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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world Friday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay-Parry Sound will remain under the current stay-at-home order for at least another two weeks, according to a statement released by the Ontario government on Friday.

York Region, located just north of Toronto, will transition to Ontario’s colour-coded COVID-19 restriction system, the release said. This transition will take effect on Feb. 22 at 12:01 a.m. ET. The extension for Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay-Parry Sound will be in effect until at least March 8.

“Our government’s number one priority is the safety of all individuals and families, and that’s why we are taking a gradual, cautious approach to returning regions to the framework,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said in the release. “These are difficult but necessary decisions, in order to protect against COVID-19 variants and maintain the progress we have all made together.

“Until vaccines are widely available, we continue to urge all Ontarians to follow public health advice and measures, and stay home, stay safe and save lives.”

Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to hold a news conference at 2 p.m. ET.

Earlier, Ontario health officials reported 1,150 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with 47 additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 689, with 269 COVID-19 patients in the province’s intensive care units.

WATCH | How vaccines can keep up with coronavirus variants:

A CBC News investigation into the growing and largely unregulated private sector of COVID-19 tests and found a hodge-podge industry of inconsistent prices, and sometimes, test results. 2:39


What’s happening in Canada

As of 1:25 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 839,520 cases of COVID-19, with 32,070 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 21,559.

WATCH | Who is keeping track of thousands of private COVID-19 tests?

A 34-year old Saskatchewan health-care worker has died of cardiac arrest after testing positive for COVID-19. It comes just days after he received his first dose of vaccine, but experts say he was likely exposed to the virus before getting the shot. 2:02

At a briefing on Friday morning, top federal health officials pointed out that the country has seen a steady decline in COVID-19 activity in Canada, but expressed concern about so-called variants of concern.

Health officials said Friday that variants of concern had been reported in all 10 provinces. According to figures provided at the briefing, as of Friday there had been:

  • More than 660 cases of the B117 variant first identified in the U.K.

  • 39 cases of the B1351 variant first identified in South Africa.

  • 1 case of the P1 variant first traced to travellers from Brazil.

In Quebec, health officials reported 800 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 14 additional deaths. COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 723, with 127 of those patients in intensive care.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, officials reported 60 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday and nine new presumptive cases on Friday.

Across Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, while Nova Scotia reported two new cases. There was one new case reported in Prince Edward Island

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 139 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths, while Saskatchewan reported 146 new cases.

WATCH | Sask. health-care worker dies after positive COVID-19 test:

Alberta, meanwhile, reported 415 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths on Thursday.

In British Columbia, health officials reported 617 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths.

Across the North, there were six new cases of COVID-19 recorded in Nunavut on Thursday — all in the community of Arviat. There were no new cases reported in Yukon or the Northwest Territories.

Here’s a look at what else is happening across Canada:


What’s happening around the world

A coffee and sandwich vendor walks amid empty oxygen cylinders while people rest waiting for a shop to open to refill their tank, in the Villa El Salvador neighbourhood of Lima on Thursday. (Martin Mejia/The Associated Pres)

As of early Friday afternoon, more than 110.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 62.2 million of those cases listed as recovered on a tracking site run by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.4 million.

In the Americas, the United States has a backlog of six million COVID-19 vaccine doses due to inclement weather, White House officials said at a media briefing on Friday, adding that the federal government expects to catch up with vaccine distribution by next week.

All 50 states are impacted, according to Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House’s COVID-19 response team. He said delays were due to road closures, shipping company employees unable to get to work, and power outages in certain locations.

Venezuela started vaccinating health workers with the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, adding it hopes to inoculate 70 per cent of the country’s population by year-end.

In Africa, an African Union-created task force working to secure COVID-19 vaccines says Russia has offered 300 million doses of the country’s Sputnik V vaccine. The director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, said in a statement Friday that the body is “tremendously proud” to offer the doses to Africa’s 54 countries. The statement says the Sputnik V doses will be available in May.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan confirmed a new variant of COVID-19, and an infection cluster emerged at a Tokyo immigration facility.

South Korea may consider a fifth round of COVID-19 cash handouts, the prime minister said, even as the details of a planned fourth cash payout have yet to be completed.

China’s Sinovac delivered 1 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine CoronaVac to Hong Kong on Friday evening. Government officials approved Sinovac’s two-dose vaccine on Thursday. The semi-autonomous city is relying on three vaccines and has purchased 22.5 million doses in total.

Priority groups include health-care workers and those above the age of 60, as well as essential workers. Online appointments will begin on Tuesday.

In Europe, the head of Germany’s disease control agency warned Friday that the drop in new coronavirus cases has levelled off even as the share of more contagious variants is rising. Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute, said Germany may be heading toward another “turning point” in the pandemic after weeks of falling infections.

His agency reported 9,113 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past day and 508 deaths. Germany has recorded almost 2.4 million cases and 67,206 deaths from the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. Earlier this week Health Minister Jens Spahn said the share of the more contagious variant first detected in Britain has reached about 22 per cent in Germany, from six per cent two weeks ago.

Students get food during a distribution organized by the French charity Restaurants of the Heart at a student residence in Paris earlier this week. (Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters)

A Dutch appeals court will rule next Friday in a case against the government’s night-time coronavirus curfew, the judge said on Friday. The court is weighing an appeal against the ruling by a lower court, which found on Tuesday that the government measure lacked legal justification and must be scrapped.

Hungarian health authorities issued final approval to a COVID-19 vaccine produced in China, clearing the way for the first inoculations with a Chinese vaccine in the European Union.

Ireland will remain under significant restrictions until the end of April, the prime minister was quoted as saying.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia this week approved the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

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Canada adds 2,300 new COVID-19 cases as provinces split on next steps against pandemic – Global News

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Canada’s COVID-19 hotspots showed diverging approaches to handling the crisis on Sunday, as Ontario and Prince Edward Island prepared for new lockdowns while Quebec entered a week of spring break complete with some activities meant to ease the monotony of life during a global pandemic.

The developments came amid another 2,302 new cases of COVID-19 across the country, which pushed the national total to 866,434. Another 34 deaths were reported on Sunday as well, with the national death toll standing at 21,994.

To date over 813,520 patients infected with the virus have recovered however, while over 24.8 million tests and 1.87 million vaccine doses have been administered. Sunday’s data paints a limited snapshot of the virus’ spread across Canada however as B.C. and both the Northwest Territories and Yukon do not report new cases on the weekend.

Prince Edward Island announced it was entering a 72-hour lockdown starting at midnight as the province struggled to contain an outbreak of COVID-19.

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Read more:
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The short-term public health order was announced as officials reported five new infections of the disease in a province that has seen few cases for most of the pandemic. The Island has now recorded 17 new infections over the past five days.

Health officials identified two clusters of COVID-19 in the cities of Summerside and Charlottetown, and said it’s possible the island has community spread of the virus. The province has a total of just 132 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

The three-day lockdown requires residents to stay home as much as possible and will close all kindergarten to Grade 12 schools, with post-secondary education moving online only.

“We would rather go harder and stronger now than wait for an outbreak like we have seen in other provinces that could put us in an extended period of lockdown for weeks or even months,” Premier Dennis King said late Sunday during a briefing with reporters.

Ontario, meanwhile, passed the 300,000 case mark on Sunday as the government prepared to hit a so-called ’emergency brake’ in two northern public health units grappling with surging case numbers.

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The Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka District health units will enter the lockdown phase of the province’s pandemic response plan on Monday in order interrupt transmission of COVID-19 at a time when new variants are gaining steam.

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The province has also pushed back its spring break until April in an effort to limit community spread.


Click to play video 'Navigating a tax season complicated by COVID-19'



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Navigating a tax season complicated by COVID-19


Navigating a tax season complicated by COVID-19

Quebec, in contrast, has allowed movie theatres, pools and arenas to open with restrictions in place to give families something to do as the traditional winter break kicks off, even as most other health rules remain in place.

The province opted to allow students and teachers the traditional March break, even though Premier Francois Legault has said he’s worried about the week off and the threat posed by more contagious virus variants.

Quebec’s health minister said the situation in the province was stable on Sunday, with 737 new cases and nine additional deaths _ even as confirmed cases linked to variants of concern jumped by more than 100 to 137.

Most of the variant cases have been identified as the B.1.1.7 mutation first identified in the United Kingdom, including 84 in Montreal.

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Ontario, meanwhile, reported 1,062 new infections linked to the pandemic on Sunday as it became the first province to record more than 300,000 total cases of COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic.

The country’s chief public health officer urged Canadians on Sunday to continue following public health measures as a way of buying critical time as vaccine programs ramp up.

“Aiming to have the fewest interactions with the fewest number of people, for the shortest time, at the greatest distance possible is a simple rule that we can all apply to help limit the spread of COVID-19,” Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement.

Canada’s immunization program received a boost last week with the approval of a third COVID-19 vaccine, raising hopes that provinces will be able to inoculate their most vulnerable populations before the more contagious variants can fully take hold.


Click to play video 'Trudeau says COVID-19 case counts, presence of variants being looked at with Canada-U.S. border restrictions'



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Trudeau says COVID-19 case counts, presence of variants being looked at with Canada-U.S. border restrictions


Trudeau says COVID-19 case counts, presence of variants being looked at with Canada-U.S. border restrictions

Toronto announced Sunday that it was expanding the first phase of its COVID-19 vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness, noting that they have a higher risk of serious health impacts due to COVID-19 and are vulnerable to transmission in congregate settings.

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Quebec, meanwhile, is set to begin vaccination of the general population on Monday, beginning with seniors 80 and over in the Montreal area, or 85 and over in the rest of the province.

While some regions with extra doses began administering shots late last week, the pace of inoculation will ramp up on Monday when mass vaccination clinics in Montreal throw open their doors.

Case counts were more stable elsewhere in the country.

Read more:
Coronavirus vaccine tourism unethical, bad for business: experts

Manitoba reported just 50 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday and two new virus-related deaths, while Saskatchewan saw its overall tally climb by 181 but did not log any new deaths.

Alberta reported three new virus-related deaths and 301 new infections, including 29 identified as variants of concern.

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia logged three new cases while officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported seven.

— With files from Global News

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Canada pension fund boss Machin quits after overseas trip for COVID shot

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By Noor Zainab Hussain and Maiya Keidan

(Reuters) – The head of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), Mark Machin, has resigned after his trip to the United Arab Emirates for vaccination against COVID-19 flouted Canadian government’s travel advice and drew criticism.

CPPIB on Friday named John Graham, currently senior managing director and global head of credit investments, as the new chief executive officer of the country’s largest pension fund.

Machin, 54, becomes the second senior Canadian corporate executive to resign after attempting to jump vaccine queue, underscoring the frustration among some about the country’s slow vaccine roll out.

“It was a complete lapse of moral judgment which risked undermining people’s trust both in government policy and the stewardship of their public pension provision,” said David Wheeler, a former business professor at York University, adding that “clearly he had to go immediately”.

Machin received Pfizer’s <PFE.N> vaccine shot after arriving in the UAE with his partner this month, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, adding he had stayed on in the UAE and was due to receive his second dose in coming weeks.

“We are very disappointed by this troubling situation and we support the swift action taken by the Board of Directors,” Kat Cuplinskas, press secretary for Canada‘s ministry of finance.

CPPIB, which manages C$475.7 billion ($377 billion), is governed independently from the federal government but it reports to a board of directors selected by Canada‘s minister of finance. It manages Canada‘s national pension fund and invests on behalf of about 20 million Canadians.

Machin did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Machin, after discussions with the Board, agreed the most appropriate step was to tender his resignation, Michel Leduc, senior managing director and head of public affairs and communications said in a statement to Reuters.

NO TRAVEL BAN

Machin sent an internal memo to CPPIB staff acknowledging that he took a personal trip and was in Dubai for a number of reasons, some of which were “deeply personal”, the source said.

Machin also said in the memo that the trip was supposed to be “very private” and that he was disappointed it had become the focus of “expected criticism”, according to the source.

Although there is no specific ban on Canadians traveling abroad, the federal and provincial governments have advised against overseas trips to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Canada trails behind many developed nations in its vaccination drive, with under 3% of the population inoculated so far.

The UAE says it provides COVID-19 vaccinations to residents and citizens only, free of charge, and requires a valid residency identification card to receive the shots. It was not immediately clear how Machin, a British national, secured the vaccine by traveling to Dubai.

Machin worked with Goldman Sachs for 20 years before joining CPPIB in March 2012. He was appointed as president and CEO in 2016.

Under Machin, CPPIB reported net return of 3.1% for the year ended March 31, 2020, down from 8.9% a year earlier. Machin was paid C$5.4 million ($4.25 million) in 2020, according to CCPIB’s annual report.

Incoming CEO Graham has been with CPPIB for 10 years. Prior to that he was with Xerox Innovation Group for over nine years.

Some Canadian federal and provincial leaders have resigned in the past month after their overseas leisure trips sparked public outrage. https://reut.rs/3qZvDLh

Last Month, Great Canadian Gaming Corp CEO Rod Baker resigned after he and his wife were charged with traveling to northern Canada and misleading authorities in order to receive the vaccine.

($1 = 1.2699 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Maiya Keidan in Toronto; Writing by Denny Thomas; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Marguerita Choy)

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International permanent residency holders running out of time to come to Canada – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Immigrants waiting to come to Canada have been speaking out about the COVID-19 travel restrictions denying them the chance to start their new lives.

Last March, the federal government updated their exemptions to the international travel restrictions, which included “permanent resident applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 18, 2020, but who had not yet travelled to Canada.”

Almost overnight, families and individuals around the world who had been approved for permanent residency (PR) in Canada after March 18, some of whom had been waiting years for their approvals, were no longer allowed to begin their new lives.

Applicants with a valid confirmation of permanent residency (COPR), but without immediate or extended family members in Canada are not included in the list of essential or exempted traveller lists, and for those holding COPRs issued from October 2020 onwards, authorization letters are needed to fly in internationally.

Now, almost a year later, those who hold COPRs approved after March 18, 2020 are facing their visas expiring – COPRs cannot be extended – leaving families desperate.

Many have quit their jobs in anticipation of immigrating after receiving their COPR, sold their properties, taken their children out of school and incurred expenses in preparation for travel – booking hotels, flights and other accommodations.

Some have taken their fight online, using the hashtag #free_copr_after_march18 to raise awareness of their plight.

Others have been lobbying the government; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC); and the media to allow an exemption for those who received their COPR after the cut-off date.

These are some of their stories, in their own words.

(Disclaimer: replies have been edited for length, clarity and brevity)

CHIRAG RATHOD – INDIA

Chirag Rathod“My wife and I are in great mental depression as we were all set to start our new life after getting the COPR. We had all our bags packed. It did not happen. Now, my wife has started feeling suicidal. I shut down my company thinking that I would be travelling soon and now we have no source of income. We are in such a limbo about restarting our life in India, as we do not know when the Canadian government let us in; it may happen in a month or in a year we have no idea. We are clueless about what will happen to our COPRs after they expire, will it be honoured or will we have to go through the entire PR process again?”

ISAAC BELLO – NIGERIA

Isaac Bello“It has not been easy time emotionally and psychologically for me. The security situation around where I reside is deteriorating by the day. A lot of kidnapping for ransom takes place regularly. This tension is exacerbated by the fact that my family (spouse and children) are not accompanying me. I will have to land first, settle in and then apply for family sponsorship for them.

It would be nice and helpful if the government of Canada takes into consideration COPR holders irrespective of whether they have family in Canada or not, since they will have adequate quarantine measures in place. We should be able to land and confirm their permanent residency status since students and temporary workers are allowed in. We should also be exempted from travel restrictions as well since we are coming to stay permanently, unlike students and temporary workers. Many of us are stranded not knowing what our fate will be. Should we keep waiting, hoping that our peculiar situation will be addressed or should we try to pick up our lives where we left off?”

MAMTA SHARMA – INDIA

Mamta Sharma“I have two teenage daughters and I am a single parent taking care of all their emotional & financial needs.

I had informed their school about the withdrawal of their admissions. Now, in a limbo, I have to plead to the school to admit them back. I worked hard to provide them a better life and good future but currently it seems like a distant dream with lots of uncertainty. I am having sleepless nights and going through tremendous stress and trauma. It is affecting mine and my daughters’ mental health.

I am a valid COPR holder and should be given the right to enter Canada, my new homeland.

Being a single parent is itself a challenge in my community, I had worked hard for the Canadian dream for me and my daughters. We saved each and every penny wherever we could, I am emotionally strained but I have to appear strong in front of my daughters. It’s not only me, there are many people across the world who are facing the same issues. I know COPR visa is a privilege not a right, but understand how hard we have worked to reach for this position. “

FAUZIA KARIM – BANGLADESH

Fauzia Karim“We are family of three, I am originally from Bangladesh but living in India with my husband and 3-year-old son. We researched day and night about how things work in Canada; starting from transportation, housing, weather, daily life, job search, grocery and day care. Being a Bangladeshi citizen married to Indian man, I am already staying in India on a dependent visa and couldn’t work for the past four years. We invested a good portion of our savings in securing an invitation to apply for PR. My husband served his three months notice period to his employer, sold our car, home appliances and moved to his hometown.

We planned to travel to Calgary on Feb. 21 2021, travelled 800 km from our hometown to Delhi Airport, took a pre-departure COVID test, arranged a proof of funds letter from the bank, booked accommodations etc. We were denied boarding by Air Canada staff stating that our COPR was issued post- March 18 2020, and we aren’t travel exempt, we need to have an authorization letter from IRCC – which is only possible if we have an immediate or extended family member in Canada.

Apart from the financial and emotional stress, there is a lot we are going through. Every now and then are being questioned by family, relatives and several other people “When are you moving to Canada,” and now with no job in hand we are breaking down financially and on the edge of spending money from proof of funds, which was supposed to be for initial months for survival in Canada.”

GURPREET SINGH – INDIA

Gurpreet Singh“When my COPR was approved I was so happy that my dream is going to be true, and I started preparing for the travelling with the hope that soon they will allow us to enter Canada. I resigned from my job, as I needed to serve a three month notice period and booked the tickets and accommodation to complete a 14 day quarantine.

I was not aware that a nightmare was on the way. I am scared because I have resigned from my job, I have my three-year old son who is ready to start school and I am the sole bread earner for my family. I really don’t know how I will fulfill my families basic necessities without a job. As of Feb. 2021, no exemption has been granted to us and our COPR will expire in upcoming months. Now getting into these situations all doors are locked for me, and every night I cry from my heart which has also raised our stress and anxiety. As an immigrant I always wanted to settle in Canada permanently so that my spouse and son would get a good future. Being a skilled worker I feel that hard work pays off in Canada and eventually I will contribute to the Canadian economy.”

KESHAV SHARMA – INDIA

Keshav Sharma“After getting my COPR, I was very happy and started to prepare to move permanently to Canada. I resigned from my job, as I was speculating that approved COPR holders will be able to land in the country without much hassle. Then we found out about the 14 days quarantine rule, which was sensible to me and I am happy to arrange that as I can understand completely how critical it is to be safe. We later found out about the three day hotel quarantine rule which again I understand the point of view from the Canadian government. I thought because they had issued COPR to us eventually they will allow us to enter Canada. In short, the situation has become so frustrating and heartbreaking that I am kind of starting to feel emotional trauma. I don’t know what is in the future, as there is not a single clarification provided about the agenda of travel restrictions and files processing by IRCC. Life has become miserable for me. I have been postponing my future plans about my family and my career in hope of migrating. Canada is our country now and we must be given a chance to enter our own country.”

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