B.C.’s premier is urging people to “get with the program” and cut back on social interactions, warning that a return to tighter restrictions is possible if the province’s COVID-19 case numbers don’t come down.
“This is going to be challenging,” Premier John Horgan said Monday. “No one should be under any illusion based on what’s happening in British Columbia, in Canada, in North America — around the world — that we’re going to be out of this anytime soon.”
The province, which doesn’t publicly report COVID-19 case data on the weekend, on Monday reported 998 new cases of COVID-19 and five more deaths since Saturday. The province’s coronavirus dashboard put the number of hospitalizations at 133, with 43 in intensive care.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s chief public health officer, recently announced a two-week period of tighter restrictions for people living in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions. Henry said Monday that health officials are monitoring where people are contracting COVID-19 and the two-week order could change depending on what they learn.
What’s happening across Canada
WATCH : COVID-19 situation getting worse, not better, infectious disease specialist says:
As of 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday, provinces and territories in Canada had reported a cumulative total of 268,735 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 218,400 cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,564.
In Alberta, health officials reported 644 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday and seven deaths. The province reported that 192 people were in hospital, with 39 in ICU. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, expressed concern Monday about the hospitalization numbers and cautioned that Alberta has “not yet turned the corner that we must turn.”
With case numbers rising, a group of physicians in Alberta on Monday sent a letter to Premier Jason Kenney, the health minister and Hinshaw calling for swift moves to slow the spread of the virus.
“If the rate of COVID-19 spread continues, the consequences to the people of Alberta will be catastrophic,” the letter said. “The province should consider a two-week, short, sharp lockdown, or ‘circuit breaker’ to drop the effective reproductive number and allow contact tracing to catch up.”
Saskatchewan hit a new high in daily reported COVID-19 cases on Monday as officials announced 190 new cases. Health officials also reported one additional death, bringing the province’s death toll to 29.
In Manitoba concern is mounting over case numbers and the situation at some long-term care facilities dealing with outbreaks. Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, said Monday he has spoken to Premier Brian Pallister about the possibility of stepped-up restrictions.
“We see these numbers going in the wrong direction, we see increasing demand on our health-care system,” Roussin said. “We’re at a critical point where we need to change these dynamics.”
WATCH | Frustrations grow along with Manitoba’s COVID-19 case numbers:
Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Yukon or the Northwest Territories on Monday. In Nunavut, health officials said an individual at one of the territory’s isolation hubs in Winnipeg had tested positive for COVID-19.
Ontario on Tuesday reported 1,388 new cases of COVID-19, with 520 of them in Toronto and 395 in Peel Region.
Peel, northwest of Toronto, is the only region in Ontario currently listed as “red” in the province’s new colour-coded COVID-19 framework. Faced with mounting cases, the province on Monday announced it is setting up additional testing capacity in Brampton, with three new testing centres and a mobile unit.
WATCH | Peel Public Health implements further COVID-19 restrictions:
The province reported 13 additional deaths on Monday and reported 367 hospitalizations, with 84 in ICU. Updated figures on deaths and hospitalizations were expected later Tuesday.
In Quebec, a long-term care facility in Dorval that was hit hard in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is closing permanently.
Health officials said Monday that while the situation has improved in some parts of the province, such as Quebec City and Montreal, it is worsening in others — including the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean area, which currently has more than double the provincial rate of cases per 100,000 people.
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported one new case of COVID-19 on Monday, as did Nova Scotia. There were no new cases reported in Newfoundland and Labrador, and P.E.I. held steady with no active cases.
What’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 11:15 a.m. ET
As of early Tuesday morning, there have been more than 50 million cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide, with more than 33 million listed as recovered on a coronavirus tracking dashboard maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The number of deaths recorded by the U.S.-based university stood at more than 1.2 million.
WATCH | What Pfizer’s vaccine trial means for the pandemic:
In the Middle East, Iran was to impose a nightly curfew on Tuesday on businesses in Tehran and other big cities and towns while Lebanon was preparing for a two-week nationwide lockdown later this week as both countries battle a major surge in coronavirus infections.
Restaurants and non-essential businesses in Tehran and 30 other cities were ordered to close at 6 p.m. local time for one month to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and to slow the worsening outbreak, which has killed more than 39,000 — the highest toll in the Middle East. Iran has set single-day death records 10 times over the past month, a sign of how quickly the virus is spreading.
The announcement of new limits on Tehran’s bustling cafes and shops, the strictest since a brief nationwide business shutdown in April, reflects the growing sense of urgency among officials. In a first, Iranians’ phones lit up on Monday with a personal appeal from Saeed Namaki, the health minister.
“Do not leave your house for as long as you can and stay away from any crowded places,” his text read. “Coronavirus is no joke.”
Yet in the face of a steep economic decline, Iran continues to avoid a tougher lockdown. The country is already squeezed by unprecedented American sanctions reimposed in 2018 when the Trump administration withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers. Iran’s currency has plunged to new lows in recent weeks, hurting millions of destitute citizens.
Authorities may introduce other targeted measures, like a nighttime ban on through traffic on streets to keep Iranians from going to parties, Tehran Gov. Anoushiravan Bandpay said.
In Lebanon, caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab said a lockdown will begin on Saturday and last until the end of the month.
Lebanon has broken daily records in recent weeks, straining the country’s medical sector, where intensive care units are almost full and cannot take more cases. The World Health Organization says 1,527 health workers have tested positive since the first case was reported in Lebanon in late February.
The Lebanese announcement came despite harsh criticism from business sectors that have suffered for more than a year as the country passes through its worst economic and financial crisis. The head of the Lebanon workers union, Bechara el Asmar, warned on Monday the effects of a complete lockdown “will be catastrophic for workers and economic activities.”
Jordanians have begun voting to elect a new parliament amid the ongoing pandemic. The country’s economy has suffered from the virus and the repeated lockdowns, and the tourism industry, a key source of foreign currency, has all but dried up.
Israel said it had asked the U.S. government on Monday to help it get access to Pfizer’s potential COVID-19 vaccine.
In the Americas, Brazil’s health regulator has halted clinical trials of the potential coronavirus vaccine CoronaVac, citing an “adverse, serious event.” The decision posted on Anvisa’s website Monday night elicited immediate surprise from parties involved in producing the vaccine.
The potential vaccine is being developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac and in Brazil would be mostly produced by Sao Paulo’s state-run Butantan Institute. Sao Paulo state’s government said in a statement it “regrets being informed by the press and not directly by Anvisa, as normally occurs in clinical trials of this nature.”
Dimas Covas, who leads Butantan, said on TV Cultura late Monday that while a volunteer had died, it was not due to the shot.
Covas told reporters that the suspension of the trials by Brazil’s health regulator had caused “indignation” and had been done without discussion with the organizers.
U.S. president-elect Joe Biden on Monday unveiled the initial details of his plan to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in more than 10 million cases and more than 238,000 deaths in the U.S. alone.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Pakistani authorities have imposed a mini-lockdown in some areas of the capital, Islamabad, sealing off hot spots to contain the surging coronavirus. The latest development comes hours after Pakistan on Tuesday reported 1,637 new COVID-19 cases and 23 deaths in the past 24 hours. The country has registered 346,476 confirmed cases and 7,000 deaths since February.
Authorities in China’s financial hub of Shanghai have quarantined 186 people and conducted coronavirus tests on more than 8,000 after a freight handler at the city’s main international airport tested positive for the virus.
No additional cases have been found, the city government said on its microblog Tuesday. It remains unclear how the 51-year-old man contracted the virus, which has largely spared the sprawling metropolis despite its dense population and strong international links.
In the northern port city of Tianjin, more than 77,000 people have been tested after a locally transmitted case was reported there on Monday. That case was believed to be linked to a cold storage warehouse, reinforcing suspicions that the virus may be spreading to victims from frozen food packaging.
In Europe, Dutch authorities warned on Tuesday that social distancing measures must remain in place despite a sharp fall in coronavirus cases, as hospitals remain under pressure due to heavy numbers of COVID-19 patients.
The National Institute for Health on Tuesday reported 43,621 cases in the week through Nov. 10, a decline of more than 30 per cent from the previous week. Deaths increased to 565 from 435.
Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said it was too soon to discuss relaxing rules from the country’s second partial lockdown, which began on Oct. 13.
“I think we have to realize that we as a society still have to make sure that we get much further into the green zone,” Grapperhaus said after a meeting with regional health and safety officials.
Sweden, whose soft-touch virus approach has sparked world-wide attention, has registered 15,779 coronavirus cases since the country’s previous update on Friday, Health Agency statistics showed on Tuesday.
The number compares with 10,177 cases for the corresponding period last week. Cases in the Nordic country, which does not publish updated COVID-19 data over the weekend and Mondays, have risen sharply, repeatedly hitting daily records over the last two weeks.
Sweden registered 35 new deaths, taking the total to 15,779 during the pandemic. Sweden’s death rate per capita is several times higher than Nordic neighbours but lower than some larger European countries, such as Spain and Britain.
In Africa, Botswana has signed an agreement with the global vaccine distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organization, giving it the option to buy coronavirus vaccines for 20 per cent of its population, a senior health official told Reuters.
The southern African country has registered a relatively low number of coronavirus cases, around 7,800, with 27 deaths, but its economy has been dealt a severe blow by the pandemic.
Unlike many other African countries, Botswana does not qualify for subsidized vaccines under the COVAX scheme because it is classified as an upper-middle income country like neighbours Namibia and South Africa.
“Twenty per cent coverage is the initial allotment guaranteed under the arrangement,” Moses Keetile, deputy permanent secretary in the health ministry, said.
South Africa remained the hardest-hit country in Africa, with John Hopkins putting the number of cases reported in the country at more than 738,000, with nearly 20,000 deaths.
The cost of down payments in Canadian cities skyrocketed in 2021, new data shows – CTV News
Skyrocketing housing prices in 2021 are driving up how long it would take for homebuyers to save for a down payment, new data shows.
The National Bank of Canada (NBC)’s latest report found that during the second quarter of 2021, housing affordability has worsened by the widest margin in 27 years. The report examined housing and mortgage trends in 10 cities across the country.
To save up enough for a down payment for an average home in Canada, it would take just short of six years – or 69 months – if you saved at a rate of 10 per cent of their median pre-tax household income.
This marked a notable jump compared to the 57 months of saving at that same rate this time last year.
And, if you live in Vancouver, Victoria and Toronto, it could take decades – assuming you put away 10 per cent of your before-tax household income.
Here’s a breakdown of how much time it would take to save up for a down payment for an average home or condo, if you saved a tenth of your pre-tax income:
- Standing head and shoulders above the other cities, it would take a staggering 34 years – or 411 months – of saving to be able to afford a home here.
- The average home here costs $1.47 million.
- It would take just under five years – 57 months — to save up enough for a down payment on an average condo in Vancouver.
- An estimated 28 years, or 338 months, of saving to make a down payment for a non-condo home, with the total price of a representative home set at $1.03M.
- It would take 47 months of saving to afford a condo down payment.
- To save enough for a down payment for a home here would take 26.5 years – or 318 months.
- The average home here costs approximately $1.2 million.
- To afford a condo down payment here would take just under five years, or 56 months.
- At a 10-per-cent saving rate, you’re looking at 6.5 years of saving up to afford a down payment for a home — and around four years to afford a condo in this city.
- Trying to save up a home down payment in Canada’s capital could take a little over four years.
- Saving up a tenth of your pre-tax earnings for 3.5 years would mean you could afford a down payment on a representative home in Montreal
- The total price tag of a non-condo home sits at $492,777.
- Trying to afford a condo here could take you just a little more than two and a half years of saving.
- You’d need to save up for just under three years – or 34 months – to afford a home here, or about half that time to afford a condo.
- Potential homebuyers were looking at 2.5 years – or 30 months – of saving if you’re looking to make a down payment on a non-condo home.
- The average total cost of a non-condo home was $428,600.
- Affording a down payment on a $370,000 home could take homebuyers about 2.3 years worth of saving.
- Home buyers needed 18 months to save up a down payment on a condo.
- The price of a representative home in Quebec’s capital is $330 742 and it would take the average Canadian household just over two years – or 28 months — to save up a down payment.
Researchers also found mortgage payments now make up 45 per cent of the income for a representative household, slightly above the average amount (43 per cent of income) needed in 1980.
NBC noted that during most of the past two years, income growth and lower interest rates have been conducive to improving affordability.
But 2021 has been a stark contrast, the bank said, with home price increases outpacing income growth and mortgage interest rates also rising.
Countries making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory
A sharp upturn in new coronavirus infections due to the highly contagious Delta variant and a slowdown in vaccination rates have pushed governments to make COVID-19 shots mandatory for health workers and other high-risk groups.
A growing number of countries also stipulate that a shot, or a negative test, will be needed for dining out, among other activities.
Here are some countries’ vaccine mandates:
Australia decided in late June to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for high-risk aged-care workers and employees in quarantine hotels.
It has also made vaccinations obligatory for Paralympic athletes heading to Tokyo because unvaccinated members on the team could pose a health risk.
It will be mandatory for care home workers in England to have coronavirus vaccinations from October.
English nightclubs and other venues with large crowds will require patrons to present proof of full vaccination from the end of September.
Canada‘s Treasury Board Secretariat said on July 20 it was considering whether COVID-19 vaccines should be required for certain roles and positions in the federal government, according to CBC News.
The French parliament on Aug. 2 approved a bill which will make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for health workers as well as require a bolstered health pass in many social venues.
The government said on July 19 that the planned 45,000 euro ($53,456) fine for businesses that do not check that clients have a health pass will be much lower, starting at up to 1,500 euros and increasing progressively for repeat offenders. Fines will not be imposed immediately.
Greece on July 12 made vaccinations mandatory for nursing home staff with immediate effect and healthcare workers from September. As part of new measures, only vaccinated customers are allowed indoors in bars, cinemas, theatres and other closed spaces.
Indonesia made COVID-19 inoculations mandatory in February, with the capital Jakarta threatening fines of up to 5 million rupiah ($357) for refusing.
A decree approved by the Italian government in March mandates that health workers, including pharmacists, get vaccinated. Those who refuse could be suspended without pay for the rest of the year.
Hungary’s government has decided to make vaccinations mandatory for healthcare workers, Prime Minister Viktor Orban told public radio on July 23.
Kazakhstan will introduce mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing for people working in groups of more than 20, the health ministry said on June 23.
Lebanon is to limit entry to restaurants, cafes, pubs and beaches to people holding vaccine certificates or those who have taken antibodies tests, the tourism ministry said on July 30. Non-vaccinated employees of these establishments would be required to conduct a PCR test every 72 hours.
Malta banned visitors from entering the country from July 14 unless they are fully vaccinated.
Poland could make vaccinations obligatory for some people at high risk from COVID-19 from August.
The Russian capital has unveiled a plan https://bit.ly/2TWsroN requiring 60% of all service sector workers to be fully vaccinated by Aug. 15, according to the Moscow Times.
Moscow residents no longer have to present a QR code demonstrating they have been vaccinated or have immunity in order to sit in cafes, restaurants and bars from July 19.
In May, Saudi Arabia mandated all public and private sector workers wishing to attend a workplace get vaccinated, without specifying when this would be implemented.
Vaccination will also be required to enter any governmental, private, or educational establishments and to use public transportation as of Aug. 1.
Saudi citizens will need two vaccine doses before they can travel outside the kingdom from Aug. 9, state news agency SPA reported on July 19, citing the ministry of interior.
Turkmenistan’s healthcare ministry said on July 7 it was making vaccination mandatory for all residents aged 18 and over.
U.S. President Joe Biden announced on July 29 that all civilian federal workers will need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or face regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and travel limits, a source familiar with the matter said.
New York City will become the first major U.S. city to require, from Sept. 13, proof of vaccination for customers and staff at restaurants, gyms and other indoor businesses as the country enters a new phase of battling the Delta variant.
New York will require state employees to be vaccinated or get tested weekly, a mandate that will go into effect on Sept. 6, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will require their workers to get the vaccine or get tested weekly, Cuomo said on Aug. 2.
New Jersey state health care workers and employees who work in jails must by vaccinated by Sept. 7 or face testing twice a week.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said that all state employees would be ordered to get vaccinated starting Aug. 2 or undergo COVID-19 testing at least once a week.
Denver municipal employees and people working in high-risk settings in the city will be required to get vaccinated, Mayor Michael Hancock said on Aug. 2.
($1 = 0.8418 euros)
(Compiled by Paulina Cwikowska, Dagmarah Mackos and Oben Mumcuoglu; editing by Milla Nissi, Steve Orlofsky, Joe Bavier and Nick Macfie)
U.S. to outfit border agents with body cameras in major oversight move
The United States will require thousands of border agents to wear body cameras, according to three officials and government documents, a major operational change that could increase oversight of agents and also help capture criminal activity.
The cameras are expected to be rolled out in parts of Texas and New Mexico during the summer and expanded in the fall and winter to Arizona, California, and Texas’ busy Rio Grande Valley, which all border Mexico, according to a recent government assessment of how the devices could impact privacy. Agents in Vermont along the U.S. border with Canada will also be equipped with cameras, the assessment said.
U.S. border authorities plan to deploy a total of 7,500 body-worn cameras, with 6,000 in the field by the end of the year, a border agency official told Reuters.
Pro-immigrant activists will likely welcome the increased oversight that cameras could bring to an agency some have criticized for excessive use of force and institutional racism. But a union for border patrol agents also supports cameras, saying they could assist criminal investigations and help show that agents act professionally.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have called on border patrol agents to use the cameras to improve accountability in the wake of several high-profile fatal shootings by law enforcement over the past decade.
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, stressed that agents should have access to the footage, including when an agent is accused of wrongdoing.
Border Patrol’s parent agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), is the largest law enforcement agency in the United States, which presents a unique challenge for video footage collection and storage.
Recordings of illegal activity, use of force or agent misconduct could be used as evidence in investigations or prosecutions, the privacy assessment said.
The cameras could offer new insight into the policing of the southern border, where migrant arrests have risen to 20-year highs in recent months and encounters sometimes take place in remote areas.
In cases where footage could be used as evidence in a criminal case, it could be retained for up to 75 years, according to the privacy assessment. Footage that does not have value as evidence would be destroyed within 180 days.
After a bipartisan group of lawmakers spearheaded efforts to secure funding for bodycams, CBP awarded a total of about $21 million to Axon Enterprises Inc [AXON.O] for body cameras and to connect the cameras to a cloud-based storage system, according to the agency official.
The devices are the size of a deck of playing cards and will be affixed to the front of agents’ uniforms, the official said.
Axon declined to comment on the rollout.
CBP conducted a small pilot of body cameras in 2015, but ultimately opted not to deploy them then.
An agency assessment at the time said the cameras would likely reduce the use of physical force on the job, but cited a number of reasons not to adopt the devices, including cost and agent morale.
Gil Kerlikowske, who was CBP commissioner at the time, said another consideration was that the cameras “did not hold up particularly well” in the field, where they could be knocked off in the brush or mucked up with dust and dirt.
Body cameras have become more commonplace since the 2015 effort. The U.S. Department of Justice said in June that its agents would be required to wear cameras when serving search and arrest warrants.
Kerlikowske said many law enforcement officers support the idea, too.
“There are now police officers who won’t go on the street without their body camera,” he said. “They want that video image.”
(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington, editing by Ross Colvin, Aurora Ellis, Mica Rosenberg and Diane Craft)
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