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Alberta detects first cases of Brazil variant, prepares to expand vaccine eligibility – Calgary Herald



The two cases of the P.1 strain have been linked to travel and are both located in the Calgary zone, said Hinshaw

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Alberta has detected its first two cases of the highly contagious COVID-19 variant that was identified in Brazil — P.1 — on Sunday, as the province prepares to once again expand vaccine eligibility.

The two cases of the P.1 strain have been linked to travel and are both in the Calgary zone, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said on her Twitter account Sunday. The two people are already isolating and their close contacts are being offered testing twice.

This is the third variant strain to be detected in Alberta, though P.1 has also been located in other provinces, including Ontario and B.C.

“I know any new variant cases can create anxiety but remember we are working hard to prevent their spread. These variants are spread by close contact, and measures that protect you from other strains — distancing, masking, washing hands — will also protect you from this variant,” Hinshaw said on Twitter.


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The province also reported another 63 cases of the B.1.1.7 strain that was first identified in the United Kingdom and one case of the B.1.351 variant discovered in South Africa. On Saturday, Alberta logged a record 70 new variant cases, all of which were the U.K. strain.

Alberta has now seen 920 cases of variants: 902 of B.1.1.7, 16 of the B.1.351 variant and two of the P.1 strain. Forty-two per cent of those cases are in the Alberta Health Services Edmonton zone, with another 36 per cent in the Calgary zone.

The variants are of concern because they are more contagious than the original strain and can, therefore, spread more efficiently.

“We still need each other to protect our communities, so let’s all please keep making safe choices, following the health measures in place and preventing the spread of COVID-19,” Hinshaw said.

An Alberta Health spokeswoman said all positive COVID-19 cases are sent for genome sequencing, which takes additional time, meaning new variant cases represent infections already reported on previous days.

“Provincially, we are currently averaging between 30 and 40 cases a day. This is growing, but not exponentially,” Sherene Khaw said Saturday.

Alberta reported 388 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The cases come from 8,343 completed tests, for a positivity rate of about 4.7 per cent. Provincewide, there are now 4,697 active cases.

There are 248 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in hospital, including 38 in intensive-care units. Another six deaths were reported on Sunday, bringing Alberta’s fatality toll to 1,946.


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Vaccine eligibility expands for Pfizer, Moderna, as province’s AstraZeneca supply runs low

Eligibility for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is expanding Monday to include Albertans born between 1947 and 1956, and First Nations, Métis and Inuit individuals born 1971 or earlier, no matter where they live. As well, staff and residents of licensed seniors supportive-living facilities who were left out of the first phase will be eligible.

Alberta Health Services’ online booking tool and Health Link at 811 will open by birth year, one year added each following day for those newly eligible, starting Monday with those born in 1947 and Indigenous individuals born in 1962.

However, those living on-reserve or on-settlement can book through their local clinic, and AHS will reach out directly to the remaining staff and residents of licensed seniors supportive-living centres.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in a statement on Friday that the more people who step forward for vaccination when it’s their turn, the faster Alberta will reduce the spread of the virus and can return to various activities.

“Momentum is building in Alberta’s vaccine rollout plan, and we are well on our way to delivering on our commitment to provide a first dose to every adult who wants one by the end of June,” said Shandro.

Alberta has administered 357,983 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. There are 91,538 people who have received their first and second shots.


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AHS announced Saturday it would not expand eligibility for the AstraZeneca vaccine due to limited supply. Online bookings closed Sunday afternoon, though 811 remains open until supply is fully depleted.

The province received an initial shipment of 58,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week, allowing some Albertans born in 1957 and earlier the opportunity to book shots. Additional doses of AstraZeneca are expected to arrive in Alberta in the spring.

More than 53,000 eligible people had booked appointments for the AstraZeneca shot by Sunday morning, and AHS had already administered more than 14,000.

— With files from Jason Herring
Twitter: @BabychStephanie


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Canadian Business During the Pandemic



In 2019 the world was hit by the covid 19 pandemic and ever since then people have been suffering in different ways. Usually, economies and businesses have changed the way they work and do business. Most of which are going towards online and automation.

The people most effected by this are the laymen that used to work hard labors to make money for there families. But other then them it has been hard for most business to make such switch. Those of whom got on the online/ e commerce band wagon quickly were out of trouble and into the safe zone but not everyone is mace for the high-speed online world and are thus suffering.

More than 200,000 Canadian businesses could close permanently during the COVID-19 crisis, throwing millions of people out of work as the resurgence of the virus worsens across much of the country, according to new research. You can only imagine how many families these businesses were feeding, not to mention the impact the economy and the GDP is going to bear.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said one in six, or about 181,000, Canadian small business owners are now seriously contemplating shutting down. The latest figures, based on a survey of its members done between Jan. 12 and 16, come on top of 58,000 businesses that became inactive in 2020.

An estimate by the CFIB last summer said one in seven or 158,000 businesses were at risk of going under as a result of the pandemic. Based on the organization’s updated forecast, more than 2.4 million people could be out of work. A staggering 20 per cent of private sector jobs.

Simon Gaudreault, CFIB’s senior director of national research, said it was an alarming increase in the number of businesses that are considering closing.

We are not headed in the right direction, and each week that passes without improvement on the business front pushes more owners to make that final decision,”

He said in a statement.

The more businesses that disappear, the more jobs we will lose, and the harder it will be for the economy to recover.

In total, one in five businesses are at risk of permanent closure by the end of the pandemic, the organization said.

The new sad research shows that this year has been horrible for the Canadian businesses.


The beginning of 2021 feels more like the fifth quarter of 2020 than a new year,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president of the CFIB, in a statement.

She called on governments to help small businesses “replace subsidies with sales” by introducing safe pathways to reopen to businesses.

There’s a lot at stake now from jobs, to tax revenue to support for local soccer teams,”

Jones said.

Let’s make 2021 the year we help small business survive and then get back to thriving.”

The whole world has suffered a lot from the pandemic and the Canadian economy has been no stranger to it. We can only pray that the world gets rid of this pandemic quickly and everything become as it used to be. Although I think it is about time, we start setting new norms.

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Shopify shares edge up after falling on executive departures



By Chavi Mehta

(Reuters) -Shopify Inc shares edged higher on Thursday, recovering partially from the previous day’s fall, with analysts saying the news of planned senior executive departures may have limited impact due to the company’s deep talent pool.

Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday the company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all leave their roles.

“We remain confident it (Shopify) can continue to execute at a high level, despite the departures,” Tom Forte, analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co said, pointing to the company’s “deep bench of talented executives.”

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the past year as many businesses went virtual during the COVID-19 lockdowns, turning it into Canada‘s most valuable company.

Shopify declined to comment further on Lutke’s statement suggesting current company leaders would step in to fill the three roles. After chief product officer Craig Miller left in September, Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

The Ottawa-based company is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

Jonathan Kees, analyst at Summit Insights Group, called the timing of the departures “a little alarming” but said the specific roles make it less concerning, given that the executives leaving are “more back-office roles.”

Lutke said each one of them had their individual reasons to leave, without giving details.

“I am willing to give Tobi’s explanation the benefit of the doubt,” Kees added.

Toronto-listed shares of Shopify were up 3.5% at C$1526.41 on Thursday, giving it a market value of C$188 billion ($150 billion). It ended down 5.1% on Wednesday.

“While we would refer to the departure of three high-level executives as ‘significant,’ we would not refer to it as a ‘brain drain,'” Forte added.

($1 = 1.2541 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Dan Grebler)

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Almost half of Shopify’s top execs to depart company: CEO



By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) – Three of e-commerce platform Shopify’s seven top executives will be leaving the company in the coming months, chief executive officer and founder of Canada‘s most valuable company Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all transition out of their roles, Lutke said, adding that they have been “spectacular and deserve to take a bow.”

“Each one of them has their individual reasons but what was unanimous with all three was that this was the best for them and the best for Shopify,” he said.

The trio follow the departure of Craig Miller, chief product officer, in September. Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the last year as many businesses went virtual during COVID-19 lockdowns. It has a market cap valuation of C$182.7 billion ($146 billion), above Canada‘s top lender Royal Bank of Canada.

It is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

“We have a phenomenally strong bench of leaders who will now step up into larger roles,” Lutke said, but did not name replacements.

Shopify said in February revenue growth would slow this year as vaccine rollouts encourage people to return to stores and warned it does not expect 2020’s near doubling of gross merchandise volume, an industry metric to measure transaction volumes, to repeat this year.

Chief talent officer, Brittany Forsyth, was the 22nd employee hired at Shopify and has been with the company for 11 years. She said on Twitter that post-Shopify she would be focusing on Backbone Angels, an all-female collective of angel investors she co-founded in March.

Shopify shares fell 5.1% while the benchmark Canadian share index ended marginally down.

($1 = 1.2515 Canadian dollars)


(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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