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Canada's first 'presumptive positive' case of coronavirus found in Ontario – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Ontario’s chief medical officer has confirmed Canada’s first ‘presumptive positive’ case of coronavirus.

In a news conference Saturday, officials said the man in his 50s fell ill after travelling to Wuhan, the Chinese city at the heart of the outbreak. The patient is in stable condition at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

Officials in Ontario have been in contact with Canada’s public health agency and are working in collaboration with Toronto Public Health to “prevent any spread” of the virus.

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Dr. Eileen De Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, said officials are focused on finding out who the patient may have come into contact with and what types of settings they may have been exposed to.

“It is understandable that people may be concerned with today’s news of our first case and that people may worry,”” de Villa said in a press release.

“But I assure you that based on the lessons we learned from SARS now 17 years ago, and given our experiences during the flu pandemic of 2009 and more recently, with Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome, we have learned, shared knowledge and built a stronger public health system that is ready to respond, as needed.”

So far, two coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S. Australia and Malaysia reported their first cases of the virus Saturday, while Japan confirmed a third case. France confirmed three cases Friday, the first in Europe.

China’s National Health Commission confirmed Saturday that the death toll from the new virus had climbed to 41, with the number of people infected rising to 1,287.

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Tick-borne germs increasingly widespread in Canada: study – CTV News

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Researchers from Quebec and Ontario are calling for better testing to track the spread of tick-borne germs as disease-causing bacteria gain new ground in Canada.

Ticks are blood-sucking arachnids that can carry pathogens – bacteria, viruses and parasites – like those that cause Lyme disease. Now, McGill University PhD candidate Kirsten Crandall says pathogens that are local to other regions are beginning to show up across central Canada.

“While the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne pathogen in Canada, other tick-borne pathogens are moving in,” she said in a media release published on Nov. 17.

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In a study published in the medical journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases on Nov. 9, Crandall and her co-authors from McGill and the University of Ottawa warned that two pathogens, Babesia odocoilei and Rickettsia rickettsii, had been detected in Canada outside of their historic geographic range.

Babesia odocoilei causes a malaria-like parasitic disease called babesiosis. Babesiosis can be asymptomatic or it can cause flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea or fatigue.

Rickettsia rickettsii causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever and anaplasmosis, and is normally found in the United States, Western Canada, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia.

Both bacteria can infect animals and humans, and both were found in ticks and small mammals in Quebec. According to the study, climate change, habitat fragmentation and changes in the abundance of tick populations and their hosts are all driving the spread of emerging tick-borne pathogens like these across Canada.

“The presence of these pathogens changes the risk of disease for Canadians and animals in some densely populated areas of Canada,” Crandall said.

Crandall and her team made the detections using methods that went beyond those normally used in tick monitoring studies. By testing ticks at all life cycle stages, they discovered that female ticks can actually pass pathogens to their larval young. They also tested for pathogens not already listed as nationally notifiable diseases in Canada.

She said the findings demonstrate the need for better testing and tracking to detect the spread and potential risk of tick-borne pathogens to humans and animals throughout the country.

“Only two tick-borne pathogens are listed as nationally notifiable diseases in Canada: Lyme disease and tularemia,” she said. “However, we are seeing increased cases of diseases like anaplasmosis and babesiosis in humans in Canada.”

Jeremy Kerr, a professor and research chair at the University of Ottawa’s department of biology, said the study highlights the importance of funding more research into tick-borne diseases that haven’t historically been common in Canada.

“If we don’t know that pathogens are present, we can’t equip Canadians with the information they need to protect themselves,” he said in a statement released on Nov. 17. “COVID has diverted public health resources away from challenges like this one, and we need to remember that these tick-borne diseases are on the move too.” 

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National security concerns prompt bill to modernize foreign investment screening

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The Liberal government says it will make the most significant updates to the federal investment screening law in more than a decade to address evolving national security concerns.

Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne plans to table the proposed changes to the Investment Canada Act later today.

Champagne’s ministerial mandate letter directs him to promote economic security and combat foreign interference by modernizing the act to strengthen the national security review process and better address threats posed by investments from abroad.

He was also told to use all tools, including the Investment Canada Act, to ensure protection and development of Canada’s critical minerals.

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Canada sees critical mineral exploration, extraction, processing and manufacturing as keys to becoming a global leader in the production of batteries and other clean technologies.

In October, the government announced plans to restrict the involvement of foreign state-owned companies in Canada’s critical minerals sector amid a global rush for the resources and growing tensions with China.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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‘More to do’ on systemic barriers facing Muslim charities, Trudeau acknowledges

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledges there is “significantly more to do” on the systemic barriers that confront Muslim charities amid concerns from a federal watchdog that his review of the issue also faces roadblocks.

In a statement last month, taxpayers’ ombudsperson François Boileau said his office was having trouble obtaining information needed from the Canada Revenue Agency to conduct his review.

Following her participation in a national summit last year on Islamophobia, Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier asked the ombudsperson to conduct a systemic review of the concerns of certain Muslim charities about their treatment by the revenue agency.

Lebouthillier asked the watchdog to pay particular attention to concerns about the selection of files for audit purposes by the Review and Analysis Division of the revenue agency’s charities directorate.

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A 2021 report by the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group said the division works with national security agencies to carry out these audits, with little accountability or independent review.

Asked about the ombudsperson’s difficulties today, Trudeau says there is significantly more to do on the overall issue, adding the government will look at what next steps can be taken to ensure accountability and openness.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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