Operators of Canada’s conference centres, airports and stadiums are joining a global rush to be certified as pandemic-resistant while they compete for events and visitors that will bring billions of dollars in economic benefits for their cities.
In recent weeks, convention centres in Edmonton and Calgary, B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver and the Trudeau International Airport in Montreal have reported achieving GBAC Star accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, a division of international cleaning industry association ISSA.
“It’s important when the messaging goes out that it is that ‘Calgary is a safe destination for conventions,”’ said Kurby Court, CEO of the Calgary Telus Convention Centre, who said he is fielding booking inquiries for events three or four years in the future, potentially long after a vaccine has been developed for COVID-19.
“When you’re comparing destinations, this will be one of the deciding factors moving forward. Safety and biorisk is not going away.”
The accreditation is designed to show that training has taken place and there’s a proven system of cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention for staff and buildings to head off biohazards like the novel coronavirus.
Facilities must follow specific criteria to show compliance with the program’s 20 elements, which range from standard operating procedures and risk assessment to personal protective equipment and emergency preparedness and response measures.
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On Friday, Illinois-based ISSA unveiled a searchable database on its website for its growing list of accredited facilities.
“The GBAC Star program has more than 250 facilities accredited and 3,000-plus committed to accreditation in more than 80 countries, with additional facilities added daily,” said GBAC executive director Patricia Olinger.
The accredited list includes more than a dozen Hyatt hotels in locations that range from Danang, Vietnam, to San Francisco, along with airports, industrial sites and retail buildings around the globe.
“People spend a lot of time inside our terminal building when they travel, the same way they do when they go to a convention centre or a stadium,” said Anne-Sophie Hamel, spokeswoman for Trudeau International, adding it has also been certified under the Airport Health Accreditation Program offered by Airport Councils International.
“Those accreditations prove that (the airport) will be ready to welcome more passengers in the terminal, as soon as the borders open, and shows our deep commitment to keeping people safe and confident for their future travels.”
She said the airport is expecting about 71 per cent fewer passengers this year than last year.
The pandemic has hit airports and convention centres particularly hard because of border lockdowns that prevent people from travelling, along with local bans on large indoor gatherings.
In Calgary, the convention centre’s main ballroom was used to temporarily house up to 300 homeless people per night in April, May and June as a measure to enhance social distancing at the downtown Calgary Drop-In Centre shelter.
The room, which can accommodate as many as 4,000 people, has since returned to its usual role of hosting meetings and conferences but business has been less than brisk and the staff count has fallen by more than half.
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Some customers have postponed bookings more than once, some events have gone to a “hybrid” model with a mix of in-person and online participation and many events have been cancelled entirely.
“It’s in the hundreds of events that have moved,” Court said. “It has a tremendous economic effect for the city.”
The BMO Centre at Stampede Park in Calgary, which also handles conventions, has also been certified by GBAC and the united front is important for Calgary’s reputation as a safe place going forward, Court said.
Certification involved preparing an exhaustive submission and paying a “nominal” registration fee of about $1,000, he said. The certification is to be reviewed annually.
Because of travel bans, no one from the association actually travelled to Calgary, he said.
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Trudeau announces $214M for Canadian coronavirus vaccine research – Global News
The federal government says it’s spending $214 million to support “made in Canada” coronavirus vaccine research.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that $173 million would go to Quebec-based Medicago, while Vancouver’s Precision NanoSystems would receive $18.2 million for development and testing.
“This is about securing potential vaccines for Canadians while supporting good jobs in research,” he told reporters at a press conference in Ottawa.
The deal with Medicago includes up to 76 million doses of its vaccine candidate, as well as funds to set up a production facility in Quebec City.
A further $23 million will go toward the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program.
To date, the federal government has spent more than $1 billion to secure doses of a vaccine against the coronavirus. Deals have been struck with half a dozen pharmaceutical giants, and Canada is also part of an international vaccine alliance through COVAX.
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“Canada has an excellent portfolio of vaccine potential, but we also know, nobody’s got that vaccine yet,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau said the “reasonable expectation” is that vaccines could arrive sometime in the new year, but initially there will be smaller amounts available and the shots would be going to priority groups first.
“I think of our most vulnerable or our frontline workers, and we have experts busy evaluating exactly how and where and in which way to distribute these vaccines,” he said, adding that Ottawa would be working with the provinces and territories on the distribution.
He stressed that no vaccine would be available until Health Canada officials are certain the immunization is safe.
Trudeau’s announcement came after Canada posted a record increase in new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, with nearly 2,800 people newly diagnosed with the illness.
“We have to get these numbers down,” Trudeau said. “This is serious and everybody must do their part.”
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In response to a Radio-Canada report that found Canada could be months behind countries such as the United States on receiving COVID-19 vaccines, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said that the government was “strategically positioning” Canadians to have access.
“With agreements in place for seven leading vaccine candidates, for one of the most diverse COVID-19 vaccine candidate portfolios in the world, Canada is very well placed,” read a statement from Anand.
Anand’s statement also said that anticipated delivery dates start as early as the first quarter of 2021, but are dependent on the results of the clinical trials, as well as on Health Canada approval.
“However, let me be clear, we are being very aggressive in our negotiations regarding delivery dates, with the ultimate priority of making sure that Canadians have access to safe, proven and effective COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are ready.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Ontario reports record 978 new COVID-19 cases
Ontario reported 978 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, the most on a single day since the outbreak began in late January.
Saturday’s count surpasses the previous high of 939, which was reported on Oct. 9.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said the majority of the new cases are concentrated in Toronto, which once again led the way with 348. Another 170 cases were reported in Peel Region, followed by 141 in York Region and 89 in Ottawa.
A handful of other areas saw double-digit increases as well:
- Durham Region: 51.
- Eastern Ontario: 43.
- Simcoe Muskoka: 23.
- Halton Region: 21.
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 15.
- Waterloo Region: 14.
- Hamilton: 10.
- Niagara Region: 10.
The number of patients hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19 now sits at 294, an increase of 18 since Friday.
There are 82 people in intensive care units, an increase of four, and 53 people are on ventilators, an increase of six.
The province’s seven-day average of new daily cases has also broken a new record. As of Saturday, it sits at 803 — higher than any other day so far this year.
Ontario’s cumulative total of cases now sits at 69,331. Some 625 cases were marked as resolved in Saturday’s update.
Six more people have died of COVID-19 in Ontario. The provincial death toll now stands at 3,086.
Nearly 44,200 tests completed
Meanwhile, Ontario’s network of community, commercial and hospital labs processed 44,151 novel coronavirus test samples since its last daily report.
While that figure marks the highest number of daily tests completed so far this week, it still falls short of Ontario’s goal of processing 50,000 tests per day by mid-October. The province also set a goal of processing 68,000 tests by mid-November.
Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious diseases specialist at Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont., attributes that shortfall to Ontario’s tightened testing criteria and move to appointment-only testing.
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“This has caused a bit of problems because we’re getting people to make appointments, but there are some double bookings happening, people not showing up,” he told CBC News Network on Saturday.
“This has put a little bit of a wrench in plans.”
But Chakrabarti said despite those issues, he hopes testing will ramp up in the coming weeks.
“It’s important for us to have the right testing at the right time and not just the big numbers. Otherwise you start to get a picture that does not actually represent what’s happening on the ground,” he said.
Halton mayors ask to stay in Stage 3
Meanwhile, two mayors and MPPs from Halton Region wrote a letter to Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, on Friday, pleading with him to refrain from imposing Stage 2 restrictions on the area.
“Last week when York Region faced new restrictions, Halton Region came together. We acted quickly to implement several recommendations made by our Medical Officer of Health,” the letter reads.
“These measures are working.”
The letter — signed by MPPs Parm Gill and Jane McKenna, as well as Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr, Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Milton Mayor Gordon Krantz — also noted that the region’s positivity rate has not moved past public health’s “high alert” range of 2.5 per cent.
“In these unprecedented times, individuals and businesses need to have some level of predictability and stability. This is why we are also calling on you to clearly define the criteria used to determine when further restrictions or rollbacks are required, as well as the criteria that must be met for lifting any restrictions or rollbacks,” the letter reads.
The plea comes after Premier Doug Ford hinted on Friday that Halton could soon join the list of regions with stricter COVID-19 measures.
Ford said provincial officials will examine the situation there over the weekend to decide whether the area needs to be moved back into a modified Stage 2.
The restrictions mean restaurants can only offer outdoor service, and gyms and theatres must close.
“It’s concerning right now, I’ve seen the numbers go up again,” Ford said on Friday.
Asked if a similar move would be considered for Durham Region, where new cases are also increasing, Ford said the province will look at every area that’s experiencing “a little escalation” and provide clarity on Monday.
Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa moved to a modified Stage 2 — which includes the closure of gyms, movie theatres and casinos, and a ban on indoor dining in restaurants or bars — on Oct. 10, while York Region did so this week.
The tighter rules are set to be reviewed after 28 days, and Ford said he would make decisions on any steps beyond that based on the advice of the provincial health team.
Horwath calls for expansion of contact tracing
In a statement on Saturday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath blamed Ontario’s high case count on Ford’s “refusal to invest in stopping the growth of the second wave.”
Horwath said the province is sitting on more than $9 billion in pandemic support funding, more than $7 billion of which she said came from the federal government.
“Mr. Ford doesn’t want to spend the money. And cases are skyrocketing as a result,” she said in the statement
Horwath is calling for a “massive” expansion of testing and contact tracing in “every community” across the province.
She also wants to see enhanced protections in the long-term care sector, as well as a 15-student class cap in schools.
“People can’t afford to have Mr. Ford delay another day,” Horwath said.
10 patients, 4 staff infected at CAMH
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) said on Saturday that 10 patients and four staff members so far have tested positive for COVID-19 due to an outbreak at its Queen Street site.
The news of the most recent confirmed cases comes after the hospital first reported an outbreak last weekend.
“We continue to remain vigilant about policies and procedures to keep staff and patients safe and we are working with our partners at Toronto Public Health on reporting, surveillance, and infection control,” CAMH wrote in a statement on Saturday.
CAMH is not the only hospital that has reported outbreaks in Toronto over the last week. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre reported an outbreak in the facility’s surgical unit on Friday and St. Joseph’s Health Centre, along with Toronto Western Hospital, reported outbreaks last weekend.
Thermal blankets draw patio-goers
Some restaurants are looking for creative ways to keep dining available outside as COVID-19 hot spots in Ontario have reverted back to a modified stage two.
With indoor dining closed, restaurants in the Danforth neighbourhood in Toronto are part of a new initiative with the Broadview-Danforth BIA to entice customers to visit outdoor patios, despite chillier weather.
Beginning on Saturday, those who dine out on outdoor patios in the neighbourhood will receive a free thermal blanket and a $5 gift card to use at any BIA business in the area.
Some residents participated in the initiative on Saturday, wrapping themselves in the blankets to stay warm during the crisp, late October weather.
Source: – CBC.ca
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada – Yorkton This Week
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):
Yukon says it has three new cases of COVID-19 with all the infections in Watson Lake.
Chief medical health officer Dr. Brendan Hanley says this is the fourth incidence of infection in a rural community.
The cases bring the territory’s total number of infections to 20 people.
B.C. is reporting 223 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, tipping the number of active infections over 2,000.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says in a statement contact tracing teams throughout B.C. are working around the clock.
But she says their success depends on everyone doing their part and taking a step back from social interactions.
There have been two new community outbreaks, one at a hot tub and spa manufacturing company and one at a food processing business in Langley.
Seventy-five people are in hospital, including 24 in intensive care, but no one else has died from the illness since the province’s last update.
Quebec’s deputy premier has a dire warning for those living in the provincial capital and the neighbouring Chaudiere-Appalaches region amid a rising number of cases of COVID-19.
Genevieve Guilbault says people haven’t been following public health guidelines, resulting in a spike of cases in the two regions that could threaten the ability to provide medical treatment if it’s not brought under control.
Both regions were largely spared during the first wave, but Guilbault says in Chaudiere-Appalaches, there have been four times more cases and five times more deaths this time.
The Quebec City region holds the dubious distinction of having the highest number of active cases per 100,000 population in the province.
Guilbault was joined by the mayors of Levis and Quebec City, urging the population to limit their contacts and follow public health guidelines.
A man in his 80s is the latest death linked to the deadliest COVID-19 outbreak in a Manitoba care home.
There has been a total of 15 deaths at the Parkview Place care home in Winnipeg.
There were 163 new infections Friday, the vast majority in the capital city.
Winnipeg went weeks without any new infections over the summer, but case numbers have risen rapidly in the last two months.
A total of 33 cases have now also been connected to a poultry plant in Blumenort, southeast of Winnipeg, and the company says one employee has died.
Quebec-based company Exceldor, which owns the plant, says an investigation is ongoing to see whether the death of the 42-year-old man is related to his COVID-19 infection.
Newfoundland and Labrador is asking passengers who travelled on Air Canada Flight 7484 from Toronto to Deer Lake on Oct. 12 to call 811 to arrange for a test.
Health officials say the request for testing is being made out of an abundance of caution.
The request stems from a new case of COVID-19 announced Thursday affecting a man between 20 and 39 years old who returned to the province from work in Alberta.
On Thursday, officials said the man was self-isolating and contact tracing was still underway.
New Brunswick is reporting two new cases of COVID-19.
Both are in the Campbellton region, which is one of two areas in the province that were hit by significant outbreaks of novel coronavirus two weeks ago.
Health officials say the two new cases involve a person 40 to 49 years old and a person between 70 and 79 — both are self-isolating.
There are currently 75 active cases in a province that has confirmed 324 overall cases, while 245 people have recovered and four people have died.
Canada saw a record high number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed yesterday, with 2,788 new illnesses recorded.
In an Ottawa news conference, Canada’s chief public health officer is calling, again, for Canadians to reduce their contacts with other people, wear masks and follow hygiene protocols.
Dr. Theresa Tam says the longer we wait to curb the spread of COVID-19, the harder it will be to contain.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is spending $214 million to produce potential COVID-19 vaccines in Canada.
That includes a deal with Quebec’s Medicago and one with British Columbia’s Precision NanoSystems, both of which are working on potential vaccines.
Trudeau says the Medicago agreement includes the rights to buy up to 76 million doses of its vaccine, if it proves safe and effective, and funding for a factory in Quebec City to produce them.
The prime minister also says Canada has received “hundreds of thousands” of test kits from medical company Abbott to be distributed to the provinces and territories.
Two more vaccine makers have asked Health Canada to study their product before it has completed clinical trials.
Both Moderna and Pfizer applied to Health Canada on Oct. 12 to have their vaccine candidates studied by the regulator.
Health Canada is trying to review the vaccines at the same time they are undergoing final clinical tests so they can be approved for use here as quickly as possible.
AstraZeneca applied for its vaccine candidate on Oct. 1.
All three vaccine candidates are among the ones Canada will get access to if they are deemed safe and effective.
Quebec is reporting 905 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.
Authorities said today four COVID-related deaths occurred in the past 24 hours.
Hospitalizations dropped by 13 compared with the prior day, for a total of 540.
The province has reported a total of 98,226 COVID-19 infections and 6,106 deaths linked to the virus.
Ontario is reporting 826 new cases of COVID-19 today, and nine new deaths due to the virus.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says 292 cases are in Toronto, 186 in Peel Region, 87 in Ottawa, and 72 in York Region.
The province says it has conducted 40,019 tests since the last daily report, with another 35,436 being processed.
In total, 276 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 78 in intensive care.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020.
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