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5 video games for kids to while away the fall hours – that parents might like, too – CTV News

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With winter weather approaching and our social options limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, kids and teenagers might be tempted to fill their free time playing video games.

Here are five games released in 2020 that parents might be comfortable letting their kids play as they while away the hours this fall.

MARIO KART LIVE: HOME CIRCUIT

Platforms: Nintendo Switch

ESRB Rating: E (everyone)

Suggested Retail Price: $129.99

The anticipated latest entry into Nintendo’s “Mario Kart” series literally takes the action into your house.

The “Mario Kart Live” kit comes with a real toy kart (Mario and Luigi are the characters currently available) mounted with a camera.

Players use the Switch to drive the cart around the house to create a racetrack. Once finished, players can race on the track in the game.

The “augmented reality” mix of real-world and virtual environments gives creative players a wealth of tools at their disposal to make challenging tracks. Standard Mario Kart elements such as items to boost speed or obstacles to impede karts can be mixed with everyday household items used as ramps or obstacles.

What’s more, the game is free of some of the limitations of similar toys like slot-car racetracks. Setup and takedown is a breeze, as the only items that needed to be placed on the floor is four gates for the kart to drive through.

There are, however, a couple of potential drawbacks.

To get the most out of “Mario Kart: Home Circuit,” you will need a large, well-lit space. It’s possible to make smaller tracks for more compact areas, but the scope of what you can do will be limited.

Also, multiplayer presents some problems. The game supports up to four players on a track, but each must have their own kart and Switch console. There is no online multiplayer option.

Not only can multiplayer be costly, but the pandemic makes it difficult to meet in the same space to race against someone not in your social bubble.

Still, as both a collectible and a game, there’s little doubt that this will be high on the wish list for any Mario Kart fan. Those with the space and the desire to create increasingly devious tracks should find enough replay value in the title for months to come.

ANIMAL CROSSING: NEW HORIZONS

Platforms: Nintendo Switch

ESRB Rating: E (everyone)

Suggested Retail Price: $79.99

The latest instalment of the popular “Animal Crossing” game was released in March, just as households across the country were preparing for the lockdown in response to the spreading pandemic.

The lighthearted nature of the game, which tasks you with developing an island paradise for your anthropomorphic animal buddies, was a welcome contrast to the uncertainty of the time.

The charming title has grown since then, with Nintendo releasing a number of free updates to keep the game fresh.

The recently released fall update includes Halloween-themed costumes to wear and decorations to place around the island, giving players several creative options to make their habitat suitably spooky.

With a Thanksgiving/Christmas themed update announced for sometime next month, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” gives gamers of all ages a lot of bang for their buck.

ORI AND THE WILL OF THE WISPS

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch

ESRB Rating: E (everyone)

Suggested Retail Price: $39.99

An action/adventure game in the style of the Nintendo classic “Metroid”, “Ori and the Will of the Wisps” game sees the light spirit Ori navigate a forest full of wondrous sights and treacherous traps in a mission to rescue a friend, and heal the land in the process.

The latest Ori adventure boasts beautiful art direction, clever level design and an empathetic tone that should resonate with younger players.

Some of the combat and puzzles could be challenging for inexperienced gamers, though that could be remedied by playing on an easier difficulty setting.

The sequel to the indie hit “Ori and the Blind Forest” received strong reviews for its gameplay and story when it was originally released for the Xbox One and Windows earlier this year. A version for the Switch was released last month.

NHL 21

Platforms: PS4, Xbox One,

ESRB Rating: E 10+ (Recommended for gamers 10 and over)

Suggested Retail Price: $79.99

With the 2020 Stanley Cup already awarded to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL’s Edmonton bubble, and the next season delayed until at least the beginning of January, “NHL 21” might help fill the hockey void.

“NHL 21” lets you lead your favourite hockey team to glory, or you can create your own player and take the journey from promising prospect to all-star.

Players can compete online against others, so friends can match skills while staying in a safe environment. Parents may want to monitor if their kids play online against strangers.

EA Sports releases a new game in its NHL franchise every year, and there is often not a lot to differentiate the titles on a year-to-year basis. If you have a recent NHL title, you may want to direct your entertainment budget elsewhere.

If you haven’t bought an NHL title in a while, or are looking to pick up your first game in the series, then “NHL 21” is a way to scratch the hockey itch while the pro leagues are on hiatus and minor programs are suspended.

MARVEL’S AVENGERS

Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, PS4, Google Stadia

ESRB Rating: T (Teen)

Suggested Retail Price: $79.99

It’s fair to say “Marvel’s Avengers” didn’t quite live up to its heroic hype when it was released last month.

Reviews were mixed, with praise for its short but excellent single-player campaign and a lukewarm reception for its directionless online component.

Still, superheroes are pop culture dynamos, and there is enough here for fans of Captain America, Iron Man and Black Widow to enjoy.

Combat is fast and furious, and each of the six currently available Avengers have their own play style. Rampaging into a horde of the enemies with the Hulk or lighting them up with Thor’s hammer feels right.

While the Avengers are a force for good, the violence might be intense for very young gamers. Teen players who are into superheroes, however, will find a relatable protagonist in the delightful Kamala Khan, otherwise known as Ms. Marvel.

“Marvel’s Avengers” might currently be a bit thin on content for those who aren’t big fans of the genre, but that might change. The game’s developers have beefed up the multiplayer since launch, and new characters are on the way, with the Kate Bishop version of Hawkeye expected in the coming weeks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020.

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Health Matters: Two Alberta toddlers finally receive expensive, life-saving drug Zolgensma | Watch News Videos Online – Globalnews.ca

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Health Matters December 3: Two Edmonton-area children, suffering from spinal muscular atrophy Type 1 and in need of a $2.8 million life-saving Zolgensma treatment, have finally received it — thanks to a twist of fate. And the winner of the Mighty Millions Lottery grand prize is revealed. Su-Ling Goh reports.

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What you need to know about COVID-19 antibody tests – Kingston News – Kingstonist

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Photo: Karolina Grabowska

A COVID-19 antibody test is now generally available to Kingston residents, with a doctor’s requisition. The medical laboratory chain Life Labs began offering the Health Canada approved serology test on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. Currently available in British Columbia and Ontario, the test costs $75.

However, internal medical expert Dr. Gerald Evans advises that the results of a COVID-19 antibody tests are not always straightforward. He said he can’t think of many clinical circumstances when a doctor would request this information.

“Really it has very little utility in the general practice of medicine,” he said. “Right now the only use that we have for an antibody test, based on the guidelines that are issued, is to use it to investigate children who present with a multi inflammatory syndrome (IMSC)…. That’s really the only clinical utility we have for it,” he said.

He also explained that not everybody who gets COVID-19 exhibits the exact same antibody response, which makes the virus different from others such as measles or chickenpox.

“Most people get something, but some people are what we call ‘low-level responders,’ meaning the levels of antibodies that they get could be below a detection level that we’re looking for.”

“So if you wanted to do this test because you’re saying ‘I recall being ill and I think it was COVID,’ you do an antibody test. If it’s negative, it doesn’t really say that you didn’t have a COVID-19 infection. It may mean that you were one of these people that had a very mild infection and didn’t get a big antibody response.”

He also explained that humans make three different types of antibodies in response to a virus — IgG, IgA, IgM.

“IgM antibodies disappear very quickly. If you’re more than a couple of months out from your infection, you won’t find them. IgA antibodies are super tricky because they go up and down, they disappear, and some people don’t make them at all.”

The IgG antibody, which he said believes the Life Labs antibody tests are based on, is much more stable.

Life Labs CEO Charles Brown called antibody testing “another piece of the puzzle to better understand COVID-19.”

The company also explains on their website that a negative result might mean a person has been infected, but that antibody levels were too low for the test to detect. They note that you might receive a negative result, even after being infected, if not enough time has lapsed since the infection, to allow for antibodies to develop.

“Antibody response varies from person-to-person and can take up to three to four weeks post-onset of symptoms or post-exposure to be reliably detectable by antibody assays,” the company said.

Both Dr. Evans and Life Labs note that the test cannot be used to determine a current infection.

“It doesn’t really help in the diagnosis of COVID-19. Antibodies are made after you’re infected or when you’re in that recovery phase,” Dr. Evans said.

COVID-19 antibodies do not mean immunity

Dr. Evans said that typically, the IgG antibodies for the measles can be detected by a test in anyone that has ever had, or been inoculated against, the virus, even years later. They also indicate immunity. In the case of COVID-19, he said, it’s not the same thing.

“We still don’t quite have the exact test that tells us that those antibodies we’re measuring are at a high enough level or are responsible for neutralizing the virus, which would then predict that you’re immune,” he said.

“We’ve found people that even have these antibodies, they may not be in sufficient quantity. Or, it may not be the right antibody that actually protects them and gives them immunity. That’s the big problem.

“You could imagine somebody saying: ‘I’m going to get the test done to show that I’m immune,’ and that’s not really what it’s telling you.”

Life Labs website states that a positive test result does not infer immunity. They recommend getting the blood test three to four weeks after the onset of symptoms, adding that it’s possible to detect antibodies up to four months post-exposure.

“We look forward, to continue building our support for the healthcare system’s response to the pandemic, where Canadians have access to more important COVID-19 information to help them make informed decisions about their health,” Brown said.

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Westland Insurance marks 40th anniversary with charity campaign – Insurance Business Canada

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In celebration of its 40 years of business, Westland Insurance Group will be handing out grants to various charities across Canada – specifically local charities in the communities the broker operates in.

The broker’s “40 Weeks of Giving” campaign will see Westland support a cause every week for the next 40 weeks. The campaign began last week, and two charities have already received donations from Westland – the first recipient being the Burns Bog Conservation Society, which works to protect Canada’s fragile ecosystems; and the second recipient being the Canadian Mental Health Association, which works to reduce the impact of mental illness and addiction.

Westland Insurance, founded in 1980, has over 150 locations across five provinces – BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario.

Read more: Westland Insurance Group acquires Diamond Insurance Agencies

Recently, it acquired Calgary-based Diamond Insurance Agencies. The acquired brokerage focuses on residential, auto, life, travel, recreation, farm, and commercial insurance services.

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