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77 Canadians on their way to help Australia as wildfires rage on

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Dozens of Canadian firefighters are on their way to Australia to help the country battle wildfires that have left at least 29 people dead.

The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) says that 77 Canadians from across the country are headed down under in response to a request for help by national fire and emergency services in Melbourne.

The request for help is specifically for the states of Victoria and South Australia, according to a CIFFC statement tweeted Thursday.

 

“This is in addition to the Canadian resources that have already been deployed to the State of New South Wales,” CIFFC said in the statement.

The first contingent of Canadians that left in early December is back, they added.

CIFFC spokesperson Melanie Morin said these Canadian deployments, beginning from December, are the first time the agency has sent firefighting help to Australia.

“This is the first time that we’ve gone anywhere internationally other than the United States,” she said in a phone interview from Melbourne on Thursday, where she is part of a team helping coordinate personnel.

On Thursday, 28 fire management personnel were preparing to depart from Vancouver International Airport, bound for the state of Victoria, where at least half a dozen bushfires were listed on the government website along with clusters of grass fires.

Their deployment is slated to last 31 days.

 

 

“They will be undertaking roles in command, operations, planning, logistics and aviation,” CIFFC said.

Seven more Canadian fire aviation specialists will depart for 31 days — marking the seventh such deployment from Canada — on Friday to South Australia, where fire danger ratings on the state website range from very high to low-moderate.

 

The fires have affected the availability of food and water for local wildlife. Local firefighters in South Australia recently posted a video of themselves helping a pair of parched koalas. Similar videos of people helping thirsty koalas have periodically appeared since the start of the wildfire season. The World Wildlife Fund in Australia said last week it estimates more than a billion animals may have been killed directly or indirectly due to the fires.

On Sunday, 40 professional wildland firefighters from Canada along with two fire management personnel will head to Victoria for 31 days.

Morin said this is the first time CIFFC is sending frontline firefighters in response to a request by the state of Victoria.

“So we are now sending 40 firefighters that will be leaving Sunday night and arriving Tuesday morning in Melbourne,” she said. Half of them are from B.C., while the other half hail from Quebec.

 

Australia may have a “different topography, different terrain, different climate” than in Canada, she said.

“But once you have that base knowledge, then it can be transferred and applied here,” Morin said.

The firefighters all come from agencies across the country — B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon.

 

All in all, by the time the eighth deployment lands in Australia next week, Canada will have sent a total of 172 fire professionals since early December to three different states in Australia.

“We have 46 from BC, two from the Yukon, 34 from Alberta, four from the Northwest Territories, 11 from Saskatchewan, eight from Manitoba, 28 from Ontario, 25 from Quebec, three from Newfoundland and Labrador, three from Nova Scotia and eight from Parks Canada,” Morin said.

Canada has mutual aid agreements with not just Australia but also New Zealand, the U.S., Mexico and South Africa. It has received similar firefighting assistance in the past.

“Canada has called on Australian support for firefighting personnel in 2015, 2017 and 2018 and we are proud to now reciprocate and assist them during this challenging fire season,” CIFFC said.

The wildfires in Australia have devastated more than 2,500 homes and ravaged an area roughly the size of a third of Germany since they first began raging in September.

With files by Reuters

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Coronavirus cases in Canada up by over 450, total nears 12,000 – Global News

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The number of novel coronavirus patients in Canada continues to grow, as the country hit more than 11,000 total cases on Friday.

According to data from Public Health Canada, cases reached 11,747 as of 11 a.m. EST on April 3, up by more than 450 from the day before.

The total deaths in Canada is at 152, which is an increase of more than a dozen people.


READ MORE:
The novel coronavirus has infected more than 1 million people worldwide

Quebec still holds the highest total cases, with 5,518. However, the most number of deaths have been reported in Ontario, at 67 of 3,255 cases, according to the data.

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Quebec’s death toll was at 36 as of April 3.

One day earlier, Canada’s total cases broke the 10,000 mark.

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PHAC reports that community transmission makes up 64 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 cases, meaning people who caught the infection without travelling or being in close contact with a traveller.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.

However, the extent of community transmission is difficult to track through these numbers, as experts believe many people are asymptomatic.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, cautioned that the numbers won’t reflect what’s happening “right now,” because it doesn’t show the point in time when people became sick.

“What you’re seeing is what happened to someone when they were symptomatic at least two weeks ago,” she said at a recent press conference.


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“So even if you’re not hearing of cases in your community, it doesn’t mean there is no risk of exposure. We must all consider that anyone could be infected and keeping our two-metre distance is the safest bet.”

Tam said this week is “crucial” to see if physical distancing measures and closures have made an impact on the outbreak.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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COVID-19 researcher gains Canadian citizenship through historic virtual ceremony – Global News

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A University of Manitoba professor who has gained government funding to research solutions to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic was granted Canadian citizenship — without having to leave his home.

Dr. Adolf Ng took part in the first-ever virtual citizenship ceremony Thursday, according to a social media post from Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, in order to meet what they called an “urgent need to facilitate COVID-19 research.”

“His new Canadian citizenship and passport allows him to perform essential work related to combatting COVID-19 and saving Canadian lives,” the ministry said in a follow-up Tweet.

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Citizenship ceremonies and tests have been otherwise cancelled due to the pandemic and resulting public health orders prohibiting large public gatherings.

Ng, who teaches supply chain management at U of M’s Asper School of Business, received $258,900 from Research Manitoba last month for research projects in both Canada and Wuhan, China, to find solutions to supply chain issues in Canada.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau closes Canadian borders to foreign travellers

The research project is one of dozens that have been partially funded by the federal government in order to ramp up Canada’s research and development into solutions to battle the pandemic, including searches for possible vaccines.

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Ng told the University of Manitoba Today news magazine that he was honoured to be granted his citizenship through the unusual ceremony, which has never been performed in Canada before.


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“What an extraordinary way to complete my citizenship journey!” he said.

“The officers in IRCC were really, really accommodating, and I greatly appreciate their efforts. I really want to attend a physical ceremony someday.”

The university says Ng’s research project is expected to begin later this month.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Coronavirus: After shipment seized from Canada, FBI redistributing nearly 1M masks and gloves – Global News

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Medical supplies shipped from Canada to a New York man accused of price-gouging are now being redistributed to doctors and nurses amid the new coronavirus pandemic, according to U.S. authorities.

Baruch Feldheim, 43, was arrested on Monday in Brooklyn and charged with lying to federal agents after he allegedly sold a doctor approximately 1,000 N95 masks and other medical materials for $12,000, a roughly 700 per cent markup, according to the FBI.

READ MORE: Trudeau sidesteps questions on whether China’s coronavirus data is trustworthy

Feldheim was also charged with assaulting FBI detectives after allegedly coughing on them during his arrest, claiming to have COVID-19, the agency said in a statement.

U.S. court documents allege that Feldheim acquired and resold the personal protective equipment out of an auto repair shop in New Jersey and his residence in Brooklyn.

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The FBI allege about “eight skids of surgical masks” arrived from Canada. The agency did not respond to questions about who in Canada shipped the supplies.

“According to records from Customs and Border Protection, on or about March 25, 2020, [Feldheim’s company] received a shipment by truck from Canada of approximately eight skids of surgical face masks,” an FBI affidavit says.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau to release COVID-19 projections

The stockpile of supplies included 192,000 N95 respirators, 130,000 surgical masks and nearly 600,000 medical-grade gloves, the FBI said. Agents also recovered surgical gowns, disinfectant towels, particulate filters, hand sanitizer and spray disinfectant.

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According to the FBI, a doctor told agents he went to pick up his order at an auto repair shop in New Jersey, which was being used as a warehouse, he saw enough materials, including hand sanitizers, Clorox wipes, cleaning agents, and surgical supplies “to outfit an entire hospital.”

READ MORE: Counterfeit Chinese-made face masks pulled offline after Global News probe

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department said Thursday those supplies are now being distributed to health care workers in New York and New Jersey. The HHS said it used the Defense Production Act to take possession of the items and will pay Feldheim “fair market value.”

James Moriarty, Feldheim’s defense lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Global News, but Reuters reported that Moriarty had denied the charges. Feldheim has been released on a US$50,000 bond and a promise not to deal in medical equipment before his trial.

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Some provinces, including Ontario, have passed emergency legislation that could see price gougers of essential items face jail time amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

READ MORE: Scammers have never had a more target-rich environment amid coronavirus pandemic — experts

New York has been one of the states hardest hit by the deadly virus, where hospitals have been overwhelmed by patients and there is an urgent need for personal protective gear.

As of Friday morning, there have been more than 92,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, including 51,800 in New York City. More than 2,400 people with COVID-19 have died in the state, which has the largest number — around 38 per cent — of confirmed cases in the U.S.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.

Across the U.S. there are more than 245,000 cases of the deadly virus that have been confirmed and more than 6,000 deaths.

U.S. officials called the case a blatant example of hoarding of medical supplies and that it was the first of many price-gouging investigations related to COVID-19 equipment currently underway.

“If you are amassing critical medical equipment for the purpose of selling it at exorbitant prices, you can expect a knock at your door,” Attorney General William Barr said in the announcement.

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“The Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force is working tirelessly around the clock with all our law enforcement partners to ensure that bad actors cannot illicitly profit from the COVID-19 pandemic facing our nation.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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