will get vaccine by April. In Alberta the plan is to start offering vaccines to seniors 75 and older by February. Some seniors' advocates say older adults must be prioritized regardless of where they live. "There is great risk to people who are living in their own homes. They're still visited … by caregivers, by their own family," said Bill VanGorder, chief policy officer with the Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP) "And we know how bad community spread is right across [Ontario]. Why would we not want to vaccinate them just as quickly as possible first?" WATCH | Why some provinces are delaying 2nd dose of vaccine against recommendations: Ministry response CBC News reached out to the Ontario Ministry of Health to ask why older adults aren't part of Phase 1 and why the province hasn't moved to vaccinate them sooner. In a statement it said the province has the ability to ramp up its capacity to vaccinate more people, but the problem is supply. "We continue to urge the federal government to deliver more COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible to keep up with Ontario's capacity to administer." It added: "As the province continues to receive more doses, we will continue to expand locations across the province to vaccinate our most vulnerable and over time every Ontarian who wishes to be immunized." For Ketty Samel and her husband, that's not good enough. They've started a letter-writing campaign to the provincial government. "They've told us and warned us that we are so vulnerable," said Samel. "If we're so vulnerable, why is nobody looking at this?"
P.E.I. is reporting four new unrelated cases of COVID-19 as of Monday. Island dentists are offering their expertise as the province ramps up and rolls out COVID-19 vaccinations. As the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 on P.E.I. continues to climb, some Islanders who are living with underlying health conditions say they've been left wondering when their shots will come. P.E.I. gymnasts got their first chance to compete in almost a year over the weekend. The City of Charlottetown has received a request from local business groups to put a freeze on parking fees. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported on P.E.I. is 108, with 10 still active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. New Brunswick announced 26 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. There are now 304 active cases in the province. Nova Scotia reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, marking the second day this month that zero new cases were announced. Also in the news Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park in Brookvale, P.E.I., has opened after delays due to a lack of snow. COVID-19 health measures will be in place for skiers, such as mandatory face coverings and physical distancing at the lifts. Further resources Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.