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

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The latest:

Thousands marched Saturday in cities across France to protest the COVID-19 health pass that is now required to access restaurants and cafés, cultural venues, sports arenas and long-distance travel.

For a sixth straight Saturday, opponents denounced what they see as a restriction of their freedom. Many criticized the measure, claiming the French government was implicitly making vaccines obligatory.

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In Paris, four demonstrations were organized by different groups, and more than 200 protests were taking place elsewhere in French cities and towns. Last week, more than 200,000 marchers turned out.

The pass shows that someone is fully vaccinated, has had a recent negative test or has proof of a recent COVID-19 recovery. The law authorizing it also made vaccinations mandatory for French health workers by Sept. 15.

  • Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email: Covid@cbc.ca or join us live in the comments now.

Demonstrators rally against the health pass in Paris on Saturday. (Adrienne Surprenant/The Associated Press)

Despite the protests, polls have shown that the majority of French people support the health pass. Millions have received their first vaccine shot since French President Emmanuel Macron announced the measure on July 12.

Since last month, France is registering a high number of infections — about 22,000 each day, a figure that has remained stable over the past week.

More than 47 million people in France, or 70.2 per cent of the population, have received at least one vaccine shot, and more than 40.5 million, or 60.5 per cent, are fully vaccinated.


What’s happening across Canada

A sign directs people to a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal on Saturday. (Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada)


What’s happening around the world

As of Saturday morning, more than 210.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide. According to the Johns Hopkins University tracking database, more than 4.4 million deaths had been reported worldwide.

In Asia-Pacific, authorities in Australia say more than 250 people have been arrested while protesting coronavirus lockdowns in the country. Many faced fines for defying health orders. The protests took place Saturday in several cities nationwide, with the largest and most violent protest in Melbourne. At least seven police officers were treated for injuries after skirmishes broke out at some of the protests.

In Europe, new COVID-19 infections in Germany have reached their highest level in nearly three months amid a steady rise powered by the delta variant. The national disease control centre, the Robert Koch Institute, said on Saturday that 51.6 new cases per 100,000 residents were reported over the last seven days. It’s the first time since May 25 that the infection rate has been above 50, but it has been increasing since hitting a low of 4.9 in early July.

In the Americas, Cuba’s drug regulator has granted emergency approval for the country’s second homegrown vaccine. The Soberana 2 vaccine, which Cuba says has an efficacy rate of 91.2 per cent, has already been used to vaccinate some health workers and ordinary citizens in areas with high rates of transmission as part of early intervention studies.

In Africa, South Africans formed queues hundreds of metres long after the government made vaccinations available to all adults in order to hasten a rollout beset by challenges and delays. South Africa’s campaign got off to a slow start, owing to bureaucratic hiccups, a failure to start early talks with pharmaceutical companies and bad luck — it ditched a million AstraZeneca-Oxford shots on evidence they may not work against its dominant variant, only for that evidence to be later overturned.


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Blood Donations: The Gift We take for Granted

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How has the pandemic affected the blood pool within the North America Region? Has the blood supply so needed by the racialized, Black and Asian Communities suffered?

Black and Racialized North Americans tend to die or have blood-related illnesses more often than White Folk. The exact cause is unknown, but it is likely a combination of genetics, behavior, and risk factors entering into it. Blacks tend to have smaller blood vessels, leading to heart-centered illnesses. Ethnic health issues are front and center, in front of our political and health officials these days.

Canada is facing a blood shortage, and 100,000 donors are required to maintain the nation’s blood supply. This is a challenge to accomplish in itself. There are racial communities that have particular needs not being serviced. For many of these people, there is a shortage of donations from their specific genetic community, causing a life-or-death situation.

“Most of the time, blood really never sees race,” says Madeline Verhovsek, a hematologist from St. Joseph’s healthcare in Hamilton. Matching blood transfusions between donors and recipients is usually an easy endeavor, but in some special cases, the blood types available are not sufficient. Sometimes a person with special unique medical conditions or complications may require extended matching, challenging the system’s blood pool. In some cases, people from specific ethnic communities are required to donate to their kin and community members.

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One such condition is sickle-cell anemia, which affects people living in malaria-prone areas of Sub-Sahara Africa and The Middle East Regions. Sickle Cell Anemia can require patients to experience up to 25 transfusions annually. While there are 4 main blood types (O, A/B, A, and B are antigens that sit upon red blood cells), there are other antigens contained in blood, and their genetic codes can vary. Blood from the black community is like gold to the Canadian Blood Services, mostly because of its rarity and availability. That is not to say that the black community does not donate blood, but rather that there are stumbling blocks placed before racialized community members. If you have had malaria, you are not allowed to donate in Canada. In America, those who have had malaria are not banned for life.

Margaret Media of Canadian Blood Services (director of philanthropy) said “Canadians must realize and acknowledge that some government policies are a hindrance to people donating their blood, marrow, and stem cells”.

Sikh Nation, a community-based organization, raises the Sikh Community into donating their blood. They want a safe supply, but also adequate supply, so when there is a need the supply is there. The ban that disallowed LGBTQ Community Members to donate has been re-imaged recently. Those communities with a historic rare blood record have been organizing community drives, as well as blood storage with the Canadian authority’s assistance and cooperation. Those that help themselves through organizing and determining action seem to achieve wonderful results. In our crazy energetic world, finding the time to donate is another problem. The Business World has often responded to this difficulty through employee-encouraged blood drives, paid wages while donating, and promoting blood donations. The blood agency and activist organizations pursue diligently those employed in super active jobs, such as truck drivers and seasonal workers to encourage and achieve blood donations.

Governmental action to lower the barriers to donating blood, especially within Black and African, and Asian populations seems to be achieving its necessary goals. The Indian community of Brampton has responded well to the presence of increased donation centers in Brampton. Sikh Canadian activists point out that blood donation is perfectly in line with Canadian – Sikh values, to save lives.

Sources…Canadian Blood Services, CBC, and Brampton Guardian.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario
skaszab@yahoo.ca

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Military faces calls to return general to duty after sexual assault acquittal

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The Canadian Armed Forces is facing calls to return Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to duty after the senior officer, who previously oversaw the Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, was acquitted of sexual assault.

The military says it is considering the implications of the ruling, which was handed down by a Quebec civilian judge on Monday following a high-profile trial.

Fortin’s lawyer, Natalia Rodriguez, says her client is ready, willing and able to return to service after being essentially put on paid leave for more than a year.

But Rodriguez also says that Fortin’s career and reputation have suffered as a result of the allegation against him, and the way it was handled by the Liberal government and the military.

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Retired colonel Michel Drapeau, who is now a lawyer specializing in military cases, says the acquittal should pave the way for Fortin should be immediately assigned to a new role with full duties.

But he and others say the government may instead offer a settlement in return for Fortin’s retirement, similar to what happened when the breach of trust case against vice-admiral Mark Norman was dropped in May 2019.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2022.

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No legal obligation to bring Canadians home from Syria, federal lawyer tells court

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A government lawyer is telling a Federal Court hearing that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not obligate Ottawa to repatriate Canadians held in Syrian camps.

Family members of 23 detained Canadians are asking the court to order the government to arrange for their return, saying that refusing to do so violates the Charter.

Federal lawyer Anne Turley told the court today there is no legal obligation to facilitate repatriation of these Canadians in the Charter, statute or international law.

A handful of women and children have returned from the region in recent years, but Canada has, for the most part, not followed the path of other countries that have successfully repatriated citizens.

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Even so, Global Affairs Canada recently determined that six women and 13 children included in the court case have met a threshold under its policy framework for providing extraordinary assistance — meaning Canada might step in.

The Canadian citizens are among the many foreign nationals in Syrian camps run by Kurdish forces that reclaimed the war-torn region from the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2022.

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