Hanna hits land and Douglas goes through the Hawaiin Islands
Hanna hits land and Douglas goes through the Hawaiin Islands
Law enforcement officers far outnumbered protesters at state capitol grounds on Sunday, as few Trump supporters who believe the president's false claim that he won the 2020 election turned out for what authorities feared could be violent demonstrations. More than a dozen states activated National Guard troops to help secure their capitol buildings following an FBI warning of armed demonstrations, with right-wing extremists emboldened by the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6.
NAIROBI, Kenya — From “emaciated” refugees to crops burned on the brink of harvest, starvation threatens the survivors of more than two months of fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. The first humanitarian workers to arrive after pleading with the Ethiopian government for access describe weakened children dying from diarrhea after drinking from rivers. Shops were looted or depleted weeks ago. A local official told a Jan. 1 crisis meeting of government and aid workers that hungry people had asked for “a single biscuit.” More than 4.5 million people, nearly the region's entire population, need emergency food, participants say. At their next meeting on Jan. 8, a Tigray administrator warned that without aid, “hundreds of thousands might starve to death” and some already had, according to minutes obtained by The Associated Press. “There is an extreme urgent need — I don’t know what more words in English to use — to rapidly scale up the humanitarian response because the population is dying every day as we speak,” Mari Carmen Vinoles, head of the emergency unit for Doctors Without Borders, told the AP. But pockets of fighting, resistance from some officials and sheer destruction stand in the way of a massive food delivery effort. To send 15-kilogram (33-pound) rations to 4.5 million people would require more than 2,000 trucks, the meeting's minutes said, while some local responders are reduced to getting around on foot. The spectre of hunger is sensitive in Ethiopia, which transformed into one of the world's fastest-growing economies in the decades since images of starvation there in the 1980s led to a global outcry. Drought, conflict and government denial contributed to the famine, which swept through Tigray and killed an estimated 1 million people. The largely agricultural Tigray region of about 5 million people already had a food security problem amid a locust outbreak when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Nov. 4 announced fighting between his forces and those of the defiant regional government. Tigray leaders dominated Ethiopia for almost three decades but were sidelined after Abiy introduced reforms that won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. Thousands of people have been killed in the conflict. More than 50,000 have fled into Sudan, where one doctor has said newer arrivals show signs of starvation. Others shelter in rugged terrain. A woman who recently left Tigray described sleeping in caves with people who brought cattle, goats and the grain they had managed to harvest. “It is a daily reality to hear people dying with the fighting consequences, lack of food,” a letter by the Catholic bishop of Adigrat said this month. Hospitals and other health centres, crucial in treating malnutrition, have been destroyed. In markets, food is “not available or extremely limited,” the United Nations says. Though Ethiopia's prime minister declared victory in late November, its military and allied fighters remain active amid the presence of troops from neighbouring Eritrea, a bitter enemy of the now-fugitive officials who once led the region. Fear keeps many people from venturing out. Others flee. Tigray’s new officials say more than 2 million people have been displaced, a number the U.S. government’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance calls “staggering.” The U.N. says the number of people reached with aid is “extremely low.” A senior Ethiopian government official, Redwan Hussein, did not respond to a request for comment on Tigray colleagues warning of starvation. In the northern Shire area near Eritrea, which has seen some of the worst fighting, up to 10% of the children whose arms were measured met the diagnostic criteria for severe acute malnutrition, with scores of children affected, a U.N. source said. Sharing the concern of many humanitarian workers about jeopardizing access, the source spoke on condition of anonymity. Near Shire town are camps housing nearly 100,000 refugees who have fled over the years from Eritrea. Some who have walked into town "are emaciated, begging for aid that is not available,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Thursday. Food has been a target. Analyzing satellite imagery of the Shire area, a U.K.-based research group found two warehouse-style structures in the U.N. World Food Program compound at one refugee camp had been “very specifically destroyed.” The DX Open Network could not tell by whom. It reported a new attack Saturday. It's challenging to verify events in Tigray as communications links remain poor and almost no journalists are allowed. In the towns of Adigrat, Adwa and Axum, “the level of civilian casualties is extremely high in the places we have been able to access,” the Doctors Without Borders emergency official Vinoles said. She cited the fighting and lack of health care. Hunger is “very concerning," she said, and even water is scarce: Just two of 21 wells still work in Adigrat, a city of more than 140,000, forcing many people to drink from the river. With sanitation suffering, disease follows. “You go 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the city and it’s a complete disaster,” with no food, Vinoles said. Humanitarian workers struggle to gauge the extent of need. “Not being able to travel off main highways, it always poses the question of what’s happening with people still off-limits,” said Panos Navrozidis, Action Against Hunger’s director in Ethiopia. Before the conflict, Ethiopia’s national disaster management body classified some Tigray woredas, or administrative areas, as priority one hotspots for food insecurity. If some already had high malnutrition numbers, “two-and-a-half months into the crisis, it’s a safe assumption that thousands of children and mothers are in immediate need," Navrozidis said. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, funded and managed by the U.S., says parts of central and eastern Tigray are likely in Emergency Phase 4, a step below famine. The next few months are critical, John Shumlansky, the Catholic Relief Services representative in Ethiopia, said. His group so far has given up to 70,000 people in Tigray a three-month food supply, he said. Asked whether combatants use hunger as a weapon, one concern among aid workers, Shumlansky dismissed it by Ethiopian defence forces and police. With others, he didn’t know. “I don’t think they have food either, though,” he said. Cara Anna, The Associated Press
TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $5 million jackpot in Saturday night's Lotto 649 draw. However, the draw's guaranteed $1 million prize went to a ticket holder in Ontario. The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on Jan. 20 will be approximately $6 million. The Canadian Press
A high school class in Kings County, N.S., is using its entrepreneurship course to help a local charitable organization that has been overwhelmed by families in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We wanted to do what we could to help them out, so we're raising money here and will donate what we can," said Tyler Croteau, a Grade 11 student at Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning. The entrepreneurship class is selling clothing with customized COVID designs. The funds raised through sales will go to the Open Arms Outreach Centre in Kentville, a non-profit organization that helps people struggling to make ends meet. It assists with emergency shelter, housing and food supports. "To find out that this year a group of students are working on an initiative to support us, it's very humbling," said Open Arms executive director John Andrew. "For me, it signals hope and I know there are a lot of youth out there who have a strong commitment to helping people in their own community." The school had a COVID scare of its own almost two months with two COVID-19 cases. The school was closed for three days for cleaning before students returned. But that didn't slow down planning for the fundraising effort. "We're helping people out who really need it," said Ahrun Havercroft, a Grade 12 student from Sheffield Mills. "We thought that would be a great thing to do and it would also be a great learning experience for everybody in our class." It isn't the first fundraising effort by the class this school year. Before Christmas, it held an event at the local drive-in theatre in Cambridge to benefit Chrysalis House, an organization that provides shelter and outreach services for women and children in the area. So far, the clothing fundraiser has raised just over $1,100 in only a few weeks. "Everybody has sort of taken on different roles," said NKEC teacher Dale Sanford, who teaches the entrepreneurship course. "The students have been awesome around the whole social piece with this and entrepreneurship is such an important skill for them to have." MORE TOP STORIES
When Masjid Toronto first agreed to host seminars on addiction back in 2015, organizers weren't sure anyone would show up. "When we started off, there was skepticism," said Mohsin Syed, then the assistant manager of the downtown Toronto mosque. In fact, the subject was considered so delicate that participants were not told what the specific topic being discussed would be. To Syed's surprise, as the seminar series continued, the number of attendees grew and grew. In fact, "we were ... so packed in that basement that our air conditioning was not enough," he told CBC Toronto. Masjid Toronto was one of nine GTA mosques that hosted the seminar series, which aimed to tackle misconceptions and reduce stigma around addiction in Muslim communities. "After each seminar, we would get a lineup of people asking for resources, or discussing their cousin, their family, their friends," said Dr. Ahmed Hassan. Hassan, an addiction psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, spearheaded the events and then wrote about them in a study published this month in the Community Mental Health Journal. He lists several reasons why stigma around addiction can be prevalent in Muslim communities, including belief that addiction is sinful and shameful. "We wanted to address the stigma through this psycho-educational program," said Hassan of the 90-minute sessions. "We would dig deep in the content, and integrate Islamic teachings." For Syed at Masjid Toronto, that integration of a religious lens was critical. "Because these acts are already a sin — people are very afraid to talk about it," he explained. By having religious leaders participate in the seminars, Syed said, it "created a sense of comfort for the community. This is not just coming from a medical doctor who wants to do a diagnosis." Study hopes to inspire more outreach Religious teaching "agrees with science. And then [participants] see it more as a disease rather than a sin," said Hassan. According to his study, the approach was successful, resulting in a "significant reduction" of stigma. Post-seminar, nearly half of participants said they were interested in learning more about addiction science, and two-thirds felt more motivated to help family and friends dealing with substance-use disorder. Hassan hopes the study could open the door to more outreach inside of mosques, potentially tackling an even wider range of topics. "Trauma, PTSD ... I don't think [those issues] have been openly discussed in the community," said Hassan.
The debate about the U.S. Electoral College pits those who think the president should be chosen via popular vote versus those who believe the interests of small and large states must be balanced.
An apparent family of sabre-toothed cats with an unusual genetic quirk is providing new hints about how the predators lived tens of thousands of years ago. The ancient big cats, also known as sabre-toothed tigers and by their scientific name Smilodon fatalis, ranged through much of North and South America — including Canada — during the last ice age, but died out around 10,000 years ago. The new study by researchers at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto looked at fossils from nearly full-grown individuals that were about 132 and 141 kilograms respectively — roughly the size of a full-grown modern lion or tiger. But despite their huge size, it appeared they weren't quite ready for adult independence. "What we're seeing here is the first evidence to back up this idea that they were probably with their mother at two years old," said Ashley Reynolds, lead author of the research published this week in the journal iScience. That's unlike modern tigers that set out and establish their own territories at a similar stage of growth. Fossils excavated in the 1960s The fossils were among 4,000 from various animals excavated by Royal Ontario Museum researchers in Coralito, Ecuador in the 1960s from a site that was once a grassy, open forest area inhabited by giant ground sloths, camels, alpacas and the occasional fox. Because they were dug up so long ago, the researchers weren't sure how old they were, but it was between 150,000 and 11,000 years ago and probably in the range of 50,000 to 75,000 years ago, said Ashley Reynolds, lead author of the study. There were 58 Smilodon fossils in total, but it wasn't clear how many individuals they came from. Reynolds, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum, took a closer look, and found among them two lower left jaws that obviously belonged to two different individuals. They contained a full set of adult teeth that showed little signs of wear, suggesting the animals, while nearly fully grown, were adolescents about two years old — roughly equivalent to human teenagers. Tooth feature suggests fossils were related And both those individuals had an unusual feature — an extra premolar that is found in only five per cent of sabre-toothed cat jaws. Because it's so rare and the presence of an extra tooth is known to be genetic in other animals such as humans, and because the animals were of similar size and found together, the researchers proposed that the two individuals were from the same litter of cubs. "The coolest thing is that we have evidence that we have siblings," Reynolds said. "It's very, very, very rare that you find evidence of two fossils being related." And most of those cases, she said, involve eggs or newborns. Animals were likely social, not solitary Most of the other Smilodon bones found with the two cubs looked the right size to come from the same animals, except for one ulna — a forearm bone — that was larger and came from a mature adult. The researchers suggested that this was probably the cubs' mother, as modern cats are generally cared for by their mothers. She noted that when modern tigers are this close to being fully grown, they've already gone out and established their own territories. If these cubs were still with their mother, that would imply that sabre-toothed cats were more like lions — social animals that stay with their parents for longer than solitary tigers. Though commonly referred to as the sabre-toothed tiger, Smilodon is not actually closely related to modern-day big cats like tigers and lions. Reynolds noted that other studies suggest that Smilodon's huge, iconic sabre-like canines, used for hunting, took about two years to grow in. The juveniles may have relied on their family group until those had fully developed, she said. "We will never be able to go out and see a sabre-toothed cat in the wild," she said. But, based on interpretation of fossil evidence, she said, "it's pretty remarkable to think what we can tell about animals that have been gone for thousands of years." More study needed to verify assumptions Larisa DeSantis, a paleontologist who has studied sabretooth cats but was not involved in the study, said the paper is "thought provoking and raises several interesting hypotheses regarding the sociality of [sabre-toothed] cats." But DeSantis, an associate professor of biological sciences and earth and environmental sciences at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., said the paper's conclusions rely on a lot of assumptions about the relatedness of the individuals that haven't been verified with techniques like DNA analysis or even radiocarbon dating to confirm they all died at the same time. "It would seem logical that saber-tooth cats would also [like lions] have an extended period of parental care; however, this is difficult to test with fossils," she said in an email. "Further study of these specimens may help bring additional clarity to the social behaviour of sabertooth cats." Reynolds said radiocarbon dating is tricky for fossils found at sites like Coralito, which is saturated in tar, and the likelihood of getting DNA out of fossils from this kind of environment is also low. But she said both techniques would be interesting to try. Margaret Lewis, a paleontologist who studies the evolution of meat-eating mammals and was also not involved in the research, said researchers' hypothesis that the cats were related and the conclusions drawn from that are all possible. "How probable it is, it's hard to say because it's one thing built on another," said Lewis, a professor at Stockton University in Galloway County, N.J. However, she said the ideas about how sabre-toothed cats grew will be interesting to test in future studies.
When people think of addiction and drug use in Canada, their minds might turn to cities like Vancouver, Toronto, or even Halifax. But small towns in Nova Scotia have their own struggles when it comes to addressing addiction and overdoses. In 2020, 96 people in Nova Scotia died due to drug toxicity — 10 more than in 2019 — according to monthly reports from the Nova Scotia Health Authority that have not been made available to the public. While the central health zone, which covers Halifax and the surrounding areas, had the highest rates of opioid mortality since December 2019 — 3.9 per 100,000 people — the other health zones weren't far behind. The western zone had a rate of 3.5, and the northern and eastern zones had rates of 3.3 and 3, respectively. The report doesn't break down the number of drug deaths not related to opiods by health zone. Since July, at least two people in the northern health zone have died because of drugs. One of the deaths was due to an overdose. Another was as a result of sores related to levamisole, a livestock dewormer that has been reportedly combined with cocaine in the Pictou County area. Albert McNutt, founder of the Northern Healthy Connections Society, said his biggest concern isn't the numbers, but the people behind them. "When we're looking at stats, we're looking at a bigger picture, but we're forgetting the small picture, which is that individual, that one person that is making headway in their life and moving forward even though they're living with an addiction," he said. "They're forgetting that individual who took their own life because they no longer had a purpose to go to, a program." The society, based in Truro, N.S., started in 1996 as a program for people with HIV and AIDS. It later expanded to work in drug harm reduction and is one of three organizations in the province that runs a free needle exchange program. It also runs mobile outreach services around the province's northern health zone and distributes "emergency bags" containing syringes, tourniquets and other safe use items to pharmacies in small communities for people who may have missed their outreach services in Truro. When the society began to focus on people who use drugs, McNutt said it had difficulty bringing people in. While drug use is pretty much stigmatized everywhere, it can be especially amplified in small communities. "We started out with very few people accessing services because a lot of stigma's attached to it, discrimination's attached to it, fear of being known in a small rural community," he said. "That's one of the biggest things that we deal with in the northern zone because it's primarily rural and everybody knows everybody, and so you keep it very much secret." Addiction 'not easy to hide' in rural N.S. Many factors play into why people may use drugs, such as socioeconomic situations, lack of affordable housing, and access to mental health and addictions programs. "It's not like these folks woke up one morning and said, 'Hey, I want to be addicted to drugs,'" said McNutt. "They turn to drugs to feel good. They turn to drugs to deaden the pain they're feeling ... and it's so easy to hide that in a big city, but it's not easy to hide that in a small community." McNutt said his program has seen people "from all walks of life," and making assumptions about who uses drugs can be harmful. "They could be someone who has been an honour student in school. They could be somebody who didn't go very far in school. They can be business people who get hooked on the medication," he said. "It is something that people just don't realize. There's so much of it going on." The Nova Scotia drug report identified Pictou and Antigonish as having among the highest rates of rates of pharmacy distribution for naloxone, the drug that can be used to reverse an opioid overdose. McNutt said that's actually a good thing. "They know that the drugs are being tainted with other substances, and so by arming themselves with naloxone kits and getting the training, I think that that's really showing a positive response and a proactive response," he said. "I think once somebody loses someone to an overdose death due to drugs, they want to be prepared to prevent the next one. And naloxone is a pretty effective way to do that." In recent weeks, there have been multiple reports of contaminated drugs in Nova Scotia. The northern zone and the eastern zone, where Antigonish is located, also have the highest rates of substance-related emergency calls. More programs needed While the Ally Centre in Cape Breton — another organization that runs a free needle exchange program — is run out of Sydney, N.S., it offers services throughout the eastern health zone, including Antigonish. In an email, Ally Centre executive director Christine Porter said there are four pharmacies in the small town that take part in its brown bag program, each taking approximately 20 bags each month. The centre also provides safe supplies to the opioid recovery program. "I don't believe our Naloxone trainer traveled to Antigonish to train and give kits, so most likely, that distribution is coming from the pharmacies and [the opioid recovery program]," she said. Aside from the three needle exchange programs — run by the NHCS in the northern zone, the Ally Centre in the eastern zone and Mainline in the central and western health zones — there are a number of smaller groups around the province dedicated to doing outreach and educating people about harm reduction. But they don't exist everywhere. "There's not enough harm reduction programs," said Kimm Kent, the founder of the Peer Outreach Support Services and Education Project, or POSSE, in an email. POSSE works out of Windsor, Sipekne'katik and Lower Sackville and trains people between the ages of 15 and 30 to be peer support outreach workers. They then work with members of their communities to teach harm-reduction strategies for safe drug use. "POSSE has had requests to expand to many places … but first we require sustainable funding for what we have," Kent wrote. "So many needs for so many people. I sure wish there was more equity in the world." McNutt agreed. He said the province needs not only harm-reduction programs, but more programs in general where people who use drugs can learn skills, connect with others and find purpose and compassion. He said the Northern Healthy Connections Society used to have a program where women would make reusable cloth bags. After that program was cut due to funding, he said one of the group's members died from an overdose. 'A little bit of funding would go a long way' That was "very, very hard on us," he said. "It seemed like while the program was running, she had a place to go, she had a purpose. She felt like she was actually going to work again," he said. "People feel lost sometimes when they don't have something to go to or be involved with." McNutt said he submitted an application to Truro town council asking for funding to recreate the program. "I am hoping that they will really consider the fact that engaging the population and talking about in a positive way, in a proactive way, is far more important than turning your back on them," he said. "A little bit of funding would go a long way to change someone's life." MORE TOP STORIES
BELGRADE, Serbia — Vaccines from the West, Russia or China? Or none at all? That dilemma faces nations in southeastern Europe, where coronavirus vaccination campaigns are off to a slow start — overshadowed by heated political debates and conspiracy theories. In countries like the Czech Republic, Serbia, Bosnia, Romania and Bulgaria, vaccine skeptics have included former presidents and even some doctors. Serbian tennis champion Novak Djokovic was among those who said he did not want to be forced to get inoculated. False beliefs that the coronavirus is a hoax or that vaccines would inject microchips into people have spread in the countries that were formerly under harsh Communist rule. Those who once routinely underwent mass inoculations are deeply split over whether to get the vaccines at all. “There is a direct link between support for conspiracy theories and skepticism toward vaccination,” a recent Balkan study warned. “A majority across the region does not plan to take the vaccine, a ratio considerably lower than elsewhere in Europe, where a majority favours taking the vaccine.” Only about 200,000 people applied for the vaccine in Serbia, a country of 7 million, in the days after authorities opened the procedure. By contrast, 1 million Serbians signed up for 100 euros ($120) on the first day the government offered the pandemic aid. Hoping to encourage vaccinations, Serbian officials have gotten their shots on TV. Yet they themselves have been split over whether to get the Western-made Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or Russia’s Sputnik V, more divisions in a country that is formally seeking European Union membership but where many favour closer ties with Moscow. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Saturday greeted a shipment of 1 million doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, saying he will receive a shot to show that it is safe. “Serbs prefer the Russian vaccine,” read a recent headline of the Informer, a pro-government tabloid, as officials announced that 38% of those who have applied to take the shots favour the Russian vaccine, while 31% want the Pfizer-BioNTech version — a rough division among pro-Russians and pro-Westerners in Serbia. In neighbouring Bosnia, a war-torn country that remains ethnically divided among Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats, politics also are a factor, as the Serb-run half appeared set to opt for the Russian vaccine, while the Bosniak-Croat part likely will turn to the Western ones. Sasa Milovanovic, a 57-year-old real estate agent from Belgrade, sees all vaccines as part of the “global manipulation” of the pandemic. “People are locked up, they have no lives any longer and live in a state of hysteria and fear,” he said. Djokovic has said he was against being forced to take a coronavirus vaccine in order to travel and compete but was keeping his mind open. The top-ranked tennis player and his wife tested positive in June after a series of exhibition matches with zero social distancing that he organized in the Balkans. They and their foundation have donated 1 million euros ($1.1 million) to buy ventilators and other medical equipment for hospitals in Serbia. Serbian Health Ministry official Mirsad Djerlek has described the vaccine response as “satisfactory,” but cautioned on the state-run RTS broadcaster that “people in rural areas usually believe in conspiracy theories, and that is why we should talk to them and explain that the vaccine is the only way out in this situation.” A study by the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group, published before the regional vaccination campaign started in December, concluded that virus conspiracy theories are believed by nearly 80% of citizens of the Western Balkan countries striving to join the EU. About half of them will refuse to get vaccinated, it said. Baseless theories allege the virus isn’t real or that it’s a bioweapon created by the U.S. or its adversaries. Another popular falsehood holds that Microsoft founder Bill Gates is using COVID-19 vaccines to implant microchips in the planet's 7 billion people. A low level of information about the virus and vaccines, distrust in governments and repeated assertions by authorities that their countries are besieged by foreigners help explain the high prevalence of such beliefs, according to the Balkans think-tank . Similar trends have been seen even in some eastern European Union countries. In Bulgaria, widespread conspiracy theories hampered past efforts to deal with a measles outbreak. Surveys there suggested distrust of vaccines remains high even as coronavirus cases keep rising. A recent Gallup International poll found that 30% of respondents want to get vaccinated, 46% will refuse and 24% are undecided. Bulgarian doctors have tried to change attitudes. Dr. Stefan Konstantinov, a former health minister, joked that people should be told neighbouring Greece would close resorts to tourists who don't get vaccinated, because “this would guarantee that some 70% of the population would rush to get a jab.” In the Czech Republic, where surveys show some 40% reject vaccination, protesters at a big rally against government virus restrictions in Prague demanded that vaccinations not be mandatory. Former President Vaclav Klaus, a fierce critic of the government's pandemic response, told the crowd that vaccines are not a solution. “They say that everything will be solved by a miracle vaccine,” said the 79-year-old Klaus, who insists that people should get exposed to the virus to gain immunity, which experts reject. “We have to say loud and clear that there’s no such a thing. … I am not going to get vaccinated.” Populist authorities in Hungary have taken a hard line against virus misinformation, but rejection of vaccines is still projected at about 30%. Parliament passed emergency powers in March that allows authorities to prosecute anyone deemed to be “inhibiting the successful defence” against the virus, including “fearmongering” or spreading false news. At least two people who criticized the government's response to the pandemic on social media were arrested, but neither was formally charged. Romanian Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu said he is relying on family doctors to “inform, schedule and monitor people after the vaccine” and that his ministry will offer bonuses to medical workers based on the number of people they get onboard. Asked if such incentives would fuel anti-vaccination propaganda, Voiculescu said: “I am interested more by the doctors’ view on the matter than I am about the anti-vaxxers.” Dr. Ivica Jeremic, who has worked with virus patients in Serbia since March and tested positive himself in November, hopes vaccination programs will gain speed once people overcome their fear of the unknown. "People will realize the vaccine is the only way to return to normal life,” he said. ___ Associated Press writers Veselin Toshkov in Sofia, Bulgaria; Karel Janicek in Prague, Czech Republic; Justin Spike in Budapest, Hungary; and Vadim Ghirda in Bucharest, Romania, contributed. —- Follow AP coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Dusan Stojanovic And Jovana Gec, The Associated Press
For many, it's a rite of passage: getting your driver's licence the minute you turn 16. But for Ontario drivers looking to make it to the next step in the province's tiered licensing system, the current COVID-19 lockdown could mean they'll face quite a wait. Since the lockdown went into effect in late December, approximately 39,000 road tests in the province have been cancelled. What's more, the emergency orders introduced by the Ontario government on Jan. 12 mean that "all in-vehicle passenger road tests will be cancelled across the province until further notice," according to a statement from the ministry. In eastern Ontario, about 9,000 drivers have received cancellation notices — including Ottawa teen Karina Gruson. "I was kind of discouraged," said the 17-year-old, who'd been booked for a road test to get her G2 licence on Dec. 30 before receiving an email informing her it wouldn't take place. Under Ontario's graduated licensing system, Gruson needs to pass a road test to move from a G1 to a G2 licence. A G1 is typically held for a year — although that period can be shortened — and comes with restrictions like needing a fully-licensed driver in the passenger seat and not driving on 400-series highways. In order to graduate to a less-stringent G2, drivers must pass a road test — and then another one, after a year, to get their full licence. No available tests for years Both Gruson and her friend, Violet De Caria, got their G1s shortly after turning 16. "I do a lot of sports and I was going to get a job, so I wanted to be able to, like, drive to those things to make it easier for my parents," Gruson said. De Caria turned 16 in July, and said she and a friend got up at 6 a.m. for their written G1 test in order to beat the long lines that formed at Service Ontario locations earlier in the pandemic. "[It] wasn't really worth it, because I'm not going to get [a G2] for a while," she said. "So I could have slept in." When she tried to book her G2 test recently, De Caria said she couldn't find an available spot for the next two years. "Which was crazy, like, absolutely crazy to me," she said. Since the lockdown, De Caria said booking a test isn't even an option with the website saying it isn't taking bookings "until further notice." "It just makes me really upset. I was super excited to start driving," she said, adding her parents had hoped she'd be able help out by eventually driving her brother to soccer practice. More instructors could be hired A Ministry of Transportation spokesperson said the ministry was working through the backlog and — when road tests resume — would work with its service provider to hire more examiners to increase the number of tests. The ministry said road tests for commercial drivers will continue during the lockdown, and all DriveTest locations remain open for services like knowledge tests, with full COVID-19 precautions in place. As for Gruson, she was able to rebook her road test for March 2 after someone else cancelled, and she's hoping she'll be able to complete her test on that date. "I'm pretty excited, because I've been practising for a long time now," she said.
Small groups of right-wing protesters — some of them carrying rifles — gathered outside heavily fortified statehouses around the country Sunday, outnumbered by National Guard troops and police brought in to prevent a repeat of the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol. As darkness fell, there were no reports of any clashes. Security was stepped up in recent days after the FBI warned of the potential for armed protests in Washington and at all 50 state capitol buildings ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. Crowds of only a dozen or two demonstrated at some boarded-up, cordoned-off statehouses, while the streets in many other capital cities remained empty. Some protesters said they were there to back President Donald Trump. Others said they had instead come to voice their support for gun rights or decry government overreach. “I don’t trust the results of the election,” said Michigan protester Martin Szelag, a 67-year-old semi-retired window salesman from Dearborn Heights. He wore a sign around his neck that read, in part, “We will support Joe Biden as our President if you can convince us he won legally. Show us the proof! Then the healing can begin.” As the day wore on with no bloodshed around the U.S., a sense of relief spread among officials, though they were not ready to let their guard down. The heavy law enforcement presence may have kept turnout down. In the past few days, some extremists had warned others against falling into what they called a law enforcement trap. Washington State Patrol spokesman Chris Loftis said he hoped the apparently peaceful day reflected some soul-searching among Americans. “I would love to say that it’s because we’ve all taken a sober look in the mirror and have decided that we are a more unified people than certain moments in time would indicate,” he said. The security measures were intended to safeguard seats of government from the type of violence that broke out at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, when far-right Trump supporters galvanized by his false claims that the election had been stolen from him overran the police and bashed their way into the building while Congress was certifying the Electoral College vote. The attack left a Capitol police officer and four others dead. More than 125 people have been arrested over the insurrection. Dozens of courts, election officials and Trump’s own attorney general have all said there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the presidential race. On Sunday, some statehouses were surrounded by new security fences, their windows were boarded up, and extra officers were on patrol. Legislatures generally were not in session over the weekend. Tall fences also surrounded the U.S. Capitol. The National Mall was closed to the public, and the mayor of Washington asked people not to visit. Some 25,000 National Guard troops from around the country are expected to arrive in the city in the coming days. The roughly 20 protesters who showed up at Michigan’s Capitol, including some who were armed, were significantly outnumbered by law enforcement officers and members of the media. Tensions have been running high in the state since authorities foiled a plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year. At the Ohio Statehouse, about two dozen people, including several carrying long guns, protested outside under the watchful eyes of state troopers before dispersing as it began to snow. Kathy Sherman, who was wearing a visor with “Trump” printed on it, said she supports the president but distanced herself from the mob that breached the U.S. Capitol. "I’m here to support the right to voice a political view or opinion without fear of censorship, harassment or the threat of losing my job or being physically assaulted,” she said. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said he was pleased with the outcome but stressed that authorities "continue to have concerns for potential violence in the coming days, which is why I intend to maintain security levels at the Statehouse as we approach the presidential inauguration.” Utah's new governor, Republican Spencer Cox, shared photos on his Twitter account showing him with what appeared to be hundreds of National Guard troops and law enforcement officers standing behind him, all wearing masks. Cox called the quiet protests a best-case scenario and said many ”agitating groups" had cancelled their plans for the day. At Oregon's Capitol, fewer than a dozen men wearing military-style outfits, black ski masks and helmets stood nearby with semiautomatic weapons slung across their bodies. Some had upside-down American flags and signs reading such things as “Disarm the government.” At the Texas Capitol, Ben Hawk walked with about a dozen demonstrators up to the locked gates carrying a bullhorn and an AR-15 rifle hanging at the side of his camouflage pants. He condemned the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and said he did not support Trump. “All we came down here to do today was to discuss, gather, network and hang out. And it got blown and twisted completely out of proportion,” Hawk said. At Nevada's Capitol, where demonstrators supporting Trump have flocked most weekends in recent months, all was quiet except for a lone protester with a sign. “Trump Lost. Be Adults. Go Home,” it read. More than a third of governors had called out the National Guard to help protect their capitols and assist local law enforcement. Several governors declared states of emergency, and others closed their capitols to the public until after Biden's inauguration. Some legislatures also cancelled sessions or pared back their work for the coming week. Even before the violence at the Capitol, some statehouses had been the target of vandals and angry protesters during the past year. Last spring, armed protesters entered the Michigan Capitol to object to coronavirus lockdowns. People angry over the death of George Floyd under a Minneapolis police officer's knee vandalized capitols in several states, including Colorado, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin. Last last month, crowds in Oregon forced their way into the Capitol in Salem to protest its closure to the public during a special legislative session on coronavirus measures. Amid the potential for violence in the coming days, the building's first-floor windows were boarded up and the National Guard was brought in. "The state capitol has become a fortress,” said Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat. “I never thought I’d see that. It breaks my heart.” ___ Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri in Columbus, Ohio; Gillian Flaccus in Salem, Oregon; Mike Householder and David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan; Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina; Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Washington; Sam Metz in Carson City, Nevada; Marc Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Paul Weber in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report. David A. Lieb And Adam Geller, The Associated Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Sunday Jan. 17, 2021. There are 702,183 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 702,183 confirmed cases (76,234 active, 608,084 resolved, 17,865 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 6,479 new cases Saturday from 89,622 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.2 per cent. The rate of active cases is 202.81 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 49,169 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 7,024. There were 137 new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 975 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 139. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.53 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,486,584 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 395 confirmed cases (eight active, 383 resolved, four deaths). There were zero new cases Saturday from 143 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 76,165 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 104 confirmed cases (nine active, 95 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Saturday from 477 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 85,889 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,554 confirmed cases (30 active, 1,459 resolved, 65 deaths). There were four new cases Saturday from 1,334 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.30 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.09 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 26 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 195,067 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 911 confirmed cases (268 active, 631 resolved, 12 deaths). There were 27 new cases Saturday from 1,312 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 34.5 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 146 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 21. There were zero new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of three new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 127,403 tests completed. _ Quebec: 240,970 confirmed cases (21,601 active, 210,364 resolved, 9,005 deaths). There were 2,225 new cases Saturday from 9,590 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. The rate of active cases is 254.58 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 14,737 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,105. There were 67 new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 358 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 51. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.6 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 106.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,647,264 tests completed. _ Ontario: 234,364 confirmed cases (28,618 active, 200,406 resolved, 5,340 deaths). There were 3,056 new cases Saturday from 71,183 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.3 per cent. The rate of active cases is 196.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 22,527 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,218. There were 51 new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 372 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 53. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.36 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 36.66 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,575,369 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,322 confirmed cases (2,986 active, 23,575 resolved, 761 deaths). There were 180 new cases Saturday. The rate of active cases is 218.04 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,156 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 165. There were two new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 28 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.29 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 55.57 per 100,000 people. There have been 436,236 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 19,985 confirmed cases (4,043 active, 15,730 resolved, 212 deaths). There were 270 new cases Saturday from 1,218 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 22 per cent. The rate of active cases is 344.24 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,178 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 311. There were two new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 21 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.26 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 18.05 per 100,000 people. There have been 320,404 tests completed. _ Alberta: 116,087 confirmed cases (12,713 active, 101,957 resolved, 1,417 deaths). There were 717 new cases Saturday. The rate of active cases is 290.83 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,446 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 778. There were 15 new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 145 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 21. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.47 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.42 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,979,663 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 60,117 confirmed cases (5,955 active, 53,115 resolved, 1,047 deaths). There were zero new cases Saturday from 4,365 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 117.42 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,947 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 421. There were zero new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 48 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is seven. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 20.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,021,911 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (two active, 67 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Saturday. The rate of active cases is 4.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,256 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 25 confirmed cases (one active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Saturday. The rate of active cases is 2.23 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of one new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,323 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Saturday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,558 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 17, 2021. The Canadian Press
Recent developments: Another 123 cases of COVID-19 and one death were recorded in Ottawa on Sunday, Some 9,000 road tests have been cancelled in eastern Ontario. The province is pushing back the timeline for the second dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. What's the latest? Health officials in the nation's capital recorded 123 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the second lowest daily-case total of the past seven days. The virus has also killed another person, according to Ottawa Public Health (OPH), raising the city's death toll to 403. Another 22 cases and three more deaths were also recorded in the Outaouais. With Ontario under a stay-at-home order, some 9,000 road tests have been cancelled in eastern Ontario — and licence-seekers are facing long waits to get those tests rebooked. Provincial health officials say the second dose of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine will now be pushed back from 21 to 27 days for those in long-term care or retirement homes or those caring for seniors — and possibly even longer for other recipients. The change is because Pfizer-BioNTech will delivering fewer vaccines to Canada in the near future as it reworks some of its production lines. Those who've received the Moderna vaccine will see no change. How many cases are there? As of Sunday, 12,286 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa since the start of the pandemic. There are 1,274 known active cases, 10,609 resolved cases and 403 deaths from COVID-19. Public health officials have reported more than 21,900 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 19,000 resolved cases. One hundred and three people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 142 people have died in western Quebec. CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch. What can I do? Ontario says people must only leave home when it's essential to avoid more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. People who leave home for non-essential reasons can now be fined, though police won't be stopping people just for being outside. Travel within Ontario is not recommended. Residents who leave the province should isolate for 14 days upon returning. Private indoor gatherings are not allowed, while outdoor gatherings are capped at five. It's strongly recommended people stick to their own households. People who live alone are still allowed to interact with one other household. Outdoor recreation venues remain open. In-person shopping is limited to essential businesses. Others can offer pickup and delivery. The province will announce by Wednesday which schools can offer general in-person learning. The Ottawa-Carleton School Board has said it won't bring that back for secondary schools until at least Feb. 1. Child-care centres remain open. The lockdown rules are in place until at least Feb. 11. WATCH | 'We cannot police our way out of this pandemic,' says doctor In western Quebec, residents are also being asked to stay home unless it's essential and not see anyone they don't live with, with an exception for people living alone. They can visit one other home. Quebec's 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew is now in effect, with fines of up to $6,000 for breaking the rules. The province has shut down non-essential businesses and has extended secondary school closures until later this week. Like in Ontario, travel from one region of Quebec to another is discouraged. Those rules are in place until Feb. 8. Distancing and isolating The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person speaks, coughs, sneezes, or breathes onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air. People can be contagious without symptoms. This means it's important to take precautions like staying home while symptomatic, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with — even with a mask on. Masks, preferably with three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec. OPH says residents should also wear masks outside their homes whenever possible. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Ontario and Quebec. Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get friends and family to help with errands. Anyone returning to Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days. Air travellers have to show recent proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Symptoms and vaccines COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children can develop a rash. If you have severe symptoms, call 911. Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help. COVID-19 vaccines have been given to health-care workers and long-term care residents in most of the Ottawa-Gatineau area. The exception for now is Renfrew County, which says it expects its first doses in early February. Ontario wants every long-term care resident and worker to have at least one shot by Feb. 15. In Ottawa, it's now expected the second phase of vaccination, which includes older adults and essential workers, will begin closer to April. The province is aiming to have vaccines widely available to the public in August, and Ottawa believes it can have nearly 700,000 residents vaccinated by then. Quebec has a somewhat controversial policy of giving a single dose to as many people as possible rather than giving fewer people two doses. It says people will get their second dose within 90 days. As of Jan. 14, western Quebec's health authority had given out about 4,400 doses. It says it will have reached all of its long-term care homes by early this week. Where to get tested In eastern Ontario: Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment. Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you've been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria. People without symptoms but part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one. Ottawa has 10 permanent test sites, with mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high. The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester. Its Alexandria and Casselman sites are temporarily closed. People can arrange a test in Picton over the phone or Bancroft, Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred. The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile clinic. Renfrew County test clinic locations are posted weekly. Residents can also call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 with health questions. Kingston's main test site is at the Beechgrove Complex, another is in Napanee. In western Quebec: Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts. Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site. There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki, Fort-Coulonge and Petite-Nation. Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby. First Nations, Inuit and Métis: Akwesasne has had at least 116 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border and five deaths. More than 230 people have tested positive across the community. Its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back and it has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only. Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Kitigan Zibi logged its first case in mid-December and has had a total of 18. The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte had its only confirmed case in November. People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603. Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays. For more information
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Sunday Jan. 17, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 35,604 new vaccinations administered for a total of 543,291 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,433.513 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 761,500 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 71.34 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,506 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,769 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,713 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 43.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 10,783 new vaccinations administered for a total of 137,856 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.111 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 162,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 14,460 new vaccinations administered for a total of 189,090 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 12.873 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.832 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 33,625 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 40.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,910 new vaccinations administered for a total of 16,927 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.355 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 24,400 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.37 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 7,451 new vaccinations administered for a total of 81,561 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 18.528 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 84,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 96.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 75,914 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.794 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 99,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.31 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,184 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 28.372 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.44 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 983 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 25.383 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.38 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 17, 2021. The Canadian Press
Why is the National Capital Commission going ahead with plans to open the Rideau Canal Skateway? What clinic for Ottawa's homeless people has had to temporarily close? And what aspect of the COVID-19 response is frustrating the chief of Kitigan Zibi? These are just a few of the questions designed to vex and perplex you in this week's CBC Ottawa news quiz. On a desktop computer? For the best quiz-taking experience, click on the arrows in the bottom right-hand corner of the quiz widget to expand it.
OTTAWA — The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's former head of counter-intelligence says it fell to him to tell the RCMP about a spy in the Canadian navy, even though the Canadian Security Intelligence Service was already well aware of Jeffrey Delisle's sale of sensitive secrets to the Russians. In a newly published book, Frank Figliuzzi casts a critical eye on the Delisle case, pointing to the episode as a prime illustration of systemic problems with how Canadian agencies investigate espionage. As a sub-lieutenant at the Trinity intelligence centre in Halifax, Delisle had access to a databank of classified secrets shared by the Five Eyes community — Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand. The RCMP arrested Delisle, a junior navy officer, on Jan. 13, 2012, for violating the Security of Information Act. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Delisle had given secret material to Russia in exchange for upward of $110,000 over more than four years. The official story detailed in court records suggested the FBI tipped Canadian authorities to Delisle's relationship with the Russians on Dec. 2, 2011, through a letter to the RCMP. However, as The Canadian Press reported in May 2013, the story actually began months earlier. Senior CSIS officials were called to Washington, where U.S. security personnel told them a navy officer in Halifax was receiving cash transfers from Russian agents. The Canadian spy service soon got court approval to begin electronic surveillance of Delisle. "The United States and its allies were hemorrhaging our most sensitive Russian reporting for as long as five years. As soon as we learned of Delisle, we knew we had to tell the Canadians and stop this guy. Easy, right?" Figliuzzi writes in "The FBI Way: Inside the Bureau's Code of Excellence." "Not so much. Not when dealing with a system that's so very different from ours," the book says. "The problem arose when it came time for someone to put Delisle in handcuffs." CSIS watched Delisle pass top-secret information to Russia for months without briefing the RCMP. The spy agency, acting on legal advice, opted to keep its investigation sealed for fear of exposing sources and methods of the intelligence trade in open court proceedings. "Someone had to call Canada's cops. Strangely, that task went to me," says Figliuzzi, who led the FBI's counter-intelligence division as an assistant director. "I wrote a simple letter on FBI stationery to the RCMP explaining that Jeffrey Delisle was a spy. I flew up to Ottawa and sat in a conference room with RCMP officials and verbally briefed the Mounties. Now the RCMP had to start their own investigation to be used in court," he recalls in the book. "Again, the cycle started from scratch, all while Delisle continued to spill everyone's secrets to the Russians. This was taking so long that we considered luring Delisle into the United States so we could arrest him on our own charges." Figliuzzi says Bob Mueller, FBI director at the time, even placed a call to his counterparts in Canada and "torqued up the pressure for someone to put an end to the madness. The end couldn't come fast enough." CSIS was created in 1984 after a series of scandals led to dissolution of the fabled RCMP Security Service. The new civilian spy service would gather information and tell the federal government of threats from suspected spies and terrorists, but would have no arrest powers. CSIS must hand over a case to the RCMP or work in parallel with the Mounties, then pass along the file when it comes time to take suspected spies or terrorists into custody. "Next time you hear someone suggest the FBI should be split, you have my permission to tell them the Delisle story," writes Figliuzzi, who retired from the FBI in 2012. Canada should rethink the way it approaches counter-intelligence probes, Figliuzzi said in an interview. "I thought that from Day 1 with Delisle, and my position on that hasn't hasn't changed. And I think it can be done with civil liberties still remaining paramount," he said. Authorities don't have the luxury of time for different agencies to independently develop the same information because their protocols and regulations require that they not share with each other, Figliuzzi said. "The bad guys don't respect our rules and our protocols. And in fact, they learn to exploit them quite skilfully. And this is an age that requires a swift response to breaking threats." To this day, the Delisle case remains the worst breach of Canadian secrets in the post-Cold War world, said Wesley Wark, an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa and a senior fellow with the Centre for International Governance Innovation. "There has never been any public accounting of the handling by Canadian authorities of the counter-intelligence investigation." The RCMP mounted a crash investigation in the navy spy case over the December 2011 holidays, he noted. "But how much time was lost, and how many secrets, before the Mounties put the cuffs on Delisle?" The RCMP did not respond to a request for comment. CSIS cannot discuss the Delisle case beyond what was presented in court, said John Townsend, a spokesman for the intelligence service. But he said that disclosing sensitive information could limit CSIS's ability to protect and recruit human sources. Moreover, it could significantly affect the service's relationship with partners and reveal its covert methods. "Protecting CSIS information from disclosure means it cannot be relied upon to support a particular case, decision or action," Townsend said. "In some cases, this could lead to the staying of criminal charges, settlements in civil litigation and the reversal of administrative decisions." CSIS works with the RCMP through the “One Vision” framework, which guides how the agencies collaborate on security cases. Over the last decade, CSIS and the RCMP have worked to improve the framework, Townsend said. This has allowed each agency to maintain appropriate separation between respective investigations "while ensuring a functional operational relationship." Federal agencies face challenges when attempting to use intelligence in a form that is admissible as evidence, said Mary-Liz Power, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair. "This is a long-standing issue considering that an accused individual cannot be tried based on evidence that cannot be disclosed to them in some fashion." CSIS, the RCMP and the Department of Justice are constantly working together to improve their intelligence gathering and on addressing national security threats, Power said. "By breaking down the silos that come to exist over time, the government is confident it will avoid future roadblocks and better manage litigation." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2021. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
At least 56 people have died in the 6.2 magnitude earthquake which hit Sulawesi island on Friday nightView on euronews
WASHINGTON — Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Wednesday, a history-making event in which the first Black, South Asian and female vice-president will take her oath of office from the first Latina justice. Harris chose Sotomayor for the task, according to a person familiar with the decision. She’ll also use two Bibles for the swearing-in, one of which belonged to Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice. ABC News first reported the latest details of Harris’ inauguration plans. Harris has expressed admiration for both Sotomayor and Marshall. She and Sotomayor share experience as prosecutors, and she once called Marshall — like Harris, a graduate of Howard University — one of her “greatest heroes.” The vice-president-elect said in a video posted to Twitter that she viewed Marshall as “one of the main reasons I wanted to be a lawyer,” calling him “a fighter” in the courtroom. And this will be the second time Sotomayor takes part in an inauguration. She swore in President-elect Joe Biden as vice-president in 2013. Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
The old saying holds that only fools and the dead never change their minds. Health Minister Christian Dubé is neither of those things. Eighteen days ago, at a news conference about Quebec's COVID-19 vaccination plan, Dubé insisted his hands were tied by Pfizer's requirements that second doses of the two-dose protocol be held back to observe the prescribed 21-day interval between shots. A course correction followed a few days later and this week, he announced second doses would be delayed up to 90 days. "This is the best strategy," he said, citing the urgency of the situation. On Dec. 29, Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda sat next to Dubé at a news conference and alluded to the possibility that Pfizer could reduce its supply to Quebec if the province didn't follow the recommendations, a prospect since echoed by federal officials. Dubé this week: "We're not asking permission." The reversal was sudden, it also represents an unusually aggressive move by a government whose response to the pandemic has been typefied by cautious decision-making. Going it largely alone on delaying doses for months suggests, above all else, that the Legault government is pushing its entire stack of chips onto the square marked "vaccines." The decision is based on the advice of experts from the province's vaccine committee, the Comité sur l'immunisation du Québec, which studied clinical evidence. And it runs counter to guidelines from Pfizer and the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations. A high-stakes gamble The contrast with other major decisions made since the turn of the year is informative. In the same week Dubé announced his department was going full bore on vaccination, it also announced an easing of restrictions on rapid testing. And, last week, the province highlighted the portion of an expert panel's report on air purifiers and filters in schools that confirmed the devices won't interrupt the main causes of disease transmission — mainly, proximity of students — rather than the part indicating they help lower the number of viral particles in the air. Take, as well, the provincial curfew that went into effect a week ago, which in effect relaxes a series of previously existing measures and does little to tackle what provincial statistics indicate are a key venue for transmission: workplaces, particularly in the construction and manufacturing sector. The rationale has been that shutting down those industries on a large scale could imperil supply of essential goods. It's true there are few easy policy choices in the middle of a raging pandemic. Why the unusual forcefulness and speedy action on vaccines, then? Perhaps because there is no discernible Plan B. Still more that could be done Many experts believe the new restrictions that went into place last Saturday won't be enough — and argue more needs to be done in a number of areas including testing and contact tracing, stronger measures in schools and in the many workplaces that remain open. The headline grabber of early 2021 is the curfew that requires people to stay home between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Non-essential retailers, as well as non-essential offices, restaurants, bars and gyms, were ordered to remain closed, while manufacturing and construction sectors — both major sources of new outbreaks — were allowed to stay open, unhindered. "If the manufacturing industry is accounting for ongoing community transmission, which I suspect that it is, then there needs to be more control to ensure public [health] measures there," said Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious diseases specialist at the McGill University Health Centre who is also a science advisor for the federal COVID-19 therapeutics task force. Quebec Labour Minister Jean Boulet issued a statement Friday suggesting they may finally crack down. In a follow-up interview with Radio-Canada, he said inspectors will be "vigilant." "We won't hesitate when there are violations of the health guidelines to hand out fines," he said, though they have only handed out 21 at construction sites in the past week. Schools, too, have been allowed to reopen. While the benefits of keeping them open are clear, Vinh said the government could still do more to get a handle on transmission, including a clearer stance on ventilation. "If internally within schools there could be stricter public health measures, I think that would be helpful," he said. Premier François Legault has defended the measures by saying the curfew is a way to seize the public's attention and to limit exposure to older people while they await the vaccine. He has pointed out, repeatedly, that 80 per cent of those hospitalized are over the age of 65. But, it remains unclear whether the curfew, and the other measures in place, will be effective on that front. Testing, testing Then there's the question of interrupting the contagion in the community. As Eastern Townships Public Health Director Dr. Alain Poirier said this week, the virus "is everywhere." Quebec has been reluctant to more widely employ rapid tests as a way to better understand exactly where the virus is spreading. On Thursday, after 200 Quebec scientists published an open letter calling on the province to make more use of rapid tests, Dubé retreated from comments on Monday that the tests were unnecessary. Based on a report from a panel of internal experts issued that same day, Quebec will start using rapid tests to bolster its regular testing capacity on a limited basis, in highly specific circumstances. Is the change of heart enough? Not in the view of Dr. David Juncker, a testing expert who is chair of bioengineering at McGill University and a scientific adviser to Rapid Test and Trace Canada, which advocates for a large-scale implementation of the technology. "It's a step in the right direction … but it's a little bit too little, too late," Juncker told CBC's Quebec AM. "That's the real risk, that we're trapped in cycles of too little, too late here." He likened the government's approach to rapid testing — which it plainly views as unreliable and a major drain on human resources — to the discussion surrounding face masks in early 2020. Provincial public health officials initially opposed masks, before realizing they could be a key tool in preventing the spread of the virus. The National Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel, which issued its first report Friday, suggests rapid antigen tests could be exactly another useful tool, given the ability to test frequently and obtain instant results. In a technical briefing this week, officials with Quebec's Health Ministry defended their approach to rapid tests, saying the current testing regime is perfectly adequate, and that, in any event, they don't have enough people to deploy them at scale. What's frustrating to experts like the signatories of the open letter is there doesn't appear to be a plan to develop that capacity any time soon. 'We need to kickstart now' Frontline doctors remain concerned about the coming weeks, with intensive care wards in Montreal at risk of being overwhelmed. Even if hospitals are able to hang on until Feb. 8, when the measures are set to lift, the province isn't expected to begin vaccinating older people outside care until the middle of the month. Vinh said Quebec's situation is rendered "tricky" by the fact vaccine procurement and supply are out of its control. The announcement from Pfizer on Friday that it would temporarily reduce shipments of its vaccine to Canada due to issues with its supply chain underscored the risks involved in the Legault government's plan. The pharmaceutical giant is pausing some production lines at its facility in Puurs, Belgium, in order to expand long-term manufacturing capacity. The move means Quebec will receive 8,775 doses instead of the 46,800 originally scheduled for the week of Jan. 25, and 39,000 of the 82,875 doses expected the following week. The disruption is far from catastrophic, given the doses will be replaced in later deliveries and Quebec is also receiving tens of thousands of vaccines from Moderna. But it will have an impact. That was the week the province was supposed to begin vaccinating in private retirement homes. In a statement, a spokesperson for Dubé said the supply chain hiccup merely reinforces Quebec's decision. "The strategy remains the same: we need to kickstart now and vaccinate as many vulnerable people and health-care workers as possible, as quickly as possible," reads the statement.
VANCOUVER — Staff in long-term care homes across Canada are struggling to isolate elderly residents with dementia during COVID-19 outbreaks, accelerating the deadly spread of the virus, experts say. These vulnerable residents have a tendency to wander as well as a need for social connection and physical touch, leading them to enter other patients' rooms or common areas where they could contract or transmit the virus, say doctors and advocates. "It's a significant problem in the time of COVID-19 and long-term care," said Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge, a national seniors advocacy group. "It's also quite inhumane to be locking people up in their rooms. Older people with dementia in long-term care are not prisoners," she added. "The good news is there are some things we can do to help support infection prevention and control while at the same time not isolating seniors exclusively in their rooms." The novel coronavirus has taken a lethal toll on Canadians living in long-term care homes. More than 3,000 of Ontario's over 5,000 deaths have been in these facilities, as have more than 600 of British Columbia's roughly 1,000 fatalities. Overall in Canada, residents of these homes account for 10 per cent of total cases and 72 per cent of deaths. A woman whose grandmother died of COVID-19 in a Vancouver care home has raised the alarm about residents wandering during outbreaks. Parbs Bains said she was on a Zoom call with her sick grandmother when another resident entered the room and began hugging her and kissing her on the forehead, remaining for several minutes before a nurse arrived to usher her out. The care home, Little Mountain Place, is the site of B.C.’s deadliest outbreak in such a facility, with 41 dead. But in all long-term care homes with outbreaks in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, keeping residents with cognitive impairments isolated has been a challenge, said chief medical health officer Dr. Patricia Daly. The health authority advises staff to monitor residents who wander but not to lock them in rooms or restrain them, Daly said. Tamblyn Watts said 80 per cent of residents of long-term care homes in the country have some form of cognitive impairment such as dementia. Keeping them in one room without social engagement, exercise or daily routines has a negative effect, she said. She said more staff, not necessarily with medical training but with dementia training, are needed to compassionately intervene when they see a resident wandering and redirect them to a safe area. Ideally, there would be a separate room where residents could walk to other than their own, Tamblyn Watts added. "It does, however, mean that you need to have people on deck to be able to help with that," she said. Quebec announced last year it would hire 10,000 patient attendants to work in care homes and train them over last summer. B.C. and Ontario have also created new jobs in care homes for people without prior experience, but much more hiring needs to be done, Tamblyn Watts said. She also said more infection control, cleaning, testing and now vaccines are needed, in order to prevent COVID-19 from getting inside care homes to begin with. Dr. Roger Wong, clinical professor and vice dean in the University of British Columbia faculty of medicine, said people with dementia need a lot of hands-on care. "Clearly, we always need more staffing," he said. But he said there are some ways to help residents with cognitive impairments stay in their rooms, including placing a stop sign by the door or hanging a curtain over the doorway. In some secure units, seniors wear wristbands that ring an alarm when they leave, Wong said. It's also technologically possible, though not common practice, to place GPS trackers in residents' footwear, he said. Playing a familiar piece of music in their rooms can be comforting and help them remain in that space, Wong added. He said families could plan to speak to their loved ones virtually at times when they are more likely to get confused and wander, often in the late afternoon or evening for Alzheimer's patients. However, it can be a challenge to ensure that residents understand the people on their screen are their loved ones, he said. Jennifer Stewart, manager of advocacy and education for the Alzheimer Society of B.C., acknowledged that virtual visits can be helpful for some and confusing for others. Patients may not be able to understand or retain the information about why they need to be separated from others or be able to follow protocols, such as frequent hand washing, she added. "I think we're in a really tough spot," she said. "I don't think anyone's found a perfect solution here." However, Stewart said person-centred care is key: looking at each patient as a unique individual and speaking with their families about how to provide them with safety, comfort and meaning. B.C. seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie said the primary way that the virus is spreading in care homes is from staff to residents, rather than from resident to resident. Staff are in close physical contact with many different patients, she noted, and many residents are not mobile. She said, though, that immediately after a single positive case, all residents and employees should be tested and residents should be isolated. Every patient positive for COVID-19 should be kept not only in their room, but as much as possible in a certain section of the home, she said. Daly of Vancouver Coastal Health said care homes in the region do not automatically do mass testing after a single staff member tests positive. She said testing depends on the likelihood the employee transmitted the virus to others in the home as well as the timing of transmission. Mackenzie has also called for frequent, routine testing of staff, which B.C. does not do. Ontario tests staff at least every two weeks and has also deployed some pilot projects for rapid testing. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. considered whether to periodically send staff to a testing site, as is done in Ontario, but that is very "low yield" and challenging to do. As for rapid testing at care homes on a daily basis, that is "not feasible" with the tests that the province has, she said. "Our focus has been instead on making sure we have the resources to ensure staffing, particularly if an outbreak has been identified. When an outbreak is identified, testing is done," Henry said. The seniors advocate said understaffing is "absolutely" still an issue. "I think there have been additional strains on an already strained staffing system," Mackenzie said. She said family members can be designated essential visitors to be the eyes and ears of a loved one within the care home and flag problems for staff. Some residents don't have family members who are able to play this role but many do, she said. Mackenzie added that even when dementia patients are isolated, they should be receiving physical touch from staff. Care providers should also use gentle persuasion and de-escalation techniques to assuage any anxieties residents are experiencing, she said. "If they're mobile enough that they're individually ambulating out of their room in the common areas, they've got some capacity. That is not a person in end-stage Alzheimer's with no capacity to understand anything," she pointed out. "It's easy to throw up our hands and say we couldn't do anything, we can't isolate these people because they wander. That is not true of every resident or even of most residents. It might be true of some and we know how to manage that." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2021. Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press