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

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The latest:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced tighter restrictions Wednesday to stem the spread of the omicron variant, urging people in England to again work from home and mandating COVID-19 passes for entrance into nightclubs and large events.

Johnson said it was time to impose stricter measures to prevent a spike of hospitalizations and deaths as the new coronavirus variant spreads rapidly in the community.

“It has become increasingly clear that omicron is growing much faster than the previous delta variant and is spreading rapidly all around the world,” he said in a news conference. “Most worryingly, there is evidence that the doubling time of omicron could currently be between two and three days.”

Johnson said that 568 cases of the omicron variant have been confirmed across the U.K., and “the true number is certain to be much higher.”

He said beginning next Monday, people should work from home if possible. Starting on Friday, the legal requirement to wear a face mask will be widened to most indoor public places in England, including cinemas. Next week, having a COVID-19 pass showing that a person has had both vaccine doses will be mandatory to enter nightclubs and places with large crowds.

Overall, the British government reported another 51,342 confirmed daily cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, with 161 more people dying.

WATCH | Lawmakers blast Johnson over holiday party allegations: 

U.K. PM blasted over allegations of rule-breaking party

7 hours ago

Duration 3:15

‘How does the prime minister sleep at night?’ Labour MP asks as lawmakers blast Boris Johnson over holiday party allegations. (Credit: Reuters TV) 3:15

The announcement came as Johnson and his government faced increasing pressure to explain reports that Downing Street staff enjoyed a Christmas party that breached the country’s coronavirus rules last year, when people were banned from holding most social gatherings. Johnson on Wednesday ordered an inquiry and said he was “furious” about the situation.

The revelations have angered many in Britain, with critics saying they heavily undermine the authority of Johnson’s Conservative government in imposing virus restrictions.

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 2:55 p.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Tracking Canada’s 1st home-grown COVID-19 vaccine: 

The importance of Canada’s 1st home-grown COVID-19 vaccine

19 hours ago

Duration 4:52

Quebec company Medicago is getting ready to submit data about its COVID-19 vaccine for final regulatory approval, which is a significant step for the pandemic and Canada’s bio-pharmaceutical industry. 4:52


What’s happening around the world

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 267.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, which maintains an online database of global cases. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.2 million.

Children stand near a statue on a crowded street in Madrid on Wednesday as many pedestrians wear masks to protect themselves against COVD-19. (Susana Vera/Reuters)

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned Wednesday that governments need to reassess national responses to COVID-19 and speed up vaccination programs to tackle the omicron variant, though it is too early to say how well existing shots will protect against it.

The variant’s global spread suggests it could have a major impact on the pandemic, and the time to contain it is now before more omicron patients are hospitalized, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“We call on all countries to increase surveillance, testing and sequencing,” he told a media briefing. “Any complacency now will cost lives.”

In Europe, France’s Ile-de-France region — with the capital Paris at its centre — said all hospitals are activating an emergency plan due to the strained COVID-19 situation. The plan includes stepping up the number of ICU beds and, if necessary, rescheduling treatments to free up capacities.

Meanwhile, European Union health ministers discussed measures to try to halt the spread of the omicron variant, with the Netherlands calling for negative tests for incoming travellers from outside the bloc and France urging tests even for those arriving from EU states.

Poland and several other countries in central and eastern Europe are battling their latest surges of coronavirus cases and deaths while continuing to record much lower vaccination rates than in western Europe.

In Russia, more than 1,200 people with COVID-19 died every day throughout most of November and for several days in December, and the daily death toll remains over 1,100. Ukraine, which is recording hundreds of virus deaths a day, is emerging from its deadliest period of the pandemic.

A health-care worker gives a booster shot against COVID-19 in Warsaw on Tuesday. (Czarek Sokolowski/The Associated Press)

Meanwhile, the mortality rate in Poland — while lower than it was in the spring — recently hit more than 500 deaths per day and still has not peaked. Intensive care units are full, and doctors report that more children require hospitalization, including some who went through COVID-19 without symptoms but then suffered strokes.

The situation has created a dilemma for Poland’s government, which has urged citizens to get vaccinated but clearly worries about alienating voters who oppose vaccine mandates or any restrictions on economic life.

In the Americas, the number of Americans fully vaccinated against COVID-19 reached 200 million Wednesday amid a dispiriting holiday-season spike in cases and hospitalizations that has hit even New England, one of the most highly inoculated corners of the country. 

WATCH | U.S. could reach over 800,000 deaths by 2022: 

U.S. on track for over 800,000 COVID-19 deaths before 2022

19 hours ago

Duration 1:57

COVID-19 cases in the United States are on the rise, with the country on track to record more than 800,000 deaths by the end of the year. The White House is pushing vaccinations over lockdowns, but some Canadian health units are cautioning against non-essential travel to parts of the U.S. 1:57

Brazil will require that unvaccinated travellers entering the country go on a five-day quarantine followed by a COVID-19 test, after its president said he opposed the use of a vaccine passport.

In Africa, South Africa reported nearly 20,000 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, a record since the omicron variant was detected, and 36 new COVID-related deaths. It was not immediately clear how many of the infections were caused by omicron, given only a fraction of samples are sequenced, but experts believe it’s driving South Africa’s fourth wave of infections.

A weekly epidemiological report published Tuesday by WHO said that in the Middle East, the most cases reported last week were in:

  • Jordan, with 32,108 reported cases.
  • Iran, with 26,255 reported cases.
  • Lebanon, with 10,406 reported cases.

In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea will consider expanding home treatment of COVID-19 patients, as both new daily infections and severe cases hit record highs, putting hospital capacity under strain.

-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 4:05 p.m. ET

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Prince Andrew seeks jury trial, denies Virginia Giuffre’s sex abuse claims

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Britain’s Prince Andrew on Wednesday asked for a U.S. jury trial as he again denied Virginia Giuffre‘s accusations that he sexually abused her more than two decades ago when she was 17.

Giuffre, 38, sued the Duke of York last August, alleging he battered her while the late financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was trafficking her.

In a filing with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Andrew, 61, admitted to meeting Epstein in or around 1999, but denied Giuffre’s claim that he “committed sexual assault and battery” upon her.

David Boies, a lawyer for Giuffre, said in a statement that Andrew was trying to “blame the victim.”

“We look forward to confronting Prince Andrew with his denials and attempts to blame Ms. Giuffre for her own abuse,” Boies said.

Andrew’s ties to Epstein, who killed himself in a Manhattan jail cell in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex abuse charges, have undermined his reputation with the public and standing in Britain’s Royal Family.

Earlier this month, the family removed Andrew’s military links and military patronages, and said the second son of Queen Elizabeth would no longer be known as “His Royal Highness.”

Andrew’s filing was an “answer,” a common document in U.S. litigation in which defendants deny or say they lack enough information to comment on plaintiffs’ substantive accusations.

The prince’s lawyers had previously called Giuffre’s lawsuit “baseless” and accused her of seeking another payday.

Giuffre received $500,000 in a 2009 civil settlement with Epstein.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan has said a trial could begin between September and December 2022.

If Giuffre won at trial, Andrew could owe her damages. She has asked for an unspecified amount.

Andrew has not been criminally charged, and no criminal charges can be brought in Giuffre’s civil lawsuit.

Kaplan this month denied Andrew’s earlier request to dismiss Giuffre’s lawsuit, which the prince said he was shielded from under the 2009 Epstein settlement.

Andrew renewed that argument in Wednesday’s filing, and also said Giuffre lacks legal standing to sue because she lives in Australia.

 

(Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York; Editing by Howard Goller)

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Canada pledges non-lethal support for Ukraine, extends training mission

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Canada on Wednesday said it would send non-lethal equipment to Ukraine, and help the Eastern European country gather intelligence and counter cyber attacks as Russia builds up its military presence on its borders.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said his government would extend for three years and double the size of a mission to train the Ukrainian military called Operation Unifier.

Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops near its border with Ukraine but denies planning to attack its neighbor. The United States and Britain have started sending more arms to Ukraine.

“With rising tensions, and unwarranted Russian aggression, Canada will be there to provide ongoing support to Ukraine so that it can defend itself,” Trudeau told reporters.

Canada will also set up a task force and expand its diplomatic capacity – including in Kyiv – to coordinate support for Ukraine, Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said.

“Diplomacy is the only viable path forward for Russia. Any further aggression will have serious consequences including coordinated sanctions, and Canada is prepared,” Joly said.

Defense Minister Anita Anand will visit Latvia and Ukraine “in the coming days” to visit Canadian forces in both countries, Trudeau said.

Some 200 Canadian military personnel are already in Ukraine as part of the training mission, which has been provided to “over 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers”, Anand said.

Trudeau said the training mission would be extended by three years, at a cost of C$340 million ($268.5 million), with 60 additional Canadian soldiers leaving within days. Ultimately as many as 400 Canadian trainers may be sent, the prime minister said.

Trudeau said the non-lethal equipment would include things like “body armor, optics and scopes”. Anand said it would include surveillance equipment.

Canada also said it would provide up to C$50 million in development and humanitarian aid, adding to a loan of up to C$120 million promised last week.

Canada, with a sizeable and politically influential population of Ukrainian descent, has taken a strong line with Russia since its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

($1 = 1.2661 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Steve Scherer and Ismail Shakil; editing by Richard Pullin)

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The Best Casino Restaurants in Canada

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In the past, gaming establishments that were not under the jurisdiction of the government or other related agencies have not found favour with the Canadian populace. Laws permitting single-game sports betting were passed only in August of 2021, with many people now anticipating that the day will not be far off when gambling in Canada will be allowed throughout the country.

As the world comes out of the explosive trend of playing casino games online and starts visiting land-based casinos again, one other thing has entered the public mindset. Something that the online casino experience can’t match: food. Land-based casinos come with restaurants, and in this article, Kevin N. Cochran lists out every casino in Canada that tantalizes the palettes of culinary experts worldwide. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Neros Steakhouse

With its luxury hotel next to the gambling facility, Caesars Windsor is clearly one of Canada’s top destinations. They boast a large selection of slots, including several progressives with jackpots in the six-figure bracket, as well as a variety of table games. The hotel itself boasts 700 rooms, allowing it to accommodate a large number of people.

A steakhouse, like many other casinos in Canada, is the best place to eat. Neros is a high-end restaurant, yet the costs are more reasonable than you may expect. While some steakhouses charge upwards of $50 and $60 per entrée, most things are priced between $29 and $41. When you start looking at premium cuts like bison tenderloin and 20-ounce dry-aged tomahawk ribeye, you’ll start to see prices above $50.

Ponte Vecchio

Fallsview offers a veritable feast of dining alternatives, with over 20 different establishments to choose from. Ponte Vecchio, which got the 2019 Diners’ Choice, TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, and the Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence, is our favourite. This restaurant, named after a historical bridge in Florence, Italy, is, as you might expect, an Italian eatery.

Consider starting with the wine list, which is wonderful. After that, the choices can take you in a variety of wonderful directions. Authentic plates of pasta are always a fantastic choice. The Osso Buco veal shank is always a classic, but the Agnello Arrosto is the one true champion. A maple-dijon-coated rack of lamb is served with truffle polenta, tomato ragu, lamb jus, and rapini to balance out the richness.

The Victor

One of Canada’s newest gaming venues, Parq Vancouver, is a behemoth. There is roughly 72,000 square feet of gaming space in Vancouver, albeit not all of it is dedicated to the casino. There are over 600 slot machines, as well as a variety of table games such as Baccarat, Blackjack, and Jade Salons for private gaming.

There are a few good restaurants here, but we’ll start with The Victor, which serves a steak and seafood fusion. While that may sound like most steakhouses, this isn’t the case because this is a modern dining room with sushi, caviar, and ceviche on the seafood side and bone marrow, porterhouse, and wagyu on the meaty side.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon is the place to go if you’re seeking one of Montreal’s greatest casino restaurants and want to have a unique experience. Robuchon, who regrettably passed away two years ago, was one of the world’s most celebrated chefs. A visit to L’Atelier, which means ‘workshop,’ is a wonderful experience.

The tasting menu is the way to go if you’ve hit it big at the tables or have some cash to spend. The complete trademark tasting menu is $200 per person, making it pricey. On a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, though, you may complete a four-course menu for $85.

Honey Salt

Honey Salt is a wonderful option at the Parq Vancouver if you’re searching for something a little more informal yet still stylish. This restaurant takes a farm-to-table approach and has a strong local focus. Consider it a hip neighbourhood hangout that’s still enjoyable but a little more toned down than a steakhouse.

This is the place to go if you want a golden-seared scallop. These delicate jewels are covered with a truffle jus and served with roasted or pureed cauliflower. It’s flavourful, and it’s only one of the menu’s many fascinating selections.

Conclusion

Restaurants in casino towns are often the most top-tier establishments of their ilk in that area, so if you’re planning to splurge in a casino, you might as well take a detour to get some quality grub. At the end of the day, casinos are all about having a good time, and food is probably the best medium to achieve that. So, go crazy, and feast like kings! We’ve all deserved it after the last couple of years.

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