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Coronavirus in Canada and around the world on Oct. 11

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Many Canadians are setting new Thanksgiving traditions as the COVID-19 pandemic downsizes family dinners, while some who are separated from their loved ones try to find other ways to be grateful.

As COVID-19 cases rise in many parts of the country, Canadians from coast to coast are being asked to limit the size of their Thanksgiving gatherings or keep them entirely virtual.

Canada’s chief public health officer says last week’s “troubling” surge in infections means that some guests may be missing from the Thanksgiving table.

But Dr. Theresa Tam said the best way for Canadians to show their gratitude this holiday is to keep each other safe by staying away from anyone outside their immediate circle.

 

 

“What is usually a special tradition for many Canadians, will serve as a hard reminder of how much we are sacrificing to protect ourselves, those we love and our communities,” Tam said in a statement Sunday.

“As difficult as it may be, we need to continue on the right path and recommit, for ourselves and our loved ones, to follow the public health practices that helped us flatten the curve in the spring.”

With daily case counts continuing to rise in some provinces, increased restrictions came into effect in some hot spots heading into the long weekend.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has urged people to stick to their immediate households, saying it’s too risky even to expand the celebration to the current indoor gathering limit of 10 people.

The message came as the province imposed harsher restrictions on the hard-hit areas of Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region.

WATCH | Quebec, Ontario target hardest-hit regions with new restrictions:

 

Ontario and Quebec are introducing measures in the regions hardest hit by COVID-19 to try to slow the spread of the pandemic. Both provinces have seen surges in case counts. 6:00

In Quebec, where nearly every community along the St. Lawrence River is now considered a “red zone,” Health Minister Christian Dube said Thursday that police would be installing checkpoints on the roads leading into some areas of the province.

Even in the so-called “Atlantic bubble,” where case counts have been creeping upwards of late, officials are urging people to limit their gatherings to their immediate circle of 10 people.

“Nova Scotians have made changes to their daily lives to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, and it’s no different for Thanksgiving,” Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said in a statement.

WATCH | Your COVID-related Thanksgiving questions answered:

 

Infectious diseases expert Dr. Isaac Bogoch answers your questions about celebrating Thanksgiving during a pandemic. 5:45

“When deciding who to invite, consider the impacts on family and friends who may be more vulnerable and adjust your Thanksgiving celebrations to be as safe as possible.”

B.C. Premier John Horgan also noted that the holiday would look different this year, though he encouraged British Columbians to celebrate “creatively and safely.”

“Because of COVID-19 we will be connecting in smaller groups, or virtually, or on the phone,” Horgan said in a statement. “We are stronger together. Happy Thanksgiving.”

What’s happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 181,864 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 153,219 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,613.

Manitoba reported 54 new cases on Sunday. Among those is a Winnipeg police officer, the province said.

Saskatchewan added 24 cases and one death on Sunday. The province said public health investigations have linked 12 of today’s new cases to the Gospel Outreach outbreak in Prince Albert, and the majority of the new Regina cases appear to be from the same apartment complex.

Ontario reported 649 new cases on Sunday — 157 new cases in Peel Region, 140 in Toronto, 87 in York Region and 54 in Ottawa, Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a tweet. Public health authorities in London, Ont., on Sunday declared an outbreak inside a residence building at Western University, moving some students into an undisclosed quarantine location.

In Quebec, health officials confirmed 942 new cases Sunday and three more deaths. As of Saturday, the province had reported more than 1,000 new infections for the eighth time in nine days.

 

Health-care workers are seen outside a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal on Sunday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

 

Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on Sunday. However, the province’s chief medical officer of health released guidelines for residents travelling to parts of New Brunswick amid reported outbreaks in those areas.

Nova Scotia also reported no new cases on Sunday, and one recovery.

New Brunswick announced 14 new cases on Sunday, four of which are connected to an outbreak at the Manoir Notre-Dame special-care home in Moncton. Meanwhile, a Dalhousie elementary school is reporting a confirmed case of COVID-19, making it the third such case at a school in the province in recent days.

WATCH | Study on surface spread inconsistent with real-world scenarios, expert says:

 

An Australian study on COVID-19 transmission via surfaces says viable traces of the virus could still be detected on some surfaces after 28 days. Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogosh says the researchers’ laboratory test results may not be replicable in real-life settings. 6:27

Prince Edward Island reported two new cases on Sunday that involved men who recently travelled within Canada but outside the Atlantic bubble. The two cases are not related, the province’s chief public health office said.

The Northwest Territories announced that travellers and employees will be required to wear a mask while inside the territory’s airport terminal buildings, starting next Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Yukon reported a new probable case of COVID-19. The territory’s chief medical officer of health said the case is linked to travel and the person is currently in stable condition and self-isolating.


What’s happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 37.2 million. More than one million people have died, while more than 25.9 million have recovered.

 

 

In Europe, the English city of Liverpool will go into Britain’s strictest “third tier” of restrictions, city officials said late on Sunday. Northern England has been particularly hard hit by a new surge in cases that has forced local lockdowns. Officials say closures in Liverpool will include pubs and bars, betting establishments, casinos and gyms.

In Asia, Iran has announced its highest single-day death toll from the coronavirus — 251. The government has largely resisted imposing wide-scale lockdowns as the economy teeters from continued U.S. economic sanctions that effectively bar Iran from selling its oil internationally. Iran’s currency plunged to its lowest level ever Sunday.

 

People wearing protective face masks and gloves are seen in downtown Tehran on Sunday. (Ebrahim Noroozi/The Associated Press)

 

In the Americas, Brazil’s count of COVID-19 deaths surpassed 150,000 despite signs the pandemic is slowly retreating in Latin America’s largest nation. Over the last month and a half, the viral curve has dropped. The average number of deaths was 598 over the last seven days, the lowest level since the beginning of May.

Africa has seen more than 1.5 million total confirmed cases and more than 38,000 deaths. The majority of the cases on the continent are in South Africa, which accounts for more than 690,000 cases.

Source: – CBC.ca

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Ontario reports 841 more COVID-19 cases, 7-day average on the rise – CBC.ca

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Ontario reported another 841 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as the seven-day average of new daily cases — a measure that helps limit noise in the data — is starting to climb again after a brief lull. 

Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said at a news conference that today’s number of new cases is the second highest the province has seen since the virus’s second wave hit.

“That’s concerning as we watch how this second wave is working through us in the province of Ontario,” Williams said.

The seven-day average now sits at about 761, still below the most recent peak of 781 that came earlier this month, but consistently on the rise in the last four days. 

The province also reported nine more deaths in today’s update, a second-straight day with nine new deaths. Forty people have died from COVID-19 in Ontario in the last week.

Today’s new cases are concentrated in the following public health units:

  • Toronto: 335
  • Peel: 162
  • York: 106
  • Ottawa: 72

Other areas that saw double-digit increases include:

  • Durham Region: 29
  • Halton Region: 29
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 24
  • Hamilton: 20
  • Eastern Ontario: 10
  • Middlesex London: 10

Seventy-four of the newly confirmed cases of the illness are school-related, including at least 49 students and five staff. A total of 1,641 cases school-related cases have now been registered provincewide since the academic year began, with 501 schools having reported at least one in students or staff. That figure is equivalent to about 10.38 per cent of all publicly-funded schools in Ontario.

(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found in the Ministry of Health’s daily update, which includes data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any particular region on a given day may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, which often avoid lag times found in the provincial system.)

Williams said cases in schools have been primarily found in students, but there has not been much evidence of in-school transmission.

“That means a lot of good work is being done … in the school settings,” he said.

But the province is, Williams said, seeing clusters of cases linked to social gatherings at weddings, sporting events and at household gatherings.

Ford wishes for ‘crystal ball’

At the province’s daily news conference Thursday, Premier Doug Ford was asked if he had any insight as to if the province will be able to lift its “modified Stage 2” restrictions that have been enacted in the parts of Ontario that have been hardest hit by the virus. When introduced, the province said they were planning for the measures to last for 28 days.

“I wish I had a crystal ball to find out where we’re going,” Ford said. “I pray in a couple of weeks that these numbers are going to change.”

“People have to follow the guidelines.”

Ontario has now seen a total of 67,527 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the first was reported in late January. Of those, about 86 per cent are considered resolved, including 741 more in today’s update.

There are 6,390 confirmed, active infections provincewide, a jump of 91 since Wednesday and a new record-high for Ontario. 

After a considerable decrease in Wednesday’s update, the number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of the illness increased again, up 10 to 270. Some 74 patients are being treated in intensive care, and 48 are on ventilators — one fewer than Wednesday.

Meanwhile, there are active outbreaks of COVID-19 in at least 80 long-term care facilities. 

5 Toronto hospitals with COVID-19 outbreaks

Another Toronto hospital has declared an outbreak of COVID-19.

The Scarborough Health Network said six patients are infected in one unit at its general hospital in the city’s east end.

A spokeswoman for the health network said the unit has been closed to admissions in order to protect patients and staff.

Leigh Duncan added that enhanced infection prevention and control measures are in place in the affected unit.

Scarborough joins a growing list of Toronto hospitals that have declared an official outbreak, defined as two health-care-related cases of COVID-19 within 14 days.

St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto Western Hospital and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health have also declared outbreaks among staff or patients.

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Beijing erupts at Canada after parliamentary committee says China's Uighur policy amounts to 'genocide' – CBC.ca

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China’s foreign ministry is lashing out at Canada after a House of Commons subcommittee concluded that the state’s mistreatment of Uighurs living in Xinjiang province amounts to a policy of genocide.

The committee’s report, tabled Wednesday, says that China’s persecution of this Muslim minority — through mass detentions in concentration camps, forced labour, state surveillance and population control measures — is a clear violation of human rights and is meant to “eradicate Uighur culture and religion.”

The committee said that it agrees with the experts who say China’s campaign against the Uighurs meets the definition of genocide set out in the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, said today that this “so-called genocide” is “a rumour and a farce fabricated by some anti-Chinese forces to slander China.”

“Its groundless statement is full of lies and disinformation,” he said of the committee’s report, warning parliamentarians to “avoid doing any further damage to China-Canada relations.

“This is blatant interference in China’s internal affairs and reflects those Canadian individuals’ ignorance and prejudice. China firmly deplores and rejects that.”

The subcommittee on international human rights, chaired by Liberal MP Peter Fonseca, heard from witnesses who survived the concentration camps China has built to suppress Muslims living in this oil-rich northwestern province.

Committee witnesses described “deplorable” conditions where they were psychologically, physically and sexually abused and subjected to forced assimilation and indoctrination into the dominant Chinese culture.

Asked about the camps, Zhao insisted they are “vocational training and education centres” where religious “extremists” were educated in the “national common spoken and written language, legal knowledge, vocational skills and de-radicalization.”

“The aim is to eliminate the root cause of terrorism and extremism,” he said.

In this Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, file photo, a guard tower and barbed wire fence surround a detention facility in the Kunshan Industrial Park in Artux in western China’s Xinjiang region. (Ng Han Guan/AP Photo)

The Commons committee also concluded that Chinese communist officials have forcibly sterilized Uighur women and girls and pushed abortions and intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs) on hundreds of thousands in a systematic attempt “to persecute and possibly eradicate Uighurs.”

Uighurs make up less than one per cent of the population in a country where Mandarin-speaking ethnic Chinese people — the Han — constitute the overwhelming majority.

While the Turkic-speaking Uighurs are just a small ethnic subset, Chinese government documents obtained by the committee show that approximately 80 per cent of all new IUD placements in China took place in Xinjiang.

Birth rates continue to plummet across the region, falling nearly 24 per cent last year alone — compared to a drop of just 4.2 per cent nationwide — according to statistics compiled by the U.S.-based Jamestown Foundation. The population control measures are backed by mass detention, both as a threat and as a punishment for failure to comply.

Witnesses also told committee members about a “poverty reduction” measure implemented by Beijing that forced Uighurs into camps to perform slave labour, making products that were to be sold in Canada and other western nations. 

A recent report titled “Uighurs for sale” by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute found that thousands of Muslims have been used as forced labour in factories that supply companies like BMW, Nike and Huawei, among others.

The Chinese government has facilitated the mass transfer of Uighur and other ethnic minority citizens from Xinjiang to factories across the country.

Under constant state surveillance through closed-circuit television cameras and mobile tracking devices, Uighur survivors have said they lived in constant fear.

They told committee members that Uighur expatriates are subjected to harassment and intimidation by the Chinese regime — even in Canada.

“The subcommittee unequivocally condemns the persecution of Uighur and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang by the government of China,” the committee’s report reads. “The subcommittee is persuaded that the actions of the Chinese Communist Party constitute genocide.”

The committee said these control tactics are designed to suppress the Uighurs because they “desire more autonomy or independence from China,” and the communists consider them a “threat” to economic development and prosperity.

Uighurs living in Turkey participate in a protest against what they allege is oppression by the Chinese government of Muslim Uighurs in the far-western Xinjiang province. (AP Photo)

The committee is recommending the federal government condemn China’s abuse of Uighurs, work with allies to secure unfettered access to Xinjiang for international observers to prevent further abuse, recognize that China’s actions constitute genocide and impose sanctions on implicated officials through Canada’s so-called Magnitsky law.

That law allows the government to impose sanctions and freeze assets owned by foreign nationals and prohibit financial transactions by known human rights abusers.

The law is informally named after Russian tax adviser Sergei Magnitsky, who was tortured and died in a Moscow prison after documenting fraud in Russia.

“Canada needs to take immediate action and live up to the values it espouses at home and abroad,” says the report. “Canada must act now to address China’s aggression against Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims.”

Canada ‘deeply disturbed’ by Uighur abuse

In a statement, Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said he is “deeply disturbed” by the troubling reports documented by the subcommittee.

He said he raised the issue of Uighur abuse with Michelle Bachelet, the UN commissioner for human rights, during a recent meeting in Switzerland.

Earlier this month, Canada and 37 allies also expressed “grave concerns” about the situation in Xinjiang at the UN, he said.

Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne speaks a press conference in Athens, Greece. Champagne said Canada has expressed ‘grave concerns’ about Uighur abuse in China at the UN. (Petro Giannakouris/AP Photo)

Champagne said the government would back a push to send impartial advisers into the region to document the plight of the Uighurs.

“Canada takes the allegations of genocide very seriously. We will continue … with our allies to push for these to be investigated through an international independent body,” he said.

Champagne did not address a question about whether Canada would pursue Magnitsky sanctions like those slapped on Russian and Venezuelan officials in recent years.

This parliamentary report is the latest attempt by some MPs and senators to put pressure on the government to take a tougher stand against China.

In June, more than a dozen senators — including several appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — urged the federal government to impose sanctions on Chinese officials for “gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Citing China’s detention of Uighur Muslims, its crackdown on democratic rights in Hong Kong, its decades-long repression of Tibet and its imprisonment of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, the senators described the regime in Beijing as the “biggest threat to mankind and a danger to international security.”

That letter was followed by a call from 68 MPs and senators for Canada to levy sanctions on top Chinese officials.

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Canada officially removed from EU's permissible travel list due to rising COVID-19 cases – CBC.ca

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The European Union officially removed Canada from a list of countries that should not be subjected to incoming travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CBC News reported about the expected development on Wednesday after EU officials recommended a change to the list the previous day at a regularly scheduled meeting and sent it down to bureaucratic committees to hash out the details.

The 27-nation bloc first put out a list of 15 countries in July that were deemed to be lower risk for transmission of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Canada was on the original list and survived the first culling of the list to 11 names in August when Serbia, Montenegro, Algeria and Morocco were booted.

On Thursday, the EU published the new list, and Canada, Georgia and Tunisia had been removed.

“As a result of these discussions, the list of third countries — should be amended. In particular, Canada, Georgia and Tunisia should be deleted from the list while Singapore should be added,” the EU said.

The new list consists of:

  • Australia.
  • Japan.
  • New Zealand.
  • Rwanda.
  • Singapore.
  • South Korea.
  • Thailand.
  • Uruguay.
  • China, subject to confirmation of reciprocity.

The EU also said restrictions should be lifted on people coming from Hong Kong and Macao, as long as those jurisdictions do the same for European travellers.

Travellers are shown walking past an information board at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has played havoc with travel plans around the world. (Adrienne Surprenant/Bloomberg)

The list does not mean Canadians are forbidden from travelling to the EU, as it is merely a guideline for member nations to follow. But the bloc does nonetheless urge countries to abide by it for everyone’s benefit.

“Member states should … ensure that measures taken at the external borders are co-ordinated in order to ensure a well functioning Schengen area,” the EU said, referring to the 26 European nations that have agreed to allow free travel across their borders, as per an agreement signed in 1985 in Schengen, Luxembourg.

But “the authorities of the member states remain responsible for implementing the content of the recommendation [and] they may, in full transparency, lift only progressively travel restrictions towards countries listed.” 

Different nations, different rules

Indeed, different European nations have slightly different requirements. As of Thursday, Canada is still on Germany’s permissible entry list, and the country still allows visitors from various nations deemed high risk as long as they quarantine on arrival

As of Oct. 19, Canada is still on France’s acceptable travel list, even as France itself has imposed strict lockdowns domestically.

Italy also allows travel to and from Canada as long as people quarantine on arrival and don’t take public transit to get to wherever they are staying in the country as of Oct. 21.

The EU move is well short of an outright ban, but the change does suggest that Canada’s rising COVID-19 numbers — Canada now has more than 205,000 confirmed cases, including 2,266 new ones on Wednesday, according to the CBC’s coronavirus tracker — is becoming something of a concern for the rest of the world.

The EU said it bases its recommendations on a number of factors, including containment efforts but also on comparable ratios, such as the number of cases per 100,000 in the population, the number of tests being done daily and the positivity rate of those tests.

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