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A look at Quebec's vaccine-passport system expected as of September – Powell River Peak

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Quebec has announced its intention to impose a vaccine-passport system beginning in September that would require people to prove they are vaccinated to access non-essential businesses — such as bars and gyms — in parts of the province where COVID-19 transmission is high.

Here’s a brief look at the details unveiled by the province so far and what other provinces are doing.

When will it come into effect and when will it be used?

The target date for its implementation is Sept.1, giving those who are 12 and older enough time to get both doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Quebec has already been offering people a QR code as proof of vaccination. The government says the passport system will be used when the epidemiological situation warrants it. The province hopes to use the passports instead of having to issue lockdowns.

Who will be subject to it and what non-essential activities are being targeted?

The government says the passports will be imposed on Quebec residents and visitors and will apply to non-essential services and businesses. Health Minister Christian Dubé has discussed using them for “high-risk” places such as gyms, restaurants and bars. He has also said the passports could be used for what he called lower-risk activities that attract big crowds such as festivals and sporting events.

What else will the vaccination passport be useful for?

The Health Department has said the vaccination passport will allow people to avoid isolating for 14 days after contact with a positive case or having to leave work or school in the event of an outbreak. Passport holders will no longer be subject to distancing rules or mask-wearing orders in private homes. Those adequately vaccinated will also be able to travel to multiple countries and be exempt from the 14-day quarantine upon return.

What is happening elsewhere in the country?

For now, Quebec is leading the way on vaccine passports. 

In Manitoba, authorities have been issuing a proof-of-immunization card to residents who are two weeks removed from their booster shot. The card allows residents to avoid isolating for 14 days upon returning from travel within Canada and if they are a close contact of a positive case. Card holders have more visitation rights at hospitals and long-term care homes. The province has left open the possibility of using the cards to grant access to major sporting events, museums and other facilities.

In Ontario, the provincial government says it is focused on getting residents vaccinated and isn’t envisioning a passport plan, leaving that instead for the federal government to manage.

In British Columbia, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says she doesn’t support the idea of vaccine passports, raising concerns it could lead to inequities that have been highlighted during the pandemic. Alberta and Saskatchewan have said they won’t be using a passport.

In Atlantic Canada, provincial authorities haven’t discussed passports like the one Quebec is proposing. The four Atlantic provinces, however, all require proof of vaccination for travellers from outside the region to avoid having to self-isolate upon entry.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Monkeypox case count rises to more than 3400 globally, WHO says – The Globe and Mail

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More than 3,400 confirmed monkeypox cases and one death were reported to the World Health Organization as of last Wednesday, with a majority of them from Europe, the agency said in an update on Monday.

WHO said that since June 17, 1,310 new cases were reported to the agency, with eight new countries reporting monkeypox cases.

Monkeypox is not yet a global health emergency, WHO ruled last week, although WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was deeply concerned about the outbreak.

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Sudbury news: Northern agencies highlight national HIV testing day | CTV News – CTV News Northern Ontario

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Monday was national HIV testing day. Officials say this year’s theme surrounds how getting tested is an act of self-care.

From clinics to self-testing kits, groups in the north say there are many options to get tested and everyone should use whichever way works best for them.

Just more than a year ago, Reseau Access Network in Sudbury teamed with Ready to Know and Get a Kit, groups that provide HIV self-testing kits at a pickup location.

Officials said it has been a huge success.

“We get a consistent number throughout each month and I can’t really divulge those figures, unfortunately, but as part of the overall study I can tell you the pickup of self-tests is a fraction of the amount of tests being ordered,” said Angel Riess, of Reseau Access Network.

“There’s actually a lot of tests being shipped to homes directly but I can confirm that they have been active and there’s a significant number of people who have chosen to engage in both programs.”

Elsewhere, the Aids Committee of North Bay and Area held a point-of-care testing clinic to mark the day.

“It’s an opportunity for us to remind everyone that getting tested is essential. If you don’t know you have HIV, you can’t take the steps to try to mitigate the possibility of spread,” said executive director Stacey Mayhall.

In addition to stopping the spread, knowing whether you are positive sooner rather than later can allow for a better quality of life.

“HIV is not a death sentence that it used to be,” said Riess.

“There have been advances in testing and medication and people can live long, healthy lives living with HIV.”

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WHO adviser says G7 leaders must prioritize COVID-19 or face economic harm, unrest

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G7 leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, must make ending the COVID-19 pandemic a critical part of their summit in Germany, said a senior adviser to the director general at the World Health Organization.

Dr. Bruce Aylward said failing to keep COVID-19 at the top of the agenda risks further economic harm and unleashing more civil unrest.

Aylward is a Canadian infectious disease specialist and epidemiologist who has worked for WHO since 1992. In an interview, he said if getting control of the pandemic by investing in vaccines and treatments for all countries isn’t important to the G7, it won’t be important to anyone.

“The first thing the G7 has to say is, ‘We have an opportunity to beat this pandemic, we need to turn the burners on now,’” Aylward said.

That includes funding investments in vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 and, when the updated vaccines are released later this year, not repeating the 2021 cycle in which rich countries snapped up all the initial doses.

The leaders of the world’s leading economies are in the midst of their annual summit where the Russian invasion in Ukraine and food insecurity are the top issues.

But Aylward said the pandemic is forgotten at the peril of all nations. Economic growth is being hindered by supply chain issues linked not just to the Russian war in Ukraine, but also to ongoing COVID-19 impacts.

And the civil unrest unleashed in wealthy countries — including the anti-COVID-19 restriction convoys that paralyzed downtown Ottawa and multiple border crossings earlier this year — will only get worse if the economy and inflation aren’t stabilized, he said.

The World Health Organization was aiming for 70 per cent of the world’s population to be vaccinated by now, but more than 130 countries and territories are below that goal, and in Africa, fewer than one in five people have been fully vaccinated and fewer thanone in 100 have had a booster dose.

Aylward said initially less wealthy countries couldn’t get the needed doses, but that’s not the issue anymore. Now it’s overcoming vaccine hesitancy, a problem he said has been worsened by the actions of people in wealthy nations.

“We had this window of opportunity when the low-income countries were really worried about this disease and they would have vaccinated, you know, gangbusters with the (global) north,” Aylward said.

But then the rich nations hoarded doses for themselves, and then made available initially only doses of viral-vector vaccines like Oxford-AstraZeneca, which countries like Canada decided it didn’t want.

There were also conspiracy theories arising about mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna that had no basis in truth but have been exported around the world, said Aylward.

“So they’ve made it incredibly hard for political leaders in low-income countries to get coverage up,” he said. “It’s a grind.”

The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, or ACT-A, is a global collaboration launched in April 2020 to generate the financing needed to get the diagnostics, treatments and vaccines needed for the COVID-19 pandemic.

New vaccines able to better protect against current variants of the virus behind COVID-19 will soon be available, and the wealthy countries cannot repeat the fiasco of 2021, said Aylward.

But Oxfam and the People’s Vaccine Alliance over the weekend said it appears more than half the doses of the next round of vaccines have already been reserved by the same countries that hoarded the first time.

Canada has contracts to get 35 million doses of Moderna and as many as 65 million doses of Pfizer in 2022.

There is also a huge need in lower-income countries for antivirals and tests, areas Aylward said were the least funded in the first year of the program.

ACT-A is asking 55 high and higher-middle income countries to jointly contribute nearly $17 billion this year. More than a third is to be allocated to vaccines, about one-quarter to testing and diagnostics, one-sixth to therapeutics including antiviral medicines and the rest to health systems.

Last year, only six of those countries, including Canada, met or exceeded what WHO determined to be their fair share of contributions, largely based on the size of economies. Germany is the only other G7 country among the six.

Both Germany and Canada have said they will meet their fair share in 2022 as well. Trudeau said last month Canada would commit $732 million to ACT-A this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2022.

 

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

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