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Coronavirus: Canada to welcome American travellers, end quarantine hotels starting Monday – CTV News

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TORONTO —
The federal government’s eased border restrictions are set to take effect on Monday – meaning that for the first time since March 2020, travellers from the U.S. will be allowed to enter Canada for non-essential purposes.

As of Aug. 9, American citizens and permanent residents will be allowed into Canada if they can provide proof that they’ve been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days.

However, prospective visitors will only be allowed to cross if they reside in and are travelling from the U.S. In addition, only the four vaccines approved by Health Canada (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson) will be considered acceptable, although U.S. health authorities haven’t approved any vaccines outside that list.

Just like fully vaccinated Canadian travellers, U.S. travellers who are fully vaccinated will also be exempt from quarantining for 14 days.

Given that there aren’t any vaccines approved for children under the age of 12 in either Canada or the U.S., unvaccinated children under 12 who are travelling with a fully vaccinated parent or guardian will also no longer need to quarantine as of Monday.

The feds are also eliminating quarantine hotels as of Monday. Previously, all travellers flying into Canada from an international destination had to quarantine at an airport hotel at their own expense for up to three days while they wait for their COVID-19 test result.

Only the major airports in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary had been allowed to accept international flights. But starting on Monday, international flights will again be allowed to land in Halifax, Quebec City, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton.

All travellers over the age of five, regardless of vaccination status, will still have to provide proof of a COVID-19 test taken prior to entering Canada. However, starting Aug 9., fully vaccinated travellers will be exempt for taking an additional COVID-19 test upon entry, unless they’ve been randomly selected to take a test.

Travellers will also be required to submit their travel information, proof of vaccination and COVID-19 test result through the ArriveCAN app or website beforehand.

Canadian border agents had also been engaged in a work-to-rule campaign on Friday, causing long lines at border crossings and airports. But hours later, the federal government reached a tentative deal with the union representing border guards, avoiding further havoc before the border reopens to Americans.

While Canada is opening its borders for U.S. travellers, the U.S. has yet to reciprocate and open the land border for Canadian travellers. The Biden administration extended the land border closure until at least Aug. 21. However, Canadians have never been restricted from flying into the U.S. during the pandemic.

Canada will also open its borders to fully vaccinated travellers from the rest of the world starting Sept. 7. 

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Monkeypox: Canada monitoring cases, transmission – CTV News

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Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the federal government is monitoring monkeypox cases and their chains of transmission after two cases were confirmed in this country.

Quebec’s health ministry announced Thursday evening there are two confirmed cases of monkeypox in the province, while 20 other suspected cases are still under investigation.

Speaking at a press briefing on Friday, Tam said health authorities are also following up with a couple of possible contacts in British Columbia.

“There are samples under processing at the national microbiology lab as we speak, so we might expect to hear more confirmations in the upcoming hours and days,” Tam said.

She added that officials don’t yet know the extent to which monkeypox has spread in Canada, but it is under “active investigation.”

“This is an unusual situation,” she said.

A growing number of countries, including Canada, the U.S., Spain, Portugal, and the U.K, are reporting an unusual outbreak of monkeypox. What makes these cases notable is the disease is relatively rare and there are no clear links between some of the infections, raising concerns about community spread and undetected cases.

The World Health Organization says no source of infection for the outbreak has been confirmed.

First discovered in 1958, monkeypox is a rare disease caused by a virus that belongs to the same family as the one that causes smallpox. The disease was first found in colonies of monkeys used for research.

The disease has primarily been reported in central and western African countries, with the first case outside the continent reported in 2003 in the United States.

Due to the unexpected nature of the current outbreak, Tam said health officials in Canada and abroad are looking at whether there are any changes from what was previously known about the rare illness, including incubation period and method of transmission.

“It’s unusual for the world to see this many cases reported in different countries outside of Africa and… we will let people know as soon as we get more information,” Tam said, adding that the current impact on Canada is unclear.

However, Tam said anyone who thinks they may have had or been experiencing symptoms of monkeypox should seek advice from their health-care provider.

The virus is transmitted through contact with an infected animal, human or contaminated material. Transmission between people is thought to primarily occur through large respiratory droplets, which generally do not travel far and would require extended close contact. Transmission from an animal can happen through bites or scratches, contact with an animal’s blood or body fluids.

Monkeypox symptoms are similar to those for the smallpox, but generally milder. The first signs are fever, headache, muscle aches, backaches, chills, and exhaustion. One distinguishing feature specific to monkeypox is that an infection also causes lymphadenopathy – the swelling of the lymph nodes.

The “pox” develops after the onset of a fever and usually occurs between one to three days later, sometimes longer. A rash usually begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body, developing into distinct, raised bumps that then become filled with fluid or pus.

However, Tam warned that milder cases can go undetected and worries there may be asymptomatic transmission in Canada.

“I think at the beginning of any outbreak, we should cast the net wide to try and understand the transmission routes,” Tam said. “There’s probably been some hidden chains of transmission that could have occurred for quite a number of weeks, given the sort of global situation that we’re seeing right now, so we shouldn’t rule out new things that we might learn as we go along.”

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo told reporters on Friday that while the overall risk of monkeypox to the general public is low, he said it is important to remember that everyone is susceptible.

“Some of the good practices that we’ve all learned with COVID-19 actually service us against a whole host of other diseases, including this one,” Njoo said.

He reminded Canadians to practice good hand hygiene, wear a mask if they feel sick or have a cough, and physical distancing.

Njoo added that health officials will further monitor the outbreak and how to best prevent transmission, providing updates as necessary.

“We’ll continue to examine and also develop guidance to help the health-care providers and others in terms of how to deal with this disease as it continues to evolve,” he said.

There is no proven treatment for the virus infection, but the smallpox vaccine is known to also protect against monkeypox, with a greater than 85 per cent efficacy. Because the smallpox vaccine eradicated the disease, however, routine smallpox immunization for the general population ended in Canada in 1972.

Tam said there are discussions happening in Canada and abroad about reviewing smallpox vaccines and their efficacy in relation to monkeypox.

Earlier this month, the Public Health Agency of Canada placed an order for 500,000 vials of the smallpox vaccine Imvamune, which also gives protection against monkeypox. However, these doses won’t be delivered until April 2023.

Tam said Canada currently has a “limited supply” of this vaccine, but could not disclose the exact number due to “security reasons.” Because of the limited supply, the vaccines are not available to the general public and are reserved for those determined to be at high risk for exposure.

With files from The Canadian Press and CTVNews.ca’s Solarina Ho

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2 monkeypox cases confirmed in Quebec — the first in Canada – CBC.ca

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Two cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in Quebec, the first such cases in the country, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).

The agency says it has alerted public health authorities around Canada to look for symptoms in patients, regardless of whether they’ve travelled.

“This is an evolving and ongoing investigation, both in Canada and around the world,” PHAC said in a statement on Thursday.

Earlier on Thursday, Montreal’s top public health official urged people not to panic as her department investigated 17 cases of suspected monkeypox in the greater Montreal region.

Dr. Mylène Drouin said there were 15 suspected cases on the island of Montreal, one on the South Shore and another north of Laval.

It’s not clear if the two cases confirmed by PHAC are among those 17.

“Most of our cases are not severe,” said Drouin. 

Until now, monkeypox outbreaks have been limited mostly to central and western Africa, but in recent weeks, suspected cases have been identified in the U.S., U.K., Portugal and Spain.

WATCH | How the virus is transmitted:

Montrealers ‘do not have to panic’ over monkeypox: public health

15 hours ago

Duration 3:35

Dr. Mylène Drouin, Montreal’s public health director, said there are 17 suspected cases in the region, but they’re not highly contagious.

Drouin said the first cases in Montreal were reported on May 12 by clinics specializing in sexually transmitted diseases. She said those cases are tied mostly to men aged 30 to 55 who have had sexual relations with other men.

The virus is not sexually transmitted, Drouin explained, but is mainly spread “by close contact and [respiratory] droplets.”

It is also spread by open sores, contact with bodily fluids, or by touching contaminated clothes or bedding. 

“It’s not something that you can acquire when you [do your groceries] or on public transportation,” she said.   

Drouin described those at risk of contracting the virus as “those in the same household and sexual partners.” She urged anyone with symptoms to consult a doctor.

A section of skin tissue, harvested from a lesion on the skin of a monkey, that had been infected with monkeypox virus, is seen at 50X magnification on day four of rash development in 1968. (Handout/Reuters)

The news conference came after Quebec’s Health Ministry said late Wednesday it had been notified of a person with a confirmed case of monkeypox who had travelled to the province. 

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed a single case of monkeypox on Wednesday in a man who had recently travelled to Canada. Drouin said several of the cases in Montreal have been linked to the traveller who came from Boston.

Cautious optimism

Likened to a milder form of smallpox, monkeypox is a rare viral illness that typically begins with symptoms such as fever, headache, backache and fatigue — similar to symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu. But doctors say the most noticeable symptom is a rash or lesions on the skin.

“They’re very specific: they look like mini-volcanoes,” said Dr. Robert Pilarski, a family physician at Clinique Médicale La Licorne in Montreal, who has treated several recent suspected monkeypox patients.

Pilarski said the four patients he’s seen have presented with lesions around their genitals. He recommends anyone with flu-like symptoms and “eruptions on the skin” to isolate immediately. 

The incubation period for monkeypox is between seven to 14 days, according to the doctor, but it can be as short as five days and as long as 21. A person is likely to be contagious one day before symptoms appear, he said. 

Symptoms of one of the first known human cases of the monkeypox virus are shown on a patient’s hand in 2003. (CDC/Getty Images)

According to the World Health Organization, there are two distinct clades, or strains, of the monkeypox virus — the Central African (Congo Basin) strain and the West African strain. 

Pilarski said he’s seeing what appears to be a less-contagious strain of the virus, which is giving him hope that it will not be widespread.

“We [likely] have the western virus, which is less contagious. So I’m pretty much sure this is going to be a milder course of disease,” said Pilarski. “But we cannot eliminate the possibility of serious complications.” 

While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says infections with the Congo Basin strain can be fatal in as many as one in 10 people, infections with the West African strain can be fatal in about one in 100 people. Rates can be higher in people who have weakened immune systems.

Smallpox vaccine a potential option

Montreal public health officials don’t believe the virus will circulate in the community, since it’s not highly infectious, Drouin said.

She said all people with suspected cases are in isolation and have been asked to cover their skin lesions with bandages.

Asked about potential treatments for the illness, Drouin said there are no specific remedies available in Canada, “so it is painful, but mainly, the forms that we have right now are not severe forms of the illness.”

Dr. Geneviève Bergeron, Montreal’s medical officer responsible for health emergencies and infectious diseases, said there’s reason to believe people who received the smallpox vaccine as children may have a better chance at fighting off monkeypox. 

However, routine immunization programs against smallpox ended in Canada in the early 1970s.

In the U.K., some health-care workers and people who have been in contact with cases have been offered a smallpox vaccine as protection.

Montreal health authorities said they don’t yet know how many people in the city received the smallpox vaccine as children, and a similar course of action to the U.K. won’t be taken just yet. 

“First, we have to see if we have access to a vaccine, so it’s going to be a decision that is made at the provincial and federal level,” said Drouin. 

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Canada bans Chinese tech giant Huawei from 5G network – CBC News

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The federal government has banned Huawei from working on Canada’s fifth-generation networks over security concerns — a decision critics say was long overdue.

The move puts Canada in line with key intelligence allies like the United States, which have expressed concerns about the national security implications of giving the Chinese tech giant access to key infrastructure.

The government is also banning ZTE, another Chinese state-backed telecommunications firm. A government policy statement posted online says companies will have until June 28, 2024, to remove or terminate 5G equipment from Huawei and ZTE.

They’ll also have to remove or terminate any existing 4G equipment provided by the companies by Dec. 31, 2027. The policy statement says the government expects companies to stop purchasing new 4G or 5G equipment from the companies by September of this year.

“This is the right decision and we are pleased to announce it today because it will secure our network for generations to come,” Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne told a news conference Thursday.

WATCH Canada bans Huawei from access to 5G network:

Canada bans Huawei from access to 5G network

10 hours ago

Duration 1:09

Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says banning the Chinese telecom company will help keep Canadians safe.

Responding to a question about the risk of retaliation from the Chinese government, Champagne didn’t indicate that was a factor in the government’s decision.

“Let me be clear, this is about Canada, this is about our national security, this is about our telecom infrastructure,” he said.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the decision marks “a new era in safeguarding our telecommunications industry.” He said the decision came after a “thorough government examination [of] 5G and wireless technologies.”

“Canada is a country where people can innovate and start new businesses and leverage new technologies in 5G and beyond, but we also need to safeguard against the risks which can be exploited within those networks,” he said.

Mendicino said new legislation is coming to protect 5G networks. The legislation will “establish a framework to better protect the systems vital to our national security and give the government a new tool to respond to emerging cyber threats,” Mendicino said.

The minister said the legislation also will help protect infrastructure in the finance, energy and transport sectors.

China condemned the move against one of its national champions as a form of “political manipulation” carried out in co-ordination with the U.S., which was aimed at “suppressing” Chinese companies in violation of free market principles. 

“China will comprehensively and seriously evaluate this incident and take all necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies,” the Chinese Embassy in Canada said in a statement posted on its website. 

China commonly employs such language in commercial disputes, which often does not lead to a firm response from Beijing.

The Canadian government’s decision has been a long time coming. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government launched a review of the companies that would be permitted to service 5G networks during its first mandate.

Then-public safety minister Ralph Goodale promised to release a decision on Huawei before the 2019 federal election.

WATCH Canada bans Huawei from telecom networks after years of delay

Canada bans Huawei from telecom networks after years of delay

8 hours ago

Duration 7:44

“This has never been about a race,” says Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne when pressed on why it took the Canadian government years to reach a decision to ban Huawei from telecommunication networks. “This is about Canada. This is about our national security.”

Opposition parties blast government, say decision comes too late

But opposition parties say the government waited far too long to make up its mind.

In a media statement, Conservative public safety critic Raquel Dancho and Gerard Deltell, the party’s critic for innovation, science and industry, said the government should have banned Huawei sooner.

“Conservatives repeatedly called on the Trudeau government to do the right thing and listen to security experts and the calls from our allies — but they refused,” they said in a statement. 

They also raised concerns about the cost companies will have to bear to remove existing equipment.

“In the years of delay, Canadian telecommunications companies purchased hundreds of millions of dollars of Huawei equipment which will now need to be removed from their networks at enormous expense,” they said.

In a tweet, Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong also faulted the government.

“It shouldn’t have taken more than three years for the Trudeau government to ban Huawei,” Chong said.

“David Vigneault, director of CSIS (the Canadian Security Intelligence Service), publicly warned the government about the threat from Huawei in early December 2018.”

NDP critic for innovation, science and industry Brian Masse also criticized the government’s timing.

“It has taken the Liberal government three years to make this decision while the other Five Eyes countries made their positions known much sooner,” he said in a media statement.

“This delay only worked to raise serious questions at home and among our allies about the Liberal government’s national security commitments and hampered the domestic telecommunications market.”

Masse also said the government put Canadians’ security and privacy at risk by delaying the decision.

The development of 5G networks promises to give people speedier online connections and provide the greater data capacity required to allow more people, and things, to connect online.

While the federal government’s review of its 5G policy has taken a broad look at which companies can service the new, faster online networks, most of the attention has focused on whether Huawei would be allowed in — and the possible national security implications of giving it access.

Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne and Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino hold a press conference to announce that Huawei Technologies will be banned from Canada’s 5G networks in Ottawa on Thursday, May 19, 2022. (David Kawai/The Canadian Press)

The government went largely silent on the review’s progress after China imprisoned Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor nearly three years ago — an apparent act of retaliation for the RCMP’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant.

The two Canadians returned home last fall, hours after Meng reached a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government.

Critics have warned that Huawei’s participation in Canada’s 5G networks could give the company an inside look at how, when and where Canadians use internet-connected devices — and that the Chinese government could force the company to hand over that personal information.

China’s National Intelligence Law says Chinese organizations and citizens must support, assist and co-operate with state intelligence work.

Huawei insists it is a fiercely independent company that does not engage in espionage for anyone, including Beijing.

Huawei executive not surprised by ban

In an interview with CBC’s Power & Politics, Alykhan Velshi, vice-president of corporate affairs for Huawei in Canada, said he’s not surprised by the decision but is still disappointed.

The government hasn’t provided evidence that Huawei is a national security threat, he said. He also questioned what the government will do about scheduled software upgrades for Huawei equipment already installed — something the company is talking to the government about right now, he added.

“I find it hard to believe the government is going to want to suspend those discussions,” he told host Vassy Kapelos.

WATCH ‘This is a political decision’: Huawei VP on Canadian ban

‘This is a political decision’: Huawei VP on Canadian ban

8 hours ago

Duration 8:38

“This is a political decision,” said Huawei VP Alykhan Velshi of the Canadian government’s intention to ban Huawei from telecommunication networks. “It’s for the government to provide evidence that Huawei is a national security threat as they claim. They have not done so.”

“Our position is we’re going to continue supporting Huawei equipment in the network, and that will require a level of ongoing co-operation at the technical level between Huawei and the federal government — not just in the days and weeks ahead but, frankly, in the years ahead for as long as this equipment is part of Canada’s telecommunications network.”

Velshi said the company has about 1,500 employees in Canada and that most of them work in research and development. They’re not affected by the decision, he said.

He added that the company’s consumer products, such as phones and watches, aren’t affected by this decision. He said the company has focused on R&D and consumer products since 2018 in anticipation of the ban announced today.

“The reality is that Huawei will form part of Canada’s telecommunications sector for the foreseeable future,” he said

How might this affect the Canada-China relationship?

Various European nations and Canada’s allies in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group — including the U.S., U.K. and Australia — have made aggressive moves against Huawei, either by barring it from their networks or by restricting their use of Huawei equipment.

Late last year, China’s foreign ministry warned that Beijing’s relations with Canada stood “at a crossroads.”

Earlier in December, China’s ambassador to Canada signalled that keeping Huawei out would send a “very wrong signal.”

The government largely went silent on the 5G review’s progress after China imprisoned Michael Kovrig, right, and Michael Spavor, left, nearly three years ago. (Colin Hall/CBC, Chris Helgren/Reuters)

Huawei already supplies some Canadian telecommunications firms with 4G equipment.

As Global News has reported, telecommunication companies spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Huawei equipment while the federal government’s review of 5G was ongoing — although that number has waned over the years.

The government also risks a lawsuit under the terms of a foreign investor protection agreement signed by the government of Stephen Harper with China.

Under that agreement, Huawei Canada — as an existing investor with assets — could bring a claim against Canada.

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