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At least 19 killed in bus crash in central Mexico

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At least 19 people were killed and 20 more injured on Friday when a passenger bus traveling on a highway in central Mexico crashed into a house, authorities said.

The brakes on the bus, which was heading to a local religious shrine in the state of Mexico, failed, according to local media reports. State authorities did not disclose the possible causes of the accident.

Assistant state interior secretary Ricardo de la Cruz Musalem said that the injured had been transferred to hospitals, including some by air.

The state Red Cross said 10 ambulances had rushed to the area.

 

(Reporting by Sharay Angulo; writing by Laura Gottesdiener)

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Reality check: Could mail from Canada to China spread Omicron? – Global News

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Chinese health authorities have claimed that the highly transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19 may have arrived into the capital, Beijing, via a contaminated letter from Canada — an assertion dismissed and questioned by Canadian experts.

The Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control (BCDC) said in a news release Monday that its first case of the Omicron variant in a Beijing resident could be the result of international mail sent from Canada via the United States and Hong Kong.

The letter was sent on Jan. 7 and received on Jan. 11, the BCDC said.

Read more:

Employees locked inside office tower after single Omicron case in Beijing

The agency claimed that a comprehensive investigation, sampling and testing of the mailed papers showed traces of the Omicron variant.

The person who tested positive had not travelled internationally or domestically 14 days prior to being infected, it said.

“To sum up, combined with the epidemiological history of the case, the test results of suspicious items, and the gene sequencing results of the case specimens, the possibility of contracting the virus through foreign items cannot be ruled out,” the BCDC stated.

It urged residents to minimize the purchase of overseas goods and to wear masks and disposable gloves when receiving international mail.


Click to play video: 'Beijing Olympics: China taking no chances with COVID-19 as Games near'



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Beijing Olympics: China taking no chances with COVID-19 as Games near


Beijing Olympics: China taking no chances with COVID-19 as Games near

Beijing confirmed its first local case of Omicron on Saturday, weeks before the city is set to host the Winter Olympics in February.

Aside from Beijing, China has reported locally-transmitted infections of the Omicron variant in at least four other provinces and municipalities: in the northern city of Tianjin, the central province of Henan, the southern province of Guangdong and the northeastern province of Liaoning. However, the total number Omicron cases across China remains unclear.

What do experts say?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 can spread through indirect contact with contaminated surfaces, also known as fomite transmission.

But current evidence suggests that the virus is predominantly transmitted from person to person via respiratory droplets, WHO says on its website.

Read more:

Droplet, aerosol, airborne: The confusion over how COVID-19 spreads

Dr. Gerald Evans, an infectious disease specialist at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., said it was “implausible” that a piece of mail from Canada would have any infectious virus on it that survived intact to result in a COVID-19 transmission event in China.

“SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, does not survive in an infectious form for very long outside an infected host or person,” he told Global News in an email.

Evans cited a study released last week by the University of Bristol that showed that the virus loses 90 per cent of its infectivity after 20 minutes in respiratory particles exhaled by a infected person, with the majority of that loss occurring in the first five minutes.

Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto, also said China’s claims don’t add up.

“This doesn’t sound credible at all,” he told Global News in an email.


Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Chinese city begins testing all residents after Omicron cases detected'



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COVID-19: Chinese city begins testing all residents after Omicron cases detected


COVID-19: Chinese city begins testing all residents after Omicron cases detected – Jan 9, 2022

Furness said while COVID-19’s ability to survive on paper depends partly on the roughness of the paper, it’s unlikely to persist in an active state for more than a day or two.

“High friction with other documents in a mailbag make survival of even a day seem unlikely,” he explained.

Dr. Horacio Bach, an infectious diseases expert at the University of British Columbia, said while Omicron is more transmissible, it is spreading in the same way as previous variants — namely, from person to person.

Read more:

Canada Post warns of delays as Omicron leads to staff shortages

Canada Post says that the WHO and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) have made public assurances that the risk when handling mail, including international mail, is low.

“According to the PHAC, there is no known risk of coronaviruses entering Canada on parcels or packages,” a statement on its website says.

“Currently, there is no evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted by imported goods or packages.”

What is Canada’s response?

In a news conference on Monday, Federal Health Minster Jean-Yves Duclos said the assertion that a piece of Canadian mail introduced the Omicron variant to Beijing was “an extraordinary view.”

He said that while he may have his own opinion of why China was making that claim, he deferred to experts on how COVID-19 can be spread.

Read more:

Canada working on new China strategy, Joly says

“We’ll check with officials and our partners around the world,” Duclos said.

“I think this is something not only new, but intriguing and certainly not in accordance with what we have done both internationally and domestically.”


Click to play video: 'O’Toole says allegation Canadian mail introduced Omicron to Beijing is ‘comical’'



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O’Toole says allegation Canadian mail introduced Omicron to Beijing is ‘comical’


O’Toole says allegation Canadian mail introduced Omicron to Beijing is ‘comical’

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole slammed it as “comical”.

“Obviously, we’re very concerned with variants within the pandemic, variants that have come from outside of Canada that we have to deal with here,” O’Toole said during a news conference Monday.

“Stories like this remind us that from the beginning of the pandemic, some of the news and reporting out of China could not be trusted.”

— with files from the Canadian Press, Reuters 

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Britain says it is supplying anti-tank weapons to Ukraine

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Britain said on Monday it had begun supplying Ukraine with anti-tank weapons to help it defend itself from a potential invasion, during a stand-off with Russia which has massed troops near the Ukrainian border.

Western countries say they fear Russia is preparing a pretext for a new assault on Ukraine, which it invaded in 2014.

Moscow denies any plans for an attack, but has said it could take unspecified military action unless the West agrees to a list of demands, including banning Ukraine from ever joining NATO. Talks last week ended with no breakthrough. Kyiv has asked Western countries for arms to help it protect itself.

“We have taken the decision to supply Ukraine with light anti-armour defensive weapon systems,” British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told parliament, saying the first systems were already delivered on Monday and a small number of British personnel would provide training for a short period of time.

He did not specify the number or type of weapons that were being sent, but said: “They are not strategic weapons and pose no threat to Russia. They are to use in self-defence.”

“These are short-range …. but nevertheless it would make people pause and think what they were doing and if tanks were to roll into Ukraine, invade it, then they would be part of the defence mechanism.”

Ukraine’s defence minister welcomed Wallace’s announcement.

“Ukraine highly appreciates Britain’s decision to provide a new security package with light, anti-armour, defensive weapon systems!” Oleksii Reznikov said in a tweet.

Britain has previously warned Russia of severe consequences if it launched a new military assault on Ukraine, while offering financing to enhance Ukraine’s naval capabilities.

Wallace said he had invited Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to visit London in the next few weeks to discuss the crisis, though he did not know whether the Russians would accept.

“The current gap is wide but not unbridgeable,” Wallace said, voicing the hope that diplomacy would prevail and adding, “It is President (Vladimir) Putin’s choice.”

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Alistair Smout; additional reporting by Natalia Zinets and Matthias Williams; Editing by Kate Holton, Peter Graff and Howard Goller)

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Canada ends contract with Malaysia’s Supermax over labour allegations

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Canada has terminated its sourcing contract with Malaysian glove maker Supermax Corp following allegations about forced labour, the country’s public services and procurement department said on Tuesday.

“Based on the seriousness of the allegations and expected timelines for the final audit results, the Government of Canada has decided, and Supermax Healthcare Canada has agreed, to terminate by mutual consent the two existing contracts for the supply of nitrile gloves,” the department told Reuters in an emailed statement.

Supermax did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Ed Davies)

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