The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — A top U.S. public health official says young people are driving the latest uptick in COVID-19 cases, as the increasing rate of vaccination in older Americans is preventing the most serious cases among seniors. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a briefing Monday that “cases are increasing nationally, and we are seeing this occur predominately in younger adults.” She cites the increasing spread of variants, but also a rise in youth sports and extracurricular activities as contributing to the steady increase in cases over the last four weeks. But Walensky pointed to positive developments among the most vulnerable age group, saying senior citizens’ virus deaths have reached their lowest levels since the early fall. Greater than 75% of those aged 65 or older nationally have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 55% are fully vaccinated. “What we’re seeing is both a decrease in emergency department visits as well as hospitalizations associated with that demographic,” Walensky said. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: — A pandemic year in the life of seven New Yorkers — Greece reopens stores despite virus surge — India’s daily virus cases soar past 100,000 for first time — Polish hospitals struggle with surge of virus patients — China sees rise in coronavirus cases in city near Myanmar border — Christians observe second Easter shaped by pandemic ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: SKOPJE, North Macedonia — North Macedonia is tightening pandemic restrictions until April 20, as its hospitals fill up following a record high of new COVID-19 infections and deaths last week. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev says the nationwide curfew will be extended for two hours — from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. — from Tuesday. All bars, restaurants, fitness centres and betting clubs will be closed from Wednesday. “Stay at home! Do not go out and avoid grouping!,” Zaev urged Monday. Authorities recorded 50 deaths and 1,320 new confirmed infections Saturday. The country of just over 2 million has reported nearly 135,000 infections in total and about 4,000 deaths. North Macedonia has delayed mass immunization amid vaccine shortages. Health Minister Venko Filipce said hospitals “are overloaded as never before.” ___ ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico is joining the growing list of U.S. states that are opening up coronavirus vaccine eligibility to any person 16 and older. Monday marked the start of expanded eligibility under the New Mexico Department of Health’s distribution plan. The timeline for getting more shots out to the general public was sped up under a directive by the Biden administration to make all adults in the U.S. eligible by May 1. State officials also said they opened up eligibility because providers in some parts of the state were no longer able to find people to fill appointments. Still, officials said those who were part of the earlier phases will be prioritized. State data also shows nearly 48% of residents have received their first shot. ___ GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Starting Monday, any adult in Florida is eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine. In addition, the state announced that teens ages 16 and 17 can also get the vaccine with parental permission. In an effort to get students inoculated, the University of Florida’s Athletics Department is working with UF Health and the local health department to administer the vaccine at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. University and health officials plan to inoculate up to 5,000 people, starting at 11 a.m. Monday. Officials hope to meet a goal of vaccinating 20,000 per week, a news release said. On Sunday, the state reported that 3,660,880 Floridians had been completely inoculated, and another 2,638,758 had received the first dose of the vaccine, according to the state’s Department of Health dashboard. The opening of vaccine eligibility comes days after Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order banning businesses from requiring customers to show proof they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to get service. ___ KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — A coronavirus outbreak at the University of the Nations Kona in Hawaii has been reported by university officials and has forced the campus to close to the public. University spokesperson Johnny Gillespie told West Hawaii Today last Friday that there were 20 recent positive coronavirus tests on campus. The university identified the results through a testing program for students and staff who are preparing to travel out of the country. Students and employees affiliated with the university are required to test negative for the coronavirus before leaving. Gillespie says 64 people identified by contact tracing have been placed in precautionary quarantine. ___ PARIS — France’s health minister warned Monday that the number of COVID-19 patients in the country’s intensive care units could reach levels seen during the first crisis a year ago. France’s hospitals have already surpassed the number of virus ICU patients seen during the second surge in November, and Olivier Veran said on TF1 television that “it’s possible we could approach” the ICU saturation levels of April 2020. At that point, French ICUs held more than 7,000 virus patients, many in temporary facilities because demand far outstripped the country’s pre-pandemic ICU capacity. As of Sunday night, French ICUs held 5,341 virus patients, and Veran said the country has 8,000 beds ready if needed. Veran expressed hope that France’s new infections “could reach a peak this week,” thanks to new partial lockdown measures imposed to relieve hospitals and slow fast-growing cases of the more contagious virus variant first identified in Britain. Even if infections subside, hospitalizations will continue to grow for another two or three weeks, he said. Still, he sought to remain optimistic, insisting, “We will manage.” Internal projections by the Paris public hospitals authority last week suggested that ICUs in the region of 12 million people may soon have to find space for more critically ill patients than ever. ___ KYIV, Ukraine — Authorities in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, introduced tighter lockdown restrictions on Monday following a recent spike in coronavirus cases. For two weeks starting Monday, all schools and kindergartens in the city of 3 million people will be closed, and only those with special passes will be allowed on public transport. According to Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, only 400,000 people – doctors and rescuers, social, transport and utility workers, law enforcement officers and those involved in retails — will get the passes. In Kyiv, 458 new cases of the virus and 32 new deaths were registered on Monday. Over 10,000 new infections were confirmed over the past 24 hours in the nation of 41 million. Ukraine began vaccinations against the coronavirus in late February. So far only 291,822 people have received the shots, due to widespread reluctance. ___ LONDON — The British government says all adults and children will be able to have routine coronavirus tests twice a week as a way to stamp out new outbreaks as the U.K. emerges from lockdown. The lateral flow tests, which will be available by mail or from pharmacies, give results in minutes but are less accurate than the PCR swab tests used to officially confirm cases of COVID-19. The government insists they are reliable and will play an important role in opening up society. The tests are being introduced as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces the next steps in the country’s road map out of its three-month lockdown. Johnson is unlikely to tell Britons when they will be able to go abroad on vacation — currently banned by law — though the government has said it will not be before May 17. ___ LISBON, Portugal — A half-million children are going back to school in Portugal as the southern European country continues to ease more of its pandemic measures. On Monday, children up to 15 years old returned to classes for the first time since the lockdown came into force in January, when Portugal was the worst-hit country in the world by size of population. Mainland Portugal’s 14-day incidence rate of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people has fallen to 63. At the end of January, it was 1,628. ___ TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s capital is once again facing the highest level of restrictions imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus as the country struggles with a new surge in daily deaths. State media say the measure on Monday is the third time Tehran faces a so-called code red since the pandemic began. A code red involves a ban on any travel by personal cars to and from cities, and limits working hours of many business and offices to prevent the spread of the virus. The report comes as Iran’s daily death toll again reached three digits, after months of being under 100. On Sunday, 161 deaths were reported, bringing the registered death toll in Iran to more than 63,000, the highest in the Middle East. Iran has reported some 1.9 million confirmed cases of the virus Also on Monday, Iran said it received the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from the Netherlands through the global COVAX initiative. The country’s Health Ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour says the first batch includes 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. So far, Iran has vaccinated less than 2% of its more than 80 million people with vaccines imported mainly from Russia, China and India. ___ DHAKA, Bangladesh — Bangladesh began enforcing a weeklong nationwide lockdown Monday, shutting shopping malls and transportation as authorities try to stop a surge in coronavirus infections and deaths. The decision came after health authorities said that they were facing overwhelming pressure in intensive care units in recent weeks because of severe infections. This is the second time the South Asian nation has enforced a virus lockdown after the first last March. On Monday, authorities suspended operations of all domestic flights, river transport, and trains. Only emergency services will remain operational. The government has asked people not to go out from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Owners and workers of shopping malls in Dhaka’s Elephant Road area took to the streets Monday, demanding that authorities allow them to run their shops. Bangladesh has reported 637,364 virus cases since the pandemic began, with 9,266 deaths. ___ TOKYO — Special coronavirus measures started Monday in Osaka and its neighbouring prefectures as Japan tries to minimize the impact to specific areas where infections are rising ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi in the north have had sharp increases in daily cases since early March. Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura said he was alarmed by the fast-spreading new variants and urged the residents to use caution and co-operate. Serious cases are on the rise and flooding hospitals and that medical systems in Osaka are under heavy pressure, Yoshimura said. He has proposed cancelling a torch relay scheduled to pass Osaka City on April 14 and is now discussing a route change. Under the measures, effective for one month until May 5, restaurants and bars in Osaka, Nishinomiya, Amagasaki, Ashiya, Kobe and Sendai are asked to close by 8 p.m. Residents are requested to stick to basic safety measures including mask-wearing, social distancing and avoiding non-essential outings. ___ NEW DELHI — India has reported its biggest single-day spike in confirmed coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, and officials in the hard-hit state home to Mumbai are returning to the closure of some businesses and places of worship in a bid to slow the spread. The Health Ministry on Monday reported 103,558 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, topping the previous peak of 97,894 daily cases recorded in late September. Fatalities rose by 478, raising the country’s death toll to 165,101. India now has a seven-day rolling average of more than 73,000 cases per day and infections in the country are being reported faster than anywhere else in the world. The biggest contributor to the surge has been the western state of Maharashtra, home to the commercial capital of Mumbai. The state has contributed more than 55% of total cases in the country in the last two weeks. ___ COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan health authorities on Monday began inoculating thousands of Chinese nationals in Sri Lanka using the Sinopharm vaccine donated by China. Sri Lanka received the donation of 600,000 doses last week but won’t administer it to Sri Lankans until it gets clearance from the World Health Organization. Authorities say more than 4,000 Chinese nationals are in Sri Lanka working in different projects. Sri Lanka has used the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since January to vaccinate more than 903,000 people. It also plans to buy 7 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. ___ MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government extended a lockdown by another week Monday after an alarming spike in coronavirus infections continued to surge and started to overwhelm many hospitals in the capital and outlying regions. President Rodrigo Duterte placed Metropolitan Manila and four outlying provinces, a region of more than 25 million people, back under lockdown last week as daily infections breached the 10,000-mark. Leaders of the dominant Roman Catholic church shifted its Holy Week and Easter events online after all public gatherings, including in places of worship, were temporarily banned. The government-run Lung Center of the Philippines became the latest hospital in the capital region to announce over the weekend that it can no longer accept walk-in patients after its COVID-19 ward reached full capacity while its emergency room was now handling twice its capacity. The Philippines has reported more than 795,000 COVID-19 cases with 13,425 deaths, the highest totals in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. The Associated Press
Canada’s Telesat takes on Musk and Bezos in space race to provide fast broadband
By Steve Scherer
OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s Telesat is racing to launch a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite constellation to provide high-speed global broadband from space, pitting the satellite communications firm founded in 1969 against two trailblazing billionaires, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.
Musk, the Tesla Inc CEO who was only a year old when Telesat launched its first satellite, is putting the so-called Starlink LEO into orbit with his company SpaceX, and Amazon.com Inc, which Bezos founded, is planning a LEO called Project Kuiper. Bezos also owns Blue Origin, which builds rockets.
Despite the competition, Dan Goldberg, Telesat’s chief executive officer, voices confidence when he calls Telesat’s LEO constellation “the Holy Grail” for his shareholders – “a sustainable competitive advantage in global broadband delivery.”
Telesat’s LEO has a much lighter price tag than SpaceX and Amazon’s, and the company has been in satellite services decades longer. In addition, instead of focusing on the consumer market like SpaceX and Amazon, Telesat seeks deep-pocketed business clients.
Goldberg said he was literally losing sleep six years ago when he realized the company’s business model was in peril as Netflix and video streaming took off and fiber optics guaranteed lightning-fast internet connectivity.
Telesat’s 15 geostationary (GEO) satellites provide services mainly to TV broadcasters, internet service providers and government networks, all of whom were growing increasingly worried about the latency, or time delay, of bouncing signals off orbiters more than 35,000 km (22,200 miles) above earth.
Then in 2015 on a flight home from a Paris industry conference where latency was a constant theme, Goldberg wrote down his initial ideas for a LEO constellation on an Air Canada napkin.
Those ideas eventually led to Telesat’s LEO constellation, dubbed Lightspeed, which will orbit about 35 times closer to earth than GEO satellites, and will provide internet connectivity at a speed akin to fiber optics.
Telesat’s first launch is planned in early 2023, while there are already some 1,200 of Musk’s Starlink satellites in orbit.
“Starlink is going to be in service much sooner … and that gives SpaceX the opportunity to win customers,” said Caleb Henry, a senior analyst at Quilty Analytics.
Starlink’s “first mover” advantage is at most 24 months and “no one’s going to lock this whole market up in that amount of time,” Goldberg said.
Telesat in 2019 signed a launch deal with Bezos’ aerospace company Blue Origin. Discussions are ongoing with three others, said David Wendling, Telesat’s chief technical officer.
They are Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, Europe’s ArianeGroup , and Musk’s SpaceX, which launches the Starlink satellites. Wendling said a decision would be taken in a matter of months.
Telesat aims to launch its first batch of 298 satellites being built by Thales Alenia Space in early 2023, with partial service in higher latitudes later that same year, and full global service in 2024.
The Lightspeed constellation is estimated to cost half as much as the $10 billion SpaceX and Amazon projects.
“We think we’re in the sweet spot,” Goldberg said. “When we look at some of these other constellations, we don’t get it.”
Analyst Henry said Telesat’s focus on business clients is the right one.
“You have two heavyweight players, SpaceX and Amazon, that are already pledging to spend $10 billion on satellite constellations optimized for the consumer market,” he said. “If Telesat can spend half that amount creating a high-performance system for businesses, then yeah, they stand to be very competitive.”
Telesat’s industry experience may also provide an edge.
“We’ve worked with many of these customers for decades … That’s going to give us a real advantage,” Goldberg said.
Telesat “is a satellite operator, has been a satellite operator, and has both the advantage of expertise and experience in that business,” said Carissa Christensen, chief executive officer of the research firm BryceTech, adding, however, that she sees only two to three LEO constellations surviving.
Telesat is nailing down financing – one-third equity and two-thirds debt – and will become publicly traded on the Nasdaq sometime this summer, and it could also list on the Toronto exchange after that. Currently, Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board and Loral Space & Communications Inc are the company’s main shareholders.
France and Canada’s export credit agencies, BPI and EDC respectively, are expected to be the main lenders, Goldberg said. Quebec’s provincial government is lending C$400 million ($317 million), and Canada’s federal government has promised C$600 million to be a preferred customer. The company also posted C$246 million in net income in 2020.
Executing the LEO plan is what keeps Goldberg up at night now, he said.
“When we decided to go down this path, the two richest people in the universe weren’t focused on their own LEO constellations.”
($1 = 1.2622 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
$600K donation to boost online mental health programming in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia Health’s mental health and addictions program hopes to offer more online support to people across the province after receiving a significant donation this week.
The QEII Foundation announced that RBC is contributing $600,000 toward the province’s e-mental health programming.
“It’s particularly important for the current time under all the strains of COVID,” said Dr. Andrew Harris, a psychiatrist and the senior medical director for the program.
The plan for online programming has been in the works for years, he said, but the pandemic expedited the push. Last June, the department launched a number of applications that can be used to help those with anxiety, depression and addictions.
Since then, as many as 3,000 Nova Scotians have used the site to access mental health services.
“There’s a persistent difficulty in accessing services,” Harris said of traditional models in Nova Scotia. He said those who don’t need intensive therapy may find the support they need through the online programs.
He uses the example of someone who can’t take time off work to speak to a clinician.
“It’s better for them to be able to access a service after hours or on the weekend. So our e-mental health services are tailored a little bit to meet that need.”
Calls to crisis line increase
Harris said the province’s mental health crisis line continues to see a 30 per cent increase in calls for help, so he’s trying to raise awareness that services can be accessed immediately online.
“I think everyone is aware that for a lot of people it’s much easier to talk about a physical illness than a mental illness. So there’s an allowance there for privacy, for some anonymity but still making available things that can help the person who is struggling in the community.”
The online portal has a list of programs that people can use, covering things like reducing stress, solving problems and becoming mindful. It mirrors a site in Newfoundland and Labrador that Harris said is used to help people in remote areas.
Harris said the donation from RBC will be used to continue to evaluate more services, and pay for the licensing of the products that are mostly developed by other organizations.
He encourages anyone who is struggling to test out the site, and use it as an entry point into the mental health system.
“It’s important for people to acknowledge when they’re struggling. It happens to all of us through our lives in different times.”
Anyone in Nova Scotia looking to access the tools can visit: https://mha.nshealth.ca.
Samsung’s cheapest 5G Galaxy phones yet are launching this month
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- Samsung is launching five new phones in its Galaxy A series this month.
- Three of them will support 5G connectivity, and the most expensive phone is just $500.
- The cheapest phone of the five still has three cameras but lacks 5G and other features.
- See more buying advice on the Insider Reviews homepage.
Samsung may be best known for its high-end Galaxy S phones that rival the iPhone. But the tech giant is proving that it can appeal to cost-conscious customers with the launch of five new smartphones in the United States, the priciest of which only costs $500.
Samsung’s new lineup of budget phones, which debuted in other markets before coming to the US, are all launching this month. Some of them will be released as soon as this week, while the least expensive model will debut on April 29. The launch comes as competitors like Apple and Google have also been focusing on cheaper smartphones to boost sales.
Three of these new Samsung devices also support 5G, another sign that shoppers no longer have to pay a premium to get access to next-generation wireless networks. All five of the new phones also have the traditional headphone jack for wired listening and run on an octa-core processor.
Here’s a look at the new Samsung Galaxy A series phones that will be launching soon.
Samsung Galaxy A52 5G
- Release date: April 9
- Price: $499.99
The Galaxy A52 5G is the most expensive smartphone of the bunch. It comes with a 6.5-inch FHD+ screen and a quad-camera system that includes some of the same features as Samsung’s more expensive Galaxy S phones. These include Single Take, which creates several different photos or video clips with different effects with a single press of the shutter button.
Its screen can also boost its refresh rate up to 120Hz for smoother scrolling and performance, a feature that has become common on pricier flagship phones but is rare on cheaper models. It’s also the only phone in this A-series lineup to include Samsung’s notch-free screen design.
Samsung Galaxy A42 5G
- Release date: April 8
- Price: $399.99
The less expensive Galaxy A42 5G has a slightly larger screen than the A52 5G, but scales back on certain features when it comes to the camera and screen refresh rate.
Still, it has a triple-lens camera with high-resolution sensors, and like its pricier sibling it also supports Single Take.
Samsung Galaxy A32 5G
Release date: April 9
The Galaxy A32 5G is Samsung’s cheapest 5G smartphone to date. It has a large 6.5-inch screen, but it’s made from an LCD panel instead of Super AMOLED. That means it will likely lack some of the contrast and boldness of Samsung’s other devices. But Samsung hasn’t skimped on the camera considering this model has a quad-lens main camera, which is rare if not unheard of at that price.
Samsung Galaxy A12
Release date: April 9
Samsung’s Galaxy A12 doesn’t come with 5G support, but it still gives you a lot for the price. For less than $200, you’re getting a quad-lens camera and a large 6.5-inch LCD screen. But remember this phone only has 32GB of storage, so it’s best suited for those who don’t store a lot of photos and videos on their device.
Samsung Galaxy A02s
- Release date: April 29
- Price: $109.99
The Galaxy A02s is Samsung’s cheapest phone, offering a 6.5-inch LCD screen and three main cameras. It doesn’t have 5G support or as much computing power or camera prowess as Samsung’s other A-series phones, but that’s to be expected for a device at this price. This phone is truly for those who just need the basics and little else.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at email@example.com.
Source:- Business Insider
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