'The Story' host speaks to business owners about the impact of coronavirus pandemic
'The Story' host speaks to business owners about the impact of coronavirus pandemic
Prince Wong was still in her mother's womb when the Chinese government reclaimed control over Hong Kong from the British in the summer of 1997. For her 23rd birthday this year, Wong posted a photo of herself on Instagram wearing a pastel-striped paper hat trimmed with pink pompoms. On a recent day, Wong spun a gold ring on her finger in continuous circles as she spoke quietly about the past year of her life.
The number of COVID-19 cases recorded in Ontario’s schools is lower per capita than in the province’s general population and in the schools of neighbouring Quebec, the government says. But is Ontario doing enough testing and contact tracing to stop possible spread of COVID-19 in schools? Stephen Lecce, the province’s education minister, has boasted in recent weeks that the Progressive Conservatives’ back-to-school strategy is working, but epidemiological studies and experts suggest it’s difficult to make that claim without more testing. A study from Alberta released last week added to mounting evidence that younger people infected with COVID-19 either show mild symptoms or none at all, meaning they could potentially be silently spreading the virus in schools and then taking it home. “I think to say schools are the safest place for kids in terms of this virus is not a statement that is backed by the evidence at this point,” said Gabrielle Brankston, a PhD student at the University of Guelph who has been compiling data on COVID-19 in Canada. Just under 36 per cent of the almost 2,000 young people who tested positive for COVID-19 during a first test in Alberta did not have any symptoms associated with the virus, according to research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal last Tuesday. That proportion of asymptomatic cases among young people is much higher than the 15 to 20 per cent range estimated in previous pediatric reviews, said Dr. Nisha Thampi from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and other medical experts who reviewed the findings. The discrepancy may be due to Alberta’s strategy of testing close contacts of known cases since early April, the study noted, but probably still doesn’t capture all the asymptomatic transmission. “It is important to note that this is likely an underestimation of the true prevalence of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection, as those without symptoms are much less likely to seek testing than those with symptoms,” authors James King, Tara Whitten, Jeffrey Bakal and Finlay McAlister wrote in the study. The Alberta research follows a massive contact tracing study of two states in India done by Princeton and other U.S. universities that warned in September children may be key spreaders of the virus. Ontario recorded a record number of cases (1,855) on Friday as the province’s labs processed more than 58,000 tests the previous day, or nearly 10,000 more than the previous busiest day of the year. There have been a total of 1,180 cases in Ontario schools reported in the last 14 days, the province says, while its overall count is just under 1,400 new cases each day on average over the last week. (Around 1.5 million students are in Ontario classrooms currently, while the province has a population of about 14.5 million people.) Six Ontario schools are currently closed and 14 per cent (or 671 of 4,828 sites) have a reported case. Public health officials say that’s not too bad. “Parents should have a fair bit of confidence in schools being as safe as possible,” said Dr. Brent Moloughney, the associate medical officer of health at Ottawa Public Health, which fought off a sharp spike in cases in the capital in late September and early October. He said that public health is aiming for constant improvement, though, and that with where we are now in the outbreak, “we need to be spending a bit more time trying to further break chains of transmission, and I think schools are one of those settings.” Moloughney said that means upping testing in schools, with a focus on the highest-risk contacts of known cases. “Let's get them tested, or more of them tested, and let’s see what that tells us so that can inform the next step,” he said. That’s exactly what the government just said it will do, launching a targeted voluntary test campaign to reach asymptomatic students and staff where COVID-19 is running rampant, including in Toronto and Ottawa, so as to more easily track and prevent its spread in classes. Tracing contacts of known cases has long been a challenge, but the University of Guelph’s Brankston said she and several peers responded to a call for volunteers to help with contact tracing early in the pandemic, but none had been called up for the labour-intensive task of trying to map transmission pathways. “I was quite willing to offer my time to do it,” she said. “And I know several graduate students in epidemiology who (volunteered and) haven’t been called,” she said. “There’s an untapped resource there.” Marit Stiles, the Opposition NDP’s education critic, said the report out of Alberta adds to her party’s concerns about the Ontario government’s handle on COVID-19 transmission in schools. “It confirms the lack of confidence educators and parents have in Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce's totally inadequate plan to protect kids, teachers and staff and lessen the virus's spread from schools to the wider community,” she said. Stiles said an NDP government would have capped class sizes and moved quickly to spend billions of dollars available to increase testing and improve contact tracing and screening in schools. But while acknowledging the paucity of available data, other public health experts say Lecce is likely correct to assume low-level or modest transmission. “We simply are not seeing widespread outbreaks in schools,” said Barry Pakes, the director of the public health and preventive medicine residency program at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “There are many single cases, some with two cases, but if the numbers of students who have COVID-19 were much larger than we know of, we would actually be seeing more related morbidity and mortality inside and outside of the schools,” he said. Pakes advised against diverting recently approved rapid tests to schools, noting the high false positive rates in low-prevalence settings as well as logistical challenges and possible stigma. “It would really take away critical infrastructure and resources from other areas,” he said.Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
OTTAWA — Kawartha Dairy Limited is recalling certain ice cream products in Ontario due to "possible presence of pieces of metal," Health Canada says. The Kawartha Dairy flavours affected by the recall are: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream in both 1.5 litre and 11.4 litre packages, and Mint Chip ice cream in 1.5 litre and 11.4 litre packages.Health Canada says consumers should not eat the four recalled products, and retailers, restaurants, and institutions should not sell or use them.Recalled ice cream should be thrown out or returned to the location where it was purchased.Health Canada says the recall was triggered by the company on Sunday, adding the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other items.There have been no reported injuries associated with eating the recalled flavours as of Sunday.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
For Norma and Darren Dingwell, Wednesday mornings are spent with a handful of volunteers, peeling and chopping vegetables in the kitchen of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Montague, P.E.I.The couple has been hosting a weekly Wednesday night meal for people in the area for several years now. This spring, COVID-19 restrictions put that weekly tradition on hold temporarily, but the couple has found a way to keep it going, while adhering to public health measures."It's something that people had looked forward to for almost four years," said Norma."So then when COVID hit and everything had to stop, you know, we'd run into people that would come and they'd be like, 'Can you do it again? Can you tell us if you're going to do it again?' So, yeah, it was nice to start back up again."Before the pandemic, people would gather in person to enjoy the weekly dinner together. When that was no longer an option, Norma reached out to the Chief Public Health Office to find a way to make it work. > It's the best part of my week. — Darren DingwellNow, the meal is served in compostable takeout containers for people to enjoy at home. Masks are worn and hand sanitizer is used. And people come in one door, and go out another. 'Feeling of community'Norma said many people in her community struggle to pay for food, or go without so that their children have enough. She said the need for this meal has only grown — and it was important to find a way to keep offering it. "It saddens us that so many people rely on something like this," Norma said, adding that 80-90 people usually show up for the weekly meal. "But then we are very blessed that we are able to provide even just one good meal a week for people. It's something that they don't have to worry about, a Wednesday meal. They know that they can get one here." The meals are prepared entirely by volunteers, with food paid for entirely through donations. "It's the best part of my week," said Darren, who comes up with the meal plans — everything from spaghetti and meatballs to roasted vegetables served with pork gravy and homemade biscuits. "We still want to make sure that people have that feeling of community, that there is somebody there for them … Even though we can't dine in and share a meal together, we can still look after one another this way. And this, we felt it was very important." People asked to book ahead for Christmas mealThe couple plans to host a Christmas meal, as they usually do, but with some changes: It'll be a take-out dinner, and this year, the pair is offering to deliver it anywhere in the Montague area. "We want to get the word out to people that we're here on Christmas Day," Darren said."And don't go without. We're going to have all kinds." The couple asks that anyone interested in having a meal on Christmas Day contact them by Dec. 17, so that they know how much food to purchase and prepare. More P.E.I. news
LONDON — British singer Rita Ora apologized Monday for breaking lockdown rules by holding a birthday party, saying it was “a serious and inexcusable error of judgment.”The Sun newspaper ran photos of Ora and others, including models Cara and Poppy Delevingne, arriving at the Casa Cruz restaurant in London’s Notting Hill area on Saturday.Under lockdown rules that end Wednesday, all pubs and restaurants in England must close except for takeout and delivery, and people are barred from meeting indoors with members of other households.Ora said on Instagram that she had held “a small gathering with some friends to celebrate my 30th birthday.”“It was a spur of the moment decision made with the misguided view that we were coming out of lockdown and this would be OK,” she wrote.Ora, whose hits include “Anywhere” and “I Will Never Let You Down,” said she now realized “how irresponsible these actions were and I take full responsibility.”Reports of the party attracted widespread criticism.Asked about the event, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, Jamie Davies, said it was “important that everybody in society sets an example by following the rules. That is for every member of the public, including celebrities.”(backslash)Britain has Europe's worst coronavirus death toll, at over 58,000 people.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakThe Associated Press
Guillaume Boivin has signed a two-year contract extension with the Israel Start-Up Nation cycling team, bringing the number of Canadians on the 32-rider squad to four.Boivin joins Ottawa's Michael Woods and Alex Cataford, and Montreal's James Piccoli.The Israel Start-Up Nation roster, which features talent from 17 countries, is headed by British star Chris Froome and veteran German Andre Greipel. Froome and Woods, who comes from the EF Pro Cycling team, are two of nine newcomers in 2021.Founded in 2014 as the Israel Cycling Academy, Team Israel Start-Up Nation is co-owned by Canadian-born Sylvan Adams, a former Canadian Masters cycling champion who emigrated to Israel in 2015.Woods has ties to both Adams and team performance director Paulo Saldanha."Despite COVID-19, Israel Start-Up Nation had a good inaugural season in the WorldTour. We secured our first victories at this level — including Grand Tour stages," Adams said in a statement."Our lineup for next year is significantly enhanced, yet it keeps the core group together. We plan to be extremely competitive in the biggest races … Exciting times ahead."The hope is to hold the pre-season training camp in January in Israel, as in past years."We see ourselves as ambassadors of Israel, and we feel confident that we can hold the camp and ensure the health and safety of our riders and staff," said team CEO Ido Shavit.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020The Canadian Press
Nova Scotia reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, giving the province a total of 138 active cases.One of the new cases, linked to Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning, was announced late Sunday but reported in Monday's figures. The other 15 are in the central zone.The Nova Scotia Health Authority said 628 people were tested at a pop-up clinic in Dartmouth, yielding six positive results. Those people were told to self-isolate and make arrangements to take a standard test. The health authority completed a total of 3,054 tests Sunday. It also reported that on Friday, it wrongly reported nine positive cases, when in fact it was eight. "We continue to see strong interest in the asymptomatic pop-up rapid testing locations, which shows Nova Scotians, including young Nova Scotians, are taking this virus seriously," said Premier Stephen McNeil in a news release."I want to thank all who have come out for a test, as well as the volunteers and health staff at the sites. We are also seeing impressive test numbers at the labs, a reflection of the hard work of staff there. These are important pieces of our collective effort to contain the virus."On Monday evening, the Nova Scotia Health Authority announced two sites where potential COVID-19 exposures may have taken place: * East Peak Indoor Climbing at 6408 Quinpool Rd. on Nov. 21 between 1:30-4:30 p.m. Symptoms may develop up to, and including, Dec. 5. * Heartwood Cafe at 3061 Gottingen St. on Nov. 21 between 4:00-7:00 p.m. Symptoms may develop up to, and including, Dec. 5.Anyone exposed to the coronavirus at these locations is asked to call 811 to arrange for COVID-19 testing even if they don't have symptoms.Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said experimental research detected COVID-19 in Wolfville's wastewater."Although it is not definitive, it could be a sign that COVID-19 has found its way into that community," he said in the news release. The province is operating pop-up COVID-19 rapid testing clinics Monday in Wolfville and Halifax.The Wolfville tests will be done at 117 Front Street between 1:30-8 p.m. The Halifax testing site will be at the YMCA at 2269 Gottingen Street from 1:30-8 p.m. Lineups could stretch outside, so people are encouraged to wear warm clothing. The rapid test clinics will test anyone over the age of 16 who has no symptoms of COVID-19, has not travelled recently, and has had no contact with someone known to have COVID-19. The two clinics won't test people who have been at an exposure site, or those who work in the hospitality industry.The Department of Health and Wellness said people who work in bars or restaurants should not go to pop-up sites, but instead book a test online at 811.novascotia.ca.Nova Scotia started using pop-up clinics to test for COVID-19 last week.7 health-care workers test positiveNova Scotia Health has resumed releasing the number of staff who have tested positive for COVID-19.As of Monday, seven health-care workers have tested positive in the province. There are six active cases and one resolved case.Public Health says 29 health-care workers are in isolation "as a result of moderate to high-risk staff-to-staff contact in the workplace." There haven't been any patient-to-staff risks identified at this time.COVID cases in the Atlantic provincesThe latest numbers from the Atlantic provinces on Monday are:SymptomsAnyone with one of the following symptoms should visit the COVID-19 self-assessment website or call 811: * Fever. * Cough or worsening of a previous cough.Anyone with two or more of the following symptoms is also asked to visit the website or call 811: * Sore throat. * Headache. * Shortness of breath. * Runny nose.MORE TOP STORIES
Toronto police say they will begin using body-worn cameras this week. Front-line officers in Toronto's 31 Division will wear the cameras when interacting with the public. Toronto police say that the cameras will be used when an officer arrives at a call for service. The camera will also be activated when an officer begins an investigation or interviews members of the public. Chief James Ramer says that the body-worn cameras are a tool police can use to "create trust and legitimacy" with the public. The Toronto Police Services Board approved the use of body-worn cameras on Aug. 18. Toronto police will have 2,350 body-worn camera when the program is completely rolled out. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. The Canadian Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Sled dog mushers in communities on Alaska's Yukon River have received thousands of pounds of donated food to help feed their animals during a shortage of the salmon that is normally a staple of their diet.Pet food manufacturer Purina donated 39,000 pounds (17,690 kilograms) of high-protein dog food last week to mushers in Tanana and Fort Yukon, The Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday.The donation by the company, Nestle Purina PetCare Co., was prompted by the efforts of Stephanie Quinn-Davidson, director of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission.Quinn-Davidson organized an online effort to help the sled dog mushers after several contacted the commission.The campaign raised more than $32,000 in addition to the donation from Purina.The Alaska Department of Fish and Game stopped subsistence fishing for fall chum salmon in some Yukon River areas, leaving mushers struggling to feed their dogs.The area has experienced a decline in king salmon runs, a primary human food source, for more than a decade, said Alida Trainor, a subsistence resource specialist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.The king salmon run was bad this year, but summer and fall chum salmon runs usually help make up the difference. This year’s combination of king salmon and chum salmon crashes was unprecedented, Trainor said.“It was a double whammy. They got hit twice,” Trainor said. “So it creates a food insecurity issue for humans and for dogs, but dogs are part of what we call the subsistence economy.”Quinn-Davidson and regional experts worry generous donations will not be enough. This year’s poor salmon run affects more than just the mushers, who are often integral components of the subsistence economy of entire communities.“It’s a tradition, a culture that’s been passed down for years, and without being able to feed these dogs this winter, there’s some mushers who are going to have to sell them or give them away, or worse,” Quinn-Davidson said.The Associated Press
A crash early Saturday morning on Pitts Memorial Drive in St. John's killed one woman and sent a man to hospital, say police.In a press release late Monday morning, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said officers responded to the collision around 2:50 a.m. Saturday to find one vehicle in the area of the off ramp of the Commonwealth Avenue exit. There was one vehicle involved in the accident.Police said the woman was pronounced dead at the scene, while the man had non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to hospital.The cause of the collision is still being investigated and police ask anyone who saw it happen or may have dashcam video to contact police or Crime Stoppers.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
New Zealand's workplace regulator has filed charges against 13 organizations or individuals over safety issues a year after a volcanic explosion killed 22 people.
VAUGHAN, Ont. — York Region has confirmed 11 cases of COVID-19 linked to a soccer game at a sports facility in Vaughan, Ont.The public health unit says about 25 people played at TRIO Sportsplex and Event Centre on Nov. 11 and 15.It says the players wore masks during the game but not while they were in the change rooms.Most of the cases were Toronto residents, with some from surrounding areas.Team sports were allowed in York Region at the time but screening of patrons was required.The region moved to stricter pandemic restrictions on Nov. 16, prohibiting team sports except for training.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.The Canadian Press
PODGORICA, Montenegro — Montenegro will follow through with its decision to expel the Serbian ambassador, the country's foreign ministry said on Monday, despite a call from the European Union to reverse it.Just days before the inauguration of a new, pro-Serbian government, Montenegro’s outgoing cabinet on Saturday proclaimed the Serbian diplomat persona non grata, citing his “long and continuous meddling in the internal affairs of Montenegro.”Serbia initially reacted by ordering the Montenegrin ambassador to leave the country, but on Sunday went back on its decision.The EU enlargement commissioner, Oliver Varhelyi, has called on Montenegro to do the same, saying “respect for good neighbourly relations and regional co-operation are cornerstones of EU enlargement.”But Montenegro's foreign ministry chided Varhelyi for offering advice before having full knowledge of what led to the country's decision.“Unfortunately, Commissioner Varhelyi has, before making the suggestion, failed to consult with partners and friends in Montenegro’’ about the basic information that led to the expulsion of the Serbian ambassador, the ministry said in a statement.Montenegro, the small Adriatic state of some 620,000 people, is considered the first in line of all the Western Balkan states to join the EU. Although also formally seeking the membership, much bigger Serbia has been forging close political, economic and military ties with China and Russia.The diplomatic incident added to already tense relations between Montenegro and Serbia that were part of one country before an independence referendum in 2006 led to Montenegro splitting off.Montenegro remains deeply divided among those seeking closer ties with traditional Slavic allies Serbia and Russia, and those who view Montenegro as an independent state allied with the West.The long-ruling pro-Western Democratic Party of Socialists was defeated in an August election by a pro-Serb coalition whose government is set to take office this week. The DPS-led government defied Serbia and Russia to join NATO in 2017.The outgoing authorities have accused Serbia of aiding pro-Serb political forces in Montenegro with the goal of installing allies in power and regaining influence.____This story corrects the spelling of the last name of the EU official to Varhelyi.Predrag Milic, The Associated Press
A company has started selling the first blood test to help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease, a leap for the field that could make it much easier for people to learn whether they have dementia. It also raises concern about the accuracy and impact of such life-altering news.Independent experts are leery because key test results have not been published and the test has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — it's being sold under more general rules for commercial labs. But they agree that a simple test that can be done in a doctor’s office has long been needed.It might have spared Tammy Maida a decade of futile trips to doctors who chalked up her symptoms to depression, anxiety or menopause before a $5,000 brain scan last year finally showed she had Alzheimer’s.“I now have an answer,” said the 63-year-old former nurse from San Jose, California.If a blood test had been available, “I might have been afraid of the results” but would have “jumped on that” to find out, she said.More than 5 million people in the United States and millions more around the world have Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia. To be diagnosed with it, people must have symptoms such as memory loss plus evidence of a buildup of a protein called beta-amyloid in the brain.The best way now to measure the protein is a costly PET brain scan that usually is not covered by insurance. That means most people don’t get one and are left wondering if their problems are due to normal aging, Alzheimer’s or something else.The blood test from C2N Diagnostics of St. Louis aims to fill that gap. The company's founders include Drs. David Holtzman and Randall Bateman of Washington University School of Medicine, who headed research that led to the test and are included on a patent that the St. Louis university licensed to C2N.ABOUT THE TESTThe test is not intended for general screening or for people without symptoms — it’s aimed at people 60 and older who are having thinking problems and are being evaluated for Alzheimer’s. It’s not covered by insurance or Medicare; the company charges $1,250 and offers discounts based on income. Only doctors can order the test and results come within 10 days. It's sold in all but a few states in the U.S. and just was cleared for sale in Europe.It measures two types of amyloid particles plus various forms of a protein that reveal whether someone has a gene that raises risk for the disease. These factors are combined in a formula that includes age, and patients are given a score suggesting low, medium or high likelihood of having amyloid buildup in the brain.If the test puts them in the low category, “it’s a strong reason to look for other things” besides Alzheimer’s, Bateman said.“There are a thousand things that can cause someone to be cognitively impaired,” from vitamin deficiencies to medications, Holtzman said.“I don’t think this is any different than the testing we do now” except it’s from a blood test rather than a brain scan, he said. “And those are not 100% accurate either.”ACCURACY CLAIMSThe company has not published any data on the test’s accuracy, although the doctors have published on the amyloid research leading to the test. Company promotional materials cite results comparing the test to PET brain scans — the current gold standard — in 686 people, ages 60-91, with cognitive impairment or dementia.If a PET scan showed amyloid buildup, the blood test also gave a high probability of that in 92% of cases and missed 8% of them, said the company’s chief executive, Dr. Joel Braunstein.If the PET scan was negative, the blood test ruled out amyloid buildup 77% of the time. The other 23% got a positive result, but that doesn't necessarily mean the blood test was incorrect, Braunstein said. The published research suggests it may detect amyloid buildup before it's evident on scans.Braunstein said the company will seek FDA approval and the agency has given it a designation that can speed review. He said study results would be published, and he defended the decision to start selling the test now.“Should we be holding that technology back when it could have a big impact on patient care?" he asked.WHAT OTHERS SAYDr. Eliezer Masliah, neuroscience chief at the U.S. National Institute on Aging, said the government funded some of the work leading to the test as well as other kinds of blood tests.“I would be cautious about interpreting any of these things,” he said of the company’s claims. “We’re encouraged, we’re interested, we’re funding this work but we want to see results.”Heather Snyder of the Alzheimer’s Association said it won't endorse a test without FDA approval. The test also needs to be studied in larger and diverse populations.“It’s not quite clear how accurate or generalizable the results are,” she said.___Marilynn Marchione can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MMarchioneAP.___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
British pop star Rita Ora apologised on Monday after she admitted she had attended a party to celebrate her 30th birthday which broke England's strict COVID-19 lockdown laws. Under the lockdown rules, people in England are not allowed to mix with other households indoors and can meet one person outside.
A two week territory-wide lockdown is set to end in Nunavut on Wednesday when restrictions will ease up for all communities except for Arviat."Until we can be absolutely certain that there is no community transmission in Arviat current restrictions will remain in place for that community," Nunavut's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said in a news conference on Monday. The lockdown in Arviat will continue for another two weeks starting Wednesday and travel in and out of that community will continue to be restricted. Four more cases were reported on Monday in Arviat where there are now has 86 active cases. Over the weekend, Nunavut reported 13 new cases on Sunday and five new cases on Saturday. Despite this, active case counts in the territory are falling. As of Nov. 30, 73 people have been reported as recovered. Missed the government update? Watch it here:This brings the territory wide total to 108 active cases as of Monday, down from 113 on Sunday and 131 on Saturday. Patterson says these kinds of fluctuations are normal.Restrictions ease in Rankin Inlet, Whale CoveWith no community transmission happening in Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet, travel restrictions for those communities will be lifted on Wednesday. Non-essential travel is not recommended. There are 14 active cases in Whale Cove and 8 active cases in Rankin inlet, according to the government's website.In Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove, indoor gatherings will be able to return to the household plus 10 people. Workplaces can open with physical distancing and meetings for government and Inuit organizations can be held at 50 per cent capacity of a space or 50 people. Schools in those communities will be in stage three of the Education department's reopening plan, meaning schools can reopen for two to three days per week on staggered schedules for elementary and upper grades because there is no community transmission. There will be no group activities or physical contact.Places of worship will also open to 50 per cent capacity with no singing. Arenas will be staying closed but parks and playgrounds can reopen. Gyms will reopen for solo workouts and libraries and galleries will reopen with social distancing but no tours or group gatherings are allowed. Hair salons won't be allowed to reopen. Restaurants in the two communities will open for takeout and delivery only. Taxis will be able to take one fare with mandatory masks. Patterson says all households in Rankin Inlet and Whale Cove with active cases have been identified. "All recent transmission for those communities has been related to people living in those houses," he said. Cases continued to be announced for those communities because many families live in crowded homes, he said. "There is a chance that it will continue to spread for a little bit even in the houses that we have identified," he said.All other communities see lockdown lifted, previous restrictions stayIn all other Kivalliq communities, and in the Kitikmeot and Qikiqtaaluk regions, restrictions will ease even more.Private indoor events will be set to 15 people plus members of the household. Schools outside of impacted communities will be in stage two of the Education department's reopening plan. Elementary schools will reopen and high schools and middle schools will reopen for a mix of in-school and remote learning. There will be no group activities and bussing will be staggered. The Arctic College is open for a reduced numbers of students. Theatres and arenas will be reopened and gyms can reopen for solo workouts and pools can reopen for lane swims. Saunas and hot tubs will also reopen. Libraries and galleries will be allowed groups of ten people. Restaurants will be able to reopen to 50 per cent capacity for seated service. Singing will be allowed at churches. "Keep in mind, a new outbreak of COVID-19 could impact any or all of these restrictions at any time," said Patterson. While no residents have been fined to date for breaching public health orders, a business in Iqaluit was fined, Patterson said, for continually breaching orders over the numbers of people allowed inside. These breaches happened prior to cases being announced in Nunavut, he said. Of the new cases from Sunday, 11 are in Arviat and two are in Whale Cove. There have been 177 cases in Nunavut so far. Anyone who has reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 is advised to call the COVID hotline at 1-888-975-8601 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, or notify their community health centre right away, and immediately isolate at home for 14 days.The government update will play later in the day on CBC radio.
NEW YORK — In the land of lexicography, out of the whole of the English language, 2020's word of the year is a vocabulary of one.For the first time, two dictionary companies on Monday — Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com — declared the same word as their tops: pandemic. A third couldn't settle on just one so issued a 16-page report instead along the same lines, noting that a world of once-specialized terms entered the mainstream during the COVID-19 crisis.The year, Oxford Languages said in the report last week, “brought a new immediacy and urgency to the role of the lexicographer. In almost real-time, lexicographers were able to monitor and analyze seismic shifts in language data and precipitous frequency rises in new coinages."Its Oxford English Dictionary and others found themselves madly updating well beyond routine schedules to keep up. Such publication updates are usually planned far in advance. Because the coronavirus pandemic brought on gargantuan language changes, according to Oxford Languages, “2020 is a year which cannot be neatly accommodated in one single `word of the year.'”Not so at Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com, both of which also noted enormous shifts toward many other related words but announced just one nonetheless.Pandemic “probably isn’t a big shock,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told The Associated Press ahead of the announcement.“Often the big news story has a technical word that’s associated with it and in this case, the word pandemic is not just technical but has become general. It’s probably the word by which we’ll refer to this period in the future,” he said.John Kelly, senior research editor at Dictionary.com, told the AP before breaking the news that searches on the site for pandemic spiked more than 13,500% on March 11, the day the World Health Organization declared an outbreak of the novel coronavirus a global health emergency.The daily spike, he said, was “massive, but even more telling is how high it has sustained significant search volumes throughout the entire year."Month over month, lookups for pandemic were more than 1,000% higher than usual. For about half the year, the word was in the top 10% of all lookup on Dictionary.com, Kelly said.Similarly, at Merriam-Webster.com, searches for pandemic on March 11 were 115,806% higher than spikes experienced on the same date last year, Sokolowski said.Pandemic, with roots in Latin and Greek, is a combination of “pan,” for all, and “demos,” for people or population, he said. The latter is the same root of “democracy,” Sokolowski said. The word pandemic dates to the mid-1600s, used broadly for “universal” and more specifically to disease in a medical text in the 1660s, he said.That was after the plagues of the Middle Ages, Sokolowski said.He attributes the lookup traffic for pandemic not entirely to searchers who didn’t know what it meant but also to those on the hunt for more detail, or for inspiration or comfort in the knowing.“We see that the word love is looked up around Valentine’s Day and the word cornucopia is looked up at Thanksgiving,” Sokolowski said. “We see a word like surreal spiking when a moment of national tragedy or shock occurs. It’s the idea of dictionaries being the beginning of putting your thoughts in order.”The pandemic, Kelly said, made us all worthy of watercooler chatter with Dr. Anthony Fauci as our knowledge grew about all things pandemic, aerosols, contact tracing, social distancing and herd immunity, along with the intricacies of therapeutic drugs, tests and vaccines that can help save lives.“These were all part of a new shared vocabulary we needed to stay safe and informed. It’s incredible,” said Kelly, who works with a team of lexicographers to come up with words of the year based primarily on site traffic.Merriam-Webster began designating a word of the year in 2008, with “bailout.” The company's word of the year for 2019 was “they,” when a shifting use of the personal pronoun was a hot subject and lookups increased by 313% in 2019 over the previous year.Dictionary.com has been in the word of the year game since 2010, with “change.” Its word of the year in 2019 was “existential" in a year that climate change, gun violence, the very nature of democracy and an angsty little movie star named Forky from Disney's “Toy Story 4” helped propel search spikes.Oxford went with two words last year: climate emergency.Kelly, Sokolowski and Oxford Languages noted other worthy search trends beyond the pandemic. After the May 25 death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, words around racial justice experienced spikes, including fascism, anti-fascism, defund and white fragility, Kelly said.“There was no way for us to leave that out of the conversation this year,” he said.Oxford included a range in its report, from “karen” to “QAnon.”But it was all things pandemic that ultimately won the annual word sweepstakes.Jennifer Steeves-Kiss, chief executive for Dictionary.com, said one key ingredient in the hunt for the site’s word of the year is sustained interest over time. Pandemic met that standard.“This has affected families, our work, the economy,” she said. “It really became the logical choice. It’s become the context through which we’ve had dialogue all through 2020. It’s the through line for discourse.”Leanne Italie, The Associated Press
BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that the military alliance is grappling with a dilemma over its future in Afghanistan, as the United States starts pulling troops out while attacks by the Taliban and extremist groups mount.More than 17 years after taking the lead on international security efforts in Afghanistan, NATO now has around 11,000 troops from dozens of nations there helping to train and advise the national security forces. Most of the personnel are from Europe and other NATO partner countries.But the alliance relies heavily on the United States armed forces for air support, transport and logistics. European allies would struggle even to leave the country without U.S. help, and President Donald Trump’s decision to pull almost half the U.S. troops out by mid-January leaves NATO in a bind.“We face a difficult dilemma. Whether to leave, and risk that Afghanistan becomes once again a safe haven for international terrorists. Or stay, and risk a longer mission, with renewed violence,” Stoltenberg told reporters on the eve of a videoconference between NATO foreign ministers.Under a peace deal between the United States and the Taliban — without the involvement of other NATO allies or the Afghan government - all foreign troops should leave Afghanistan by May 1 if security conditions on the ground permit.“Whatever path we choose, it is important that we do so together, in a co-ordinated and deliberate way,” Stoltenberg said, on the eve of a videoconference between NATO foreign ministers where the organization’s most ambitious operation ever will be high on the agenda.Trump’s unilateral decision to leave only 2,500 U.S. troops with the mission had allied military planners scrambling, as they tried to work out whether NATO could continue to operate in Kabul, and other major cities. NATO diplomats say that for now they have enough “enablers” to get the job done.Afghan officials also fear that a rapid reduction in American troops could strengthen the Taliban’s negotiating position.NATO defence ministers are likely to make a final decision about the future of the Resolute Support Mission in February, after President-elect Joe Biden takes office. European diplomats expect the tone to change under Biden, but probably not the U.S. intention to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible.The uncertainty comes amid a sharp rise in violence this year and a surge of attacks by the Taliban against the beleaguered Afghan security forces since the start of peace talks in September. Islamic State militants have also struck this month, notably in a horrific attack on Kabul University that killed 22 people, most of them students.“We have seen over the last months and weeks several attacks,” Stoltenberg said. “Some are conducted by Taliban, some attacks ISIS claimed responsibility for. But what we know is that the Taliban is responsible for attacks and the level of violence is far too high.”Even U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said: “We do not think the Taliban is keeping its word under the agreement. The violence is too high, and the Afghan people and the Afghan soldiers have paid a heavy price.”But despite the surge in violence, and deep uncertainty cause by the U.S. drawdown, the peace agreement appears to be an opportunity too good for NATO to miss.“We now see an historic opportunity for peace. It is fragile, but it must be seized,” Stoltenberg said. “We see an unpredictable and difficult military and political situation. But at least there are now talks.”Lorne Cook, The Associated Press
WROXETER – Proposed changes to the Conservation Authorities Act have the board members of Maitland Conservation (formerly Maitland Valley Conservation Authority) concerned. At the MC meeting on Nov. 18, the members agreed that they must get loud and push back, making “as much noise as possible” to make sure the government hears their concerns. Among their concerns is “the glaring omission” of watershed management as a core service of conservation authorities. “Watershed management is the main reason that conservation authorities were formed,” according to a summary report prepared by the MC. “The province, municipalities and conservation groups realized that the best way to conserve forests and rivers was to undertake conservation stewardship on a watershed basis.” MC’s chairs and vice-chairs made this point to Jeff Yurek, Ontario’s minister of environment, conservation, and parks, and Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson when they met at MC’s office last August. Yurek did say that he could add watershed management services as a core service by regulation, according to a report presented to the MC board members. “Tacked on to the recent Government of Ontario omnibus Budget Bill 229 is Schedule 6, a proposal for significant changes to the Conservation Authorities Act. Schedule 6 has set off alarm bells amongst Conservation Authorities and our partners across the province,” a press release dated Nov. 22 from MC said. “The proposed changes will severely curtail the role of Conservation Authorities in watershed planning and management. This will negatively impact our efforts to build watershed resiliency and deliver stewardship, monitoring and flood and erosion safety services to our member municipalities and watershed residents.” Dave Turton, chair of MC, said that the government surveyed the 36 Ontario conservation authorities in 2019. They provided feedback to the province on flood and erosion safety, watershed stewardship, funding, severe weather events other than spring thaws, and water quality. He said they would like Schedule 6 removed, “as it goes against a lot of our thoughts to the province last year.” Yurek sent a letter to conservation authorities on Nov. 5 outlining the Conservation Authorities Act and the Planning Act. These updates, according to the letter, would “improve the consistency and transparency of the programs and services that conservation authorities deliver.” Yurek added that the updates would provide additional oversight for municipalities and the province. They would also streamline conservation authority permitting and land use planning reviews to increase accountability, consistency, and transparency. The anticipated changes are exempt from the public consultation requirements set out by the Environmental Bill of Rights because they are part of a budget. Once the province approves that budget, it will support the Conservation Authorities Act’s changes. During the discussion at the meeting, the board’s opinion was that the Ford government was again trying to change the greenbelt designation in Vaughn. “The government seems to be bending to the developers in and around the Toronto area,” said Turton. “The land development is so vast that all the non-conservation land is used up, and now where do you build?” Added Turton, “We understand that some environmentally-friendly areas are being filled in with dirt for housing construction, etc. This is not right. The Conservation Authorities have used science-based collaborative strategies in decision making and will continue this path.” The greenbelt has been a controversial subject since 2019, when landowner Lucia Milani of Rizmi Holdings approached the provincial government, intending to get the protected status lifted off a 60-acre piece of land in northeast Vaughan. The CBC reports that the campaign has since been closed. The MC encouraged watershed residents to “take a moment to read the material developed by Ontario Nature and the Canadian Environmental Law Association and sign their petition.” You can find it at Ontario Nature Petition. The campaign asks the Ontario government to retain the current mandate of the province’s 36 Conservation Authorities. An excerpt from the campaign letter said, “Ontario’s Conservation Authorities are a unique and widely- respected innovation. They provide a much-valued bridge across municipal boundaries to understand and address environmental concerns, such as flooding. They are ideally positioned to encourage science-based collaborative strategies and decision-making because they operate at the watershed level. “The changes proposed in Schedule 6 will reduce or constrain the mandate of Conservation Authorities, and are therefore contradictory to the interests of the people of Ontario, who are facing enormous risks and costs as a result of climate change and ongoing biodiversity loss.” In a statement on its website, Ontario Nature says, “The vital role of our Conservation Authorities in watershed-based land use planning and permitting must be retained to prevent unchecked development, that puts communities at risk from flooding and other climate change impacts through the loss of wetlands, woodlands, and farmland.” Conservation Authorities’ core role has been under review since 2019 when Ontario committed to its Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to ensure that conservation authorities focus and deliver on their core mandate. The roles of preparing and protecting against the impacts of natural hazards, maintaining and managing conservation lands, and drinking water source protection are the focus of the review. According to a notice posted on Ontario.ca, consultations have been held with “conservation authorities and a diverse group of stakeholders, including municipalities, the agricultural and development sectors, environmental and conservation organizations, and landowners,” on the appropriate role for conservation authorities. Phil Beard, general manager of MC, said, “I attended the consultation session in London. The majority of presentations were supportive of conservation authorities and their present mandate and services. “However, the government did not release the results of the consultation sessions,” he added. “So, they are the only ones who know what was actually submitted for comments.” “If the government would reveal the results of the consultation sessions, then it would be transparent to everyone that they have or have not taken the consultation sessions into account,” added Beard. Conservation Ontario (CO) recommends the province repeal Schedule 6 because the changes being proposed will create more red tape and higher costs for Ontario taxpayers, as well as threaten the independent watershed-based approach used by conservation authorities in land-use planning, it said in a press release dated Nov. 18. CO is encouraging residents and watershed partners to reach out to the Premier, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, as well as their local MPPs to request them to repeal Schedule 6 of the Bill 229: Protect, Support and Recover from COVID- 19 Act (Budget Measures Act).Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times
A Penetanguishene councillor wants staff to draw out a timeline to be included in the new graffiti removal policy. "I congratulate Andrea (Betty) for the report on the graffiti policy," Coun. Brian Cummings said at a recent meeting. "But the problem I still have is that our Municipal Law Enforcement (MLE) policy and procedure manual has no timelines in it. We can do whatever we want to make these bylaws, but we have no timelines involved in correcting the graffiti or any of our bylaws. "I did ask for a timeline to remove graffiti, because it's very important that it gets removed immediately so it doesn't encourage more graffiti in town," he added. Betty, director of planning and community development, said the policy for the bylaw enforcement department does not have timelines, however, the property standards bylaw has some strict standards and rules. "There are some timelines for the removal of graffiti once the notice has been given from the town," she said, not specifying what the timelines were, and later admitting it requires clarity. "Each occurrence and complaint can vary and rely on outside sources." Having said that, Betty added that staff could take a look at that policy procedure on that bylaw, since it's about eight years old and worth a review. "We should have some sort of timeline on this," said Cummings. "I agree with the procedure, but there should be a timeline to the procedure." A quick look at the MLE policy and procedures document available online shows there are no timelines around notices of contravention issued under bylaw. CAO Jeff Lees said it would be useful to refer the item for review.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com