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Canada’s second confirmed presumptive case of coronavirus is wife of first patient

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TORONTO —
The first Wuhan coronavirus case in Canada has been confirmed as positive, health officials said Monday, while a second case, involving the man’s wife, is considered “presumptive positive”.

The woman, who has not exhibited symptoms, and her husband recently returned to Toronto from Wuhan. The husband was taken to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences by ambulance on Jan. 23, where he is in stable condition and being kept in isolation. His wife has been in self-isolation since arriving in Toronto, Ontario health officials said.

“In many ways, this new case is not surprising,” and the risk to Ontarians remains low, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams reiterated in a press conferenceon Monday.

Toronto Public Health has been in regular contact with the woman during her self-isolation period, officials said.

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The couple, who are in their 50s, both wore masks for the duration of the flight as a precaution, health officials said, and were picked up in a private vehicle where the driver also wore a mask. They were taken straight home, where they live alone.

Officials are following protocols and actively following up with passengers on China Southern Airlines flight CZ311 from Guangzhou, China, who were in close proximity to the couple and have made contact with a few. The couple’s flight landed at Pearson International Airport at 3:46 p.m. on Jan.22.

Williams told CTV’s Your Morning earlier Monday that the entire plane was not at risk because it’s a “droplet-spread organism.”

A public call for passengers on that flight could still be made if necessary, said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto, while still taking into account various concerns, including privacy.

Officials also noted that individuals have been self-identifying as having symptoms of a respiratory virus, but no other cases have been identified so far.

“There is no perfect screening system in an airport. In fact, for SARS, we were doing thermal screening at the airport and it was found to be totally ineffective,” said Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health.

There are also no plans at the moment to restrict incoming flights from China, Williams said, adding that Canadian officials are taking direction from the World Health Organization and other experts.

OTHER CASES UNDER INVESTIGATION

Samples from the two cases were sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for full confirmation. Authorities said it will take about 48 hours for that lab to complete their test.

There are 19 other cases under investigation, officials said, and another 15 ruled out as negative so far. The cases being investigated involve people who have shown relevant symptoms and have also travelled to the city of Wuhan or Hubei province.

An outbreak of the virus that began in Wuhan has killed 80 people, with roughly 2,800 cases confirmed so far. Most of the cases are centered in Wuhan, but more than 40 have been confirmed elsewhere.

A total of 17 cities in China are currently on lockdown, limiting the movement of more than 50 million people during what is normally the world’s busiest travel period due to the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.

The country has extended that holiday into February in an effort to keep the public at home. Many large public events and gatherings have also been cancelled, while a number of major tourist sites including The Forbidden City and Shanghai Disneyland have closed until further notice.

Canada does not have a consular presence in Wuhan, but Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said Canadians are advised to avoid non-essential travel to the Chinese province of Hubei due to the heavy travel restrictions currently in place.

“We are in contact with a number of Canadians on the ground, providing consular assistance with respect to their specific needs,” Champagne said. “We are also liaising with our international partners to look at options to ensure the wellbeing and safety of all Canadians who would need consular assistance at this moment.”

There are a number of Canadians who have registered with the voluntary Registration of Canadians Abroad service, and Champagne encouraged Canadians to register to help stay in touch and have access to up-to-date information.

DIFFERENT ERA THAN SARS

Health officials said that Ontario has implemented enhanced screening measures at 911 call centres to help identify potential cases of the virus and to ensure that first responders arrive in appropriate protective gear when necessary.

Health officials underscored the difference between the SARS outbreak 17 years ago and the coronavirus.

“We’re constantly learning and updating our knowledge in respect of this novel virus,” said de Villa, who added that the new virus was only identified a month ago.

“To have this much information, and this much understanding, and this much knowledge shared globally I think is actually quite remarkable and a positive statement on the international public health community.”

But experts say there is still a lot of unknown factors regarding the coronavirus, including when a patient would be considered no longer infectious.

Williams said the number of infections are also too small at the moment to get an accurate measure of the virus’ communicability. For the time being, it appeared to be less than influenza A, for example, but that much more information is needed. “It’s still early days,” he said.

He also said the ministry also has comprehensive preparedness measures in place should the situation escalate.

“Preparedness is such that we are well ahead of where we were back in 2003, where everyone thinks about SARS. It’s a different world, different era now.”

Health officials also noted that the number of staff trained for infectious diseases is significantly greater than it was during SARS, with hospitals having infections control committees and infection control practitioners.

The best advice for the public is to stay at home if an individual feels sick or has symptoms of a viral respiratory illness, and to seek medical attention if symptoms worsen, said de Villa. Good practices like getting the annual flu shot, hand washing or using hand sanitizer, covering a cough or sneeze, and not touching the face and mouth are important.

“Those are the elements that are core and fundamental to respiratory virus prevention … staying home when one is sick is also one of the cornerstones with respect respiratory virus prevention,” said de Villa, but added that the biggest risk factor in this case remained travel to the affected areas.

Canadians who need emergency consular help can contact the Embassy of Canada in Beijing at 86 (10) 5139-4000. Canadians can also call the department’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 or email sos@international.gc.ca.

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Bank of Canada raises key interest rate to 4.25 per cent, its highest since 2008 – CTV News

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The Bank of Canada has raised its overnight rate by 50 basis points to 4.25 per cent, marking its seventh rate hike in nine months. The last time the bank’s policy rate was this high was in January 2008.

The inflation rate remained high at 6.9 per cent in October, well above the bank’s 2 per cent target. Higher gas prices put upward pressure on the cost of most goods and services, according to the Consumer Price Index released by Statistics Canada last month.

The bank says the economy continued to operate in excess demand during the third quarter and the labour market in Canada remained tight. With unemployment remaining at historic lows, Statistics Canada reported average hourly wages rose by 5.6 per cent year-over-year in October.

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The bank says tighter monetary policy is affecting domestic demand in the Canadian economy, with declines in the housing market and consumption moderating during the third quarter. Since its monetary report in October, the bank continues to expect economic growth to stall through the end of this year and into the first half of 2023.

“The November GDP data showed us that economic activity in Canada had already started to shrink,” said Sheila Block, senior economist with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. “Given that slowdown, any hopes for a soft landing have been crushed by today’s rate hikes.”

During a press conference following the bank’s last rate announcement on Oct. 27, Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem signalled “the tightening phase will draw to a close, we are getting closer, but we aren’t there yet.”

On Wednesday, the bank did not rule out further rate increases to tackle inflation.

“Looking ahead, Governing Council will be considering whether the policy interest rate needs to rise further to bring supply and demand back into balance and return inflation to target,” reads the release.

However, experts think it will be difficult for the bank to raise rates during a period of low growth.

“It will be very hard for a central bank to raise interest rates when the economy is in a recession,” said Kevin Page, Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy President and CEO. “I think it is highly probable that the central bank will not need to raise interest rates in the short term (next three to six months).”

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre blamed the cost of living crisis on the federal government’s increased spending during the pandemic.

“It’s another uppercut for Canadians,” said Poilievre. “It’s all because of the inflationary deficits and spending of Justin Trudeau.”

Meanwhile, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called for other measures to help combat inflation.

“The federal government has to do more to look at the solutions around inflation,” said Singh during a press conference in Ottawa. “Some of those solutions include acknowledging that high profits in the corporate sector — corporate greed — is contributing to the cost of living going up.”

In the House of Commons, Associate Minister of Finance Randy Boissonnault defended his government’s policies to address the increased cost of living.

“The bank is doing their job. We’re doing our job by making sure we have the fiscal fire power to face what’s going to come,” he said during Question Period. “We’re helping Canadians to buy a new home, we’re advancing the payments for worker benefits and we’re also making sure student loan interest gets removed forever.”

The next policy rate announcement is expected on Jan. 25, 2023.

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Media shunning transparency law due to worsening delays, journalist says

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Veteran journalist Dean Beeby says reporters are abandoning the federal Access to Information Act as a research tool because turnaround times are terrible and getting worse.

The access law allows journalists and others who pay a $5 fee to request documents — from internal emails and expense claims to briefing memos and studies — but it has long been criticized as antiquated and poorly administered.

Federal agencies are supposed to respond within 30 days or provide valid reasons why they need more time to process a request.

The law has not been significantly updated since its introduction almost 40 years ago, and many users complain of lengthy delays as well as heavily blacked-out documents or full denials in response to their applications.

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Beeby, an independent journalist who spent much of his career at The Canadian Press, says bureaucrats now realize they face a much bigger blowback from releasing information than from withholding it — and the law provides a rich menu of excuses to keep things buried.

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

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Google releases Canada’s top searches of 2022

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From serious news stories to fun diversions, Canadians have done a lot of Google searches this year.

The internet search engine released its list of the most viral web searches in Canada for 2022.

Here are the Top Search Trends this year: 

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  1. Wordle
  2. Ukraine
  3. World Cup
  4. Queen Elizabeth
  5. Betty White
  6. Bob Saget
  7. Anne Heche
  8. Canuckle
  9. Johnny Depp
  10. Will Smith

“Over the last couple of years, Canadians were facing a lot of uncertainty. This year was all about supporting each other and embracing the new normals,” said Google trends expert Habiq Ali.

“Wordle was the number one top trending search term in Canada. But it was also the number one top trending search term around the world, so this web-based word game has really taken the world by storm.”

Top Canadian News Search Trends:

  1. Ukraine
  2. Rogers outage
  3. Monkeypox
  4. Lisa LaFlamme
  5. CNE
  6. U.S. Midterm Elections
  7. Saskatchewan stabbings
  8. World Cup 2022
  9. Oscars 2022
  10. Freedom Convoy 2022
 

Canadians weren’t just Googling games and current news events, they were also asking ‘Why?’

Why…

  1. Why is Russia attacking Ukraine?
  2. Why is Rogers down?
  3. Why did Will slap Chris?
  4. Why is Ukraine not in NATO?
  5. Why is there a formula shortage?
  6. Why is gas so expensive right now?
  7. Why are truckers protesting?
  8. Why is there a Tylenol shortage?
  9. Why is cryptocurrency going down?
  10. Why did Liz Truss resign?

Another question they asked was ‘how:’

How to…

  1. How to watch the World Cup
  2. How to do a rapid COVID test?
  3. How to help Ukraine?
  4. How to get a vaccine QR code?
  5. How to create an NFT?
  6. How to pronounce Kyiv?
  7. How to evolve Charcadet?
  8. How to “respec” in Elden Ring?
  9. How to evolve Cosmog in Pokémon Go?
  10. How to pronounce Qatar?

Canadians were also heavily plugged into pop culture and entertainment. From the infamous Will Smith Oscars slap to the Johnny Depp defamation trial, here were the top celebrities, movies and shows of the year:

Top Celebrities

  1. Johnny Depp
  2. Will Smith
  3. Amber Heard
  4. Chris Rock
  5. Adam Levine
  6. King Charles
  7. Jada Pinkett Smith
  8. Julia Fox
  9. Bruce Willis
  10. Mary J. Blige

Top Movies

  1. Encanto
  2. Top Gun
  3. The Batman
  4. Thor: Love and Thunder
  5. Turning Red
  6. Black Adam
  7. Everything Everywhere All at Once
  8. Morbius
  9. Uncharted
  10. Don’t Worry Darling
 

Top TV Series

  1. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story
  2. Euphoria
  3. Stranger Things
  4. Inventing Anna
  5. The Watcher
  6. House of the Dragon
  7. Moon Knight
  8. Yellowstone
  9. The Boys
  10. The Summer I Turned Pretty

It was also a very busy year for sports fans with the Winter Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.

Top Sports Searches

  1. World Cup
  2. Olympic medal count
  3. Calgary Flames
  4. Olympics
  5. CFL scores
  6. T20 World Cup 2022
  7. Asia Cup 2022
  8. Canada Soccer
  9. Golden State Warriors
  10. Indian Wells tennis

Top Athletes

  1. Guy Lafleur
  2. Novak Djokovic
  3. Antonio Brown
  4. Serena Williams
  5. Eileen Gu
  6. Kamila Valieva
  7. Felix Auger Aliassime
  8. Mitchell Miller
  9. Johnny Gaudreau
  10. Kirby Dach

“It’s a really interesting way for us to look back at the year and see what inspired us and what intrigued us,” Ali told Global News.

“From a social perspective and from a political perspective, it kind of just shows us what’s top of mind for Canadians this year.”

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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