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'Hearts are extremely heavy' as search for missing N.S. fishing crew ends – CBC.ca

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The Maritime Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre said late Wednesday afternoon that it is suspending the search for five missing fishermen in the Bay of Fundy.

The news comes after 36 hours of searching for the crew of the Chief Williams Saulis, a scallop vessel based out of Yarmouth, N.S. The RCMP will now handle the investigation as a missing persons case.

The JRCC said the search covered 260 nautical miles by sea and air. One body was recovered on Tuesday night, but had not yet been publicly identified. 

A news release from the Nova Scotia RCMP said their ground search will be conducted during daylight hours and spans a 55-kilometre stretch of coast between Delaps Cove and Margaretsville in Annapolis County. 

The Transportation Safety Board said it will be sending a team to the area to investigate.

CBC News has learned that Aaron Cogswell, Leonard Gabriel, Dan Forbes, Michael Drake and Geno Francis, along with captain Charles Roberts, were the six men on board the boat.

The Chief William Saulis scallop fishing vessel is seen in November 2020. (Katherine Bickford)

‘The province just lost six great people’

Lori Phillips said earlier Wednesday afternoon her son, Aaron Cogswell, 29, had been fishing with the captain of the vessel for seven years. She said his body was not the one recovered on Tuesday evening.

“I know he’s not coming back alive, but I want him to come back home,” she said in an interview.

“The province just lost six great people. Even though I don’t know them, they had to be good. They’re someone’s family. Someone’s missing them and I hope they all come home.”

Before he went out on his last fishing trip, Cogswell went to do his Christmas shopping, taking his nephew along and wrapping his gifts in preparation for the holidays.

A Cormorant helicopter from CFB Greenwood is seen in the air above the Point Prim Lighthouse on Wednesday afternoon, a few hours before the search was suspended. (John McCrossan)

Her son had high-functioning autism, Phillips said, and Roberts, the captain, took him under his wing.

“He was always there for him. He was his protector,” she said, adding that her son “had his daily struggles, but he loved fishing and that’s what he did.”

Phillips said the Chief William Saulis was a newer boat. She said she’s been waiting by the phone for news, but so far knows almost nothing about what happened.

The Chief William Saulis sent out an emergency beacon signal around 5:51 a.m. AT on Tuesday near Delaps Cove, N.S.

Search crews comb the icy, rocky beach near Delaps Cove, N.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. (CBC)

Debris was spotted from the air later that morning and two life rafts washed ashore, but no one was on board.

Jacob Jacquard, a fisherman in Yarmouth, N.S., told the CBC’s As It Happens on Tuesday that the crew would have had survival suits and life jackets on board. He said he believes most of the men would have been sleeping in their bunks when the boat ran into trouble early Tuesday morning.

“If the guys were in their bunk, and a wave hit them and they rolled, they wouldn’t have had time to put on anything really. They wouldn’t have had time to even get on deck,” he said.

“Even with the immersion suits … With how cold the water is, it would be very slim chances to find anybody alive.”

Father of 12 among missing

A distraught Stella Marie McAuley, the girlfriend of 55-year-old Leonard Gabriel, was wearing one of his sweaters when she told CBC News he will be missed by his 12 children.

She said Gabriel had been fishing for over 30 years and described him as kindhearted and giving.

“He was always giving the kids next door treats,” she said. 

Gabriel loved to cook, she said, and was always “joking around.” 

Michael Drake’s oldest sister, Sandra Drake, said her family is devastated by the news. Her brother has two adult children and splits his time between Nova Scotia and his home in Fortune, N.L.

Michael Drake is from Fortune, N.L., and was a crew member aboard the Chief William Saulis, which sent out an emergency beacon off Delaps Cove in the Bay of Fundy on Dec. 15, 2020. This photo was posted to Facebook by his cousin, Ashley Pittman. (Ashley Pittman/Facebook)

“He was so good. He was a good boy. Would help anybody,” she said, describing her brother as very tough, and a good worker who always supported his kids.

Sandra Drake said their father was also a fisherman and that her brother began fishing as a young boy.

“He loved the ocean … he lived on the water … He was always so busy, you could never catch him and talk to him, because he was always on the boats or down the wharf working on the boats,” she said.

“Now he’s gone.”

‘I just kind of put my head down and just prayed’

Alyjah Ritchie, a fisherman from Yarmouth, N.S., said Charles Roberts, the captain, is a family friend and carries the nickname Hot Dog around the wharf. 

Ritchie said he spoke to Roberts just a few days ago and didn’t want to believe it when he heard the boat was missing.

“But when I heard about it and I knew it was true, I just kind of put my head down and just prayed and hoped he was going to come home.”

Alyjah Ritchie is a fisherman from Yarmouth who knows the captain of the Chief William Saulis, Charles Roberts. (CBC)

Ritchie said Roberts is a good man and an experienced fisherman. “Whatever happened, it had to have happened quick.”

Ritchie was heading out to fish for lobster on Wednesday morning. He said while conditions are much better than they were Tuesday, the dangerous nature of the job sits in the back of his mind.

“But like everybody else, you’ve got to keep going forward.”

One of Canada’s deadliest industries

The Nova Scotia fishing community has had its share of tragedies, and the industry remains one of the most dangerous occupations in Canada.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said 2018 was the deadliest year in over a decade, with 17 people dying aboard fishing vessels — seven of them in Nova Scotia waters. Between 2011 and 2017, there were 63 fishing vessel deaths across the country.

Search and rescue crews have been searching the area of Delaps Cove for over a day now. Late Tuesday evening, the Maritime Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre announced that the body of one of the six crew members had been found. (Eric Woolliscroft/CBC)

In February 2013, five young Nova Scotian fishermen were killed when a wall of water crashed into the Miss Ally during a storm, capsizing the boat and rocking the small communities of Cape Sable Island and Woods Harbour.

The bodies of crew members Billy Jack Hatfield, Joel Hopkins, Katlin Nickerson, Steven Cole Nickerson and Tyson Townsend were never recovered.

The RJL scallop dragger also made headlines in 2010, when its four crew members were killed in the Bay of Fundy.

‘Trying to make sense out of something so tragic’

People living in the communities along the Fundy Shore are waiting anxiously as the search unfolds.

Susan Robinson-Bernie is a resident of Parks Cove. She has two fishermen in her family who have been helping with the search.

“If you’re not close to a fisher on the boat, you certainly know of these individuals around the wharves and in the other communities. Everybody knows somebody in the industry,” Robinson-Bernie told CBC’s Information Morning.

“So they’re coming together, talking to each other, just trying to make sense out of something so tragic.”

She said many families of fishermen, both past and present, are at the makeshift command centre at the Hillsburn United Baptist Church on Wednesday to show their compassion and support.

“This comes close to home, hearts are extremely heavy,” Robinson-Bernie said.

The Chief William Saulis is owned by one of southwest Nova Scotia’s larger shellfish companies, Yarmouth Sea Products Ltd. In addition to scallops, Yarmouth Sea Products is a major buyer of lobsters. 

A news release from the company on Wednesday said “all required maintenance and inspection of safety equipment was current and up to date.”

Many of the crew members are from the Yarmouth area.

“Fishing is not a job here, it’s a way of life,” the town’s mayor, Pam Mood, told CBC’s Maritime Noon.

We line the shores just praying as the vessels go out with our friends, our family members on board. This is absolutely the worst news that you could ever get. Ever.”

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

The global death toll from COVID-19 surpassed two million Friday, according to a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University, as vaccines developed at breakneck speed are being rolled out around the world in an all-out campaign to vanquish the threat of the virus.

The milestone was reached just over a year after the coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

While the count is based on figures supplied by government agencies around the world, the real toll is believed to be significantly higher, in part because of inadequate testing and the many fatalities that were inaccurately attributed to other causes, especially early in the outbreak.

It took eight months to hit one million dead. It took less than four months after that to reach the next million.

“Behind this terrible number are names and faces — the smile that will now only be a memory, the seat forever empty at the dinner table, the room that echoes with the silence of a loved one,” said United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. He said the toll “has been made worse by the absence of a global co-ordinated effort.”

“Science has succeeded, but solidarity has failed,” he said.

WATCH | WHO chief pleads with weary world to help break COVID-19 transmission:

As the global death toll from the coronavirus pushed past 2 million, the head of the World Health Organization urged people to use the tools they have to curb the virus and lift the burden on health workers. 1:40

What’s happening across Canada

As of 12:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 693,835 cases of COVID-19, with 76,149 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 17,698.

Pfizer will temporarily reduce shipments of its vaccine to Canada as it expands long-term manufacturing capacity, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Friday. 

“This expansion work means that Pfizer is temporarily reducing deliveries to all countries receiving vaccines manufactured at its European facility, and that includes Canada,” Anand told reporters at a public health briefing.

Anand stressed that Canada remains on track to have enough approved vaccines for everyone who wishes to be vaccinated by the end of September this year.

In the same briefing, the Public Health Agency of Canada released new modelling that showed roughly 2,000 more people are expected to die from COVID-19 over the next 10 days, while as many as 100,000 more people could contract the virus.

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick recorded 25 new cases on Friday, continuing a recent surge in cases that has seen provincial officials warning of new restrictions.

At a livestreamed update Thursday, Premier Blaine Higgs said that while the vast majority of New Brunswickers are following the rules, “we still don’t see the compliance we need to.” He said moving back to the red level “is indeed a possibility” if that doesn’t change.

Nova Scotia reported two new cases and two new recoveries on Friday, leaving its number of active cases at 32. In Truro, a mobile health unit has been set up in response to an increase in the number of potential exposures in the area during the last week.

Newfoundland and Labrador added one new case on Friday. Prince Edward Island saw one new case on Thursday.

WATCH | Montreal ICU doctor on triage protocol as COVID-19 cases surge:  

Dr. François Marquis, an intensive care chief at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital in Montreal, explains how his hospital’s triage tool will work. But he said he is also concerned about the need to use it. 6:52

Quebec announced 1,918 new cases and 62 deaths on Friday. There are 1,496 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, including 231 in intensive care.

On Thursday, the province pledged to deliver second vaccine shots within “a maximum” 90 days after the first, after its decision to delay second doses prompted consternation and at least one lawsuit.

Ontario reported 2,998 new cases and a record 100 deaths on Friday, though 46 deaths reported by Middlesex-London Health Unit occurred earlier in the pandemic. There are 1,647 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, including 387 in intensive care.

Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford has kicked an MPP out of the Progressive Conservative caucus for sending an open letter asking for the province’s lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions to end.

In a statement issued Friday morning, Ford called the comments from York Centre MPP Roman Baber’s two-page letter “irresponsible,” saying Baber will not be allowed to seek re-election as a PC member.

WATCH | Uncertainty around how to enforce Ontario’s stay-at-home order:  

The 29 exemptions in Ontario’s provincewide stay-at-home order has many officials and residents confused and authorities with serious questions about how to do their jobs. 1:52

A provincewide stay-at-home order and other new restrictions took effect on Thursday and are slated to remain in place until at least Feb. 11. They come as Ontario deals with surging COVID-19 numbers that threaten more deaths than seen during the first wave.

Manitoba reported 191 new COVID-19 cases and five more deaths on Friday. The update comes a week before provincewide restrictions that ban most gatherings and the sale of non-essential goods expire. The provincial government is now considering reducing some of those restrictions, and is asking for input from the public in an online survey.

Saskatchewan, which reported 312 new cases on Thursday, released its latest modelling forecast, showing the province could see around 900 new infections a day by Jan. 25 even if residents closely follow public health guidelines.

Dr. Ryan Warshawski, president of the Yukon Medical Association, receives a COVID-19 vaccination in Whitehorse on Wednesday. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

In Yukon, a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for physicians and high-risk hospital staff has inoculated about 300 people.

Northwest Territories health officials say wastewater testing suggests there may be one or more undetected cases of COVID-19 in Hay River.

In Nunavut, more than 600 people are estimated to have received a first dose of the Moderna vaccine so far, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said.


What’s happening around the world

As of Friday afternoon, more than 93.3 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 51.5 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 case tracking tool. The global death toll stood at just over two million.

In the Americas, U.S. health officials say by March, a new and more infectious strain of coronavirus — first found in the United Kingdom — will likely become the dominant strain in the United States.

The variant is currently in 12 states, but has been diagnosed in only 76 of the 23 million U.S. cases reported to date. However, it’s likely that version of the virus is more widespread in this country than is currently reported, according to scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While it’s considered more infectious than the virus that’s been causing the bulk of U.S. cases so far, there’s no evidence that it causes more severe illness or is transmitted differently. Therefore, mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing and other prevention strategies can still work, the CDC said.

In Europe, Belgium is strengthening its rules for travellers entering the country by train or bus in a bid to limit the spread of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus first detected in Britain.

In a statement Friday, Belgium’s Interior Ministry said travellers arriving from a country outside the European Union or the Schengen space with a high contamination rate will now be subject to the same rules as those coming by boat or plane.

In Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has signed a new series of restrictions aimed at containing the coronavirus resurgence. The new rules, which run through Feb. 15, extend the ban on travelling between regions and maintains a 10 p.m.-5 a.m. curfew.

As well, the opening of ski lifts has been postponed for a second time, and — in a rule hotly contested by regional leaders — bars must close completely at 6 p.m., and cannot offer take-away or delivery as is permitted by restaurants.

In Asia, China said it is now treating more than 1,000 people for COVID-19 as numbers of cases continue to surge in the country’s north.

The National Health Commission said Friday that 1,001 patients are under care for the disease, 26 of them in serious condition. It said 144 total new cases were recorded in the previous 24 hours.

The province of Hebei, just outside Beijing, accounted for 90 of the new cases, while Heilongjiang province farther north reported 43 new cases.

A medical worker monitors patients after they received the coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination facility in Beijing on Friday. (Mark Schiefelbein/The Associated Press)

Pakistan’s education minister said authorities will start reopening schools in phases from Jan. 18 despite a steady increase in deaths and infections from the coronavirus.

Schools were closed in November when data showed that the country’s positivity rate had jumped to about seven per cent. The rate has since come down to 5.9 per cent, which is still high, according to experts.

In Africa, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday that millions of coronavirus vaccine doses secured by the African Union (AU) will be allocated according to countries’ population size.

Street vendors wearing masks to help protect themselves from the coronavirus sell vegetables in Thokoza, east of Johannesburg, on Thursday. (Themba Hadebe/The Associated Press)

Ramaphosa, who is the current AU chairman, said on Wednesday that vaccines from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca would be available this year, but he did not specify how much each African country would get.

No African countries have begun large-scale coronavirus vaccination campaigns and the AU’s 270 million shots, if administered two per person, would still only cover around 10 per cent of the continent’s 1.3 billion people.

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Canada will experience 'temporary' delays with Pfizer shipments: Anand – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canada will be experiencing a “temporary” delay in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments due to the pharmaceutical giant’s expansion plans at its European manufacturing facility, Procurement Minister Anita Anand announced Friday.

While she did not specify how severe of a setback this will be to Canada’s short-term COVID-19 vaccination schedule, she said all nations who are receiving vaccines from this Pfizer facility will be receiving fewer doses.

Anand said that shipments will continue in the coming weeks, but the amount of doses in them will be lessened.

“It is a temporary reduction, it’s not a stoppage… We will make up those doses,” Anand said.

Addressing the setback during his Rideau Cottage address on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that shipments have largely been ahead of schedule so far, but that “with an undertaking this historic, it’s only to be expected that there will be a few bumps along the way.”

Pfizer is speaking with Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading Canada’s logistical rollout, later Friday about the readjusted number of doses in the weeks coming, and Anand pledged to have more information to share in the coming hours. 

Norway, which is also receiving Pfizer doses from its Europe facilities has announced that “starting next week and for some time ahead” their deliveries will be reduced by approximately 18 per cent.

“The reduction is due to a reorganisation at Pfizer in connection with an upgrade of production capacity… It is not yet clear how long it will take before Pfizer is up to maximum production capacity again,” said the statement published by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. 

Canada was planning on receiving between 124,800 and 366,600 Pfizer doses every week between now and the end of February, as part of the plan to have six million doses total from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of March when Phase 1 ends.

“Pfizer believes that by the end of March we will be able to catch up, such that we will be on track with the total committed doses for Q1. This is unfortunate, however such delays and issues are to be expected when global supply chains are stretched well beyond their limits,” Anand said.

She said the Canadian government is seeking to ensure that all countries who will be impacted, will be “equitably treated” in terms of delivery reductions.

By end of the day Friday, the federal government will have distributed a total of 929,000 doses of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines, around 84 per cent of which have been administered.

The plan is to receive “more than” one million doses of approved vaccines every week, on average, starting in April with Phase 2. 

Trudeau said that while this issue is out of Canada’s hands, the country “must still get ready for the ramp-up,” in Phase 2. 

The ongoing initial vaccination stage has seen Canada pushing to properly allocate and prioritize key groups like residents and staff in long-term care homes as well as front-line health-care workers. 

In this first stage of the vaccine campaign, Canada has seen both doses sitting in freezers as well as provinces saying they are running short, while those on the front line have sought to sort out who should and shouldn’t be receiving shots at this time.

“It was with precisely these types of issues in mind that Canada pursued the aggressive procurement strategy that we did,” Anand said. “This approach of ensuring diversity and volume months ago is what now gives us flexibility and margins to remain on track in difficult times.” 

The minister said that she remains in constant contact with Pfizer, who has assured her the delay will be “short.”

She said Canada remains on track to vaccinate everyone who wants to be, by the end of September.  

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New COVID-19 modelling shows pandemic resurgence in Canada rapidly worsening – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
The spread of COVID-19 continues to surge rapidly across the country, with tens of thousands of new cases and thousands of additional deaths forecasted in the coming weeks.

New national modelling released on Friday shows that Canada is on track to see up to 796,630 total COVID-19 cases and 19,630 deaths by Jan. 24 and federal officials are urging swift action to avoid Canadian doctors having to make “impossible choices,” such as who gets an ICU bed.

The short-term forecast shows a “continuation of rapid growth” and if Canadians continue to have the same amount of close contact with others, the epidemic will continue to resurge.

“We need to keep reducing in-person contacts. For the moment that’s the only way to get these numbers down,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a Rideau Cottage address on Friday.

“We’ve seen the kinds of impossible choices hospitals in other countries had to face when they become overwhelmed. Deciding who gets an ICU bed and who doesn’t, well that’s not where we want to be. So please keep following public health guidelines and stay safe,” Trudeau said.  

Unless the extent and severity of restrictions are further intensified, Canada will not be able to suppress the current rate of spread, warned Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday.

“We have yet to see the kind of widespread and sustained declines in daily case counts that would indicate we’re bringing the pandemic under control nationally.” 

While the pandemic situation is not uniform across the country, overall there has been a steady increase in hospitalizations in provinces with high infection rates since October, with an average of more than 4,700 people being treated in hospital on any given day, with 875 in ICUs.

Once someone is hospitalized with COVID-19, they tend to stay around 16 days, though it’s often longer for those with severe illness. This has strained the capacity of Canada’s health-care system, and has exhausted health-care workers, Tam said.

In most of the country there is now widespread community transmission and a growing number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities and other high-risk settings like correctional facilities and shelters.

Trudeau said that the increase in outbreaks in long-term care homes is “tragic,” and Canada’s elderly and most vulnerable deserve better. 

COVID-19 deaths are also “steadily rising,” and the daily death totals may soon exceed the levels seen during the first peak of the virus last spring. The daily case counts have already far exceeded the peak of the first wave.

Seniors continue to represent the highest percentage of COVID-19 deaths, though to date 70 deaths have been reported in adults 20 to 39 years of age.

In an interview on CTV News Channel speaking about the severity of the virus in Ontario which is now under a province-wide stay-at-home order, infectious disease expert Dr. Abdu Sharkawy said that “we’re in serious trouble.”

“That’s a lot of people lost, that’s a lot of families that will never be together again,” he said, citing the 100 deaths reported in the province on Friday.

“There’s a lot of work to be done here, there’s still a lot of stress going on in our ICUs, in our emergency rooms, and it’s not tenable so we’ve got a lot more work to do to drive those numbers down,” said Sharkawy. 

QUICK, STRONG ACTION NEEDED

The Public Health Agency of Canada is calling for “quick, strong and sustained measures” to interrupt the current growth trajectory this country is currently charting.

Asked if new COVID-19 variants are being included in these modelling figures, Tam said no but separate modelling is being done on various scenarios depending on the ongoing proliferation of new, more transmissible strains being detected. 

The last time national modelling was presented a month ago, the forecast was that Canada was on a “rapid growth trajectory” and was not at all flattening the curve of the second wave of cases in this country. Friday’s modelling shows the virus’ spread is still on this rapid growth path.

While some provinces had started to show a downward trajectory at the end of December, new cases rose again after the holidays. Health officials said this was likely due to people having more contacts around Christmas and other celebrations, but also likely because people held off from getting tested until early in the new year.

During the final modelling presentation of 2020, Canada’s top public health officials expressed hope that the then-recent introduction of more stringent measures in some provinces would make an impact in reducing transmission over the next few weeks.

However, Friday’s modelling shows Canada continues to see a “sharp increase” in daily COVD-19 cases since December.

“We need to flatten the curve once again,” Tam said.

VACCINE WON’T BE ENOUGH

While the ongoing COVID-19 vaccine rollout is positive news, offering initial additional protection for those on Canada’s front line and to the most vulnerable, Tam warned that it will still be months before most Canadians get access to shots and it’s essential that the health-care system has the capacity to administer them on a mass scale when the time comes.

That will be challenging if the virus continues to amplify and more Canadians are hospitalized.

“Public health measures work. The vaccine in the short term is not going to make any difference to the transmission,” Tam said. 

“As vaccine supply increases, COVID-19 vaccine implementation will be one of the most complex undertakings in the history of public health. We know that Canadians are tired and that the winter months will be very challenging as we continue to grapple with high rates of infection in many areas of the country,” Tam said.

“Often the end of the race is the hardest part, but it won’t last forever. For now, we must redouble our efforts at this pivotal moment and get this done.”

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