As public health officials warn of an incoming Delta variant-driven fourth wave of COVID-19, experts are saying that its spread will likely be “very, very different” than Canada’s previous waves.
The warning came from chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday, who pointed at the upward trend in cases across Canada. The public health agency of Canada’s long-range epidemic forecasts “suggests we are the start of a Delta-driven fourth wave,” Tam told reporters at a press conference.
Tam warned that if vaccine uptake doesn’t increase in the country’s younger populations, cases could eventually exceed some communities’ health-care system capacities.
The news also comes on the heels of a new CDC report and study, the former of which warned that the Delta COVID-19 variant could be as contagious as chickenpox and the latter pointing to a string of outbreaks even among those who have been vaccinated.
However, according to Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Queen’s University, Canada’s fourth wave of COVID-19 will differ greatly from its previous ones despite the CDC reports and warning from PHAC officials.
“If we have a fourth wave, it’s going to look very, very different than the previous waves,” said Evans.
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He said that there’s “no way” that such a wave would be as big as the previous ones simply because of Canada’s vaccinations rates, which remain among the highest in the world.
Even with Canada’s rise in cases, Evans said that they would primarily be in unvaccinated communities, pointing to the fact that over 97 per cent of all new cases were among those who did not get a shot.
Canada added at least another 218 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing its total infections to 1,431,219. Another two deaths were reported as well, with the country’s death toll now standing at 26,600. Over 1.39 million people have recovered and more than 49.5 million vaccinations have been doled out.
Active cases now look to be on the rise across the country, though. Thursday saw another 903 new cases, Friday 897 more and Saturday another 531. In comparison, Canada recorded 391 recoveries on Thursday, 412 on Friday and 190 on Saturday.
This weekend’s COVID-19 data is limited, however, with only Ontario and Quebec reporting new cases as of today.
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According to Evans, the CDC’s study on vaccinated people contracting COVID-19 after large events actually presents stronger evidence of the effectiveness of vaccines.
The main problem in the study he said was that the disease control agency was not reporting denominators — the amount of people that had visited or travelled around the state during the period which the study was conducted.
According to the CDC, 469 cases were found among Massachusetts residents from July 3 to 26, and of those, 74 per cent were among those fully vaccinated.
Evans estimated at least 100,000 people travelling and moving around the state’s events during that time period, and that the only 469 cases reported among such high volume events were a better indicator of vaccine’s effectiveness.
Secondly, Evans pointed to the high vaccination rates in the state — Massachusetts has at least 72 per cent of its population having received at least one dose and over 63 per cent of its population fully vaccinated, compared to the national average of 57.7 per cent and 49.6 per cent, respectively.
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Speaking on the Roy Green Show, Dr. Ronald St John, the former WHO director for the Americas and national manager for Canada’s response to SARS, expressed caution when interpreting the findings of the internal CDC report that pointed at the ability of the Delta variant to spread like chickenpox.
He pointed out as well that the data in the report was not peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.
“I assume they mean [Delta is spreading among] unvaccinated people, but it’s not specified,” he said.
“How often they spread it, the frequency of spread — that’s what’s not clear to me in the data that’s been presented so far and so far, I think it’s just been an internal document that’s been spread around. So I’m waiting to see a little more data.”
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According to University of Toronto epidemiologist Dr. Colin Furness, the next wave would be “primarily experienced by unvaccinated people.”
He pointed out in a previous interview with Global News that the vaccines were a “firebreak” that acted to prevent mass spread of the virus, as well as hospitalizations and severe outcomes.
Instead of the previous mass outbreaks of COVID-19 in Canada, Furness said that they were now more likely to occur in non-vaccinated people, who “occur in clumps.”
“They’re not randomly, evenly distributed among the population. It’s a church group. It’s an ethnic group. It’s people in an apartment building,” he said.
— With files from The Canadian Press, Reuters, Eric Stober and Rachel Gilmore.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Prepping Your Home for the Canadian Winter
The arrival of autumn is a traditional sign that it’s time to start preparing for winter. Such rituals once had a good deal to do with human survival, such as the need to gather enough food to ensure people had enough to eat during the sparse or non-existent growing season. Of course, providing adequate shelter and warmth through the coldest months was also an essential concern.
For most people today, the task of winter preparation in Canada has to do with taking care to be comfortable while also avoiding any possible emergencies that might arise due to rough weather; this means that the main areas of concern tend to have to do with either
- Warm Clothing
- Reliable Transportation
- Keeping Your Home Warm and Well-Maintained
When it comes to ensuring that your home is ready for the winter season, your top priority should be to check that your living areas can stay warm without sacrificing heating efficiency.
The Importance of Windows in Winter
One of the most critical aspects of this preparation involves checking your windows to ensure they are ready to withstand the coldest temperatures to keep you and your family safe and warm. Like everything else on your home, your windows experience normal wear and tear as they do their job of keeping the cold out and the heat inside each year.
While it might seem evident when windows are getting old, less obvious imperfections can quickly arise that may prove a tremendous burden if only discovered during the coldest weather. That’s one of the key reasons why preparing easy on can save you many headaches later in winter.
Trusting the Experts
Rather than play a guessing game with the condition of your windows, you can get in touch with a professional company that can ensure your windows are in proper working order. For example, you can contact a company specializing in windows and doors in Toronto to see whether the time has come to replace your windows.
Check Your Heating System
Another vital aspect of preparing your home for winter is to check your heating system and perform any tests available to guarantee everything is in working order. If your house is equipped with an oil furnace or contains a heating system that uses fuel, make sure that your tank is full so that you don’t run out at the wrong time. You might also want to contact your utility company to see if they recommend any other maintenance services.
Along with heating and window condition, there are many more general ways to weatherproof your home. Some of these include:
- Replacing or installing insulation
- Weatherstripping and caulking
- Repairing any leaks
Preparing your home for winter isn’t very difficult as long as you take the time to check a few essential things if you want to be ready. As always, the best way to be sure is to talk to the experts, like a professional window supplier who can make sure you are free from drafts when the cold weather hits.
B.C. says it can't take patients from Alberta's overwhelmed ICUs – CBC.ca
B.C. says it won’t be able to take any of Alberta’s extra intensive care unit patients at a time when that province’s hospitals are buckling under the weight of patients who are critically ill with COVID-19.
In a statement, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the ministry met with its Alberta counterparts Thursday. A day earlier, Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services (AHS) said she would ask other provinces if they would take ICU patients who need care, or spare staff that can work in intensive care units.
But Dix said B.C. can’t take on Alberta patients now.
“Given the current demands on B.C.’s health-care system, we will not be able to assist with taking patients at this time,” he said.
“However, we have told Alberta that if there are things we can do to support them, we will. And if we can take patients on in the future, we will.
“We are in a global pandemic, and our thoughts are with Albertans as they respond to COVID-19 in their province.”
Yui said Thursday some Alberta patients may be transferred to Ontario.
Alberta is in the midst of a punishing fourth wave with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country. As of Thursday afternoon, the province had 18,706 active cases.
As well, there were 896 patients in hospital across the province with COVID-19, including 222 in intensive care.
Dr. Ilan Schwartz, a physician and assistant professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alberta, told CBC News that “Alberta hospitals really are on the brink of collapse.”
In comparison, as of Thursday, B.C. has 291 people in hospital with the disease, 134 of whom are in intensive care.
The effects of Alberta’s COVID-19 crisis are being felt in B.C.
Many British Columbians in border towns rely on the Alberta health-care system, said Mike Bernie, MLA for Peace River South.
He noted that for his own hometown, Dawson Creek, the closest major hospital is in Grande Prairie, in northwestern Alberta.
WATCH | Alberta faces new restrictions as COVID-19 cases soar:
“A lot of these border communities rely on Alberta as the closest centre for triaging, acute care or emergency situations. It’s faster and easier to go to Alberta,” Bernier said.
He said B.C. is in a tough position when it comes to helping its eastern neighbour.
“As Canadians, we want to help each other, so if there is opportunity in communities to help our neighbouring province, we will all want to do that. But we also have to get our numbers down in British Columbia if we want to be able to help other provinces.”
A warning to B.C.
Caroline Colijn, a COVID-19 modeller and mathematics professor at Simon Fraser University, said while Alberta is in a tough situation, B.C. isn’t too far behind.
“We’re on that knife edge where if we [were to take on patients] in an area that then saw an increase in COVID transmission, that would place a burden on that region’s ICU and capacity for providing care,” Colijn said. “[Our ICUs] are not relaxed or well under-capacity here from what I understand.”
Dr. Don Wilson, who has worked in Alberta and currently works in B.C., said he’s worried about people in Alberta and his fellow health-care professionals.
“I’m very concerned for my colleagues as well as the population of Alberta for the way COVID has been handled and the crisis that they’re facing at the moment,” Wilson said.
Wilson said that Alberta’s late adoption of public health measures, like its proof-of-vaccination program and masking measures serve as a reminder for British Columbia to stay vigilant.
“That’s the warning for British Columbia. To be proactive and not as reactive for Alberta.”
Between violence and vandalism, the parties are experiencing a very ugly campaign – CBC.ca
The three main parties say they’ve experienced ugly incidents on the campaign trail, ranging from vandalism to assault. Some party operatives say it’s the nastiest campaign they’ve ever experienced.
One high-profile incident happened earlier this month when someone threw gravel at Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, resulting in charges against a former People’s Party of Canada riding president.
Protests are a common sight during any election but many party workers say the ones they’re seeing during this campaign have been more alarming. The Liberal Party had to cancel a late August stop due to security concerns.
WATCH | Trudeau, security detail hit by gravel stones
Calgary Nose Hill Conservative candidate Michelle Rempel Garner released a statement earlier in the campaign saying she has been a victim of harassing behaviour on the campaign trail. She said she’s been accosted by men with cameras “demanding I respond to conspiracy theories.”
“In the last two weeks, I have also received a death threat from someone who called my office in escalating states of verbal abuse over the course of days,” she said in an Aug. 28 statement.
“It’s unfortunately an all too frequent occurrence for me and many of my colleagues, particularly women, of all political stripes. And this increase in violent language, threats and abuse certainly isn’t confined to politics.”
Canadian Anti-Hate Network executive director Evan Balgord said that this has been the worst campaign he’s seen in recent history in terms of far-right activity, which he sees as largely motivated by the pandemic.
“They believe that there is this awful situation going on, like the apocalypse, right? They think that they’re using mask mandates and stuff to kill or kidnap children or render them infertile,” he said.
“The scapegoats they’ve picked are the people they think are the puppet masters — Trudeau, provincial health authorities. And amongst the most hardcore adherents it would be the Jews, the shadow globalists, the elite and so on and so forth.”
While the Liberal Party appears to be the prime target, Balgord said members of the far-right see the Conservatives as complicit.
Vandalism, alleged assaults
Liberal candidate Carla Qualtrough, seeking re-election in the British Columbia riding of Delta, said she’s seen more expressions of hate and rage during this campaign than in previous years, including anti-LGBT and antisemitic graffiti.
“The police are involved. They’re investigating some of the issues that we’re facing. So yeah, it’s a definite tone and it’s hateful and it’s unacceptable,” she told reporters earlier this week.
“It’s not just anger or difference of opinion. It’s really spiralled to hateful and unacceptable behaviour.”
She’s not the only candidate to involve the police. Kitchener South-Hespeler Conservative candidate Tyler Calver said Waterloo Regional Police are investigating after one of his volunteers was assaulted at a campaign office earlier this month.
Greater Sudbury police charged a 56-year-old woman for allegedly assaulting incumbent Liberal Marc Serré in his campaign office in the federal riding of Nickel Belt in northern Ontario. Police said she pushed a table against him, pinning him against the wall.
On the East Coast, Liberal candidate Dominic LeBlanc said he reported vandalism to the RCMP after someone spray-painted a campaign sign with the words “COVID Nazi.”
“There have been some other disgusting, personal things,” he said. “Somebody spray-painted one talking about my mother, who passed away a year and half ago.”
Liberal candidate Anita Anand, seeking re-election in Oakville, said her campaign has seen about 35 per cent of its signs destroyed.
Ottawa South NDP candidate Huda Mukbil said her signs are constantly being torn down.
She blames the vandalism on people opposed to the changing racial and gender makeup of Canadian politics.
“It’s particularly difficult for women generally. And then for racialized women like myself, that much more,” she told CBC Ottawa.
“So what we have to do is just come together and say that this is unacceptable in Canada.”
Balgord said the violence this year follows the trajectory of what’s been percolating online.
“We’ve allowed online hate to just fester in all the online platforms that Canadians use every day,” he said.
“When online hate festers like that, people start to think it’s normal and acceptable to not just say those things online, but to do those things kind of in person.”
People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier was egged at a campaign event earlier this month in Saskatoon.
In an August 26 news release, Green Party Leader Annamie Paul raised concerns about mounting threats to her campaign. The party says that while the Green campaign has not seen any hecklers at press conferences, it’s aware of online posts threatening to disrupt events.
‘We will not allow them to define us’: Trudeau
As the campaign enters its final days, nerves appear frayed.
Trudeau is standing by his response to a heckler who used a sexist slur against his wife.
“Isn’t there a hospital you should be going to bother right now?” Trudeau said.
On Thursday, the Liberal leader said he won’t step back in the face of protests or harassment.
WATCH | Trudeau to heckler: ‘Isn’t there a hospital you should be going to bother?’
“We will not allow an angry minority that does not believe in science — and we have a lot of examples of their intolerance of women, the fact that they are racist — we will not allow them to define us and decide the direction we will take to put an end to this pandemic,” he said in French.
But NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said such snide remarks only bait protesters, who that day had picketed hospitals across the country.
“He shouldn’t have been joking about that because it’s it is dangerous and it’s really causing problems for lots of people,” he said this week.
When asked to comment on campaign violence, the NDP accused Trudeau of sowing divisions with rhetoric that has led to heightened frustrations and backlash.
“Justin Trudeau called a selfish election and throughout his campaign, rather than provide solutions for the challenges families face, he’s talked about divisions,” said a party spokesperson.
“Families are paying the price for his rhetoric — protesters blocking hospitals and assaulting health care workers, a rise in COVID-19 cases across the province and even violence on the campaign trail.”
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