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Canadian officials confirm two cases of new COVID-19 strain seen in UK

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Officials in the Canadian province of Ontario on Saturday said they have detected two confirmed cases of the new coronavirus strain that first appeared in the United Kingdom (U.K.).

According to Reuters, officials identified the new variant in a southern Ontario couple with no known travel history, exposure or high-risk contact.

The report comes as the province instituted a new lockdown, with 4,301 new COVID-19 cases reported over the past two days and more than 2,000 infections per day for 12 straight days.

“This further reinforces the need for Ontarians to stay home as much as possible and continue to follow all public health advice, including the provincewide shutdown measures beginning today,” Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer, said in a statement Saturday, Reuters reported.

While experts are still looking into the origins and transmission of the new strain, scientists believe the variant is about 40 to 70 percent more transmissible than the original.

A study released this week by the Center for Mathematical Modeling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine put the rate at 56 percent more contagious.

Canada last week extended a ban on passenger flights coming from the U.K. to Jan. 6 and expanded screening and monitoring measures from South Africa due to the rise of the new strain.

It is unclear if the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech and approved by Canada and other countries earlier this month is effective at preventing this variant.

Moderna said in a statement on Wednesday that its vaccine will likely be able to protect people from the new strain, adding that it planned to run tests to confirm the vaccine’s efficacy.

Canada on Wednesday authorized use of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine for broad use, clearing the way for the second vaccine to be distributed throughout the country.

The vaccine is indicated for use in people aged 18 years or older. Moderna is conducting additional studies in children from 12 years of age and older, so the guidance could be revised in the future.

As of Saturday, Canada has had nearly 541,000 COVID-19 cases, with more than 14,700 fatalities due to the virus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Several other countries, including Australia, Italy and the Netherlands, have also reported cases of the new infectious strain.

Source:- The Hill

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Investor exuberance pushes BlackBerry shares up 40% to highest level since 2011 – CBC.ca

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Shares in Canadian technology company BlackBerry are changing hands at their highest level in almost a decade on Monday, as investor enthusiasm for the once high-flying stock has mysteriously returned.

BlackBerry shares were trading at almost $25 a share when the Toronto Stock Exchange opened on Monday, up more than $7 or more than 40 per cent from Friday’s level.

The stock has been quietly rallying for several days now, before taking off on Monday. When 2021 began, the company was worth just over $8 a share. It’s now worth about three times that.

The company has had a number of small pieces of good news in recent weeks, but nothing that would explain Monday’s rise in share price.

Last month, the company signed a deal with Amazon to work on a connected cloud software program for cars, and then in mid-January BlackBerry favourably settled a patent fight with Facebook, but Morningstar analyst William Kerwin says neither development is enough to explain Monday’s surge.

“BlackBerry’s stock movement doesn’t appear to be rooted in any fundamental firm changes, in our view,” he said in an email to CBC News.

Instead, the company has seemingly become one of many recent firms to benefit from a groundswell of retail investor enthusiasm on popular online message boards such as Reddit, regardless of whatever the Wall Street community thinks. Of the 11 analysts who cover the company, nine have a “hold” rating on the company’s shares, and two have “sell” recommendations.

None suggest buying. But that’s not stopping retail investors from doing exactly that.

“BB is moving on Reddit boards,” said Ophir Gottlieb, CEO of trading firm Capital Market Labs. “Not much else to say.”

More than 14 million of the company’s shares changed hands in Toronto on Monday. That’s more than three times the usual volume, and half the trading day is still to come.

Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist with SIA Wealth Management in Toronto, says BlackBerry is just the latest in a series of companies that have seen unexpected rises in share prices in recent weeks.

The current stock market rally has driven up the valuation of huge companies, and now investors are moving down the food chain looking for bargains.

“Smaller stocks don’t have as much liquidity or stock available to trade so a sudden stampede of cash chasing into a smaller cap stock can swamp supply and cause the kind of massive spikes on no news that have started to really pop up in the last week or so,” he said in an email to CBC News. 

“So to me, these moves are more about market sentiment, relative performance, and supply/demand issues rather than fundamental news.”

Kerwin agrees that there are no fundamental changes to BlackBerry’s business that properly explain the price surge.

The interior of a Mercedes-Benz is seen at the Blackberry Ltd. QNX headquarters. The company has invested heavily in self-driving technology, which is helping to fuel the company’s stock surge. (Bloomberg)

“We think there’s likely a shift in market sentiment about BlackBerry, perhaps with investors getting more bullish about [their] prospects after the fact. There’s above average trading volume this morning, which might also point to [a] retail investor swell.”

‘Most undervalued stock in the world’

British Columbian Paul Ni is one such retail investor who’s riding that swell. Ni said he first became interested in the company last November, when his due diligence led him to deduce the company was the “most undervalued stock in the world.”

He’s active on a Reddit board called wallstreetbets, that boasts nearly two million people, sharing their thoughts on various equities. “How to evaluate a stock is supposed to be done by Wall Street,” he told CBC News in an interview. “But now we already dig it out.”

He bought at around $6 a share. Despite the company being almost five times higher than that, he has no plans to sell any time soon because he thinks more people are realizing the value of the company’s automotive technology. The company is currently worth $12 billion since its run-up, but Li says it should be worth $50 billion or more.

“We are very proactive about discovering value,” Li says of his fellow investing Redditors.

Gottlieb notes that BlackBerry isn’t the only company being pushed up by the sudden trend. “This is not a single stock story; it is a behavioural story.”

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Ontario reports 1,958 new COVID-19 cases amid changes to vaccines rollout – CBC.ca

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Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference beginning at 1 p.m. at Queen’s Park.

You’ll be able to watch it live in this story.


Ontario reported another 1,958 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, as experts heading the province’s vaccination campaign outlined how they are responding to delays in the delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. 

The new cases include 727 in Toronto, 375 in Peel Region and 157 in York Region. They come one year after the first confirmed infection of the novel coronavirus in Canada was found in a patient in Toronto

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases yesterday were:

  • Windsor-Essex: 85
  • Niagara Region: 82
  • Durham Region: 62
  • Hamilton: 55
  • Halton Region: 54
  • Ottawa: 51
  • Middlesex-London: 46
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 41
  • Waterloo Region: 39
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 35
  • Huron-Perth: 29
  • Southwestern: 28
  • Chatham-Kent: 22
  • Lambton: 19
  • Eastern Ontario: 11
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge: 11

(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.)

It was the fewest number of new infections logged on a single day in nearly a week. The seven-day average of daily cases continued its steady decline down to 2,371, the lowest it has been since Dec. 30, 2020. It has been trending downward since its peak of 3,555 on Jan. 11.

Notably, however, Ontario’s network of labs processed just 35,968 test samples for the virus despite capacity for more than 70,000 daily. Collectively, they reported a test positivity rate of 5.5 per cent.

Another 2,448 cases were marked resolved in today’s report. There are now 23,620 confirmed, active infections provincewide, down from a high of more than 30,000 earlier this month.

According to the province, there were 1,398 people with COVID-19 in hospitals, though as is often the case on weekends, about 10 per cent of hospitals did not submit data. A total of 397 patients were being treated in intensive care, while 283 required a ventilator to breathe.

Public health units logged another 43 deaths of people with COVID-19, pushing Ontario’s official death toll to 5,846.

Meanwhile, at a media briefing this morning, members of Ontario’s vaccine distribution task force said the province will delay first doses for health-care workers and essential caregivers amid a shortage of the Pfizer product. 

Available doses of vaccines will instead be channelled only to residents of long-term care and at-risk retirement homes, as well as First Nations seniors living in elder care settings. The goal is to have all those who fall into one of these groups be given a first dose of vaccine by Feb. 5, 10 days earlier than first planned.

Health workers in the long-term care sector as well as essential caregivers were slated to be vaccinated during the initial stages of the province’s rollout, alongside residents. Due to delays in expected shipments of the Pfizer vaccine, however, the focus in coming weeks will be solely on people at the highest risk of severe illness or death, officials said.

The shift means that front-line health-care workers in other settings, such as those doing direct patient care in hospitals, will have to wait longer than originally planned to be immunized.

Those who have received a first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can wait up to 42 days to be given a second dose, health officials said today. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Provincial officials also said there is uncertainty surrounding expected shipments of the Pfizer vaccine the weeks of Feb. 8 and Feb. 15. The federal government has not yet specified how many doses Ontario should anticipate receiving in that period, they said, making it difficult to provide a granular timeframe for when those shots will be administered.

Moreover, all of Ontario’s 34 public health units are expected to have vaccines available for priority groups by the end of this week. As of this morning, there were 14 health units that thus far had not received any doses for administration. 

The province said it gave out 5,537 doses of vaccines on Sunday. A total of 286,110 shots have been administered, while 71,256 people have received a second dose.

100,000 students return to school

Schools in seven public health units across southern Ontario reopened for in-person classes today.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that means 100,000 students will be returning to the classroom for the first time since before the winter break.

The province is implementing more safety measures in areas where schools are reopening, including requiring students in grades 1 through 3 to wear masks indoors and when physical distancing isn’t possible outside as well.

It’s also introducing “targeted asymptomatic testing” in those regions.

While it’s been more than a month since students in southern Ontario have been in the classroom, classes resumed in the northern part of the province on Jan. 11.

The provincial government has said the chief medical officer of health is keeping a close eye on the COVID-19 situation in public health units where schools remain closed to decide when it’s safe for them to reopen.

But the province has said that in five hot spot regions — Windsor-Essex, Peel, York, Toronto and Hamilton — that won’t happen until at least Feb. 10.

The public health units where schools are reopened today were:

  • Grey Bruce
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge
  • Hastings and Prince Edward Counties
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington
  • Leeds, Grenville and Lanark
  • Peterborough
  • Renfrew County

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BlackBerry shares soar 40% to highest level since 2011 – CBC.ca

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Shares in Canadian technology company BlackBerry are changing hands at their highest level in almost a decade on Monday, as investor enthusiasm for the once high-flying stock has mysteriously returned.

BlackBerry shares were trading at almost $25 a share when the Toronto Stock Exchange opened on Monday, up more than $7 or more than 40 per cent from Friday’s level.

The stock has been quietly rallying for several days now, before taking off on Monday. When 2021 began, the company was worth just over $8 a share. It’s now worth about three times that.

The company has had a number of small pieces of good news in recent weeks, but nothing that would explain Monday’s rise in share price.

Last month, the company signed a deal with Amazon to work on a connected cloud software program for cars, and then in mid-January BlackBerry favourably settled a patent fight with Facebook, but Morningstar analyst William Kerwin says neither development is enough to explain Monday’s surge.

“BlackBerry’s stock movement doesn’t appear to be rooted in any fundamental firm changes, in our view,” he said in an email to CBC News.

Instead, the company has seemingly become one of many recent firms to benefit from a groundswell of retail investor enthusiasm on popular online message boards such as Reddit, regardless of whatever the Wall Street community thinks. Of the 11 analysts who cover the company, nine have a “hold” rating on the company’s shares, and two have “sell” recommendations.

None suggest buying. But that’s not stopping retail investors from doing exactly that.

“BB is moving on Reddit boards,” said Ophir Gottlieb, CEO of trading firm Capital Market Labs. “Not much else to say.”

More than 14 million of the company’s shares changed hands in Toronto on Monday. That’s more than three times the usual volume, and half the trading day is still to come.

Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist with SIA Wealth Management in Toronto, says BlackBerry is just the latest in a series of companies that have seen unexpected rises in share prices in recent weeks.

The current stock market rally has driven up the valuation of huge companies, and now investors are moving down the food chain looking for bargains.

“Smaller stocks don’t have as much liquidity or stock available to trade so a sudden stampede of cash chasing into a smaller cap stock can swamp supply and cause the kind of massive spikes on no news that have started to really pop up in the last week or so,” he said in an email to CBC News. 

“So to me, these moves are more about market sentiment, relative performance, and supply/demand issues rather than fundamental news.”

Kerwin agrees that there are no fundamental changes to BlackBerry’s business that properly explain the price surge.

“We think there’s likely a shift in market sentiment about BlackBerry, perhaps with investors getting more bullish about [their] prospects after the fact. There’s above average trading volume this morning, which might also point to [a] retail investor swell.”

Gottlieb notes that BlackBerry isn’t the only company being pushed up by the sudden trend. “This is not a single stock story, it is a behavioural story.”

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