The J&J vaccine made it easier for some clinics to serve their communities. Many are concerned about getting patients to return for a second shot of the two dose vaccines. (April 14)
The J&J vaccine made it easier for some clinics to serve their communities. Many are concerned about getting patients to return for a second shot of the two dose vaccines. (April 14)
A formerly healthy 43-year-old father from Langley — who is in hospital recovering from complications following a blood clot — is warning others to watch for signs of trouble after receiving an AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine. Shaun Mulldoon and his wife Tara say that doctors confirmed to them that he's a victim of the rare but dangerous syndrome linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine. The clot in his abdomen will leave him with life-long effects after two metres of his small intestine was removed. Health officials said Thursday at a man in his 40s in the Fraser Health region is one of the two British Columbians known to be affected by the syndrome, but health authorities will not comment on individual cases. Shaun Mulldoon believes he wasn't adequately warned of the vaccine's risks or protected from them. The AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine has been linked to vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT). Symptoms include severe headache, pain, swollen limbs, nausea, vomiting and shortness of breath. Shaun Mulldoon, 43, had emergency surgery after developing a blood clot in his abdomen that he says is related to the AstraZeneca vaccine.(Shaun Mulldoon/Facebook) Speaking on her husband's behalf, Tara Mulldoon said they are not telling people to avoid AstraZeneca, just be informed and seek help promptly if they develop any health problems afterwards. "This is life changing for us," she said. "I feel like we have a long road ahead of us as far as his recovery goes. He's lost half of his small intestine." Her husband was vaccinated on April 22 and ended up in emergency surgery on May 9. She said that he initially felt nauseous but symptoms progressed to fever, headache and vomiting. Each time he felt ill he called his doctor or the HealthLinkBC line at 811 and was advised to stay home — even after going in to have a test for COVID-19 — which turned out to be negative. He finally went to emergency on May 8 after he began to vomit and pass blood. Mulldoon posted on social media that he wished he'd had more insight into the "worse case scenario." "Seventeen days after my vaccine [I] ended up going into emergency surgery to remove over six feet of my small intestine. I had a massive blood clot. Second surgery two days later to remove more. My surgeon told me it was very close." Tara Mulldoon said the ordeal has been difficult for the family which includes two school-aged children. "We are not anti-vaxxers. We just want people to take any adverse symptoms following the vaccine — please take it seriously," she said. Shaun Mulldoon is in hospital 17 days after his vaccination with life-threatening complications.(Shaun Mulldoon/Facebook) B.C pauses AstraZeneca for first shots "I mean there's chitter chatter about the risks of blood clots, but ... it was presented to us as being so so rare," said Mulldoon. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) says while the estimated risk of VITT is evolving — and varies from country to country — the rate in Cananda at the end of April is about one per 100,000 persons vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. B.C. followed Alberta and Ontario's lead and paused the use of AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for first doses on May 12. Some experts say the VITT syndrome has not been well described to the public. This is no "run of the mill venous blood clot" in the leg after a long flight, according to Dr. David Fisman, a University of Toronto professor, epidemiologist and an infectious disease specialist with Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. Fisman said that in some people the vaccine activates clotting cells and can cause a syndrome that's difficult to treat. "It's sort of a devil and the deep blue sea clinical situation," said Fisman. Keeps a close watch Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed that B.C. health officials are watching for incidence of the syndrome associated with AstraZeneca. "It's a very serious thing. Once you have antibodies to your platelets, they clump together. That can lead to very severe plugging of some of our important blood vessels. Yes, very challenging, very serious. It seems, though, that you're more likely to develop it the first time you're exposed to the vaccine," Henry said this week. "We're watching very carefully." Fisman believes that Canada may have initially missed signals about the rate of risk as AstraZeneca initially was given to older people so strokes caused by the vaccine may have gone undetected. He predicts — based on global trends — that adverse effects could potentially hit one in every 22,000 people who get the AstraZeneca jab — five times what was predicted.
Police, family and friends are concerned about a missing UBC professor who was last seen Wednesday on Salt Spring Island. Salt Spring RCMP say Sinikka Gay Elliott left her home to run errands on Wednesday and has not been seen or heard from since. Police say they received a missing persons report at 2:15 p.m. the same day. RCMP, along with search and rescue, began their search later that night and at approximately 9:30 p.m. located Elliot's vehicle abandoned on Juniper Place Road. Police told CBC News foul play is not suspected. Following an overwhelming response from the community looking to help in the search, police are asking the public to stand down. "Due to the terrain, they are only using specialized search and rescue members for the main search area, which again remains focused on the Mount Erskine search area," said Cpl. Chris Manseau, a spokesperson with the B.C. RCMP Communication Services. "However, they [search and rescue] are asking anybody who wants to help in the search do so on their own properties or check in with their neighbours to help search those properties for this missing person." Elliot has been an associate professor with the sociology department at UBC since 2007. "We hope she's found safe and sound. And, yeah, we're all very, very distressed, all of us, about her situation, her colleagues, her students." said Guy Stecklov, the head of the sociology department at UBC. Stecklov says Elliot is a dear colleague and a dedicated mentor to her students. She is described as having a slim build, five feet three inches tall, with dark brown short hair. She was last seen wearing a red sweater, jeans and brown boots. Anyone who might have any information on Elliot's whereabouts is asked to contact Salt Spring RCMP.
Alberta reported 1,433 new COVID-19 cases on Friday as the province set a new pace for its vaccination rollout. Health minister Tyler Shandro said Alberta administered 63,953 vaccine doses on Thursday, its highest single-day total to date. While it took Alberta 119 days to administer a million doses, Shandro said the province hit two million doses in 29 days. Active cases dropped by 713 on Friday, with 23,873 being reported across the province. The number of people with COVID-19 in hospital also declined by nine to 713, with 177 of those patients in intensive care. The province reported five new COVID-19 deaths Friday, bringing the total to 2,137. Hinshaw said Thursday it would be presumptuous to declare the province is on the other side of the third wave but noted there are some encouraging signs. The province's test positivity rate, an oft-cited indicator of community transmission, has trended down alongside the number of daily new cases in recent days. The reported positivity rate fell Friday to just shy of 10 per cent, the first time it was under double-digits in over two weeks. Here is how the province's active cases breakdown by health zone: Calgary zone: 11,367 Edmonton zone: 5,278 North zone: 3,496 Central zone: 2,500 South zone: 1,216 Unknown: 16 As of Friday's update, nearly 40 per cent of Albertans had received their first vaccine dose, while just over seven per cent had have both doses. Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said provinces should only start to lift public health restrictions once at least 75 per cent of adults have had at least one vaccine dose and 20 per cent are fully vaccinated. After reaching that milestone, she said Canadians can safely enjoy picnics, small backyard BBQs and drinks on a patio. Here is the percentage of people in each health zone with at least one vaccine dose: Calgary zone: 39.7 Edmonton zone: 42.1 North zone: 30.1 Central zone: 35.9 South zone: 40.1
P.E.I. has again delayed the date of entry for seasonal residents to the province due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, P.E.I. announced it would be putting a pause on those entries as part of stricter border measures to limit the importation and spread of COVID-19. According to an updated section of the province's website, that has been delayed again, this time until June 1. "Travel for seasonal residents coming to P.E.I. is paused until at least June 1, 2021," the website said. "This includes individuals who have already received a prior approval to travel, your approval is now deferred until at least June 1." Those moving to the Island from outside the Atlantic provinces are also paused until at least June 1, unless it's for school or work purposes. Those moving to P.E.I. from within the region can still enter as long as they've been approved. The website says travel to P.E.I. through the family connections stream will be reviewed to determine necessity. Seasonal residents disappointed, but understand Seasonal residents were allowed to enter the province last summer, provided they had a plan with someone to support their self-isolation for two weeks. Jen Harding is the founding president of Seasonal Residents of P.E.I., a non-profit group made up of those with seasonal properties on the Island. She said members who had planned on arriving in the coming days, herself included, started receiving notice Thursday evening saying all pre-travel approvals are being rescinded. Harding said members are disappointed but not surprised. "It's not binary. People can be disappointed and maybe frustrated at changing plans, but they do understand the changing situation with COVID and what's happening certainly in Nova Scotia is causing the region to put stronger measures in place," she said. "And so you can be disappointed at that but also recognize what else is happening around the world and certainly in Canada." More from CBC P.E.I.
Some secondary students in Canada's largest school board are calling for the elimination of quadmesters, saying the condensed schedules are leading to mental health issues and information overload for students. "I hate this quadmester model because I love learning, and this model totally strips us students of that," said Hannah Cohen, a Grade 11 student at Earl Haig Secondary School in North York. Cohen, a senior in the school's dance program, says quadmesters have been detrimental both academically and socially since they were implemented last year by the Ministry of Education to limit contact between students. She says they've also disrupted the balance between social life and education that she says comes with regular semesters. So when the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) announced on Wednesday that it would continue with quadmesters for secondary students for the 2021-2022 academic year, Cohen launched an online petition to fight it. "Learning in quadmesters is mentally and physically draining," reads the petition titled "TDSB Families Fight Back Against Quads," which has racked up nearly 1,800 signatures of support as of Friday night. "We are not able to properly learn and digest the information provided in our courses in such a brief period of time ... Students are not learning; we are just merely memorizing information," the petition says. This petition calls on the TDSB to adopt semesters for the upcoming school year. 'Learning at warp speed' The quadmester system splits the school year into four periods to allow smaller cohorts to attend class in person. Instead of four courses taken during two semesters, two courses are taken across four quadmesters. This means courses that used to be taught over the span of five months are now being taught in about nine weeks. "Teachers are basically blurting out information at us during our classes because they have so little time to get this information across to us," Cohen said. Monika Ferenczy, an education consultant based in Ottawa, calls it "learning at warp speed, because it really puts an enormous amount of pressure on the students to absorb a lot of content very quickly." Ferenczy says students are being taught one thing in the morning and are already being tested on it the following day. She says she has seen an increase in students with high anxiety and depression, and many others asking for modifications to timelines that can often not be accommodated. In response to students' concerns over the quadmester workload, a spokesperson for the TDSB says the amount of work isn't that different because a student is essentially learning two fewer courses at a time than in a typical academic semester. Jason Wong, left, and Hannah Cohen, right, are both seniors a Earl Haig Secondary School who are fighting against the return of quadmesters. They say the learning model negatively affects students' academic performance and mental health. (Submitted by Jason Wong/Hannah Cohen) But the essence of the quadmester system is to cram a bunch of information together at once, according to Jason Wong, who is in Grade 11 and is the student body president at Earl Heights Secondary School. "Let's assume we have two academic subjects at once — math and biology. That's a lot of work and time spent on those subjects. When we're working on that, we are working around the clock memorizing that material," Wong said. He says students are left racing to learn the material before they move on to a different subject, which is forcing many to stay up all night to cram, which subsequently affects students' sleep schedules and their mental health. Cohen and Wong, both of whom are students in the arts, say they also lack down time to practise their majors under this model. They add that mental health resources provided by the TDSB, such as links to access professional support services staff, fall short of what kids need. Cohen says she wants the impact that the quadmester has on students' mental health to be acknowledged and for the TDSB to move forward with a semester system next year. "We are not robots; we want our lives back," Wong added. Quadmesters 'not great' for some students, TDSB admits The TDSB says it acknowledges the quadmester model is not for everyone and that there is mixed reaction to it. "We realize for some, the quadmester model is not great, we know that. However, we're taking direction from the Ministry of Education," said TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird. He says the decision is about trying to keep people safe. Despite Ontario's vaccine supply ramping up and youths eligible to book a vaccine appointment by June, the ministry has required all school boards to limit schedules to two in-person classes, which for the TDSB, results in a quadmester model to limit student-to-student contacts. "We continue to explore ways to improve it," Bird said of the learning model. "Our hope, however, is that with vaccinations over the summer and those numbers hopefully going up, that we are going to be as close to normal as possible come September." Bird adds that it is important to note that the ministry says it will look into changing the model depending on how the pandemic evolves. "Given the unpredictability of what COVID-19 will look like in September...we need to be flexible," Bird said.
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck ("Bennifer") have seemingly reunited. A body language expert analyzes their love story that she thinks never completely died.
An Island woman who was recently escorted out of a store by police is asking Islanders to be more understanding of people who can't wear masks. Joy Auld was shopping at Dollarama when staff asked her to leave, since she was wearing a face shield and not a mask. "The manager was there, and I got just partway down the aisle and he said, 'You got to leave the store if you're not going to wear a mask,'" said Auld. The P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities said it continues to get phone calls from Islanders who are being told to leave a store if they're not wearing a mask — even if they explain they cannot because of a medical condition, as is Auld's case. "Please be understanding, because not everybody can wear a mask. A lot of us try and if we can't do it, we try to find an alternative," said Auld, who has asthma and anxiety. Face shield hasn't been a problem before Masks have been mandatory indoors in public buildings on P.E.I. since November 2020. Auld has been wearing her face shield in public for the past year, including to medical appointments, and said this is the first time she was asked to leave a store. Marcia Carroll, executive director of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities, says we need to 'give people some grace' around face masks. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC) "I don't think this is fair," said Auld. "I don't think somebody should be discriminated against if they really can't wear [a mask]." The executive director of the P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities said she's heard these kinds of stories since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. More of the onus needs to be on the individual companies and making sure that they're doing internal education around health exemptions. — Marcia Carroll, P.E.I. Council of People with Disabilities "We just need to step back and understand that some people can't wear a mask," said Marcia Carroll. "But they still have the right to navigate through their community as well." Companies should do 'internal education' Carroll said she doesn't think the government needs to step in and remind businesses about exemptions. "I think more of the onus needs to be on the individual companies and making sure that they're doing internal education around health exemptions and what a mandatory order means," said Carroll. Auld said her experience at Dollarama was embarrassing, and she's asked the company for an apology. "People don't realize how sick I am, because I don't show it. And I always say, you don't know my story, so don't judge me," she said. CBC News reached out to Dollarama for comment, but has not heard back. More from CBC P.E.I.
A 40-year-old Kingston, Ont., woman has been charged with second-degree murder after a man was found dead inside his Bath Road home early Wednesday morning. Kingston police officers had been asked to carry out a welfare check at the home at around 3:30 a.m. on May 12 when they found the body of 41-year-old Ryan Villeneuve. After an "extensive investigation" by the force's major crime unit, the woman was arrested and charged with Villeneuve's death, police said in a media release Friday. The woman was also charged with aggravated assault in connection with a Thursday morning stabbing in the city's north end. That attack took place inside an apartment on Cassidy Street and left a male with serious injuries, police said.
Saskatchewan reported 227 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, slightly fewer than the current seven-day average of 203. Of the new cases, the Saskatoon region saw the most with 50, followed by the Regina zone with 41. As of Friday, 2,075 cases are considered active across Saskatchewan. Two more people have died in the province after contracting the virus. One was in their 40s and from the Saskatoon region, while the other was in their 70s and from the south central zone. There are 149 people in hospital with the virus in Saskatchewan, with 115 of them are receiving inpatient care and 34 under intensive care. Saskatoon has the most COVID-19 patients at 65 (52 people are receiving inpatient care and another 13 are in intensive care). Sask. confirms 1st vaccine-related blood clot Saskatchewan health officials have also confirmed the province's first vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia — otherwise known as a blood clot — in a woman in her 60s. Health officials said she had received her AstraZeneca-Oxford shot on April 11, and is now recovering after treatment. As of Wednesday, there have been 18 similar reports confirmed across the country, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). The province said it has reported Saskatchewan's case to the PHAC as well. The province said roughly 72,000 AstraZeneca first doses have been administered in Saskatchewan, as of Friday. Regardless of which vaccine a person receives, public health officials remind people "adverse events to any immunization can range from minor side effects (i.e. local pain, swelling at injection site) to more severe reactions." Anyone who experiences any side effects to a COVID-19 vaccine is encouraged to report it to 811 HealthLine. Second dose booking starts Monday for 'priority populations' Starting May 17, anyone 85 and older — or who received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine before Feb. 15 — will be eligible to book their second shot. People with cancer and those who have received solid organ transplants are expected to receive a letter of eligibility in the mail allowing them to access a second dose as well. Remaining residents will be able to book their second jabs by age group or priority, with dates to be announced later. At second dose appointments, the province said the clinic or pharmacy is expected to validate the timing and brand of a person's first dose to make sure the second is being administered in the recommended time frame. If someone has misplaced the wallet card provided at their first immunization, they can go online to their MySaskHealthRecord account or call 1-833-727-5829. At this point, Saskatchewan public health still plans for second doses to match the brand of first doses. However, the province noted that could change depending on the ongoing research across Canada regarding the mixing of vaccine brands. Negative COVID-19 test results to be delivered via text Starting Friday, people who are tested for COVID-19 have the option to receive negative test results via an automated text message, the province said. People can sign up for those updates through an online requisition form at the testing sites. All patients who have received a positive COVID-19 test are still expected to also receive a call from public health officials.
As parts of the world begin to eye the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers are starting to grapple with a phenomenon that has long failed to make headlines: inflation. But could Canadians avoid higher inflation? Global's Anne Gaviola explains.
Federal health authorities laid out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19, just as regional officials warned some people may be getting ahead of themselves through ill-advised gatherings. Canada's chief public health officer raised hopes Friday that summer fun and fall holiday bashes may lie ahead as she rolled out a blueprint for how the vaccination campaign could lift the country out of COVID-19 lockdown. Dr. Theresa Tam said Canada may have "passed the peak" of the third wave, as average daily COVID-19 case counts dropped to fewer than 7,000 for the first time since April. There's also been a decline in severe illness, with an average of fewer than 4,000 COVID-19 patients being treated in hospital each day, she said. Tam touted "great strides" in the fact about 50 per cent of adults have at least one vaccine dose, suggesting that maintaining this pace could pay off in the form of "an outdoor summer that gets us back into many of the activities we've been missing." That could include small outdoor gatherings with family and friends in the warm weather, such as picnics in the park, outdoor sports and patio dining, said Tam. For that to happen, at least 75 per cent of adults must receive at least one jab, including 20 per cent who have both doses, according to federal modelling. Tam said that first immunization target is "within sight." The next step will be to fully vaccinate at least 75 per cent of eligible adults to allow for more indoor activities this fall, including in-person learning at colleges, a return to the office and multi-household holiday celebrations, she said. "To get to this better summer and fall, we need to keep doing everything we can to protect ourselves and our communities, ease the pressure on the health system and help bring an end to this pandemic," said Tam. Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Canada can expect to receive 4.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna ahead of Victoria Day weekend. Anand said Pfizer has moved up its schedule to deliver two million doses early next week, and 1.4 million more are expected to arrive on Thursday and Friday. Moderna is also set to send 1.1 million doses next week, she said. As the vaccine rollout accelerates, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the national timeline to ease restrictions is "realistic," but these targets have to be tailored to local epidemiological conditions. "This gives Canadians a vision of what it looks like as we proceed down this vaccination path together," said Hajdu. "It helps provide that guideline for Canadians as they undergo their own community's journey with vaccination." The upbeat tone at the federal level was discordant with grim forecasts out of Manitoba, where a top health official predicted Friday that COVID-19 numbers would worsen for at least another week before dropping. Dr. Jazz Atwal, the deputy chief public health officer, said a current spike in cases and hospitalization rates had been made worse by too many people gathering and interacting with others, despite public health orders that have been tightened three times in the last month. The province reported 491 new infections Friday after setting a daily record Thursday of 560 cases. Manitoba was just behind Alberta, which continued to have the highest infection rate in the country. Alberta reported 1,433 new cases and five additional deaths. Meanwhile, health officials in Nunavut scolded scofflaws in Iqaluit on Friday, warning that unauthorized gatherings could quash the city's hopes for summer. Nunavut's chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, said a recent gathering between multiple households resulted in infections in children. Public health measures currently restrict all indoor and outdoor gatherings. Twelve more cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Iqaluit, bringing the city's active total to 78. "We have a very short summer and it seems it's getting shorter by the day," said Nunavut Health Minister Lorne Kusugak. Ontario reported 2,362 new infections Friday, continuing a downward trend since April's streak of daily case counts in the 4,000s. There were 26 more deaths from the virus, according to the province. Officials said 1,582 COVID-19 patients were in hospital, including 777 people in intensive care. Quebec maintained its run of case counts below 1,000 on Friday, reporting 838 diagnoses, and eight more deaths. The province said there were 530 hospitalizations, and 123 intensive care cases. Saskatchewan reported 227 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths. The province also confirmed one case of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT), or blood clots, in a woman who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine in April. British Columbia's case count dropped to 494 on Friday, the first time infections fell below 500 since March. There were two more deaths. On the East Coast, Nova Scotia reported 117 new cases and one virus-related death, as a court-ordered injunction blocked a pair of anti-mask rallies planned in the Halifax area this weekend. Health officials in New Brunswick said there were five new COVID-19 cases Friday, while Prince Edward Island reported two new infections and Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed six more cases. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2021. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said the opposition's continued control of Venezuelan-owned U.S. refiner Citgo would be a key point in any eventual dialogue with opponents to resolve the country's longstanding political crisis. Maduro earlier this week said he was willing to sit down with opposition leader Juan Guaido with the involvement of the Norwegian government or other mediators, after Guaido floated the idea of the progressive relaxation of U.S. sanctions to incentivize the government to hold free and fair elections. In a state television address, Maduro said the first point of discussion in any dialogue would be for the opposition to "renounce the path of coups, interventionism and to call for invasions of our country."
A simple surgery to remove unnecessary tissue in the heart could prevent strokes in patients with a common condition that requires them to take blood thinners, says the Canadian lead author of a study involving about 4,800 people in 27 countries. Dr. Richard Whitlock, a cardiac surgeon for Hamilton Health Sciences, said when blood being pumped through the heart pools in the left atrial appendage, it may form a clot that could escape and block the blood supply to the brain and raise the risk of a potentially fatal stroke. But Whitlock says getting rid of an appendage in the heart cuts that risk by 33 per cent for patients with atrial fibrillation, which is characterized by an irregular heart rhythm. The findings suggest a quick surgery, involving the removal of the appendage that's about as useless as the appendix, could be adopted around the world "immediately" through a change in practice for 15 per cent of heart surgery patients living with atrial fibrillation and taking blood thinners, Whitlock said. "This will open a new paradigm for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation," Whitlock said of the results of the McMaster University-led study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Saturday, when it was also presented at a conference of the American College of Cardiology. Whitlock said consenting patients undergoing cardiac surgery for other reasons were randomly selected for an additional operation to remove the left atrial appendage, and their results were compared with those who only took medicine. Blood thinners, which prevent clots, reduce the risk of stroke by up to 60 per cent. Whitlock said cutting out the appendage shrinks that risk by a further 33 per cent, adding those combined therapies will greatly benefit patients with atrial fibrillation, which is responsible for 25 per cent of ischemic strokes. The study began in 2012 and patients, with the average age of 71, were followed for a mean period of 3.8 years, he said. All the surgeons involved in the study across 27 countries — including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Russia, China and Brazil — are invited to events Whitlock is hosting on the findings, and a change in guidelines will be strongly recommended, he said. "We will have a significant effort at knowledge translation in terms of getting the word out there of this benefit. And surgeons, hopefully, across the world, can immediately shift practice and start managing the left atrial appendage in these patients undergoing heart surgery, who have atrial fibrillation." Whitlock said it's been suspected since the late 1940s that blood clots can form in the left atrial appendage in patients with atrial fibrillation. Until now, however, he said there wasn't any definitive evidence to suggest the tissue could be removed to reduce the risk of stroke. Some surgeons have intermittently performed the procedure if they felt a patient already having heart surgery was not at high risk, he added. Patrice Lindsay, who directs change in health systems for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, said that while blood thinners have been the gold standard in preventing blood clots and strokes, the study paves the way for the procedure to be widely adopted for heart surgery patients with atrial fibrillation. As with other studies, the evidence will be reviewed and consultations with governments and experts would follow on ways to move the science into clinical practice, said Lindsay, a former cardiac nurse. "We would put out public information for patients and families to understand what it's all about and why it might be a good thing and who would be eligible," she said, adding development of guidelines and training of surgeons and nurses would also be part of the changes in health-care systems. "It takes a bit of time, but you can move fairly efficiently through that process." This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2021. Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
CALGARY — Alberta Health Services says it has obtained a restraining order against a Calgary mayoral candidate who the agency says has threatened health workers.AHS says Kevin Johnston must stay at least 100 metres away from health officers and must not publish any threats or hate speech directed at them.Johnston is running in this fall's municipal election and has been a vocal supporter of anti-lockdown protests.He appears regularly online where he promotes far-right ideology.AHS says Johnston has been aggressive and threatening towards two particular health workers as well as to the general AHS workforce.The agency says it wants to protect staff and ensure they feel supported. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2021. The Canadian Press
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran's judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, a prominent hard-line cleric, has registered to run in Iran's June presidential election. He arrived at the Interior Ministry on Saturday, the last day of registering, to put himself into the race. Raisi has been named as a possible successor to Iran's 82-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. That had some suggesting he wouldn't run in the race. He ran against Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and lost in the 2017 presidential election, though he still garnered nearly 16 million votes in his campaign. Raisi has since conducted high-profile anti-corruption arrests and trials, many televised, gaining support of average Iranians frustrated by the country's poor economy. However, international rights groups have criticized Raisi for reportedly serving on a 1988 panel that sentenced thousands of prisoners to death in the waning days of Iran's 1980s war with Iraq. Raisi has never publicly acknowledged his role in the sentences. Raisi had been the head of the Imam Reza charity foundation, known as “Astan-e Quds-e Razavi,” in Farsi. It is believed to be one of the biggest charities in the country, which manages a vast conglomerate of businesses and endowments. THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A former speaker of Iran's parliament registered Saturday to run in the Islamic Republic's upcoming presidential election, becoming the first high-profile candidate to potentially back the policies of the outgoing administration that reached Tehran's tattered nuclear deal with world powers. The decision by Ali Larijani, long a prominent conservative voice who later allied himself with Iran's relatively moderate President Hassan Rouhani, came on the last day of registration for the June 18 election. While a panel overseen by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ultimately will approve candidates, Larijani has maintained close ties to the cleric over his decades in government. Journalists in Tehran watched Larijani, 63, register at the Interior Ministry, which oversees elections. He waved to onlookers after completing the process, his face covered by a blue surgical mask as Iran continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic. Larijani, a former commander in Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, previously served as the minister of culture and Islamic guidance and as the head of Iran's state broadcaster. Under hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he served as secretary of Iran's powerful Supreme National Security Council for two years, and as a senior nuclear negotiator. He later became speaker of the Iranian parliament for some 12 years, stepping down in May 2020. Larijani's family includes prominent members of Iran's theocracy, with his cleric brother once serving as the head of the Iranian judiciary. His father was a prominent ayatollah. Larijani had an active role in signing a 25-year strategic agreement with China earlier this year. On Friday, as a sign of respect, Larijani reportedly asked permission to run from high-ranking clerics in the religious city of Qom. Within Iran, candidates exist on a political spectrum that broadly includes hard-liners who want to expand Iran’s nuclear program, moderates who hold onto the status quo, and reformists who want to change the theocracy from within. Those calling for radical change find themselves blocked from even running for office by the Guardian Council, a 12-member panel that vets and approves candidates under Khamenei’s watch. “Like outgoing President Rouhani, Larijani is someone Khamenei trusts to represent Iran without compromising the regime’s basic tenets of religious supervision over society and independence from foreign powers,” Barbara Slavin, the director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, wrote recently. A clear candidate has yet to emerge within the reformists. Some have mentioned Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, though he later said he wouldn't run after a scandal over a leaked recording in which he offered frank criticism of the Guard and the limits of the civilian government’s power. At the same time Larijani registered, so too did Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, the eldest son of the late former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rafsanjani, a member of Tehran's city council, has been described as a reformist by political commentators. Several other candidates have prominent backgrounds in the Guard, a paramilitary force answerable only to Khamenei. Hard-liners have increasingly suggested a former military commander should be president given the country’s problems, something that hasn’t happened since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and the purge of the armed forces that followed. Iran’s former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also registered Wednesday. Though his attempt to run in 2017 ultimately was blocked after Khamenei criticized Ahmadinejad, this year the supreme leader has not warned him off. Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press
A B.C. couple moving to Nova Scotia says they're sitting in limbo after their requests to enter their new home were denied due to COVID-19 restrictions. For Julia Park-Bendel, leaving Victoria, B.C. and heading to the Maritimes is a return to her roots. "It's been in the works for almost 30 years," she said. She quit her job. Her husband Robert Bendel retired after 34 years in the Navy. They sold their home on the Island, and the couple, along with their two dogs and a cat, were set to live in their cramped RV from April 26 until June 1. They were planning a three week journey to their new home in Nova Scotia with the goal of arriving by June 21. The Bendel's say they planned to live in their trailer from April 26 to June 21 but now they feel they could be stuck all summer long.(Robert Bendel) But halfway through May and with restrictions in Nova Scotia constantly changing, they say they're no longer sure when they'll be able to leave their crowded RV and enter their new home. "I think we've spent ... over $2,000 staying in trailer parks so far and we budgeted for that. But we didn't budget for staying another month, two, three ... we didn't budget for having to spend an indefinite period of time in our trailer," Park-Bendel said. But it's an indefinite period of time they're looking at right now. On Friday, a new travel application process for people trying to enter Nova Scotia came into effect. "There's a potential for no end in sight," Park-Bendel said. No entry The application process is required for anyone entering the province. No one can until it's reviewed and approved. "We are currently not allowing most people to move to Nova Scotia. The restriction will be in place until at least the end of May," was the emailed message from Nova Scotia's provincial exemptions team when the Bendels asked about their status. Premier Iain Rankin and Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Robert Strang hold a COVID-19 briefing on April 29, 2021.(Communications Nova Scotia) The email went on to say the province is considering exceptions for people who have a closing date on or before May 20. The Bendels closing date is May 31. "Given that your closing date is beyond the date noted above, we are unable to offer an exception at this time," the email read. What now? On Friday, Nova Scotia Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Robert Strang said people in the Bendels' situation should not apply right now. "We're not sure where we're going to end up in terms of what types of measures we're going to need to have when we get into the last week of May. We're asking people to hold off. We don't want to flood our exemptions process," he said. Park-Bendel says it doesn't seem fair. "They've changed their mind three times. I know it's a moving target, but, eventually, those of us who have bought property, we want an end date and a guarantee like, 'OK if you come, we will let you in,'" she said. On Friday, Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin said while people are appealing to him, he's not involved in granting exemptions. "Strict border control is an imperative piece to make sure we're not bringing in anymore cases while we're trying to control the cases we have now," Rankin said. The Bendels say they're worried about how long they'll have to live in a cramped RV with money running out.(Robert Bendel) But for Park-Bendel and her RV filled with family and the remaining possessions that haven't already been shipped to Nova Scotia, she says they may just have to risk it and head to the border anyway. "Are we going to be allowed in on the 21st? Are we going to be turned away and be camping in the bush for one month, two months, three months? What are they going to say? Until there's no cases, you're not coming in? We're hostages."
CALGARY — A judge has dismissed an attempt to quash the United Conservative government's inquiry into whether foreign groups have conspired against Alberta's oil industry. Court of Queen's Bench Justice Karen Horner says the environmental law firm Ecojustice failed to prove the inquiry was called to intimidate charities that have raised concerns about the industry's environmental impact. "Ecojustice has failed to show that the (order in council creating the inquiry) was enacted on a bad faith basis or for other egregious reasons," Horner said in her decision Friday. She also said there's no reason to believe that the political context around the inquiry suggests it's biased. "I have considered whether there is a basis to hold that the context of the (order in council), its terms of reference and the past conduct of commissioner (Steve) Allan combined to raise a reasonable apprehension of bias and I find that they do not," Horner said. She also found the inquiry is within the province's jurisdiction. "We are very pleased with the court's decision today," Energy Minister Sonya Savage said in a statement. "We make no apologies for standing up for Alberta's oil and gas industry by thoroughly investigating the widely reported foreign-funded campaign aimed at discrediting the province's energy sector." The challenge was always going to be a long shot, said Devon Page of Ecojustice. "We knew we were in for a tough battle." Page emphasized that Ecojustice was questioning the way the inquiry was created, not its actions or its conclusions. "The context for the inquiry, we say, is to conclude that the conclusions are predetermined. But you can only prove that once the report is released." It will still be possible to challenge potential bias once the inquiry's report is delivered, Page said. Ecojustice argued that Premier Jason Kenney's many comments about environmental charities working against Alberta's interests and his threats to use the inquiry to attack their tax status suggests the outcome is rigged. In her oral judgment, Horner said that suggestion was premature. Her written analysis is expected next week. In a brief statement, Allan welcomed the verdict and said he looked forward to completing his work. The provincial government and some industry leaders have said Canadian environmental charities that accept U.S. funding are part of a plot against Alberta's energy industry. They say the aim is to block pipelines and landlock Alberta's oil to benefit American competitors. Legal scholars and non-profit groups say the inquiry is an attempt to bully and silence industry critics. Ecojustice had argued that the inquiry was formed for an improper purpose. Lawyers for the provincial government said in their written submissions to the court that cabinet is entitled — and mandated — to decide what's in the public interest and what issues warrant a public inquiry. They also said that questions before the inquiry concern the province's economic viability. University of Calgary law professor Martin Olszynski said Ecojustice had a tough case to argue. The inquiry's terms of reference and the political context around it do raise alarm bells, he said, but they weren't necessarily relevant to the narrow focus of Ecojustice's challenge. "It was always going to be a hard argument to make," he said. "You're asking the courts to say there are certain sorts of things that politicians aren't allowed to inquire into." Courts normally defer to elected officials in such cases, he said. Olszynski said the report itself, due after several delays to be tabled with the provincial cabinet on May 31, could still be challenged. Alberta law requires inquiries to seek a response from those who are the subject of negative findings, he noted. No such response has been sought from groups such as Greenpeace or the Sierra Club. "At this point, there are essentially two options," he said. "Either there are no adverse findings or else the commissioner is going to be requesting another extension." This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2021. — By Bob Weber in Edmonton. Follow @row1960 on Twitter The Canadian Press
Several family doctors and physician associations across Canada say they welcome questions from anyone concerned about second doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca or any other COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Eben Strydom, a generalist in Melfort, Sask., said he's happy to answer the call recommended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau if it means giving his patients confidence in the vaccines. "This is our ticket out of the pandemic so it is critically important," Strydom said. "If it means you're going to take it or not, you should speak to your doctor." Trudeau said this week his own doctor recommended he get a second dose of AstraZeneca when it's his turn, adding that he knows scientists are also studying the effectiveness of mixing and matching vaccines. Health Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and provincial health officials make recommendations about how and when Canadians can get vaccinated, Trudeau added. "I certainly encourage all Canadians to talk to their doctors." More than two million Canadians got AstraZeneca for their first jab. Since then, Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan said they would reserve remaining doses for second shots due to limited supply. Ontario paused its use over concerns about rare blood clots. Keir Johnson, a spokesperson for Manitoba Doctors, said physicians are keeping up with the new evidence and shifting recommendations but it's understandable why the pauses and shifting eligibility could create concern for the public. The association has a campaign encouraging anyone with concerns to speak with a doctor and in most cases members report that patients feel more confident after that conversation, Johnson said. "Because physicians are a trusted voice, they're often able to reassure people to help them understand the current benefits and risks," he said. That said, there has not been any deluge of new questions since Trudeau's recommendation, he added. Dr. Noah Ivers, a family doctor at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, said the pandemic has prompted some doctors to engage with their patients in new ways. He and some colleagues have started holding virtual town halls to address common questions. A town hall on COVID-19 vaccines attracted about 1,000 participants who could type in questions and upvote the most popular ones. "It's gone so well, I started to wonder why we didn't do it before," he said. On an individual basis, family doctors also have the benefit of knowing a patient's health history. If an individual has had a recent kidney transplant, for example, a physician may recommend a shorter gap between doses than for a totally healthy individual, he said. Generally speaking, he said he tells his patients the same thing he tells his parents, whose first jab was AstraZeneca. "We are in no rush to figure this out and we're waiting for information," Ivers said, adding the recommended gap between doses means there's plenty of time for more research on mixing of manufacturers and blood clot risks. Of course, not everyone has access to a family doctor. The Liberals' own 2019 platform promised to make sure every Canadian has access to a family doctor or primary health-care team, noting nearly five million Canadians don't have access. Ivers said vaccine hesitancy is another reason why governments should be making access to a family doctor a priority. "I think this is one in a million reasons why you really need to get connected to a primary care professional," he said. "It's time to write a letter to your MP and MPP about how important primary care is," he said. Dr. Matthew Chow, president of Doctors of BC, said like Ivers, other doctors are finding new ways to interact and share information widely with their patients. The South Asian COVID Task Force — a volunteer organization made up of physicians, researchers and others — has chapters across the country. They are sharing culturally appropriate communications about COVID-19 in multiple South Asian languages, he said. Doctors understand the pandemic has been tough on the public in many ways and keeping track of shifting evidence is one of them, he said. However, family doctors are evidence-based practitioners who take their information and best guidance from federal authorities such as Health Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, who in turn are monitoring international evidence, he said. "We can be confident those recommendations will be safe," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2021. Amy Smart, The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Medical experts say Ontario will have to significantly scale up its vaccination effort to achieve its goal of fully inoculating all willing adults against COVID-19 by the end of the summer. They say the province will need far more health-care workers at vaccine clinics, 24-hour sites and clear public messaging to meet its Sept. 22 target. The president of the Ontario Medical Association said the province should use all available vaccine facilities and engage more family doctors to reach its goal. "If we were in a position of unlimited supply and we were able to use all of our resources to provide those vaccines, we'd stand a fighting chance," Dr. Samantha Hill said. Premier Doug Ford said Thursday that the plan is contingent on continued vaccine supply from the federal government in the coming months. Ford has been more vocal recently in his criticism of the federal government’s handling of the pandemic, calling for tighter border control to prevent cases of the COVID-19 variants from entering the province. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accused the Progressive Conservative premier of playing politics during the pandemic. A spokeswoman for Ford's office said Friday the province can hit the Sept. 22 target if the province receives approximately eight million doses by the end of June, and an additional 11 million doses to fully vaccinate Ontarians aged 12 and over. "If we were to get that supply, we could dramatically increase our capacity to administer vaccines," Ivana Yelich said in a statement. "If they can get us the supply, we will work to get Ontarians fully vaccinated this summer." The federal government has said it believes there will be enough shots to fully vaccinate all Canadians by the end of September. "The total number of doses that we expect (is) … over 100 million doses by the end of September," Procurement Minister Anita Anand said earlier this month. "The majority of the doses … are from mRNA vaccine producers, being Pfizer and Moderna." Ontario administered 141,765 COVID-19 vaccine doses on Thursday for a total of more than 6.7 million doses given out so far. University of Toronto epidemiologist Ashleigh Tuite said now that vaccine supply appears to be less of an issue, the “two-dose summer” effort should be focused on how to get shots into arms as quickly as possible. She said the government should clarify its plan for second doses, given the confusing, "piecemeal" vaccination campaign thus far. "We don't really have a unified system and there's clearly some confusion amongst the public to how exactly we get our second dose," she said. Having a fully vaccinated population makes the future "a lot brighter,” she said. "I think it’s going to be really important, thinking back to the government and their role in all of this, to have some more clear communication around this." The CEO of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario said the province will need to greatly speed up its rollout if it wants to hit the Sept. 22 target. Doris Grinspun said the province must recruit more health-care workers to help administer doses and should be running its mass clinics 24-7 to maximize output. "If we have enough vaccines, we should open it to everyone, absolutely," she said. "I believe that we can get all the vaccines into arms in a very short period of time if we utilize all the resources ... which we are not right now." But NDP deputy leader Sara Singh expressed skepticism about whether the province had a plan to match Ford's promise. The vaccine rollout has been "slow and very sloppy" and even now, many people are struggling to book appointments to get a shot, she said. "We actually need to make sure people are getting their first dose before we can even start having those conversations about making sure they get their second," she said. The province reported 2,362 new COVID-19 cases Friday, and 26 more deaths from the virus. The data is based on 44,040 tests. There were 1,582 COVID-19 patients in Ontario hospitals as of Friday morning. Of those, 777 people were in intensive care and 560 were on ventilators. This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 14, 2021. Shawn Jeffords and Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
The June 18 election to succeed President Hassan Rouhani is seen as a test of the legitimacy of the country's clerical rulers who are hoping for a high turnout. But voter interest may be hit by rising discontent over an economy that has been crippled by U.S. sanctions reimposed after Washington exited a nuclear deal between Iran and major powers three years ago. Raisi is a 60-year-old mid-ranking cleric in Iran’s Shi’ite Muslim establishment.