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

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The latest:

  • New Brunswick confirms its first cases of the coronavirus variant initially discovered in the U.K.
  • Canada inks deal to produce millions of COVID-19 shots domestically.
  • Data issues mean just 745 new COVID-19 cases officially logged in Ontario.
  • Quebec reports 1,053 new cases, premier expected to announce loosening of public health restrictions in certain regions.
  • Capt. Tom Moore, who raised millions to fight pandemic, has died, family says.
  • Biden administration will begin providing COVID-19 vaccines to U.S. pharmacies, part of its plan to ramp up vaccinations.
  • Have a question or something to say? CBC News is live in the comments now, or you can send your questions to COVID@cbc.ca

Britain begins a door-to-door COVID-19 testing of 80,000 people on Tuesday in a bid to stem the spread of a variant of the novel coronavirus first identified in South Africa.

Public Health England said it had identified a total of 105 cases of the variant since Dec. 22, and to contain new outbreaks, residents in eight areas of the country will now be tested whether or not they are showing symptoms, a process known as “surge testing.”

There are about 10,000 people in each area, three of which are in London, two of which are in the southeast, one of which is in central England, one of which is in the east and another of which is in the northwest.

Those in the affected areas will be tested, even if they are asymptomatic, to break any chain of transmission in the community.

“It is concerning — it’s deeply concerning,” junior education minister Michelle Donelan told Sky. “It’s still a very perilous stage of this virus and we’ve got these new variants spreading.”

The number of new coronavirus cases in Britain is levelling out or falling after a surge in infections at the end of last year, fuelled by a more transmissible variant found in the southeast of England.

Britain is rolling out a mass vaccination program, with nearly 9.3 million people having received the first shot, and the government and health officials are concerned new variants would undermine its efforts to bring the pandemic under control.

However, there has been criticism that ministers have been too slow to bring in measures to quarantine travellers arriving from overseas who might bring new strains of the virus with them.

People get tested in Walsall, England, as local authorities prepare to deploy more testing in a bid to track down a COVID-19 variant found in the area. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Scientists have said the variant first detected in South Africa appears to be more transmissible, but there is no evidence that it causes more severe disease. However, several laboratory studies have found that it reduces vaccine and antibody therapy efficacy.

The United Kingdom has seen more than 3.8 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 106,000 deaths since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University.

On Tuesday, the world learned that Capt. Tom Moore, the British Second World War veteran who raised millions of pounds for health service workers on the frontline of the battle against COVID-19, had died at age 100.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our dear father, Captain Sir Tom Moore,” his daughters said in a statement.

-From Reuters, last updated at 11:15 a.m. ET


What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | Some say travel restrictions are not enough to prevent COVID-19 spread

New federal travel restrictions take effect this week, including mandatory quarantine in a hotel and a temporary suspension on Canadian airline flights to Mexico and the Caribbean, but some experts already say the plan has too many holes to be truly effective. 2:48

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government has inked a deal that will see COVID-19 vaccines churned out on home soil. Trudeau said the federal government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Novavax to start producing immunization doses at the Royalmount facility in Montreal.

The Novavax vaccine is currently under review by Health Canada. If approved, it would eventually leave Canada less reliant on foreign production for the most sought-after product in the world.

Trudeau also says the government is investing $25 million in Vancouver-based biotechnology company Precision NanoSystems to build a manufacturing centre, with the ultimate goal of producing up to 240 million vaccine doses per year.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said at a briefing Tuesday that national daily case counts have been declining over the past two to three weeks, but cautioned that communities need to remain vigilant and follow public health measures aimed at slowing transmission.

“We must hold fast to these measures to prevent re-acceleration of the epidemic and limit the spread of more infectious virus variants,” Tam said.

WATCH | Variants could change Canada’s COVID-19 situation ‘rapidly,’ experts say

Even as overall COVID-19 numbers continue to trend downward across Canada, health officials are increasingly concerned about the spread of two variants: one first detected in the U.K. and another in South Africa, which experts say could ‘rapidly’ change the situation in Canada. 2:05

To date, provinces have reported over 135 cases of the B117 variant first reported in the U.K., and at least 13 cases of the B1351 variant first reported in South Africa, Tam said.

“We’re in a very delicate period right now, where vaccines are just beginning to roll out,” she said. “So I think the message is really, ‘Hang on in there for a bit longer,’ so that the vaccine programs can accelerate.”

Relaxation of restrictions needs to happen “very cautiously,” and take into account the public health system’s capacity and the local health-care system’s capacity, she said.

As of 2:30 p.m ET on Tuesday, Canada had reported 785,497 cases of COVID-19 — with 49,679 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 20,186.

Ontario saw a substantial drop in its reported COVID-19 numbers on Tuesday, but officials said a data migration by Toronto Public health had an impact on the numbers. Health Minister Christine Elliott reported just 745 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Hospitalizations stood at 1,192, with 341 people in intensive care units.

“Please note that Toronto Public Health has now migrated all of their data to the provincial data system, CCM,” Elliott said in a tweet. “This migration has impacted today’s daily counts, resulting in an underestimation of cases. We anticipate fluctuations in case numbers over the next few days.”

The province on Monday recorded its first case of the COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa, saying a case was detected in Peel Region.

Ontario’s top doctor said the person neither travelled nor had any known contact with anyone who travelled.

Data from South Africa shows the variant may be more infectious, Dr. David Williams said.

Ontario, which reported 1,969 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, had reported a total of 69 total cases of the variant first reported in the U.K. as of Sunday.

Meanwhile, New Brunswick has reported its first cases of the coronavirus variant initially detected in the U.K. Two cases were detected in the Saint John region, and one in the Miramichi region. Two of the cases are related to international travel and one is related to travel in Canada.

“The arrival of the variant will put more pressure on our health system,” Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, said. “It is a very fast-moving strain and it will be difficult to get ahead of it.”

The province reported 25 new cases on Tuesday, the majority of them in the Edmundston region.

In other provincial updates, Nova Scotia reported one new case on Tuesday. In the North, the Northwest Territories reported two new cases and Nunuvat reported none. Manitoba reported 83 new cases, with the majority in the Northern health region.

Quebec Premier François Legault is expected to announce some changes to COVID-19 restrictions later Tuesday.

The province reported 1,053 new cases of COVID-19 and 38 deaths on Tuesday. Hospitalizations stood at 1,110, according to a provincial dashboard, with 178 people in intensive care units.

Tuesday’s update comes a day after health officials in Quebec reported 890 new cases — the first time since early November that Quebec has reported fewer than 1,000 daily new cases.

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

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 2:30 p.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

As of early Tuesday morning, more than 103.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide with more than 57.4 million of those cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a Johns Hopkins University tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 2.2 million.

In Europe, Estonia said it will allow passengers arriving to the country with a proof of COVID-19 vaccination to omit the quarantine requirement. Health officials of the Baltic country said that proof isn’t restricted only to those vaccine suppliers approved in the European Union but proof from any of the global vaccine suppliers would be accepted. However, Estonia’s health board said that certificate of vaccination from foreign nationals has to meet certain criteria, including language.

Vaccination certificates must be in either in Estonian, Russian — which is widely spoken in Estonia — or English. Hanna Sepp, head of the Health Board’s infectious diseases unit, told the Estonian public broadcaster ERR that the certificate has to indicate the disease against which the person has been vaccinated, when the vaccine was formulated and which manufacturer’s vaccine was used. It also has to include data on the issuer of the vaccine and the vaccine batch number.

Children in classes up to fourth grade will return to school Feb. 8 in Denmark after the country saw a steady reduction in new COVID-19 infections in recent weeks. Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said it was “a careful reopening,” noting the Scandinavian country is still dealing with the virus variant first reported in Britain that has been spreading in Denmark despite overall declining numbers of new infections.

Staff at schools will undergo regular testing and parents will be required to wear face masks on school sites. Denmark has recorded 2,145 deaths and 198,960 cases.

In the Middle East, Dubai will start vaccinating people with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the state media office said on Tuesday as the United Arab Emirates battles its biggest outbreak since the pandemic began.

The first shipment has arrived from India, the state media office said in a tweet. It did not provide details on how many doses were received or when inoculations would start.

In Africa, Zimbabwe will have access to a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine soon, China’s ambassador in Harare said, as Beijing ramps up its availability to developing nations.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Malaysia’s government extended a lockdown and broad movement restrictions by two weeks as a surge in infections has pushed the cumulative total past 200,000 cases.

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced Tuesday that he is extending a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and nine other areas through March 7, amid growing uncertainty over the national rollout of vaccines and the hosting of the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

People walk along Nakamise Shopping Street near Sensoji Temple, normally a hugely popular destination for foreign tourists, on Tuesday in Tokyo. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

Under the state of emergency, the government has issued non-binding requests for people to avoid crowds and eating out in groups, and for restaurants and bars to close by 8 p.m.

New cases have declined in Tokyo and nationwide since early January, but experts say hospitals remain flooded with serious cases and that preventive measures should remain in place.

Japan has had about 400,000 coronavirus cases, including 5,800 deaths.

“I seek your co-operation to endure just a bit longer,” Suga said. “We must make sure the infections are on a continuous decline.”

The emergency will end Sunday as planned in one prefecture, Tochigi, which is north of Tokyo, where the situation has improved. It will remain in place in Tokyo and its neighbours Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, as well as in Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Fukuoka in the west, and Aichi and Gifu in central Japan.

The World Health Organization experts have visited an animal disease centre in the Chinese city of Wuhan as part of their investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. A team member said they met with staff in charge of the health of livestock in Hubei province, toured laboratories and had an “in-depth” discussion with questions and answers.

Meanwhile, WHO officials in Geneva were pushing back against suggestions the team was not getting enough access or data. The officials said the agency was continuing to ask for more data. They also said the team planned to visit the Wuhan Institute of Virology, considered among the major sources of information about the origins of the coronavirus.

China reported the fewest new COVID-19 cases in a month as imported cases overtook local infections, official data showed on Tuesday, suggesting its worst wave since March 2020 is being stamped out ahead of an important holiday.

In the Americas, the Biden administration will begin providing COVID-19 vaccines to U.S. pharmacies, part of its plan to ramp up vaccinations as new and potentially more serious virus strains are starting to appear.

A White House announcement was expected Tuesday, a person familiar with the plan told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the official announcement.

Initially the government will be shipping limited quantities of vaccine to drugstores around the country, but that’s expected to accelerate as drugmakers increase production. Drugstores have become a mainstay for flu shots and shingles vaccines, and the industry is capable of vaccinating tens of millions of people monthly.

The partnership with drug stores was originally announced by the Trump administration last November. At that time, no coronavirus vaccines had been approved.

The U.S. government also promised undocumented migrants the same access to COVID-19 vaccines as other civilians and said inoculation centres would be immigration enforcement-free zones.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 12:20 p.m. ET

Have questions about this story? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments.

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Firing Bank of Canada head would spark global ‘shock wave’: ex-budget watchdog – Global News

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If any Canadian government were to fire the head of the Bank of Canada, the result would be a “global financial shock wave,” warned the country’s former budget watchdog.

In an interview with The West Block guest host Eric Sorenson, former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page said the Bank of Canada’s reputation is one as a “strong” and “transparent” institution.

“We’ve gotten used to, over the past three decades, having an independent central bank that is independent — making decisions on these policy interest rates that is divorced from the political environment,” said Page, now president and CEO of the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy at the University of Ottawa.

“It would be quite a shock wave, a global financial shock wave, to have a government literally remove a central banker who, by all intents, seems to be doing a fine job — but is doing a very difficult job.”

Page had been asked what the effects could be if a Canadian government were to fire a central banker.

That comes as Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre has been leading a campaign of criticism centring on the Bank of Canada’s handling of rampant inflation, which sits at 6.7 per cent.

The domestic target is two per cent per year.

Read more:

Canada’s treasury ‘depleted’ as budget weans COVID spending, eyes uncertainty

As part of his criticism of the central bank, Poilievre has vowed that he would fire Tiff Macklem, governor of the Bank of Canada, if elected prime minister. That comment triggered rapid criticism over concerns it signalled an intent by the perceived leadership frontrunner to interfere with the bank.

Long-standing tradition is that the Bank of Canada operates independently of political decisions, with governors appointed on seven-year terms.

Officials have emphasized that those longer terms are what allows them to operate with a “measure of continuity over economic cycles — not electoral cycles — and allows for decision making that considers the long-term economic interests of Canadians.”

The Bank of Canada has opted to keep interest rates at rock-bottom during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is among the factors experts say have fuelled skyrocketing home prices. And as inflation keeps pushing the cost of living higher and higher, critics of the central bank like Poilievre have pointed the finger and argued its low rates are powering domestic inflation.

Canada, however, is far from alone.

Read more:

Conservative leadership hopefuls debate future of party, trade Netflix suggestions

Inflation is rampant around the world right now, with no clear end in sight.

High consumer spending amid the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions has combined with supply chain shocks worsened both by factory closures caused by the reality that the virus is still circulating in high numbers, as well as the sharp shortages in supplies caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.


Click to play video: 'Bank of Canada forecasts nearly 6% average inflation outlook in 1st half of 2022'



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Bank of Canada forecasts nearly 6% average inflation outlook in 1st half of 2022


Bank of Canada forecasts nearly 6% average inflation outlook in 1st half of 2022 – Apr 25, 2022

“I think it’s a very simplification to assume that if we just change the leader, that somehow this sort of global environment — and inflation truly is a global issue — just somehow disappears,” Page said.

Sorenson asked: “Can the Bank or the Canadian government on their own bring inflation down in this country?”

Page said: “No.”

“This is a global phenomenon. A lot of it is supply-related, and it’s because of those very strong supports that went in 2020 to help during the lockdown,” he added.

“The economy’s come back really fast and eventually markets will adjust.”

So when might Canadians expect to see inflation back in a more normal range?

Page said the Bank of Canada’s moves to raise interest rates will play a role in helping slow the economy.

“I think over the next couple of years we could see inflation back maybe in that three per cent range.”


Click to play video: 'Sticker Shock: Coping with the rising cost of inflation in Canada'



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Sticker Shock: Coping with the rising cost of inflation in Canada


Sticker Shock: Coping with the rising cost of inflation in Canada

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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David Milgaard, who advocated for justice after he was wrongfully convicted of murder, has died

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David Milgaard, who was wrongfully convicted of murder and spent more than 23 years in prison, has died. Milgaard was only 17 when he was arrested for the rape and murder of Gail Miller in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He was released from prison in 1992 after DNA evidence proved his innocence. In 1999, Milgaard was awarded $10 million in a wrongful conviction lawsuit against the Canadian government. Milgaard and two friends had been on a road trip, driving through the city when the murder happened.

Milgaard, who was born in Winnipeg, had been living in Calgary with his son and daughter.

Milgaard maintained his innocence throughout his time in prison. His mother Joyce Milgaard, who died in 2020, tirelessly advocated on her son’s behalf. In the decades since his release, Milgaard had spoken publicly, calling for changes in how Canadian courts review convictions.

His picture is now included in the Canadian Journey’s gallery at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Isha Khan, the museum’s CEO, said Milgaard was a human rights defender.

“He is someone we know, and the reason we know is that he was able to tell his story, and it takes a special kind of person to continue to try to connect with people,” she said, adding his work is not over.

“There are people across this country in correctional institutions who have been wrongfully convicted, who need a voice and don’t have a voice that David Milgaard did for whatever reason it may be, and it is our job to listen and to look for those stories.”

Milgaard had recently been pushing for an independent review board to prevent miscarriages of justice.

“David was a marvellous advocate for the wrongly convicted, for all the years he’s been out since 1992. We’re going to miss him a lot. He was a lovely man,” James Lockyer, a Toronto-based lawyer, told CTV News Channel on Sunday.

Lockyer, a founding director of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, joined Milgaard’s case following his release in 1992 and helped him through the process to get DNA testing done. Lockyer said as a result of the DNA evidence, a man named Larry Fisher was arrested, and charged with the rape and murder. Fisher died while serving a life sentence.

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Ontario international students, families making 'massive sacrifices' for the Canadian dream – CBC.ca

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The death of an Indian student in Toronto last month made international headlines, but while Kartik Vasudev’s story ended in tragedy, his parents’ sacrifices offer a glimpse into the hardships that many international students and their families face to achieve the dream of a future in Canada.

Vasudev’s father, Jitesh Vasudev, told CBC News he and his wife spent their entire life savings and mortgaged their house to take out a loan of $50,000, just to afford the first year of his son’s education in Canada, before he was shot and killed. 

“The only mistake of my innocent child was that he dreamt big of studying in a foreign country, and he wanted to make a name of himself while representing India,” said Vasudev’s mother, Pooja Vasudev, in a video posted to Instagram. “We had a lot of dreams and expectations with our child, he was going to be our support in our old age.”

International students who spoke to CBC News say those kinds of sacrifices are common, and can take a major toll. 

They say international students can pay almost four times more in tuition fees than domestic students, and are calling for change.

An Ontario Auditor General’s report from last year highlighted the reliance of Ontario colleges on international student tuition.

The report showed that while international students represented only 30 per cent of the total enrolment in public colleges, they accounted for 68 per cent of tuition fee revenue at a total of $1.7 billion. A majority of students — 62 per cent — were from India.

According to a 2020 report from Global Affairs Canada, international students contributed $16.2 billion and $19.7 billion to Canada’s GDP in 2017 and 2018.

A better future in Canada

Students and advocates told CBC News that many international students from India come to Canada to become permanent residents and build a better future for themselves as well as their families.

They say there are limited employment opportunities in India compared to Canada, leading their parents to go to great lengths to send them abroad.

Jobanpreet Singh knows that struggle firsthand.

Jobanpreet Singh, left, says his family spent all their savings, took out massive loans and also sold assets just to pay for his first year of college. (Submitted by Jobanpreet Singh)

“[Vasudev’s family] sacrificed a lot to send their child to Canada for a brighter future,” the 22-year-old international student said. “I can’t imagine how painful it must have been for them.”

Born and raised in a farmer’s family in Punjab, India, Singh came to Canada as an international student in August 2021, where he is studying at the Academy of Learning Career College in Toronto. 

For his first year in Canada, his family spent around $30,000 on his tuition and living expenses.

Singh said his family spent all their savings, took out massive loans and sold assets just to be able to pay for his first year of college.

“[International students] have work stress, school stress, and we have extremely high tuition fees, which is topped off with the fact that we can only work 20 hours a week,” he said.

Singh said it is very difficult to handle expenses and living costs in Toronto while working those limited hours.

According to a statement from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), “limiting off-campus work to 20 hours per week reflect the fact that the focus for international students in Canada is on their studies.”

Tuition gap between domestic and international students

Sarom Rho from advocacy group Migrant Students United says international students who come to Canada also face rising costs of tuition fees, which are already three to four times more than domestic tuition.

“The majority of current and former international students and their families have made massive sacrifices for them, for example by selling lands, taking out massive educational loans, selling assets, just to pay for these extremely high tuition fees,” said Rho.

Rho added that because of these financial burdens, international students also face significant mental health issues.

Ontario’s Ministry of Colleges and Universities said in a statement that it understands that as newcomers to Canada and Ontario, international students can face unique challenges. 

“Student wellbeing is paramount, and we support the steps taken by Ontario’s colleges and universities to ensure that international students are well supported before and after their arrival in Ontario,” said James Tinajero, spokesperson for the ministry.

Gurpreet Singh, a 22-year-old Seneca College student, came to Canada in September 2020. His parents mortgaged their entire agricultural farmland to send him to Canada.

Gurpreet Singh has completed half of his education and the remaining two semesters of his studies will cost him about $16,000. He says he is paying for the rest of his studies on his own. (Submitted by Gurpreet Singh)

He said because of his international student status in Canada, he can’t apply for scholarships and bursaries at his college.

“That’s a huge drawback for us,” said Gurpreet. “If we’re not getting anything extra [over] the domestic students and we pay the same taxes, then why do we pay this huge amount for our tuition?”

The ministry says college and university boards of governors have the full authority to set tuition fees for international students.

“Colleges and universities are allowed the discretion to establish tuition fees for international students at levels the institutions deem appropriate,” said Tinajero.

Gurpreet has completed half of his education, and the remaining two semesters of his studies will cost him about $16,000. But instead of asking for help from his family, Gurpreet is taking the responsibility on himself.

According to the IRCC, international students can work full-time when they are on a scheduled break, like during winter and summer holidays, or during a fall or spring reading week. 

Gurpreet is currently on a summer break from his college. He says this is his last chance to work full-time before he begins his third semester in the fall.

For the next four months of summer break, Gurpreet says he’ll be working in two different warehouses doing long days of general labour.

“Right now I’ve [got] to concentrate on my work to pay off my fees, so I’m willing to compromise for the next four months,” he said.

“I know this is going to be hard, but these hardships are temporary, and there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

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