A funny thing happened in 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved: Canada was no longer officially the coldest country on Earth, but fell to second place behind Russia.
When Environment Canada announced the news, the reaction was far from national delight.
“It was like taking away our birthright,” recalled David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada. “People weren’t cheered by it — they were dismayed that we were no longer the coldest.”
Canada has a complicated relationship with cold weather. We like to complain about the cold, but are sometimes quick to judge others’ interpretation of what constitutes nasty winter weather. In 1999, Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman triggered plenty of eye-rolls when he called in the army after the city was pummelled with nearly 40 centimetres of snow.
“We were the laughing stock of the country,” said Phillips, who lives north of Toronto. “People said, ‘This is Canada, this is winter, suck it up’ … I don’t think Toronto ever lived that down.”
Memories of that national rebuke were dredged up Thursday when Toronto Public Health issued an extreme cold weather alert. Temperatures overnight are expected to drop to -12 C, without wind chill.
Toronto issues such alerts when temperatures drop to approximately -15 C or colder, or when wind chill is expected to reach -20 C or colder. The alert also activates additional public services, including a warming centre downtown, which provides a safe place for the city’s homeless and other vulnerable populations.
Despite those concerns, more than 140 Twitter users responded to a tweet about the alert, with many suggesting that the city needed to toughen up.
“Toronto is the least Canadian city in the country,” one user tweeted. Others called the city “soft” and “a joke” and suggested that -12 C in places like Edmonton and Montreal would be considered balmy.
But how Canadians respond to the cold varies dramatically from province to province. Wearing long-johns under your clothes may be the norm in a city like Winnipeg, but someone living in the Greater Toronto Area could get away with not owning snow pants.
Phillips said these sorts of regional differences make all the difference in how Environment and Climate Change Canada issues its warnings.
“It comes down to the fact that people are better conditioned, better equipped, have better garments for handling those situations in Western Canada,” he said. “Westerners think if winter can begin after Halloween, they’ve won. We wait until December or January and think, ‘OK, winter can start now.’”
In fact, Environment and Climate Change Canada has different thresholds for when it will issue its own extreme cold weather warnings. To issue such a warning, temperatures must be expected to fall below a certain mark for at least two hours.
Those thresholds include:
- -30 C in Toronto, Ottawa and southern Ontario
- -35 C for Atlantic Canada
- -38 C for parts of Quebec, including Montreal
- -40 C for north Ontario and the southern Prairies
- -45 C for northernmost regions of Ontario, northern Manitoba and northern British Columbia
- -50 C for Yukon and the Northwest Territories, and parts of Nunavut
- -55 C for Canada’s northernmost regions, including the northern tip of Baffin Island and other Arctic communities
If Environment Canada were to issue warnings based on a unified national threshold, those living in colder regions would likely stop listening, Phillips said.
“People are just going to tune you out. So you have to be careful how frequently you issue these,” he said. “You want people to listen to it and make a personal adjustment.”
In a country where winter temperatures can range by 50 C from one region to the next, defining “cold” can be tricky. But it may be helpful to reconsider how we talk about cold weather, says Phillips, who believes we’re all happier when it’s warmer.
“I have the feeling that we like to brag about how hearty we are — that pioneer spirit still burns — we can scoff at blizzards and sneer at frostbite,” he said. “We go around saying, ‘Is it cold enough for you?’ People in other parts of the world don’t go around saying, ‘Is it hot enough for you? Is it wet enough for you?’”
Coronavirus risk remains low in Canada despite first presumptive case: health officials – Global News
EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this story erroneously identified the airline as Southern China Airline. The airline is, in fact, called China Southern Airlines.
However, at a press conference Sunday morning, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said that despite the presumptive case, the risk to Canadians remains low.
She said person-to-person spread has been reported in close contact only.
“Any imported cases we will be rapidly preventing any further spread from that case,” she said.
Canadians should take regular precautions to protect themselves against respiratory illnesses, she added.
Coronavirus outbreak: spread of virus to Canada ‘not unexpected’
Officials are now awaiting testing from Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory to confirm the man’s case.
Coronavirus outbreak: Canadian Health minister says government working ‘rapidly’ to limit spread of virus
According to Tam, the man reported to local health officials that he was experiencing flu-like symptoms while on the plane.
She said the man was on board China Southern Airlines Flight CZ311 from Guangzhou to Toronto and that plane contact-tracing is now underway.
“I think the right approach out of all precautions is to inform passengers that were in close proximity of that patient,” she said.
She said officials will now be working “very rapidly” to do so.
Tam said the man has been managed with all the “appropriate protocols” by health-care professionals.
He is now being treated at Toronto’s Sunnybrook hospital, where he remains in stable condition.
According to Tam, the country’s health system is “on alert” and has been working collaboratively with both its provincial and international partners.
She said there is a “significant and unprecedented effort” underway to contain the virus and reminded travellers to always take precautions against respiratory viruses while travelling.
Canada’s health minister, Patty Hajdu, echoed Tam’s remarks, saying Canada has had more than 17 years since the outbreak of coronavirus strain SARS, which has allowed Canada to develop a “collaborative” and “responsive” system to handle the outbreak.
Coronavirus outbreak: First Canadian coronavirus patient allegedly didn’t report symptoms upon arrival from China
The virus, a new strain of coronavirus, has created alarm, though, because much about it is still unknown, including how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people.
It can cause pneumonia, which has been deadly in some cases.
By Sunday morning, Chinese officials confirmed 56 people had died as a result of the virus and a total of 1,975 infections were reported.
Outside of China, Thailand has reported eight infection cases; Taiwan, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia have each reported four; the United States, France and Japan have each reported three cases; Vietnam and South Korea have two apiece and Canada and Nepal have each reported one case of the virus.
No deaths related to coronavirus have been reported outside of China.
Unpacking the potentially deadly coronavirus and possible protections
In late 2002, a different coronavirus strain named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) erupted in southern China, causing a severe pneumonia that rapidly spread to other countries. SARS infected more than 8,000 people and killed 774, including 44 Canadians.
Toronto was hard hit by the outbreak.
Canadian woman among the millions trapped in Wuhan, China
On Sunday, China’s health minister said the country was entering a “crucial state,” saying it seemed like the “ability of the virus to spread is getting stronger.”
“According to recent clinical information, the virus’ ability to spread seems to be getting somewhat stronger,” Ma Xiaowei told reporters.
Chinese officials say the virus is mutating and can be transmitted through human contact.
Ma told reporters that the incubation period for the virus can range up to 14 days, during which infection can occur.
Coronavirus outbreak: Passengers in 2-metre radius from Canadian coronavirus patient, fellow travellers to be contacted by Canadian health agency
Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
On Saturday, China’s President Xi Jinping called the situation “grave” and said the government was stepping up efforts to restrict travel and public gatherings while rushing medical staff and supplies to the city at the centre of the crisis, Wuhan, which remains on lockdown with no flights, trains or buses in or out.
It is now believed the previously unknown strain of coronavirus emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in the city.
As a result, Chinese officials have imposed a temporary ban on the trade of wildlife nationwide in markets, supermarkets, restaurants and e-commerce platforms.
The U.S. Consulate announced on Sunday it would be evacuating personnel and some private citizens from Wuhan aboard a charter flight on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Hajdu said Canadians in Wuhan in need of assistance should reach out to the federal government for help but that “it doesn’t appear” that Canada has the need to charter a plane at this time.
Coronavirus outbreak: No plans for Canadian government to evacuate citizens from Wuhan, China on flight
In a statement released Sunday, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said the government is in contact with and is providing assistance to Canadians on the ground in China’s Hubei province.
“We understand the concerns of Canadians in the region and those of their families and loved ones,” he said.
Champagne said Canadian consular officials are “closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with local authorities and our international partners to gather more information and provide support to the extent possible.”
He said Canada does not have a consular presence in Wuhan.
Meanwhile, Canada’s federal government has increased measures at airports in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal in hopes of preventing the spread of the virus.
Officials have also urged Canadians to practice good hygiene in order to limit the transmissions of all viruses. Health authorities are reminding Canadians to wash their hands thoroughly, cover their sneezes and coughs. They say anyone who is sick should stay home.
— With files from Global News’ Kerri Breen, Ryan Rocca, the Canadian Press and Reuters
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada's second confirmed presumptive case of coronavirus is wife of first case, which is now confirmed – CTV News
The first Wuhan coronavirus case in Canada has been confirmed as positive by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, health officials said Monday, while a second case, involving the man’s wife, is considered “presumptive positive”.
The woman and her 50-year old husband recently returned to Toronto from Wuhan. The husband was ambulanced to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto on January 23, while the wife has been in self-isolation since arriving in Toronto, Ontario health officials said.
“When he went to the hospital, she had agreed to stay in self-isolation,” Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams told CTV’s Your Morning.
Toronto Public Health has been in regular contact with the woman during her self-isolation period, officials said.
“Whether it’s novel coronavirus, influenza, other respiratory diseases, if you’re sick, stay home and don’t go out and socialize,” Williams added. “You can be out in public because it’s not widespread … The risk is very low for Ontarians.”
The husband in the first case displayed mild symptoms on the flight and went to the hospital a day later as symptoms worsened. He is in stable condition and being kept in isolation at the hospital.
Officials are following protocols and trying to contact passengers on China Southern Airlines flight CZ311 from Guangzhou, China, who were in close proximity to the couple. The couple’s flight landed at Pearson International Airport at 3:46 p.m. on Jan 22.
Williams said the entire plane was not at risk because it’s a “droplet-spread organism.”
Samples from both individuals were sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg for full confirmation. There are 19 other cases under investigation, officials said, and another 15 ruled out as negative so far.
An outbreak of the virus that began in Wuhan, China has killed 80 people so far, with more than 2,700 cases confirmed as of midnight. A total of 17 cities in China are on lockdown, limiting the movement of more than 50 million people during what is normally the world’s busiest travel period due to the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.
The country has extended the holiday in an effort to keep the public at home. Many large public events and gatherings have been cancelled, while a number of major tourist sites including The Forbidden City and Shanghai Disneyland have closed until further notice.
Canada does not have a consular presence in Wuhan, but the Minister of Foreign Affairs, François-Philippe Champagne said Canadians are advised to avoid non-essential travel to the Chinese province of Hubei due to the heavy travel restrictions currently in place.
“We understand the concerns of Canadians in the region and those of their families and loved ones. We are in contact with and providing assistance to Canadians currently on the ground,” Champagne said in a statement.
There are currently 67 Canadians who have registered with the voluntary Registration of Canadians Abroad service, according to a government source, but because the registration is voluntary, the numbers are not a complete picture of how many Canadians are in the region or in China.
Canadians who need emergency consular help can contact the Embassy of Canada in Beijing at 86 (10) 5139-4000. Canadians can also call the department’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The coronavirus in Canada and Parliament resumes; In The News for Jan. 27 – 570 News
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 27.
What we are watching in Canada …
TORONTO — Officials anticipate the lone Canadian patient diagnosed with the new coronavirus won’t be the last, but they also note the risk of infection in this country remains low.
Public health officials made the comment at a news conference yesterday, when they announced that the man in his 50s had been showing mild symptoms on his flight from Guangzhou, China, to Toronto.
They’ve since been reaching out to those aboard the China Southern Airlines flight who sat within two metres of the man.
Canada’s chief public health officer says she believes there will be more cases “imported into Canada” because of global flight patterns, but she notes there’s little risk of becoming infected here.
Dr. Theresa Tam also says she expects to receive official confirmation today from Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Lab that the man’s illness is indeed the new coronavirus.
The diagnosis is “presumptive” until that lab finds the same positive results as the tests conducted in Toronto.
The patient is in stable condition at Sunnybrook Hospital, where he’s being held in a negative-pressure room used to contain airborne illnesses.
Also this …
OTTAWA — The work begins in earnest today for the Liberal minority government as the House of Commons opens for business after a lengthy winter break.
The first piece of major legislation is expected to be a bill to ratify the new North American free trade deal, as Canada is the now the only hold out on the trilateral pact.
The Liberals have asked the Opposition parties to help get it passed quickly, but the NDP and Bloc Quebecois are making no such guarantees, while the Conservatives say they’re hoping for further study of its implications.
The government is also sure to face a grilling over major issues that have developed in recent weeks.
Among them are relations with Iran and the status of an investigation into what killed at least 57 Canadians on a flight leaving Tehran earlier this month.
Looking ahead, the Liberal government is also expected to introduce legislation to ban military-style assault rifles and make what’s sure to be a controversial decision on whether to allow a new oilsands project in Alberta to proceed.
ICYMI (in case you missed it) …
TORONTO — The survival of preterm babies jumped by 25 per cent after new practices were introduced in neonatal units across Canada, according to a study of nearly 51,000 infants between 2004 to 2017.
Changes introduced in 2003 included increased use of steroids for mothers 48 hours before delivery to help babies whose lungs would not be fully developed; raising infants’ body temperature upon birth and reducing the use of invasive ventilation to help them breathe.
The study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal says babies born at less than 33 weeks’ gestation had an increase in survival from 56.6 per cent to 70.9 per cent, without major health problems.
It says the improved practices were initiated by the Canadian Neonatal Network, which includes researchers and health-care professional such as physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists all neonatal in every province.
Dr. Prakesh Shah, director of the network and a senior author of the study that originated from Sinai Health in Toronto, said the measures also hiked survival by five per cent for babies born at 23 to 25 weeks’ gestation.
What we are watching in the U.S. …
LOS ANGELES — The helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and eight others that crashed into a rugged hillside outside Los Angeles was flying in foggy conditions considered dangerous enough that local police agencies grounded their choppers.
The helicopter plunged into a steep hillside at about 9:45 a.m. Sunday with an impact that scattered debris over an area the size of a football field and killed all aboard.
The accident unleashed an outpouring of grief from admirers around the world who mourned the sudden loss of the all-time basketball great who spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 41-year-old Bryant, who perished with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was one of the game’s most popular players and the face of the 16-time NBA champion Lakers.
The cause of the crash was unknown, but conditions at the time were such that the Los Angeles Police Department and the county sheriff’s department grounded their helicopters.
The Los Angeles County medical examiner, Dr. Jonathan Lucas, said the rugged terrain complicated efforts to recover the remains. He estimated it would take at least a couple of days to complete that task before identifications can be made.
What we are watching in the rest of the world …
BEIJING — China on Monday expanded sweeping efforts to contain a viral disease by extending the Lunar New Year holiday to keep the public at home and avoid spreading infection as the death toll rose to 80.
Hong Kong announced it would bar entry to visitors from the province at the centre of the outbreak following a warning the virus’s ability to spread was growing. Travel agencies were ordered to cancel group tours nationwide, adding to the rising economic cost.
Increasingly drastic anti-disease efforts began with the Jan. 22 suspension of plane, train and bus links to Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in central China where the virus was first detected last month. That lockdown has expanded to a total of 17 cities with more than 50 million people in the most far-reaching disease-control measures ever imposed.
The end of the Lunar New Year holiday, China’s busiest travel season, was pushed back to Sunday from Thursday to “reduce mass gatherings” and “block the spread of the epidemic,” a Cabinet statement said.
The National Health Commission said 2,744 cases were confirmed by midnight Sunday.
President Xi Jinping has called the outbreak a grave situation and said the government was rushing medical staff and supplies to Wuhan.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Jan. 27, 2020.
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