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Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on April 20

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Ontario health officials say the community spread of COVID-19 in Ontario “appears to have peaked” earlier than originally expected, a result they attribute to restrictions such as physical distancing.

The total number of cases for the span of this wave of the outbreak is “now likely less than 20,000” — if the distancing and other emergency measures remain in place, documents provided by the province’s dedicated COVID-19 task force say.

That figure is “substantially lower” than the worst-case scenario of 300,000 and expected-case scenario of 80,000 included in Ontario’s previous modelling update on April 3.

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Experts initially anticipated a peak of community spread to occur at some point in May.

Adalsteinn Brown, dean of the University of Toronto’s public health department, said a peak can go on for several days. He also had a less positive note about transmission in long-term care homes.

“We’re at peak in the community, but still in that accelerating upswing of the curve in long-term care,” he told reporters at a briefing Monday.

Adalsteinn Brown, dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, says Ontario is now expecting a much lower number of COVID-19 cases this month than earlier models anticipated. 1:06

Outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported in 127 long-term care facilities, according to the province’s task force. Long-term care homes have also been especially hard hit in Quebec.

 

 

Military members with medical training are now helping at Quebec care facilities struggling with COVID-19 outbreaks after the province asked Ottawa for help.

Quebec is the hardest-hit province in Canada, and its long-term care facilities have seen devastating and deadly outbreaks. Premier François Legault’s government asked for the military assistance — and has also asked retired nurses, orderlies and specialist doctors to help at residential facilities struggling to keep up with staffing.

The province is also delaying all non-urgent activities in hospitals for the next two weeks to allow more medical professionals to work full time in long-term care homes.

Medical workers from the Quebec City area are also helping at facilities in Montreal and surrounding areas.

 

A member of the Canadian Armed Forces talks to a health-care worker at Residence Villa Val des Arbres, a long-term care home in Laval, Que., on Sunday as COVID-19 cases rise in Canada and around the world. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

 

As of 7:00 p.m. ET on Monday, provinces and territories had reported 36,831 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. The regions that provide public data on recoveries listed 12,599 cases as recovered or resolved.

A CBC News tally of COVID-19-related deaths, based on provincial and regional health data, as well as CBC’s reporting, listed 1,762 coronavirus-related deaths in Canada. There have been two reported COVID-19-related deaths of Canadians abroad.

Quebec accounts for 19,319 of the cases and 939 deaths, with many of the recorded deaths linked to the long-term care system.

Public health officials in Canada have noted that recorded numbers don’t include people who have not been tested or cases that are still under investigation, and have urged people to behave as though coronavirus is in their community even if there are no known cases.

The novel coronavirus, which was first reported in China in late 2019, causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. The virus, which is formally known as SARS-CoV-2, causes an illness known as COVID-19. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.

‘Senseless violence’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has been providing regular briefings on the pandemic and the government’s response, on Monday focused his remarks on the aftermath of a mass shooting in Nova Scotia.

Trudeau offered condolences to people whose loved ones were killed in the “senseless violence” and said the entire country is grieving with Nova Scotians.

“Violence of any kind has no place in Canada.”

WATCH |  ‘We stand with you and we grieve with you’: Trudeau:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offers his condolences after a mass killing in Nova Scotia.     6:14

The prime minister said there will be a virtual vigil on Friday night for all of Canada to support the community.

Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Robert Strang, acknowledged that not being able to gather in person to mourn will be hard, but he urged people to maintain physical distancing even during this difficult time for the province.

“COVID-19 is not going to pause because of our pain,” he said.

Stricter gun control ahead: Trudeau

Trudeau also said his government is looking at moving ahead with stricter gun control measures, as Parliament returns for some regular sittings during the pandemic.

“I can say we were on the verge of introducing legislation to ban assault-style weapons across the country. It was interrupted when the pandemic caused Parliament to be suspended. We have every intention of moving forward on that measure, and potentially other measures, when Parliament returns,” he said.

WATCH | Trudeau talks about his government’s plans for stricter gun laws:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with reporters on Monday. 2:27

In the House of Commons Monday, the Conservatives lost their bid to have Parliament sit in person several times a week throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Liberal government motion calling for once-a-week in-person sittings, to be supplemented eventually by virtual sittings, passed in the House of Commons today with a vote of 22 to 15.

Non-medical masks required for air travellers

Governments in Canada have introduced a range of measures, including rules around gatherings, a call for physical distancing and mandatory self-isolation for people returning from abroad.

A new rule requiring people flying within the country to have a non-medical mask with them kicked in at noon ET on Monday. According to a news release issued by Transport Canada last week, the new rule requires people to cover their nose and mouth in the following situations:

  • When they are at airport screening checkpoints and the screeners can’t keep two metres between themselves and the traveller.
  • When they can’t maintain physical distancing from other people or when asked to by an airline employee.
  • When directed to by a public health official or order.

According to a case tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 2.4 million known coronavirus cases around the world, with more than 165,000 deaths.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.

Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories

British Columbia will not be lifting restrictions this month, but the provincial health officer says that possibly by mid-May, if the number of new cases continue to improve, some easing may begin. Dr. Bonnie Henry also says that everyone in the province who has symptoms can now be tested. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

In Alberta, Cargill says it is closing down a meat-processing plant at the centre of a major COVID-19 outbreak. One worker has died and there are 484 confirmed cases linked to the plant south of Calgary, the largest single outbreak in the province. Employees at the facility have accused the company of ignoring physical distancing protocols. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.

In Saskatchewan, a plan to gradually lift restrictions put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 is expected this week. Only one new case was reported Monday. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

Manitoba is extending its state of emergency for another month, until May 17. Provincial health officials have yet to decide whether to extend public health orders that limit public gatherings and close non-essential businesses until May 1.  Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

Ontario is shutting down a correctional institution in Brampton after at least 60 inmates and eight workers there tested positive for COVID-19. The transfer of more than one hundred inmates from the Ontario Correctional Institute to the  Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC) is already underway. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

Military members with medical training arrived in Quebec are helping hard-hit long-term care homes. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, where residential construction was resuming on Monday.

New Brunswick reported no new cases Monday — the sixth time in 10 days that there have been no new infections. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jennifer Russell said there have only been four new cases in the past week, but that it’s still important to maintain distancing measures. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.

Nova Scotia’s premier unveiled a plan to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak at a Halifax long-term care facility that has left five people dead. The province reported 46 more coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing its total to 721. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia, which has been left reeling after a devastating mass killing over the weekend.

Prince Edward Island’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, says Canadians will need to learn to live with COVID-19. She says a balance must be found between keeping people safe and returning to normal life, as her province reported no new cases again on Monday. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.

 

Physical distancing has radically changed how we socialize. But there’s still some scenarios where it’s difficult to limit our physical contact with others. Here’s how to best navigate them. 3:23

Newfoundland and Labrador also reported no new coronavirus cases on Monday. Despite there being no new cases, Premier Dwight Ball said the province won’t ease any restrictions. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.

In the Northwest Territories, the government is providing information on its enforcement task forcewhich was put in place to support coronavirus-related public health rules. Read more about what’s happening across the North.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S

From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

The head of the World Health Organization said Monday that nothing in its coronavirus response had been “hidden” from the United States. Senior officials said U.S. technical experts had been an important part of the WHO’s effort.

The comments appeared to be a response to U.S. President Donald Trump, who has criticized WHO’s handling of the pandemic, accusing it of promoting Chinese “disinformation.” He suspended U.S. funding last week.

Watch | ‘There is nothing hidden from the U.S.,’ WHO says

The World Health Organization says its close relationship with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ensures it is completely transparent with the United States.  3:17

At the same time, the debate over when to lift restrictions to control the coronavirus outbreak in the country intensified Monday, with protesters gathering in state capitals to demand an end to lockdowns and officials urging caution until more testing becomes available.

“All the projections were wrong, but we are still telling people to stay home and businesses to close. This is not quarantine, this is tyranny,” said Mark Cooper, a 61-year-old retired truck driver and “Reopen Maryland” protester.

Trump, who has sparred with a number of Democratic governors critical of his response to the health crisis, wrote on Twitter that governors — not the federal government — should take charge of COVID-19 testing. A number of politicians, including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio — had said the federal government should be doing more to aid them with testing.

“Now they scream ‘Testing, Testing, Testing,’ again playing a very dangerous political game. States, not the Federal Government, should be doing the Testing – But we will work with the Governors and get it done,” Trump said in a tweet.

On Monday, the governor of Georgia, which has nearly 19,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, announced plans to reopen the state’s economy before the end of the week.

Georgia’s timetable, one of the most aggressive in the U.S., would allow gyms, hair salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors to reopen as long as owners follow strict social-distancing and hygiene requirements. By Monday, movie theatres may resume selling tickets, and restaurants could return to limited dine-in service.

 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has unveiled a plan to reopen the state’s economy by later this week. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/The Associated Press)

 

Such a swift reopening runs counter to the advice of many experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top authority on infectious diseases, who warned again Monday that resuming business too soon risked a fresh spike in infections.

Georgia’s death toll from COVID-19 rose above 700 Monday.

The Trump administration and Congress also indicated Monday they were working toward agreement on a coronavirus aid package the Senate could take up as soon as Tuesday with more than $450 billion US to boost a small-business loan program that’s out of money, help for hospitals and virus testing.

 

People take advantage of a Duval County beach opening for physical activity amid coronavirus restrictions in Jacksonville, Fla., on Sunday. (Sam Thomas/Reuters)

 

The Senate missed a potential deadline Monday and frustrations are mounting, but the emerging draft measure — originally designed as an interim step aimed at replenishing payroll subsidies for smaller businesses — has grown into the second largest of the four coronavirus response bills so far.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, set up another Senate session for Tuesday in hopes an agreement will likely be sealed and written up by then.

The Trump administration also announced new guidelines requiring nursing homes nationwide to report to patients, their families and the federal government when they have cases of coronavirus.

Even still, there were signs of life elsewhere. Boeing said it will put about 27,000 people back to work this week building passenger jets at its Seattle-area plants, with virus-slowing precautions in place, including face masks and staggered shifts.

It’s among a small number of other manufacturers around the U.S. geared up Monday to resume production amid pressure from Trump to reopen the economy.

 

A volunteer wearing a face covering controls traffic flow as households receive boxes of food at a drive-thru food distribution site from the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor as authorities encourage physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Patrick T. Fallon/Reuters)

 

Oil prices plunged below zero on Monday as demand for energy collapses amid the COVID-19 pandemic and traders don’t want to get stuck owning crude with nowhere to store it. Demand for oil has collapsed so much that storage facilities are now nearly full.

Much of the drop into negative territory was chalked up to technical reasons — the May delivery contract is close to expiring so it was seeing less trading volume, which can exacerbate swings. But prices for deliveries even further into the future, which were seeing larger trading volumes, also plunged.

Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 4 p.m. ET

France on Monday became the fourth country to register more than 20,000 COVID-19 deaths, after Italy, Spain and the United States. The rate of increase in both infections and fatalities also increased, after several days of slowing. “The epidemic is very deadly and is far from over,” France’s public health chief Jérôme Salomon told a news briefing.

Spain has surpassed the 200,000 mark of coronavirus infections while recording the lowest number of new deaths in four weeks. Health ministry data showed Monday that 399 more people have succumbed to COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s total death toll to 20,852. Spain had counted more than 400 daily deaths since March 22.

The outbreak’s spread has continued at a slower pace than in previous weeks, with 4,266 new infections, which brings the country’s total to 200,210. The Spanish government is starting to relax its confinement measures, trying to re-activate the economy after a two-week freeze and allowing children under 12 to venture out to the streets for brief periods from next week.

Some shops are reopening in much of Germany as Europe’s biggest economy takes its first tentative step toward restarting public life after a four-week shutdown. Shops with a surface area of up to 800 square metres are being allowed to reopen on Monday, along with auto showrooms, bike shops and bookshops of any size, under an agreement reached last week between the federal and state governments.

 

A health worker wearing protective gear takes care of a patient at the level intensive care unit, treating COVID-19 patients, at the San Filippo Neri hospital in Rome, on Monday. Italy on Monday reported its first drop in the number of people currently suffering from the novel coronavirus since it recorded its first infection in February. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Deaths from the COVID-19 epidemic in Italy rose by 454 on Monday, slightly up from Sunday’s tally, while the number of new cases dropped to 2,256, the lowest level in well over a month, the Civil Protection Agency said. Given current trends, Italy’s regional health observatory forecast on Monday that two of the country’s 20 regions — Basilicata and Umbria — would be registering no new cases by the end of April. By contrast, it would take until the end of June for the worst-hit region, Lombardy, to have zero new coronavirus cases.

Some shops are reopening in much of Germany as Europe’s biggest economy takes its first tentative step toward restarting public life after a four-week shutdown. Shops with a surface area of up to 800 square metres are being allowed to reopen on Monday, along with auto showrooms, bike shops and bookshops of any size, under an agreement reached last week between the federal and state governments.

 

Employees disinfects a shopping cart at a hardware store after its re-opening, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Munich, Germany, April 20, 2020. (Andreas Gebert/Reuters)

 

At the same time, when Chancellor Angela Merkel was asked if she backed proposals to help fellow EU countries hardest hit by the pandemic such as Italy and Spain via a bigger European Union budget and the issuance of EU bonds, she said an EU treaty article already allowed such action and that it was used to finance a European short-time work scheme.

The German economy is in a severe recession and recovery is unlikely to be quick, as many coronavirus-related restrictions could stay in place for an extended period, the Bundesbank said in a regular monthly economic report on Monday.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that the country would impose a four-day lockdown for 31 cities, starting Thursday. Turkey has imposed such measures over the past two weekends. Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan said the lockdown would be longer this time due to a national holiday that falls on Thursday, adding that weekend lockdowns could continue “for some time.”

Over the weekend, the number of confirmed cases in Turkey exceeded any country outside Europe and the United States. Total cases rose to 90,980 on Monday.

Denmark will now test every person with symptoms of the new coronavirus. Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said the country has control of the epidemic, but he said if a person has a dry cough, fever or respiratory problems, they should call the doctor to be tested. The country took another small step toward reopening society when hair salons, dentists, physiotherapists, tattoo parlours and driving schools, among others, were allowed to reopen Monday.

 

A pedestrian walks past graffiti depicting the logo of Britain’s National Health Service, merged with the emblem of the fictional superheroes Superman and Superwoman, on the shuttered entrance of a closed pizza restaurant in Liverpool on Monday. (Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images)

 

Britain needs to be sure that any lifting or easing of physical distancing measures does not lead to a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.

“The big concern is a second peak, that is what ultimately will do the most damage to health and the most damage to the economy,” the spokesperson told reporters. “If you move too quickly then the virus could begin to spread exponentially again. What we need to be certain of is that if we move to lift some of the social distancing measures, it isn’t going to lead to the virus starting to spread exponentially again.”

Employers in Britain have already put more than a million staff on temporary leave, while finance minister Rishi Sunak said they had received 140,000 applications from firms in the first eight hours their 80 per cent wage subsidy was available on Monday.

Russia reported 4,268 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday, fewer than the 6,060 on the previous day, which took the total number of cases to 47,121. Forty-four Russian coronavirus patients died in the last 24 hours, the Russian coronavirus crisis response centre said.

Like the United States, Russia has seen limited — though passionate — protests against COVID-19 isolation measures. Hundreds gathered in southern Russia on Monday to demonstrate against forced business closures, as they have caused particular pain to households in such regions where salaries are lower and the virus less entrenched.

Singapore is reporting a record 1,426 new coronavirus cases, mostly among foreign workers, pushing its total number of confirmed infections above 8,000. The tiny city-state now has the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia, a massive increase from just 200 infections on March 15, when its outbreak appeared to be nearly under control. About 3,000 cases have been reported in just the past three days. Low-wage migrant workers, a vital part of Singapore’s workforce, now account for at least 60 per cent of its infections. More than 200,000 workers from poorer Asian countries live in tightly packed dormitories.

WATCH | COVID-19: Some Asian countries seeing case numbers rise — again:

Japan and Singapore are seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 after initial success managing the virus. 3:24

Japan boosted its new economic stimulus package on Monday to a record $1.1 trillion US to expand cash payouts to its citizens, as the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic threatens to push the world’s third-largest economy deeper into recession.

India has recorded its biggest single-day spike in coronavirus cases as the government eases one of the world’s strictest lockdowns to allow some manufacturing and agricultural activity to resume. An additional 1,553 cases were reported over 24 hours, raising the national total over 17,000. At least 543 people have died from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

The shelter-in-place orders imposed in India on March 24 halted all but essential services. But beginning Monday, limited industry and farming were allowed to resume where employers could meet physical distancing and hygiene norms, and migrant workers can travel within states to factories, farms and other work sites.

The reported death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Iran reached 5,209 on Monday with 91 deaths in the past 24 hours, Health Ministry spokesperson Kianush Jahanpur said Monday in a statement on state TV. The total number of diagnosed cases of the novel coronavirus in Iran, the Middle Eastern country hardest hit by the outbreak, has reached 83,505, he said.

South Africa will increase welfare provisions to help poor households suffering because of a nationwide lockdown aimed at containing the country’s coronavirus outbreak, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.

 

An infectious disease specialist says Brazil is fighting two enemies during the COVID-19 pandemic: the virus and the president. 1:53

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Monday that he hoped this would be the last week of stay-at-home measures to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus, wishing for an end to a policy that he has branded an ill-founded jobs killer. Speaking with supporters in Brasilia, he also opposed the view of a fan who called for the country’s supreme court to be shut, with Bolsonaro saying Brazil was a democratic country and the top court would remain open.

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UPEI students offered $1,500 to leave residence during Canada Games – CBC.ca

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Some UPEI students are earning extra money during the mid-semester break this year, simply by packing up and leaving campus. 

The 2023 Canada Winter Games Host Society offered $1,500 each to students living in Andrew Hall if they give up their residence rooms to make space for arriving athletes. 

The students have to leave a few days before the break starts, on Feb. 17, and can return March 7. They also had to give up their meal plan for the duration.

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Many athletes are staying at UPEI’s new 260-bed residence, built to meet accommodation requirements for the Games’ temporary athlete village.

But Wayne Carew, chair of the Games, said there are 120 more athletes coming than originally planned. 

A portrait of a man standing outside, wearing a jacket with the Canada Winter Games logo.
Organizers want the athletes all to stay on the UPEI campus so they can have ‘the experience of a lifetime,’ says Wayne Carew, chair of the 2023 Canada Winter Games Host Society. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“We ended up getting 44 rooms [in Andrew Hall] and that’s great,” said Carew.

He said the athletes staying at UPEI “are going to have a wild experience on the campus of the beautiful University of Prince Edward Island.” 

Carew said the costs of doing this are a “lot cheaper” than arranging accommodations elsewhere. But he said the main reason is to provide all athletes the same, “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.

“Where they live, the food and the camaraderie and the experience of a lifetime: that’s what they’ll remember in 20 years’ time about P.E.I.,” he said.

‘Pretty good deal’

Some students were eager to take the organizers up on their offer.

“I’m going away to Florida during the two-week break anyways. So I was like, ‘May as well let them use my room then,'” said Hannah Somers. 

Portrait of a man in a toque and a grey sweater standing in front of a residence hall.
UPEI student Benji Dueck is moving in with a friend during the Canada Games so he can get the $1,500 offer. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“It’s $1,500. Pretty nice,” said Benji Dueck, who agreed to vacate the room with his roommate.  “We’re moving out, living with a friend in the city. So, sounds like a pretty good deal to me.”

As part of the agreement, the students had to clear out their rooms. Canada Games organizers made arrangements so students could store their belongings.

But not all students thought it was a good deal.

Portrait of a woman in a black down jacket standing in front of a residence hall.
UPEI student Maria de Torres won’t be leaving residence during the Canada Games. ‘It’s just too hard to pack up. It’s just too hectic,’ she says. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“I’m not giving up my spot in Andrew Hall for $1,500,” said Maria de Torres. “It’s just too hard to pack up. It’s just too hectic. And since I’m an international student, I got a lot [of things] right now.”

Shelby Dyment is also staying in Andrew Hall. Dyment said she and her roommate are working as residence life assistants during the mid-semester break and she’s also doing directed study, so she has to stay on campus.

“There’s a lot of people doing it. It’s just for our situation it just wasn’t working for what we were doing,” she said.

In a statement, UPEI said that enough students had accepted the offer to host all the athletes. 

It said the host society made all the arrangements with the students, including paying for their incentives and arranging for storage.

Organizers expect about 3,600 athletes, coaches and officials to participate in the Games. The event will run from Feb. 18 to March 5.

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Germany won't be a 'party to the war' amid tanks exports to Ukraine: Ambassador – CTV News

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The German ambassador to Canada says Germany will not become “a party to the conflict” in Ukraine, despite it and several other countries announcing they’ll answer President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s pleas for tanks, possibly increasing the risk of Russian escalation.

Sabine Sparwasser said it’s a “real priority” for Germany to support Ukraine, but that it’s important to be in “lockstep” coordination with other allied countries.

“There is a clear line for Germany,” she told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, in an interview airing Sunday. “We do want not want to be a party to the conflict.”

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“We want to support, we want to do everything we can, but we, and NATO, do not want to be a party to the war,” she also said. “That’s I think, the line we’re trying to follow.”

Defence Minister Anita Anand announced this week Canada will send four Leopard 2 battle tanks — with the possibility of more in the future — to Ukraine, along with Canadian Armed Forces members to train Ukrainian soldiers on how to use them.

Canada first needed permission from Berlin to re-export any of its 82 German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. After a meeting of 50 defence leaders in Germany earlier this month, it was unclear whether Germany would give the green light.

But following what German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called “intensive consultations,” Germany announced on Jan. 25 it would send tanks to Ukraine, and the following day, Canada followed suit. It is now joining several other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Poland, which are sending several dozen tanks to Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this week the tanks would allow Ukraine to “significantly strengthen their combat capabilities.”

“It demonstrates also the unit and the resolve of NATO allies in partners in providing support to Ukraine,” he said.

Meanwhile Sparwasser said Germany is “walking that fine line” of avoiding steps that could prompt escalation from Russia, while supporting Ukraine, and staying out of the war themselves.

“I think it’s very important to see that Germany is very determined and has a real priority in supporting Ukraine in its struggle for freedom and sovereignty,” Sparwasser said. “But we also put a high priority on going it together with our friends and allies.”

Sparwasser said despite warnings from Russia that sending tanks to Ukraine will cause an escalation, Germany is within international law — specifically Article 51 of the United Nations Charter — to provide support to Ukraine.

“Ukraine is under attack has the right to self defence, and other nations can come in and provide Ukraine with the means to defend itself,” Sparwasser said. “So in international law terms, this is a very clear cut case.”

She added that considering “Russia doesn’t respect international law,” it’s a more impactful deterrent to Russia, ahead of an expected spring offensive, to see several countries come together in support of Ukraine.

With files from the Associated Press

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COVID: Canada retaining Evusheld – CTV News

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While Health Canada says it is “aware” of the U.S. decision to withdraw the emergency use of Evusheld, a drug by AstraZeneca used to help prevent COVID-19 infection— the agency is maintaining its approval, citing the differences in variant circulation between Canada and the U.S.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Jan. 26 that its emergency use authorization of the drug was pulled due to its inefficacy in treating “certain” COVID-19 variants.

The FDA stated in a release on its website that as the XBB.1.5. variant, nicknamed “Kraken”, is making up the majority of cases in the country, the use of Evusheld is “not expected to provide protection” and therefore not worth exposing the public to possible side effects of the drug, like allergic reactions.

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In an email to CTVNews.ca, Health Canada said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration pulled the drug as the main variant of concern in the U.S. is XBB.1.5.

“Dominant variants in the [U.S.] may be different from those circulating in Canada,” the federal agency said in an email. “The most recent epidemiological data in Canada (as of January 1, 2023) indicate that BA.5 (Omicron) subvariants continue to account for more than 89 per cent of reported cases.”

On Jan. 6 the FDA said in press release that certain variants are not neutralized by Evusheld and cautioned people who are exposed to XBB.1.5. On Jan. 26, the FDA then updated its website by saying it would be limiting the use of Evusheld.

“Evusheld is not currently authorized for use in the U.S. until further notice by the Agency,” the FDA website states.

On Jan. 17, Health Canada issued a “risk communication” on Evusheld, explaining how it may not be effective against certain Omicron subvariants when used as a preventative measure or treatment for COVID-19.

“Decisions regarding the use of EVUSHELD should take into consideration what is known about the characteristics of the circulating COVID-19 variants, including geographical prevalence and individual exposure,” Health Canada said in an email.

Health Canada says Evusheld does neutralize against Omicron subvariant BA.2, which according to the agency, is the dominant variant in many communities in Canada.

The drug was introduced for prevention measures specifically for people who have weaker immune systems and are unlikely to be protected by a COVID-19 vaccine. It can only be given to people 12 years and older.

“EVUSHELD is not a substitute for vaccination in individuals for whom COVID-19 vaccination is recommended,” the agency’s website reads.

Health Canada says no drug, including Evusheld, is a substitute for vaccination.

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