Canada’s two largest provinces reported record high COVID-19 case counts Thursday, as preliminary data from Britain indicated that people with the Omicron variant are up to 70 per cent less likely to need hospitalization than those with the Delta mutation.
In total, Canada added 20,192 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday — pushing the national total to over 1.94 million infections.
Another 19 COVID-related deaths were also added by the provinces, raising the death toll to 30,131. Over 1.81 million patients have recovered from the disease however, though there are currently over active 98,000 cases.
In Quebec, the provincial government reported 9,397 new cases and a rise of 28 COVID-19-related hospitalizations, for a total of 473. The province also reported six more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.
As well, exponential growth in COVID-19 cases was reported in Montreal, where a top health official confirmed that one of every five tests for the virus was coming back positive. Dr. Mylene Drouin said that 60 per cent of the positive cases in Montreal were among people between the ages of 18 and 44, adding that the city’s latest data also confirm that 90 per cent of new infections involved the Omicron variant.
“The message is we are having intense community transmission in Montreal,” Drouin told a news conference. “It’s exponential, it’s touching young adults.”
Another big upswing in cases was reported Thursday in Ontario, with 5,790 new cases detected. That tally was well above the previous single-day high of 4,812 recorded back in April. Canada’s most populous province also confirmed seven new deaths attributed to the virus. In all, 400 people were recovering in hospital, including 136 who were not vaccinated.
Despite the big increase in Ontario, an expert says the latest numbers represent a poor guess because testing is not keeping up with the Omicron-driven fifth wave of the pandemic.
“In all likelihood, you’d have to multiply these numbers at least three or four times to get a sense of what’s actually happening,” said. Dr. Fahad Razaka, a member of the province’s science table.
Prince Edward Island also posted a new record for its daily case count on Thursday with 35. That prompted the Island’s government to ban all wedding receptions, funeral receptions and wakes as of Friday at 8 a.m.
Records were also broken in Nova Scotia, British Columbia and New Brunswick.
Several provinces recently reinstated stricter public health measures in response to Omicron, including caps on social gatherings and closures of some businesses.
Rethinking masking methods
Public health restrictions were tightened Thursday in Iqaluit. They include a ban on non-essential travel in and out of the city. Officials said the changes were necessary because a case of COVID-19 had been detected in a person who had not left Iqaluit for more than a month, a likely sign of community transmission.
The Manitoba government said Thursday that COVID-19 testing is so backed up in the province that case counts have been under-reported. The government asked that only Manitobans experiencing COVID-19, cold or flu-like symptoms should seek testing.
Alberta said it is adjusting its COVID-19 testing rules to cope with the ongoing soaring rise in cases driven by Omicron.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, urged Albertans with COVID-19 symptoms to rely on the rapid antigen tests rather than the more accurate PCR tests to free up resources for those in higher priority settings, such as those in continuing care.
Meanwhile, the latest findings from the U.K. Health Security Agency add to emerging evidence that Omicron produces milder illness than other variants, though it spreads faster and better evades vaccines. The agency said that based on cases in the U.K., an individual with Omicron is estimated to be “50 to 70 per cent less likely to be admitted to hospital” when compared with a person infected with the Delta variant.
The agency, however, cautioned that the analysis is preliminary and “highly uncertain” because of the small number of Omicron patients in hospitals and the fact that most cases involved younger age groups. The research said the protection a vaccine booster shot gives against Omicron infections appears to wane after about 10 weeks, though protection against hospitalization and severe disease is likely to hold up for longer.
The analysis follows two studies from Imperial College London and Scottish researchers that found patients with Omicron were between 20 per cent and 68 per cent less likely to require hospital treatment than those with Delta.
“Cautious optimism is perhaps the best way to look at this,” said Manuel Ascano Jr., a biochemist who studies viruses at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
Canada’s public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has confirmed the Omicron variant has become the dominant mutation of COVID-19 in several provinces. Infections across Canada have risen from an average of 5,000 per day last week to more than 11,000 this week, which is why Tam has called for urgent action to curb the spread of Omicron.
Meanwhile in Saskatchewan, the Opposition New Democrats asked why the government has yet to announce new measures to deal with Omicron.
B.C. breaks another record with more than 2,000 COVID cases
NDP Leader Ryan Meili said he couldn’t understand why Saskatchewan is the only province that hasn’t taken any new steps, even though the government’s modelling suggests Omicron cases could skyrocket over the next few weeks.
Premier Scott Moe later defended the province’s decision to forgo stronger restrictions because of low COVID-19 hospitalizations and manageable case numbers. Moe said his government is tracking the situation daily and hasn’t ruled out introducing additional measures about large gathering sizes next week.
In British Columbia, the province reported 2,046 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, eclipsing the previous record set the day before as the Omicron variant spreads. The province says 975 cases of the highly transmissible variant have been confirmed so far, with more than half in the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
Sask. RCMP issue Canada-wide warrant for anti-vaccine dad charged with abducting daughter, 7 – CBC.ca
Saskatchewan RCMP have charged and issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant for a Carievale, Sask., man accused of abducting his daughter to prevent her getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
Michael Gordon Jackson, 52, is charged with one count of abduction in contravention of a custody or parenting order, RCMP said in a news release Friday evening.
It comes after CBC News reported earlier this month that the father fled with his seven-year-old daughter, Sarah, in mid-November to keep her from getting immunized against the coronavirus. Jackson’s ex-wife, Mariecar Jackson, had wanted to get their daughter vaccinated, but Jackson did not.
The girl had been visiting her father when she was allegedly abducted.
Since an enforceable court order was issued earlier this month, investigators say they have followed up on several tips and reported sightings of the father and daughter — including by reviewing surveillance footage at several businesses. However, no tips have led to locating them.
At this point, RCMP say, the criteria for an Amber Alert has not been met, which is why Mounties are continuing to ask the public for help in tracking the pair down.
“Sarah: we want you to know that you are not in any trouble,” Chief Supt. Tyler Bates, the officer in charge of the Saskatchewan RCMP south district, said in a message to the girl contained in the news release.
“Your mom misses you very much, and we have police officers doing what they can so you can see her again soon.”
Sarah is described as four feet two inches tall, 76 pounds, with waist-length brown hair that’s all one length. She has brown/hazel-coloured eyes and last wore teal-coloured eyeglasses.
Michael Jackson is described as weighing about 250 pounds with blue eyes and dark brown hair. He also typically wears glasses, RCMP said.
While Jackson resides in the Carievale area — located in Saskatchewan’s southeast corner — Mounties said he may have connections to the communities of Dilke, Oxbow, Alameda and Regina, along with Lamont, Alta. RCMP said he may also be in Manitoba.
“Locating Michael Gordon Jackson and Sarah is a top priority for Saskatchewan RCMP officers,” Bates said. “Our investigators are diligently following up on all tips and reported sightings. We are committed to locating Michael Gordon Jackson and reuniting Sarah with her mom.”
WATCH | Sask. woman says she’ll never stop looking for her child:
RCMP noted that investigators believe Michael Jackson may be getting help in evading police and reminded people that this activity may result in criminal charges.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Michael or Sarah Jackson is asked to call the Saskatchewan RCMP at 306-310-7267 or 306-780-5563. Tips can also be anonymously submitted to Crime Stoppers at at 1‐800‐222‐8477 or www.saskcrimestoppers.com.
China’s Investment into Foreign Media
Over the last few decades, China’s power and influence have grown remarkably quickly. The largest country in Asia is now one of the world’s biggest superpowers, and its influence has extended across the continent and into new territories as the Chinese government looks to cement its power for the future. According to a recent report released by Reporters Without Borders, China has started investing in foreign media to deter criticism and spread propaganda.
According to the research, “China’s Pursuit of a New World Media Order”, Beijing is spreading its worldview through several techniques, including increased international broadcasting, huge advertising campaigns, and infiltration of foreign media outlets.
China has recently opened laws across the country to give its people more freedom. However, there are still many restrictions in place, including against online gambling. Despite this, Chinese citizens can get online and place sports bets and wagers at online casinos, using trusted online gambling portals such as Asiabet. Interested players can access a wide range of leading casinos and sportsbooks through the site as well as information regarding the legality of the recommended operators, safety, and strategy before joining up, making it easier for players to understand what they’re getting into.
Why Is Chine Looking to Control Foreign Media?
The Chinese government is spending up to $1.3 billion a year to boost Chinese media’s global reach. Chinese state-run television and radio shows have been able to dramatically expand their foreign reach in recent years because of this financing. China Radio International is now transmitted in 65 languages, while China Global Television Network is distributed across 140 countries.
Considering the current global geopolitical climate, this looks to be a smart move, as it allows China to present itself how it wants to be seen to a global audience. In recent years, China has gained media attention across the West for its influence on North Korea, its expansion into the South China Sea, and its treatment of the minority Uighurs within its own country.
How Is China Influencing Foreign Media?
The Chinese government has recently increased spending on advertisements in Western newspapers and publishing sites to promote Chinese viewpoints. Advertising dollars have enticed media outlets, which has had a particularly large impact considering news media is currently struggling with profitability. China Daily, a mouthpiece for the Chinese regime, has paid American newspapers 19 million dollars in advertising and printing in the last four years alone, according to US Justice Department records.
China is also aiming to influence and control foreign media outlets by purchasing interests in them, according to the research. The report found that, in many cases, Chinese ownership typically leads to self-censorship, and journalists have lost their jobs in the past for publishing negative articles about the country.
For example, Reporters Without Borders claim that a journalist for South Africa’s Independent Online, which has a 20% investment in Chinese investors, had his column stopped in September 2018. This came just hours after a column about China’s mistreatment of ethnic minorities was published.
Reporters Without Borders has also claimed that, in addition to buying shares in media firms, Beijing has impacted foreign media by inviting journalists from developing nations to China for training. According to the report, China invited several Zambian journalists to a specially designed event named the 2018 Zambia Media Think Tank Seminar.
What Does This Mean for the Future of Western Media?
China has long had a lack of press freedom, with the country ranked 177 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index in 2021. It looks like the country is using domestic tactics used to control media narratives and bring them to the wider world, allowing it to control what people say about the country and regime in other countries too. By silencing and pressing foreign journalists and news stories, the Chinese government is damaging the trust that people place in the media.
Some people feel that this report is likely to be the tip of the iceberg. It could be that the influence from the Chinese government is even greater than previously expected. While a lot of foreign governments will often have an impact on media in other countries to control a narrative, this is on a scale never seen before.
Despite this, there are many journalists around the world who refuse to be influenced and still work hard to preserve the integrity of journalism. Reporters Without Borders will continue to document and report on the extent of China’s influence on foreign media.
Emmy-winning actor Louie Anderson dead at age 68
The star of the comedy series “Baskets” died in Las Vegas, where he was admitted into a hospital earlier this week for treatment of diffuse large B cell lymphoma, publicist Glenn Schwartz told the entertainment publication.
Anderson was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy Series, winning one in 2016 for his role as Christine Baskets on the FX series.
He also won two Daytime Emmys for outstanding performer in an animated program for “Life with Louie,” a program that aired on Fox in 1997 and 1998.
The Saint Paul, Minnesota, native was a counselor to troubled children before he got his start in comedy when he won first place in the Midwest Comedy Competition in 1981, according to Deadline.
Anderson was in Eddie Murphy’s 1988 hit movie “Coming to America.” He also hosted “Family Feud” from 1999 to 2002 and starred in several situation comedies over the last two decades.
Anderson wrote several books, including “Goodbye Jumbo … Hello Cruel World,” a self-help book for people struggling with self-esteem issues.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien; editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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