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

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The latest:

Developers of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine expect to have a modified jab to cope with the coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa by autumn, the vaccine’s lead researcher said Sunday.

Health officials in Britain are trying to contain the spread of the variant first identified in South Africa amid concerns that it is more contagious or resistant to existing vaccines. More than 100 cases of the variant have been found in the U.K.

Sarah Gilbert, lead researcher for the Oxford team, told the BBC on Sunday that “we have a version with the South African spike sequence in the works.”

“It looks very likely that we can have a new version ready to use in the autumn,” she added.

A health worker administers the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Sunday. (Valentina Petrova/The Associated Press)

Her comments come as Oxford University said that early data from a small study suggested that the AstraZeneca vaccine offers only “minimal protection” against mild disease caused by the variant.

The study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, involved 2,000 people, most of whom were young and healthy. The volunteers’ average age was 31.

“Protection against moderate-severe disease, hospitalization or death could not be assessed in this study as the target population were at such low risk,” Oxford University said.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is currently under review by Health Canada.

Meanwhile, Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canadians can soon expect the country’s COVID-19 inoculation campaign to pick up steam after Canada’s vaccine rollout was temporarily beset by delivery delays and reduced shipments of doses. 

WATCH | Temporary Pfizer delays are ‘behind us,’ procurement minister says:

Canada’s COVID-19 inoculation campaign will soon ramp up after the country was beset by vaccine delivery delays and reduced shipments, Procurement Minister Anita Anand said on Rosemary Barton Live. Watch Rosemary Barton Live on Sundays at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT/12:30 p.m. NT on CBC News Network and CBC Gem. 10:13

“The temporary delays that we have seen are largely behind us,” Anand said Sunday on Rosemary Barton Live

“The delays that we saw from Europe, from Pfizer, for example, were very disappointing and very concerning to me and to our government. But I have received assurances from the vaccine manufacturers that those delays are temporary and that we are very much on track,” the minister added.

Pfizer scaled back its delivery schedule last month as the pharmaceutical company upgraded its manufacturing plant in Belgium to boost production of its vaccine.

It’s also unclear how many Moderna doses Canada will receive in the coming weeks, with Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin — the military commander leading Canada’s vaccine logistics — saying the government is in the dark about how many shots are coming over the next two months. The Massachusetts-based company has not provided an explanation for the reduced shipments.


What’s happening across Canada

As of 4 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 803,909 cases of COVID-19 — with 44,751 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 20,763.

British Columbia is extending its pandemic restrictions indefinitely, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Friday. The province’s current orders were set to expire at midnight.

Recent days have seen a slow downward trend in the number of new daily cases in B.C., and the number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 is now at its lowest level since Nov. 21.

Alberta will introduce the first round of eased COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, including limited school and minor sport training.

WATCH | More than 200,000 students not in school during pandemic, experts say:

Irvin Studin, the president of the Institute for 21st Century Questions, says more than 200,000 Canadian kids are currently out of school — physically and virtually. He is urging the federal government to address this ‘time-urgent catastrophe’ before it’s too late. Watch Canada Tonight with Ginella Massa weeknights at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT/9:30 p.m. NT on CBC News Network and CBC Gem. 6:05

Saskatchewan announced 194 new COVID-19 cases and three more deaths on Sunday.

In Regina, police issued a $2,800 ticket after breaking up a private gathering. The ticket is the 19th handed out by the Regina Police Service since public health orders were put in place nearly one year ago.

Manitoba reported 80 new cases and four additional deaths. The 80 new cases is the lowest one-day case increase in the province since Oct. 19, when the same number of cases was reported.

Ontario registered 1,489 new cases of COVID-19 and 22 more deaths on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce a phased reopening of the province on Monday, sources tell The Canadian Press. 

Quebec‘s COVID-19 death toll surpassed 10,000 on Sunday, after recording 32 more fatalities and 1,081 new cases. The province has now seen 270,058 confirmed cases and 10,031 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

People are seen wearing face masks in Montreal on Sunday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

New Brunswick saw seven new cases.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case involving a female in the Eastern Health region under 19 years of age. The source of the infection is under investigation.

Meanwhile, the province said that risks of exposure at the Bigs Restaurant in Mount Pearl — which earlier had an exposure warning for Jan. 21 to Feb. 4 — is now deemed “very low.”

Nova Scotia logged one new infection, bringing the province’s active caseload to eight.

The announcement comes a day before the province is set to ease some restrictions, which include retail businesses and fitness facilities going to 75 per cent capacity and the ability for recognized businesses and organizations to have events, festivals, weddings and funerals with a capacity of 100 people indoors.

In the Northwest Territories, the Gahcho Kué diamond mine has suspended all operations after six workers tested positive for COVID-19 amid an ongoing outbreak at the facility.


What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 105.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 58.9 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.3 million.

In Asia, Israel has started to ease restrictions nearly six weeks after entering its third nationwide lockdown, allowing some businesses to reopen and for people to move more than a kilometre from their homes. But schools remain shuttered and international flights are severely restricted.

Medical personnel treat COVID-19 patients in an intensive care ward in Safed, Israel, on Sunday. (Oded Balilty/The Associated Press)

In Europe, Norway says it will apply, effective Sunday, stricter coronavirus restrictions in the southwestern coastal municipality of Bergen and 12 surrounding areas due to a spread of new coronavirus variants first detected in Britain and South Africa.

In the Americas, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says a “tentative agreement” has been reached with the teachers’ union over COVID-19 safety protocols, potentially averting a strike in the third-largest school district in the U.S.   

In Africa, South Africa has suspended plans to inoculate its front-line health care workers with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after a small clinical trial suggested that it isn’t effective in preventing mild to moderate illness from the variant dominant in the country.

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How the pandemic could create the flexible workplaces parents need – CBC.ca

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For Tendai Dongo, the stress and anxiety was just too much at times. A project manager at a digital education company based in Calgary, she has spent much of the pandemic balancing her job with the needs of her young daughters.

With her husband’s insurance job requiring him to be out of the house frequently, the majority of the child-care responsibilities fell to her.

Everything came to a head in December. 

“I felt that I had to quit,” said Tendai Dongo, who works at Xpan Interactive Ltd. “I had to choose … a full-time career or my mental health.”

The mother of two girls aged five and eight years old told her employer that working full-time from home while parenting was causing her a lot of stress and anxiety.

“I was just going to throw in the towel. I did not have any other opportunity out there waiting for me,” said Dongo. 

But the chaos of watching employees juggle school closures, virtual learning, quarantines and their jobs could lead to more empathetic workplaces. Some companies, including Dongo’s, are thinking creatively about how to build more flexible work arrangements for their employees.

A year into the pandemic, parents are feeling the effects of being tugged in all directions — particularly women. 

An online survey of 1,001 working Canadians conducted between Feb. 9 and 15 by ADP Canada and Leger found half of working mothers (50 per cent) reported experiencing high stress levels due to balancing child-care obligations and work, compared to 40 per cent of working fathers.

Data released by Statistics Canada also shows pandemic job losses are disproportionately affecting women. In January, for example, the employment decline for woman was more than double that of men, with 73,000 fewer women working that month compared to 33,500 fewer men.

The numbers also showed the decline in employment was pronounced among mothers whose youngest child was between the ages of six and 12. Their employment rate fell 2.9 percentage points, compared to a drop of 0.9 percentage points for all working adults.

‘It’s really, really impossibly hard’

For Danielle Ellenor, working a full-time job as an account associate for a printing company that offered little flexibility while she was home with her young children was too overwhelming. 

“It takes a huge toll on your mental health, on your kid’s mental health,” said Ellenor, an Ottawa mother of two girls aged six and seven. “It’s really, really impossibly hard.”

Her partner has been working from home too, but his management job in software sales has him in virtual meetings most of the day. 

Ottawa mother of two Danielle Ellenor quit her job in December for a more flexible career. (Mathieu Thériault/CBC)

In December, knowing that more school closures were coming, Ellenor left the company she had been with for almost 10 years to focus on her kids and transition to a more flexible career in real estate. 

“It’s a gamble that I decided to make,” said Ellenor.

There’s concern that many other women may drop out of the workforce permanently.

‘We could lose an entire class of future leaders’

McKinsey & Company conducted an online survey of more than 40,000 workers across Canada and the United States between June and August 2020.

The survey found that one in four women were contemplating downshifting their careers or leaving the workforce.

“We would lose an entire class of future leaders and in some cases existing leaders, because it spans all the way to the highest levels of organizations,” said Alexis Krivkovich, a senior partner at the global consulting firm.

But amidst the crisis comes opportunity, she said. Some companies are finding creative ways to retain their employees, such as flexible time-off schedules, re-imagining performance management and thinking differently about working hours.

“We need more of that creative thinking now to make sure that the one in four women who are saying, ‘I’m not sure I can make it through this moment’ come out the other side,” Krivkovich said.

Letting employees chart their own paths

Vancouver-based software company Bananatag has embraced flexibility during the pandemic by coming up with a “choose your own adventure” schedule for its 130 employees.

“We are quite flexible on location, preferred work style, preferred hours,” said Agata Zasada, vice-president of people and culture at Bananatag. 

Agata Zasada, vice-president of people and culture at Vancouver-based Bananatag, says the company’s ‘choose your own adventure’ schedule has kept all of their staff employed over the course of the pandemic (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

With about 50 per cent of their workforce made up of women and many parents on staff, the company wanted to remove a level of uncertainty for all of its employees.

“We haven’t lost anyone through the pandemic due to not being able to be flexible enough,” said Zasada.

Post-pandemic Bananatag will continue to let employees choose their own schedules. The company also plans to become even more flexible by entertaining the idea of job sharing and becoming more project-based.

Tendai Dongo of Airdrie, Alta., scaled back to part-time work because she was so overwhelmed by the demands of her job and her children during the coronavirus pandemic. 1:04

Carly Holm, founder and CEO of Holm & Company, a human resources company, is hopeful that some good will come out of this challenging year.

“We’ve proven that we can be flexible and still be successful and be productive and that nine-to-five is irrelevant,” said Holm. “It is completely arbitrary and doesn’t work for a lot of people.”

Holm’s firm offers HR services for small to medium-sized businesses. She says results of her client’s employee engagement surveys show that employees are happier when given flexibility, and that companies offering it are performing better.

“The companies that encourage that and have kind of that flexible, remote work, they’re going to be the ones that are going to retain the people, retain women,” said Holm. 

COVID … has catapulted institutional mindsets around flexible work into the future– Jennifer Hargreaves, founder of Tellent

When Dongo, the project manager in Calgary, told her boss she couldn’t mentally handle being a full-time employee and a mother right now, her workplace took action.

Instead of letting her quit, Xpan Interactive came up with a solution that she says is working well. 

The company dropped her workload from eight clients to one and reduced her to part-time flexible hours. She now works when she wants and when she can.  

Dongo’s salary has also been reduced. She admits she and her husband have had to start dipping into their savings, but she appreciates that her company came up with a solution that allows her to stay in the workforce. 

“I still have that sense of purpose that I am still continuing in my career,” said Dongo. 

Creating your own flexibility

Since 2016, Jennifer Hargreaves has been an advocate for more flexibility and has successfully placed women in flexible higher paying jobs through her virtual networking platform. 

“One of the benefits … of COVID is that it has catapulted institutional mindsets around flexible work into the future,” said Hargreaves, founder of Tellent, a network that provides women with access to flexible job opportunities.

Jennifer Hargreaves, founder of networking platform Tellent, says the need for flexible work among her members has skyrocketed. (Submitted by Jennifer Hargreaves)

Among her 10,000 members, she says the need for flexible work has skyrocketed.

The first step in finding that flexible job, according to Hargreaves, starts with your current employer. She encourages women to approach their companies, as Dongo did, to see if they can draw up new arrangements.

“There’s no better time like right now to negotiate what you want because everything’s up in the air,” Hargreaves said. “Employers are starting from scratch and they’re trying to figure out what this looks like as well.”

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New COVID-19 cases in Ontario spike above 1600 as stay-at-home order lifts in Toronto, Peel Region – CTV Toronto

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TORONTO —
COVID-19 infections in Ontario have spiked to levels unseen since early February but the province says Monday’s case count is higher than expected due to a “data catch-up process” related to its case and contact management system.

The province said it recorded 1,631 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours. The last time Ontario saw case numbers that high was on Feb. 5 when 1,670 infections were logged.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said in an email that they weren’t aware of the data issue prior to the release of Monday’s report.

“Apologies for not raising this sooner,” the spokesperson said. “As you know, we try to get this info to you in advance of posting the numbers but weren’t aware of the issue until just now.”

This brings Ontario’s lab-confirmed COVID-19 case total to 309,927, including 291,834 recoveries and 7,077 deaths.

Health officials said that 10 of those deaths were recorded in the previous day.

As well, with only 38,063 tests processed in the last 24-hour period, Ontario’s COVID-19 positivity rate stands at 3.4 per cent, the province said.

Monday’s report shows that Ontario’s seven-day average for number of COVID-19 cases reported is 1,155. A week ago today, that number was 1,098. 

Where are the new COVID-19 cases?

Most of the new cases reported Monday were found in Toronto, Peel Region and York Region.

According to the province, Toronto logged 570 new infections, while Peel and York regions recorded 322 and 119 cases, respectively.

As of today, Toronto and Peel Region have returned to the province’s colour-coded reopening framework and are currently operating in the grey-lockdown level.

This means that non-essential businesses like retail stores can once again open their doors, with strict capacity limits in place.

Gyms, personal care services and indoor and outdoor restaurant dining remain off limits within the grey zone.

York Region entered the framework on Feb. 22 and is currently operating in the red-control zone, which is one step down from the grey-lockdown level.

There are currently 626 patients in hospital with COVID-19, though that number is typically lower on Mondays due to a delay in reporting. Of those patients, 282 are in an intensive care unit and 184 are breathing on a ventilator.  

Number of COVID-19 variant infections climbs

The province says that since yesterday, 68 more infections of a COVID-19 variant of concern have been confirmed in Ontario.

Of those, 51 are of the strain known as B.1.1.7 (UK variant), pushing the total number for that variant to 879.

Another eight cases of B.1.351 (South African variant) were also confirmed, which brings the case count for that variant to 39.

Nine more infections of P.1 (Brazilian variant) were added bringing the total for that variant to 17. 

Update on COVID-19 vaccinations

Since vaccinations began in December, the province says it has administered nearly 1,000,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine across Ontario.

Of the 912,486 total doses administered, 273,676 people have received both their first and second doses and are considered to be fully vaccinated against the virus.

At least 21,882 shots went into arms in the last 24 hours, the province said. 

Backstory:

The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.

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Ontario reports 1,631 new coronavirus cases; 10 more deaths – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Ontario reported another 1,631 cases of COVID-19 on Monday along with 10 deaths the highest daily tally of cases in more than a month.

It’s the highest count of cases reported in Ontario since Feb. 5, when there were 1,670 cases reported.

During that time, most schools were still closed and the entire province was under a stay-at-home order that formally expired in Toronto, Peel and North Bay at midnight last night.

The province reported 1,299 new cases on Sunday, 990 more cases on Saturday and 1,250 new cases on Friday.

Across the GTA, Toronto reported 568 cases, the highest daily total that city has seen since Feb. 5, while Peel Region reported 322 new cases, the highest daily total the region has disclosed since Feb. 2.

York Region reported 119 new cases on Monday, while Durham Region reported 68 new cases, Halton reported 51 and Hamilton reported 22.

Provincial labs processed 38,063 tests in the past 24 hours, generating a positivity rate of at least 3.4 per cent.

None of the ten deaths reported on Monday occurred in the long-term care system.

There are now 11,016 active cases of novel coronavirus infection across the province, up from 10,570 one week ago.

A total of 7,077 people are known to have died from COVID-19, while 291,800 people have made a full recovery from illness.

The seven-day rolling average of daily cases rose to 1,155 on Monday, up from 1,069 on Sunday.

Meanwhile, hospitalizations stayed relatively flat when compared to Sunday.

The Ministry of Health says there were 626 people in hospital on Monday, up 20 from Sunday.

Of those, 282 were in intensive care and 184 were breathing with the help of a ventilator.

Public Health Ontario confirmed an additional 63 cases of coronavirus variants of concern in the past 24 hours, bringing the total confirmed through whole genomic sequencing in the province to 935.

There are also several thousand additional positive specimens that screened positive for a variant of concern but were awaiting full confirmation, local public health units said.

Public Health Ontario said that between 35 and 40 per cent of all positive samples were screening positive for a variant of concern late last week.

The province said it administered another 21,000 doses of approved coronavirus vaccines on Sunday, bringing the total number of shots administered to 912,486.

More than 273,000 people have now completed the full two-dose inoculation.

The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.

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