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

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The latest:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that people who aren’t vaccinated will be excluded from nonessential stores, as well as cultural and recreational venues, and parliament will consider a general vaccine mandate, as part of an effort to curb coronavirus infections that again topped 70,000 newly confirmed cases in a 24-hour period.

Speaking after a meeting with federal and state leaders, Merkel said the measures were necessary in light of concerns that hospitals in Germany could become overloaded with people suffering COVID-19 infections, which are more likely to be serious in those who haven’t been vaccinated.

Merkel is cited by media reports as saying that “culture and leisure nationwide will be open only to those who have been vaccinated or recovered.”

“The situation in our country is serious,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin, calling the measure an “act of national solidarity.”

She said officials also agreed to:

  • Require masks in schools.
  • Impose new limits on private meetings.
  • Aim for 30 million vaccinations by the end of the year.

Merkel also said that parliament will debate the possibility of imposing a general vaccine mandate that would come into force as early as February.

About 68.7 per cent of the population in Germany is fully vaccinated, far below the minimum of 75 per cent the government is aiming for.

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, who is expected to be elected chancellor by a centre-left coalition next week, said Tuesday that he backs a general vaccine mandate, but favours letting lawmakers vote according to their personal conscience rather than party lines on the matter.

The rise in COVID-19 cases over the past several weeks and the arrival of the new omicron variant have prompted warnings from scientists and doctors that medical services in the country could become overstretched in the coming weeks unless drastic action is taken. Some hospitals in the south and east of the country have already transferred patients to other parts of Germany because of a shortage of intensive care beds.

Agreeing what measures to take has been complicated by Germany’s political structure — with the 16 states responsible for many of the regulations — and the ongoing transition at the federal level.

Germany’s disease control agency reported 73,209 newly confirmed cases Thursday. The Robert Koch Institute also reported 388 new deaths from COVID-19, taking the total since the start of the pandemic to 102,178.

WATCH | WHO expert talks about omicron’s early days — and what scientists are doing to learn more about the new variant: 

WHO warns how world should respond in omicron’s ‘early days’

The World Health Organization says that every tool used to fight the delta coronavirus variant needs to be strengthened against omicron. (Fabrice Coffrini/Reuters) 2:17

-From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 9:35 a.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Doctors search to solve long COVID as patients fight to recover: 

Doctors search to solve long COVID as patients fight to recover

13 hours ago

Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and health experts are searching to find a cause and treatment for long COVID, while patients are simply fighting for their recovery. 6:14


What’s happening around the world

WATCH | Omicron variant renews uncertainty for travellers

Omicron variant renews uncertainty for travellers

14 hours ago

The uncertainty around the omicron variant and new COVID-19 testing and isolation requirements has some wondering if international travel is about to be upended again. 2:04

As of early Thursday morning, more than 263.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.2 million.

In Africa, the heavily mutated omicron variant of the coronavirus is rapidly becoming dominant in South Africa, less than four weeks after being identified there, authorities said, as other countries tightened their borders against the new threat.

In Europe, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said on Thursday that the omicron variant, which the World Health Organization has deemed a variant of concern (VOC), could be responsible for more than half of all COVID-19 infections in Europe within a few months. According to a document the EU public health agency published on Thursday, preliminary data from South Africa suggests omicron may have “a substantial growth advantage” over delta.

“If this is the case, mathematical modelling indicates that the omicron VOC is expected to cause over half of all SARS-CoV-2 infections in the EU/EEA within the next few months,” the document says.

The European Union and European Economic Area includes the 27 EU states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea broke its daily record for coronavirus infections for a second straight day on Thursday with more than 5,200 new cases, as pressure mounted on a health-care system grappling with rising hospitalizations and deaths. The rapid delta-driven spread comes amid the emergence of the new omicron variant, which is seen as potentially more contagious than previous strains of the virus, and has fuelled concerns about prolonged pandemic suffering.

Jung Eun-kyeong, commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, said the government plans to conduct omicron testing on all international passengers who test positive for the coronavirus and will work with biotech companies to develop new tests that could detect the variant faster. Anyone who comes in close contact with a person infected with omicron will be required to quarantine for a minimum of two weeks, even if they are fully vaccinated, she said in a briefing.

Women wearing masks walk under a Christmas illumination at a shopping district in central Seoul on Wednesday. South Korea is dealing with an uptick in COVID-19 cases. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

Meanwhile, India on Thursday confirmed its first cases of the omicron coronavirus variant in two people who travelled abroad, and a top medical expert urged people to get vaccinated.

India’s Health Ministry said the cases include two men in southern Karnataka state who came from abroad. It did not say which country. Health official Lav Agarwal said all contacts of the two men had been traced and tested for the virus.

In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates reported its first case of the new omicron variant in an African woman arriving from an African country through an Arab country, according to state news agency WAM.

In the Americas, U.S. President Joe Biden is set to kick off a more urgent campaign for Americans to get COVID-19 booster shots Thursday as he unveils his winter plans for combating the coronavirus and its omicron variant with enhanced availability of shots and vaccines but without major new restrictions.

Meanwhile, the new omicron variant of the coronavirus is likely to soon spread to other countries in North and South America after being detected in Canada and Brazil, the Pan American Health Organization said.

-From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 9:25 a.m. ET

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Sask. RCMP issue Canada-wide warrant for anti-vaccine dad charged with abducting daughter, 7 – CBC.ca

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Saskatchewan RCMP have charged and issued a Canada-wide arrest warrant for a Carievale, Sask., man accused of abducting his daughter to prevent her getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

Michael Gordon Jackson, 52, is charged with one count of abduction in contravention of a custody or parenting order, RCMP said in a news release Friday evening.

It comes after CBC News reported earlier this month that the father fled with his seven-year-old daughter, Sarah, in mid-November to keep her from getting immunized against the coronavirus. Jackson’s ex-wife, Mariecar Jackson, had wanted to get their daughter vaccinated, but Jackson did not. 

The girl had been visiting her father when she was allegedly abducted.

Since an enforceable court order was issued earlier this month, investigators say they have followed up on several tips and reported sightings of the father and daughter — including by reviewing surveillance footage at several businesses. However, no tips have led to locating them.

Sarah, 7, is described as four feet two inches tall and 76 pounds with waist-length brown hair that’s all one length. She has brown/hazel-coloured eyes and was last seen wearing teal-coloured eyeglasses. (Saskatchewan RCMP)

At this point, RCMP say, the criteria for an Amber Alert has not been met, which is why Mounties are continuing to ask the public for help in tracking the pair down.

“Sarah: we want you to know that you are not in any trouble,” Chief Supt. Tyler Bates, the officer in charge of the Saskatchewan RCMP south district, said in a message to the girl contained in the news release.

“Your mom misses you very much, and we have police officers doing what they can so you can see her again soon.”

Sarah is described as four feet two inches tall, 76 pounds, with waist-length brown hair that’s all one length. She has brown/hazel-coloured eyes and last wore teal-coloured eyeglasses.

Jackson’s ex-wife, Mariecar Jackson, says she hasn’t communicated with her daughter since mid-November. (Submitted by Mariecar Jackson)

Michael Jackson is described as weighing about 250 pounds with blue eyes and dark brown hair. He also typically wears glasses, RCMP said.

While Jackson resides in the Carievale area — located in Saskatchewan’s southeast corner — Mounties said he may have connections to the communities of Dilke, Oxbow, Alameda and Regina, along with Lamont, Alta. RCMP said he may also be in Manitoba.

“Locating Michael Gordon Jackson and Sarah is a top priority for Saskatchewan RCMP officers,” Bates said. “Our investigators are diligently following up on all tips and reported sightings. We are committed to locating Michael Gordon Jackson and reuniting Sarah with her mom.”

WATCH | Sask. woman says she’ll never stop looking for her child:

Sask. mom pleads for public’s help finding daughter taken by anti-vaccine dad

9 days ago

Duration 1:55

A Saskatchewan mother is pleading for the public’s help to locate her seven-year-old daughter taken in mid-November by the girl’s father to prevent her from receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. 1:55 

RCMP noted that investigators believe Michael Jackson may be getting help in evading police and reminded people that this activity may result in criminal charges. 
 
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Michael or Sarah Jackson is asked to call the Saskatchewan RCMP at 306-310-7267 or 306-780-5563. Tips can also be anonymously submitted to Crime Stoppers at at 1‐800‐222‐8477 or www.saskcrimestoppers.com.

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China’s Investment into Foreign Media

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Over the last few decades, China’s power and influence have grown remarkably quickly. The largest country in Asia is now one of the world’s biggest superpowers, and its influence has extended across the continent and into new territories as the Chinese government looks to cement its power for the future. According to a recent report released by Reporters Without Borders, China has started investing in foreign media to deter criticism and spread propaganda.

According to the research, “China’s Pursuit of a New World Media Order”, Beijing is spreading its worldview through several techniques, including increased international broadcasting, huge advertising campaigns, and infiltration of foreign media outlets.

China has recently opened laws across the country to give its people more freedom. However, there are still many restrictions in place, including against online gambling. Despite this, Chinese citizens can get online and place sports bets and wagers at online casinos, using trusted online gambling portals such as Asiabet. Interested players can access a wide range of leading casinos and sportsbooks through the site as well as information regarding the legality of the recommended operators, safety, and strategy before joining up, making it easier for players to understand what they’re getting into.

Why Is Chine Looking to Control Foreign Media?

The Chinese government is spending up to $1.3 billion a year to boost Chinese media’s global reach. Chinese state-run television and radio shows have been able to dramatically expand their foreign reach in recent years because of this financing. China Radio International is now transmitted in 65 languages, while China Global Television Network is distributed across 140 countries.

Considering the current global geopolitical climate, this looks to be a smart move, as it allows China to present itself how it wants to be seen to a global audience. In recent years, China has gained media attention across the West for its influence on North Korea, its expansion into the South China Sea, and its treatment of the minority Uighurs within its own country.

How Is China Influencing Foreign Media?

The Chinese government has recently increased spending on advertisements in Western newspapers and publishing sites to promote Chinese viewpoints. Advertising dollars have enticed media outlets, which has had a particularly large impact considering news media is currently struggling with profitability. China Daily, a mouthpiece for the Chinese regime, has paid American newspapers 19 million dollars in advertising and printing in the last four years alone, according to US Justice Department records.

China is also aiming to influence and control foreign media outlets by purchasing interests in them, according to the research. The report found that, in many cases, Chinese ownership typically leads to self-censorship, and journalists have lost their jobs in the past for publishing negative articles about the country.

For example, Reporters Without Borders claim that a journalist for South Africa’s Independent Online, which has a 20% investment in Chinese investors, had his column stopped in September 2018. This came just hours after a column about China’s mistreatment of ethnic minorities was published.

Reporters Without Borders has also claimed that, in addition to buying shares in media firms, Beijing has impacted foreign media by inviting journalists from developing nations to China for training. According to the report, China invited several Zambian journalists to a specially designed event named the 2018 Zambia Media Think Tank Seminar.

What Does This Mean for the Future of Western Media?

China has long had a lack of press freedom, with the country ranked 177 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index in 2021. It looks like the country is using domestic tactics used to control media narratives and bring them to the wider world, allowing it to control what people say about the country and regime in other countries too. By silencing and pressing foreign journalists and news stories, the Chinese government is damaging the trust that people place in the media.

Some people feel that this report is likely to be the tip of the iceberg. It could be that the influence from the Chinese government is even greater than previously expected. While a lot of foreign governments will often have an impact on media in other countries to control a narrative, this is on a scale never seen before.

Despite this, there are many journalists around the world who refuse to be influenced and still work hard to preserve the integrity of journalism. Reporters Without Borders will continue to document and report on the extent of China’s influence on foreign media.

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Emmy-winning actor Louie Anderson dead at age 68

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Louie Anderson, a three-time Emmy Award winner, comedian and game show host, died on Friday morning after a battle with cancer, his publicist told Deadline. He was 68.

The star of the comedy series “Baskets” died in Las Vegas, where he was admitted into a hospital earlier this week for treatment of diffuse large B cell lymphoma, publicist Glenn Schwartz told the entertainment publication.

Anderson was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy Series, winning one in 2016 for his role as Christine Baskets on the FX series.

He also won two Daytime Emmys for outstanding performer in an animated program for “Life with Louie,” a program that aired on Fox in 1997 and 1998.

The Saint Paul, Minnesota, native was a counselor to troubled children before he got his start in comedy when he won first place in the Midwest Comedy Competition in 1981, according to Deadline.

Anderson was in Eddie Murphy’s 1988 hit movie “Coming to America.” He also hosted “Family Feud” from 1999 to 2002 and starred in several situation comedies over the last two decades.

Anderson wrote several books, including “Good­bye Jumbo … Hello Cruel World,” a self-help book for people struggling with self-esteem issues.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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