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Canada’s opposition Conservatives face questions over vaccination status

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Canada‘s ruling Liberals questioned on Monday whether rival Conservatives – the largest opposition party – were being honest about the vaccination status of their lawmakers as parliament reconvened after the September election.

Parliamentary rules require that all legislators be inoculated against COVID-19, a policy supported by every party except the Conservatives. The full House of Commons met for the first time since the pandemic forced virtual meetings or in-person sessions with reduced numbers last year.

The House re-elected Liberal Anthony Rota for his second stint as speaker. Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will outline his priorities for the new session in a speech on Tuesday.

Over the weekend, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole said all his lawmakers had been vaccinated or had secured a medical exemption.

“Every member is in compliance” with the House rules on vaccination “as far as we know,” Jake Enwright, a Conservative spokesman, said on Monday. One vaccinated member who recently contracted COVID-19 is in quarantine, he added.

Some Conservative lawmakers “are away due to reasons unrelated to COVID-19 or the House of Commons vaccine mandate,” another Conservative spokesperson, Josie Sabatino, said.

“The likelihood that you have a medical exemption from the vaccination is one to five in 100,000,” said Mark Holland, the Liberal government leader in the House. “The Conservative caucus is 119 people, (so) statistically the likelihood that they would have multiple people who are exempt … is extraordinarily low.”

The Liberals have one member who was granted a medical exemption, but the House speaker’s office declined to say how many total exemptions there had been among the 338 House members.

Trudeau narrowly won https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/canadas-trudeau-may-cling-power-election-looks-unlikely-secure-majority-2021-09-20 the September election, but with a minority government that depends on opposition parties to pass legislation.

He has been exploiting https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/canadas-trudeau-exploits-rivals-split-vaccines-parliament-reconvenes-2021-11-16 divisions in the Conservative Party over vaccines as O’Toole fends off calls by some for a leadership review given the election loss. Trudeau’s government is putting some 13,000 civil servants on unpaid leave because of their refusal to get inoculated, a move supported by 70% of Canadians, according to a recent EKOS Research poll.

Opposition New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh also weighed in on Monday, accusing Conservatives of “not wanting to keep their colleagues safe” and showing “their complete lack of understanding” of what people are going through.

(Reporting by Steve Scherer; Additional reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Peter Cooney)

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Dutch former queen Beatrix tests positive for COVID-19

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Dutch former queen Beatrix, 83, has tested positive for COVID-19, the royal information service RVD said in a statement Saturday.

Princess Beatrix, as she has been known since her abdication in 2013, got tested after coming down with “mild cold symptoms”, the statement said.

“The princess is at home in isolation and adheres to the rules of life for people who have tested positive,” it added.

The Netherlands has been experiencing a record-breaking wave of COVID-19 cases that is threatening to overwhelm the country’s healthcare system.

(Reporting by Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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‘I was shocked’: Mother, child mistakenly given COVID-19 vaccine instead of flu shot – Comox Valley Record

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A Manitoba mother says a routine appointment for her and her three-year-old to get flu shots ended in frustration and mixed messages after they were each mistakenly given an adult dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Jenna Bardarson is calling for policy changes at the province’s vaccination centres to make sure that doesn’t happen to another family.

The shots were administered on Nov. 24 at the Keystone Centre in Brandon.

Bardarson says that shortly after she and her daughter, Dali, got their shots, the health worker who had given them excused herself to speak with a supervisor. When the worker returned, she told them she had made a mistake and given them both the adult Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say. My immediate concerns were, of course, would my daughter be OK and also who could I speak to about this,” Bardarson said in online social media messages Friday to The Canadian Press.

Once she got home, Bardarson made multiple calls to different departments with the regional medical authority, hoping to speak with someone about the error and her concerns, she said.

She said no one was able to provide her with the answers or information she needed. “The conversations with various Prairie Mountain Health members have been frustrating, to say the least.”

Bardarson said she already had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and was due for her booster shot next month. Her daughter is too young to be eligible.

Health Canada last month approved a pediatric version of the Pfizer shot for children ages five to 11, but it has not yet approved a vaccine for those under five.

Bardarson said she and her daughter had headaches and sore arms the following day. Her daughter had no appetite and was throwing up.

Manitoba Health confirmed the mistake in a statement and said staff from Prairie Mountain have reached out to the mother to discuss what happened as well as to provide an update on an investigation.

“Patient safety is a critical aspect of all health-care services in Manitoba. We are constantly reviewing our processes to ensure that our systems support our staff in preventing errors,” it said.

“In this case … our team reviewed the existing processes to make adjustments that would help avoid a similar error from occurring in the future.”

Bardarson said the health region has not provided her with updated information on the investigation and would not discuss any consequences the health worker may have faced.

Manitoba Health said no further action would be taken against the worker, because she immediately recognized the error and told a supervisor.

For Bardarson, that’s not enough.

“I by no means want her fired; however, there should be some sort of measures in place for harm reduction.”

Bardarson suggested taking away the worker’s injection privileges or enhanced supervision during vaccinations.

She said she would also like to see areas at vaccination centres separated by vaccine types, instead of having different vaccines offered in the same booth.

Manitoba Health could not say if others have been given a COVID-19 vaccine by mistake, but acknowledged that medication errors, although rare, do occur. It added that Bardarson was provided with information about the risks of the COVID-19 vaccine, which in this case it says are low.

Health Canada said it is not in charge of immunization monitoring and could not comment on whether similar mistakes have occurred in other parts of the country.

– Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press

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Two hippos in Belgian zoo test positive for COVID-19

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Two hippos have tested positive for COVID-19 at Antwerp Zoo in Belgium in what could be the first reported cases in the species, zoo staff said.

Hippos Imani, aged 14, and 41-year-old Hermien have no symptoms apart from a runny nose, but the zoo said the pair had been put into quarantine as a precaution.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time in this species. Worldwide, this virus has been reported mainly in great apes and felines,” said the zoo’s vet, Francis Vercammen.

The coronavirus is thought to have jumped from an animal to a human, and it is proved to have passed from humans to animals.

Pets including cats, dogs and ferrets have become infected following contact with their owners, while in zoos, cases have been reported in animals such as big cats, otters, primates and hyenas.

The disease has also spread in mink farms and to wild animals, such as deer.

Antwerp Zoo is investigating the causes of the contagion. None of the zookeepers had recently shown COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive for the virus, the zoo said.

 

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Helen Popper)

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