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Ethnic minorities less likely to take COVID jab, U.K. survey says – CTV News

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LONDON —
People from ethnic minority backgrounds or with lower incomes are less likely to take the coronavirus vaccine being rolled out in Britain, research suggested Wednesday, raising concerns about whether the jab would reach the communities that have been hit disproportionately hard by the pandemic.

A survey by Britain’s Royal Society for Public Health said that while three-quarters of those polled would take a COVID-19 vaccine if advised to do so by a doctor, that figure fell to 57 per cent among Black people and those from Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds.

The body also said the survey “revealed significantly more hesitancy among lower income groups” — with 70 per cent of lowest earners likely to agree to the jab, compared to 84 per cent of highest earners.

Public health experts and doctors say the findings are concerning, but unsurprising. They align with consistently lower uptake rates of other vaccines, like the measles and flu jabs, among ethnic minority communities and in poorer neighbourhoods, they say.

That reluctance — a result of factors like public health messaging not reaching the communities and mistrust of authority based on past experiences — has been exacerbated by misinformation and anti-vaccination campaigns on social media.

“We have known for years that different communities have different levels of satisfaction in the National Health Service,” said Christina Marriott, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health. “More recently we have seen anti-vaccination messages have been specifically targeted at different groups, including different ethnic or religious communities.”

Britain on Dec. 8 became the first country in the world to roll out the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which has an efficacy rate of around 95 per cent. The government is first targeting people over 80 and nursing home workers. About 138,000 people have received the first of two required jabs to date.

Studies in the U.K. and elsewhere have shown that Black people and ethnic minorities are more at risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19, as a result of genetic conditions such as diabetes as well as socio-economic circumstances such as living conditions and occupation. A report by Public Health England also said that structural racism and poor experiences of public healthcare made it less likely for some groups to seek care when needed.

Officials have not said they would prioritize Black or ethnic minority communities during the coronavirus vaccine rollout. Dr. Salman Waqar, general secretary of the British Islamic Medical Association, said it has been left up to individual health trusts to decide whether or not to vaccinate Black or minority health workers first.

“Effort should be put in to make sure these communities are vaccinated,” he said. “(Officials) have left it for providers to make the decision on the ground, but it doesn’t appear to show strong leadership from the authorities if they’ve left it open to interpretation.”

Dr. Kiran Rahim, a pediatrician based in a poorer area of London with a high rate of vaccine refusal, said health officials need to do much more to engage and reach out to marginalized and minority communities.

She said that in the case of the children’s nasal flu vaccine — which many Muslims refuse because it contains porcine gelatine — uptake significantly improved once authorities made an alternative option available.

“Many of us have lobbied for many years for a vegetarian version to be available, we were constantly met with resistance,” she said. “When it comes down to public health, with a mass vaccination campaign going, you do have to engage with all parties.”

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Sports

Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins explains excitement in adding Steven Matz – Sportsnet.ca

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Statistically, Steven Matz was at his worst in a lot of ways last year.

In a pandemic-abridged season, Matz posted a 9.68 ERA (44 ERA+), 7.76 FIP and 1.696 WHIP. He also finished in the bottom six percentile in exit velocity allowed, hard-hit percentage and expected batting average.

So for those seeking positives in the aftermath of Matz joining the Toronto Blue Jays from the New York Mets via trade, they’ll have to look a bit closer.

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins certainly has, and he explained his excitement for adding Matz during Thursday morning’s Lead Off show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan.

“We’re excited about his ability to get swing-and-miss, we’re excited about the power to his stuff,” Atkins said. “Incredibly hard working, incredible teammate.”

We can’t quantify Matz’s work ethic or value as a teammate just yet, but Atkins makes a point about the on-the-mound qualities. Matz’s average fastball velocity was 94.5 m.p.h. last season, which was his highest since his debut season in 2015 and nearly two ticks higher than league average.

From a swing-and-miss standpoint, his 23.4 whiff rate lagged behind league average (26.8), but he sported a 32.6 whiff rate on change-ups. Some combination of above-average fastball velocity and a missable change-up could be a recipe for a rebound.

There’s also this: in 2020, every offering from Matz’s four-pitch mix had a higher weighted on base average (wOBA) than expected — which isn’t a good thing for pitchers. That’s been the case for most of his career, as his total wOBA has exceed his xwOBA in five of six seasons.

Clearly the Blue Jays see some things they like, and Atkins believes there’s room for Matz to succeed on this roster.

“I’m excited to have (our personnel) try to put this guy in a position to have success,” Atkins said. “Guys who can get major league hitters to swing and miss at a good clip and don’t walk a lot of guys, there’s a place for them on every team. On every team. And hopefully we can be a part of his continued growth and development and continuing to get better.”

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Apple iOS 14.4 Release: Should You Upgrade? – Forbes

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Apple iOS 14.4 has been released and it is perhaps the most important iOS 14 update yet for iPhone owners. Why should you upgrade ASAP? Here’s everything you need to know. 

Tip: bookmark this page because I will keep it up to date if/when new problems are found. I will deliver my final verdict in a week. 

Who Is It For?

Apple iOS 14.4 is available for all iOS 13-compatible devices. This means the iPhone 6S and newer and 7th generation iPod touch. If you don’t receive an automatic update notification, you can trigger the update manually by navigating to Settings > General > Software Update. Beta testers, if you are running a later version of iOS 14 when you read this (see ‘The Road Ahead’ section at the end), you must unenroll your iPhone before iOS 14.4 will show up.

iPad owners, Apple has moved you to iPadOS. This is not an iPadOS-focused guide, but I will touch upon pertinent issues in these guides. 

The Deal Breakers

As always, jailbreakers may want to avoid this release. Popular jailbreaker Unc0ver remains stuck on iOS 13.5 while checkra1n has an iOS 14 jailbreak (not iOS 14.4), but it is limited to Apple devices running A9(X) chipsets and older. 

Aside from this, however, the signs look good and initial reaction on social media and message boards to the release has been positive. Notably, the serious messaging problems impacting earlier versions of iOS 14 appear to have been eradicated at last (despite no mention of a fix in the official release notes, which isn’t uncommon). 

What I am seeing are reports of performance lag, particularly in terms of animations (something which was present in the betas) and a higher than normal number of complaints about battery drain (1,2,3,4,5 etc). Battery drain is often higher after updating to a new version of iOS while the system reindexes so there is no reason to panic, but it is something to keep an eye on. 

So What Do You Get?

Apple lists the following new features in iOS 14.4: 

  • Smaller QR codes can be recognized by Camera
  • Option to classify Bluetooth device type in Settings for correct identification of headphones for audio notifications
  • Notifications for when the camera on your ‌iPhone‌ is unable to be verified as a new, genuine Apple camera in ‌iPhone 12‌, iPhone 12 mini, ‌iPhone 12 Pro‌ and iPhone 12 Pro Max

This release also fixes the following issues:

  • Image artifacts could appear in HDR photos taken with ‌iPhone 12 Pro‌
  • Fitness widget may not display updated Activity data
  • Typing may be delayed and word suggestions may not appear in the keyboard
  • The keyboard may not come up in the correct language in Messages
  • Audio stories from the News app in CarPlay may not resume after being paused for spoken directions or Siri
  • Enabling Switch Control in Accessibility may prevent phone calls from being answered from the Lock Screen

While all these updates are fairly self explanatory, the real importance of iOS 14.4 is buried away on Apple’s official security page. This update fixes three new vulnerabilities (CVE-2021-1782, CVE-2021-1871 and CVE-2021-1870), all of which are known to hackers and “may have already been actively exploited.” 

One flaw was found in the operating system’s Kernel, while two others were discovered in WebKit, which powers the Safari web browser. Apple has not revealed detailed information about the flaws and is unlikely to do so before users have a chance to upgrade. Consequently, iOS 14.4 is an update iPhone users (and iPadOS 14.4 users) should take seriously. 

Note: it is unclear at this stage whether the exploits are also in older versions of iOS beyond iOS 14.3, but I would assume so. 

Apple iOS 14.4 Verdict: Upgrade

Apple iOS 14.4 is not the most exciting ‘major point’ update (certainly compared to feature-packed iOS 14.3), but it is significantly more important due to the actively exploited flaws that have been found. 

Crucially, early feedback from users who have upgraded is positive with no obvious deal breakers so far so I would advise updating as soon as possible. I will keep this guide updated should that change and, for those who are highly cautious about updating, I will offer my final verdict in a week. 

The Road Ahead 

No new iOS versions are currently in testing at the time of publication. An iOS 14.4.1 bugfix is possible, if the battery problems are shown to be more than the usual drain associated with iOS updates, but otherwise I would expect iOS 14.5 to enter testing relatively soon. 

___

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Health

Today's coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 2093 new cases, 56 more deaths; Total vaccinations data was incorrect, government says; Ontario to provide modelling update – Toronto Star

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KEY FACTS

  • 8:45 a.m. The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits remains at a historic high

  • 8:40 a.m. Health Canada data suggests worrying uptick of infections directly connected to foreign arrivals

  • 6 a.m. German health chief warns of 10 hard weeks ahead

  • 4:55 a.m. Ontario to provide pandemic modelling update as daily case counts decline

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Thursday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

10:20 a.m.: Ontario is reporting nearly 64,700 tests completed.

Locally, there are 700 new cases in Toronto, 331 in Peel, 228 in York Region and 123 in Niagara.

As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, 317,240 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the province.

10:10 a.m.: Ontario is reporting 2,093 new cases with 56 more deaths.

The seven-day average is down to 2,128 cases daily, or 102 weekly per 100,000.

The seven-day average for deaths is up to 57.1/day.

9:57 a.m. (will be updated): The government of Ontario says it had been misinterpreting data on the number of people who have received both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccination.

Officials inadvertently posted dose information, rather than the total vaccination data. As a result, the number of epople who have been fully vaccinated is half of what is currently listed.

The government said they are updating the total vaccinations completed category to reflect the total number of people who have been fully vaccinated and not the number of doses.

9:04 a.m. Vaughan is moving to reopen the city’s outdoor ice rinks, a toboggan hill and an off-leash dog park after being closed for almost two weeks.

“Our outdoor rinks, toboggan hill and dog park are reopening with new systems — like online registration for skaters, increased patrols and mandatory mask usage — in place to further reduce the spread of this deadly virus,” said city manager Jim Harnum in a statement.

The city temporarily closed the city amenities on Jan. 15 due to the rising COVID-19 case numbers and “people crowding in these spaces while not following public health guidelines around social distancing and mask usage.”

The toboggan hill at North Maple Regional Park and the dog park at 299 Racco Parkway reopened on Wednesday and the city’s five outdoor ice rinks are set to reopen on Monday.

8:45 a.m. The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits fell but remained at a historically high 847,000 last week, a sign that layoffs keep coming as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage.

Last week’s claims fell by 67,000, from 914,000 the week before, the Labor Department said Thursday. Before the virus hit the United States hard last March, weekly applications for jobless aid had never topped 700,000.

Overall, nearly 4.8 million Americans are continuing to receive traditional state unemployment benefits. That is down from a staggering peak of nearly 25 million in May when the virus — and lockdowns and other measures to contain it — brought economic activity to a near halt. The drop suggests that some of the unemployed are finding new jobs and that others have exhausted state benefits.

The job market remains under strain even though the spread of COVID-19 vaccines offers hope for an end to the health crisis and a return to normal economic life.

8:40 a.m. As the federal government prepares to slap new restrictions on international travel, Health Canada data suggest a worrying uptick of infections directly connected to foreign arrivals.

While travel exposures account for less than two per cent of all Canada’s COVID-19 cases, the number of cases in recent travellers, and people they came into close contact with after arriving, shows continual growth in recent months.

In December, 486 cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in recent travellers, the most since March and up from 312 in November and 204 in October. Despite mandatory two-week quarantines for international travellers, there were 1,258 COVID-19 cases confirmed in people who had close contact with a recent traveller in December, up from 744 in November and 704 in October.

In the first three weeks of January, 384 travel cases and 607 traveller-contact cases were confirmed.

The figures also correspond with a recent rise in the number of people travelling, at least by air. Land-border arrivals are typically fewer in the winter because of the weather in much of the country, but more people arrived from the U.S. by air in December than any month since March. Arrivals from other international locations were higher in December than any month except August.

8:30 a.m. The daily number of new COVID-19 cases in Toronto has dropped and so has the rate at which the virus is spreading, but the increase in new variants of the disease — including one that is more contagious and perhaps more deadly — means it is too early to declare victory, local officials said Wednesday.

“Medically, we are in an uncertain phase,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, medical officer of health, speaking at a COVID-19 update from city hall alongside Mayor John Tory. “The emergence of coronavirus variants is one feature of this uncertainty.”

De Villa reported 502 new cases of COVID-19 in Toronto and 41 new hospital admissions for a total of 520 people in hospital. Eleven more have died.

Read the full story from the Star’s Francine Kopun

8 a.m. Self-employed Canadians who are being asked to repay the Canada Emergency Response Benefit after a Canada Revenue Agency error are scaling up their pressure on the government to allow them to keep the benefit.

On Wednesday, Green Party MP Paul Manly presented a petition to the House of Commons that received more than 7,000 signatures over a month, asking the government to allow self-employed CERB recipients to retroactively use their gross self-employed income instead of net to assess their eligibility for the benefit.

Manly, who sponsored the petition, said in an interview he’s heard from self-employed Canadians across the country who applied for CERB “in good faith” and are now being told they didn’t qualify.

Read the full story from the Star’s Rosa Saba

7:50 a.m. While several countries are revising their mask advice either to ditch cloth masks or recommend doubling up as more virulent variants spread, Canada is sticking to its previous recommendations.

The United States’s top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, said in an interview with NBC Monday that wearing two masks “just makes common sense,” as adding another layer of protection will help prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

Photos captured in the last two weeks in the U.S. show Fauci along with public figures like U.S. First Lady Jill Biden and youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman also sporting a double mask by wearing a surgical mask under their cloth masks.

Read the full story from the Star’s Olivia Bowden

7:40 a.m. Ontario is considering an order that international passengers arriving at Pearson airport must submit to COVID-19 tests to catch cases of the U.K. variant and other more contagious strains of the virus that has killed almost 6,000 in the province, the Star has learned.

The move is being driven by concerns the federal government isn’t moving fast enough on border restrictions at a time when vaccines are in short supply and the variants pose an increased threat to health and hospital capacity, a senior provincial source said Wednesday.

Chief medical officer Dr. David Williams — who raised concerns Monday about the problem — is strongly considering an order under section 22 of Ontario’s Health Protection and Promotion Act mandating the tests, the government source added.

Read the full story from Rob Ferguson

7:30 a.m. A prominent GTA critical care physician is alleging he was fired over his outspoken criticism of Ontario’s pandemic response.

Dr. Brooks Fallis said in an emailed statement to the Star he learned his contract as interim medical director of critical care at William Osler Health System had been terminated in January.

“When I met with some of the members of the senior leadership team about this, I was told I was being let go as Interim Medical Director — not because of my performance as a physician or as a hospital leader — but because of my outspoken, public statements regarding Ontario’s pandemic response,” his statement said.

“As a result of my actions, the hospital was under pressure from the Provincial Government, leading to concern about the possible loss of funding for the hospital.”

Read the full story from the Star’s May Warren

7:20 a.m. Mutations of the virus that causes COVID-19, called SARS-CoV-2, are evolving at a higher rate than at the beginning of the pandemic, according to scientists.

One of the most studied is the variant first reported in the U.K., called B.1.1.7, which is thought to be more transmissible, a trait it appears to share with the variant first reported in South Africa, B.1.351.

The mutations could mean that slight alterations in vaccines may be necessary in the future to ensure they remain effective.

Already, Moderna is creating a booster for its vaccine after research showed a decrease in antibodies to the B.1.351 variant produced by its vaccine, although the vaccine remains effective.

Meanwhile, a consortium of scientists in the U.K. is one step behind the mutating virus, sequencing hundreds of thousands of samples of SARS-CoV-2 to unlock the genetic codes that are key to fighting the virus.

Read the full story from the Star’s Patty Winsa

7:16 a.m. Israel on Thursday said it was extending coronavirus vaccinations to adults age 35 and older, an expansion of its world-leading drive to vanquish COVID-19.

Health Ministry Director General Hezi Levy said shots would be available to the new age group starting Friday.

The change reflects Israel’s aggressive drive to inoculate its entire population by the spring and the country is on track to do so. More than a quarter of Israel’s 9.3 million people have been vaccinated so far.

But Israel also is home to one of the developing world’s highest rate of infections, driven by ultra-Orthodox towns that are flouting safety rules and clashing with police trying to enforce them. Some 8,000 new cases are detected each day.

The country is in its third lockdown to contain the virus’ spread. This week it tightened the closures by shuttering its international airport to nearly all flights.

6:21 a.m. The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says another 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been secured for the continent through the Serum Institute of India.

Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong told reporters that with the new doses, on top of the 270 million doses announced earlier, “I think we’re beginning to make very good progress.”

As with many vaccine deals, there are no immediate details on cost or how much people might pay per dose.

Parts of the African continent are now seeing a strong second surge in coronavirus infections, which Nkengasong calls “very aggressive now.”

6 a.m. Germany’s health minister says there are at least “10 hard weeks” ahead amid difficulties in getting large quantities of vaccines.

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Health Minister Jens Spahn, who faces political pressure over the slow start to Germany’s vaccination campaign, wrote on Twitter Thursday that Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors should hold a special meeting to discuss vaccine strategy.

Spahn said vaccine manufacturers also should be invited to “explain how complex production is.” He stressed that “the quality must be very good” in order to protect people.

Spahn wrote that “we will go through at least another 10 hard weeks with the scarcity of vaccine.”

Germany’s current lockdown, its second, was recently extended until Feb. 14. Infection figures are falling, but officials are worried about the potential impact of coronavirus variants such as the one first detected in Britain.

5:15 a.m. Travellers returning to New Zealand will face stricter rules at quarantine hotels as health authorities investigate how up to three people got infected with the coronavirus while isolating at Auckland’s Pullman Hotel.

The people were released before testing positive and were potentially contagious, but so far testing has shown no evidence the virus has spread in the community. Health authorities believe they caught the virus from another quarantined traveller. New Zealand has managed to stamp out community transmission of the virus.

5:10 a.m. Vietnam reported 82 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, hours after confirming the first two infections in nearly two months.

Seventy-two of the cases came from an electronic company in Hai Duong province, where a 34-year-old female employee tested positive after her colleague was found to carry the virus from Osaka, Japan, several days earlier, the Health Ministry said.

It said the woman who was tested in Japan carried the U.K. variant, which could spread faster.

The company with over 2,200 workers was closed for disinfection and the provincial authority locked down surrounding communities to curb the outbreak.

The ministry said over 3,000 people in the area will be tested.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Quang Ninh province, 10 people tested positive after a man working at Van Don International Airport was confirmed to be infected.

5:05 a.m. Sri Lanka’s president on Thursday welcomed the first 500,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine from India, which has donated the shots to eight countries in the region.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

Sri Lanka said 150,000 health workers and 115,000 selected military and police troops will be the first to be inoculated at six hospitals in Colombo and its suburbs.

One of the hospitals is reserved for COVID-19 patients while the others have separate wards for the coronavirus.

The Health Ministry plans to expand the vaccination campaign to 4,000 hospitals and health centres in other parts of the country next week.

India’s donation covers 250,000 people and Sri Lanka is making efforts to obtain more vaccines, either through donation or by purchasing them.

The country has ordered 2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine and is planning to order 3 million more from India. It also expects some from the U.N. COVAX Facility to be able to vaccine 20% of the population.

5:01 a.m. A World Health Organization team emerged from quarantine in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Thursday to start field work in a fact-finding mission on the origins of the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers, who were required to complete 14 days in quarantine after arriving in China, left their quarantine hotel and boarded a bus in the midafternoon.

The mission has become politically charged, as China seeks to avoid blame for alleged missteps in its early response to the outbreak. A major question is where the Chinese side will allow the researchers to go and whom they will be able to talk to.

Yellow barriers blocked the entrance to the hotel, keeping the media at a distance. Before the researchers boarded, workers in full protective gear could be seen loading their luggage onto the bus, including two musical instruments, a dumbbell and four yoga mattresses.

4:55 a.m. Ontario will provide an update on COVID-19 modelling projections Thursday.

The province says Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, the co-chairman of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, will present the update this afternoon.

The new data comes two weeks after the province invoked a stay-at-home order in a bid to halt surging case spread.

The province’s chief medical officer of health says a provincewide lockdown, which started in late December, has contributed to a reduction in daily cases.

The last modelling update provided by the province earlier this month warned that rising virus case rates threatened to overwhelm the health care system.

4:44 a.m. The impact of COVID-19 on intensive care units remains “alarming” despite a recent steadying of the number of patients treated there, says a group representing Ontario’s hospitals.

Anthony Dale, president of the Ontario Hospital Association, said there are, on average, 25 new COVID-19 patients being admitted to ICUs every day.

“This apparent stabilization masks the fact that capacity is actually being freed up as patients either leave ICU as they get better, or pass away from COVID-19 or another very serious condition,” Dale said.

Over the last week, up to 416 patients with COVID-19 have been treated in ICUs, according to data provided by the Ontario Hospital Association.

On Jan. 15, Ontario recorded an all-time high of 420 patients with COVID-19 in ICUs — about a quarter of all intensive care patients.

“The rate of transmission appears to be decelerating, but we cannot declare victory,” Dale said. “We must remain extremely cautious and keep up the fight against community spread to keep up our progress and prevent a third wave, especially when we see the new variant’s impacts in the United Kingdom.”

The province warned at the outset of the most recent lockdown that ICUs were on the verge of being overrun with COVID-19 patients, at which point physicians would be in the difficult position to choose who received critical care and who did not.

4 a.m. As the federal government prepares to slap new restrictions on international travel, Health Canada data suggest a worrying uptick of infections directly connected to foreign arrivals.

While travel exposures account for less than two per cent of all Canada’s COVID-19 cases, the number of cases in recent travellers, and people they came into close contact with after arriving, shows continual growth in recent months.

In December, 486 cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in recent travellers, the most since March and up from 312 in November and 204 in October. Despite mandatory two-week quarantines for international travellers, there were 1,258 COVID-19 cases confirmed in people who had close contact with a recent traveller in December, up from 744 in November and 704 in October.

In the first three weeks of January, 384 travel cases and 607 traveller-contact cases were confirmed.

The figures also correspond with a recent rise in the number of people travelling, at least by air. Land-border arrivals are typically fewer in the winter because of the weather in much of the country, but more people arrived from the U.S. by air in December than any month since March. Arrivals from other international locations were higher in December than any month except August.

Wednesday 8:45 p.m.: Most people in British Columbia are doing their best to follow public health guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, but some are acting badly, Premier John Horgan said Wednesday.

Horgan also highlighted the case of a B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon, where they’re alleged to have jumped the queue to get an early COVID-19 vaccine shot.

“I believe there’s nothing more un-Canadian than going to another jurisdiction to jump the line because you have the means to do so,” Horgan said at a news conference. “Those are the types of examples we want to put in our rear-view mirror.”

Horgan said it’s disconcerting that some people are holding large gatherings in Vancouver penthouses and others are looking for parties in Whistler despite health restrictions.

He expressed his concern as well over incidents of racist behaviour towards Indigenous people who are fighting COVID-19 outbreaks in their communities.

Read the full story here: B.C. premier says jumping COVID-19 vaccine line ‘un-Canadian,’ no penthouse parties

Click here to read more of Wednesday’s COVID-19 coverage.

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