In a series of tweets on Friday, Ashleigh Tuite, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, provided an illustration of how many COVID-19 infected travellers could arrive at the Canada-U.S. border in Ontario, depending on the rates of infection in the U.S. and how many travellers are crossing overall.
The model offers insight into how far the coronavirus case count in the U.S. would need to drop in order to safely reopen the border.
In the tweets, Tuite said currently the number of people crossing the Canada-U.S. border into Ontario is low, probably fewer than 1,000 to 5,000 a day.
On Saturday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported 74,818 new cases of COVID-19.
Tuite said if Ontario sees a thousand travellers a day at the U.S. border, approximately two of those people will be infected with COVID-19.
“And then if you increase that to 10,000 travellers every day we expect, on average, 17 people arriving that were infected with COVID,” Tuite told Global News.
She said about one-third of those cases would be symptomatic when they arrive at the border.
“So those ones you would potentially identify just by a border screening and asking people to identify that they had symptoms,” she said.
The other two-thirds of cases would either be in the incubation period or would be presymptomatic or asymptomatic.
“And for those cases, the biggest control that we have is quarantine,” Tuite explained.
Currently, anyone entering Canada must comply with a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
Those who arrive in the country who are unable to prove they have a viable isolation plan will be taken by officials from the Public Health Agency of Canada to a facility to do so.
Should Canadians be concerned with surging COVID-19 cases south of the border?
Tuite said if people are adhering to the rules, then the infected travellers “shouldn’t be an issue.”
“The challenge is that if they’re not in compliance with those quarantine measures, then any of those cases could potentially spark a small outbreak,” she explained.
In the series of tweets, Tuite wrote that once the case burden in the U.S. declines to between 1,000 to 10,000 infections per day, Canada can ease border restrictions while keeping the imported case numbers low.
But, she said it’s “really hard to predict” when that could be.
Tuite said in April and May it seemed as though things might be under control in the U.S., but that the country is seeing a spike in new cases again.
“So I don’t think you can really put a timeline on it,” she said.
For now, Tuite said she thinks it is safest that the border remains closed to non-essential travellers.
“This [model] is looking at the number of cases reported each day,” she said. “Multiply that over the course of a month and you’re talking about a lot of potential cases arriving,” she said.
“And even with good adherence to quarantine and screening, you only need one or two of those cases to not comply, to potentially be associated with a super spreader event and really set off a much larger outbreak,” she continued.
Should Canadians be travelling?
In a previous interview with Global News, Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Toronto, said travel needs to be kept to a minimum as much as possible with no exceptions for any kind of tourism.
He said beyond just keeping the border closed to Americans, Canadians should not be coming and going as they please.
“We shouldn’t be having that,” he said. “It’s not just about keeping Americans out if we want to make things better,” he said.
“Canadians should not be leaving the country for tourism or business travel.”
U.S. cases spike
The United States remained the epicentre of the virus on Sunday.
According to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, by 12 p.m. ET Sunday, there were more than 4.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country.
So far the virus has claimed 146,484 lives in the U.S.
Concerns raised over American tourists using ‘Alaskan loophole’ during pandemic
The federal government announced the country’s border with the U.S. would be closed to all non-essential travel in March.
And it appears an overwhelming majority of Canadians support the decision.A poll conducted by Ipsos exclusively for Global News earlier this month found that 85 per cent of Canadians said they want to keep the Canada-U.S. border closed until at least the end of 2020.The survey also suggested that anxiety surrounding travel is high.Ninety-three per cent of the poll’s respondents said they felt it would be “too risky” to travel to the U.S. this summer.–With files from Global News reporters Olivia Bowden and Maryam Shah
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Privacy investigation finds 5 million shoppers' images collected at malls across Canada – CTV News
Without customers’ knowledge, more than five million images of Canadian shoppers’ were collected through facial recognition software used by Cadillac Fairview, a parent company of malls across the country, according to an investigation by privacy officials.
The federal privacy commissioner reported Thursday that Cadillac Fairview contravened federal and provincial privacy laws by embedding cameras inside digital information kiosks at 12 shopping malls across Canada, and captured users’ images without their consent.
The facial recognition software installed in Cadillac Fairview’s “wayfinding” directories was called “Anonymous Video Analytics (AVA) and through cameras installed behind protective glass, was used in Canadian malls for a brief testing period in 2017 and then was in-use between May and July of 2018.
The software took temporary digital images of the faces of any individual within the field of view of the camera inside the directory and converted the images into biometric numerical representations of each face and used that information to compile demographic information about mall visitors.
According to the report, the technology was used in directories at the following locations:
- CF Market Mall in Alberta
- CF Chinook Centre in Alberta
- CF Richmond Centre in British Columbia
- CF Pacific Centre in British Columbia
- CF Polo Park in Manitoba
- CF Toronto Eaton Centre in Ontario
- CF Sherway Gardens in Ontario
- CF Lime Ridge in Ontario
- CF Fairview Mall in Ontario
- CF Markville Mall in Ontario
- CF Galeries d’Anjou in Quebec
- CF Carrefour Laval in Quebec
According to a statement from Privacy Commissioner of Canada Daniel Therrien, the company said the goal of its cameras was to “analyze the age and gender of shoppers and not to identify individuals.”
The corporation said that it did not collect personal information because the images were briefly looked at and then deleted, however the information generated from the images was being stored by a third-party contractor called Mappedin, which Cadillac Fairview said it was unaware of.
“When asked the purpose for such collection, Mappedin was unable to provide a response, indicating that the person responsible for programming the code no longer worked for the company,” reads the report.
Therrien notes in his report that Cadillac Fairview not being aware of Mappedin’s storage of the information “compounded the risk of potential use by unauthorized parties or, in the case of a data breach, by malicious actors.”
In an interview on CTV’s Power Play, Deputy Commissioner Brent Homan called it a “massive invasion of privacy” and not one that shoppers would have expected while at the mall. Homan said that one of the lessons Canadians should take away from this report is that facial recognition software is available for companies to use, and while they encourage entities to ask for consent before deploying it on the public, that’s not always the case.
“Shoppers had no reason to expect their image was being collected by an inconspicuous camera, or that it would be used, with facial recognition technology, for analysis,” said Therrien in a statement. “The lack of meaningful consent was particularly concerning given the sensitivity of biometric data, which is a unique and permanent characteristic of our body and a key to our identity.”
The investigation was launched in 2018, following several media reports about information kiosks in malls being equipped with unmarked cameras to monitor visitor demographics. Their examination in this case included visiting Cadillac Fairview’s Toronto headquarters to interview key personnel, viewing the AVA technology inside the wayfinding directories in action, and extracting records from the directories for forensic analysis.
The existence of the software came to light after a user posted an image to Reddit of a display screen at the CF Chinook Centre in Calgary showing coding language including “FaceEncoder” and “FaceAnalyzer.”
Commissioner Therrien’s office worked with Alberta Information and Privacy Commissioner Jill Clayton as well as the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia Michael McEvoy on the investigation.
“Not only must organizations be clear and up front when customers’ personal information is being collected, they must also have proper controls in place to know what their service providers are doing behind the scenes with that information,” Clayton said in a statement.
The trio of commissioners have expressed concern that the company hasn’t accepted their request to commit to ensuring meaningful and express consent is obtained from shoppers in the future should it choose to redeploy similar technology in the future.
In a statement provided to CTV News, Cadillac Fairview notes that the issue has been resolved, the data deleted, and the cameras have been deactivated. As well, the facial recognition software is no longer in use, but the company says it will not commit to its approach to “hypothetical future uses of similar technology.”
“The five million representations referenced in the OPC report are not faces. These are sequences of numbers the software uses to anonymously categorize the age range and gender of shoppers in the camera’s view,” the company said. “We thank the Privacy Commissioner for the report and recommendations on how to further strengthen our privacy practices and agree that the privacy of our visitors must always be a top priority.”
Meng Wanzhou scores victory as lawyers allowed to argue U.S. tried to trick Canada – CBC.ca
Meng Wanzhou scored a victory in her battle to fight extradition Thursday as the judge overseeing the proceedings agreed to let the Huawei executive’s lawyers pursue their claim that the United States misled Canada about the basics of the case.
In a ruling posted online, Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes said there was an “air of reality to Ms. Meng’s allegations of abuse of process in relation to the requesting state’s conduct.”
At a hearing held last month, the chief financial officer’s lawyers said they believed the evidence was strong enough to prove that the United States omitted key components of the case that undermine allegations of fraud against their client.
Holmes’ ruling means Meng’s lawyers will be able to include those claims as one of three lines of attack in February, when they try to convince the judge that the entire case should be thrown out for abuse of process.
In her ruling, Holmes noted that staying the proceedings against Meng was a possibility if the defence can make its case, but that she might also consider a less drastic remedy, like cutting out parts of the Crown’s record deemed unreliable.
Judge rules new evidence allowed
Meng is charged with fraud and conspiracy in the United States in relation to allegations that she lied to HSBC about Huawei’s relationship with a hidden subsidiary that was accused of violating U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.
Prosecutors claim that by lying to HSBC to continue a financial relationship, Meng placed the bank at risk of loss and prosecution for breaching the same sanctions.
As part of the extradition process, the United States provided a record of the case that includes slides from the PowerPoint presentation Meng gave an HSBC executive in Hong Kong in August 2013.
But Meng’s lawyers claim the U.S. deliberately omitted two slides from the PowerPoint that showed Meng didn’t mislead the bank.
And they also claim that where the U.S. said only “junior” employees knew about the real relationship between Huawei and its subsidiary, senior executives at the bank were also aware.
In her ruling, Holmes said she would allow two statements from the missing slides to be included as evidence in the extradition case. She also agreed to allow evidence about HSBC’s management structure to help determine who is junior and who is not.
Rights violation issue not raised, CBSA agent testifies
Holmes released her decision even as Meng’s lawyers were in court gathering evidence related to the second line of argument that there was an abuse of process: the claim that her rights were violated at the time of her arrest.
Meng was questioned by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers for three hours before she was arrested on Dec. 1, 2018, after her arrival at Vancouver’s airport on a flight from Hong Kong.
The defence team claims the CBSA and RCMP conspired with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to mount a covert criminal investigation into Meng by using the border agency’s extraordinary powers to question her without a lawyer.
The CBSA agent who seized Meng’s phones was on the stand Thursday for his second day of testimony.
Border services officer Scott Kirkland testified that he believed there were grounds to question Meng about the possibility she might be involved in espionage.
During his testimony Wednesday, Kirkland said that was because the CBSA’s internal system has flagged her for “national security” reasons, but he admitted in cross-examination Thursday that this might not have been the case. Meng’s lawyer suggested that she was only targeted because of the criminal charges.
Kirkland also said he thought the RCMP should have arrested Meng immediately, before the CBSA carried out its inquiries, because he worried about the impact of a delay on her right to obtain legal counsel.
Kirkland said he knew the high profile case would end up in court.
But he said he didn’t raise the issue of possible Charter of Rights and Freedoms violations out loud. And no one else among the RCMP and CBSA officers who were present said the word “Charter.”
Two weeks have been set aside in February 2021 for arguments about the record of the case and the alleged violation of Meng’s rights at the time of her arrest.
The third defence claim relates to allegations that U.S. President Donald Trump has politicized the case by threatening to use Meng as a bargaining chip to get a better deal with China.
Holmes noted in her ruling that if any one of those lines of argument were proven, they might not be enough in and of themselves to derail the case, but the cumulative effect of all of them might end in a stay.
Meng has denied the allegations against her.
Health officials to reveal new projections as Ontario sees 934 more COVID-19 cases – CBC.ca
At 3 p.m. ET, top provincial health officials are set to provide an update on current COVID-19 modelling in Ontario.
You can watch the news conference live in this story.
Ontario reported another 934 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, pushing the seven-day average of new daily cases to nearly 900.
The new cases include 420 found in Toronto, the most on a single day in the city by a considerable margin. The previous record was 330 infections recorded on Sept. 29.
Additionally, 169 were confirmed in Peel Region, 95 in York Region and 58 in Ottawa.
Several other areas also saw double-digit increase:
- Halton Region: 35
- Hamilton: 28
- Durham Region: 19
- Niagara: 16
- Simcoe Muskoka: 15
- Waterloo Region: 13
- Eastern Ontario: 13
The seven-day average of new daily cases, a measure that helps limit noise in the data to provide a clearer picture of long-term trends, is now about 899, also a new record high since the first case was reported in Ontario in January.
The new infections come with 35,621 completed tests, more than typically done throughout this week but still below capacity, which is about 45,000 daily, according to provincial public health officials.
Further, the number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 jumped 10 up to 322 after two straight days of staying steady. Those being treated in intensive care increased by six, up to 77, while the number of patients on ventilators is 52.
The province also added 10 more COVID-19-linked deaths, bringing the total to 3,118. Some 2,001 of those deaths were residents of long-term care facilities.
There are currently about 7,578 confirmed, active cases of the illness provincewide, the most ever.
(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found in the Ministry of Health’s daily update, which includes data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any particular region on a given day may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, which often avoid lag times found in the provincial system.)
Despite current trends, Premier Doug Ford promised that a “positive” projection report on COVID-19 numbers in Ontario would be released by the province today.
Ford again said Thursday that the province is seeing “a little bit of a decline” in numbers, while adding that people can’t let their guard down.
Amidst this backdrop, Ford and his ministers spent the first 25 minutes of Thursday’s press conference talking about “Ontario made” labels and branding. At one point, Ford told viewers to “buy a BBQ” from the manufacturer hosting the news conference.
“We need to support the local home team as I always say,” Ford said.
Ford was again asked Thursday if he’s anticipating that Ontario regions that are currently in a “modified Stage 2” will be able to go back to Stage 3 of reopening measures once a 28-day period is finished early next month.
The premier said the province is looking at taking a “surgical approach,” in these regions.
“We’re working with our health team, and I can’t give you 100 per cent,” Ford said.
Hand sanitizer recalled
Health Canada has issued an expanded recall notice for a brand of hand sanitizer sold at Dollarama and other locations.
The agency said Daily Shield-branded products are being pulled off store shelves across the country.
Health Canada said the products, manufactured by Mississauga-based Bio Life Sciences Corp., were found to contain methanol, an unauthorized ingredient that can cause severe health issues.
Testing also revealed that the product’s ethanol content is not high enough to be effective in killing germs.
Health Canada said it also discovered a number of code violations at Bio Life and has suspended its product licences.
The Daily Shield brand was at the centre of an earlier recall notice that described one product as a “counterfeit,” but Health Canada said that’s no longer the case.
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