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

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The Italian city that suffered the brunt of COVID-19’s first deadly wave in Europe is dedicating a vivid memorial to the pandemic dead: a grove of trees, creating oxygen in a park opposite the hospital where so many died, unable to breathe.

Bergamo, in northern Italy, is among the many communities around the world dedicating memorials to commemorate lives lost in a pandemic that is nearing the terrible threshold of five million confirmed dead.

This is how the Old Square in the centre of Bergamo, Italy, looked as three-quarters of the country entered a strict pandemic lockdown in mid-March of this year. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

Memorial flags, hearts, ribbons and other simple objects have stood in for virus victims, representing lost lives in eye-catching memorials from London to Washington D.C., and Brazil to South Africa.

The collective impact of white flags covering eight hectares on the National Mall in the U.S. capital is one such display, representing the more than 740,000 Americans killed by COVID-19 — the highest official national death toll in the world.

Meanwhile, a giant red heart sculpture installed this week in New York’s Central Park as a tribute to health-care workers and COVID-19 victims has been taken down — an apparent casualty of confusion and red tape.

Italian sculptor Sergio Furnari says he was walking by the park on Thursday afternoon with friends when he noticed that his Heroes Heart Monument, which stood three metres high and weighed more than 1,300 kilograms, was gone.

Furnari conceded he did not have a permit to place the heart in the park but considered a $4,000 US grant he received from New York City’s government to be his permit for the temporary installation. He said he considered the removal of his memorial “an abuse of power.”

A memorial wall along the River Thames in London also conveys the scale of lives lost, with pink and red hearts painted by bereaved loved ones. Walking the memorial’s length without pausing to read names and inscriptions takes a full nine minutes.

The hearts represent the more than 140,000 coronavirus deaths in Britain, Europe’s second-highest toll after Russia; like elsewhere in the world, the actual number is estimated to be much higher, at 160,000.

Volunteer Amanda Herring, who lost her brother Mark to COVID-19, writes on the COVID-19 memorial wall in Westminster in London. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/The Associated Press)

“It shocks people,” said Fran Hall, a spokesperson for the group COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice. She lost her husband, Steve Mead, in September 2020, the day before his 66th birthday.

“Every time we are here, people stop and talk to us, and quite often they are moved to tears as they are walking by and thank us.”

In Brazil’s capital, relatives of COVID-19 victims planted thousands of white flags in front of Brazil’s Congress in a one-day, emotion-laden action meant to raise awareness of Brazil’s toll of more than 600,000 deaths, the second-highest in the world.

And in South Africa, blue and white ribbons are tied to a fence at St. James Presbyterian Church in Bedford Gardens, east of Johannesburg, to remember the country’s 89,000 dead — each blue ribbon counting for 10 lives, white for one.

White flags representing people who have died of COVID-19 in Brazil cover a field as part of a protest against the government’s health policies outside the National Congress in Brasilia, on Oct. 15. (Eraldo Peres/The Associated Press)

Italy has not dedicated a national monument to its roughly 132,000 confirmed dead, but it has designated a coronavirus remembrance day. Prime Minister Mario Draghi stood among the first newly planted trees in Bergamo’s Trucca Park on March 18, the anniversary of the indelible image of army trucks bringing dead to other cities for cremation after the city’s morgue was overwhelmed.

Bergamo’s mayor said the city considered proposals for statues or plaques bearing the names of the dead. One was too monumental; the other ignored that so many dead were not officially counted due to lack of testing.

“The Woods of Memory is a living monument, and it immediately seemed to us to be the most convincing, the most emotive and the one that was closest to our sentiments,” Bergamo Mayor Giorgio Gori said.

Only 100 trees have been planted so far of the 700 that are planned, facing the hospital’s morgue. The rest should be planted by next year’s March 18 remembrance day.

There are no plans to add names, but in at least one case, loved ones have claimed a sapling. Roses are planted at the base, with personal mementos hanging from it and a white rock bearing a handwritten name: Sergio.


What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | NACI expands recommendations for booster shots

NACI expands recommendations for booster shots

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has expanded recommendations for who should get a COVID-19 booster shot to include all seniors over the age of 80, Indigenous adults and some front-line health-care workers. Plus, is Canada falling behind by not giving booster shots to all adults? 3:20

Canadian health officials won’t be making a decision until the middle or end of November on whether the Pfizer vaccine will be approved for children aged 5 to 11, a senior official said on Friday.

However, they did recommend a wider group of vaccinated Canadians get booster shots.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) says everyone 80 and older should get a Pfizer or Moderna booster shot, regardless of where they live.

NACI is also recommending third shots for people fully vaccinated with the AstraZeneca-Oxford shot, as well as people aged 70 or older, more front-line health-care workers and people from Indigenous communities.

WATCH | Parents reflect on putting kids through COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Parents reflect on putting kids through COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials

Ian Hanomansing talks to three U.S. parents about what it was like to have their children take part in clinical trials for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. 6:59

Although NACI makes recommendations, it’s up to the provinces and territories to decide who will be offered booster shots.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott plans to unveil details next week about when people in the province can expect to receive their third shot.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday gave the green light to the Pfizer vaccine for use in children aged 5 to 11. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must sign off before shots can be distributed, but with that approval, vaccinations could begin as early as next week.

  • Bakeries, diners and bars serve up defiance to Alberta’s vaccine passport program.

What’s happening around the world

As of midday Saturday, more than 246.3 million COVID-19 cases had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s online coronavirus database. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.9 million.

In Europe, Russia on Saturday reported 40,251 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, its highest single-day case tally since the start of the pandemic.

The government’s coronavirus task force reported 1,160 deaths related to the virus, three short of the daily record of 1,163 set the day before. The death toll since the pandemic began is about 462,000, state statistics service Rosstat said Friday.

Russia will go into a nationwide workplace shutdown in the first week of November, and the capital Moscow has reimposed a partial lockdown beginning Thursday, with only essential shops, such as pharmacies and supermarkets, allowed to remain open.

In the Americas, 11 U.S. states with Republican governors sued the Biden administration on Friday seeking to block a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal contractors, arguing it is unconstitutional and violates federal procurement law.

And in Kansas, hundreds of people opposed to COVID-19 vaccine mandates rallied Saturday at the Kansas Statehouse,
encouraged by Republicans who see President Joe Biden’s policies as a spur for higher turnout among conservative voters.

The rally kicked off ahead of a rare weekend legislative committee hearing on mandates that affect as many as 100 million Americans. The hearing gave dozens of mandate opponents a chance to vent their frustration and anger both with the Democratic president’s administration and Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Behavioral tools of pandemic should be applied to climate policy – scientists

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Lessons learned from the pandemic about shifting people’s behavior will be applied to policies to counter climate change and disinformation in the future, leading scientists said Thursday.

Carlos Scartascini, from the Inter-American Development Bank, said behavioral tools became critical in the pandemic, in a panel at the Reuters Next conference.

“When you say ‘wash your hands’ – you can say (it) 20 times, but if you don’t change the way you say people basically do not react,” he said.

Dr. Laura de Moliere, who heads up behavioral science in the UK Cabinet office, said a better understanding of human behavior became critical to policymakers in the pandemic, and that should carry forward.

“Climate change is probably quite an obvious one, where if we aren’t designing rules and regulations well, we will be seeing rebound effects where people are insulating their houses, but then buying bigger houses because the energy is cheaper,” she said.

She said transparency of decision making, central to COVID communication, would also be important for winning support for climate change policies.

“There’s lots of really interesting avenues for behavioral science application that have arisen because of because of the pandemic,” said Mary MacLennan, the cofounder of the United Nations Behavioral Science Group.

 

(Reporting by William James; writing by Merdie Nzanga)

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Majority of Canadians want to ditch the British monarchy. How feasible is it? – Globalnews.ca

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Canada’s ties with the British monarchy are under scrutiny once again after Barbados officially removed Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and became a republic this week.

For Barbados, the transition on Tuesday marked an end to its last remaining colonial bonds nearly 400 years after the first English ships arrived at the Caribbean island.

Read more:

Barbados celebrates as it officially becomes a republic, cuts ties with British monarchy

There is now renewed debate in Canada over whether to follow Barbados’ lead, with a majority of Canadians saying the monarchy is becoming less relevant or is no longer relevant at all, new polling shows.

According to an Angus Reid survey published Tuesday, more than 50 per cent say Canada should not remain a constitutional monarchy indefinitely, while one-quarter say it should.

The same poll also suggests that as long as Queen Elizabeth II continues to reign, 55 per cent of Canadians support continuing to recognize her as the official head of state.


Click to play video: 'Rising number of Canadians support dropping monarchy: poll'



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Rising number of Canadians support dropping monarchy: poll


Rising number of Canadians support dropping monarchy: poll – Mar 1, 2021

However, that support has declined over the years, polling shows.

In an Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News in March 2021, two in three Canadians, or 66 per cent of respondents, said the Queen and the Royal Family should not have any formal role in Canadian society, as they are “simply celebrities and nothing more.”

That was up two per cent over last year and six per cent since 2016, according to Ipsos.

The waning support comes amid uncertainty around the 95-year-old monarch’s health that has recently limited her public appearances.

Challenges for Canada

Despite Canadians’ dwindling enthusiasm for the royals, eliminating the monarchy in Canada will be a “complicated process,” experts say.

To make any change to the role of the Queen or her representatives in Canada, there must be unanimous consent from the House of Commons, the Senate and each of the provincial legislatures to change the constitution — a process that could take years to complete.

Read more:

How Canada could break up with the monarchy

“Under our constitution, all 10 provinces would have to agree on changes to the office of the Queen and it’s very difficult for all 10 provinces to be on the same page at the same time,” said Carolyn Harris, historian and author of Raising Royalty: 1,000 Years of Royal Parenting.

Because Canada’s Indigenous communities have their own treaties with the Crown, First Nations would need to be consulted as well for any transition to take place, Harris said.

“So in Canada, it would be a very complicated process compared to the comparatively straightforward process in Barbados,” she told Global News.


Click to play video: 'Queen responds to Harry and Meghan’s tell-all interview'



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Queen responds to Harry and Meghan’s tell-all interview


Queen responds to Harry and Meghan’s tell-all interview – Mar 9, 2021

​Citizens for a Canadian Republic (CCR), a non-profit group, acknowledges there would be challenges when it comes to amending the Constitution but still encourages the discussion.

Among the hurdles it highlights on its website is “an unfair amending formula.”

“Compounding these difficulties is the subject of how Canadians should choose their new head of state and what role it would play in the federal system,” CCR states.

In the practical sense, abolishing the monarchy would not change much for Canada, as the Queen has no political authority, argued Melanie Newton, an associate professor of history at the University of Toronto.

“And the federal government could become a republic without the Indigenous people necessarily having to give up those symbolic ties to the British monarchy,” she said.

Barbados breaks free

Barbados’ move to becoming a republic was the culmination of a more than two decades-long push to ditch the monarchy.

A “major shift” took place last year spurred on by the racial inequalities of the COVID-19 pandemic response, access to vaccines and the Black Lives Matter protest movement across the world, said Newton.

Read more:

53% of Canadians skeptical of the monarchy’s future beyond the Queen’s reign: Ipsos poll

In a historic throne speech in Sept. 2020, governor-general Dame Sandra Mason told the world Barbados was removing Queen Elizabeth as its head of state.

A two-thirds majority vote was needed to amend the country’s constitution.

The parliament unanimously passed the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2021 last month, effectively transferring the responsibilities of the governor general to a new position of president.

Mason was elected as the island’s first president by the Barbados parliament on Oct. 20 and formally sworn in on Nov. 30.


Click to play video: 'Barbados becomes a republic and parts ways with the Queen'



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Barbados becomes a republic and parts ways with the Queen


Barbados becomes a republic and parts ways with the Queen

Cynthia Barrow-Giles, professor of political science at the University of West Indies, said the transition to the republic represents a “moment of pride for many Barbadians.”

“This move is very emblematic of overthrowing the yoke of British colonialism and with it some of the negative connotations that people have been dealing with more recently with respect to the character of British colonialism,” she told Global News.

But there is still a “significant amount of work” left to do in terms of the constitution and governance, Barrow-Giles added.

The process of becoming a republic is “far easier” when there is a centralized system of government, as was the case with Barbados, she noted.

“Canada’s situation compared to the Caribbean situation is a little more complex,” she said.

What about other Commonwealth nations?

Other Caribbean nations have also left the monarchy to become republics, including Trinidad and Tobago, but the last country to remove the Queen as head of state was Mauritius in 1992.

With Barbados cutting ties, that leaves 15 Commonwealth countries that have the Queen as their monarch, including Canada.

Read more:

Barbados becomes a republic: What it means for the Crown, the Commonwealth and Canada

However, Barbados will remain part of the Commonwealth, a grouping of 54 countries across Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe.

Other Caribbean nations, including Jamaica and St. Lucia, have also discussed breaking away from the monarchy.


Click to play video: 'The details on the Queen’s mounting health concerns'



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The details on the Queen’s mounting health concerns


The details on the Queen’s mounting health concerns – Nov 16, 2021

Now, Barbados’ move may fuel republicanism within the Commonwealth, experts say.

“It’s certainly something that will be discussed and debated in the Commonwealth realms, especially as this transition does not mean a departure from the Commonwealth,” said Harris.

Barrow-Giles concurred, saying, “I would think that for a lot of the other Caribbean countries, the conversation would resume, and hopefully we’ll get that transition going.”

— with files from Global News’ Redmond Shannon

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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New travel rules: Canadian airports warn of 'chaos' – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Canada’s plan to require novel coronavirus tests for all but U.S. arrivals on international flights risks causing “chaos” and long lines if all passengers are expected to get tested at airports, industry groups said.

The move, announced Tuesday, comes as the travel season kicks into gear and could stretch airport resources as well as testing holiday-makers’ patience, they said.

Daniel Gooch, president of the Canadian Airports Council, said airports cannot test all overseas arrivals on-site without long wait times.

“Do we really want people waiting for hours for a test in a customs hall?” he asked by phone on Wednesday.

“We want to avoid chaos. And we want to ensure that travelers who have booked trips are comfortable to travel.”

Canada on Tuesday said it will require people arriving internationally by air, except from the United States, to take a COVID-19 test, seeking to halt the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Currently, only randomly selected passengers from international flights are tested at airports by private companies the government contracts.

The announcement came as the country’s aviation sector, battered by the pandemic, had been looking forward to a stronger holiday season this year.

Canadian public health authorities did not say Wednesday when the policy will come into effect, who will administer the tests or whether the tests will be administered on-site or through take-home kits.

Airports are pushing for the latter.

Tori Gass, a spokesperson for Toronto’s Pearson International Airport – Canada’s largest – said in an email that “a combination of onsite and off-airport testing must be considered to accommodate the volume of tests contemplated.”

Some travellers, meanwhile, who had rushed to book trips amid loosening restrictions just weeks before, were having second thoughts.

“I know various clients who have decided to cancel and are now looking at what refunds they’ll be able to get,” said Marty Firestone with Travel Secure insurance, adding that the travel landscape had been getting better.

“Now we’ve taken two steps back,” he said.

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