Quebec Premier François Legault announced Tuesday that Dr. Luc Boileau will be the province’s interim public health director, after Dr. Horacio Arruda, a key leader in the province’s pandemic response, tendered his resignation Monday.
Boileau, the current head of the province’s health-care research institute, the INESSS, takes on this new role as the Omicron wave continues to overwhelm hospitals across the province, forcing the health-care network to postpone surgeries and other medical services.
Legault thanked Arruda on Tuesday, noting he was in the difficult position of explaining public health decisions and said he’d grown close to him throughout the last 22 months of the pandemic.
“Being in front of the media every day and explaining these decisions is not easy for anyone,” Legault said. “I think there are advantages to having someone new after all those months, to take on those responsibilities.”
Legault said Arruda would take a couple weeks to rest before returning to help out in another role that has yet to be decided on.
Arruda wrote in a letter dated Monday that his office has offered public health opinions and recommendations amid uncertainty and based on the best available knowledge and various expert opinions. But he acknowledged there was a “certain erosion” in public support for health measures.
“In such a context, I consider it appropriate to offer you the possibility of replacing me before the end of my term of office,” the letter said.
Legault also said Tuesday that adults who refuse to get their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks will have to pay a “health care contribution,” noting that unvaccinated people are currently straining the health care system.
Legault did not say when the tax would take effect or how much it would cost, but he did say he wanted it to be significant enough to act as incentive to get vaccinated — more than $50 or $100, he said. Legault said details would be revealed “in the coming weeks.”
In Quebec on Tuesday, the health ministry reported 62 additional deaths, bringing the death toll in the province to 12,028. Health officials also reported 2,742 hospitalizations — a pandemic high for the province — with 255 people in intensive care.
Lab-based testing in the province is no longer widely accessible, but the province on Tuesday reported an additional 8,710 lab-confirmed cases.
In recent weeks, the province has brought back several stringent health measures, including a curfew for a second year in a row, amid rising infections and hospitalizations.
-From The Canadian Press, with a file from CBC News, last updated at 2:10 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
With lab-based testing capacity deeply strained and increasingly restricted, experts say true case counts are likely far higher than reported. Hospitalization data at the regional level is also evolving, with several provinces saying they will report figures that separate the number of people in hospital because of COVID-19 from those in hospital for another medical issue who also test positive for COVID-19.
For more information on what is happening in your community — including details on outbreaks, testing capacity and local restrictions — click through to the regional coverage below.
You can also read more from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which provides a detailed look at every region — including seven-day average test positivity rates — in its daily epidemiological updates.
In Central Canada, Ontario students will return to classrooms next Monday after pivoting to remote learning after the holiday break — a sudden shift that sparked heated debate.
Students are set to be back in classrooms “as planned and previously announced,” Ivana Yelic, Premier Doug Ford’s director of media relations, said in an emailed statement.
The province’s health-care system has been under increasing strain in recent weeks due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, which has also caused staffing shortages across several sectors.
Ontario on Tuesday reported 21 additional deaths and a total of 3,220 hospitalizations. More detail about intensive care units is expected later, Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter.
Of the people in ICU with <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a>, 83% were admitted to the ICU for <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID</a>-19 and 17% were admitted for other reasons but have tested positive for COVID-19.<br><br>Some ICU-related data is currently unavailable. This data will be available shortly.
The update came as the province reported 7,951 additional lab-confirmed cases.
Across the North, officials in Nunavut on Tuesday reported five additional cases of COVID-19, including one presumptive case.
Health officials in Yukon, meanwhile, said on Monday that people who develop symptoms of COVID-19 and aren’t eligible for a lab-based PCR test can pick up a rapid test at a drive-thru location in Whitehorse.
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia on Monday reported three additional COVID-19 deaths and 59 hospitalizations, with two people in intensive care units. The update came as the province — which recently shifted temporarily to remote education — reported an additional 816 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials on Monday reported two additional deaths and four COVID-19 hospitalizations. Health officials reported a total of 1,135 cases on Monday — but that figure included 680 positives that had been sent for testing at out-of-province labs because of capacity issues. More results from out of province are expected in the days ahead, the health minister said.
In Prince Edward Island, five people were in hospital being treated for COVID-19, health officials reported Monday, including one in intensive care. The province also reported 320 additional cases since the last update on Saturday.
Meanwhile, hospitalizations in New Brunswick hit a pandemic high on Tuesday, with 88 people in hospital, including 14 in ICU. The province, which reported 220 lab-confirmed cases on Monday, has expanded booster dose eligibility to adults over the age of 18.
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba health officials on Monday said there were 378 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, with 39 in intensive care units. The province, which reported 19 additional deaths over a period of three days, saw 7,083 lab-confirmed cases since the last update.
In Saskatchewan, the total hospitalizations stood at 119 on Monday, health officials reported, with 11 in ICU. There were no additional deaths reported on Monday, as the province recorded 1,069 additional lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Alberta, on Tuesday reported 635 COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 72 people in ICU. The update came as the province reported six additional deaths since its update last week, and 17,577 additional lab-confirmed cases.
In British Columbia, provincial health officials on Monday reported that COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 431, with 95 people in intensive care units. The update came as the province’s health ministry reported seven additional deaths since last week’s update, along with 6,966 more lab-confirmed cases.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 3:00 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of early Tuesday afternoon, roughly 311.1 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 5.4 million.
In Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced a wave of public and political outrage on Tuesday over allegations that he and his staff flouted coronavirus lockdown rules by holding a garden party in 2020 while Britons were barred by law from mingling outside the home.
Meanwhile, in Italy, the latest wave of COVID-19 cases is increasing pressure on hospitals and jeopardizing the treatment of some 11 million cancer patients, a medical association said on Tuesday.
“The postponement of surgery may lead to the development of tumours in more advanced stages, with less chance of a cure,” the Federation of Oncologists, Cardiologists and Haematologists (FOCE) said in an appeal published on its website. The organization said Italy’s hospitals suffered from a lack of investment and inadequate staffing levels.
In the Americas, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and State Department advised against travel to neighbouring Canada, and the Washington Post reported that it is considering recommending better masks.
In Mexico, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced he had contracted COVID-19 for a second time, saying he had a mild case and would keep working in isolation until he had recovered.
In the Asia-Pacific region, a third Chinese city has locked down its residents because of a COVID-19 outbreak, raising the number confined to their homes in China to about 20 million people. The lockdown of Anyang, home to 5.5 million people, was announced late Monday after two cases of the Omicron variant were reported. Residents are not allowed to go out and stores have been ordered shut except those selling necessities.
Another 13 million people have been locked down in Xi’an for nearly three weeks, and 1.1 million more in Yuzhou for more than a week. It wasn’t clear how long the lockdown of Anyang would last, as it was announced as a measure to facilitate mass testing of residents, which is standard procedure in China’s strategy of identifying and isolating infected people as quickly as possible.
The lockdowns are the broadest since the shutting down of Wuhan and most of the rest of Hubei province in early 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Since then, China’s approach has evolved into one of targeting smaller areas hit by outbreaks for lockdowns.
The approach of the Winter Olympics, which open Feb. 4 in Beijing, and the emergence of Omicron have brought back citywide lockdowns in a bid to snuff out outbreaks and prevent them from spreading to other parts of China.
In Africa, health officials in South Africa on Monday reported 2,409 additional cases and 77 deaths.
In the Middle East, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said he had tested positive but was in good health.
-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 1:45 p.m. ET
National Gaming on Capital Hill
This past January 13th, The US Supreme Court issued two rulings blocking an Occupational Safety and Health Administrations COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for employers who have 100 or more employees, while allowing a separate rule which applies to healthcare workers at facilities receiving federal funds.
The 6-3 decision blocked OSHA and other organizations from imposing any such rule. While the OSHA made every effort to enforce temporary emergency standards in its massive organization, it seems the influence and legal pressure applied by both Labor and Corporations to end this attempt to have 84 million workers get COVID-19 vaccinations was too much for the administration.
The Supreme court directed organizations and corporations with more than 100 employees to develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, with exceptions for employees that instead are required to undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face mask at work.
While many corporations and manufacturers did enforce OSHA rules and carry out the needed mass vaccinations, the problem arose that such an organization such as OSHA had never issued such a mandate, and Congress had declined to enact any measure similar to OSHA’s. What do we have here folks? A governmental organization trying to carry out what the Biden Administration has asked to be done in America. The vaccines are available, but a large portion of America remains unvaccinated.
Instead of issuing a Presidential Executive Order declaring an emergency, the Administration has directed a few organizations to do so that they can wait and see if such a mandate will be accepted and approved by the population, labor, and business sectors. Perhaps it is the way this is being done that is the problem for The Supreme court, or the Republican friendly conservative of the court simply outnumber the liberal members. Politics as usual. Ineffectual, unworkable politics where no matter the issue, the Republicans will block any Democratic Administration’s attempt to protect America.
A nation divided, even when the lives of many are at stake. American media makes the storming of the Capital on Jan 6th seem like an emergency, an insurrection of serious substance while the Republicans on the Capital, block in every way possible any attempt to save lives through public safety and health mandates. Remember how the Republican strategy to make Obama Administration seem ineffectual by blocking all legislative efforts? The same Republicans are repeating this strategy with the Biden Administration. A sports analogy whereby one blocks constantly until your opponent makes a mistake and fumbles. While the lives of millions are threatened by COVID-19 these Republicans play games with the nation. Americans are feeling stressed, hopeless, and fearful of their future and yet their elected officials cannot work together to accomplish anything, except perhaps giving themselves a wage increase. Have those on Capital Hill forgotten who they represent?
Health Canada expected to approve Pfizer's COVID-19 therapeutic today: sources – CBC News
Health Canada is expected to approve Pfizer’s COVID-19 therapeutic today for use in this country, sources told CBC News and Radio-Canada.
Dr. Supriya Sharma, the health regulator’s chief medical adviser, will speak to the media at 11 a.m. ET. CBCNews.ca will carry her remarks live.
Pfizer’s Paxlovid, which is an antiviral prescribed by a doctor and administered in pill form, is designed to help the body fight off the SARS-CoV-2 virus, reduce symptoms from an infection and shorten the period of illness.
The product has been hailed as a pandemic “game changer” by some doctors because it could reduce hospitalizations and deaths among COVID-19 patients. An effective pill that’s easy to self-administer at home could relieve some of the pressure on the health-care system and change the trajectory of the pandemic, experts say.
After months-long clinical trials, Pfizer reported in November that Paxlovid reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by an impressive 89 per cent compared to a placebo in non-hospitalized high-risk adults with COVID-19.
Canada has placed an order for an initial quantity of one million treatment courses. Some of that supply will start to arrive after Health Canada’s expected approval.
N.Korea fires two ballistic missiles from Pyongyang airport, S.Korea says
North Korea fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) on Monday from an airport in its capital city of Pyongyang, South Korea’s military reported, the fourth test https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/north-korea-used-railway-born-missile-fridays-test-kcna-2022-01-14 this month to demonstrate its expanding missile arsenal.
Japan also reported the launch, with chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno condemning it as a threat to peace and security.
In less than two weeks, nuclear-armed North Korea has conducted three other missile tests, an unusually rapid series of launches. It said two of them involved single “hypersonic missiles” capable of high speed and manoeuvring after launch, while a test on Friday involved a pair of short-range ballistic missiles fired from train cars.
Monday’s launch appeared to involve two SRBMs fired east from Sunan Airfield in Pyongyang, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.
North Korea used the airport to test fire the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) in 2017, with leader Kim Jong Un in attendance.
The missiles fired on Monday travelled about 380 km (236 miles) to a maximum altitude of 42 km (26 miles), the JCS said in a statement.
Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said the missiles appeared to have landed in the ocean near North Korea’s east coast.
“It is self-evident that the aim of North Korea’s frequent missile launches is to improve their missile technology,” he told reporters.
“The repeated launching of North Korea’s ballistic missiles is a grave problem for the international community, including Japan,” Kishi added, noting that the launches were a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban North Korea from all ballistic missile development.
The U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command said it assessed that the launch did not pose an immediate threat to the United States or its allies, but “these missile launches highlight the destabilising impact of (North Korea’s ) illicit weapons programme”.
The pace of testing and the different launch sites suggests that North Korea has enough missiles to feel comfortable expending them on tests, training, and demonstrations, and helps reinforce its deterrent credibility by emphasizing the volume of its missile force, said Mason Richey, a professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul.
North Korea has not tested its longest-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or nuclear weapons since 2017, but after denuclearisation talks stalled in 2019, it began unveiling and testing a range of new SRBM designs.
Many of the latest SRBMs, including the hypersonic missiles, appear designed to evade missile defences. North Korea has also vowed to pursue tactical nuclear weapons, which could allow it to deploy nuclear warheads on SRBMs.
“Every tactical missile launch flaunts how little sanctions have constrained the Kim regime, and how the U.S. … has failed to make North Korea pay a sufficient cost for short-range missile programme development,” Richey said.
‘ISOLATING AND STIFLING’
The latest launches have drawn both condemnation and an appeal for dialogue from a U.S. administration that has imposed new sanctions over North Korean missile launches and is pushing for more.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration imposed its first new sanctions on Pyongyang on Wednesday, and called on the U.N. Security Council to blacklist several North Korean individuals and entities. It also repeated calls for North Korea to return to talks aimed at reducing tension and persuading it to surrender its arsenal of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
North Korea has defended the missile tests as its sovereign right to self-defence and accused the United States of intentionally intensifying confrontation with new sanctions.
In a statement before Friday’s missile tests, the North Korean foreign ministry said that although the United States might talk of diplomacy and dialogue, its actions showed it was still engrossed in its policy of “isolating and stifling” North Korea.
South Korea’s national security council held an emergency meeting after Monday’s test, with members stressing that “above all else, it is essential to start dialogue as soon as possible in order for the situation on the Korean Peninsula to not become more strained and to restore stability”, the presidential Blue House said in a statement.
The launches came as North Korea, more isolated than ever under self-imposed border closures aimed at preventing a COVID-19 pandemic, appeared to be preparing to open at least some trade across its land border with China.
Chinese brokers said they expect the resumption of regular trade with North Korea soon after a North Korean train pulled into a Chinese border town on Sunday in the first such crossing since anti-coronavirus lockdowns began in 2020.
Zhao Tong, a Beijing-based nuclear policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said North Korea had few reasons to hold back its missile development.
Leader Kim appeared to have little hope of a breakthrough with the United States, and China’s sympathy for North Korea and antipathy towards the United States could encourage North Korea to think that China was unlikely to support any effort by the international community to censure it for the tests, he added.
“North Korea may think this is a safe time to advance its missile development,” Zhao said.
Last week, China criticised the new U.S. sanctions but also called on all sides to act prudently and engage in dialogue to reduce tensions.
China says it enforces existing international sanctions on North Korea, but has joined with Russia to urge https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/china-russia-revive-push-lift-un-sanctions-north-korea-2021-11-01 the U.N. Security Council to ease the measures, saying they hurt the civilian population.
(Reporting by Josh Smith; Additional reporting by Elaine Lies and Sakura Murakami in Tokyo; and Yew Lun Tian in Beijing; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Neil Fullick and Gerry Doyle)
National Gaming on Capital Hill
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