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Germany expects COVID-19 vaccine in first quarter 2021 at the earliest – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s health minister is encouraged by a Pfizer announcement that its COVID-19 vaccine proved effective in a late-stage trial but still does not expect a shot to be available before the first quarter of 2021, he said on Monday.

Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said on Monday their experimental vaccine was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 based on initial data from a large study, a major victory in the fight against the pandemic.

“If this should prove true … then it would be a good signal because it shows that this vaccine makes a difference,” Jens Spahn told a news conference, but added he was cautious on the timeline because there can always be setbacks.

To break the dynamic of the spread of the coronavirus, between 55% and 65% of the population will need to be vaccinated, Spahn said. However, the first vaccines are only expected to be available in limited amounts.

Germany plans to set up centralised vaccination centres to inoculate priority groups in the first instance, which will be supported by mobile teams.

First in line for vaccines should be those who are at risk due to their age or pre-existing conditions, particularly people living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, the German research centre Leopoldina and the Ethics Council said in a position paper on priorities for vaccine delivery on Monday.

The second group should include those exposed to the virus through their jobs, such as front-line healthcare workers, who could also spread infections to vulnerable people.

For the third group, the experts proposed those who are needed to maintain public life, including health authority officials, police and security staff, firefighters and teachers.

Detailed recommendations will only be possible once late-stage data on the characteristics of vaccines is available, the experts said.

The German health ministry expects seven potential vaccines to complete testing this year or next, and is anticipating the first approvals in the first quarter of 2021, according to a copy of its national vaccine strategy paper seen by Reuters.

Vaccination will not be mandatory. The German government will pay for the vaccines, while the cost of setting up vaccination centres will be borne by the states and public and private health insurers where appropriate.

To get an overview on the effectiveness of the vaccines, Germany will collect non-personal data including information on age, sex, place of residence, vaccination date, vaccine product and vaccination dose administered, the ministry paper says.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Caroline Copley; Editing by Maria Sheahan, Michelle Adair and Jan Harvey)

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COVID-19 cases in Canada remain on troubling course, Tam says, amid rising numbers – StCatharinesStandard.ca

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Canada remains on a troubling path for new COVID-19 infections as case counts continue to mount, the country’s top doctor said Saturday.

The most recent infection rates indicate Canada is on track to hit as many as 10,000 new cases a day by next month, Dr. Theresa Tam said.

“If we continue on the current pace, our longer range models continue to forecast significant increases in daily case counts and estimate that there could be up to 10,000 cases reported daily by mid-December,” Tam said in a written statement.

“Right now, we have a window of opportunity to act collectively together with public health authorities to bring the infection rate down to a safer trajectory.”

Canada is currently recording caseloads at about half that level, with the most recent seven-day average standing at 5,335 between Nov. 20 and Nov. 26.

Tam said Canada is also averaging 76 deaths a day and more than 2,100 people in hospital.

People 80 years and older are experiencing Canada’s highest COVID-19 death rate, and there are now more and larger outbreaks in long-term care facilities, hospitals, group living settings, Indigenous communities and remote areas, she said.

“Those developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies,” Tam said.

Her assessment came as case counts continued to soar in numerous provinces.

Quebec set a new single-day record with 1,480 new infections Saturday as the provincial death toll crossed the 7,000 threshold.

Alberta also broke its own record, reporting 1,731 new cases of the virus on Saturday. It also counted five new deaths.

Ontario logged case numbers just shy of Friday’s one-day record as it reported 1,822 new diagnoses in the past 24 hours.

Case numbers also jumped sharply in Manitoba, where officials recorded 487 new infections and 10 new deaths.

Among those who died was a boy under the age of 10, officials said, though they offered no other details.

Saskatchewan reported 197 COVID-19 cases and one death Saturday.

The province ordered the suspension of team sports earlier this week until Dec. 17 after confirmed COVID-19 cases among several minor and recreational hockey teams.

The Saskatchewan suspension applies to hockey and curling leagues and dance studios.

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The Saskatchewan Health Authority posted notices Saturday of COVID-19 exposure risks at curling and recreation centres at Christopher Lake and Shellbrook. Those curling or socializing at either of the two facilities last month must self-isolate for 14 days, the health authority said.

In British Columbia, Fraser Health announced the closure of an elementary school in Surrey after confirming 16 COVID-19 cases.

Newton Elementary School will close for two weeks, said Fraser Health.

B.C. reported a daily record of 911 COVID-19 cases Friday. The province will update its numbers Monday.

People must continue to practise physical distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home as much as possible, said a newly appointed member of B.C. Premier John Horgan’s cabinet.

“I just think it’s important for us to be thoughtful and caring, but at the same time it’s critical that people follow the rules because it’s vital to be able to keep our schools open and keep as many of our business open as possible,” said Ravi Kahlon, whose ministry includes economic recovery.

Figures from New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador show more modest increases of four and two cases, respectively.

Prince Edward Island reported two new COVID-19 cases, but they involved young males aged 10 and 19.

There were 14 new cases in Nova Scotia and five COVID-19 cases in Nunavut.

Tam redoubled her calls for Canadians to heed public health advice, limit their social interactions and practice physical distancing in a bid to bring surging case counts under control.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.

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COVID-19 cases in Canada remain on troubling course, Tam says, amid rising numbers – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Canada remains on a troubling path for new COVID-19 infections as case counts continue to mount, the country’s top doctor said Saturday.

The most recent infection rates indicate Canada is on track to hit as many as 10,000 new cases a day by next month, Dr. Theresa Tam said.

“If we continue on the current pace, our longer range models continue to forecast significant increases in daily case counts and estimate that there could be up to 10,000 cases reported daily by mid-December,” Tam said in a written statement.

“Right now, we have a window of opportunity to act collectively together with public health authorities to bring the infection rate down to a safer trajectory.”

Canada is currently recording caseloads at about half that level, with the most recent seven-day average standing at 5,335 between Nov. 20 and Nov. 26.

Tam said Canada is also averaging 76 deaths a day and more than 2,100 people in hospital.

People 80 years and older are experiencing Canada’s highest COVID-19 death rate, and there are now more and larger outbreaks in long-term care facilities, hospitals, group living settings, Indigenous communities and remote areas, she said.

“Those developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies,” Tam said.

Her assessment came as case counts continued to soar in numerous provinces.

Quebec set a new single-day record with 1,480 new infections Saturday as the provincial death toll crossed the 7,000 threshold.

Ontario logged case numbers just shy of Friday’s one-day record as it reported 1,822 new diagnoses in the past 24 hours.

Case numbers also jumped sharply in Manitoba, where officials recorded 487 new infections and 10 new deaths.

Among those who died was a boy under the age of 10, officials said, though they offered no other details.

Saskatchewan reported 197 COVID-19 cases and one death Saturday.

The province ordered the suspension of team sports earlier this week until Dec. 17 after confirmed COVID-19 cases among several minor and recreational hockey teams.

The Saskatchewan suspension applies to hockey and curling leagues and dance studios.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority posted notices Saturday of COVID-19 exposure risks at curling and recreation centres at Christopher Lake and Shellbrook. Those curling or socializing at either of the two facilities last month must self-isolate for 14 days, the health authority said.

In British Columbia, Fraser Health announced the closure of an elementary school in Surrey after confirming 16 COVID-19 cases.

Newton Elementary School will close for two weeks, said Fraser Health.

B.C. reported a daily record of 911 COVID-19 cases Friday. The province will update its numbers Monday.

People must continue to practise physical distancing, frequent hand washing and staying home as much as possible, said a newly appointed member of B.C. Premier John Horgan’s cabinet.

“I just think it’s important for us to be thoughtful and caring, but at the same time it’s critical that people follow the rules because it’s vital to be able to keep our schools open and keep as many of our business open as possible,” said Ravi Kahlon, whose ministry includes economic recovery.

Figures from New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador show more modest increases of four and two cases, respectively.

Prince Edward Island reported two new COVID-19 cases, but they involved young males aged 10 and 19.

There were 14 new cases in Nova Scotia and five COVID-19 cases in Nunavut.

Tam redoubled her calls for Canadians to heed public health advice, limit their social interactions and practice physical distancing in a bid to bring surging case counts under control.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2020.

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Here is why team sports are allowed to continue in B.C. under the latest COVID-19 restrictions – The Tri-City News

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While the latest provincial health orders restrict several indoor activities, many team sports have been given the green light to continue by health officials. 

Travel to, from and between communities for team athletic activities like games, competitions, training and practice is prohibited under the latest order. However, this order does not apply to individuals who need to commute out of their home health authority to participate in a team sport. 

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So, while a team from Abbotsford cannot attend a training session in Chilliwack, an individual who lives in Vancouver can attend one in Surrey. 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told Vancouver Is Awesome in the daily coronavirus (COVID-19) briefing Friday afternoon that physical fitness, particularly children’s outdoor sports, is an important part of health. Further, she stressed that transmission is more likely to take place on the sidelines, rather than during the game. 

“What we have said is we’ve looked at where the the issues are around transmission and they mostly are on the sidelines–before and after. So, that’s why we made some restrictions around team travel,” she explained.

“No spectators, and to try and at least give opportunities for people to have some activity physical activity in a structured way of their lives because we know that’s important.”

Under the current order, no spectators are allowed at any sport activities. The only people allowed to attend sport activities are those that provide care to a participant or player. For example, providing first aid. 

‘We want people to stay in their community’

In terms of travel, Henry added that people should focus on communities rather than health authorities when it comes to sports: “We want people to stay in their community.”

“We’re not letting teams play in different communities because we know that means that they might have to carpool. But we know that individuals, particularly in the Lower Mainland, may live in one area and work in another area.

“You may go to school in a community that’s adjacent to where you live, so it doesn’t make sense to not allow somebody to play in a team in a community that might be across the street, but in a different health authority.”

With this in mind, Henry emphasized that people need to “pull it back” and ensure they aren’t doing a great deal of travel. Individuals who need to travel to games should go alone or with their immediate families or household.  

Team sports should also be played in a “way that minimizes contact, because we know that there’s still transmission happening in our communities,” added Henry.

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“But it is important for people to get out…and not just for team sports. Everybody should get outside and go for a walk, take your family, take the dog go for a walk 15 minutes a day.

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