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Alberta death toll from COVID-19 pandemic tops 1,000

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More than 1,000 people have now died from COVID-19 in Alberta, though active cases have continued to follow a downward trend over the past five days.

The declining case numbers seen over the holiday season are, in part, due to the fact that laboratories have performed fewer tests in recent days, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said at a news conference on Monday.

Yet despite the drop in active and new cases, the number of people being treated in hospitals for the illness has not declined.

Hinshaw provided case numbers for the most recent five-day period.

  • Dec. 23 — Alberta reported 1,007 new cases, completed 15,585 tests and added 30 more deaths.
  • Dec. 24 — Alberta reported 1,191 new cases, completed 17,845 tests and added 18 more deaths.
  • Dec. 25 — Alberta reported 914 new cases, completed 14,193 tests and added 17 more deaths.
  • Dec. 26 — Alberta reported 459 new cases, completed 6,866 tests and added 27 more deaths.
  • Dec. 27 — Alberta reported 917 new cases, completed 9,633 tests and added 20 more deaths.

That brings the death toll since the pandemic began to 1,002.

As of Monday, the province had 15,487 active cases, while 878 people were being treated in hospitals for the virus, including 148 in ICU beds.

Hinshaw characterized Monday’s update as “difficult,” given that she had to report 112 deaths had been added to the total over that five-day period.

Fewer tests over the holidays

It will likely take several weeks before the trend of declining cases is reflected in the number of deaths and hospitalizations and ICU admissions, she said.

“We know that things like deaths, hospitalizations, ICU, those are what we call lagging indicators, because they do happen at a delay of one to two weeks after we start to see our case numbers change,” she said.

“So we would expect that those numbers would take longer to start to come down than our case numbers.”

 

Dr. Raiyan Chowdhury is an intensive care physician at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. He shares what it’s like working in an ICU during Christmas. 0:44

Over the holidays, fewer people went to testing centres, she said, so the lower number of tests would translate into lower numbers of positive cases.

The positivity rate over much of that five-day period shifted between six and seven per cent, but jumped to more than nine per cent on Dec. 27, she said.

New variant appears in Alberta

The province’s top public health doctor announced that Alberta has reported its first case of a new variant of the virus, first seen earlier this month in the United Kingdom.

“It is important to remember that the public health measures in place are protective against this variant, and the best thing we can do to protect each other is to follow them,” Hinshaw said.

“Following public health measures is in part also contributing to our declining cases.”

 

Alberta traveller who tested positive for the COVID-19 variant did “everything they were supposed to do,” says Alberta’s Dr. Deena Hinshaw. 2:15

There is some evidence that the variant may be more infectious than other strains of the virus, she said, but there is no evidence that it has spread in the province beyond that single case.

“We are working with the Public Health Agency of Canada to be able to get the flight details and the list of individuals who were on the same plane,” Hinshaw said.

“There’s a time delay between when that individual arrived and when the symptoms began, and so it’s something that’s a theoretical possibility of transmission … at the moment, we have looked at the situation and believe that the risk is very low, but we will be making those phone calls to make sure that we are providing that additional information to anyone who may have been seated near this individual on the flight.”

 

Paramedics in Alberta say the uncontrolled nature of their work as first responders should give them high priority for COVID-19 vaccines, while dentists in British Columbia want to be among the second round of health-care workers to be vaccinated. 1:48

The encouraging downward trends reflect the collective actions taken by Albertans over the past two weeks, Hinshaw said.

“We must remain attentive to the orders in place and continue to follow them closely to make sure that we don’t see a spike in mid-January that ignites a dangerous spread in 2021.”

‘Tragic milestone’

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney issued a statement calling the death toll a “tragic milestone” and said those 1,002 people were mothers, fathers, husbands or wives who will be mourned and missed.

“But even as we reach this painful milestone, there is reason for hope,” Kenney said.

 

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, pictured in September, said more than 6,000 Albertans have received their first vaccine doses and the province can ‘see the light at the end of the tunnel.’ (Todd Korol/The Canadian Press)

 

“As of today, more than 6,000 Albertans have received their first vaccine doses. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And so on this grim day, I ask all Albertans to double down on our public health measures. Let’s prevent as many Albertans as we can from experiencing the same pain and loss that so many already have.”

NDP Official Opposition deputy leader Sarah Hoffman offered her condolences to the families and friends of those who have died of COVID-19.

“We continue to call on Premier Jason Kenney and the UCP to do more to prevent the spread and further tragic loss of life,” Hoffman said in a statement.

“We need more staff in Alberta’s continuing care centres, we need an actual plan for school re-entry in January and we need updated modelling on COVID-19 so that we have the facts and transparency on the risks we face as this pandemic carries on.”

Source: – CBC.ca

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Canadians leaving big cities at record numbers: Statistics Canada – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Canada’s biggest cities are experiencing a record-breaking loss of people as urbanites move to smaller bedroom communities in search of affordable homes.

According to a new Statistics Canada report, Montreal and Toronto both saw a record loss of people from July 2019 to July 2020 as urban-dwellers moved to the suburbs, smaller towns and rural areas. 

Toronto lost 50,375 people over those 12 months while nearby Oshawa, Ont. saw its population grow by 2.1 per cent — the fastest population growth in the country. Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo in Ontario and Halifax were tied for the second-fastest growth, at 2 per cent. 

Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter said this shift is great news for his city. 

“It really introduces us to greater opportunities: new families, new friends, new communities and it really adds to the wonderful fabric of the city of Oshawa,” Carter told CTV News.

Over the same period, Montreal lost 24,880 people, while nearby communities such as Farnham, Que. and Saint-Hippolyte, Que. saw their populations rise.

Experts say the pandemic has accelerated the urban-to-suburban trend as more employers shift to a work-from-home model and young, first-time buyers look beyond the city for more affordable properties. 

This shift has also inspired plenty of competition in communities where bidding wars are anything but typical. 

“With the low supply issues that we are seeing in a lot of the major markets across the country, that is creating some challenges if you want to buy a home just because there is less to choose from,” said Geoff Walker, an Ottawa realtor.

Despite urban areas posting overall population growth due to international migration, the report found that high numbers people from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver chose to move away.

And despite border closures during the pandemic, international migration from July 2019 to July 2020 accounted for 90 per cent of the growth in Canadian cities. That number drops to just over one-third of growth in other regions. 

Real estate markets in Canada’s biggest cities continued to grow during the past year, but Robert Hogue, a senior economist at RBC, expects some of that action to calm in the year to come.

“The very high levels of activity in the late stages of 2020 are probably going to settle down through the course of 2021,” said Hogue. 

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Canadians leaving big cities at record numbers: Statistics Canada – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Canada’s biggest cities are experiencing a record-breaking loss of people as urbanites move to smaller bedroom communities in search of affordable homes.

According to a new Statistics Canada report, Montreal and Toronto both saw a record loss of people from July 2019 to July 2020 as urban-dwellers moved to the suburbs, smaller towns and rural areas. 

Toronto lost 50,375 people over those 12 months while nearby Oshawa, Ont. saw its population grow by 2.1 per cent — the fastest population growth in the country. Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo in Ontario and Halifax were tied for the second-fastest growth, at 2 per cent. 

Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter said this shift is great news for his city. 

“It really introduces us to greater opportunities: new families, new friends, new communities and it really adds to the wonderful fabric of the city of Oshawa,” Carter told CTV News.

Over the same period, Montreal lost 24,880 people, while nearby communities such as Farnham, Que. and Saint-Hippolyte, Que. saw their populations rise.

Experts say the pandemic has accelerated the urban-to-suburban trend as more employers shift to a work-from-home model and young, first-time buyers look beyond the city for more affordable properties. 

This shift has also inspired plenty of competition in communities where bidding wars are anything but typical. 

“With the low supply issues that we are seeing in a lot of the major markets across the country, that is creating some challenges if you want to buy a home just because there is less to choose from,” said Geoff Walker, an Ottawa realtor.

Despite urban areas posting overall population growth due to international migration, the report found that high numbers people from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver chose to move away.

And despite border closures during the pandemic, international migration from July 2019 to July 2020 accounted for 90 per cent of the growth in Canadian cities. That number drops to just over one-third of growth in other regions. 

Real estate markets in Canada’s biggest cities continued to grow during the past year, but Robert Hogue, a senior economist at RBC, expects some of that action to calm in the year to come.

“The very high levels of activity in the late stages of 2020 are probably going to settle down through the course of 2021,” said Hogue. 

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Canada surpasses 700000 confirmed COVID-19 cases – CTV News

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Canada’s procurement minister urged drugmaker Pfizer-BioNTech to get the country’s COVID-19 vaccine delivery schedule back on track as soon as possible as cases of the novel coronavirus surged past the 700,000 mark on Saturday.

The country hit the milestone less than two weeks after recording 600,000 cases of the virus on Jan. 3 — a feat that took months during the pandemic’s first wave.

Seven provinces recorded 6,479 cases on Saturday, pushing the national tally over 702,000.

Nationwide inoculation efforts had resulted in more than half a million residents receiving a vaccine dose as of Friday night, though the pace of immunizations is set to decrease as Pfizer-BioNTech upgrades its production facilities in Europe.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision to delay international vaccine shipments for four weeks during the upgrades.

“We are once again in touch with representatives from Pfizer to reiterate firmly the importance for Canada to return to our regular delivery schedule as soon as possible,” she said on Twitter Saturday. “Pfizer assured us that it is deploying all efforts to do just that.”

She noted that shipments for the upcoming week will be largely unaffected, and said Ottawa will provide updates as they become available.

Ontario became the latest province to adjust its vaccination rollout plans in light of Pfizer’s announcement.

Dr. David Williams, the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, issued a statement on Saturday saying officials do not yet know the full impact the delay will have on Ontario’s immunization strategy.

“We understand that this change in supply could see deliveries reduced by at least half for Canada in the coming weeks,” Williams said in a statement Saturday.

“We will assess and take appropriate action to ensure we can continue providing our most vulnerable with vaccines.”

In Ontario, long-term care residents, caregivers and staff who already received their first dose of Pfizer’s vaccine will get their second dose between 21 and 27 days later, no more than a week beyond what was originally planned.

But that time frame will be longer for anyone else receiving the Pfizer vaccine, with second doses being delivered anywhere from 21 to 42 days after the initial shot.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said Friday the reduced shipments mean that 86,775 of the 176,475 doses of the vaccine expected by Feb. 8 won’t be delivered on schedule.

Officials are establishing a new distribution plan, but the Quebec Health Department said it still intends to immunize as many people as possible within priority groups, with a delay of up to 90 days for the second dose.

Officials in Saskatchewan said COVID-19 vaccinations will continue as doses are received, with Premier Scott Moe telling reporters Friday that the province’s strategy for the two-dose regime depends on steady shipments.

Canada’s top doctor continued her push for strict adherance to public health guidelines as Saturday’s case count inched closer to levels forecasted in bleak federal projections released earlier in the week. Modeling released on Thursday indicated Canada could see 10,000 daily cases by the end of January if current infection rates continue.

“If we ease measures too soon, the epidemic will resurge even stronger,” Dr. Theresa Tam said in a tweet. “This is double-down time!!”

Tam said Hospitalizations and deaths across the country, which tend to lag one to several weeks behind a spike in cases, are still on the rise.

Canada averaged 4,705 hospitalizations across the country with 875 patients requiring intensive care treatment For the seven-day period ending Jan. 14.

During the same period, an average of 137 deaths were reported daily.

Ontario topped 3,000 cases in a 24-hour period once again on Saturday and added another 51 deaths linked to the virus.

In Quebec, 2,225 new infections were reported along with 67 deaths attributed to the virus, pushing the province over the 9,000 death mark since the beginning of the pandemic.

New Brunswick continued to report the highest daily COVID-19 case counts in Atlantic Canada, with 27 new diagnoses reported Saturday. Nova Scotia, by contrast, reported just four.

Saskatchewan reported 270 new COVID-19 cases and two further deaths on Saturday. Alberta logged 717 new infections, while Manitoba reported 180.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021.

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