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Canada must reduce contacts to ‘only essential activities’ to stop 2nd wave – Global News

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Canada’s top doctor is amplifying a call for Canadians to reduce their number of contacts each day to “only essential activities” or else the coronavirus pandemic will continue to surge.

Should appropriate efforts not be made, Dr. Theresa Tam says Canada could see 20,000 cases daily by the end of December, with a subsequent increase in hospitalizations and deaths.

“We’re not on a good trajectory,” she said at a news conference in Ottawa on Friday.

“Across Canada, the time is now — with urgency — that we limit contacts.”

Read more:
Canada could see 60,000 coronavirus cases a day under worst-case scenario

Updated projections for the pandemic in Canada paint a grim picture. It predicts that cases and deaths could rise dramatically should Canadians maintain or increase their socialization.

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Reversing the course will require a “combined effort” of actions by individual Canadians and public health authorities, Tam said.

“For individual Canadians this means, whenever possible, reducing the number of people we come into contact with each day, while maintaining hand hygiene, physical distancing and face mask-wearing precautions,” she said.

“For public health authorities, it means implementing time-limited restrictions and control measures to further reduce the number of people coming into contact each day across the population.”


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Canada could see up to 378,000 cases in the next 10 days, latest projection shows'



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Coronavirus: Canada could see up to 378,000 cases in the next 10 days, latest projection shows


Coronavirus: Canada could see up to 378,000 cases in the next 10 days, latest projection shows

Some jurisdictions have already been “putting on the brakes” due to rising infections, she pointed out.

Manitoba, British Columbia and Alberta have all further toughened restrictions to stem the spread of the virus in recent weeks. Ontario’s premier has hinted at “tough” new measures ahead as well.

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While it will take time to see the impact, Tam believes it will bring some improvement.

However, she said provinces need to think about what happens once those restrictions expire. Areas that haven’t seen an escalation in cases as of yet also need to be prepared to hit the brakes “early and fast.”

“We cannot release the brakes unless we’re absolutely certain other measures have been put in place,” she said. “That’s very important.”

Read more:
Canada’s coronavirus trajectory dire as surging cases impair hospitals, says Tam

In the new national modelling, researchers use a colour-coded graph to predict how strong of a response is needed to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the long term.

It hinges on the number of contacts Canadians have each day.

(A slide in Public Health Canada’s update on COVID-19 in Canada, Nov. 20, 2020)


(A slide in Public Health Canada’s update on COVID-19 in Canada, Nov. 20, 2020).

Tam believes Canada is currently on the “grey trajectory,” meaning if Canadians maintain their current number of daily contacts the epidemic will continue to grow.

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“We have every chance to bend the curve,” she said. “We must not increase our contacts.”

If Canadians don’t strictly limit their contact with people outside their households, the new forecasts predict a dramatic rise in cases over the next few weeks — as many as 60,000 new cases a day by the end of the year, under a worst-case scenario.


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor says country might not be testing enough'



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Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor says country might not be testing enough


Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor says country might not be testing enough

Daily national coronavirus case tallies have grown dramatically over the past couple of months. The new modelling shows about 15 per cent more daily cases were reported this week compared to last.

In mid-October, Canada had about 2,300 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed each day. By November, that number grew to above 4,000. In the past week, it has hovered near 5,000.

The rapid growth is being driven primarily by the six provinces outside the Atlantic bubble, Tam said.

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Read more:
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“These jurisdictions are seeing extremely steep increases in infection rates,” she said.

“Over the past week alone, each of these provinces has marked their highest daily case counts to date.”

Some parts of Canada are already feeling a strain on their health-care systems as a result.


Click to play video 'Alberta increasing ICU capacity to prepare for more COVID-19 patients'



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Alberta increasing ICU capacity to prepare for more COVID-19 patients


Alberta increasing ICU capacity to prepare for more COVID-19 patients

In Alberta, some elective surgeries have been cancelled as a result of overwhelmed hospitals. In Ontario, intensive care bed capacity has hit the “critical” mark that could lead to surgeries being cancelled.

Tam said the same culprits are to blame for the growing numbers.

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Many of the new cases are “linked to informal gatherings with family and friends, where distancing and mask-wearing aren’t being observed,” she said.

“This is imposing a heavy strain on public health.”

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With many provinces struggling to keep up with contact tracing, some jurisdictions are seeing at least one-third of their cases “unlinked” to others, Tam said, suggesting there’s “extensive community transmission, but you can’t link it back anymore.”

For Canada to land on the graph’s blue line — where contacts are reduced to essential activities only, bringing the epidemic under control in most places — Tam reiterated that restrictions need to be sustained.

She said it’s possible things could change in the next few weeks, but that it’s inevitably going to be “a very different Christmas.”


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Trudeau says a normal Christmas is “quite frankly right out of the question”'



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Coronavirus: Trudeau says a normal Christmas is “quite frankly right out of the question”


Coronavirus: Trudeau says a normal Christmas is “quite frankly right out of the question”

Tam and federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu acknowledged these necessary changes in behaviour will be particularly hard as the holiday season approaches, but that the “urgency” to bring infection rates down should come first.

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“We are all tired, we are all lonely, and we all want our lives back. But we can’t give up now,” Hajdu said.

“So let’s all pitch in to get everyone there safely. Each decision we make matters. Think about the choices you’re making carefully because lives actually depend on it. Is my travel essential? Do I need to go out today? Can I reduce my shopping time? Do I need to have that dinner?”

— with files from The Canadian Press

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

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3 Nova Scotians appointed to the Order of Canada – CBC.ca

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Three Nova Scotians have been appointed to the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honours.

They are among the 114 appointees announced Friday.

The list includes eight companions, 21 officers, one honorary member and 84 members. The full list can be found here.

“Created in 1967, the Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation,” said a statement on the office of the Governor General’s website.

Appointments are made by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada. More than 7,000 Canadians have received the honour since its inception.

Jeff Dahn of Halifax, who has led groundbreaking research on lithium-ion batteries, was appointed as an officer.

Dahn is considered a pioneer of lithium-ion battery research. (Jill English/CBC)

In 2017, he won the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering for his work in making batteries increasingly efficient. He also won a Governor General’s Award for Innovation in 2016.

Dahn works out of a lab at Dalhousie University. He also began a five-year research partnership with Tesla In 2016.

In the statement, the Governor General’s office also commended him for “his mentorship and adroit bridging of academia and industry.”

Dahn could not be reached for comment Sunday.

‘It’s humbling’

Meanwhile, Dr. Ken Wilson and John Eyking were appointed as members.

Wilson, a plastic surgeon in the Halifax area, was appointed “for his nationally recognized expertise in reconstructive and plastic surgery, and for his volunteer work on international medical missions.”

“It’s humbling, but a very nice addition to a great career,” Wilson said of the honour.

In the mid-80s, Wilson became the first person east of Montreal to dedicate himself to doing plastic surgery for children.

“It was a very satisfying thing for me to be able to look after a lot of the children who have either had to travel, or that hadn’t had, sometimes, the attention they would’ve had otherwise,” he said.

Wilson has spent more than 30 years doing plastic and reconstructive surgery for children. (Submitted by Ken Wilson)

In the mid-90s, Wilson began working with Operation Smile, an organization that provides surgeries and dental care to children with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. He travelled a couple times a year to do surgery in underdeveloped countries, and he estimates he went on about 46 missions.

In the late 1990s, Wilson became the chief of surgery at the IWK children’s hospital in Halifax, a position he held for more than a decade.

He stopped practising five years ago, but Wilson now works as a medical consultant for Doctors Nova Scotia and is chair of the board for Operation Smile Canada.

“It was a wonderful career,” said Wilson. “I gotta say, I’ve been very lucky over the years to have the opportunity to do what I did.”

While there is no ceremony this year due to COVID-19, Wilson was mailed his snowflake insignia, as well as a “lovely book” detailing the history of the Order of Canada and the many recipients over the years.

‘All in a day’s work’

Eyking, a farmer and entrepreneur who founded Eyking Farms, was recognized for his “personal and professional dedication to the Cape Breton community, particularly within the agriculture industry.”

Eyking, of Millville, N.S., immigrated to Canada in 1963 from the Netherlands. He started a farm, which later grew into a family operation run by him, his wife and their 10 children.

He is also an inductee of the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame.

Reached by phone Sunday, Eyking, 89, was modest about his appointment. He credited his farm’s accomplishments to the work of his large family.

“For me, it was all in a day’s work and I enjoyed it,” he said.

He, too, received a parcel from the Order of Canada, and said he enjoyed the book.

“There’s quite a few Cape Bretoners in there,” he said.

The recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.

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Ottawa extends international travel restrictions citing COVID-19 risk – CBC.ca

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The federal government has extended existing international travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, barring entry to most travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for “essential” reasons.

In a news release issued Sunday, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced that travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21.

Similarly, restrictions on travellers arriving from other countries will be extended until Jan. 21, as will the mandatory requirement for anyone who is granted entry to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Emergency orders brought forward on Mar. 16 banned most foreign nationals from entering Canada for non-essential travel. There are a number of exceptions for immediate family members of citizens, essential workers, seasonal workers, caregivers and international students, to name a few.

By extending the expiration dates to the 21st of the month, today’s change brings the timing of the international travel restrictions in alignment with those governing the Canada-U.S. land border. Previously, international restrictions expired on the last day of each month while the Canada-U.S. border restrictions expired on the 21st.

Both have been regularly extended since March.

“The government continues to evaluate the travel restrictions and prohibitions as well as the requirement to quarantine or isolate on an ongoing basis to ensure Canadians remain healthy and safe,” the release said.

“The ability to align U.S. and international travel extension dates, as well as the mandatory isolation order, beginning on Jan. 21, 2021 will enable the government to communicate any travel extensions or changes as quickly as possible and provide certainty for Canadians, U.S. and international travelers.”

International travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21. (Rob Gurdebeke/The Canadian Press)

Exemption for amateur sports events

The release also said the government will begin accepting applications from “high-performance amateur sport organizations” seeking to hold single sport events in Canada. Applicants will need to show they have a plan to protect public health that is approved by provincial or territorial officials and the relevant local health authorities in order to be considered.

Sport Canada, which is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage, will be responsible for authorizing such events, in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the release said.

More than 1,300 professional athletes have been issued national interest exemptions, which allow those who don’t qualify under current COVID-19-related restrictions to travel to Canada, or to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine when they arrive.

Last month, the federal government expanded the eligibility for people coming from the U.S. on compassionate grounds. Those changes governing family reunification have been broadened to include exceptions for certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents including couples who have been dating for at least a year, including their children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents. 

Despite travel restrictions, more than five million arrivals into Canada have been allowed to skip the 14-day quarantine requirement, according to data from the Canada Border Services Agency, mainly because they’re essential workers.

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Ottawa extends international travel restrictions citing COVID-19 risk – CBC.ca

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The federal government has extended existing international travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, barring entry to most travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for “essential” reasons.

In a news release issued Sunday, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced that travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21.

Similarly, restrictions on travellers arriving from other countries will be extended until Jan. 21, as will the mandatory requirement for anyone who is granted entry to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Emergency orders brought forward on Mar. 16 banned most foreign nationals from entering Canada for non-essential travel. There are a number of exceptions for immediate family members of citizens, essential workers, seasonal workers, caregivers and international students, to name a few.

By extending the expiration dates to the 21st of the month, today’s change brings the timing of the international travel restrictions in alignment with those governing the Canada-U.S. land border. Previously, international restrictions expired on the last day of each month while the Canada-U.S. border restrictions expired on the 21st.

Both have been regularly extended since March.

“The government continues to evaluate the travel restrictions and prohibitions as well as the requirement to quarantine or isolate on an ongoing basis to ensure Canadians remain healthy and safe,” the release said.

“The ability to align U.S. and international travel extension dates, as well as the mandatory isolation order, beginning on Jan. 21, 2021 will enable the government to communicate any travel extensions or changes as quickly as possible and provide certainty for Canadians, U.S. and international travelers.”

International travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21. (Rob Gurdebeke/The Canadian Press)

Exemption for amateur sports events

The release also said the government will begin accepting applications from “high-performance amateur sport organizations” seeking to hold single sport events in Canada. Applicants will need to show they have a plan to protect public health that is approved by provincial or territorial officials and the relevant local health authorities in order to be considered.

Sport Canada, which is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage, will be responsible for authorizing such events, in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada, the release said.

More than 1,300 professional athletes have been issued national interest exemptions, which allow those who don’t qualify under current COVID-19-related restrictions to travel to Canada, or to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine when they arrive.

Last month, the federal government expanded the eligibility for people coming from the U.S. on compassionate grounds. Those changes governing family reunification have been broadened to include exceptions for certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents including couples who have been dating for at least a year, including their children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents. 

Despite travel restrictions, more than five million arrivals into Canada have been allowed to skip the 14-day quarantine requirement, according to data from the Canada Border Services Agency, mainly because they’re essential workers.

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