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Canada adds 4,321 new COVID-19 cases as provinces say many vaccine appointments unfilled – Global News

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As COVID-19 cases continued to climb in Canada’s two biggest provinces on Sunday, officials in Ontario and Quebec said there are vacant vaccination appointments that need to be filled.

In Toronto, Mayor John Tory pleaded with those aged 70 and older to get vaccinated.

“We have the vaccines, we have the staff in place to do it and we have the appointments, so all we need now is you,” Tory said.

“It’s very, very important for people across the city of Toronto to get vaccinated.”

Read more:
Canada still ‘a long way off’ from COVID-19 economic recovery, experts say

The city is set to open two mass vaccination clinics Monday now that the vaccine supply has been fixed, he said

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He said three new COVID-19 mass vaccination clinics will open Monday, but there are still many appointments unfilled.

“We’re now in a position where we have lots of appointments available, even appointments available for this coming week,” Tory said.

“We need you to sign up, not to put it off.”


Click to play video: 'U.K. study examines safety of mixing COVID-19 vaccines'



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U.K. study examines safety of mixing COVID-19 vaccines


U.K. study examines safety of mixing COVID-19 vaccines

Tory’s comments comes amid another 4,321 new COVID-19 cases announced in the country Sunday, which pushed the national total to 965,409. Another 28 fatalities were also added, with the country’s death toll now standing at 22,880.

To date, over 898,000 patients have since recovered from the virus while more than 5.1 million vaccine doses and 27.8 million tests have been administered. A total of 2,188 patients are also currently in hospital after contracting COVID-19.

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Sunday’s data paints a limited snapshot of the virus’ spread across Canada however, as both British Columbia and P.E.I., as well as all three territories did not report any new COVID-19 data.

Ontario reported 2,448 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the fourth consecutive day with more than 2,000 daily cases.

Tory says more than 450,000 people in Toronto have received doses thus far.

“I will say I’m not satisfied, and that doesn’t mean I’m critical or angry with anybody, it just means I’m asking people to take advantage of the opportunity to get vaccinated now and we’ll be satisfied when we have a sold out situation,” Tory said.

Ontario has fully vaccinated 309,285 people and has administered nearly two million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Michael Garron Hospital and the Toronto East Health Network opened up a vaccination standby list for those who are part of the province’s Phase 2 populations.

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But the website crashed shortly after it opened up due to high volume, the Toronto East Health Network said.

On Sunday it said it has taken down the site for now due to “an extremely high volume of submissions” while it figures out how to move forward on standby vaccinations.

In Quebec, Minister of Health Christian Dube urged residents to get vaccinated.

“There are still appointments available in the coming days in some regions, especially in Montreal,” he said for those aged 60 years and older.


Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Places of worship open across Quebec'



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COVID-19: Places of worship open across Quebec


COVID-19: Places of worship open across Quebec

Quebec has given doses to 76 per cent of those 80 and over, as well as 52 per cent of those 70 years and older and 17 per cent of those aged 60 to 69. The vast majority are first doses, very few have been fully vaccinated.

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As of last week, Quebec said about 75 per cent or more of all age groups 65 years and older had either received a vaccine or made an appointment.

The province reported 917 news cases of COVID-19 on Sunday after breaking the 1,000-mark on Saturday for the first time since mid-February.

In Atlantic Canada, several more provinces added new cases of the virus.

Newfoundland and Labrador added one new case while Nova Scotia added two more infections. New Brunswick reported the highest increase, with six more infections Sunday.

In the Prairies, Saskatchewan added 248 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths, while Manitoba added 55 new cases and one fatality. Alberta recorded 644 new cases and three more fatalities from the virus.

Worldwide, cases of COVID-19 continue to increase with over 127.1 million cases having been identified to date according to Johns Hopkins University. Over 2,783,500 people have since died from the virus as well, with the U.S., India, Brazil and Mexico leading in either cases or deaths.

— With files from Morgan Lowrie and Global News.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Canada offers ‘path to protection’ for Afghan interpreters amid ‘critical’ situation – Global News

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Taliban is advancing rapidly across Afghanistan as U.S. forces withdraw.
  • Afghans who aided Canadian troops during the war there are now facing torture and death from the Taliban, prompting urgent calls for the government to help them.
  • The program announced Friday will see them and their families welcomed to Canada as refugees, though details on specifics of the plan are scarce.

Canadian officials are on the ground in Afghanistan and working to identify those eligible for a new “path to protection” for Afghans who supported Canadian troops during the war in that country.

The update from the government comes amid what Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino called a “critical” time for those who have helped Canadian soldiers and now face the risk of death and torture by a rapid Taliban advance across the country.

Details on the program are scarce so far but Mendicino said the program will welcome the Afghans and their families as refugees for resettlement. He said while the numbers are in flux, the estimate is that Afghans eligible under the program will be in the “thousands.”

READ MORE: Canada has ‘moral obligation’ to protect Afghan interpreters from Taliban resurgence, say experts

Mendicino said the plan will focus on special immigration measures for Afghan interpreters, Afghans who have worked or are currently working to support the Canadian embassy, as well as their families.

It is also being kept deliberately broad in scope, and will also apply to those who worked in roles such as security guards, cooks, cleaners, drivers, and other roles in support of the embassy.

“We know that time is of the essence,” said Mendicino.

“We expect the first arrivals will be in Canada very shortly.”

Work continues to try to identify the Afghans who will be eligible, he said, but did not provide details when asked on how many individuals will be able to come to Canada or what the timeline is for the effort.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said they could not provide further details because of “operational security,” and said planning with coalition allies on logistics is underway.

“The plan itself has to be guarded for the safety of the people we’re trying to bring to Canada,” he said.


Click to play video: 'Mendicino talks logistics of resettlement plan for Afghan interpreters, advisors'



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Mendicino talks logistics of resettlement plan for Afghan interpreters, advisors


Mendicino talks logistics of resettlement plan for Afghan interpreters, advisors

Canada withdrew troops from Afghanistan in 2011 but after roughly 20 years, U.S. forces are now also in the process of withdrawing from the country after waging a war to remove the Taliban from power.

The Taliban are Islamist extremists who enforce sharia law and held power in Afghanistan from roughly 1996 to 2001 when coalition forces overthrew them.

Now, the Taliban insurgency has been making rapid gains and now holds roughly half of the 421 districts as U.S. forces retreat, raising concerns that the militant extremists will be in a position to support other regional terrorist groups like ISIS and also target those who helped Canadian forces during the war.

Thousands of people have fled the Taliban advance.

As the fighters retake broad swaths of territory, former military leaders and veterans of Canada’s fight in Afghanistan have been urging the government to act quickly to honour the “moral obligation” this country owes to the Afghans who supported the coalition mission.

Mendicino echoed those sentiments on Friday.

“Not only does Canada owe them a debt of gratitude, we have a moral obligation to do right by them,” he said, and described the risk they will face retaliation from the Taliban as “grave.”


Click to play video: 'Afghan interpreters face death threats from Taliban after U.S. troops leave'



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Afghan interpreters face death threats from Taliban after U.S. troops leave


Afghan interpreters face death threats from Taliban after U.S. troops leave – Jun 3, 2021

In recent days, a group of Canadian veterans have been working to virtually try to coordinate a way for some of the Afghans who worked with soldiers to get to a safer place, pending evacuation, by using their existing network of contacts in the country.

“We managed to get a guy who was surrounded by gunfire, active airstrikes coming in to try and clear the Taliban from the area. He was trapped. And we got him to safety,” said Robin Rickards, a Canadian veteran of the war.

“Well, to relative safety.”

Global News was able to speak with that man — a former Afghan interpreter who was stuck in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province currently under siege by the Taliban. Out of concern for his safety, Global News is not identifying the man or where he is currently located.

“They already have information about the people who work with the coalition forces,” said the interpreter of the Taliban fighters entering the city.

He described witnessing fighting just 500 metres from his home, and said Taliban fighters are dumping bodies of those who helped coalition forces on highways and roads to send a signal as they continue to retake territory across the country.

“They wanted to show the people … we’re going to kill all of them,” he said.

“We want the government to start evacuation as soon as possible.”


Click to play video: 'Canadian veterans mobilize to help, as Taliban targets Afghan translators'



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Canadian veterans mobilize to help, as Taliban targets Afghan translators


Canadian veterans mobilize to help, as Taliban targets Afghan translators

The U.S. State Department said on Monday it plans to evacuate around 2,500 Afghans who assisted American troops during the conflict, and fly them to a military base in Virginia within days.

The U.S. also has what’s known as the Special Immigrant Visa program which allows those who worked with U.S. troops in Afghanistan or Iraq to apply to immigrate. NBC News has cited U.S. officials as saying thousands of Afghans in the process of applying to that program will be flown to either military bases or a third country in order to be able to complete their application in safety.

It’s not yet clear to what extent Canada could coordinate with the U.S. on the evacuations or on moving the Afghans to a safer third country or area while their paperwork is processed.

Sajjan said while Canada is in discussions, he could not provide specific details.

Both the Conservatives and NDP, though, said the government could and should have acted sooner.

Tory Leader Erin O’Toole said the advance of the Taliban was predictable and that there should have been action before now to get the Afghans and their families to safety.

“The Liberal government should have made this announcement weeks ago. The Americans made it clear that they would be leaving Afghanistan months ago, and the rise of the Taliban was an expected result,” he said in a statement.

“Instead of putting forward a plan to help the heroic Afghan interpreters, support staff, and their families, the Trudeau Liberals sat on their hands and did nothing. It’s quite disappointing that these Afghans who saved the lives of our men and women in uniform were an afterthought to this Liberal government.”

NDP defence critic Randall Garrison accused the government of treating the Afghans as an “afterthought” and criticized the lack of details about the plan from the government.

“The US government has committed to providing airlift services for Afghans while their applications are processing, but details of the program are lacking from the Canadian government, including how quickly they will be able to bring them to safety,” he said.

“These collaborators, who played a vital role, have been abandoned for a decade without the support they desperately needed to find safety in Canada and deserve better. Countless interpreters and vital staff along with their families have been living in danger while the Liberals dragged their feet.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Heat waves are increasing across Canada — and hotter nights are also dangerous – CBC.ca

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When it comes to climate change, there is one fairly well-understood extreme that will affect humans in the decades to come: heat.  

Scientists know that climate change will see events like hurricanes, droughts, floods and heat waves increase in frequency or intensity. But when it comes to heat waves in particular, it’s already being seen across the world with deadly consequences. According to a recent study published in the journal The Lancet, more than five million deaths annually between 2000 and 2019 were associated with “non-optimal temperatures,” with roughly 500,000 of these deaths related to heat. 

While many of these deaths occur in tropical countries, heat waves are beginning to affect more northerly climes.

During the heat wave that suffocated British Columbia at the end of June into the first week of July, more than 800 people (as of this writing) died in the province. For comparison, in the same period last year, there were 232 deaths, according to B.C. Coroners Service’s chief medical officer, Dr. Jatinder Baidwan. The coroner’s office is continuing to investigate all of the deaths in order to nail down exactly how many were heat-related.

A man leaves a community centre in Toronto during a heat wave earlier this month. Some cities have been opening cooling centres during heat waves for people who do not have access to air conditioning. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

While we know that daytime temperatures are rising, in some regions — specifically in parts of Ontario and Quebec — nighttime temperatures are warming faster

Those warmer nights mean our bodies don’t have any time to cool off. For people with health issues like heart disease or asthma, for example, this can be extremely problematic and potentially deadly.

“Our bodies were not designed to put up with environmental heats that exceed the high 30s,” Baidwan said. “If you think about it, what happens to an air conditioning unit? When you stress it, it builds up with lots of ice on the outside and then it stops working. And in some ways that’s a great analogy for what happens to our bodies. With extreme heat, we just find it really hard to do the usual homeostatic sort of mechanisms and protocols that happen in our body.”

WATCH | How can we better prepare our homes and buildings for rising temperatures?

After a record-breaking heat wave in B.C., experts weigh in on long-term and efficient infrastructure solutions. 5:59

The heat wave that affected the Pacific Northwest was highly unusual — a one in 1,000-year occurrence, according to a recent analysis by the group World Weather Attribution, a collection of scientists who analyze severe weather events. However, parts of eastern Canada, including Ontario and Quebec, are seeing more frequent heat waves and tropical nights, defined as nighttime temperatures 20 C or higher. 

For example, according to the Climate Atlas of Canada, the number of tropical nights in Toronto averaged roughly 6.9 annually from 1976 to 2005. With climate change, under a scenario where carbon emissions decline substantially, that is expected to climb to 17.6 annually from 2021 to 2050.

If current rates of carbon emissions continue, the average number of tropical nights in Toronto is expected to hit 20.6 annually from 2021 to 2050. From 2051 to 2080, under the two different scenarios for emissions, the average number would rise to 26.4 and 42.8 respectively.

In 2018, a heat wave blanketed Montreal from June 29 to July 5; temperatures averaged roughly 34 C during the day. Nighttime temperatures didn’t fall below 20 C. In all, 66 people died.

“We’re seeing an increase in hot extremes in Canada that’s larger than the global mean warming,” said Nathan Gillet, a research scientist with Environment and Climate Change Canada. “The average warming in Canada is about twice the global mean warming. And the heat extremes are also increasing at a similar rate. And it’s not just the hottest, maximum temperatures, but the minimum temperatures, the nighttime minimums that are also increasing.”

Widespread effects on nature

Average temperatures in Canada have already warmed by 1.7 C and the country is warming at more than twice the rate of the planet. 

Increasing heat waves with higher-than-average temperatures during days and nights are also taking a toll on animals and delicate ecosystems, as well as crops.

A study published in the journal Global Change Biology last October found that nighttime temperatures are rising across most of the world. In those areas that saw more nighttime temperature warming than daytime, there was more cloud cover, higher precipitation and more humidity. This can affect nocturnal animals, but also animals that are active during the day who use the cooler nighttime temperatures to recover from heat stress.

Dead fish are seen floating in Alberta’s Pembina River. The fish are thought to have died due to the heat wave across Alberta that resulted in low oxygen in rivers and lakes earlier this month. (Stephanie Coombs/CBC)

“[The changes] increase the boundaries at which nocturnal species can operate. So you may get shifts in ranges, which then messes up ecosystems from changing competition and changing predation/prey relationships, and things like that,” said Daniel Cox, lead author of the study and a research associate in the U.K. at the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute.

A new set of metrics

With the changing climate, governments are finding they need a new set of metrics for severe heat events. 

In 2013, Australia added new colours to their heat maps, as temperatures soared beyond anything they’d experienced in the past.

More recently, on Tuesday, the U.K. Met Office issued its first Amber Extreme Heat Warning as temperatures were forecast to rise to the 30s in parts of the country. Daytime temperatures in the 30s may not seem high compared to some parts of Canada but it’s all about what people are accustomed to. 

In another example of how governments are attempting to adapt to a warming climate, a team from the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) in Quebec, together with the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) announced on Wednesday that a new heat wave warning threshold for the province should be introduced. Quebec’s warm seasons, researchers said, are starting earlier and ending later. 

As Earth continues to warm, air conditioning may seem like a possible solution. The problem is that energy is needed to operate them, and this also produces heat. And cities create “heat islands” where heating is further amplified by  concrete structures, adding more stress to people who are living in a hotter climate. Some cities like Toronto and Montreal are trying to introduce greener building codes and designs to address this. 

“[Heat waves aren’t] something we think about as a big hazard in Canada, but as the climate warms, we’re going to see this more and more,” said Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Gillet. “Heat waves cause deaths and and are dangerous. And yeah, it is something … that we’re going to see more and more here in Canada.”

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Are fake vaccine cards being used to enter Canada? – Global News

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The debate surrounding the need for COVID-19 vaccine passports continues, but it seems some people are already looking for ways around the system.

There are multiple reports of fake vaccine cards and passports emerging online — sold on the dark web for hundreds of dollars, and some as low as “the price of peanuts.”

On Amazon.ca, you can get a pack of 10 blank CDC cards for just $18.98. Lanyards and card protectors come at an extra charge.

In Canada, many wonder how easy it may be to reproduce their proof of inoculation.

In Manitoba, inoculated residents receive an immunization card with a scannable QR code.

Meanwhile, vaccinated Ontarians are handed — or emailed — a sheet of paper with seemingly no security features, just the patient and doctor’s info.

“I think there’s a good reason to worry, but I’m not at all surprised,” said Karen Wendling, an associate professor at University of Guelph who often discusses medical ethics.

“From a Canadian perspective, we can be worried that there are going to be non-vaccinated Americans trying to cross the border.”

Read more:
Growing market for fake COVID-19 vaccine passports sparks alarm

Altering or recreating a legitimate document (like a vaccine card), with the intent of using it as real, is a federal crime.

“This can be liable to a variety of offences under the Criminal Code of Canada” said SuJung Lee, criminal defence lawyer at Daniel Brown Law.

“The most applicable, I would say, offence for these types of actions would probably be forgery.”

Lee says this can land you between 18 months and 10 years behind bars. Possessing, using or trafficking the forged document would count as separate offences.

If financial loss is involved, you can also be charged with fraud. That’s between two and 14 years behind bars if convicted, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Due to the devastating global impact of COVID-19, though, Lee suspects courts will go for maximum penalties to those found guilty.

“These types of offences, if they come to the forefront, is something that courts will probably take very very seriously…. They’ll want to signal to the community that (they) will not go unpunished.”

Read more:
Winnipeg restaurant spots phony QR codes among vaccinated customers

When asked if forged proof of COVID-19 vaccinations was used to enter the country, a spokesperson with the Canada Border Services Agency told Global News: “(CBSA) is aware that some travellers may attempt to use fraudulent documentation when seeking entry to Canada.”

In an email to Global on Tuesday, the CBSA added that 591 travellers arriving in Canada (237 travellers by air and 354 by land) were referred to the Public Health Agency of Canada for “issues related to their proof of vaccination.” This includes people whose proof of vaccination needed further verification, or if they did not meet required criteria, like vaccine date or vaccine type. Note that these numbers are between July 5, when proof of vaccine became required for Canadians and permanent resident travellers, and July 18.

The CBSA would not say how many individuals were suspected to be carrying forged vaccine cards, if any.

When asked how border agents would be able to tell a real vaccine card from a fake one with no security features within the cards, the CBSA would not specify, responding: “Border services officers (BSO) are trained in examination techniques and use indicators, intelligence, and other information to determine a person’s admissibility to Canada. This includes confirming that the documentation required to be found admissible or to meet the criteria for modified public health measures is valid and authentic.”

“All travellers should be aware that providing false information to a Government of Canada official upon entry to Canada or making false or fraudulent attempts is a serious offence and may result in penalties and/or criminal charges,” the agency added.

Nonetheless, Canadians are divided on whether or not proof of vaccine should be required in the first place, with some calling it an “ethical dilemma.”

Read more:
A Canadian vaccine certificate faces science, privacy hurdles, officials say

“The answer is yes, I do believe they should be required. People have been dying from (COVID-19),” said Wendling. “For going across countries, there just is no doubt that’s going to be required.”

Wendling also stressed the need to prove you’re vaccinated in high-risk congregate settings, or in crowded spaces like concerts. However, she thinks this could only be justified for a disease as deadly and far-spreading as COVID-19.

“When it’s a pandemic, you just don’t have the right to harm others,” she said.

Meanwhile, Nancy Walton questions whether a blanket requirement for all scenarios is actually going to work.

“It’s always important to look at the context,” said Walton, the associate dean of graduate studies at Ryerson University and the director of the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing.

“If we’re looking at a context like a health-care environment, a hospital, a long-term care centre — yes the pros outweigh the cons, definitely. We have an obligation and it’s justified to require health-care workers to be vaccinated.”

But in other contexts like workplaces, concerts, grocery stores or malls, Walton says there are other available options to consider, short of demanding vaccine proof.

“Distancing, personal protective equipment, masking, physical barriers.”

Walton also says inadequate and inequitable access to vaccines, especially in poorer countries, may be a deciding factor on travel restrictions.

“There’s been a lot of discussion about the global supply, and of course that requiring vaccination as part of travel then further restricts people who may already be disadvantaged … so you’re putting additional burdens on people.”

Read more:
WHO cautions against vaccine passports for international travel

Either way, both Walton and Welding say health officials need to come up with some kind of way to authenticate COVID-19 vaccine cards — as some cybersecurity experts say the demand for forged cards will grow on the dark web.

“There has to be something. It’s not recreating the wheel,” said Walton.

“If I’m going to Germany, for instance, I hope they ask me for something more secure than my printout from Ontario,” said Wendling.

Meanwhile, Lee says being charged with forgery or fraud for faking a vaccine card can be challenged in court, as can any charge.

However, it would be “very difficult” to show the court that being demanded proof of vaccine infringes on your everyday rights.

“In everyday life, we see instances where requiring proof of other kinds of identifying documents — such as driver’s licences to access public or private services — are a commonplace occurrence that are not necessarily rights-infringing, but a cost, for example, of living harmoniously in society.”


Click to play video: 'Science advisory table proposes COVID-19 vaccine certificates for Ontario'



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Science advisory table proposes COVID-19 vaccine certificates for Ontario


Science advisory table proposes COVID-19 vaccine certificates for Ontario

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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