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Coronavirus: Did Ottawa wait too long to evacuate Canadians? Health experts say no – Global News

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Canada is working to evacuate its citizens from China as the death toll from the novel coronavirus has passed 170 and more countries have reported new infections from the virus.

“We have secured an aircraft to bring those Canadians who wish to leave back to Canada,” Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne told reporters Wednesday. “The next step obviously is to work on the diplomatic front, and the logistics, obviously, with our Chinese counterparts

Champagne said the government is currently working with officials in China to organize the flight, which could take several days as the Wuhan area is now under “lockdown.” Global Affairs has said 196 Canadians have now asked for help to leave China amid the outbreak

But while Europe, Japan and the United States have already evacuated at least some of their citizens living in China, health experts say Canada’s timing is appropriate.

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Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at the University Health Network in Toronto, said it would have been a greater health risk to rush this decision.

“The riskier thing would be to pull the trigger too quickly when we are not ready to receive people,” she said. “It sounds like a simple process but it’s actually quite complicated.”






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Toronto father trying to bring home toddler from Wuhan


Toronto father trying to bring home toddler from Wuhan

Hota said there will have to be a detailed screening process to ensure that people who are symptomatic don’t get on the flight.

“Even having the right type of plane to do this — it’s a long flight, and they would need to be under medical surveillance,” she said.

Colin Furness, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, said evacuating people is more of a political decision than one based on sound public health policy.

“No government wants to be accused of not doing something to protect its citizens,” he said.

“If I were a Canadian in Wuhan, I would be cautious because, by definition, it’s safer to stay home and practice social isolation than get on a plane.”

Steven Hoffman, a global health professor at York University, said Canada’s decision came shortly after other countries began exploring this option.

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“The mass quarantine in Wuhan is inconceivable in the Canadian context,” he said. “The government being able to alleviate that for the most vulnerable Canadians there is a good decision.”

READ MORE: 6,000 passengers trapped on cruise ship amid fear of coronavirus cases in Italy

The United States and Japan flew some of their citizens out of the province at the epicentre of the outbreak on Wednesday as the World Health Organization said there was “deeply concerning” evidence of person-to-person transmission in other countries.

The European Union sent a passenger plane Thursday to pick up hundreds of Europeans who want to leave China.

“It may look like we are late to the game, but that’s on a political rather than a public health basis,” Furness said.

What happens when Canadians arrive home?






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Coronavirus outbreak: How easy is it to catch coronavirus on a plane?


Coronavirus outbreak: How easy is it to catch coronavirus on a plane?

Canadian officials have not clearly outlined how they will manage passengers once they arrive home.

The U.K., which evacuated some of its citizens from the Wuhan area, has told passengers to quarantine themselves for 14 days and watch for signs of illness.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Hajdu says they’re working on protocols for return of Canadians from China


Coronavirus outbreak: Hajdu says they’re working on protocols for return of Canadians from China

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said Chinese authorities have a screening process to ensure that no one who may be infected with the virus boards the flight.

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“No cases, and no sick people, will be leaving that city,” Tam told the House of Commons health committee on Wednesday. “The protocols and the processes will be put in place to ensure we don’t impact the Canadian public.”

READ MORE: How quarantines work in Canada

As the coronavirus has an incubation period of one to 14 days, Tam said there will be measures on the flight and on the ground to potentially isolate individuals.

“Should anything even happen on the flight, there are measures to separate anyone who suddenly develops symptoms,” she said.

However, health experts say once those passengers from China arrive on Canadian soil, they should be put into a temporary quarantine.

“From a strictly public health standpoint, we don’t know how contagious you are before you’re symptomatic,” Furness said. “If we let them self-report, let’s assume they are all honest, but they won’t know if they are contagious.”

READ MORE: Risk of influenza is greater than risk of coronavirus, says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health

Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu did not specify whether Canadians might be quarantined when they arrive home.

“Part of the process now is figuring out exactly what our protocols will be when we return Canadians that wish to come home,” Hajdu said.

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“We’re working very closely with our U.S. counterparts, who obviously have some experience in this and have set up some best practices, and we’ll be following their lead very closely.”

The U.S. Department of Defence evacuated roughly 200 of its citizens from Wuhan to the March Air Reserve Base in southern California on Wednesday, where they are undergoing three days of testing and monitoring, according to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Support them or lose them’: Chinatowns across Canada grapple with coronavirus fears – Global News

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Most of Calgary’s city councillors had lunch at a restaurant in Chinatown this week to try to help reduce fears about the new coronavirus.

Businesses in Chinatowns across Canada have reported a drop in activity since COVID-19 hit China in January and started to spread around the world.

At Ho Wan Restaurant in Calgary, the owners’ son, Jason Zhang, says business is down about 70 per cent.

“People are not coming out very much,” he said in an interview. “It was the slowest Family Day I’ve seen.


READ MORE:
Going on vacation amid the coronavirus outbreak? Here’s what to know

“It’s hard to predict when people come out … but, in general, especially during the regular times, it’s just a percentage shock.”

Coun. Druh Farrell, whose ward includes Chinatown, said council members went to the restaurant for lunch to show Calgarians it’s safe to eat out.

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“Business in Chinatown is way down — in some restaurants 70 to 80 per cent,” she said.

“It’s a dreadful burden on the businesses, so we wanted to show our support and encourage Calgarians to stand behind their local businesses, especially in Chinatown.”

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There have been no cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, but there are 12 confirmed cases in Ontario and British Columbia. Around the world, about 81,000 people have become ill with the virus. The World Health Organization is reporting cases in 37 countries outside China.






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Calgary city council steps out for lunch, stops in Chinatown to support hurting businesses


Calgary city council steps out for lunch, stops in Chinatown to support hurting businesses

Concerns about a decline in visitors have been reported in Chinatowns across North America.

In the United States, there’s a campaign in New York to “Show Some Love for Chinatown.” Food crawls have been arranged to help Chicago’s Chinatown and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited San Francisco’s Chinatown District on Monday to try to quell fears.

Chinatown businesses in Vancouver, Edmonton and Toronto have all reported a decline in customers.

Alex Wang, who runs the Peninsula Seafood Restaurant in Vancouver, told Global News he has seen business drop more than 70 per cent and is worried the restaurant won’t be able to survive longer than three months.


READ MORE:
Countries take dramatic steps to contain new virus that ‘doesn’t respect borders’

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In Edmonton, the chairwoman of the Chinatown and Area Business Association said there’s been a noticeable decline in activity this winter.

“There’s a general fear out there with the coronavirus,” said Holly Mah.

Some of that drop, she said, could be related to the generally slower winter season and Alberta’s sluggish economy.

Toronto’s Chinatown has also noticed a decline in customers.

“It’s a concern,” said Tonny Louie, chairman of the Chinatown Business Improvement Area. “People, in the back of their minds, they still wonder what will be next. This virus … is pretty hard to contain.”






3:29
Coronavirus fears fueling racism


Coronavirus fears fueling racism

He said business has picked up in the last couple of weeks, but noted streets were quiet after the first patient was admitted to hospital in Toronto.

“It was completely desolate for a week and a half,” he said. “No cars at all. And there’s all kinds of parking spots in Chinatown, so that means people were not coming in.”

Louie said some people have started to return, but there’s a dip every time there’s bad news.

“Not a lot of facts are known,” he said. “So far, they haven’t been able to identify a vaccine or a cure for it, other than go home and get rested up and isolate yourself and wash your hands.”

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Louie said the group will be handing out hand sanitizer and dispensers to all businesses to help ease fears.


READ MORE:
Is Canada ready for a widespread coronavirus outbreak? Yes and no, experts say

“Right now, the only possibility that they are talking about catching it is with hand touching and contact, so we can solve that problem at least.”

Back in Alberta, health officials reminded people Wednesday to take precautions.

“Practice good infection prevention habits,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said in Edmonton. “Protect others by staying home when you are sick and covering coughs and sneezes.

Hinshaw said the risk in Alberta remains low and there is no need to stay home or avoid public places.

Farrell said she will continue to tell people about her favourite spots in Calgary.

“Chinatown is filled with family-owned restaurants and we need to support them or lose them,” she said.

“It is a treasured community.”

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Premier Kenney stops in Calgary’s Chinatown to discuss coronavirus concerns


Premier Kenney stops in Calgary’s Chinatown to discuss coronavirus concerns

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Canada will not pay for Prince Harry and Meghan's security after March – CBC.ca

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Canada has been providing RCMP security to Prince Harry and Meghan since November, Public Safety Canada has confirmed to CBC News, after weeks of speculation about whether Canadians would have to pay for the couple’s security bills while they are in this country.

But the Government of Canada intends to cease contributing to those costs “in the coming weeks,” says the office of Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex cease their activities as working members of the Royal Family on March 31.

A statement to CBC News Thursday morning reads in full:

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex choosing to relocate to Canada on a part-time basis presented our government with a unique and unprecedented set of circumstances. The RCMP has been engaged with officials in the U.K. from the very beginning regarding security considerations.

“As the Duke and Duchess are currently recognized as Internationally Protected Persons, Canada has an obligation to provide security assistance on an as-needed basis. At the request of the Metropolitan Police, the RCMP has been providing assistance to the Met since the arrival of the Duke and Duchess to Canada intermittently since November 2019. The assistance will cease in the coming weeks, in keeping with their change in status.”

CBC News had been asking the government to reveal the arrangement under which Harry and Meghan have relocated to Canada.

British media, citing British sources, said that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had already given the U.K. a commitment that the Canadian government will contribute to the costs.

But Trudeau had never confirmed that. 

Trudeau told Global TV on Jan. 13 that the Canadian government had not really been involved in any negotiations around the couple’s new arrangements.

Prince Harry and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak prior to the official launch of the Invictus Games in Toronto in 2017. During official visits to Canada, Harry’s security has been provided by the RCMP and paid for by the federal government. (Canadian Press)

“We haven’t, up until this point, not in any real way. But there will be many discussions to come on how that works … that will go about between officials at different levels,” he told Global TV.

Trudeau and other government officials had cited the need to keep security arrangements confidential as a reason not to disclose the arrangements made for Harry and Meghan. He had also said that discussions had not yet concluded. 

When asked about it at a cabinet retreat in Winnipeg on Jan. 21, shortly after the couple confirmed their plan to move to Canada, Trudeau replied: “I have not spoken to her majesty directly…. Discussions continue to be ongoing and I have no updates at this moment.”

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Feb. 9, Trudeau said: “I don’t comment on operational details, but there are long-standing protocols in place that are being followed.”

It now appears the discussions have concluded with an outcome that leaves the question of security at the door of the couple themselves, and of the British government and Metropolitan Police that have always been charged with their protection.

By cutting off the famous couple “in the coming weeks,” the Trudeau government avoids taking on a deeply unpopular financial burden.

Polls by Leger and the Angus Reid Institute have found that only about one in five Canadians believe it is an appropriate use of tax money to pay for the couple’s security arrangements.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation delivered a petition to the Prime Minister’s Office with 80,000 signatures on it insisting that Canadian taxpayer money not be diverted to them.

Public Safety’s reference to the government’s legal obligation to provide security to what are called Internationally Protected Persons describes a group that includes visiting diplomats, dignitaries and functionaries of other governments who are in Canada on an official visit.

Harry and Meghan arrived in Canada as full working members of the Royal Family on a temporary visit, and the RCMP has always provided security for those visits, with taxpayers picking up the bill.

By the time Trudeau spoke in Munich earlier this month, much had changed. Harry and Meghan had announced their plans to leave their royal roles behind. Under an agreement reached with Buckingham Palace, they will officially end their royal duties on March 31.

The question of who will pick up the tab for the couple’s security after March 31 is far from settled.

The British media in recent days has been full of stories citing anonymous Metropolitan Police sources complaining about the strain the couple’s move has put on the force.

Security experts, including retired Met police protection officers, have estimated that the cost of protecting the couple in their new life could fall in the range of $10 million to $30 million a year.

On the heels of a ‘Sandringham Summit’ on Megxit, Queen Elizabeth says Harry and Meghan will spend time in Canada and the U.K. during a period of ‘transition’ and that the Royal family is ‘entirely supportive’ of the couple’s desire to live a more independent life. 4:01

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Timeline coronavirus (COVID-19) in Canada – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Health officials in Ontario have confirmed another case of the novel coronavirus in the province. There have been 13 cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in Canada — six in Ontario and seven in British Columbia.

Here is a timeline of Canadian cases.

Feb. 27, 2020: Ontario officials confirm a sixth case of COVID-19 in the province. They say the man in his 60s is the husband of Ontario’s fifth patient with the virus.

Feb. 26, 2020: Ontario officials announce a fifth diagnosis in the province: a woman in her 60s who recently travelled to Iran.

Feb. 24, 2020: Henry announces a seventh person in B.C. has been diagnosed with the new coronavirus. The man in his 40s was in close contact with the woman who has the province’s sixth case of the illness.

Feb. 23, 2020: Officials in Toronto announce Ontario has a new case of coronavirus — the fourth to be diagnosed in the province. The woman arrived in Toronto from China several days earlier.

Feb. 21, 2020: The last known case of coronavirus in Ontario is resolved.

Feb. 20, 2020: A woman who recently returned from Iran is diagnosed with British Columbia’s sixth case of COVID-19. She’s the first person in the country diagnosed with the illness who did not recently visit China. Meanwhile, in Ontario, the man who had Canada’s first case of the virus is cleared after testing negative for the illness twice in 24 hours.

Feb. 19, 2020: Henry announces that the person diagnosed with B.C.’s first case of the new coronavirus has recovered. It’s the first time this has happened in the province.

Feb. 14, 2020: Officials in B.C. announce the province’s fifth case of COVID-19. The woman in her 30s who lives in B.C.’s Interior recently returned from Hubei province.

Feb. 12, 2020: Ontario health officials say the woman from London, Ont., no longer has the novel coronavirus in her system. It marks the first time a case of the illness has been resolved in Canada.

Feb. 6, 2020: Henry announces two new cases of COVID-19 in B.C., noting both people were in the same household as the woman diagnosed with the province’s second case.

Feb. 5, 2020: British Columbia’s second case of coronavirus is confirmed by the National Microbiology Lab.

Feb. 4, 2020: Health officials announce another presumptive confirmed case in B.C. Henry says the woman had family visiting from China’s Hubei province and she is in isolation at her home.

Jan. 31, 2020: Ontario’s third case of the new coronavirus is confirmed. The patient, a woman in her 20s, had travelled to the affected area in China. The London university student initially tested negative for the virus, but a subsequent test at the national lab in Winnipeg was positive. Health officials say her symptoms are minor.

Jan. 31, 2020: Toronto man hospitalized with the novel coronavirus is well enough to go home. Sunnybrook Hospital says he’ll continue to recover at home, where his wife is also in self-isolation.

Jan. 28, 2020: The presumed case of the new strain of coronavirus in B.C. is confirmed by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

Jan 28, 2020: Health officials in British Columbia say a man in his 40s is presumed to have the new coronavirus and is doing well as he recovers at his Vancouver home. B.C.’s health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, says the man often works in China and voluntarily isolated himself upon returning to Canada.

Jan 28, 2020: Health authorities confirm Canada’s second case of the novel coronavirus. The woman had recently travelled to Wuhan with her husband, who was the first case confirmed in Canada.

Jan. 27, 2020: The National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg confirms that a man in quarantine in Sunnybrook Hospital is Canada’s first documented case of the new coronavirus.

Jan. 26, 2020: The wife of the Toronto man who was Canada’s first “presumptive” case of the new coronavirus becomes the second presumptive case. The woman is kept in home isolation.

Jan. 25, 2020: A man in his 50s who arrived in Toronto from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the outbreak, becomes the first “presumptive” case of the new coronavirus in Canada. The man called 911 as soon as he got sick with relatively minor symptoms and was placed in isolation in Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital.

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