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Many Canadian employees unable to self-isolate when necessary: survey – CTV News

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TORONTO —
More than half of Canadians say they are unable to self-isolate and stay home from work when necessary, according to a new survey.

The survey, conducted by researchers out of the University of Guelph and the University of Toronto, found that 51 per cent of participants said they feel “unprepared” to stay home and self-isolate if they or a family member were to contract COVID-19.

“That’s a significant proportion of the workforce who can’t stay home if needed,” said the study’s lead author Gabrielle Brankston, a PhD student at the University of Guelph, in a press release.

The findings were published Thursday in the Canadian Journal of Public Health.

According to the study, researchers surveyed nearly 5,000 Canadians in May 2020 on their attitudes to public health measures, including limiting contacts and staying home when sick.

While researchers reported that the majority of respondents said they believed current public health measures were effective, many said they would also be expected to go to work if sick. Additionally, only 51 per cent of those surveyed said they would still be paid if they had to self-isolate at home.

The study’s lead investigator Amy Greer, an associate professor of population medicine at the University of Guelph, said in the release that the data “clearly” shows that not every Canadian has the same ability to comply with public health guidance.

“We know that to reduce transmission, we need people to be able to stay home when they are sick. As we now see increasing transmission in many parts of Canada, these data remain relevant and important even though they were collected almost a year ago,” Greer said.

According to the study, researchers found that demographics was a “significant factor” in respondents’ ability to self-isolate when sick.

The survey results indicated that younger individuals were more likely to report they had no access to paid sick leave and would be expected to go to work even if sick.

Those with lower income, who cannot work from home, and those without paid sick leave were less likely to feel confident that they could comply with public measures, according to the study.

“These findings reinforce the fact that if we want people to self-isolate to avoid spread, we need to provide more support for those who need to stay home but don’t have the means to do so,” Brankston said in the release.

“In these cases, we may be asking people to choose between feeding their family or avoiding possible further disease spread. And we need to make avoiding disease spread the easy choice,” she added.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Brankston said there need to be social supports in place, including paid sick leave, for those who have to self-isolate and also changes in workplace policies to discourage employees from coming to work when sick.

“If our collective priority is to maintain an open economy, we need to ensure that individuals are able to comply with public health measures that prevent and control transmission of the virus,” she said.

Thomas Tenkate, director of Ryerson’s School of Occupational and Public Health, said the “key driver” of being able to self-isolate is whether employees have paid sick leave.

Tenkate, who was not involved in the study, told CTVNews.ca on Thursday that those without paid sick leave will likely turn up at work because they can’t afford to stay home.

“If you’re a well paid professor like myself, I can stay home, but if you’re a minimum wage worker at a grocery store… there’s a big difference there if you get COVID and what can you do,” Tenkate said.

While some employers may not be able to offer paid sick leave to employees, Tenkate says it should be the responsibility of the federal and provincial governments to “make up the difference.”

“The aspect of access to paid sick leave is actually a really important component of the COVID response plan and I think it’s also one of the areas where the government hasn’t really stepped up enough to be able to recognize that and to support workers in that,” Tenkate said.

Tenkate explained that too much of governments’ focus in response to the pandemic has been on health aspects including securing vaccines, contact tracing, and acquiring personal protective equipment, and not enough on providing workplace support.

“All of those resources and public health measures actually get undermined if people can’t afford to stay at home when they’re supposed to,” Tenkate said.

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China launches second crewed mission to build space station

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China on Saturday launched a rocket carrying three astronauts – two men and one woman – to the core module of a future space station where they will live and work for six months, the longest orbit for Chinese astronauts.

A Long March-2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft, which means “Divine Vessel”, blasted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwestern province of Gansu at 12:23 a.m. (1623 GMT on Friday).

The vessel successfully docked to the port of the space station on at 6:56 a.m. (2156 GMT), and the astronauts entered the space station’s core module at 10:03 a.m., the China Manned Space Agency said.

China began constructing the space station in April with the launch of Tianhe – the first and largest of the station’s three modules. Slightly bigger than a city bus, Tianhe will be the living quarters of the completed space station.

Shenzhou-13 is the second of four crewed missions needed to complete the space station by the end of 2022. During the first crewed mission https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/science/chinese-astronauts-return-after-90-day-mission-space-station-2021-09-17 that concluded in September, three other astronauts stayed on Tianhe for 90 days.

In the latest mission, astronauts will carry out tests of the key technologies and robotics on Tianhe needed to assemble the space station, verify onboard life support systems and conduct a host of scientific experiments.

The mission commander is Zhai Zhigang, 55, from China’s first batch of astronaut trainees in the late 1990s. Born to a rural family with six children, Zhai carried out China’s first spacewalk in 2008. Shenzhou-13 was his second space mission.

“The most challenging task will be the long-term stay in orbit for six months,” Zhai told a news conference on Thursday. “It will exact higher demands (on us), both physically and psychologically.”

He was accompanied by Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu, both 41.

Wang, also born to a rural family, is known among colleagues for her tenacity. The former air force pilot first travelled to space in 2013, to Tiangong-1, a prototype space lab.

She is China’s second female astronaut in space, following Liu Yang in 2012.

Shenzhou-13 is the first space mission for the third astronaut, Ye.

After the crew returns to Earth in April, China plans to deploy six more missions, including deliveries of the second and third space station modules and two final crewed missions.

China, barred by U.S. law from working with NASA and by extension on the International Space Station (ISS), has spent the past decade developing technologies to build its own.

With the ISS set to retire in a few years, China’s space station will become the only one in Earth’s orbit.

China’s space programme has come far since late leader Mao Zedong lamented that the country could not even launch a potato into space. China became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket, in October 2003, following the former Soviet Union and the United States.

(Reporting by Carlos Garcia and Xihao Jiang; additional reporting by Josh Horwitz; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Nick Macfie and William Mallard)

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U.S. will accept mixed doses of vaccines from international travelers

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said late on Friday that it will accept mixed-dose coronavirus vaccines from international travelers, a boost to travelers from Canada and other places.

The CDC said last week that it would accept any vaccine authorized for use by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization. “While CDC has not recommended mixing types of vaccine in a primary series, we recognize that this is increasingly common in other countries so should be accepted for the interpretation of vaccine records,” a CDC spokeswoman said.

The White House said Friday the new vaccine requirements for foreign nationals traveling to the United States will begin Nov. 8 for visitors crossing at land borders as well as international air travelers.

Representative Brian Higgins, a New York Democrat representing a district along the Canadian border, had on Friday asked the CDC if it would accept the mixed vaccine doses noting “nearly four million Canadians, equivalent to 10% of their fully vaccinated population, have received mixed doses of the available mRNA COVID-19 vaccines – this includes the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

The CDC said the vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use, as well as those authorized by the WHO, will be accepted for entry into the United States, including the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The CDC said “individuals who have any combination of two doses of an FDA approved/authorized or WHO emergency use listed COVID-19 two-dose series are considered fully vaccinated.”

The CDC plans to answer other questions and release a contact tracing order for international air visitors by Oct. 25.

 

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Aurora Ellis)

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U.S. offers payments, relocation to family of Afghans killed in botched drone attack

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 The Pentagon has offered unspecified condolence payments to the family of 10 civilians who were killed in a botched U.S. drone attack in Afghanistan in August during the final days before American troops withdrew from the country.

The U.S. Defense Department said it made a commitment that included offering “ex-gratia condolence payments”, in addition to working with the U.S. State Department in support of the family members who were interested in relocation to the United States.

Colin Kahl the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, held a virtual meeting on Thursday with Steven Kwon, the founder and president of Nutrition & Education International, the aid organization that employed Zemari Ahmadi, who was killed in the Aug. 29 drone attack, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said late on Friday.

Ahmadi and others who were killed in the strike were innocent victims who bore no blame and were not affiliated with Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) or threats to U.S. forces, Kirby said.

The drone strike in Kabul killed as many as 10 civilians, including seven children.

The Pentagon had said earlier that the Aug. 29 strike targeted an Islamic State suicide bomber who posed an imminent threat to U.S.-led troops at the airport as they completed the last stages of their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

However, reports had emerged almost immediately that the drone strike in a neighborhood west of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport had killed civilians including children. Video from the scene showed the wreckage of a car strewn around the courtyard of a building. The Pentagon later said the strike was a “tragic mistake”.

The strike came three days after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghan civilians who had crowded outside the airport gates, desperate to secure seats on evacuation flights, after U.S.-trained Afghan forces melted away and the Taliban swept to power in the capital in mid-August.

The killing of civilians also raised questions about the future of U.S. counter-terrorism strikes in Afghanistan.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Sandra Maler & Simon Cameron-Moore)

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