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Henry defends early last call on NYE, says B.C.’s COVID-19 situation ‘precarious’ – News 1130



VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — B.C. health officials warned that the province is in a precarious position when it comes to containing COVID-19, clarifying why they are ordering an early last call on New Year’s Eve during their last update of 2020.

The number of lives lost during the pandemic rose to 901 Thursday, with eight more deaths being reported.

With 683 new cases recorded, Dr. Bonnie Henry stressed the critical need to celebrate New Year’s Eve safely.

“We have been trending in the right direction for the last few weeks, although the increase today reminds us that we are still in a very precarious situation, and we can only look around us — whether it’s other jurisdictions here in Canada, around the world, our neighbours to the South — where we see this virus continues to wreak havoc, and to cause illness and death,” she said.

“As the new year brings a fresh start for all of us, we must start 2021 in the right space on the right foot. The only way we can get there is for all of us to continue to stay small and stay local — particularly for New Year’s Eve celebrations tonight.”

RELATED: Hospitality industry shocked by short notice of New Year’s Eve liquor sale cut-off

The ban on selling and serving alcohol after 8 p.m. was announced just over 24 hours before it would come into effect, leaving many in the food service and hospitality industry reeling as they coped with cancelled reservations and anticipated a major hit to revenue. The order expires Jan. 1, at which point last call will go back to being 10 p.m.

But Henry said she made the decision after hearing about events being planned where hundreds were expected to attend, and from concerned workers.

“The rationale behind this step is simple. Alcohol, as we know, and it has we have seen far too many times this year, limits our inhibitions. What can begin as a quiet dinner with our household or drink with a friend can to easily get out of control and sadly we have seen that happen even in the past few weeks. When that happens, rules can be forgotten, and servers and restaurant staff are the ones who must enforce these rules for the safety of everyone, including the staff,” she said.

“I’ve heard from many who work in restaurants and bars, who were worried about their ability to manage those situations — particularly on a night like tonight. I recognize absolutely that these restrictions are yet another challenge the restaurant and the food service industry has had to face in what has already been a very tough year, but two hours now is necessary for us to manage a situation that is going to be lasting for many more weeks.”

She added B.C. has kept restaurants open while other provinces have ordered them to close for all but take-out and delivery, and her hope is this temporary change will allow the doors to remain open.

Health Minister Adrian Dix detailed some statistics to underscore the importance of following provincial health orders.

“Ninety-four people have passed away from COVID-19 since Christmas Eve, that we have a significant number of cases, that we have 374 people in hospital, and we really need people to dig in right now,” he said.

“Following provincial health orders, it’s my expectation that everyone will do that, absolutely everyone will do that because it’s important to do it right now to begin to reduce the number of cases. And in particular, reduce the situation for people who are most vulnerable people in long term care and others who obviously are facing even more risks.”

Of those in hospital, 76 are in critical care or the ICU. Outbreaks persist at 52 long-term or acute care facilities where 1,412 residents and 723 staff are currently infected.

Dix and Henry also offered an update on vaccinations, and said 17510 people have received a dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

The next scheduled update on Jan. 4 will offer details on the province’s vaccine rollout plan.

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Rio Tinto smelter workers go on strike in Kitimat, B.C. – Business News –



Approximately 900 Rio Tinto workers at the company’s aluminum smelting facilities in Kitimat, B.C. have gone on strike.

The walkout began today at one minute after midnight. Unifor Local 2301, which represents the workers, had issued a 72-hour strike notice after nearly seven weeks of negotiations.

Jerry Dias, Unifor’s National President, says the strike comes down to what he calls “Rio Tinto’s greed and lack of respect” for the union members working at the Kitimat smelting facilities.

The union says it has proposed the first changes to workers’ retirement income and benefit levels in more than a decade, including moving younger workers to defined benefit from defined contribution pension plans.

It also says negotiations have focused on a backlog of more than 300 grievances resulting from the company’s use of contractors and its refusal to hire full-time workers.

Bargaining had continued up until the strike deadline, and the company had earlier said that it was “committed to working with the union to reach a mutually beneficial outcome.”

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30 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death reported in Manitoba on Sunday –



There are 30 new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba and one more person has died from the illness, the province’s online coronavirus dashboard says.

Manitoba’s five-day test positivity rate is now 3.2 per cent, the dashboard says, down slightly from 3.3 on Saturday.

The province is no longer issuing COVID-19 news releases on weekends, which means updates on Saturdays and Sundays come from Manitoba’s online dashboards.

Those data portals offer less information than what’s typically included in a news release. For example, they do not provide any information on the age or health region of people who died from the illness.

Those and other details are expected to be revealed in the province’s next news release on Monday.

There are still 103 Manitobans hospitalized after getting COVID-19 and the number of people in intensive care rose by one to 26, the dashboard says.

Manitoba has now reported 1,172 deaths linked to COVID-19. The province’s seven-day new case average sank to just under 44.

On Saturday, the province did 1,465 more tests for the illness, the dashboard says, bringing the total number of swabs completed since the beginning of the pandemic to 865,786.

As of Sunday, Manitoba has fully vaccinated 66 per cent of its eligible population against COVID-19 while 78.6 per cent have at least one dose, the province’s online vaccine dashboard says.

That brings the province slightly closer to its final reopening plan goal of having 80 per cent with at least one dose and at least 75 per cent with both by Sept 6.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 57,446 people in Manitoba have tested positive for COVID-19. The dashboard says 55,719 of them are considered recovered, while 555 are still deemed active cases.

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Ontario reports 172 new COVID-19 cases and 2 more deaths; 7-day average remains unchanged – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



Ontario reported fewer than 200 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths on Sunday, as the seven-day rolling average remains unchanged from yesterday.

Provincial health officials logged 172 new infections today, up from 170 on Saturday but down from 177 a week ago.

The province reported 192 cases on Friday, 185 on Thursday and 135 on Wednesday.

The seven-day rolling average now stands at 159, unchanged from Saturday but up slightly from a week ago when it was 153.

The province’s virus-related death toll is 9,313.

Another 144 people recovered from the virus yesterday, resulting in 1,450 active cases across the province.

Ontario labs processed 13,902 tests in the past 24 hours, down from 19,131 the previous day.

The drop in testing contributed to a slight day-over-day rise in the positivity rate to 1.1. per cent, compared to 0.8 per cent on Saturday, according to the Ministry of Health.

Another 152 lab-confirmed cases of variants of concern were identified in Ontario in the past 24 hours.

In the Greater Toronto Area, 48 cases of COVID-19 were logged in Toronto, 23 in Peel Region, nine in York Region, 11 in Durham and seven in Halton.

There are currently 127 people in intensive care units across the province due to the virus and 81 of those patients are breathing with the help of a ventilator.

To date, there have been more 549,300 lab-confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 538,565 recoveries since January 2020.

Over 8.5 million people are fully vaccinated against the virus after receiving two doses of approved vaccines.

More than 18.9 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Ontario since mid-December, with 103,812 shots into arms yesterday alone.

The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.

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