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Flu has killed 39 children this season, but virus activity continues to decline - CNN - Canada News Media
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Flu has killed 39 children this season, but virus activity continues to decline – CNN

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While it’s still too soon to say definitively that the flu season is past its peak, the dips in the past two weeks were dramatic.
A teen's final days with the flu
Even though flu activity is coming down, “we’re still at pretty high levels right now,” said Lynnette Brammer, team lead of the CDC’s domestic influenza surveillance team.
The virus still remains widespread in nearly every state, with high levels of activity in 32 states.
Despite the overall drop nationally, the latest data shows a strain of virus, influenza A, is increasing. As a result, Brammer said the US could potentially see a second wave of flu infections.
“The increase in A activity, we don’t know what effect that is going to have. Influenza activity may go up again,” she said. “This is something we’re going to watch pretty carefully.”
If the emerging virus does strike hard, the flu vaccine looks well matched to protect against it. That hasn’t been the case with the majority of flu that’s been out there so far this season, influenza B, which affects children more than adults and has been particularly tough on them. So far, 39 children in the United States have died from flu this season, 28 from the influenza B strain of the virus.
The CDC estimates that this flu season, which started on September 29, there have been at least 13 million cases of the flu in the US, 120,000 hospitalizations and 6,600 deaths.
The CDC says its still not too late to get a flu shot.
“I absolutely believe we still have plenty of flu season to come,” Brammer said.

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The CDC and Homeland Security begin screening for Chinese Coronavirus at three major US airports as outbreak spreads in Asia – CNBC


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CDC to screen at three US airports for signs of new virus from China – CNN

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Flames, Maple Leafs favourites on Saturday NHL betting lines – Sportsnet.ca

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The Ottawa Senators will try to snap a nine-game losing streak when they host the Calgary Flames on Saturday as +135 underdogs on the NHL betting lines at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Ottawa’s recent woes continued with Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, which marked the club’s sixth straight loss on home ice going into Saturday afternoon’s matchup at the Canadian Tire Centre.

The Senators’ offence has been silent during the team’s longest slide since an 0-9-2 run nine years ago, scoring just eight total goals over their past five contests. However, the Senators defence has tightened up of late, allowing just three goals per game over their past four losses, with just one of those defeats coming in regulation. That has resulted in a steady 3-0-1 run for the under on the totals at betting sites, after the over prevailed in 15 of the Senators’ previous 17 contests.

While the Senators have struggled, the Flames arrive in Ottawa on a high after escaping with a 2-1 shootout victory in Toronto as +125 underdogs on Thursday night. Now sporting wins in six of their past seven contests, Calgary takes on the Senators as -155 betting favourites.

The Flames have been far from dominant during their current surge, scoring two or fewer goals in four of their past five outings, and claiming victory by just a single goal in each of their six recent wins. However, the team has been dominant in recent dates with the Senators, posting wins in four straight meetings while holding Ottawa to a single goal each time.

Elsewhere on the Saturday NHL odds, the Maple Leafs look to rebound from Thursday’s loss to Calgary as they host the Chicago Blackhawks asheavy -210 favourites. Hobbled by injury, Toronto has earned just one win in five contests overall, and has lost three of four at Scotiabank Arena to fall 11 points back of Boston in the hunt for top spot in the Atlantic Division.

The Blackhawks ride a three-game win streak into Saturday’s contest as +175 underdogs. Chicago posted a decisive 4-1 win in Montreal as a +150 wager on Wednesday to improve to 6-1-0 over its past seven road dates, and has taken two straight from the Maple Leafs.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, vie for their fourth win in five games as they host Vegas as +110 underdogs, the Edmonton Oilers welcome the Arizona Coyotes to town as -130 chalk in a crucial Pacific Division matchup, while the Vancouver Canucks put an NHL-best seven-game home win streak on the line as they battle the San Jose Sharks as a -160 wager.

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Sonos, PopSockets speak out against Big Tech's dominance – CNET

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At an Amazon booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center during CES 2020 this month.


Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

As David Barnett tells it, Amazon is an abusive, unfair and uncaring partner to smaller businesses using its platform.

Barnett, founder and CEO of PopSockets, which makes adhesive grips for the backs of phones, on Friday lambasted the e-commerce giant for ignoring issues about counterfeit that he’d raised for months and bullying him to lower his prices. His comments were part of his sworn testimony before the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, which has been holding hearings to investigate the potentially excessive power of the biggest tech companies in the US.

“This is tiring, this is tiring week after week,” Barnett told lawmakers at the University of Colorado’s Wittemyer Courtroom, describing Amazon’s threats to extract better prices — a practice that ultimately caused him to end his partnership selling products directly to Amazon.

He says his company is now banned from selling on Amazon’s website on its own and he’s lost countless sales after cutting off the lucrative direct-sales relationship. Other companies, he suggested, would rather put up with Amazon pushing them around to keep getting paid.

Amazon, along with fellow tech giants Facebook, Google and Apple, have all faced tough scrutiny over the past year from lawmakers and regulators, who not that long ago looked at Silicon Valley in a far more positive way. Now officials are raising concerns about these companies’ growing dominance in the market, which could be squashing competition.

This work could bring about big changes in the tech industry, perhaps forcing big players to break up, cutting off future mergers, or creating new regulatory restrictions. Officials say they’re pursuing this work to make sure innovative new startups can thrive and customers can benefit from strong competition.


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These tech giants have defended themselves by saying they’re small players in their broader fields, like Amazon being a tiny part of global retail. Facebook has pointed to emerging competition like TikTok threatening its lead in social media.

Regarding its PopSockets relationship, an Amazon spokesperson on Friday said it’s continued to work with PopSockets on counterfeits even after the direct partnership ended, calling the company “a valued retail vendor.” The person said Amazon does require some popular brands to sell directly to Amazon, so the company can ensure the best prices are available for customers.

Amazon also pointed to an IDC study, which Amazon funded and which was released Thursday, that discusses the sales growth of small- and medium-sized businesses on Amazon’s platform.

This theme of imbalanced, dominating business relationships kept resurfacing during the hearing. As part of their relationship, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence told lawmakers, Google tried to restrict his company’s innovations and wanted insights into Sonos’ future product plans. Sonos this month sued Google, claiming the company stole its wireless speaker technology.

“There’s such a dominant power that exists with these companies that really even as a company of our size you feel like you have no choice,” Spence said.

A Google spokesperson responded: “Sonos has made misleading statements about our history of working together. Our technology and devices were designed independently. We deny their claims vigorously, and will be defending against them.”

Kirsten Daru, general counsel at Tile, and David Heinemeier Hansson, chief technology officer of Basecamp, offered similar complaints that tech giants Apple and Google so thoroughly dominated their markets that it was virtually impossible not to work with them. Those companies then use that power to make unexpected and unfair changes that can harm smaller businesses, they said. 

For instance, Hansson complained that Apple has been able to charge developers a 30% fee for paid apps for years because it faces little competition. Barnett, of PopSockets, said other online marketplaces that rival Amazon certainly exist, “but most of them are really tiny.”

Fred Sainz, an Apple spokesman, said Friday that the company built its App Store as a safe, trusted place for customers, and a great business opportunity for developers.

Rep. David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, who’s chairman of the subcommittee, has already raised serious concerns about these companies’ power, using terms like “economic nightmare” and “one algorithm tweak away from ruin” when talking about them on Friday.

Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican from Colorado, shared these concerns, showing there’s bipartisan cooperation on this issue, but he warned against unnecessary government interventions.

For now the chance that any of these tech giants could get broken up is remote, and Wall Street has pushed all these companies’ stocks higher despite this negative attention. Still, when Microsoft went through similar antitrust reviews 30 years ago, the process lasted for a decade, so it’s anyone’s guess what the outcome will be over such a long timeline.

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Over a thousand 'likely' infected by Wuhan virus in China: study – Al Jazeera English

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The number of people infected by a mystery SARS-like virus that has killed two people in China is likely hundreds more than officially reported, researchers have said on Friday.

The news comes as Chinese health authorities said on Saturday that they have discovered four more cases of pneumonia following an outbreak of what is believed to be a new coronavirus strain.

The four individuals were diagnosed with pneumonia on Thursday and are in stable condition, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said in a statement published shortly after midnight. Saturday’s statement marked the first confirmation.

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Chinese authorities previously said that the virus has hit at least 41 people in the country, with the outbreak centred around a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan.

But a paper published on Friday by scientists with the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis at Imperial College in London said the number of those affected in the city was likely to be well over a thousand.

The scientists at the Centre – which advises bodies including the World Health Organization – said they estimated a “total of 1,723 cases” in Wuhan would have been infected as of January 12.

The researchers took the number of cases reported outside China so far – two in Thailand and one in Japan – to infer how many were likely infected in the city, based on international flight traffic data from Wuhan’s airport.

SARS virus taught scientists new lessons

“For Wuhan to have exported three cases to other countries would imply there would have to be many more cases than have been reported,” Professor Neil Ferguson, one of the authors of the report, told the BBC.

“I am substantially more concerned than I was a week ago,” adding, however, that it was “too early to be alarmist”.

“People should be considering the possibility of substantial human-to-human transmission more seriously than they have so far,” he added, saying it was “unlikely” that animal exposure was the main source of infection.

Airport screening 

Two people are known to have been killed by the virus, a pathogen from the same family as the deadly SARS virus – even as health authorities around the world sought to assure the public that the overall risk of infection remained low.

Authorities in Hong Kong have stepped up detection measures, including rigorous temperature checkpoints for inbound travellers from the Chinese mainland.

The US said from Friday it would begin screening flights arriving from Wuhan at San Francisco airport and New York’s JFK – which both receive direct flights – as well as Los Angeles, where many flights connect.

The latest outbreak comes ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, when many of China’s 1.4 billion people will be travelling to their home towns or abroad.[File: Andy Wong/AP]

So far, health officials do not consider the new virus from China to be as lethal as SARS, but the investigation is evolving and much is still not known about whether the virus can spread easily from person to person.

“This is the stage of the investigation where we need to proceed cautiously and be prepared for any eventuality,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, an expert in respiratory diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US.

SARS originated in southern China in 2002 and infected more than 8,000 people in 37 countries before it was brought under control.

Nearly 800 people died worldwide. China was accused of covering up the case.

The latest outbreak comes ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, when many of China’s 1.4 billion people will be travelling to their home towns or abroad.

The Chinese government expects passengers to make 440 million trips via rail and another 79 million trips via aeroplanes.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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