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What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Friday

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Los Angeles is temporarily closing five mass vaccination sites including Dodger Stadium for lack of supply as hard-hit California faces continuing criticism over the vaccine rollout.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city would exhaust its supply of Moderna first doses — two are required for full immunization — forcing it to close drive-thru and walk-up vaccination sites Friday and Saturday.

According to the Los Angeles Times, however, the sites closed even earlier than expected afer running out of doses on Thursday.

They may not reopen until the city gets more supplies, perhaps next Tuesday or Wednesday. Smaller mobile vaccination clinics will continue operating.

Garcetti said Los Angeles uses about 13,000 doses in a typical day but received only 16,000 this week.

“This is not where I want to be,” Garcetti said. “It’s not where we deserve to be.”

California has now recorded the most confirmed deaths from the coronavirus with 45,496, edging past New York’s toll of 45,312, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

Other coronavirus numbers are improving in the state, however. The seven-day test positivity rate has fallen to 4.8 per cent, and the most recent daily number of confirmed positive cases was 8,390, down from 53,000 in December.

Supply constraints are slowing ambitious vaccination programs in the U.S., as massive sites capable of putting shots into thousands of arms daily in states including New York, California, Florida and Texas, as well as hospitals and pharmacies, beg for more doses.

The U.S. has seen more than 27.3 million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and more than 475,000 deaths, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Thursday predicted that it will be “open season” for COVID-19 vaccinations in the United States by April, as increased supply allows most people to get shots.

Speaking to NBC’s Today Show, the science adviser to President Joe Biden said the rate of vaccinations will greatly accelerate in the coming months. He credits forthcoming deliveries of the two approved vaccines, the potential approval of a third and moves by the Biden administration to increase the nation’s capacity to deliver doses.

Fauci said that “by the time we get to April,” it will be “open season, namely virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.” He cautioned it will take “several more months” to deliver injections to adult Americans but predicted the “overwhelming majority” of people in the U.S. could be vaccinated by the middle and end of the summer.

From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 7 a.m. ET 


What’s happening in Canada

 

N.L.’s election has been postponed as the province deals with a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, and as poll workers resign over fears of catching the virus. 2:04

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, says people need to continue what they’ve been doing but with “even more diligence” to counter the more contagious variants that have been identified in several provinces.

Speaking at a briefing on Friday, Tam said that means keeping up “individual public health practices” to limit spread, protecting the vulnerable and allowing time for vaccination programs to expand.

As of Friday, eight provinces had reported more than 429 cases of the B117 variant, which was first detected in the U.K., she said.

There were also 28 recorded cases of the B1351 variant, which was first reported in South Africa, and one case of the P1 variant first reported in Brazil.

“At least three of these provinces are reporting evidence of community spread ” and variants have been “linked to outbreaks.”

As of 10:50 a.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 818,244 cases of COVID-19 — with 37,388 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 21,106.

Ontario on Friday reported 1,076 cases of COVID-19 and 18 additional deaths. COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 763, with 295 people in intensive care units.

 

 

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

Newfoundland and Labrador on Thursday reported 100 new cases of COVID-19, by far the highest single-day case number in the province.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the chief medical officer of health, said there are now 210 active cases in the province, with 74 of the new cases in people under 20 years old.

Faced with rising COVID-19 case numbers in the St. John’s area, the province’s chief electoral officer on Thursday delayed voting in almost half of the province’s 40 districts. In 18 districts, in-person voting will be rescheduled and won’t go ahead as planned on Saturday.

There were two new cases of COVID-19 in both New Brunswick on Thursday, and no new cases reported in Prince Edward Island.

In Quebec, health officials reported 1,121 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 37 additional deaths. COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province stood at 874, with 143 people in intensive care units.

In Manitoba, Premier Brian Pallister announced a plan to procure a made-in-Canada vaccine that is currently in early trial stages.

The province on Thursday reported 90 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths. Health officials in Manitoba said the number of people with all conditions in intensive care has dropped below 100 this week. That’s still above pre-pandemic capacity but down sharply from a spike in the fall.

 

Manitoba is the first province to buy its own COVID-19 vaccine rather than relying on the federal government. 1:53

Saskatchewan reported 114 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. Health officials said there were 187 people in hospital, with 24 patients with the virus in intensive care.

In neighbouring Alberta, health officials reported 351 new cases of COVID-19 and 16 more deaths from the virus.

British Columbia reported 449 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths on Thursday.

Across the North, Nunavut reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday in the community in Arviat, while health officials in the Northwest Territories reported one new case. There were no new cases reported in Yukon.

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

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 10:50 a.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

 

A student gets a bag of food during a distribution organized by Linkee, a solidarity solution to food waste, in Paris on Thursday. (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

 

As of early Friday morning, more than 107.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 60.3 million of those cases listed as recovered or resolved in a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.3 million.

In Europe, Portugal is getting more help from its European Union partners to ease pressure on hospitals crunched by the pandemic, with France and Luxembourg the latest countries to offer medical workers.

The Portuguese health ministry said France is sending a doctor and three nurses, while Luxembourg is providing two doctors and two nurses. The health ministry said in a statement late Thursday the medics should arrive next week.

The German army sent eight doctors and 18 nurses earlier this month to help at a Lisbon hospital. The number of COVID-19 patients in hospital and in intensive care fell Thursday for the third straight day, but Portugal’s seven-day average of daily deaths remained the world’s highest, at 1.97 per 100,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University.

 

Nurses tend to a patient in a COVID-19 intensive care unit at the Curry Cabral hospital in Lisbon, Portugal on Thursday. (Armando Franca/The Associated Press)

 

In Germany, the health minister said he will consider introducing penalties for people who jump the queue for coronavirus vaccines. Jens Spahn told reporters in Berlin on Friday that there had been several such reports in recent days and the government would discuss with parliament “whether sanctions in this area could make sense.”

Spahn had previously downplayed the issue of queue jumping, but persistent reports have surfaced of senior officials in hospitals and cities getting the vaccines before doctors and nurses. This week the Catholic bishop of Augsburg acknowledged receiving the vaccine, despite being far down the priority list.

Patient rights campaigners warned Spahn last year that Germany’s complicated vaccination system could open the door to corruption and queue jumping, but the ministry rebuffed repeated calls for criminal penalties.

In Africa, South Africa has secured millions of doses of Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines to fight the highly infectious COVID-19 variant that is dominant in the country.

Kenya is going ahead with its plan to inoculate its citizens using AstraZeneca’s vaccine, while Zimbabwe has bought 600,000 shots from China’s Sinopharm, in addition to 200,000 China has donated.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the first batch of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Japan on Friday, local media reported, with official approval for the shots expected within days as the country races to control a third wave of infections ahead of the Olympic Games.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday the country’s COVID-19 inoculation program will likely begin on Feb. 20, brought forward by the earlier receipt of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine than originally anticipated.

Australia’s second-largest city will begin its third lockdown due to a rapidly spreading COVID-19 cluster centred on hotel quarantine.

The five-day lockdown will be enforced across Victoria state to prevent the virus spreading from the state capital Melbourne, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said. Only international flights that were already in the air when the lockdown was announced would be allowed to land at Melbourne Airport.

 

It’s a necessary circuit breaker to limit further spread of COVID-19, officials said. A highly contagious strain, first reported in the U.K., was detected at a quarantine hotel in Melbourne. 1:32

A population of 6.5 million people will be locked down from 11:59 p.m. until the same time on Wednesday because of a contagious variant of the virus first detected at a Melbourne Airport hotel that has infected 13 people.

In the Americas, Mexico’s health ministry on Thursday reported 10,677 new confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,474 more fatalities from COVID-19, bringing the overall total to 1,968,566 cases and 171,234 deaths. The government said the real number of infected people and the death toll in Mexico are both likely significantly higher than reported levels.

In the Middle East, Israel began reopening its education system on Thursday after a more than six-week closure due to the surge in coronavirus infections.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7 a.m ET

Source: – CBC.ca

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Australia's standoff with Facebook has lessons for Canada, publisher says – CBC.ca

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Canada should move quickly on legislation to make Facebook and Google pay for news content, because it was only when Australia began taking action that the digital giants responded with deals, says the head of the association representing the Canadian news media industry.

“If these companies will only act once legislation is imminent, then we’d like to see legislation sooner rather than later,” said Bob Cox, chair of News Media Canada and publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press.

Australia’s Parliament on Thursday passed the final amendments to the so-called News Media Bargaining Code that forces Google and Facebook to pay for news. Last week, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said Canada would introduce its own rules in the coming months.

How Canada proceeds will likely have a major impact on the future of news in the country. Cox said Google and Facebook have so much power in the marketplace that it makes it impossible for small players to to compete. And they’re so big — Google parent Alphabet had about $180 billion US in revenue last year — that almost everyone is a small player.

In Australia, the digital giants won’t be able to make take-it-or-leave-it payment offers to news businesses for their journalism. Instead, in the case of a standoff, an arbitration panel would make a binding decision on a winning offer. A last-minute amendment gave digital platforms one month’s notice before they are formally designated under the code, giving the parties more time to broker agreements before they are forced to enter binding arbitration arrangements.

In return for the changes, Facebook agreed to lift a ban on Australians accessing and sharing news on their platform. Google had already struck deals with major Australian news businesses in recent weeks, including News Corp.

Canada’s news media industry has come out hard against Facebook and asked the government for more regulation of tech companies to allow the industry to recoup financial losses it has suffered in the years that Facebook and Google have been steadily gaining greater market shares of advertising.

‘They basically forced Facebook’

Cox said Facebook and Google had been reluctant to make any deals with publishers until Australia “forcefully” pushed forward, and it worked.

“They basically forced Facebook and Google to work with that legislation,” he said. “Now Facebook managed to get some changes to the legislation, but basically they’ll still be required to negotiate deals with publishers and that’s the end goal.”

WATCH | Newspaper publisher on making tech giants pay for news:

Bob Cox, publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press, says local news could be in trouble if the government doesn’t take bold action. 6:09

Cox said he gives credit to Google and Facebook for programs they’ve enacted to support journalism, including training, grants and tools. Facebook announced on Wednesday that it would raise its funding of news publishers to $1 billion over three years, and the company estimates that the traffic it sends to news websites contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to the Canadian news industry.

“What they haven’t done, though, is pay for content, and that’s what we’ve been trying to get them to do,” he said.

Google recently announced a willingness to pay for content through its Google News Showcase licensing model, but it hasn’t begun to operate yet, Cox said. In a statement, Meg Sinclair, head of communications for Facebook Canada, said the company is “exploring” investments in news licensing and programs to support sustainability of journalism in Canada, but isn’t in any discussions about specific licensing agreements. 

Chris Moos, a lecturer at Oxford University’s Business School, said the last-minute amendments in Australia’s legislation amounted to a “small victory” for Facebook.

Moos said the legislation would likely result in small payouts for most Australian news publishers. But Facebook could again block Australian news if negotiations broke down.

Andrea Carson, an associate professor in the department of communication and media at La Trobe University in Melbourne, agreed, but also said the government had gotten what it wanted.

What Canada can learn

As for what can be learned from Australia’s situation, Carson said Canada should consider whether Australia took the right approach.

“There are other mechanisms for doing this, such as putting a tax on digital advertising,” she said. “Maybe other countries might consider that rather than looking through competition law, which is what Australia’s done.”

Carson also suggested countries should make certain the money is used to fund public-interest journalism, a guarantee that doesn’t exist under the Australian system.

“It goes into the larger pool of News Corp.,” she said.

WATCH | Facebook and Australia are in a standoff. Is Canada next?

Facebook blocked news posts for Australian users as the government plans to make technology companies pay for sharing news content. There are concerns something similar could happen to Canadians. 7:37

Guilbeault, who could not be reached for comment on Thursday, has promised a “made-in-Canada” approach. 

“We need to find a solution that is sustainable for news publishers, small and large, digital platforms, and for the health of our democracy,” he said on Tuesday.

There have been concerns in Australia that smaller publications might miss out while the tech giants focus on big players, a “real danger” that Cox said should be dealt with in any legislation.

“The main reason why we’ve always argued that government action is necessary [is] so that it helps the entire industry and helps support local news across the country, as opposed to simply the bigger publishers who have had access to Facebook and Google for a long time anyway,” he said.

Disclosure: CBC/Radio-Canada has business partnerships with Facebook for content distribution and with Google for services that encompass mobile distribution, data storage and communication tools.

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Canada Post urging Canadians to reach out to loved ones – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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SYDNEY, N.S. —

Canada Post is urging Canadians to reach out to loved ones with a free, postage-paid postcard that will soon be arriving in mailboxes across the country.

Some 13.5 million postcards are expected to start arriving March 1, which can be used to send a special message to anyone, anywhere in Canada.

Every household across the country will receive one of six specially designed postcards that can be used.

“Meaningful connection is vital for our emotional health, sense of community and overall well-being,” said Doug Ettinger, president and CEO of Canada Post, in a news release.

“Canada Post wants everyone to stay safe, but also stay in touch with the people who matter to them.”

The postcards are part of the “Write Here Write Now” program that was launched in September 2020 to encourage Canadians to use letter writing to connect in a heartfelt way.

Messages on the cards include “I miss you,” “I’ve been meaning to write,” Wishing I were there,” and “Sending hugs.”

Those who send the cards are encouraged to share photos and video of sending and receiving their postcards using #WriteHereWriteNow.

For more details on the program visit: canadapost.ca/writenow.

The campaign is similar to one announced by Engage Nova Scotia, “From Me to You.” That campaign urges provincial residents to send a cheery note to strangers and friends alike.

It is hoped the notes will be used by multiple sectors from businesses to individuals as a way to reach out to others in a time of a global pandemic. Public health restrictions across the country have now been in place for nearly a year in a bid to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Such restrictions include limitations on the number of people gathering both indoors and outdoors and have also curtailed travelling between provinces with the exception of essential workers.

Both programs are hoped to provide a measure of comfort for those having reduced contact with family and friends.

To learn more, visit https://engagenovascotia.ca/from-me-to-you.

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Some travellers at Toronto airport fined for violating Ontario rules – CBC.ca

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Several international travellers arriving at Toronto’s Pearson airport have refused to comply with Ontario’s rules aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, local police said Wednesday.

Peel Region police said that while most cases were resolved after conversations with officers, some people refused to  follow the rules and were fined $880 under Ontario regulations.

There have been 49 fines handed out since the start of February, a police spokesperson told CBC News. Those fines relate to things like skipping COVID-19 tests or other infractions.

However, police said they will not detain anyone for breaking a new hotel quarantine rule, which came into effect this week, unless there are aggravating circumstances involved, such as a criminal offence.

They said the Public Health Agency of Canada would be responsible for issuing any potential fines under the Quarantine Act.

The federal government this week implemented new rules that require anyone arriving in Canada to fly through Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver or Montreal and stay in isolation at one of several quarantine hotels for up to three nights. Travellers may only leave after a negative COVID-19 test but are expected to self-isolate for a total of 14 days.

Federal public health agency ‘aware of the situation’

The Public Health Agency of Canada said Wednesday that it was “aware of the situation” and looking into allegations of people skipping hotel quarantine.

“Travellers are legally obligated to follow the instructions of a screening officer or quarantine officer through the 14-day period, whether in regards to testing, transit to locations, their mandatory hotel stopover or during quarantine at home or other suitable location,” it said.

“If they do not follow the instructions, there are penalties, including a maximum fine of up to $750,000 or imprisonment for six months.” 

Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel Region’s medical officer of health, said Wednesday that the quarantine measures are in place to protect the public.

“It’s unfortunate … that this might be occurring,” said  Loh. “Please remember that it’s a disease that spreads from person to person, and it takes all of us to do our part.”

RCMP in Vancouver has no reports of people not complying

Patrick Brown, the mayor of Brampton, Ont., just north of Pearson airport, said that people who choose to ignore the regulations are being selfish.

“By not being mindful that you can bring dangerous variants into the country, you’re being selfish to your neighbours, to your city,” said Brown. “I hope that people do abide by the new stricter guidelines.”

Meanwhile, RCMP in Vancouver said they had no reports of people failing to comply with the new rules.

Federal officials have said that the costs associated with keeping travellers in isolation at one of the government-approved hotels could be up to $2,000 for a three-night stay. Travellers are expected to cover those costs, which the government has said include the testing, transportation, food, hotel security and cleaning.

Series of measures came into effect Monday

The hotel stays are among a series of measures that came into effect on Monday to limit the spread of COVID-19 and more contagious variants of the virus. 

Most in-coming air travellers will need to get tested for the virus upon arrival and again toward the end of their mandatory 14-day quarantine. 

Travellers arriving at land borders will be given self-swab kits, and testing will be provided on site at five high-volume border crossings.

The new rules are in addition to previous orders that require a negative test result within 72 hours of arrival. Travellers will need to complete a second test on Day 10 of their self-isolation period.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the tighter border controls are meant to keep everyone safe. 

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