Canada now has 77 confirmed cases of monkeypox, according to figures supplied Friday by Canada’s chief public health officer and Santé Québec, the provincial health ministry.
Of the cases identified so far through laboratory testing, 71 are from Quebec, five are from Ontario and one is from Alberta.
The figure is more than 15 times higher than the five confirmed cases the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) reported nationwide late last month.
While a disproportionate number of cases in this monkeypox outbreak have shown up among gay and bisexual men, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam told reporters Friday that all groups are potentially susceptible to the virus.
“The risk of exposure is not exclusively related to any group or setting. No matter your gender or sexual orientation, anyone could get infected and spread the virus if they come into close contact — including intimate sexual contact — with an infected person or their contaminated objects,” Tam said.
With that caveat, Tam said it’s important that public health officials “learn from the HIV experience” and “involve communities right from the start that are most impacted.”
She said governments must “act fast” to “stop the chains of transmission” and prevent the virus from spreading further.
“At the moment it hasn’t gone beyond the initial risk groups, but it could happen and we need to be ready for that,” she said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued public health advice to gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men last week, urging the community to be on the lookout for certain symptoms — a rash leaving blisters on the face, hands, feet, eyes and mouth, fever, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, muscle aches and a lack of energy.
Quebec appears to be an epicentre of this outbreak. The province has started vaccinating the close contacts of infected people — a so-called “ring vaccination” approach to prevent a wider outbreak.
Tam said Canada has a stockpile of smallpox shots ready to deploy to other parts of the country, if necessary.
Smallpox and monkeypox belong to the same family of viruses and the smallpox vaccine has proven effective against monkeypox in the past. But that shot has not been in circulation in Canada for decades because smallpox was eradicated here in the late 1940s.
Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas. Historically, most cases have been reported in the Congo Basin.
The emergence of this virus in Western countries has confounded researchers. To date, the WHO has identified at least 550 monkeypox cases in 30 countries worldwide where the virus is not believed to be endemic.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Dr. David Heymann, who once headed WHO’s emergencies department, said the leading theory to explain the spread of the disease is sexual transmission among gay and bisexual men at two raves held in Spain and Belgium.
“We know monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the lesions of someone who is infected, and it looks like sexual contact has now amplified that transmission,” said Heymann.
Madrid’s senior health official said last week that the Spanish capital has confirmed 30 cases so far.
Enrique Ruiz Escudero said authorities are investigating possible links between a recent Pride event in the Canary Islands, which drew some 80,000 people, and cases at a Madrid sauna.
U.K. officials have said “a notable proportion” of the cases in Britain and Europe have been among young men with no history of travel to Africa who are gay, bisexual or have sex with men.
Authorities in Portugal and Spain also said their cases were among men who mostly had sex with other men and whose infections were picked up when they sought help for lesions at sexual health clinics.
Officials need to better prepare gay community: experts
Some observers from the gay community have said public health officials are not doing enough to directly alert men who have sex with men about the risk of monkeypox.
“Many well-intentioned officials appear fearful of saying something homophobic, and news outlets have published articles emphasizing that monkeypox is ‘not a gay disease,'” Jim Downs, a professor of the history of infectious diseases, recently argued in the Atlantic.
“Their caution is warranted, but health agencies are putting gay men at risk unless they prioritize them for interventions such as public-awareness campaigns, vaccines and tests.”
As the month-long Pride celebrations begin, public health experts James Krellenstein, Joseph Osmundson and Keletso Makofane also said in a recent op-ed in the New York Times that health officials should be making bolder interventions to raise awareness of the disease and expand vaccine availability among men who have sex with men.
Citing the way public health officials mobilized to contain a bacterial meningitis outbreak in New York City a decade ago, these experts called for targeted solutions for the gay community.
“Health officials provided vaccines at nightlife spots and places where men meet for sex,” they wrote. “As summer and Pride festivities near, we need similar approaches to help keep one another safe.”
Sports leaders top list of new Order of Canada appointees – CBC News
Canadian sports icons including Stacey Allaster, Donovan Bailey and Angela James are among the 85 new appointees to the Order of Canada this year.
This year’s list of appointees also includes Canada’s first Indigenous female MP, the first MP for Nunavut, and a number of contributors to the arts, including Emmy nominated actress Sandra Oh.
Considered one of Canada’s highest civilian honours, the Order of Canada is meant to recognize people who make “extraordinary contributions to the nation,” according to the Governor General of Canada website.
Allaster was named as a companion, the highest of the honour’s three levels, which also include the level of officer and member. There can be no more than 165 living companions at any time.
Born in Windsor, Ont., and raised in Welland, Ont., Allaster was an executive with the Women’s Tennis Association from 2006 to 2015, first serving as president before being promoted to chair and CEO in 2009.
During her tenure, she was instrumental in securing equal prize money for women at six WTA tournaments and all four Grand Slams. She also played a key role in streamlining the WTA calendar and securing a landmark international media agreement. In 2020, she was named as the first female tournament director of the U.S. open.
Allaster said she’s grateful for her time playing tennis in Canada and getting her first opportunity to work in the sport with Tennis Canada. “It’s very difficult to put into words how fortunate I am and now to be recognized by my country for everything that it’s giving to me is very humbling,” she said.
Allaster also said “it’s a dream come true” to see Canada develop some top tennis talent in the world throughout her career, including Bianca Andreescu and Leylah Fernandez.
Former Olympic and world champion sprinter Donovan Bailey will be invested as an officer of the order. The former world record holder won Olympic gold in 1996 in the men’s 100-metre race and in the men’s 4×100-metre relay.
“It’s incredible,” Bailey said of the appointment to the order. “I’m very blessed, I’m extremely humbled to have shared incredible moments with Canadians.”
Bailey said being invested with the Order of Canada is an official recognition of what he has been hearing from fans for the past few decades.
“Getting the officer of the Order of Canada is a tremendous honour, but I’m telling you that I’ve been validated for 27 years; I’ve been validated every single day by the incredible fans,” he said.
Angela James is a pioneer in women’s hockey, first as a player and now as the general manager and part-owner of the Toronto Six women’s pro hockey team.
The winner of four world championships, including the first in 1990 where she scored 11 goals in five games and was a tournament all-star, she said being invested in the order encapsulates all her achievements on and off the ice.
“I think it encompasses everything that I’ve pretty much done in my life, and to think that my life matters to Canadians is pretty special,” she said.
A star on the Canadian team before women’s hockey became an Olympic sport, James was one of the first two women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010 and said she hopes to continue to see women’s hockey grow.
“As long as we get together and work together as one then I think there is no stopping the women’s game,” she said.
Among the appointees to the order are a number of Indigenous leaders, including Canada’s first Indigenous woman elected as a member of Parliament.
Ethel Blondin-Andrew was first elected as the MP for the Northwest Territories in 1988, and would go on to become the minister of state for northern development in the cabinet of past prime minister Paul Martin.
She has continued to be an advocate for Indigenous women in politics, and recently took part in a United Nations panel in Geneva to discuss that topic.
Joining Blondin-Andrew in the order is former Nunavut MP Nancy Karetak-Lindell.
Karetak-Lindell was first elected as the MP for Nunavut in 1997, and became the territory’s first MP after it was recognized 1999.
“I’ve tried very hard to be the voice for people who might not have had a chance,” Karetak-Lindell said.
After stepping away from federal politics in 2008, she would later become the president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council in 2016, serving for a two-year term.
Although she said she feels honoured to receive the Order of Canada, she said “the biggest reward will always be in that maybe I made someone look to the future with more hope.”
Blondin-Andrew will be invested as an officer of the order, while Karetak-Lindell is being invested as a member.
Other Indigenous leaders among the appointees include Elders David and Imelda Perley of New Brunswick for contributions to education around Wabanaki culture.
Elders Reg and Rosemary Crowshoe of Alberta are similarly being recognized for their preservation of Blackfoot culture.
Contributors to the arts
A number of Canada’s top contributors to the arts have also been appointed to the order, including actress Sandra Oh, who will be invested as an officer.
The Emmy Award nominated actress is best known for the hit TV series including Killing Eve and Grey’s Anatomy. She has also lent her talents to the big screen in movies such as Turning Red and Under the Tuscan Sun.
Donald Mowat is also being recognized for his contributions to the big screen, having been the head of makeup and design on such films as The Fighter, 8 Mile, Sicario, Nightcrawler, Prisoners, Nocturnal Animals, Stronger, Blade Runner 2049.
Mowat was recently nominated for the Oscar for best makeup and hairstyle for Denis Villeneuve’s Dune.
On the music front, founder of the independent record label Attic Records Alexander Mair is being appointed as a member of the order.
Attic represented a number of Canadian artists and groups including Anvil, Irish Rovers, Triumph and Teenage Head.
The Order of Canada
Gov. Gen. Mary Simon has appointed the following people, who were recommended for appointment by the Advisory Council of the Order of Canada:
Companions of the Order of Canada
- Stacey Allaster.
- Frank Hayden (This is a promotion within the order).
- Peter Russell (This is a promotion within the order).
- Donald Savoie (This is a promotion within the order).
Officers of the Order of Canada
- Naomi Azrieli.
- Donovan Bailey.
- The Honourable Ethel Blondin-Andrew.
- Robert Davidson (This is a promotion within the order).
- Paul Dubord.
- Donald Enarson (deceased).
- François Girard.
- Ian Hodkinson.
- Angela James.
- David Lynch.
- Sandra Oh.
- Alberto Pérez-Gómez.
- David Waltner-Toews.
Members of the Order of Canada
- Frances Abele.
- Ajay Agrawal.
- Louis-Philippe Albert.
- R. Jamie Anderson.
- Suzanne Aubry.
- Hereditary Chief Stephen Augustine.
- Granger Avery.
- Michel Beaulac.
- André Blanchet.
- Marilyn Bodogh.
- Jacques Bourgault.
- Bernard Brault.
- Marilyn Brooks.
- Marion Buller.
- James Byrnes.
- Geneviève Cadieux.
- James Cassels.
- Euclide Chiasson.
- William Clark.
- Zane Cohen.
- Ethel Côté.
- Elder Reg Crowshoe.
- Elder Rosemary Crowshoe.
- Sheldon Currie.
- Reginald Davidson.
- Dorothy Dobbie.
- Eliahu Fathi.
- Madeleine Féquière.
- Staff Sgt. Gary Goulet, (Retired).
- Michael Harris.
- Paul Heinbecker.
- Deborra Hope.
- Sister Margaret Hughes.
- Moira Hutchinson.
- Gérard Jean.
- Adam Kahane.
- Nancy Karetak-Lindell.
- Eva-Marie Kröller.
- Gary Levy.
- Alexander Mair.
- Guy Matte.
- Milton McClaren.
- Roderick McKay.
- Ben Mink.
- Donald Mowat.
- Robert Munro.
- Sister Bernadette Mary O’Reilly.
- Donna Ouchterlony.
- Fred Pellerin.
- Elder David Perley.
- Elder Imelda Perley.
- G. Ross Peters.
- Sandra Pitblado.
- Guy Pratte.
- Parminder Raina.
- Joel Reitman.
- David Rush.
- The Honourable Anne Russell.
- Suzanne Sauvage.
- Martin Schechter.
- Jacques Shore.
- Ronald Tremblay.
- Guylaine Tremblay.
- Michelle Valberg.
- Germaine Warkentin.
- James West.
- Michael West.
- Margie Wolfe.
- Lorraine M. Wright.
- Robert Wyatt.
- Jan Zwicky.
Canada travel restrictions: Entry rules to remain until at least Sept. 30 – CTV News
The federal government announced Wednesday all existing border restrictions to enter Canada will remain in place until at least Sept. 30.
That means foreign travellers will still need to provide proof of being fully vaccinated to enter the country and unvaccinated Canadians or permanent residents will need to provide a molecular COVID-19 test taken prior to entering and quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
The government is also still requiring all travellers, regardless of citizenship, to upload their vaccine information and travel documents to the ArriveCan app.
The restrictions were last extended on May 31.
The announcement by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) indicates a prolonged pause of random testing at all airports until mid-July for the fully vaccinated.
That pause was implemented on June 11 as Ottawa’s attempt to mitigate congestion and delays at airports caused by heightened travel demand and staffing shortages.
Their stated intention is to move COVID-19 testing for air travellers outside of airports to “select test provider stores” such as pharmacies or by virtual appointment.
“Moving testing outside of airports will allow Canada to adjust to increased traveller volumes while still being able to monitor and quickly respond to new variants of concern, or changes to the epidemiological situation,” the PHAC statement reads.
On June 11, the government also announced it was dropping the vaccine mandate for domestic and outbound international travellers effective June 20.
Many industry organizations and opposition MPs have long called on the government to drop various border measures, namely duplicative processes that slow down travel, arguing they have the potential to stifle Canada’s already depleted tourism sector.
In response, Canada’s ministers of health and tourism continue to reinforce that while the epidemiological situation in Canada has improved, the pandemic still exists.
“As we move into the next phase of our COVID-19 response, it is important to remember that the pandemic is not over. We must continue to do all that we can to keep ourselves and others safe from the virus,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in the Wednesday statement.
He added that Canada’s border measures remain “flexible” and “guided by science and prudence.”
Air Canada to make 'meaningful reductions' to summer flight schedule – CBC News
Air Canada will cut dozens of daily flights this summer as the airline grapples with a series of challenges amid soaring demand for travel.
“Regrettably, things are not business as usual in our industry globally, and this is affecting our operations and our ability to serve you with our normal standards of care,” Michael Rousseau, the airline’s president and CEO, said in a statement released Wednesday.
“The COVID‑19 pandemic brought the world air transport system to a halt in early 2020. Now, after more than two years, global travel is resurgent, and people are returning to flying at a rate never seen in our industry.”
Rousseau said those factors are causing “unprecedented and unforeseen strains on all aspects of the global aviation system,” leading to flight delays and crowded airport spaces.
And it’s also spurring the airline to make “meaningful reductions” to its summer schedule “in order to reduce passenger volumes and flows to a level we believe the air transport system can accommodate,” he said.
Dozens of fewer round trips each day
Peter Fitzpatrick, an airline spokesperson, told CBC News that the changes would see Air Canada reduce its schedule by 77 round trips — or 154 flights — on average, each day during the months of July and August.
Prior to these reductions, the airline was operating about 1,000 flights per day.
“Three routes will be temporarily suspended between Montreal and Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Kelowna and one from Toronto to Fort McMurray,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick said “most” flights affected by the changes are out of its Toronto and Montreal hubs.
“These will be mostly frequency reductions, affecting primarily evening and late-night flights by smaller aircraft, on transborder and domestic routes,” he said.
But he said “international flights are unaffected, with a few timing changes to reduce flying at peak times and even out the customer flow.”
‘Not an easy decision’
Rousseau, the airline president, said Air Canada did what it could to prepare for these challenges, but it has to adjust its operations to the current circumstances.
“This was not an easy decision, as it will result in additional flight cancellations that will have a negative impact on some customers,” Rousseau said.
“But doing this in advance allows affected customers to take time to make other arrangements in an orderly manner, rather than have their travel disrupted shortly before or during their journey, with few alternatives available.”
Rousseau offered his “sincere apologies” to customers for any delays they have faced or will face.
“I also assure you that we very clearly see the challenges at hand, that we are taking action, and that we are confident we have the strategy to address them,” he said. “This is our company’s chief focus at every level.”
A majority of domestic flights have been delayed at some of the country’s busiest airports in recent days, according to the analytics firm Data Wazo.
Data Wazo says 54 per cent of flights to six large airports — Montreal, Calgary, Toronto’s Pearson and Billy Bishop airports, Ottawa and Halifax — were bumped off schedule in the seven days between June 22 and 28.
Some 38 per cent of the flights were delayed while 16 per cent were scrapped altogether.
Airlines and the federal government have been scrambling to respond to scenes of endless lines, flight disruptions and daily turmoil at airports — particularly at Pearson — a problem the aviation industry has blamed on a shortage of federal security and customs officers.
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