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Canada adds over 7,000 new coronavirus cases for 1st time since pandemic began – Global News

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Canada reported over 7,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in a single day for the first time Thursday, marking a new daily milestone as infections continue to rise at a dizzying rate.

The 7,002 new infections nationwide came as Ontario hit a new record of daily cases, while Alberta saw its highest number of deaths in a single day since the pandemic began.

Many provinces are facing pressure to enact further measures to curb the spread of the virus, which has now infected 488,237 people to date nationwide. At the current rate of infection, the country is on track to surpass half a million cases by Saturday.

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Nearly 3,500 people are receiving care for COVID-19 in hospital, a new record that is putting a strain on many provinces’ health-care systems. Doctors in Ontario are calling for shutdowns, warning of bed shortages and increased deaths from any further surge in patients.

Another 117 people died across the country over the past 24 hours, health officials said, bringing the national death toll to 13,916. The past week has seen an average of 115 people dying daily.

Read more:
Coronavirus vaccine vials may hold more doses than previously thought, officials say

The bleak trends of the pandemic have coupled with the arrival of one vaccine, made by Pfizer-BioNTech, and the promise of more to come. A second vaccine from Moderna is anticipated to be approved by Health Canada by the end of the year.

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On Thursday, Pfizer confirmed that vials of its vaccine may yield more doses than previously estimated, raising hopes that even more people could be vaccinated in the initial shipments received by provinces this week.

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Yet health officials — wary that the start of vaccinations will lead to less compliance with public health measures — are urging people to wear face coverings and limit their contacts throughout the holidays.


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: GTHA cases not the only concern for Ontario’s top doctor'



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Coronavirus: GTHA cases not the only concern for Ontario’s top doctor


Coronavirus: GTHA cases not the only concern for Ontario’s top doctor

Recent modelling has shown the country could see the rate of infection grow as high as 14,000 cases per day by January unless behaviour drastically changes.

“It is important to remember that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19,” Canada’s chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement Thursday.

“This is why it is important for everyone to continue with individual precautions to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.”

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Read more:
Canadians may face travel restrictions for years if coronavirus vaccine not available for everyone

Ontario posted its highest daily case count to date with 2,432 new infections, along with 23 deaths.

The numbers came on the same day that the Ontario Hospital Association pushed for a four-week lockdown in every public health unit with an infection rate of 40 or higher per 100,000 people.

Premier Doug Ford said his Progressive Conservative government would continue to consult with hospital leadership, adding “everything is on the table” to combat the virus.


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Ontario government provides no clarity on lockdown extension'



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Coronavirus: Ontario government provides no clarity on lockdown extension


Coronavirus: Ontario government provides no clarity on lockdown extension

In Quebec, over 1,000 people are now in hospital with COVID-19 for the first time since June. Doctors there are also growing concerned that a lockdown already in place until mid-January did not come soon enough to prevent the surge in patients.

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The province reported 1,855 new cases and 22 more deaths Thursday.

Saskatchewan residents awoke to new public health orders that include no longer having guests in their homes, with a few exceptions. It’s one of several new rules in place until at least Jan. 15.

Seven more people in the province died of COVID-19, pushing total fatalities to more than 100. Another 238 new cases were also reported.

Read more:
‘We are going to hit a crisis point’: Montreal doctors concerned as COVID-19 hospitalizations rise

Manitoba continues to post double-digit deaths per day, announcing 14 more people had died on Thursday, while another 221 tests came back positive.

Alberta saw 30 additional deaths — a new daily record — and 1,571 more infections. The province continues to boast the most active cases of any jurisdiction in Canada, which have now surpassed 20,000.

British Columbia is also seeing a surge in deaths, reporting 21 over the past 24 hours. Another 667 new cases were also confirmed, along with six “epidemiologically-linked” cases that have not been confirmed through laboratory testing.


Click to play video 'Worst single day: 30 new COVID-19 deaths in Alberta Thursday'



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Worst single day: 30 new COVID-19 deaths in Alberta Thursday


Worst single day: 30 new COVID-19 deaths in Alberta Thursday

Every province in Atlantic Canada reported new cases Thursday, although no more people have died from the disease.

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New Brunswick and Nova Scotia each saw six more infections, while Prince Edward Island saw one and three more were confirmed in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In the north, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut each reported one new case — leaving Yukon as the only jurisdiction not to see any more infections Thursday.

The pandemic has now infected 74.8 million people around the world to date, 1.66 million of whom have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

The United States leads the world in both cases, at over 17 million, and deaths, with more than 310,000.

— With files from the Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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MPs clash over pandemic response as Parliament resumes Monday – CBC.ca

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Members of Parliament continue to clash over the federal government’s COVID-19 response as the House of Commons is set to reconvene on Monday for the first time this year.

In a panel interview on CBC Radio’s The House, Conservative MP Michael Chong and Liberal MP Arif Virani offered duelling analogies to describe Canada’s pandemic response, days before deliveries of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are expected to drop dramatically over the next four weeks.

“It’s like saying that I have negotiated a contract with six fire departments to respond to my fire, but they won’t respond for six hours when I do have a fire. And my neighbour has negotiated one contract with a single fire department to respond in five minutes,” Chong told host Chris Hall.

“Personally, I’ll take the single contract with the fire department that responds in five minutes because that is going to save my house. We are the country that’s negotiated the contract with six fire departments … that’s the problem here.”

Canada has signed agreements to receive the vaccine from seven companies, including Pfizer and Moderna. Candidates from the remaining suppliers have yet to receive the regulatory green light from Health Canada, though Virani said the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson products are “on the precipice of hopeful approvals.”

“A different analogy would be, with respect to firefighting, about … how much water do you use on the fire? And we’ve been criticized, including by [Chong’s] party, for putting too much water on the fires in terms of the spending that we’ve been doing,” Virani said.

“But our position is clear. We will remain constant in having Canadians’ backs for as long as it takes to weather this pandemic, including running deficits to do so.”

CBC News: The House12:33The pandemic, Parliament and a possible election

MPs Heather McPherson, Arif Virani and Michael Chong discuss what they hope to see unfold in the months ahead after the House of Commons returns Monday. 12:33

Looking ahead to federal budget

In December, the House of Commons rose for a six-week break without deciding how Parliament should safely resume in the new year. It remains to be seen whether MPs will meet virtually with no members physically present in the Commons or whether they’ll continue to follow the hybrid model put in place last year.

“We have been having discussions with the other parties about the return of Parliament on Monday. Those discussions have been constructive,” read a statement from the office of Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez.

But when Parliament does resume — amid soaring COVID-19 caseloads in parts of the country — it also comes as Ottawa prepares for its first federal budget in two years. 

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has criticized the Liberal government for not making paid leave accessible for workers who are helping to stop the spread of COVID-19. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

“We need to see some action from this government,” NDP deputy House leader Heather McPherson told The House in the same interview. “I mean, we have seen things like child care, we have seen things like pharmacare, over and over and over again in these Liberal throne speeches. But we haven’t seen the action taken.”

McPherson said a child-care strategy will be critical for economic recovery from the pandemic, on top of additional support for small businesses. When Parliament returns, she said the NDP will also be pushing the Liberal government on ending clawbacks of the Canada emergency response benefit and calling for expanded access to paid sick leave.

“If [the Liberals] continue to help deliver for Canadians, then we’ll continue to work with them,” she said.

Conservatives, Liberals lay out priorities 

Chong said that the Opposition will be zeroing in on vaccine procurement and improving the pace of Canada’s rollout, among other priorities. 

“We’re looking for two measures in the upcoming budget that we believe are really important, one of which the government has indicated it’s supportive of, and that is the changes to the Canada Child Benefit that would help Canadian families, particularly working women and single mothers,” the Conservative foreign affairs critic said.

The party is also looking for additional measures to help small businesses buffeted by a second wave of pandemic restrictions.

Virani said he was “keen” to hear the ideas proposed by his colleagues and laid out some priorities of his own, including immediately working to close a loophole in the federal sickness benefit that allows Canadians quarantining after personal travel to claim sick pay.

Virani, who is also the parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, said the new Biden administration in the United States also changes what’s on the government’s to-do list. 

“We’ve now got a co-operative administration that understands the importance of greening the planet,” Virani said, “as well as working on issues that are germane to both of our nations.”

That includes a rise in systemic discrimination and online hate — the latter of which Virani says he’s been tackling with Justice Minister David Lametti. 

“We’re looking for progress on a number of files, but it starts with the pandemic and addressing the pandemic,” he said.

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Spartan Bioscience says Health Canada approves rapid COVID-19 test – CBC.ca

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Ottawa-based company Spartan Bioscience has received Health Canada approval for its made-in-Canada rapid COVID-19 test, authorizing the sale of the device. 

“Spartan’s test is the first truly mobile, rapid PCR test for COVID-19 for the Canadian market,” a news release from the company states. “The Spartan COVID-19 system offers the speed and ease of use of a rapid test, while using the technology of lab-based COVID-19 testing solutions.”

Health Canada originally provided regulatory approval for the company’s device in April 2020 — with the federal government ordering 40,000 tests monthly. At the time, the portable test was being called a “game changer” by health officials because it could deliver on-location results within 60 minutes.

The federal agency restricted the device to research use in May, however, after finding problems with the test that made it unreliable. Approval was granted on Friday after the company conducted clinical trials based on a new device design, Health Canada spokesperson Natalie Mohamed told CBC News in an email.

“The Spartan Bioscience test is a point-of-care molecular test,”  Mohamed wrote. “This new device meets Health Canada’s requirements for safety and effectiveness.”

WATCH | Health Canada approves Canadian-made rapid COVID-19 testing system:

Canada’s health authority approved Spartan Bioscience’s rapid COVID-19 testing system. 3:12

New swab, upgrades to chemistry kit

Dr. James Spiegelman, a co-founder of the company who also practises internal medicine at Humber River Regional Hospital in Toronto, said the problems stemmed from the efficacy of the swabs used to collect tissue samples, not the machine itself.

Spartan originally used a proprietary cheek swab that it developed for other DNA diagnostics, he said, but it became clear that the swab wasn’t collecting enough genetic material to produce consistent, reliable results.

The company now uses standard nasopharyngeal swabs to collect tissue from the nose.

“We found that that provides the best sample for increased sensitivity of the test,” Spiegelman said.

Spiegelman said the company also made improvements to the sample processing kit so that it no longer needs to be shipped and stored at frozen temperatures but can be stored at room temperature. 

With the Spartan test, a trained health-care professional swabs the nose of the person being tested, places the swab into a processing kit that generates a chain reaction and then puts that kit into the cube-shaped device, which takes about 50 minutes to analyze and produce results. 

Spiegelman said the test could be used to provide quick and accurate COVID-19 diagnostics everywhere from hospitals and workplaces to pharmacies and remote communities. 

“I think [Spartan’s rapid test] will really help alleviate and give us a tool in our toolbox to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

Rapid tests already in use across Canada 

Rapid diagnostic tests are already in use in many settings across Canada to test for COVID-19, including in homeless shelters, long-term care homes and remote communities. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that the federal government had distributed more than 14 million to the provinces and territories. 

“Hopefully we see these integrated into work environments, especially work environments where we know they’re at greater risk for outbreaks,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch, who is also a member of the Ontario COVID-19 vaccine task force.

“I think you could think about certainly integrating them into certain schools or certain school settings, rural, remote, underserviced locations. There’s a lot of places where rapid tests would be extremely helpful.”

Spartan Bioscience CEO Roger Eacock said the company currently has the manufacturing capacity to produce 60,000 of the tests per week, but the company plans to ramp that up to 200,000 per week in the future. 

Eacock said the company already has deals with the federal government and several provinces, as well as some airlines and resource companies, and that shipments are expected to begin in the coming week.

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Spartan Bioscience says Health Canada approves rapid COVID-19 test – CBC.ca

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 on


Ottawa-based company Spartan Bioscience has received Health Canada approval for its made-in-Canada rapid COVID-19 test, authorizing the sale of the device. 

“Spartan’s test is the first truly mobile, rapid PCR test for COVID-19 for the Canadian market,” a news release from the company states. “The Spartan COVID-19 system offers the speed and ease of use of a rapid test, while using the technology of lab-based COVID-19 testing solutions.”

Health Canada originally provided regulatory approval for the company’s device in April 2020 — with the federal government ordering 40,000 tests monthly. At the time, the portable test was being called a “game changer” by health officials because it could deliver on-location results within 60 minutes.

The federal agency restricted the device to research use in May, however, after finding problems with the test that made it unreliable. Approval was granted on Friday after the company conducted clinical trials based on a new device design, Health Canada spokesperson Natalie Mohamed told CBC News in an email.

“The Spartan Bioscience test is a point-of-care molecular test,”  Mohamed wrote. “This new device meets Health Canada’s requirements for safety and effectiveness.”

WATCH | Health Canada approves Canadian-made rapid COVID-19 testing system:

Canada’s health authority approved Spartan Bioscience’s rapid COVID-19 testing system. 3:12

New swab, upgrades to chemistry kit

Dr. James Spiegelman, a co-founder of the company who also practises internal medicine at Humber River Regional Hospital in Toronto, said the problems stemmed from the efficacy of the swabs used to collect tissue samples, not the machine itself.

Spartan originally used a proprietary cheek swab that it developed for other DNA diagnostics, he said, but it became clear that the swab wasn’t collecting enough genetic material to produce consistent, reliable results.

The company now uses standard nasopharyngeal swabs to collect tissue from the nose.

“We found that that provides the best sample for increased sensitivity of the test,” Spiegelman said.

Spiegelman said the company also made improvements to the sample processing kit so that it no longer needs to be shipped and stored at frozen temperatures but can be stored at room temperature. 

With the Spartan test, a trained health-care professional swabs the nose of the person being tested, places the swab into a processing kit that generates a chain reaction and then puts that kit into the cube-shaped device, which takes about 50 minutes to analyze and produce results. 

Spiegelman said the test could be used to provide quick and accurate COVID-19 diagnostics everywhere from hospitals and workplaces to pharmacies and remote communities. 

“I think [Spartan’s rapid test] will really help alleviate and give us a tool in our toolbox to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

Rapid tests already in use across Canada 

Rapid diagnostic tests are already in use in many settings across Canada to test for COVID-19, including in homeless shelters, long-term care homes and remote communities. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that the federal government had distributed more than 14 million to the provinces and territories. 

“Hopefully we see these integrated into work environments, especially work environments where we know they’re at greater risk for outbreaks,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch, who is also a member of the Ontario COVID-19 vaccine task force.

“I think you could think about certainly integrating them into certain schools or certain school settings, rural, remote, underserviced locations. There’s a lot of places where rapid tests would be extremely helpful.”

Spartan Bioscience CEO Roger Eacock said the company currently has the manufacturing capacity to produce 60,000 of the tests per week, but the company plans to ramp that up to 200,000 per week in the future. 

Eacock said the company already has deals with the federal government and several provinces, as well as some airlines and resource companies, and that shipments are expected to begin in the coming week.

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