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Canada must 'learn from' the pandemic crisis in parts of the West, Tam says – CBC.ca

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Canada’s chief public health officer says other provinces need to learn from the pandemic crisis in Alberta and Saskatchewan if they want to avoid the calamity now afflicting health services in those provinces.

“Don’t be complacent,” Theresa Tam said at this morning’s media briefing. “We have to be highly vigilant on this virus. When you see it accelerating, act fast because, I think, we have to learn from the situation in Alberta and also in Saskatchewan at the moment.”

On Thursday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney reintroduced strict and sweeping measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 — including a new requirement that people provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry to some businesses and social events.

Alberta has more than 18,000 active COVID-19 cases — the most of any province right now. There were 877 people in the province’s hospitals with the illness on Wednesday, 218 of them in intensive care. Ontario, with a population more than three times Alberta’s, had 346 in hospital, with 188 in intensive care.

“It is now clear that we were wrong, and for that I apologize,” Kenney said in announcing the new measures.

Tam said that, despite the fact that a large majority of Canadians are vaccinated, there are still seven million Canadians who have not been vaccinated and intensive care units in areas where vaccination rates are low are filling up with people in their 40s and 50s.

“When enough people are infected, even rarer events, in younger adults for example, are going to become common,” she said.

Avoiding more school lockdowns

Tam said the Public Health Agency of Canada has looked at public health units across the country and found overwhelming evidence that areas with low vaccination rates are experiencing surges in infections. 

She said the regions of the country struggling the most with pandemic surges are in the West — Alberta, Northern Saskatchewan and northern and interior parts of British Columbia.

“If we want to keep schools open, for example, we have to make sure we manage the virus transmission … to protect kids who are under 12, who cannot get vaccinated at the moment,” she said.

WATCH | Dr. Theresa Tam on lessons the rest of Canada can learn from Alberta

‘We have to learn from the situation in Alberta:’ Dr. Theresa Tam

7 hours ago

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the rest of Canada should learn from Alberta’s experience after the province announced strict pandemic restrictions to fight the rising case count. 3:31

In parts of the country where increasing the vaccination rate is proving to be difficult, Tam said, authorities should impose public health restrictions — limiting the number of people that can gather together, mandating the wearing of masks indoors, hand-washing and physical distancing.

If vaccination rates cannot be increased in those parts of the country and such public health measures aren’t introduced, Tam said, more restrictive measures — such as lockdowns and stay-at-home orders — may have to be implemented. 

“I think jurisdictions have to be prepared for that potential, but if you act early you can actually avoid those more restrictive measures,” she said.

“But if needed, more restrictions may have to take place and my colleagues are hoping that this can be done in a more localized manner in order to avoid the significant impacts of widespread restrictions. I think it can be done.” 

Tam said that while no provinces are immune from the highly transmissible delta variant of COVID-19, the provinces in Atlantic Canada have managed to control spikes in infection rates by acting “fast in putting down some localized measures.”

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Bitcoin hovers near 6-month high on ETF hopes, inflation worries

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Bitcoin hovered near a six-month high early on Monday on hopes that U.S. regulators would soon allow cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds (ETF) to trade, while global inflation worries also provided some support.

Bitcoin last stood at $62,359, near Friday’s six-month high of $62,944 and not far from its all-time high of $64,895 hit in April.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to allow the first American bitcoin futures ETF to begin trading this week, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, a move likely to lead to wider investment in digital assets.

Cryptocurrency players expect the approval of the first U.S. bitcoin ETF to trigger an influx of money from institutional players who cannot invest in digital coins at the moment.

Rising inflation worries also increased appetite for bitcoin, which is in limited supply, in contrast to the ample amount of currencies issued by central banks in recent years as monetary authorities printed money to stimulate their economies.

But some analysts noted that, after the recent rally, investors may sell bitcoin on the ETF news.

“The news of a suite of futures-tracking ETFs is not new to those following the space closely, and to many this is a step forward but not the game-changer that some are sensing,” said Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone in Melbourne, Australia.

“We’ve been excited by a spot ETF before, and this may need more work on the regulation front.”

 

(Reporting by Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo and Tom Westbrook in Singapore; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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China’s plunging construction starts reminiscent of 2015 downturn

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China’s September new  construction starts slumped for a sixth straight month, the longest spate of monthly declines since 2015, as cash-strapped developers put a pause on projects in the wake of tighter regulations on borrowing.

New construction starts in September fell 13.54% from a year earlier, the third month of double-digit declines, according to Reuters calculations based on January-September data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday.

That marks the longest downtrend since declines in March-August 2015, the last property malaise.

When the sector recovered in 2016 after authorities loosened their grip on purchases and development, tens of thousands of real estate firms borrowed heavily to build homes.

But as regulations tightened again this year, many of them have started to face a liquidity crunch, which was then worsened by sharply weaker demand due to tighter restrictions on speculative purchases.

Property sales by floor area dropped 15.8% in September, down for a third month, according to Reuters calculations based on the statistics bureau’s data.

The slowdown in the sector was also underscored by a 3.5% drop in property investments by developers in September, the first monthly decline since January-February last year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in China.

“All the data are poor,” said Zhang Dawei, chief analyst with property agency Centaline.

“Financing is hard, sales are tough, so of course, there has been no enthusiasm to build. For the first time in history, developers are encountering two blockages – blockages in sales and blockages in financing.”

The potential collapse of highly indebted real estate firms such as China Evergrande Group have raised concerns about systemic risks to the broader economy. The real estate sector accounts for a quarter of China’s gross domestic product.

Authorities will try to prevent problems at Evergrande from spreading to other real estate companies to avoid broader systemic risk, Yi Gang, governor of China’s central bank, said on Sunday.

On Friday, a central bank official said the spillover effect of Evergrande’s debt problems on the banking system was “controllable.”

“There is a likelihood that housing policies may loosen in the fourth quarter, and that would ease the pessimism in the property transaction data,” said Yan Yuejin, director of Shanghai-based E-house China Research and Development Institution.

On Friday, representatives from 10 Chinese Property Companies met government regulators to ask for an “appropriate loosening” on policy restrictions, financial news outlet Yicai reported.

China’s real estate shares have fallen 22% so far this year. On Monday, they were down 2.6% as of 0300 GMT.

In the first nine months, property investment rose 8.8% from a year earlier, slowing from 10.9% growth seen in January-August.

Funds raised by China’s property developers grew 11.1%, slower than the 14.8% rise seen in the first eight months.

(Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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Saks Fifth Avenue ecommerce unit aims for IPO at $6 billion valuation – WSJ

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The ecommerce business of luxury department store  Saks OFF 5TH is preparing for an initial public offering and targeting a $6 billion valuation, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing sources.

The company is interviewing potential underwriters this week for an  IPO that could take place in the first half of next year, according to the report.

 

(Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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