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'Hotspots' linger, more young people getting COVID-19: new modelling – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
New national modelling on the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada shows that “hotspots” remain in Ontario and Quebec, and the percentage of younger people contracting the virus has increased in proportion to a decrease in older patients in the last month.

Federal health officials are projecting that as of July 12 the country could see between 103,940 and 108,130 cases, and between 8,545 and 8,865 deaths.

To-date there are 103,818 confirmed Canadian COVID-19 cases, of which 64 per cent have recovered, while there have been 8,566 deaths.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam and Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo are providing a revised picture of the current epidemic in this country.

The latest federal figures indicate that the two main hotpots remain around Toronto and Montreal, as well as in pockets of Saskatchewan and southern Ontario, but that overall Canada’s experience with the novel coronavirus has been a case of regional epidemics, with some provinces and territories going weeks now without new cases.

The health officials said that the daily numbers of hospitalized and critical care cases are also steadily declining as recoveries increase. The modelling also shows that while there has been a steep decline in transmission among older age groups, there has been a relative increase in Canadians aged 20-39 contracting COVID-19 since late May.

“As the epidemic has slowed the incident rate has steadily declined in all age groups. But the decline has been relatively slow in younger age groups… Individuals under the age of 40 now account for a greater proportion of total cases in recent weeks,” Tam said.

Dr. Tam said that in order for COVID-19 to “die out” in Canada, effective reproduction number (Rt) — the average number of people infected by each case—needs to remain below one, and Canada’s Rt rate has been less than one for eight weeks.

Tam also cautioned that outbreaks have also recently been linked to social gatherings, particularly in closed settings with close contacts like funerals or other family gatherings. She is advising people to limit keep the number of close contacts people have and avoid enclosed and crowded spaces.

“You should ask yourself if you do test positive, consider that the fewer people that you have contact with, the quicker and easier it will be for public health to trace them all down and interrupt chains of transmission to keep the spread of COVID-19 under control,” she said.

Going forward she said the capacity for contact tracing and isolating new cases will need to continue to increase. Over time the testing rates and case detection have sped up, though Canada is still only testing on average of 38,000 people daily, when Tam has previously said the target is closer to 60,000. 

PM CALLS FOR VIGILANCE

Ahead of the update, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that when it comes to the spread of COVID-19, Canada is heading in the right direction, though the threat remains. 

“The virus remains a very serious threat to our health,” Trudeau said Monday, updating Canadians on the latest pandemic relief efforts the federal government is working on, which includes looking to extend a commercial rent relief program for another month.

“After a very challenging spring, things are continuing to move in the right direction. We still have some hotspots in some parts of the country, but nationally, the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths is declining over time. And that’s because Canadians are doing their part,” Trudeau said. “Though, while we’re on the right track, the fight against COVID-19 is not over yet. As we start to reopen parts of the economy we must continue to follow local public health guidelines to keep each other safe.”  

Trudeau drove home throughout his address the need to remain on top of measures like mask wearing and physical distancing, or risk losing the progress made as is being seen in other countries, particularly the United States where cases are surging to near-early pandemic levels after states eased off on health restrictions.

“It going to be really, really important that everyone remains attentive and vigilant to their own behaviors, so that we can prevent a second wave from arriving… as we’re beginning to see in places around the world, but also, so we can minimize any wave, if it does hit,” Trudeau said.  

Trudeau also said that as it’s now summer, he and federal health officials will be transitioning out of the nearly daily national addresses, to coming out to speak to Canadians “a few times a week… when we have briefings, or information to share” and still publishing the latest figures on cases and deaths every day. 

SCALED-DOWN DEATH PROJECTIONS

Monday’s figures are the fourth federal modelling update offered by Heath Canada officials, and the death estimates are now far below what the initial projections estimated.

Tam warned earlier this month, that Canada could see “explosive growth” in new cases if reopening is not done with caution. The figures showed that, if the spread prevention measures are insufficient, Canada could have another peak come October.

The previous national projections on the severity and scope of COVID-19 prior to Monday’s update showed that 82 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths are linked to seniors’ homes, and that outbreaks in other congregate living and work settings are also driving case counts, such as those in meat packing plants, shelters, and correctional facilities. As well, approximately 94 per cent of the deaths have occurred in people over the age of 60.

During the April 28 modelling update Canada first saw indicators that the COVID-19 curve was flattening in Canada and that the rate of case spread had levelled off in most provinces. The modelling at that time also showed that, compared to other countries, Canada’s epidemic growth has been slower. 

The first round of projections showed the peak of cases in Canada might come in late spring, with the end of the first wave in the summer. On April 9, it was estimated that between 4,000 and 300,000 people in Canada could die from COVID-19 during the pandemic depending on the level of containment efforts. Though health officials estimated that, under the current public health measures, the realistic figure would be somewhere between 11,000 and 44,000 COVID-19 deaths in the months ahead.

At the time, Trudeau said to expect small outbreaks to continue once the initial wave was over, saying certain public health precautions would be the new normal until a vaccine is developed.

While that high rate of projected deaths has now come down considerably, Tam reiterated Trudeau’s sentiment: “I want everyone to remember that the virus has not disappeared and resurgence can happen anytime or at any place. Until there is a vaccine or an effective treatment we need to continue to live with COVID-19.”

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Canada adds 288 new coronavirus cases as curve continues to flatten – Globalnews.ca

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Canada reported 288 more confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus Monday, maintaining a pattern of relatively low daily case counts that has now flattened since late June.

The number was nearly identical to the totals recorded for Saturday and Sunday. Many provinces waited until Monday to report those numbers, taking a weekend break from daily updates.

Read more:
How many Canadians have the new coronavirus? Total number of confirmed cases by region

Nine more deaths were reported Monday as well, three of them in Quebec — marking the lowest death toll for the province since April 2. The remaining six were in British Columbia, representing a cumulative total since Friday. One of the deaths occurred in June, but has only now been attributed to COVID-19.

Ontario also reported no new deaths Monday for the first time since the end of March.

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Canada has now seen 105,915 lab-confirmed cases, along with 8,693 deaths. A total of 69,570 cases have since recovered.

Although it didn’t see any new deaths, Ontario still reported 154 new coronavirus cases Monday, and Quebec saw 74 more cases.

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Nova Scotia reported one new case, the only Atlantic province to do so Monday.

Read more:
Scientists warn coronavirus could be airborne — What does this mean for Canadians?

Saskatchewan saw three more cases over the past 24 hours, while Manitoba stayed clear of new infections. Alberta added 49 new cases, and British Columbia reported seven.

While the Yukon and Northwest Territories haven’t reported any new cases for over two months now, Nunavut is awaiting confirmation of its first-ever presumptive case, which was reported Thursday.

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All provinces and territories are in the midst of slowly reopening their economies after weeks of shutdowns at the height of the pandemic, which federal modelling suggests remains on a downward trajectory.

Daily totals of new cases have been hovering around 300 for over a week, after spiking past 400 in late June.






0:53
We could see a rise in diseases like COVID-19 because of climate change


We could see a rise in diseases like COVID-19 because of climate change

Worldwide, the novel coronavirus pandemic has grown to over 11.5 million confirmed cases and has killed at least 536,000 people, according to public health data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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In the United States, confirmed cases are closing in on three million as cases continue to surge in several states. The country has been reporting an average of 50,000 new cases daily since the end of June.

Researchers and public health officials around the world say the true number of infections is likely far higher due to limitations in testing.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Clearview AI stops offering facial recognition software in Canada amid privacy probe – CBC.ca

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Clearview AI, the controversial U.S.-based technology firm, will no longer make its facial recognition software available in Canada. Federal and provincial privacy authorities made the announcement on Monday and then Clearview confirmed it to CBC News. 

A statement issued by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada said Clearview had advised officials of the decision in response to an ongoing investigation by the privacy authorities of Canada, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec.

In its announcement Monday, the federal privacy commissioner’s office said the joint investigation into Clearview would remain open and that “authorities still plan to issue findings in this matter given the importance of the issue for the privacy rights of Canadians.”

In a statement emailed to CBC News, Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That said, ”In response to [the Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s] request, Clearview AI has ceased its operations in Canada.”

“We are proud of our record in assisting Canadian law enforcement to solve some of the most heinous crimes, including crimes against children. We will continue to co-operate with [the Office of the Privacy Commissioner] on other related issues.”

Ann Cavoukian, a former Ontario privacy commissioner, called the announcement “great news.”

“This shows that we can indeed make a difference and stop privacy-invasive practices,” said Cavoukian, who now serves as executive director of the Global Privacy and Security by Design in Toronto.

The company first came under scrutiny earlier this year when it boasted about collecting billions of photos from the internet to feed its facial recognition app.

Clearview said the tool is meant to allow police to “identify perpetrators and victims of crimes,” but privacy advocates worried the technology could fall into the wrong hands or lead to a dystopian future in which anyone can be identified within seconds whether they consent to facial recognition or not.

Software used by police forces

Several law enforcement agencies, from the RCMP to Toronto and Calgary police, acknowledged their members had briefly used the software.

Monday’s statement by federal and provincial privacy authorities said the RCMP was “Clearview’s last remaining client in Canada” and that the contract would be suspended indefinitely. A separate investigation into the Mounties’ use of the software would also continue, the federal privacy watchdog said.

RCMP spokesperson Catherine Fortin confirmed the Mounties’ National Child Exploitation Crime Centre “no longer has a license with Clearview AI and has stopped using its software.” She did not indicate exactly when the force ended its use of the app.

WATCH | Canadians’ faces in Clearview AI database:

Facial recognition technology firm won’t allow Canadians to have their data removed 2:38

Another “ongoing issue under investigation by the authorities is the deletion of the personal information of Canadians that Clearview has already collected, as well as the cessation of Clearview’s collection of Canadians’ personal information,” the federal privacy watchdog’s statement said.

CBC News reported in June that while Clearview was offering residents of certain jurisdictions the opportunity to request their data be deleted from the firm’s database, it did not appear Canadians were eligible.

Ton-That told CBC News that Canadians will now “be able to opt out of Clearview’s search results” without specifying how people could do so.

On Monday afternoon, the company’s website still quoted an unnamed “detective constable in the sex crimes unit” of a Canadian law enforcement agency as saying, “Clearview AI is hands-down the best thing that has happened to victim identification in the last 10 years.”

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This couple can't be together in Canada because of COVID-19, so they're moving to Serbia – CTV News

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TORONTO —
She lives on an island where COVID-19 has never been detected. He lives on an island where every case has been resolved.

And because their countries’ border restrictions prevent either of them from travelling to the other’s home, they’re planning to meet up on another continent, in a nation where they don’t speak the language or have any ties and the novel coronavirus is a much more pressing concern.

“It seems crazy in my mind, for him to be leaving an island in the Caribbean … where there’s no COVID. I’m leaving our other island in Eastern Canada where there’s also no COVID, and here we go off, leaving our safe havens … and off we go to Europe for I don’t know how long,” Carly Fleet told CTVNews.ca vin a phone call on Monday from Grand Manan, N.B.

None of New Brunswick’s 165 COVID-19 cases have been traced to Grand Manan, an island in the Bay of Fundy. Grenada’s 23 patients have all recovered. But travel restrictions in both countries mean neither Fleet nor her common-law partner Sean Bodden can visit the other.

They were last together in late February, weeks before the pandemic disrupted global travel and Grenada shut its borders. Like many Caribbean nations, it delayed its reopening plans after Antigua and Barbuda announced dozens of cases within weeks of letting tourists back in. This means that Fleet, a Canadian citizen, cannot enter the country.

Less clear is what would happen if Bodden tried to get into Canada. Those looking to reunite with Canadian spouses or common-law partners have officially been allowed into the country for about a month, but many couples have reported difficulty getting the non-Canadian partner in, even when they have what they believe to be sufficient proof of their relationship.

The Canada Border Services Agency has said that there are no set criteria for a non-Canadian partner to make it across the border. Instead, individual border guards have the authority to decide who gets in “based on the information available to them at time of processing.”

While Bodden has a lease that shows he and Fleet have been together for longer than one year – meeting the government’s required length for a relationship to count as common-law – their situation is complicated by them having spent some time during that period apart, each in their own countries.

That has Fleet concerned that trying to get her partner into Canada is “like playing Russian roulette,” as she put it, because a border guard could decide they have not been together long enough to qualify.

“We’ve heard so many horror stories of married couples and all sorts of different situations where people have tried it. Some get through; some don’t,” Bodden told CTVNews.ca on Monday in a phone call from Grenada.

BORDER QUESTIONS

If Bodden is denied entry into Canada, it’s not at all clear where he could go next, as his citizenship is Trinidadian, not Grenadian – and neither country has reopened its borders.

“If I do get turned away at the border, I may not be able to get back into Grenada and I definitely will not get back into Trinidad,” he said.

Given the inability to travel between their two coronavirus-free communities, Fleet and Bodden have instead booked plane tickets to a distant land that is reporting hundreds of new COVID-19 cases a day.

On Friday, they will have their long-awaited reunion in Paris. They won’t be staying there, as Trinidad and Tobago is not one of the 14 countries whose citizens are allowed to enter the European Union bloc. Instead, they’ll fly on to Istanbul.

They’ve also booked tickets to take them from Turkey to Belgrade, Serbia, but a recent spike in COVID-19 cases there has led to some restrictions being reimposed. Fleet fears that the situation may worsen by the time her flight arrives.

“I don’t know, by the time Friday rolls around, if we’ll still be able to get into the country,” she said.

Bodden and Fleet are hardly the only half-Canadian couple separated by the border measures. Many of them are in touch with each other online, and Fleet says she’s aware of some in situations she considers worse than hers, including parents being separated from newborn children they have yet to meet and women going through high-risk pregnancies without their partners.

She says she initially understood why the rules were in place to protect public health and could live with that, but recent news that the government is guaranteeing access to professional baseball and hockey players has her wondering why that is doable for athletes but not for couples.

“I can’t stay in a country that’s going to give priority to sports over family,” she said.

“We’re certainly not advocating for open borders. We understand that the safety of Canadian citizens has to be first and foremost. We would just like some exemptions to be made for committed couples and families to be able to reunite.”

‘I’LL DO ANYTHING’

Whether they end up in Serbia, Turkey or Croatia – the very few countries that they say meet their criteria of currently accepting Canadians and Trinidadians, not requiring them to quarantine and being reachable from Paris – Fleet and Bodden will have no local ties, no understanding of the language, no accommodations booked and no idea of how long they’ll stay.

“We just thought ‘If we’re going to be together, we need to do something dramatic,’ so we started looking at countries that … let foreign nationals in,” Fleet said.

“We’ve just kind of resigned ourselves to the fact that we don’t know exactly where we’re headed.”

It isn’t their first choice. They say that since it became clear they wouldn’t be able to spend the summer together in New Brunswick, they’ve been making plan after plan after plan, only to readjust as the pandemic endures and travel restrictions are extended.

With new COVID-19 case rates again accelerating in the Balkans, they expect that Friday may not go exactly as they expect either – but they still expect to reunite in Paris, and will figure out the rest from there.

“We’ve made so many plans in the past and had doors shut in our face that we just keep on trying until we do succeed,” Bodden said.

“I’ll do anything to be with her. I don’t care where it is.”

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