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As an alarming new COVID-19 variant emerges, Canada moves to limit travel from southern Africa – CBC.ca

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Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced today that Canada will limit travel from seven countries in southern Africa, a region that has reported cases of a new — and possibly more infectious — coronavirus variant.

Starting today, all foreign nationals who have travelled through South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini or Mozambique in the last 14 days will be barred from entering Canada.

Global Affairs Canada will also issue an advisory today warning against all travel to the region for the foreseeable future, Duclos said.

Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to return home — but they’ll face a new requirement that could make travel awkward.

Because there are no direct flights between the region and Canada, most travellers transit through airports in Europe, the Middle East and the U.S.

Starting today, travellers must get a molecular test in the country they connect through on their way to Canada.

Then, after landing in Canada, inbound travellers must also get an arrival test and wait for the results of that test at a designated hotel. If the test is negative, those returning travellers would be released to quarantine for a mandatory 14 days at home. They also would be required to go through a so-called “day eight” test on the eighth day of quarantine.

WATCH: Canada announces measures to counter new coronavirus variant of concern

Canada announces measures to counter new coronavirus variant of concern

8 hours ago

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced several measures to counter the newest coronavirus variant of concern named omicron, including a ban on all flights from seven countries in southern Africa. 2:14

And anyone who has arrived in Canada from southern Africa in the last 14 days must immediately get a COVID-19 test — even if they are asymptomatic. They’re required to go home and quarantine while they wait for those results.

As nations close their airspace to flights from southern Africa, it may become more difficult to travellers leaving the region to transit through other countries.

Asked if the government would help those who may become stranded, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Canadians have been warned about the risk of travelling during a global pandemic for nearly two years.

“We’ve been asking them to pay close attention to travel measures, to border restrictions,” he said. “But if any individual, any Canadian citizen, is having a hard time figuring out how to get back home, I encourage them to call the emergency watch centre to speak with an official. They will try and work with them to figure out how to get them home safely.”

WATCH: Minister encourages Canadians stranded by travel restrictions on southern Africa to call for help

Transport minister encourages Canadians stranded by travel restrictions on southern Africa to call for help

8 hours ago

Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra responds to a question from the CBC’s Tom Parry about getting Canadians home from southern Africa safely after the government imposed new travel restrictions in response to a new COVID-19 variant. 2:21

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said the new strain — dubbed the “omicron” variant by the World Health Organization (WHO) — has not yet been reported in Canada.

She said the omicron variant is notable because it has a large number of mutations, which may affect its transmissibility and the effect of COVID-19 vaccines.

“We’re concerned about this new variant and closely monitoring the evolving situation,” Tam told a briefing with reporters. “The challenges persist with this virus.”

Tam said the new travel requirements are a prudent effort to keep the variant out, but it’s likely cases of the omicron variant will emerge in Canada in the coming days.

“It is very difficult to keep a virus like this out entirely,” she said.

Tam said vaccines are “still fundamentally the most important layer of protection” and unvaccinated Canadians should get their shots. Research is underway now to determine the efficacy of the current batch of vaccines against omicron, she said.

It’s not unusual for a virus to mutate over time. The WHO brands a particular strain a variant of concern (VOC) when that mutation might affect factors like transmissibility, virulence or the effectiveness of vaccines.

While many questions remain, the U.K. Health Security Agency warned today that the new variant is the “most complex” and the “most worrying we’ve seen.”

In a media statement, the WHO said today the number of cases of this variant, initially named B.1.1.529, appeared to be increasing in almost all of South Africa’s provinces.

While COVID-19 case counts fell dramatically in that country in September and October after a delta-driven third wave, infections have since “increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant,” the WHO said.

“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other VOCs.”

Countries around the world already have restricted travel from some areas of the African continent in an effort to keep the newly identified coronavirus variant from crossing their borders.

Britain, Israel and Singapore, among others, have restricted travel from South Africa and some neighbouring countries. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is proposing member states pull the “emergency brake” on travel from some countries in Africa to limit the spread of the variant.

In question period Friday, Conservative MP Luc Berthold, the party’s health critic, called for swift action to prevent the new variant from derailing Canada’s progress in the fight against COVID-19.

“Canadians are worried,” Berthold said. “The Liberal government has been slow, slow to warn Canadians, slow to close the borders, slow to provide vaccines. There’s still time to protect Canadians who are fed up with lockdowns.”

Associate Health Minister Carolyn Bennett said pre-departure PCR testing is in place and those tests “are capable of detecting this variant.”

“The COVID-19 situation around the world continues to be volatile and unpredictable and we continue to monitor the situation very closely,” she said.

WATCH | Associate Health Minister Carolyn Bennett discusses new measures on CBC’s Power & Politics

Minister urges Canadians to ‘continue to be vigilant’, as new COVID-19 variant emerges in South Africa

6 hours ago

“I’ve cancelled my Christmas party…I do think Canadians need to continue to be vigilant.” Associate Health Minister @Carolyn_Bennett on whether Canadians should cancel their holiday plans, as a new COVID-19 variant is emerging in South Africa. 11:07

Alghabra said the government wouldn’t take lessons from the Conservatives on pandemic management when the party’s leader, Erin O’Toole, refuses to require that all Conservative MPs get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Just last week, Alghabra said, the Conservatives were also calling for an end to pre-departure PCR testing and fewer travel restrictions.

“Forgive me for not taking advice from the Conservative Party,” he said.

Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease official, said banning flights to the United States from southern Africa is a “possibility” but that a decision has not been made yet.

“There is always the possibility of doing what the U.K. has done, namely block travel from South Africa and related countries,” Fauci said Friday morning in an interview on CNN.

“That’s certainly something you think about and get prepared to do … But you want to make sure there’s a basis for doing that.”

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Canada pledges non-lethal support for Ukraine, extends training mission

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Canada on Wednesday said it would send non-lethal equipment to Ukraine, and help the Eastern European country gather intelligence and counter cyber attacks as Russia builds up its military presence on its borders.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said his government would extend for three years and double the size of a mission to train the Ukrainian military called Operation Unifier.

Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops near its border with Ukraine but denies planning to attack its neighbor. The United States and Britain have started sending more arms to Ukraine.

“With rising tensions, and unwarranted Russian aggression, Canada will be there to provide ongoing support to Ukraine so that it can defend itself,” Trudeau told reporters.

Canada will also set up a task force and expand its diplomatic capacity – including in Kyiv – to coordinate support for Ukraine, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said.

“Diplomacy is the only viable path forward for Russia. Any further aggression will have serious consequences including coordinated sanctions, and Canada is prepared,” Joly said.

Defense Minister Anita Anand will visit Latvia and Ukraine “in the coming days” to visit Canadian forces in both countries, Trudeau said.

Some 200 Canadian military personnel are already in Ukraine as part of the training mission, which has been provided to “over 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers”, Anand said.

Trudeau said the training mission would be extended by three years, at a cost of C$340 million ($268.5 million), with 60 additional Canadian soldiers leaving within days. Ultimately as many as 400 Canadian trainers may be sent, the prime minister said.

Trudeau said the non-lethal equipment would include things like “body armor, optics and scopes”. Anand said it would include surveillance equipment.

Canada also said it would provide up to C$50 million in development and humanitarian aid, adding to a loan of up to C$120 million promised last week.

Canada, with a sizeable and politically influential population of Ukrainian descent, has taken a strong line with Russia since its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

($1 = 1.2661 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Steve Scherer and Ismail Shakil; editing by Richard Pullin)

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The Best Casino Restaurants in Canada

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In the past, gaming establishments that were not under the jurisdiction of the government or other related agencies have not found favour with the Canadian populace. Laws permitting single-game sports betting were passed only in August of 2021, with many people now anticipating that the day will not be far off when gambling in Canada will be allowed throughout the country.

As the world comes out of the explosive trend of playing casino games online and starts visiting land-based casinos again, one other thing has entered the public mindset. Something that the online casino experience can’t match: food. Land-based casinos come with restaurants, and in this article, Kevin N. Cochran lists out every casino in Canada that tantalizes the palettes of culinary experts worldwide. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Neros Steakhouse

With its luxury hotel next to the gambling facility, Caesars Windsor is clearly one of Canada’s top destinations. They boast a large selection of slots, including several progressives with jackpots in the six-figure bracket, as well as a variety of table games. The hotel itself boasts 700 rooms, allowing it to accommodate a large number of people.

A steakhouse, like many other casinos in Canada, is the best place to eat. Neros is a high-end restaurant, yet the costs are more reasonable than you may expect. While some steakhouses charge upwards of $50 and $60 per entrée, most things are priced between $29 and $41. When you start looking at premium cuts like bison tenderloin and 20-ounce dry-aged tomahawk ribeye, you’ll start to see prices above $50.

Ponte Vecchio

Fallsview offers a veritable feast of dining alternatives, with over 20 different establishments to choose from. Ponte Vecchio, which got the 2019 Diners’ Choice, TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, and the Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence, is our favourite. This restaurant, named after a historical bridge in Florence, Italy, is, as you might expect, an Italian eatery.

Consider starting with the wine list, which is wonderful. After that, the choices can take you in a variety of wonderful directions. Authentic plates of pasta are always a fantastic choice. The Osso Buco veal shank is always a classic, but the Agnello Arrosto is the one true champion. A maple-dijon-coated rack of lamb is served with truffle polenta, tomato ragu, lamb jus, and rapini to balance out the richness.

The Victor

One of Canada’s newest gaming venues, Parq Vancouver, is a behemoth. There is roughly 72,000 square feet of gaming space in Vancouver, albeit not all of it is dedicated to the casino. There are over 600 slot machines, as well as a variety of table games such as Baccarat, Blackjack, and Jade Salons for private gaming.

There are a few good restaurants here, but we’ll start with The Victor, which serves a steak and seafood fusion. While that may sound like most steakhouses, this isn’t the case because this is a modern dining room with sushi, caviar, and ceviche on the seafood side and bone marrow, porterhouse, and wagyu on the meaty side.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon is the place to go if you’re seeking one of Montreal’s greatest casino restaurants and want to have a unique experience. Robuchon, who regrettably passed away two years ago, was one of the world’s most celebrated chefs. A visit to L’Atelier, which means ‘workshop,’ is a wonderful experience.

The tasting menu is the way to go if you’ve hit it big at the tables or have some cash to spend. The complete trademark tasting menu is $200 per person, making it pricey. On a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, though, you may complete a four-course menu for $85.

Honey Salt

Honey Salt is a wonderful option at the Parq Vancouver if you’re searching for something a little more informal yet still stylish. This restaurant takes a farm-to-table approach and has a strong local focus. Consider it a hip neighbourhood hangout that’s still enjoyable but a little more toned down than a steakhouse.

This is the place to go if you want a golden-seared scallop. These delicate jewels are covered with a truffle jus and served with roasted or pureed cauliflower. It’s flavourful, and it’s only one of the menu’s many fascinating selections.

Conclusion

Restaurants in casino towns are often the most top-tier establishments of their ilk in that area, so if you’re planning to splurge in a casino, you might as well take a detour to get some quality grub. At the end of the day, casinos are all about having a good time, and food is probably the best medium to achieve that. So, go crazy, and feast like kings! We’ve all deserved it after the last couple of years.

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Researchers achieve milestone on path toward nuclear fusion energy

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U.S. government scientists said on Wednesday they have taken an important step in the long trek toward making nuclear fusion – the very process that powers stars – a viable energy source for humankind.

Using the world’s largest laser, the researchers coaxed fusion fuel for the first time to heat itself beyond the heat they zapped into it, achieving a phenomenon called a burning plasma that marked a stride toward self-sustaining fusion energy.

The energy produced was modest – about the equivalent of nine nine-volt batteries of the kind that power smoke detectors and other small devices. But the experiments at a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory facility in California represented a milestone in the decades-long quest to harness fusion energy, even as the researchers cautioned that years of more work are needed.

The experiments produced the self-heating of matter in a plasma state through nuclear fusion, which is the combining of atomic nuclei to release energy. Plasma is one of the various states of matter, alongside solid, liquid and gas.

“If you want to make a camp fire, you want to get the fire to hot enough that the wood can keep itself burning,” said Alex Zylstra, an experimental physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – part of the U.S. Energy Department – and lead author of the research published in the journal Nature.

“This is a good analogy for a burning plasma, where the fusion is now starting to become self-sustaining,” Zylstra said.

The scientists directed 192 laser beams toward a small target containing a capsule less than a tenth of an inch (about 2 mm) in diameter filled with fusion fuel consisting of a plasma of deuterium and tritium – two isotopes, or forms, of hydrogen.

At very high temperatures, the nucleus of the deuterium and the nucleus of the tritium fuse, a neutron and a positively charged particle called an “alpha particle” – consisting of two protons and two neutrons – emerge, and energy is released.

“Fusion requires that we get the fuel incredibly hot in order for it to burn – like a regular fire, but for fusion we need about a hundred million degrees (Fahrenheit). For decades we’ve been able to cause fusion reactions to occur in experiments by putting a lot of heating into the fuel, but this isn’t good enough to produce net energy from fusion,” Zylstra said.

“Now, for the first time, fusion reactions occurring in the fuel provided most of the heating – so fusion is starting to dominate over the heating we did. This is a new regime called a burning plasma,” Zylstra said.

Unlike burning fossil fuels or the fission process of existing nuclear power plants, fusion offers the prospect of abundant energy without pollution, radioactive waste or greenhouse gases. Nuclear fission energy comes from splitting atoms. Fusion energy comes from fusing atoms together, just like inside stars, including our sun.

Private-sector ventures – dozens of companies and institutions- also are pursuing a fusion energy future, with some oil companies even investing.

“Fusion energy is the holy grail of clean limitless energy,” said Annie Kritcher of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, lead designer for the experiments conducted in 2020 and 2021 at the National Ignition Facility and first author of a companion paper published in the journal Nature Physics.

In these experiments, fusion produced about 10 times as much energy as went into heating the fuel, but less than 10% of the total amount of laser energy because the process remains inefficient, Zylstra said. The laser was used for only about 10 billionths of a second in each experiment, with fusion production lasting 100 trillionths of a second, Kritcher added.

Zylstra said he is encouraged by the progress.

“Making fusion a reality is an enormously complex technological challenge, and it will require serious investment and innovation to make it practical and economical,” Zylstra said. “I view fusion as a decadal-scale challenge for it to be a viable source of energy.”

 

(Reporting by Will Dunham, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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