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Modelling forecasts variants leading to high COVID-19 counts – Belleville Intelligencer

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More mobility by Ontarians within cities and communities following the lifting of lockdowns is driving a new increase in COVID-19 cases as variants become more the dominant spread of the virus, say members of Ontario’s Science Advisory Table.

In a presentation of new computer modelling, the group said worst-case forecasts show up to 8,000 daily cases by April 2 if variants continue higher transmissibility with lower-risk forecasts predicting 1,650 cases a day.

Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the science table, said in a briefing Thursday the modelling forecasts are heavily dependent on further health measures and variants.

And while vaccines appear to be working in long-term care homes, flattening the curve has stalled given daily case numbers continue to hover around 1,000 cases per day, he said.

Brown said the province has seen only one COVID-19 death of a resident in a long-term care home in the last six days and the number of homes reporting outbreaks of the 626 in Ontario is down to 25.

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“Vaccination has really paid off in long-term care homes,” Brown said.

“But, mobility is starting to increase again. This is really after a flat period of mobility following the winter holiday. It’s this mobility as people encounter each other, as people move around and spread the disease with each other, which is particularly problematic for the spread of COVID-19,” Brown said.

“We are seeing new cases. An important thing to consider through is, what is the role of the new variants in this?”

Brown showed two graphs which illustrated new variant-based cases such As B 1.1.7. increasing while the early first strains of the virus from Wuhan declining in the second wave throughout the province.

“The red is the new variants concern, the variants that were originally identified in the United Kingdom, South Africa or in Brazil. You can see at the same time that as the earlier variants are decreasing, the new variants are increasing,” he said.

Brown likened the dual scenarios to “two pandemics playing out, one with the early variants under control and one with the new variants not under control.”

Ontario reported 1,371 daily cases of COVID-19 Friday.

The province also recorded another 18 deaths bringing the total dead in Ontario due to the virus to 7,127 people in the last year.

The lion’s share of the cases remains in the GTA with Toronto reporting 371 cases, Peel Region logging 225 cases and York Region reporting 111 cases.

Ontario reported a total of 314,891 cases of which 296,252 were reported as resolved.

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There were 676 hospitalizations in Ontario while 282 patients were in intensive care units and 189 people were on a ventilator.

In Hastings and Prince Edward region, health officials logged three new cases and 13 active cases Friday.

There were 415 people listed as recovered.

The health unit said 433 cases of the virus have been recorded in the community since the pandemic began.

No persons were listed in hospital, nor in the intensive care unit or on a ventilator.

There is one outbreak listed in the region.

The local death toll from the virus stands at six.

Hastings Prince Edward Public Health said 11,500 vaccines have been administered in the region.

In Canada, a total of 899,757 cases have been recorded of which 846,714 are listed as recovered.

Nationally, there were 30,679 cases listed as active and 22,371 deaths.

Globally, total cases of COVID-19 stood at 118.7 million cases with 2.63 million deaths reported, according to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Centre.

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Britain in talks with 6 firms about building gigafactories for EV batteries

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Britain is in talks with six companies about building gigafactories to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EV), the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the discussions.

Car makers Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, conglomerates LG Corp and Samsung, and start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat Auto are in talks with the British government or local authorities about locations for potential factories and financial support, the report added .

 

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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EBay to sell South Korean unit for about $3.6 billion to Shinsegae, Naver

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EBay will sell its South Korean business to retailer Shinsegae Group and e-commerce firm Naver for about 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion), local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

EBay Korea is the country’s third-largest e-commerce firm with market share of about 12.8% in 2020, according to Euromonitor. It operates the platforms Gmarket, Auction and G9.

Shinsegae, Naver and eBay Korea declined to comment.

Lotte Shopping had also been in the running, the Korea Economic Daily and other newspapers said, citing unnamed investment banking sources.

South Korea represents the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market. Driven by the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce has soared to account for 35.8% of the retail market in 2020 compared with 28.6% in 2019, according to Euromonitor data.

Shinsegae and Naver formed a retail and e-commerce partnership in March by taking stakes worth 250 billion won in each other’s affiliates.

($1 = 1,117.7000 won)

 

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum

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Canada is set to begin a hotly anticipated auction of the mobile telecommunications bandwidth necessary for 5G rollout, one that was delayed more than a year by the pandemic.

The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.

Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.

Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.

The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.

The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.

Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.

In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.

Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.

Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.

In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.

Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.

The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.

($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)

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