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Canada will require COVID-19 testing for flights from China as virus surges

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The federal government will require COVID-19 testing for travellers coming into Canada from China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Beginning on Jan. 5, air travellers arriving in Canada from flights originating from the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong or Macau that are two years of age and older will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test before boarding the aircraft to Canada, according to the government.

The test must be taken no more than two days before departure.

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“In response to the surge of COVID-19 in the People’s Republic of China and given the limited epidemiological and viral genomic sequence data available on these cases, the Government of Canada intends to put in place certain temporary health measures for air travellers entering Canada from China,” the government said in a release Saturday.

Passengers who have tested positive more than 10 days before their flight, but no more than 90 days, can provide their airline with the documentation of their prior positive, in place of a negative test, the government said.

The “temporary” measures are planned to be in place for 30 days and then reassessed.

“Our actions continue to be guided by prudence and we will not hesitate to adjust measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians,” said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos in a statement.

When arriving at Canadian airports Primary Inspection Kiosks and eGates, travellers will also be asked if they have travelled to China, Hong Kong or Macau in the last 10 days.

If a traveller has, officers with Canada’s Border Services Agency will provide them with additional public health information and what to do if they develop symptoms of the virus.

This only applies to air travellers, not those arriving by land.

Additionally, Canada’s public health agency is putting in place a pilot project in place on wastewater testing with Vancouver International Airport. It is also expanding an existing project with Toronto Pearson International Airport.

These projects are to assess the COVID-19 prevalence from various regions across the world, the government said.

The samples are sequenced to monitor for novel variants of concern.

“The safety of travellers and the transportation industry remain top priorities. Our Government continues to take unprecedented action to protect the health and safety of Canadians by introducing measures to prevent further introduction and transmission of COVID-19 into Canada,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said.

The measures follow similar implemented rules from other countries, including the U.S. and Japan, as China grapples with a surge of the virus.

China recently reversed public health measures under its “zero-COVID” strategy that kept the country in isolation for nearly three years and announced this week plans to reissue passports and visas for overseas trips.

This could send many Chinese abroad for the Lunar New Year holiday in January, raising concerns about possible virus spread and the risk of mutations to the virus amid rapid spread.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Friday said China continues to monitor the virus mutations and share information, and stressed the importance of science-based approach.

Some European nations have tightened COVID rules for flights from China. On Friday, authorities in France, Spain and England said tougher measures for passengers arriving from China will be implemented.

France’s government is requiring negative COVID-19 tests from travellers coming from China and is urging French citizens to avoid nonessential travel to the country. France is also reintroducing mask requirements on flights from China to France.

French health authorities will carry out random PCR tests at airports on passengers arriving from China to identify potential new coronavirus variants. The new rules take effect on Sunday, but officials said it would be a few days before they are fully in place.

The U.K. government recently announced that anyone travelling to England on direct flights from China would be required to take a pre-departure test from Jan. 5.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay said that the U.K. was taking a “balanced and precautionary approach.” He described the measures as “temporary” while officials assess COVID-19 statistics.

Spain’s government said it would require all air passengers coming from China to have negative tests or proof of vaccination.

Health Minister Carolina Darias told reporters that Spain would be pushing for similar measures at a European level following the surge in cases in China. She said coronavirus health controls would be stepped up at Spanish airports.

Darias didn’t specify when the new requirement would take effect.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said the body needs more information on the severity of the outbreak in China.

“In the absence of comprehensive information from China, it is understandable that countries around the world are acting in ways that they believe may protect their populations,” he said Friday on Twitter.

“In order to make a comprehensive risk assessment of the COVID-19 situation on the ground in China, WHO needs more detailed information.”

–With files from The Associated Press

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It's not delivery, it's discontinued: Nestlé to stop selling Delissio pizza in Canada – CBC News

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It’s not delivery, it’s discontinued: Nestlé to stop selling Delissio pizza in Canada  CBC News

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Will winter end soon? Canadian groundhogs split on spring calls

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Groundhog Day didn’t go to script in Canada this year: one died before making a prediction, while others were divided over whether spring will come early this year.

Quebec’s Fred la Marmotte died before he was able to reveal his prediction Thursday, with volunteer children stepping in to take its place.

The organizer of the event, Roberto Blondin, said the famed groundhog had no vital signs when he went to wake it Wednesday night. Fred la Marmotte likely died during hibernation, Blondin said. Fred was honoured with a plush animal toy by organizers.

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The group of children predicted six more weeks of winter, joining the calls from other groundhogs across Canada – except for three.

Folklore states that if a groundhog sees its shadow on Groundhog Day, winter will drag on. If it doesn’t spot its shadow, spring-like weather arrive soon.

Ontario’s Wiarton Willie called for an early spring Thursday morning, as did Alberta’s Blazac Billy. Organizers chanted “Billy, Billy, Billy” to get Billy – a mascot – out of his burrow. In British Columbia, stuffed groundhog Okanagan Okie also called for an early spring.

Their furry counterpart in Nova Scotia, Shubenacadie Sam, saw her shadow as she emerged from a snow-covered enclosure at a wildlife park north of Halifax. In Manitoba, the stuffed groundhog Merv saw his shadow, as did Punxsutawney Phil in the United States.

 

Groundhog Day isn’t just for groundhogs

In Nova Scotia, Lucy the Lobster crawled out of the ocean at Cape Sable Island Causeway at 8 a.m. local time, and saw her shadow, organizers said.

In a playful, peer-reviewed study published by the American Meteorological Society, researchers at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., found groundhogs are “beyond a shadow of a doubt” no better at predicting spring’s arrival than flipping a coin.

— with files from Global News’ Alex Cooke, Brayden Jagger Haines and The Canadian Press

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Migrant worker secret menus in Canada expose exploitation

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Hundreds of customers who scan QR codes for restaurant menus across Canada are being surprised by secret menus instead, revealing the hidden costs behind the food they eat.

These secret menus were designed and distributed by Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, a national organization headquartered in Toronto, aiming to expose exploitative working conditions: low wages, unsafe labour, poor housing, family separation, and long days of backbreaking labour.

The organization plastered these QR codes in place of menus in hundreds of restaurants across the country to communicate a single plea – migrant workers need permanent resident status.

“Because the current laws don’t protect our health, safety, and working status, those of us who speak up are ignored and many others decide to stay silent in fear of deportation and losing their livelihood,” Robert, a Jamaican migrant greenhouse worker, said.

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Each menu item reveals a story about exploitation. The “To-Die-For Sweet Potato Fries” tells the tale of a potato harvester from Jamaica named Garvin Yapp who was killed in a farming accident in Norfolk County, Ont. last summer. Another, the “Bitter Strawberry Tart,” aims to spotlight the 18-hour days some migrant workers spend on their hands and knees harvesting strawberries.

Every year, more than 60,000 seasonal agricultural workers come to Canada from places such as Mexico, Jamaica, and other Caribbean countries. Between January 2020 and 2021, nine migrant agricultural workers died in Ontario.

“We are inviting [the public] to be a part of the struggle,” Syed Hussan, executive director of Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, told CTV News Toronto.

Migrant workers are purposely featuring their stories as food costs rise across the country alongside the profits of big box grocery store owners. Hussan says these profits are made on the backs of migrant workers.

“It’s important to know migrant farm workers are literally tied to their employers,” he added, noting that migrants can’t protect themselves because they don’t have permanent resident status. “What that means is if a worker speaks out about abuse, they become homeless.”

Migrant workers’ stories are featured on secret menus (Migrant Workers Alliance for Change).When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined Canada’s immigration policy priorities in Dec. 2021, he said his government would expand pathways to permanent resident status for temporary foreign workers.

“Thirteen months later, no action has happened. With parliament returning, now is the time,” Hussan said.

At the bottom of the secret menu, migrant workers are asking restaurant patrons to sign a petition, pleading, “Tell PM Trudeau your food should come with fair working conditions.”

“It’s crucial to understand that if you eat in this country … you are implicated in this food chain,” Hussan said. “Each and every one of us is implicated.”

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