The Canadian Armed Forces will be assisting in receiving Canadians who will be taking a federally chartered plane out of Wuhan, China, according to a statement from Chief of the Defence Staff General J.H. Vance.
CAF medical teams are also being tasked with going with government officials and helping Canadians once they are repatriated at the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ont.
Vance assured Trenton, Ont. residents that “while we host our fellow citizens, as they are undergoing medical observation and evaluation, there is no risk to you and your families.”
The plane was chartered after Global Affairs Canada received 325 requests from Canadians who wish to leave the Chinese province Hubei, which at the centre of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The plane will arrive in Hanoi, Vietnam first before it’s deployed to Wuhan, according to Global Affairs Canada on Sunday.
Airspace to the locked-down city Wuhan is currently closed, but the plane will land once the government of China gives authorization. Global Affairs gave no indication on the status of that flight.
Both government officials and military personnel are en route to Hanoi, Global Affairs Canada said. And the group is in the process of obtaining visas from the Chinese government to enter Wuhan.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also convened the Incident Response Group to determine next steps in assisting the group being repatriated. The group discussed actions that would be taken, including health screenings and a period of observation at the base.
The department said it consulting with the U.S. and Britain for co-operation in the endeavour, as it said it was exploring all avenues to help Canadians leave Wuhan and that it would be providing updates to those affected.
“We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our ‘Travel Advice’ to enable Canadians to make well-informed decisions regarding their travel abroad,” Global Affairs spokesperson Sylvain Leclerc said, adding the department “was monitoring the situation.”
“It is important to note that individuals should not present themselves to the airport unannounced as they will not be permitted to board the aircraft,” Leclerc said.
The death toll in China climbed to 361 on Sunday, and the number of cases worldwide surged past 17,205, according to China’s National Health Commission and other nations.
Canada has four known cases — three in Ontario and one in British Columbia. The Canadian government has not said whether Canadians arriving from China would be quarantined.
Health officials in Canada said that despite widespread fear of the virus, the chances of contracting it in Canada is exceptionally low. But people should take normal cold- and flu-season precautions
On Jan. 29, Global Affairs Canada increased its risk level to avoid non-essential travel to China due to the coronavirus outbreak. The next day, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of the new virus from China a global health emergency.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters the main reason for the declaration is because of how the virus could affect other countries. “Our greatest concern is the potential for this virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems which are ill-prepared to deal with it,” he said.
The spread of the coronavirus has grounded scores of Canadian families in the region who’ve been affected by flight cancellations in and out of the country. But the issue is compounded for families with Chinese relatives.
The Chinese government has told Canada only those who have entered China with a Canadian passport would be allowed to board the chartered plane, so Canadian families — with relatives who are Chinese nationals — are being forced to decide whether to leave or stay put.
Leclerc urged Canadian citizens elsewhere in China “that wish to leave should do so while commercial means continue to be available and provided it is safe to do so.” But warned citizens they “must carefully check entry and exit requirements for the countries they may be transiting through.”
OTHER COUNTRIES CHARTER FLIGHTS OUT OF CHINA
On Sunday, a second French-chartered plane carrying 300 citizens from China touched down at a military base in Bouches-du-Rhone, in southern France. The first plane landed in France on Friday.
Close to 200 Americans were previously evacuated from Wuhan and will be quarantined for two weeks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said is the first time a federal quarantine has been implemented in the U.S. since the 1960s At the time, health officials were worried about the potential spread of smallpox.
South Korea is following the lead of the U.S. and is also quarantining its evacuees who arrived on Friday. Facilities have been set up in Asan and Jincheon, where residents have protested evacuees being put in their neighbourhoods.
Residents there threw objects, including eggs at government officials.
Meanwhile, the Australian government has been defending its plan to send its evacuees to Christmas Island. Facilities there house banished asylum seekers and convicted criminals.
The Canadian Press reported some Australians said they preferred to stay in China.
With files from CTV News’ Parliamentary Bureau Reporter Annie Bergeron-Oliver, The Associated Press and The Canadian Press
Wolf found dead by roadside, another still missing after ‘suspicious’ B.C. zoo escape
ALDERGROVE — One of the wolves that escaped its enclosure at the Greater Vancouver Zoo this week has been found dead on a roadside, and a second wolf is still missing, the zoo’s deputy general manager said Thursday.
Menita Prasad said both the zoo’s perimeter fence and the grey wolf enclosure were deliberately “compromised” early Tuesday, allowing the zoo’s nine adult wolves to escape while five cubs stayed inside the enclosure.
All but two of the adults were contained within the zoo’s property, she said.
The zoo in Aldergrove, B.C., has been shut for three days as workers and conservation officers searched for the wolves, while Langley RCMP investigate the incident as a suspected case of unlawful entry and vandalism.
The fences had been cut, Prasad said. An earlier statement from the zoo said the escape was “suspicious, and believed to be due to malicious intent.”
Searchers were “heartbroken” to find a three-year-old female wolf, Chia, dead by the side of 264 Street in Aldergrove on Thursday morning, Prasad told a press conference through tears.
It’s presumed Chia was hit by a car, she said.
A one-year-old female wolf named Tempest is still missing and believed to be in the vicinity of the zoo, Prasad said, adding that the animal, which was born at the facility, has a slim chance of surviving in the wild.
Prasad described Tempest as a “shy wolf” who poses no threat to public safety, though she said she could not say what the wolf might do if a person approached her. She urged anyone who sees the animal not to approach her and instead call authorities to report the location.
The wolf’s prime motivation would be to get back to her family, she said.
“As a result of this senseless act, our wolf pack has lost two family members,” Prasad said. “We watched these wolves grow up. We consider the animals at the zoo a part of our family.”
She said the “search and rescue operation” would continue and is asking for the public’s help “to reunite Tempest with her family.”
“She is a small wolf with grey brown puppy fur and white markings on her muzzle and her brow,” Prasad said.
Anyone who spots Tempest is asked contact the Greater Vancouver Zoo, Langley RCMP or the BC Conservation Officer Service by calling 1-877-952-7277.
The zoo, which is about 55 kilometres outside Vancouver, is set to reopen on Saturday, Prasad said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2022.
The Canadian Press
COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths in Canada stable, but higher than past summers – Global News
COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths and confirmed case counts across Canada are relatively stable after an early summer wave, but they remain far higher than past years, data shows.
As of Wednesday, Canada is seeing an average of 3,475 lab-confirmed cases and 44 deaths per day, according to provincial and territorial data compiled by Global News. Currently, 5,158 people are in hospital with COVID-19, including 305 patients who are in intensive care.
While those numbers are down slightly from the brief wave of infections in June and July, they remain far higher than the rates seen during the summers of 2020 and 2021.
In past years, there was an average of roughly 350 patients in hospital per day during the summer months. Even as hospitalizations climbed in August 2021 and into September of that year, they peaked at half the current rate.
The current death rate has also vastly eclipsed past summers, when the average number of deaths per day was in the single digits.
Previous evidence pointed to the summer months as predictable lulls in the pandemic, as people spend more time in outdoor spaces where there is less transmission of the virus.
But the more infectious Omicron variant upended that thinking, and further mutations — including the current BA.5 subvariant and its predecessor, BA.2 — have led to more waves of infections this year than in the past.
The World Health Organization warned on Wednesday that BA.5’s dominance has led to a 35 per cent increase in reported COVID-10-related deaths globally over the past four weeks.
In the last week alone, 15,000 people died from COVID-19 worldwide, according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“There is a lot of talk about learning to live with this virus, but we cannot live with 15,000 deaths a week. We cannot live with mounting hospitalizations and deaths,” he said at a press conference.
“We cannot live with inequitable access to vaccines and other tools. Learning to live with COVID-19 does not mean we pretend it’s not there. It means we use the tools we have to protect ourselves and protect others.”
COVID guidelines for fall: Expert urges Canadians to look out for flu as well
Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam has said the country is in a period of pandemic transition that will likely lead to further waves this year, warning back in June that COVID-19 “has not left the stage.”
Public health officials have shifted their focus toward a potential serious wave in the fall and winter. Planning is underway to provide vaccine booster doses to all adults that request one, while ensuring vulnerable populations receive an extra dose.
Experts say the boosters are important, as current vaccines do not sufficiently protect against Omicron and its subvariants, allowing for “breakthrough cases” and even reinfections among vaccinated people.
“However, there is evidence that if you have the vaccine, more than likely you don’t end up in the hospital,” said Dr. Horacio Bach, an infectious disease researcher and assistant professor at the University of British Columbia.
“People (infected with COVID-19) will say, ‘It’s just kind of a flu, that’s okay, I’ll stay home.’ That is the result of the vaccines.”
Expert says Canada can expect a spike in COVID-19 variants cases during fall and winter
The Public Health Agency of Canada notes that between June 6 and July 3 of this year, unvaccinated cases were three times more likely to be hospitalized and four times more likely to die from COVID-19 compared to vaccinated cases.
Tedros urged everyone who has access to a booster dose to get one, and to continue to wear masks when it is impossible to keep distance from others.
As of Monday, 86.1 per cent of the Canadian population has received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, while 82.4 per cent have received at least two doses. Yet just under half — 49.7 per cent — have gotten at least one more booster dose.
Despite hospitalizations nationally remaining relatively stable, signs are emerging that more patients are being admitted with symptoms.
Hospitalizations are on the rise in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, according to the most recent updates. Most provinces besides Quebec have shifted to reporting data weekly, while Saskatchewan is due to release its first monthly report on Thursday.
To date, provinces and territories have confirmed more than 4,125,000 cases of COVID-19 including 43,471 deaths.
— With files from Rachel Gilmore
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Commercial bankruptcies rising in Canada, says business lobby group – CBC News
A small business lobby group says commercial bankruptcies are rising in Canada and even more small businesses are at risk of closure.
Statistics Canada data shows small business insolvencies have been on an upward trend since May 2021.
But the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says its own survey data indicates only 10 per cent of Canada’s small business owners would file for bankruptcy if their business was no longer solvent.
It says 46 per cent of business owners say they would simply stop operating rather than go through the bankruptcy process.
The CFIB also says more than one in six Canadian small business owners say they are currently considering going out of business.
The lobby group wants government support to help Canada’s small business sector get through the next few months and deal with challenges like pandemic-related debt and supply chain issues.
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