Updated throughout the day on Tuesday, July 13. Questions/comments: email@example.com
Updated throughout the day on Tuesday, July 13. Questions/comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
French retailers were puzzled on Tuesday over how a new government proposal requiring them to block people not vaccinated against COVID-19 from shopping malls could possibly work out in practice, the Reuters news agency reports.
Ahead of a meeting with Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Wednesday, retailers said that a widening of COVID health pass requirements announced by President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday was difficult to implement.
In a bid to slow down the spread of the virus, Macron said a health pass would be required from July 21 to enter places of leisure and culture and that from early August it would be required in bars and restaurants, shopping malls, hospitals as well as in planes and long-distance trains and buses.
A health pass would have to show double vaccination against COVID-19, recovery from the illness or a recent negative test.
“The government did not want to make vaccination mandatory for all and puts the onus on private companies,” retail federation FCD chief Jaques Creyssel said on C-News TV.
He said it was hard to imagine how anyone could stop a customer who needed to buy food or medicines.
He added that the industry has a lot of young staff, many of whom are not vaccinated and that given that it takes about one and a half months to get two doses, it was not feasible to get everyone ready by early August.
“We hope the law to be voted on will make clear that public authorities will be in charge of controlling access, because we cannot do this ourselves,” he said.
The head of French retailer System U, Dominique Schelcher, said on his Twitter account that putting in place a health pass system at the entrance of a supermarket would raise many issues, such as who is in charge of control, what to do in case of conflict and what to do with non-vaccinated workers.
He also said that the new measure would only impact shopping malls, not small neighbourhood supermarkets.
From the Reuters news agency:
U.S. health officials, after meeting with vaccine maker Pfizer, reiterated on Monday that Americans who have been fully vaccinated do not need to get a booster shot, a spokesperson for the Health and Human Services Department said.
Pfizer said last week it planned to ask U.S. regulators to authorize a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine, based on evidence of greater risk of infection six months after inoculation and the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.
HHS officials had a briefing from Pfizer on Monday regarding their latest, preliminary data on vaccinations and will continue to discuss when and if booster shots will be needed in future, the spokesperson said.
Pfizer said it planned to publish “more definitive data” in a peer-reviewed journal.
The west-central Montreal regional health authority says it will hold pop-up Pfizer vaccination clinics at two west end parks this week, weather permitting:
All of these clinics will run from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
In Laval, the regional health authority is planning three first-dose pop-up vaccination clinics over the next few days – at Centropolis, Carrefour Laval and Bernard-Landry Park.
“Given the uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, we sadly cannot host a live event this year,” Brian MacKenzie, president of the Montreal Highland Games, said in a press release today.
“Instead, we will be broadcasting Montreal’s very own Jason Baines’ attempt to beat the current Guinness World Record for tossing the most cabers in one hour.”
The current record stands at 122 tosses by fellow Canadian Kevin Fast, organizers said.
The event will take place on Aug. 1.
“To qualify as a successful toss, the caber must be thrown up in the air at such an angle that the top end hits the ground, allowing the caber to flip end over end,” the Games said. “A caber must be a minimum of 14 feet 7 inches in length and weigh at least 55 pounds.”
The caber toss, along with Highland dancing and a bagpipe competition, and will be broadcast on the Montreal Highland Games YouTube channel.
Quebec has recorded 54 new cases of COVID-19, the provincial government announced this morning.
No new deaths were reported.
Some other key statistics from Quebec’s latest COVID-19 update:
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Quebec has reported 375,969 cases and 11,231 deaths linked to COVID-19. A total of 364,103 people who have contracted the disease have since recovered.
From the Reuters news agency:
Greece has made vaccinations against COVID-19 mandatory for certain workers and announced restrictions to contain the spread of the virus as infections have kept rising during the vital summer tourism season.
“The country will not shut down again because of some,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised address announcing the measures. “It is not Greece that is in danger, but unvaccinated Greeks.”
Nursing home staff will need to get vaccinated immediately, while healthcare workers will have to be vaccinated starting Sept. 1, Mitsotakis said.
As part of the new measures, only vaccinated customers will be allowed indoors in bars, cinemas, theatres and other closed spaces, he said.
A country of 11 million people, Greece has so far administered more than 5,200,000 first shots and about 41 per cent of the general population is fully vaccinated.
In an effort to entice more people to get vaccinated, the government has offered incentives including cash and free mobile data for youths to try to bring the rate up to 70 per cent by autumn.
Greece’s bio-ethics committee had recommended compulsory shots for health workers and staff at nursing homes “as a last resort measure” if efforts to encourage inoculation proved ineffective.
Canada has passed the halfway point in vaccinations, The Canadian Press reports.
As of Monday, more than 50 per cent of eligible Canadians – at least 12 years old – have had their second shot.
That means 26.3 million Canadians now have had both required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
More than 20 million of them received their second dose at least 14 days ago, the time period after which the immune system has reacted enough so you are considered to be fully vaccinated.
Provinces logged almost 450,000 second doses Monday, though that number includes second doses in some provinces given over the weekend.
Canada is also edging closer to hitting 80 per cent of eligible people at least partially vaccinated, with 79.11 per cent of people over 12 now having received at least one dose.
Manitoba, at 58 per cent, leads the way on second doses given to eligible people.
The Legault government on Wednesday will launch its latest multimedia publicity campaign promoting vaccination against COVID-19.
An estimated 11,300 marriages took place in 2020, a 49-per-cent drop compared to the previous year – an unprecedented decline.
Not since 1903 have so few marriages taken place in Quebec, according to a report published this morning by the Institut de la statistique du Québec.
Due to the pandemic, there were severe restrictions on events such as marriages during much of 2020.
“The decline in marriages began in March 2020 and was particularly pronounced in early summer, the season in which the majority of the year’s weddings are normally celebrated,” the provincial statistics institute said.
“In May, June and July of 2020, the fall was around 70 per cent compared to the average for 2015 to 2019. While the gap compared to previous years narrowed beginning in August, the first monthly results for 2021 indicate that the number of marriages remains below average.”
The decline in religious marriages was more pronounced than in civil ones, the institute said.
And the decrease was greater among couples where both spouses were born in Canada, compared to cases where one or both were born abroad.
From the Reuters news agency:
More than 900,000 people in France rushed to set up appointments to get vaccinated on Monday night after the president warned that people would see curbs imposed on them if they did not have a health pass that covered a vaccine or negative COVID test.
Unveiling sweeping measures to combat a surge in infections, Emmanuel Macron said vaccination would not be compulsory for the general public for now but stressed that restrictions would focus on those who are not vaccinated.
The president said health workers had to get vaccinated by Sept. 15 or face consequences.
Stanislas Niox-Chateau, who heads Doctolib, one of the country’s biggest online websites used to book vaccine appointments, told RMC radio there were record numbers seeking vaccines after the president’s announcement.
“There were 7.5 million connections on Doctolib in a few minutes. More than 900,000 French people made their vaccination appointment yesterday, which is twice the last record which dated from May 11,” Niox-Chateau said.
Macron said on Monday that a health pass required to attend large-scale events would now be used much more widely, including to enter restaurants, cinemas and theatres.
It will also be required to board long-distance trains and planes from the beginning of August, giving a further incentive for people to get the shot as the summer holiday season kicks in.
A slowdown in vaccination rates and a sharp upturn in new infections due to the highly contagious, now dominant, Delta variant, have forced the government to rethink its strategy.
At least 4,119 people with cancer were not diagnosed in Quebec from March 1 to July 18, 2020, according to a Health Department report published at the beginning of this year that examined the pandemic’s impact on cancer care and services.
Eva Villalba, executive director of Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec, questions whether that number is now double, since it reflected only the first wave of the pandemic.
“As the number of new cases in Quebec plummets (52 were reported Monday) and the vaccination rate climbs, the last vestiges of the restrictions imposed to keep us safe are fading away. Capacity limits for stores were lifted. (Yay! No more lineups!) And the two-metre distance between people who don’t share our address has been eased to a mere one metre.
“We’ve dreamed of this day. It’s been a long time coming. Yet the latest transition feels just as strange as the introduction of isolating public health measures way back in March 2020. New habits die just as hard.”
Local health authorities have set up mass vaccination sites across Montreal.
You can book appointments via the Clic Santé website or by phone at 1-877-644-4545.
Here are the nuts and bolts of getting vaccinated, by Katherine Wilton. Her guide includes the age groups targeted, how to book appointments, and addresses of vaccination centres.
Two private sites can also help you book appointments:
We are regularly updating our list of what services are open, closed or modified in Montreal and Quebec, including information on the curfew and other lockdown measures.
Montrealers can be screened at test centres across the island.
Here’s the rate of case growth per 100,000 people over the past seven days, via the federal government’s latest epidemiology update.
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MONTREAL — Quebec is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations driven by new Omicron subvariants that account for about 75 per cent of infections, the province’s public health director said Wednesday.
Dr. Luc Boileau said the subvariants, such as BA2.12.1, BA.5 and BA.4, appear to be more transmissible than previous strains but not necessarily more severe. The rise in cases was “expected,” though it came earlier than authorities had thought, he said, adding that the number of new infections should continue to rise in the coming days or weeks before declining.
Boileau said the province doesn’t plan on reimposing any broad-level public health restrictions, but he recommended that people who are over 65 or medically vulnerable take precautions such as wearing a mask. He was firm in his advice against a new provincewide masking order, insisting that such a measure was not “realistic” or necessary at this point.
“We’re not at all on a path to reimpose population-level measures such as mask-wearing, or other measures that needed to be taken in the last two years,” he said.
“We’re not there, and we’re not heading in that direction with the current variants.”
He said people who are over the age of 60, who are immunocompromised or who have chronic illnesses should seek a second booster shot if they haven’t had one or if their last shot was more than three months ago. As well, he said those who want to wear masks should be “encouraged” to do so, especially in crowded places.
His update came as COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by 34 in the previous 24 hours, after a 113-patient rise the day before. There were 1,260 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Quebec, including 35 in intensive care. Health officials also reported four more deaths associated with the novel coronavirus.
Dr. Don Vinh of the McGill University Health Centre says Quebec is facing a “perfect storm” of factors that include the emergence of new variants, waning immunity from vaccination or previous infection, and the removal of public health restrictions.
The new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, he said in an interview Tuesday, appear to be gaining ground and finding vulnerable people to infect, especially since the mutations seem to be better able to evade immunity compared with previous strains.
“You put the two together, the new variants and waning immunity from either infection, immunization or a hybrid, and what happens is you have a renewed pool of susceptible people with an emerging variant,” he said.
The rise in hospitalizations, he added, comes at a time when the health system is least prepared to handle it.
Hospital workers at “all levels” are overwhelmed, he said, from paramedics and ambulance drivers to ER staff and the community and home care workers who need to be present to care for frail people leaving hospital.
COVID-19 is also putting increased pressure on the system by forcing sick health-care workers to stay home at a time when they’re most needed, he said. “This a catastrophic, systemic failure being unmasked and perhaps even exacerbated by unmitigated community transmission.”
On Wednesday, Boileau said he was concerned with the impact the increase in cases will have on the system, adding that authorities were working with hospitals to readjust services when necessary. He said, however, that he didn’t expect the new rise in cases to get “very, very high” and that the numbers should begin to decline in the next few weeks.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The federal government will extend current COVID-19 public health measures for travellers entering Canada, including the use of the ArriveCan app, until at least Sept. 30.
In a release Wednesday, the Public Health Agency of Canada also said it will continue the pause of mandatory random testing for fully vaccinated travellers at all airports until mid-July.
It first announced the pause on June 11 and said in the release that it’s allowing airports to focus on streamlining their operations.
The public health agency said it’s moving forward with plans to relocate COVID-19 testing for air travellers outside of airports to select test provider stores, pharmacies or by virtual appointment.
Mandatory random testing is to continue at land border points of entry with no changes.
The release added that travellers who are not fully vaccinated and don’t have a valid exemption must continue to test on Day 1 and Day 8 of their 14-day quarantine.
“As we move into the next phase of our COVID-19 response, it is important to remember that the pandemic is not over. We must continue to do all that we can to keep ourselves and others safe from the virus,” said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos in a statement.
He also urged people to remain up to date with the recommended vaccinations to ensure they are adequately protected against infection, transmission and severe complications.
“As we have said all along, Canada’s border measures will remain flexible and adaptable, guided by science and prudence.”
All travellers will have to continue to use the ArriveCan app or website to provide their travel information within 72 hours before their arrival in Canada or before boarding a cruise ship destined for the country. The government said 95 per cent of land and air travellers are using the app and it’s taking steps to enhance compliance.
The government also said moving testing outside of airports will allow Canada to adjust to increased traveller volumes while still being able to monitor and quickly respond to new variants of concern or changes to the epidemiological situation.
It said border testing has been essential in helping Canada slow the spread of the virus, as data from the tests are used to understand the current level and trends of importation of COVID-19 into the country.
The testing program also allows for detection and identification of new COVID-19 variants of concern, it said.
Tourism groups and border-community mayors and MPs have called on the government to ease restrictions and scrap the ArriveCan app, saying the measures are limiting cross-border travel.
Transport Minister Randy Boissonnault said the government is deeply invested in growing Canada’s visitor economy.
“From our reputation as a safe travel destination to our world-class attractions and wide-open spaces, Canada has it all and we are ready to welcome back domestic and international tourists, while prioritizing their safety and well-being.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.
The Canadian Press
A study led by researchers at Western University has revealed the cause of long-COVID symptoms.
New data published by Western professor Grace Parraga and the LIVECOVIDFREE study, based out of five centres in Ontario, is the largest MRI study of patients with long-COVID. The term long-COVID refers to symptoms of brain fog, breathlessness, fatigue and feeling limited while doing everyday things, often lasting weeks and months post-infection.
This is the first study to show a potential cause of long-COVID, which has helped physicians in the study target treatment for the patients.
“I think it is always a conundrum when someone has symptoms, but you can’t identify the problem,” said Parraga, a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Lung Imaging to Transform Outcomes at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry. “If you can’t identify the problem, you can’t identify solutions.”
By using MRI imaging with inhaled xenon gas, researchers have identified that the symptoms are caused by microscopic abnormalities that affect how oxygen is exchanged from the lungs to the red blood cells.
Researchers used the technology to watch the function of the 300-500 million tiny alveolar sacs, which are about 1/5 of a millimetre in diameter and responsible for bringing oxygen to the blood.
“What we saw on the MRI was that the transition of the oxygen into the red blood cells was depressed in these symptomatic patients who had had COVID-19, compared to healthy volunteers,” Parraga said.
Further CT scans pointed to ‘abnormal trimming’ of the vascular tree, which indicated an impact on the tiny blood vessels that deliver red blood cells to the alveoli to be oxygenated.
Parraga said the study showed no difference in severity between patients who were hospitalized with COVID-19 and those who recovered without hospitalization. She said this is an important finding as the latest wave of COVID-19 has affected many people who did not receive hospital-based care.
To conduct the study, researchers recruited patients suspected to be suffering from long-COVID from London Health Sciences Centre’s Urgent COVID-19 Care Clinic and St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Post-Acute COVID-19 Program. Some participants experienced persistent shortness of breath more than six weeks post-infection, while others were still symptomatic after 35 weeks.
One of the participants is Alex Kopacz, a London-native and Canadian Olympic bobsleigh gold-medalist, who called his experience with COVID-19 “harrowing” and believed the virus would not affect him long-term as he is a young athlete.
“I was on oxygen for almost two months after COVID, and it took me almost three months to get to a place where I could go for a walk without gasping for air,” Kopacz said. “The take home message for me is that we have to remember that this virus can have very serious long-term consequences, which are not trivial.”
Researchers are now conducting a one-year follow-up to better understand these results.
The study was done in collaboration with researchers outside of London at Lakehead University, McMaster University, Toronto Metropolitan University and Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.
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