After federal COVID-19 modelling showed that the fall could bring about yet another surge in COVID-19 cases with the Delta variant spreading rapidly, doctors say that the best way to avoid a fourth wave is to vaccinate, test, trace and isolate.
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, released modelling on Friday that indicates cases are beginning to rise as a result of the more contagious Delta variant, but there is still time to flatten the curve.
“There’s no summer vacation for getting second doses and first doses, because we don’t have that leeway,” Dr. Lisa Barrett told CTV News Channel on Saturday.
She added that people who are delayed in getting their shots, first or second, need to make an effort to get it as soon as possible.
“Before we get into all of these back to school and other situations in a respiratory virus season like the fall, we’ve got to keep going,” she said.
While breakthrough cases have happened among vaccinated people, they remain rare and vaccines remain the best defense against COVID-19.
”It very much is that these vaccines are amazing, and the cornerstone of our prevention toolbox, and our control,” said Barrett. “The limiting of virus really, really depends on people getting two doses of this vaccine.”
There are other steps Canadians can take to continue protecting themselves, vaccinated or not, and they’re no different than what’s been urged since early on in the pandemic: masking and testing.
“There’s some simple tools out there, in addition to vaccines, like masking and testing, that would reduce the risk of this being a disease of the unvaccinated,” Barrett said.
While the modelling shows the potential for a fourth wave in the fall, an infectious disease specialist said that models are only as good as the variables put into them, but that the possibility of another surge is possible.
“It’s possible that we could have a sort of fourth wave. I would guess that it could be a muted fourth wave, because unlike previous waves, we do have vaccinated people,” Dr. Ronald St. John, former director-general of the Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response, told CTV News Channel on Saturday.
While provinces begin to loosen restrictions, or in some cases do away with them altogether, one doctor says that it’s the unvaccinated population who will be hit hardest by a fourth wave.
“The fourth wave is certainly going to affect those who are unvaccinated, but I think what we really need to start looking at are, who are these unvaccinated populations?” Dr. Veronica McKinney, director of Northern Medical Services at the University of Saskatchewan, told CTV News Channel on Saturday.
She said that unvaccinated populations need to be identified in order for doctors and experts can work with them, so that they can be comfortable getting vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
“The way that it’s been portrayed is that it’s an individual choice and that people are just being resistant but I really believe that now is the time to look at what are the pieces that have led to this in the system?” she said.
Policies need to change to encourage people to get vaccinated, but also to take time off in the event they do get sick, added McKinney.
“We need to look at those policies that are making it difficult, those people who don’t get sick time, who don’t want to be tested because they don’t want to be off work but also not necessarily trusting what is being presented,” she added.
Even with getting more shots in arms, McKinney said that provinces such as Saskatchewan and Alberta have lifted public health measures necessary to test, trace and isolate in a way to prevent a fourth wave.
“Part of the challenges that our communities are now dealing with is the fact that there are no longer public health orders that we can use to try to help in terms of keeping people isolated if they need be, testing, all of those pieces that were very helpful, but are no longer existent [Saskatchewan],” she said.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday – CBC.ca
Ontario and New Brunswick rolled out vaccine passport systems on Wednesday that require people who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine to show proof of vaccination before entering non-essential indoor spaces.
The programs require people who are eligible for the vaccines to show proof of vaccination at non-essential businesses where large numbers of people gather, including dine-in restaurants, gyms, sports events and clubs.
Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, urged people to be patient as workers and businesses adjust to the new requirement. Moore said he hopes the new system will help boost vaccination rates — particularly among 20- to 39-year-olds, who currently have the highest rate of infection in Ontario.
Proof-of-vaccination systems are becoming more common across Canada, as governments work to boost vaccination rates amid increasing COVID-19 numbers. However, the systems are not without controversy — some view them as an infringement on individual rights, others argue that the systems put undue burdens on businesses that have already been hit hard by pandemic closures and ever-changing regulations.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford acknowledged the divisions around vaccine mandates at a news conference on Wednesday, but he said the province can’t afford to shut down again or see another sudden surge in cases.
The vaccine certificate system is a temporary and exceptional measure, Ford said, as he again urged people to be patient as businesses adapt.
Ford said the province would not use the program for “one day longer” than needed.
But when asked later at the news conference about what metrics he would use to determine when the vaccine passport requirements would be lifted, he didn’t offer specifics. The premier instead said the decision, when it came, would be made based on advice from the chief medical officer of health and the province’s science table.
Ontario on Wednesday reported 463 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths.
187 people are in ICU due to <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a>. 178 are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and nine are fully vaccinated.
The systems put in place by officials in Ontario and New Brunswick allow for medical exemptions for people with documentation from their health-care provider.
However, experts in New Brunswick tell CBC that medical exemptions are rare because there’s little to no reason people physically can’t get vaccinated.
In announcing New Brunswick’s new rules last week, Premier Blaine Higgs said the province’s original target of having 75 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated is no longer enough with the new highly transmissible variants. The goal is now 90 per cent.
Also starting Wednesday, New Brunswickers are once again required to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces.
The province reported 76 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, a new record high for daily cases. It also reported one additional death. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell has said the province is on a trajectory to have 100 new cases confirmed per day, every day.
–From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET
What’s happening in Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of Wednesday evening, more than 229.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.
In Europe, Germany will stop sick pay for unvaccinated people who have to go into quarantine because of COVID-19. Previously, Germans could claim for income lost due to having to go into quarantine after returning from abroad or coming into contact with a positive case.
Health Minister Jens Spahn said the move was a matter of “fairness,” arguing that by the time the new rule comes into force on Nov. 1, everyone who wants a vaccine will have had an opportunity to get one. Those who choose not to “will need to bear responsibility for this then, including the financial costs,” he said.
Germany has fully vaccinated 63.4 per cent of its population. The government has said it wants to achieve a vaccination rate of 75 per cent to prevent a sharp rise in cases during the winter months.
In the Asia-Pacific region, officials in the northeast China city of Harbin say national level health officials have been sent to the city to deal with what may be a coronavirus outbreak. The city of 9.5 million people reported three infection cases on Wednesday, a day after discovering a first case of community transmission.
After the initial finding, authorities started mass testing and closed schools. The city also ordered businesses such as mahjong parlours, cinemas and gyms to shut. City authorities say residents must display a negative virus test to be able to leave for only essential travel. Otherwise, people are being told to stay home.
In the Middle East, as coronavirus infections plummet and vaccinations accelerate in the United Arab Emirates, authorities have loosened a long-standing face mask mandate.
The Gulf Arab sheikhdom said Wednesday that residents no longer need to wear masks while exercising outdoors or visiting beaches and pools in the country. Those who receive medical or beauty treatments may also forgo the mask. However, face masks will still be required in indoor spaces such as shopping malls and public transportation.
In the Americas, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, just back from the United Nations, isolated himself at home on Wednesday and cancelled a trip after his health minister tested positive for COVID-19 and had to stay in quarantine in New York.
Bolsonaro defied UN rules that asked all those attending the assembly be inoculated against the coronavirus and was the only member of his entourage in New York who has not been vaccinated. Before travelling to the United States, he said he believed his antibody count from a bout with COVID-19 protected him better than a vaccine.
Meanwhile, United Airlines officials said 97 per cent of its U.S. employees are fully vaccinated, with less than a week to go before United employees face a deadline to get the shots or get fired. The Chicago-based airline has 67,000 U.S. employees.
In Africa, officials with the World Health Organization’s Africa region said this week that 14 countries on the continent had reached a goal of fully vaccinating 10 per cent of their populations by the end of September. But the same health officials noted that a “crippling vaccine supply shortage” remains a major issue for countries across Africa.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET
Evolution of Canada as a Modern Payments Leader
With Silicon Valley taking most of the tech headlines from the North American continent, Japan being regularly publicized for its leaps in robotic technologies, and the UAE constantly investing in the latest tech, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many forget about Canada as a leader in the world.
However, just because Canada doesn’t command international headlines doesn’t mean that the country hasn’t proven to be incredibly tech-savvy, especially in the realms of payments and money. As a developed market, Canada has long boasted one of the highest credit card penetration rates in the world, at 83 percent (17 percent higher than the United States).
This is the start of a trend that will likely see Canada become the example of how payments around the world will take place, especially as it’s reported that the country will likely be the first to banish banknotes. Already, over 80 percent of Canadian bank transactions are made digitally, with there being many solutions available to the population. Yet, there’s more to come from the world-leading market in modern payments.
Rapid adoption of innovative cashless payment services
While VISA, MasterCard, and American Express still form the foundations of much of Canada’s payments preferences, eWallet and mobile payment solutions have become incredibly prevalent. Both PayPal and Apple Pay boast a strong customer base across the country, with a 2019 survey indicating that over 20 percent of Canadians had the PayPal app, with over 15 percent installing the Apple Pay app.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that, due to the influx of these once-termed ‘alternative’ payment methods, new industries have quickly embraced them to appeal to Canadians. This isn’t anywhere more apparent than with the online casino industry, with the very best accepting PayPal as well as Skrill, Neteller, Trustly, and the two card providers. By offering these safe and popular methods, players are happy to try out thousands of online games.
PayPal looks to be positioning itself as the leader of a cashless Canada, and yet it’ll be expanding its offering even further soon. In September 2021, PayPal paid US$2.7 billion to acquire Japanese online payments firm Paidy, which specializes in buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) and payments without credit cards. This could further enhance its appeal to the Canadian population.
Growing into an ever-more digital space for money
Despite the rate of adoption of the newer or tech-savvy payment methods among customers, many still experience payment friction. It was found that over half of all Canadians have experienced a vendor not accepting their preferred payment method or there being a limit on the amount that can be transferred with any one purchase. This is why PayPal’s entry into BNPL could enhance its scope in Canada.
The BNPL market is tipped to be worth nearly US$4 trillion by the end of this decade, making it a powerhouse option in eCommerce. It will certainly become popular in less-developed markets, where people want more expensive goods than they can afford outright. However, it also has its place in a market like Canada, which will make all tiers of purchase more accessible to all, particularly if the PayPal rollout gains traction.
Another digital area of finance that Canada is seen to be particularly smitten with is that of cryptocurrencies. The government has created a remarkably crypto-friendly regulatory landscape, helping all kinds of coins to know where they stand, appeal to Canadians, and be used across the country. It’s said that around 1.2 million people (3.2 percent of the population) own cryptocurrencies in Canada already.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that Canada is tipped to become the first cashless nation in the world, particularly with the adoption rate of eWallets and the embrace of even more modern solutions.
Alberta province replaces health minister
The premier Alberta province replaced his health minister in a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, as a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases swamped the healthcare system and the government came under fire for mishandling the pandemic.
Hospitals in Canada‘s western oil-producing province are buckling under a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. There are a record number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care, and Alberta has cancelled all non-elective surgeries and discussed transferring patients to other provinces.
United Conservative Party (UCP) leader Kenney and Shandro both face criticism for loosening public health measures much faster than other provinces earlier this year and delaying proof of vaccination requirements as cases started to rise.
“This cabinet shuffle is once again Jason Kenney refusing to take responsibility for his actions and his decisions,” independent lawmaker Drew Barnes, a member of the legislative assembly, told Reuters. “The best thing he could do is resign.”
Barnes was thrown out of the UCP caucus in May for publicly calling for Kenney’s resignation.
Alberta is a conservative stronghold but support for the federal party led by Erin O’Toole slipped in Monday’s election, which some Conservatives blamed on dissatisfaction with Kenney.
On Tuesday the province wrote to the federal government formally requesting more critical care staff and for help transporting patients out of Alberta.
(Reporting by Nia Williams; editing by Barbara Lewis and Sonya Hepinstall)
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