Public health officials are urgently warning that COVID-19 could gain ground in North America, while the Canadian doctor who led a team in China to study the virus says the world “is simply not ready” for a potential pandemic.
Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggested Tuesday the virus will likely spread far and wide.
“Current global circumstances suggest it’s likely that this virus will cause a pandemic,” she said.
Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer of Canada, says officials are ready to take strong measures to guard against outbreaks, which “could perhaps include some closures of mass gatherings, for example, where there is higher likelihood of spread.”
Some Canadian hospitals are already preparing for a potential outbreak, including Ontario’s Scarborough Health Network, which has 18 beds dedicated for any patients infected with COVID-19.
“We have all of the hands on deck to provide the services for patients if we get a big influx,” Dr. Dick Zoutman, Chief of Staff at Scarborough Health Network, told CTV News.
Nearly four per cent of medical workers in China have become infected, so enhanced protection for staff is critical, said Dr. Neil Rau, a medical microbiologist at Halton Healthcare Services and CTV’s infectious diseases expert.
This includes bringing in extra gowns, masks and gloves.
“We have to have enough protective equipment for health care providers to protect them from getting the infection,” he said. “We have to protect our health care providers from getting the infection, so we don’t lose confidence in the health care staff and lose the ability to take care of patients who are sick.”
COVID-19 has also shown itself to be particularly harmful for those aged 80 and older, meaning extra precautions in seniors’ facilities are paramount.
“Nursing homes are a perfect set-up for a virus like this to take off,” Rau added.
In China, one strategy that has proved effective is the increase in telemedicine, where people who aren’t very sick stay home and received consultations online.
Dr. Vera Etches, the medical officer of health in Ottawa, suggests people stock up on prescriptions if infections start to spread.
“Even groceries that are non-perishable is good to have extra on hand if you can, so you don’t have to run out to the grocery story if you are feeling ill,” she said.
On Tuesday, Dr. Bruce Aylward, an epidemiologist and an assistant director-general for the World Health Organization (WHO), spoke in Geneva about his recent visit to China as the lead of an independent team of experts who examined the COVID-19 outbreak, which has sickened more than 78,000 and killed more than 2,700 in the country’s mainland.
The group consisted of 13 international experts and 12 Chinese nationals who travelled to Beijing, Guangdong province, Sichuan province, and the city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, to gauge the impact of Chinese measures to care for the infected and prevent further spread of the respiratory virus.
After visiting with hundreds of health-care workers, government officials, volunteers, and residents across the country for a week, Aylward said his team determined that China had successfully managed to decrease the number of new cases with their “robust” approach.
“It’s the unanimous assessment of the team that they have changed the course of this outbreak,” he told a press conference in Geneva. “Hundreds of thousands of people in China did not get COVID-19 because of this aggressive response.”
According to Aylward, China’s response to the pathogen includes case finding, tracing contact, social distancing, and movement restriction. He said the country has successfully reacted to the outbreak by taking a differentiated and tailored approach to various regions so as to not exhaust their resources.
The epidemiologist said one of the things he was most struck by during his visit was the country’s mobilization of people. He described China’s collective action and co-operation in their response as “phenomenal.”
“We spoke to hundreds of people in hotels, on trains, in planes, who are quite outside the system, and they all shared this sense of responsibility, accountability to be part of this,” he recalled.
In Wuhan, in particular, Aylward said he witnessed the population band together to fight the outbreak.
“As you drive into this city in the dead of night with the lights on, it’s a ghost town, but behind every window in every skyscraper there are people co-operating with this response,” he said. “It’s staggering.”
Aylward also praised China’s ability to repurpose the “machinery of government,” such as transportation and other infrastructure, to respond to the health emergency. He said the country’s use of technology and science was also important in ensuring the response was timely and appropriate across all regions, including rural ones.
“What China demonstrates is, where this goes is within the control of our decisions to apply this kind of rigour and approach to this disease and its outbreak,” he said.
As China gets a handle on the spread of COVID-19 within its borders, the rest of the world is dealing with increasing numbers of cases popping up since the virus was identified eight weeks ago.
In South Korea, there have been nearly 1,000 confirmed cases of the virus while Japan grapples with approximately 860 cases, most of which originated on a cruise ship that made port there in the beginning of February.
Elsewhere, Iranian authorities have reported 15 deaths from the illness so far while Italy has become the site of the largest outbreak in Europe with nearly 300 cases.
In North America, the U.S. has confirmed 53 cases and Canada has reported 11, all in Ontario and B.C.
Aylward said at this point, the rest of the world is “simply not ready” for a COVID-19 outbreak within their own borders. He said countries should already be increasing their hospital bed capacity, stocking up on ventilators and oxygen supplies, developing a quarantine plan, and assessing their laboratory capabilities.
The WHO expert stressed that the rest of the world can and should learn from China’s experience in dealing with a virus outbreak.
“At this point, the world needs the experience of China,” he said. “Access the expertise in China. They’ve done this at scale, they know what they’re doing, they’re really, really good at it, and they’re keen to help.”
In conclusion, Aylward said his mission to China showed that it’s possible to affect the course of COVID-19 outbreaks.
“You can change the shape of this but it takes a very aggressive and tough program,” he said.
With files from CTV National News Medical Correspondent Avis Favaro and senior producer Elizabeth St. Philip
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Hockey Canada trying to ‘salvage’ World Juniors amid scandal, low ticket sales – Global News
The tournament got underway on Tuesday in Edmonton, Alta., with thousands of tickets still available. It was postponed late last year as a result of the Omicron variant surge.
In the months since, the national organization has become embroiled in condemnation and controversy over its handling of the allegations. As a result, regional tourism body Explore Edmonton, told Global News, it paused promotion of the tournament in July.
“As the host city for the upcoming tournament, we continue to have discussions with Hockey Canada officials about their plans to address the need for change,” said Traci Bednard, CEO of Explore Edmonton.
Thousands of tickets still up for grabs for World Juniors Championship games in Edmonton
For sports culture expert Dan Mason, that’s not a huge surprise.
“Hockey Canada is hurting because they’re lacking sponsorship and the usual promotion that they get. I don’t think it’s necessarily something that they would really want to be doing anyway, given the circumstances that they’re in,” said Mason, a professor of sport management at the University of Alberta.
“I think they’re just trying to salvage this opportunity to have some player development.”
The World Juniors is the international championship for players aged 20 or younger competing for spots on teams run by the national hockey league.
It is run by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), which confirmed last week it is now among the growing number of official bodies investigating Hockey Canada over its handling of sexual assault allegations. The Zurich, Switzerland-based world governing body for ice hockey said it wants more information amid a continued storm of criticism and condemnation, which has rocked Hockey Canada to its core.
“These are deeply troubling incidents that the IIHF takes extremely seriously,” the organization told Global News on Aug. 1.
TSN first reported in May that Hockey Canada had settled a lawsuit in which a young woman, “E.M.”, alleged she was sexually assaulted by eight hockey players including members of the 2018 Canadian World Juniors team following a gala organized by the organization.
In the months since, Hockey Canada has been engulfed in scrutiny including: three parliamentary committee meetings focusing on the matter, a funding freeze ordered by the federal sports minister, a financial audit, a renewed criminal investigation by police in London, Ont., and an NHL probe.
The organization has lost multiple major sponsors for the World Juniors tournament including Tim Hortons, Telus, Canadian Tire and Scotiabank, and faced a revolt from provincial hockey organizations vowing to withhold funding. The chair of the board of directors is gone — though the president Scott Smith remains. Former Supreme Court justice Thomas Cromwell is leading a governance review due in November.
Whether Smith will remain in the role after that review remains uncertain.
Meanwhile, Canadian parents are furious, particularly over the revelations of a slush fund used to pay out sexual assault claimants using registration fees paid by parents for their children to play what Stompin’ Tom Connors once called “the good ol’ hockey game.”
Abuse survivors react to Hockey Canada executives’ testimony
Mason said he expects the impact of the revelations will play out in youth enrolment numbers.
At the same time, some locals who planned to attend the World Juniors said they trust that the problems in the organization are being taken care of and don’t want to penalize the players.
Randy Thompson spoke to Global News outside the Rogers Centre in Edmonton. He said he plans to catch a few games, and after years of COVID-19 disruption watching the World Juniors feels like a return to a “nice tradition.”
“I think it’s on all of our minds and we hope that there’s a positive resolution to that,” he said of the allegations and the outcry facing Hockey Canada.
“But hockey still is what it is and we shouldn’t let that affect us too too much. I think we need to stay true to our hockey culture or hockey tradition, and I know that the right people will take care of things.”
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The Canadian team is set to face off against Latvia on Wednesday in their first game of the tournament.
Team Canada’s head coach André Tourigny said leaders have been emphasizing to players that they are under the spotlight, but kept his remarks to the media brief about the outcry facing Hockey Canada.
“We’ve addressed that. We recognize that there’s steps to be taken,” said Tourigny earlier this week. “We did a sexual violence thing, we did a code of conduct thing.”
Brenda Andress, who was commissioner of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League for 12 years, told Global News she still sees a “code of silence” in Canadian sports when it comes to sex abuse and sexual allegations.
She said in an interview last week that many still have trouble wrapping their heads around the extent of the problem.
“Being in the sports world as long as I have been, there is a code of silence. There’s a culture that we have created, and I think most of us can’t handle the truth that’s out there — that’s really going on in our sports world,” Andress said.
“It’s time that we take a look at it in a lot deeper avenue than we’re currently doing.”
— With files from Global Edmonton’s Morgan Black.
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Sask. woman, accused of faking own death, says she had 'no choice' but to flee – CBC.ca
The Saskatoon woman accused of staging the disappearance of herself and her son has issued a statement to CBC News from an Oregon jail.
Dawn Walker, 48, was the subject of an extensive missing persons search after she disappeared with her son about two weeks ago. She was found and arrested in Oregon City on Friday and has been detained in the U.S. since.
“I left Saskatoon because I feared for my safety and that of my son,” Walker said in a written statement to CBC News. She didn’t name the person she said she fears, but Walker has previously made domestic violence allegations against her ex, who is the father of her seven-year-old son.
Police have said the domestic violence allegations were investigated, but no evidence was found to support them.
Walker’s friend, Eleanore Sunchild, recorded Walker’s statement during a visit at the Multnomah County Jail in Portland on Monday.
Walker is charged in the U.S. with aggravated identity theft, which, if convicted, would lead to a minimum prison sentence of two years. She has also been criminally charged with parental abduction and public mischief in Canada.
U.S. prosecutors allege that Walker faked her and her son’s deaths as part of an elaborate scheme that involved stolen identities and a fraudulent bank account. Police were able to locate Walker and her son last Friday by following bank transactions for gas, food, Netflix and Airbnb rentals.
Walker says justice system failed
Walker said she was “failed by the Saskatchewan Justice system, the family law system and child protection.”
She said she previously filed domestic abuse reports with Saskatoon police and RCMP and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The police services did nothing to assist me. I reported my concerns to the child protection authorities and again nothing was done. I am fighting systems that continuously fail to protect me as an Indigenous woman and protect non-Indigenous men,” Walker said.
“So many women and children before us have had to run for their lives to protect their children. The SPS and RCMP only cared when they thought I was dead and the pressure they were under because of their blatant failures.”
Before Walker was located by police, her friends and family suggested foul play or interpersonal violence could be involved in her disappearance. Saskatoon police were asked Monday about the allegations.
“Any potential or any previous allegations made by Dawn Walker were thoroughly investigated and no charges resulted as a result of those investigations,” Saskatoon police Deputy Chief Randy Huisman said.
The allegations of domestic abuse were also put directly to her ex, the father of the seven-year-old, by CKOM before Walker and her son were found.
Andrew Jansen told CKOM he “would never hurt Dawn or [her son]. There’s no truth to any of that, and that’s all I can say.” CBC News contacted Jansen about the allegations. He declined to comment, saying he is taking time to focus on his son and family.
Walker says she had ‘no choice’
In her statement, Walker had a message for the dozens of family members, friends and others who prayed and searched for her in the days after she was declared missing.
“I apologize to anyone I hurt. I was left with no choice. No one heard me. I love my son so very much. He is my only child…I was motivated out of my immense love for [him],” she said.
She said she witnessed something involving the boy “that scared me to the core,” but did not elaborate.
“More will come out as I further tell my story upon my return to our Treaty lands,” she said.
Sunchild and Walker’s family also emailed written statements to CBC News. They are pressing for Walker’s extradition to Canada and encouraging others to do the same.
“We, her supporters, urge the Canadian and Saskatchewan governments to commence extradition proceedings immediately so Dawn can return to Canada to deal with her matters there,” said Sunchild, a Cree lawyer in Saskatchewan who is in the U.S. supporting Walker as a friend.
The family said Walker “deserves our compassion and understanding.… It’s not easy being an Indigenous woman in Saskatchewan. All she wanted to do was raise her son in peace.”
Saskatoon police said the criminal investigation into Walker — and those who may have helped her — is ongoing. They said there could be more criminal charges laid depending on the outcome.
A rally is being held Tuesday evening at the Legislature building in Regina in support of Walker, who appears back in court next month.
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