Four provinces reported new highs for daily COVID-19 infections this weekend as Canada’s chief public health officer warned that more and larger outbreaks are occurring in long-term care homes and hospitals and spreading in Indigenous communities.
“These developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies,” Dr. Theresa Tam said.
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She said federal modelling that shows the country could have 20,000 new daily cases by the end of December means “a stronger response is needed immediately, to interrupt transmission and slow the spread of COVID-19 across the country.”
Health officials in New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta on Saturday reported new single-day peaks in diagnoses — recording 23, 1,588, 439 and 1,336 new cases respectively.
Ontario reported its record daily high on Saturday, along with 21 new deaths. Another 1,534 cases were added on Sunday, including 490 new cases in Peel Region, 460 in Toronto and 130 in York Region, provincial Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter.
Premier Doug Ford announced on Friday that Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region are going back into lockdown as of Monday, and several other regions are moving to higher restriction levels.
One of Saskatchewan’s northernmost communities is dealing with a major outbreak of COVID-19. Health officials say Fond du Lac First Nation had identified 63 cases as of Saturday and listed more than 300 people as close contacts in the community of about 1,000.
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A Saskatchewan doctor says record-high COVID-19 cases should be a signal that it’s time for tighter restrictions.
Saskatchewan recorded 439 new cases on Saturday, a record single-day high, with Saskatoon reporting 170 new cases.
The province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said everyone needs to reduce activities by more than half. For example, he suggests that if you shop for groceries twice a week, cut it down to once a week.
Alberta set a new single-day record for new infections for a third straight day with 1,336 cases detected on Saturday. Officials have said the high caseload has strained the health-care system and overwhelmed contact-tracing efforts, as public health workers don’t know where most of the 11,274 active infections in the province were contracted.
New Brunswick officials announced 23 cases of COVID-19 in the province on Saturday, setting a single-day high since the start of the pandemic.
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The new cases bring the total of active infections in the province to 71, and one person is in hospital due to the virus.
Quebec reported 1,189 new cases and 32 more deaths on Saturday, as well as 646 people in hospital for treatment of COVID-19.
The latest major outbreak in the province is at a Quebec City convent, where 39 nuns and 43 workers at the Soeurs de la Charité in suburban Beauport have tested positive for COVID-19.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 10:30 a.m. ET Sunday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 327,245, with 53,998 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,420.
Manitoba reported 387 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional deaths on Saturday.
The province has for weeks recorded the highest per-capita rate of new infections in Canada. Premier Brian Pallister was put on the defensive on Saturday as he addressed Progressive Conservative party members at a convention, saying “every province west of Nova Scotia has its highest numbers in the last few days, including Manitoba.”
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“Trying to make the political argument that Manitoba’s government missed the boat when everybody in the Western world is under attack right now is not a fruitful thing — even if it was right, and it isn’t,” he said.
Nova Scotia reported eight new cases on Saturday, after seeing five new cases the previous day.
Newfoundland and Labrador announced five new cases on Saturday, the largest single-day increase in cases in the province since April 16.
Nunavut is recording a surge in new infections, reporting 25 new cases on Saturday, including 22 in hard-hit Arviat and three in Whale Cove.
There are 107 active infections in the territory, which just confirmed its first case a little more than two weeks ago.
People arriving in the Northwest Territories and Yukon are once again required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Yukon reported three new cases, according to a Saturday news release by Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. The territory also expanded a public exposure notice for a Whitehorse fitness centre.
In British Columbia, a province-wide public health order has barred social gatherings of any size in private homes except between members of the same “core bubble.” The order went into effect on Thursday and will remain in place until midnight, Dec. 7.
What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday, there were more than 58.2 million reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with more than 37.2 million of those cases listed as recovered, according to a COVID-19 tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.3 million.
South Korea will tighten physical-distancing rules for the capital Seoul and nearby areas now that the country has reported more than 300 new COVID-19 cases for a fifth straight day, Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said Sunday.
He said for two weeks starting Tuesday, nightclubs and other high-risk entertainment facilities must shut down, and
late-night dining at restaurants will be banned. Customers aren’t allowed to drink or eat inside coffee shops, internet cafés and fitness centres, while audiences at sports events will be limited to 10 per cent of the stadium’s capacity.
In Japan, the daily tally of confirmed coronavirus cases hit a record for the fourth straight day at 2,508, the country’s Health Ministry said Sunday.
Japan has had fewer than 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths so far, avoiding the toll of harder-hit nations. But fears are growing about another surge.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Saturday scrapped the “GoTo” tourism campaign, which encouraged travel and dining out with discounts, but only after many people had already made travel reservations for a three-day Thanksgiving weekend in Japan.
Russia on Sunday reported a daily increase of 24,581 new coronavirus infections, taking the national tally to 2,089,329.
Authorities also reported 401 coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 36,179.
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India registered 45,209 new cases on Sunday amid a festival season surge in the capital and many other parts of the country. At least three states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat — have imposed night curfews in many cities.
In Australia, Victoria and South Australia states eased COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday. Victoria, which was hardest hit, has gone 23 days without a new infection.
Mask-wearing outdoors, which until now has been mandatory, is no longer required where physical distancing is possible.
Masks will still have to be worn indoors and carried at all times. Home gatherings of up to 15 people will be allowed, and up to 50 people can gather outdoors. Up to 150 people will be allowed at weddings, funerals or indoor religious services.
Residents of South Australia emerged from a state-wide lockdown at midnight Saturday and are now able to visit bars and restaurants in groups of up to 10 and host gatherings up of to 50 people with physical distancing.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc’s COVID-19 antibody therapy, an experimental treatment given to U.S. President Donald Trump that he said helped cure him of the disease.
Canada still on track for January 2021 vaccine rollout, despite domestic dose disadvantage: Feds – CTV News
The federal government is still eyeing January 2021 as the start date for when people in Canada will begin to receive COVID-19 vaccines, despite frustration and concerns levelled at the Liberals by the opposition on Wednesday about Canada’s position in the queue to receive doses.
“At the beginning of next year, in January of 2021, assuming those approvals are given… Canadians will be able to start being vaccinated,” Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc said in an interview on CTV’s Power Play.
The approvals he is referencing are Health Canada approvals, which will be required before vaccine doses are doled out.
LeBlanc wouldn’t say what specifically the contracts say in terms of licensing and schedules for delivery, but disputed that Canada is at the back of the line and said that the number of doses coming to Canada will increase over time.
“We will start to receive the first millions of doses early part of 2021… those contracts are in place and that distribution will be made very effectively with provinces and territories,” he said.
In a separate segment on CTV’s Power Play, Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner cast doubt on the timeline, saying there is no publicly available evidence to substantiate the government’s January 2021 target will be attainable.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to temper Canadians’ expectations around the timing and rollout of an eventual vaccine or vaccines to immunize against the novel coronavirus, acknowledging that Canada is at a “disadvantage” because Canada “no longer has any domestic production capability” to make our own and is relying on other nations.
While there has been promising news about some vaccine candidates that Canada will receive millions of doses early next year— to be distributed on a priority basis—several other nations are making plans to begin administering vaccines next month.
Among the promising candidates so far are Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, all of which Canada has begun the domestic approval process for. However, Trudeau said that the countries where these pharmaceutical companies are based, including the United States, will “obviously” prioritize vaccinating their citizens before shipping doses internationally.
This caused a flurry of questions levelled at Trudeau during question period on Wednesday, with the opposition slamming the government’s handling of vaccine procurement.
“Why did this prime minister sign deals that placed Canadians months behind Americans for getting a COVID-19 vaccine?” asked Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole.
“The announcement of vaccines gave people hope, but when the prime minister said we’re not able to produce it in Canada people were afraid… They need to know that there’s a clear plan with dates,” said NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh during question period.
In a press conference, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet said it was “unacceptable” that vaccines could still be months away from arriving in Canada, saying the federal government should have moved sooner to secure manufacturing rights and to ramp up production capacity at home.
Trudeau sought to defend his government’s handling, noting that it was under the previous Conservative administrations that Canada’s domestic capacity dwindled away.
Canada has begun funding domestic vaccine production capacity but Trudeau has said it will take “years” to get in place and likely won’t help Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine situation, but will be in place should there be future pandemics.
On Wednesday, LeBlanc suggested that should there be a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine required, or subsequent booster shots in years to come, the domestic ability to produce the vaccines could be ready.
Canada does produce some vaccines, but not the kind so far looking promising for COVID-19. Pharmaceutical companies Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline make protein-based vaccines, but the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, for example, are mRNA vaccines, which use messenger ribonucleic acid to produce an immune response.
“One is like making wine, one’s like making Coke,” Andrew Casey, the CEO of BioteCanada, told The Canadian Press Wednesday. “Yes, they both grow in bottles. Yes, you can drink both out of a glass. But the manufacturing processes used for the two is so completely different. You can’t just say well, we’ll shut down the protein one, and we’ll switch over to the mRNA.”
On Friday the Public Health Agency of Canada confirmed to MPs that the country is on track to receive an initial six million doses by March, four million from Pfizer and two million from Moderna.
In total, Canada has signed deals with seven vaccine manufactures, securing more vaccines per capita than other countries. The deals include an agreement with Canadian-based Medicago, whose vaccine candidate remains the farthest away from approval of those Canada has contracts with.
With files from The Canadian Press
2 Perfect Holiday Gift Ideas for the Pregnant Woman in Your Life
To say that this past year has been erratic would be an understatement. From the global pandemic to a tumultuous political and economic climate, 2020 is a year that will go down in the history books. While many people’s daily lives are much different from what they were a year ago, people have also reacquainted themselves with the value of friendship and partnerships. You may have heard the phrase, “we’re all in this together” a hundred times by now, but the truth is, we are. Relationships have become stronger as we pull together through thick and thin.
Some people wouldn’t be getting through these dark days without their partner by their side. You love the woman in your life very much. You hate to think about what this year would have been like without her. She’s the first person you see in the morning; she’s there to hold your hand when you need — she’s the love of your life. And what’s more exciting is that she’s pregnant!
With the holidays coming up next month, you want to surprise her with the perfect gifts — a token of appreciation to tell her how much you love her. For unique ideas on showing her how much she means to you, check out these perfect holiday gifts for the woman (and baby) in your life.
A Boudoir Photography Session
How many times have you looked at your partner and wanted to capture her beauty, forever, in a photograph? Of course, you can whip out your mobile phone to take a snap, but have you ever considered consulting a professional boudoir photographer?
A boudoir photographer in Niagara will elegantly capture your partner’s inner and outer beauty during this exciting time of your lives in customized images that will last a lifetime. When some people hear the term “boudoir,” they immediately think of tantalizing, sassy photographs of women in lingerie. While this aesthetic is one type of element to boudoir photography, there’s more to it than that. It’s all about empowerment and feeling beautiful while pregnant in a comfortable setting. The images are supposed to enhance your partner’s confidence and become a memory for both of you to look back on for years to come. Mention the idea to your loved one to see how she feels about it. We bet that she’ll jump at the opportunity to experience a day to feel gorgeous, sexy, and loved.
A Matching Sweatsuit
Many people spend most of their time inside these days because of the cold weather and the COVID-19 virus. Why not get comfortable while spending so much time in the house? Your lady would love a matching sweatsuit, especially as she’s carrying that baby — the perfect outfit to work from the couch or to snuggle up in for movie night. Look for soft, warm materials such as cotton, fleece, or terry cloth to keep her warm all winter long, and find the right one in her favourite colour.
This year, you want the love of your life to forget about the world’s events for a day or two with a couple of heartfelt gifts. Remind her of her natural beauty with a sophisticated boudoir photoshoot. And when she comes home, surprise her with a cozy outfit to slip into and relax. Such thoughtful gifts will mean so much to her, and your actions will show precisely how strong your relationship truly is.
'We took our eye off the ball': How Canada lost its vaccine production capacity – CTV News
In the race to develop and produce a COVID-19 vaccine, Canada is on the sidelines despite its once notable status as a global source for life-saving injections.
Canada lost that standing long ago, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explained this week, which means even if the country had developed its own novel coronavirus vaccine, there would be no means to produce it on the scale required.
“We used to have [production capacity] decades ago but we no longer have it,” Trudeau said Tuesday in Ottawa.
How did it get to this point? Canadian administrations simply took their “eye off the ball,” said Earl Brown, an infectious disease expert and a former member of the H1N1 vaccine task group in Canada. After that pandemic, a review found that vaccine production capacity was “right at the top” of the list of problems, he said. It wasn’t always that way.
“We had great vaccine producers in Canada — world leaders essentially — 50 years ago,” he told CTV’s Your Morning on Wednesday. There was Connaught Laboratories in Toronto, which was known for producing insulin to treat diabetes and inoculants for diphtheria and polio, and Institut Armand Frappier in Montreal that produced vaccines, including one for tuberculosis, he noted.
“The problem was they had a poor business model,” said Brown. “These were vaccine companies spun off from universities, so there was indirect funding and they had a model of not making so much profit.”
So they were eventually sold, Montreal’s Frappier lab to British multinational GlaxoSmithKline and Connaught, through a series of mergers, to French multinational Sanofi Pasteur after Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative government’s program of privatization. The labs now have a “tighter production line and not so much capacity,” said Brown.
The inability to mount a domestic production campaign means that the Canadian government must rely on purchase agreements with top U.S. and European pharmaceutical brands, including Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, to produce and provide the shots to Canadians once the vaccines are approved by Health Canada. In the absence of a domestic candidate, Ottawa has ordered as many as 414 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidates from seven different companies.
‘A MAJOR GLITCH’
There are some promising vaccine candidates in development across Canada, including Quebec’s Medicago and Saskatchewan’s VIDO-InterVac, but the companies lack the means to produce them here. What would that mean for rollout should those candidates be successful?
“That’s a major glitch,” said Brown. “You’re going to have to get a partner, somebody who’s got the ability to do that and then you have to get them onside, tuned up, send them your vaccine, get it produced and bottled. Not the best way to do it.”
For those Canadian companies to mount production campaigns on their own will take time — and a lot of it, they have said. VIDO-InterVac said it has plans to build a facility in one year, but that it would take another still to get it in operating shape. “That’s not the time frame you like,” said Brown.
In the meantime, Canadians will have to rely on speedier countries with approved COVID-19 vaccines to provide doses, but Canadians won’t be prioritized ahead of their own people. “Countries like the United States, Germany and the U.K. do have domestic pharmaceutical facilities, which is why they’re obviously going to prioritize helping their citizens first,” Trudeau said on Tuesday in Ottawa.
To help Canadians first, the federal government should set up a Crown corporation to produce vaccines, suggests Joel Lexchin, a professor emeritus with York University’s School of Health Policy and Management.
“It’s one thing if we give up the ability to domestically make something like laundry detergent. We can all live without laundry detergent. But when it comes to medications and vaccines, those are critical for the health of Canadians and we should be able to make them ourselves,” he told CTV National News. “Not only will the ability to domestically produce them ensure that Canadians get the care that they need, but we can also fulfill our human rights obligations by exporting them at low cost to low- and middle-income countries.”
The reliance on other countries and private companies is upsetting critics of Trudeau, who said Tuesday that his administration has begun funding domestic vaccine production capacity because “we never want to be caught short again.”
“This is gross incompetence that’s going to cost Canadians their lives and their jobs,” said Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner on Tuesday from Parliament Hill.
But criticism toward one government’s inaction may often easily be directed at another with hindsight, countered Brown on Your Morning.
“When you have the problem, you look back and say ‘We should have done something, shouldn’t we?’” he said.
With files from CTV News’ Rachel Aiello and CTV National News correspondents Glen McGregor and Avis Favaro
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