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

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The latest:

People who have received the full course of COVID-19 vaccines can skip the standard 14-day quarantine after exposure to someone with the infection as long as they remain asymptomatic and meet certain criteria, U.S. public health officials advised.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday the vaccines have been shown to prevent symptomatic COVID-19, thought to play a greater role in the transmission of the virus than asymptomatic disease.

“Individual and societal benefits of avoiding unnecessary quarantine may outweigh the potential but unknown risk of transmission (among vaccinated individuals),” the CDC said.

The agency has laid down strict criteria for people who would no longer have to quarantine after the vaccinations, including having received both doses of a two-dose vaccine.

People who choose not to quarantine should do so only if they received their last dose within three months, the CDC document said. It also said the guidance around quarantine applied to people who are “fully vaccinated,” referring to people who are more than two weeks out from their final dose.

Fully vaccinated persons who do not quarantine should still watch for symptoms for 14 days following an exposure.

Two-dose vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. have been authorized for emergency use in the United States. Johnson & Johnson applied for a U.S. authorization of its single-dose shot last week.

The CDC also noted people who have been vaccinated should, “Continue to follow current guidance to protect themselves and others,” including wearing a mask, maintaining physical distancing, avoiding crowds, avoiding poorly ventilated spaces, washing hands often and adhering to local public health guidelines.

-From Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 8:35 a.m. ET


What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | Manitoba First Nations leaders aim to build trust with COVID-19 vaccine clinics:

First Nations leaders in southern Manitoba are hoping to build trust in the COVID-19 vaccines through pop-up clinics in larger communities, while the Canadian Forces help remote communities manage outbreaks. 1:57

As of 10:20 a.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had reported 814,932 cases of COVID-19 — with 37,825 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 21,022

Newfoundland and Labrador reported 53 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number of cases reported in the province on a single day since the beginning of the pandemic. Health officials also reported 32 presumptive positive cases that are still being investigated. 

Almost all of the cases are in the eastern health region of the province, which includes the metro St. John’s area.

“I believe that going so long with low case counts of COVID led to complacency and we are now seeing the repercussions,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald. “This is something we had worried about and cautioned against.”

Fitzgerald announced several closures and restrictions, saying the focus now is on getting the spread of COVID-19 under control. The province, which as of Wednesday had 110 active cases, heads to the polls on Saturday in a provincial election.

WATCH | Elections NL under pressure to delay Saturday’s election after COVID-19 outbreak:

Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief electoral officer, Bruce Chaulk, says he is weighing whether a safe election can be run in all districts of the province after the spike in COVID-19 cases. Lack of staff to help run the poll will be a key factor in the decision. 13:38

New Brunswick reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Nova Scotia reported one new case, and there were no new cases reported in Prince Edward Island.

In Quebec, health officials reported 989 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday with 34 additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 918, with 148 COVID-19 patients in the province’s intensive care units.

Ontario reported 945 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, though health officials noted that case counts from Toronto had been underreported due to an ongoing data migration. The province reported 18 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 6,614.

Hospitalizations in Ontario stood at 883, with 299 people listed as being in the province’s intensive care units.

Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce is expected to make an announcement Thursday afternoon as students, teachers and parents wait for word on how the province will handle the upcoming March Break.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 59 new cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths, while Saskatchewan reported 180 new cases and two additional deaths. Alberta, meanwhile, reported 339 new cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths. 

In British Columbia, health officials reported 469 new cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths.

Across the North, there was one new case of COVID-19 reported in Nunavut on Wednesday. There were no new cases reported in Yukon or the Northwest Territories.

LISTEN | With schools reopening, how do you keep kids safe?

Front Burner20:50With schools reopening, how do you keep kids safe?

As COVID-19 cases go down, pandemic restrictions are loosening across the country, including in Ontario, but concerns about variants remain. Today on Front Burner, what that means for the safety of kids at school. 20:50

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

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 10:30 a.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

A health worker prepares to take swab samples in a portable cabin of a mobile laboratory for conducting COVID-19 tests in Mumbai. (Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Thursday morning, more than 107.3 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 60 million of those cases listed as recovered or resolved in a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.3 million.

In the Americas, Argentina surpassed two million COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, health officials said, as the country scrambles to ramp up a vaccination program ahead of the fast-approaching southern hemisphere autumn.

Health-care workers test teachers and school workers for COVID-19 at the exposition centre La Rural before the reopening of schools, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Matias Baglietto/Reuters)

In the U.S., federal authorities are investigating a massive counterfeit N95 mask operation in which fake 3M masks were sold in at least five states to hospitals, medical facilities and government agencies. The foreign-made knock-offs are becoming increasingly difficult to spot and could put health-care workers at grave risk for the coronavirus.

These masks are giving first responders “a false sense of security,” said Steve Francis, assistant director for global trade investigations with the Homeland Security Department’s principal investigative arm. Officials could not name the states or the company involved because of the active investigation.

Nearly a year into the pandemic, fraud remains a major problem as scammers seek to exploit hospitals and desperate and weary Americans. Federal investigators say they have seen an increase in phony websites purporting to sell vaccines as well as fake medicine produced overseas, and scams involving personal protective equipment. The schemes deliver phony products, unlike fraud earlier in the pandemic that focused more on fleecing customers.

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director said African countries that have not found cases of the coronavirus variant dominant in South Africa should go ahead and use the AstraZeneca vaccine.

John Nkengasong spoke to reporters a day after South Africa announced major changes to its vaccination rollout plan, citing a small study that suggested it was poor at preventing mild to moderate disease caused by the variant.

Nkengasong said just seven countries on the 54-nation African continent have reported the variant and none besides South Africa is being “overwhelmed” by the variant. None has expressed concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine except for South Africa. Africa has had more than 96,000 confirmed deaths.

Pfizer, meanwhile, said it could deliver its vaccine, which requires ultra-cold temperatures for storage and distribution, directly to points of vaccination in South Africa.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines is set to receive 600,000 doses this month of Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine donated by China, a portion of which will be used to inoculate military personnel, a senior government official said.

A man waits in a reception area as he takes part in a vaccination mock drill at the COVID-19 vaccination centre earlier this week in Seoul. South Korea conducted the drill ahead of the vaccination of the whole nation starting this month. (Kim Hong-Ji/Getty Images)

South Korea has reported 504 new coronavirus cases for the latest 24-hour period. It is the highest daily jump in about two weeks and raising worries about a potential surge as the country begins the Lunar New Year’s holidays.

Health officials said Thursday the newly reported cases took the country’s total for the pandemic to 82,434, with 1,496 deaths related to COVID-19. In recent weeks, South Korea’s caseload has displayed a gradual downward trajectory largely thanks to stringent distancing rules such as a ban on social gatherings of five or more people.

Officials have urged the public to maintain vigilance and stay at home during the four-day Lunar New Year’s holidays that began Thursday. Millions of people were expected to travel across the country to visit hometowns and return home during the holidays.

In the Middle East, Israel began reopening its education system on Thursday after a more than six-week closure due to the country’s worrying surge in coronavirus infections. Kindergartens and Grades 1 to 4 opened in cities with low infection rates, with around one-fifth of the country’s pupils returning to classrooms. Middle schools and high schools remained closed.

In Europe, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany didn’t act quickly enough last fall to prevent a second surge in coronavirus infections.

“We didn’t shut down public life early enough or systematically enough amid signs of a second wave and warnings from various scientists,” she told lawmakers Thursday. Merkel and the governors of Germany’s 16 states agreed late Wednesday to extend the current lockdown, which was due to expire Sunday, until at least March 7. Schools and hairdressers will be able to open earlier, albeit with strict hygiene measures.

Merkel defended a decision to set a target of pushing the number of new weekly cases per 100,000 inhabitants below 35 before the lockdown is eased further.

‘The virus doesn’t follow dates, the virus follows infection numbers,’ German Chancellor Angela Merkel said as she discussed COVID-19 and the government’s caseload targets for lifting the current lockdown. (Christian Marquardt/Getty Images)

“The virus doesn’t follow dates, the virus follows infection numbers,” she said. A vaccination program offered hope for the coming months, said Merkel, before noting that she understands people’s disappointment with the rollout, which is far slower than in Britain, Israel and the United States.

To avoid a third wave of infections, however, a little more patience is required. “I don’t think that the back and forth — opening up then closing down again — brings more predictability for people than waiting a few days longer,” said Merkel. Germany’s disease control agency said there were just over 64 cases per 100,000 inhabitants nationwide in the past week. The Robert Koch Institute said there were 10,237 new cases and 666 deaths in the past day, taking the total cases to 2.31 million, including 63,635 deaths.

 Ireland expects to retain strict COVID-19 health measures at least until Easter, Minister Micheal Martin said.

The Czech Republic announced a stricter lockdown in three districts from east to west where infections have soared and hospitals are struggling to cope.

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

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Saint John police officers ordered not to wear thin blue line patches – CBC.ca

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The Saint John Police Force has ordered its officers to stop wearing thin blue line patches following social media posts of officers sporting the controversial patch. 

Tweets posted on Thursday show Saint John police officers wearing the patches at King’s Square on July 3, while present at a protest being held by members of the community.

The patch has acquired various connotations, with some supporters saying wearing the patch is a sign of solidarity between officers while critics say it fosters a dangerous attitude of opposition between police officers and civilians.  

Community members say the protest on July 3 was about bringing awareness to the damage being done by colonialism, following ongoing news of the graves of Indigenous children being found at the sites of former residential schools.

It also followed the vandalization of the statue of Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley in the square. 

Saint John police declined an interview request and instead directed CBC News to its Twitter post

The post states that uniform standards have been discussed with officers.

“[The Saint John Police Force] has uniform standards that only allow issued items on the uniform — the thin blue line patch is not issued by the [the Saint John Police Force] thus is not part of our uniform and not authorized to wear,” the post said.

Cheryl Johnson is a Saint John resident who was at the protest and took the photos. She was alerted by a friend later in the month, who upon closer inspection, noticed some officers wearing the patches. 

“It was horrifying to discover that,” said Johnson in an interview. 

Johnson said she considered informing Saint John police about the patches, but had concerns that the matter would be neglected, so she posted the photos to social media. 

“I find that through Twitter, it can be very effective in quickly getting the message across and I was also interested to see what other folks thought about it,” said Johnson.

“We know that in policing, there is a history of violence and abuse, assault, so trying to publicly double down on the concept of us versus them makes me feel incredibly unsafe.”

Police forces across the country have distanced themselves from the patch.

The RCMP advised its officers to stop wearing the patches last fall, citing it was not an approved symbol or officially part of the uniform.

Ottawa police have also been banned from wearing the patches, while Montreal and Toronto police having been spotted wearing the patches this year.

Saint John Coun. David Hickey said he was disappointed to learn city police officers were wearing the patches. 

“What it comes down to is promoting that us versus them mentality and rhetoric that is becoming apparent in policing and I don’t want to see that,” said  Hickey.

David Hickey is the ward 3 city councilor for Saint John and the chair of the public safety committee. (David Hickey/Facebook)

He added that city officials have a duty to ensure Saint John residents feel comfortable interacting with their police department, but a shared level of respect needs to be achieved.

The wearing of thin blue line patches is facing additional scrutiny following protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and growing criticism toward the Blue Lives Matter counter movement, which began in the United States purporting the importance of valuing police officers’ lives. 

El Jones is an assistant professor of political studies at Mount Saint Vincent University and a community activist based in Halifax. 

Jones said the patches migrated from the United States, with the messaging behind the thin blue line being that the police are the only thing standing between order and chaos.

“You see a kind of imagining of society that’s quite dystopian…. You’re always in danger and the only thing keeping you safe is policing,” she said in an interview.

El Jones is an assistant professor of political studies at Mount Saint Vincent University and a community activist based in Halifax.  (Submitted by El Jones)

When looking at things through a lens of supposed order and chaos, Jones said often times policing punishes those who are already marginalized by society.

One of the most troubling connotations behind the patches, Jones noted, is them being worn in solidarity with officers accused of police brutality. 

“Particularly to Black people, it is quite frightening because it’s putting on your uniform, a sign of my solidarity with my fellow officers, and not with the idea of law and order,” said Jones.

The patch has also served as conduit for racist ideology, with authorities acknowledging that white nationalist groups have taken an interest in adopting the patch as a symbol.

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RCMP spied on Canadian nationalist committee over communist concerns – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canada’s spy service closely monitored the burgeoning nationalist movement in the 1960s and ’70s, poring over pamphlets, collecting reports from confidential sources and warily watching for signs of Communist infiltration, once-secret records reveal.

The RCMP’s security branch, responsible for sniffing out subversives at the time, quietly tracked the rise of the Committee for an Independent Canada, seeing it as ripe for “exploitation or manipulation” by radicals.

The committee, which attracted numerous political and cultural luminaries, pushed for greater Canadian control of the industrial, media and foreign policy spheres in an era of profound American dominance.

The Canadian Press used the Access to Information Act to obtain the RCMP’s four-volume, 538-page dossier on the committee as well as a file on a forerunner organization from Library and Archives Canada. Some passages, though more than 60 years old, were withheld from release.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service, which assumed counter-subversion duties from the RCMP in 1984, transferred the records to the National Archives, given their historical significance.

The Mounties’ interest was piqued in the spring of 1960 when author Farley Mowat gathered neighbours at his home in Palgrave, Ont., to form what would soon become the Committee for Canadian Independence.

Mowat was instantly spurred into action upon reading journalist James Minifie’s book “Peacemaker or Powder-Monkey: Canada’s Role in a Revolutionary World,” rattled by its concerns about the erosion of Canadian sovereignty.

The fledgling committee advocated distancing Canada from western military alliances and reasserting the country’s control over its airspace and territorial waters.

In August 1960, as the RCMP opened a file on the committee, a sergeant surmised the Communist party “must certainly be joyous” at the development given it had long espoused similar ideas. However, the Mounties had uncovered no information to suggest the group was “Communist inspired.”

While Mowat’s effort faded from the public conversation, hand-wringing about Canadian independence persisted.

Early in 1970, Toronto Daily Star editor Peter C. Newman, former Liberal cabinet minister Walter Gordon and economist Abe Rotstein hatched plans for the Committee for an Independent Canada during a meeting at Toronto’s King Edward Hotel.

A statement of purpose published by the committee that September said it realized the benefits of Canada being neighbour to the most powerful nation in the world and rejected the idea of closing the taps of needed foreign capital.

“But our land won’t be our own much longer if we allow it to continue to be sold out to foreign owners. Not if we allow another culture to dominate our information media. Not if we allow ourselves to be dragged along in the wake of another country’s foreign policy.”

A month later an RCMP corporal in the security service’s Toronto detachment warned in a two-page memo the publicity the committee had garnered made it a “vulnerable target for subversive penetration.”

Gordon, a longtime economic nationalist, was honorary chairman of the committee, with publisher Jack McClelland and Claude Ryan, director of influential Montreal newspaper Le Devoir, serving as co-chairmen.

The politically non-partisan organization’s steering committee included dozens of notable members of the Canadian intelligentsia, including Mowat and fellow author Pierre Berton, publisher Mel Hurtig, poet Al Purdy, Chatelaine magazine editor Doris Anderson, lawyers Eddie Goodman and Judy LaMarsh (who had also been a Liberal cabinet minister), union activist and longtime NDP stalwart Eamon Park, and Flora MacDonald, shortly before she became a Progressive Conservative MP.

A source whose name is blacked out of a March 1971 memo provided the RCMP with committee literature including a letter from student co-ordinators Gus Abols and Michael Adams.

“The support of young Canadians is essential, because only through our united action will the government and the Canadian public generally realize the seriousness of our country’s situation and the extent of our commitment to the preservation of Canada,” the letter said.

Adams recalls being a graduate student the University of Toronto, strolling to class, when Goodman, whom he knew from Conservative political circles, pulled over his car and told the young man to jump in because “we’re going to start up something that I think you’d be interested in.”

Adams, who would go on to build Environics Research Group into a leading pollster, has fond memories of accompanying Gordon on a committee trip to London, Ont., to promote the nationalist cause to students.

As the “young guy” at committee meetings, Adams revelled in the impressive company.

“It was a wonderful group,” he said. “They were incredibly nurturing and helpful.”

For their part, however, RCMP security officers didn’t seem to know what to make of the committee.

An August 1971 memo to divisions from RCMP headquarters said the committee had taken a moderate, middle class-oriented stance rather than a radical approach. Elements of the New Left and the Communist party had shown interest in the committee, but the RCMP was not aware of “any significant degree of influence or penetration.”

Still, the Mounties would continue to eye the committee because its aims and programs “provide a potential for exploitation or manipulation by groups or individuals of a subversive nature.”

On the contrary, the committee was formed to keep the nationalist movement from falling into the hands of the Communists and the far left represented by the NDP’s Waffle initiative, said Stephen Azzi, a professor of political management at Carleton University in Ottawa.

“The RCMP intelligence unit appeared to be staffed by people with little knowledge, with scant research skills and with deep paranoia,” Azzi said in an interview.

The Mounties studiously monitored the committee through the 1970s, clipping news items and filing memos. A confidential source advised the RCMP of plans for the group’s Ottawa demonstration in January 1975, suggesting they would muster “25-30 people instead of the 60 previously planned.”

By this point, the committee was no longer a potent force in Canadian public life in any event, Azzi sai

Pierre Trudeau, the Liberal prime minister of the day, was openly skeptical of the nationalist agenda but had adroitly harnessed support for the movement to shore up electoral support, particularly in southern Ontario, he added.

Several of the committee’s ideas were realized through creation of Crown corporation Petro-Canada, the Foreign Investment Review Agency, the Canada Development Corporation to foster Canadian-controlled enterprises, and new rules for homegrown content on the airwaves.

Many effects of those policies linger today, Azzi said. “I think our sense of Canada to a large extent was shaped in that period.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2021.

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Travellers to be placed in queues based on vaccine status on arrival at Toronto Pearson airport – CBC.ca

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When travellers arrive at Toronto Pearson International Airport, they’ll be split into two separate queues — vaccinated people in one, with non-vaccinated people or people who are only partially vaccinated in another.

“This is a measure to help streamline the border clearance process,” airport spokesperson Beverly MacDonald told the CBC. “There are different entry requirements for vaccinated and non/partially vaccinated travellers, which have been broadly communicated by the Government of Canada.”

As of July 5, fully vaccinated travellers permitted to enter Canada are exempted from quarantine measures and testing for COVID-19 on their eight day post-arrival.

Travellers are still required to get a pre-entry test, a quarantine plan if not granted the exemption, and an arrival test.

There is also a requirements checklist that involves providing proof of vaccination in ArriveCan — the government portal to submit vaccine information.

Passengers entering Canada from the United States or another international destination will be split into the two queues before reaching Canada Customs.

The process came into effect after the federal government introduced different entry requirements for vaccinated and non/partially vaccinated travel.

“We know that the arrivals experience is different for passengers than it was in pre-pandemic times,” MacDonald said. “We appreciate passengers’ patience as we work with all of our partners to implement Government of Canada requirements for international air travel.”

Toronto Pearson, with its Healthy Airport initiative, has mandated masks and enhanced cleaning measures and its HVAC systems. It says it continues to work with government agencies, airlines, and airports to follow safety protocols.

More information on the airports COVID-19 protocols is available at www.torontopearson.com/readytotravel

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