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More than a quarter of Canadians at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness: study – CTV News

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TORONTO —
More than one-quarter of Canadians have an underlying health condition that would increase the possibility of severe COVID-19 symptoms, according to a new study out of the U.K.

Researchers estimated that nearly 27 per cent of people in the country — or more than nine million Canadians — have a chronic condition identified as a risk factor for severe infection, including such ailments as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

About 1.8 million of that group, or roughly five per cent of the population, would require hospitalization if infected, the study said.

While the data suggests that illness would likely be mild for most with underlying health conditions, it also suggests that in the absence of a vaccine and containment measures, the burden on hospitals could worsen. As of June 15, health officials have recorded more than 99,000 COVID-19 infections and more than 8,100 deaths in Canada.

The new modelling study, published in The Lancet Global Health Journal on Monday, used population estimates for 2020 and data from 188 countries compiled in the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study (GBD) 2017 to develop the estimated figures. 

Globally, the researchers estimated that 1.7 billion people, or 22 per cent of the world population, had health factors that increased the possibility of severe infection, and about 349 million of them would need to be hospitalized if infected. Of those at risk of hospitalization, less than one per cent are under 20 and nearly 20 per cent are 70 and older.

“We hope our estimates will provide useful starting points for designing measures to protect those at increased risk of severe disease,” said Andrew Clark, an associate professor with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in a news release. “This might involve advising people with underlying conditions to adopt social distancing measures appropriate to their level of risk, or (prioritizing) them for vaccination in the future,” he added. 

The estimates are not exhaustive, the news release cautioned, but could serve as a “starting point for policy-makers,” it said. While the research focused on underlying chronic health conditions, it left out some elements considered by many to be contributing risk factors, such as ethnicity and “socioeconomic deprivation,” which are not included in all guidelines. 

The research noted that while regions with younger populations, such as Africa, have fewer people with underlying health conditions than other areas, such as Europe, this information needs to be communicated clearly “to avoid complacency about risk in Africa” since there are compounding factors not reflected in the numbers. 

“The share of the population at increased risk of severe COVID-19 is generally lower in Africa than elsewhere due to much younger country populations, but a much higher proportion of severe cases could be fatal in Africa than elsewhere,” said Clark. 

In a commentary about the new research, a public health professor said an understanding of who is most at risk can provide an opportunity to “target mitigation strategies” and can help dispel the misconception that “everyone is at equal risk of severe illness.”

“As the authors note, it is time to evolve from a one-size-fits-all approach to one that centres on those most at risk,” wrote Nina Schwalbe with the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. “This will need to happen at both the individual and community level.” 

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A third of Canada's foodservice workforce is still unemployed: survey – CTV News

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TORONTO —
New data from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey revealed that 164,000 foodservice and accommodation jobs were recovered in June. Despite these gains, at least 400,000 people who were previously employed in the foodservice sector are still out of work.

Restaurants Canada, a national non-profit association representing Canada’s diverse foodservice industry is calling on the federal government to make changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program (CEWS) to aid businesses in their effort to rehire workers as they continue to recover.

The program was implemented at the height of the pandemic to help businesses subsidize their employee’s wages for up to 12 weeks, initially. Restaurants Canada is urging the government to keep the subsidy available for as long as pandemic restrictions are in place and to gradually reduce the subsidy as businesses achieve manageable levels of revenue.

To qualify, businesses must have experienced a 30-per-cent decline in revenue. The association is asking the government to scale the 30-per-cent threshold to support restaurants in their recovery.

“Reforms to the federal wage subsidy are urgently needed to help foodservice businesses bring more Canadians back to work amid ongoing restrictions,” said David Lefebvre, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Federal and Quebec in a press release. “Forty-four per cent of restaurant operators who responded to our latest survey said they did not apply for the subsidy for at least one of their establishments because it would not meet the requirements.”

In May, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that the federal government would extend the CEWS by an additional 12 weeks until the end of August. 

When asked about any future changes, the minister’s office pointed to the Economic and Fiscal Snapshot released on Wednesday, which states: “As economies reopen and business activity resumes, the government will soon announces changes to the CEWS to stimulate rehiring, provide support to businesses during reopening and help them adapt to the new normal. In anticipation of this forthcoming announcement, the government has set aside additional funding as part of the 2020 Economic and Fiscal Snapshot.”

The minister’s office declined to share specific details about future changes to the program, but advocates remain hopeful as more businesses begin to reopen. 

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COMMENTARY: Canada and the U.S. are neighbours but miles apart when it comes to COVID-19 – Globalnews.ca

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The COVID19 pandemic has shone a light on the core strengths of Canada’s health-care system while at the same time laying bare the serious shortcomings of the American system.

In this country, we have started to flatten the curve. Ontario and Quebec are not quite as far along as other provinces, but their spread rate of the virus has slowed considerably.

If we stick to adhering to public health protocols – keeping our physical distance, wearing a mask in many situations, not congregating in large crowds – there is every reason to think the curve will continue to flatten while the pandemic continues.

Read more:
B.C. reports 25 COVID-19 cases, most since May 8

Not so on the other side of the border.

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The COVID-19 situation in the United States is almost out of control in many places. States like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida are getting steamrolled by the deadly virus that is rampaging through them.

Even neighboring Washington, which thought it had the virus almost under control mere weeks ago, has seen a resurgence in case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths.

There seem to be many reasons for the stark differences between the two countries’ experience in fighting off the virus.

Perhaps the most important difference is that Canada’s response to COVID-19 is being driven and determined by public health officials, and not by politicians.

Read more:
President Donald Trump playing politics with the pandemic: experts

People like B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and federal Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam have been in charge for the most part and they are being guided by science rather than politics.

Canadian political leaders, meanwhile, have primarily been responsible for devising financial aid packages for the millions of people hit hardest by the virus and have stayed out of the health side of the response.

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Contrast that to the United States where, in some cases, elected officials (notably President Donald Trump) publicly clash with public health experts and ignore or override their advice.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the respected U.S. infectious disease expert, has almost disappeared from public view. Evidently, that is because the Trump administration does not want him offering the country expert advice.

Can you imagine if the B.C. government tried to muzzle Henry? A pitchfork-waving mob would instantly materialize in the streets.

Read more:
British Columbians snapping up Dr. Bonnie Henry merchandise

Another key difference is that Canadians tend to follow rules created for the benefit of the larger community. We don’t chafe under state controls and when someone like Dr. Henry says, for example, that there will be no mass gatherings of people there generally is not (the public protests against racism are notable exceptions).

Americans, on the other hand, love to boast about their constitutionally protected personal rights and have been thumbing their noses at things like crowd limits since the pandemic began. In fact, the current surge in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. can be traced back to the Memorial Day long weekend in late May, when huge crowds gathered to celebrate.

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Finally, it cannot be a coincidence that a country with a public health-care system is doing so much better fighting COVID-19. It allows us to take a centralized approach to taking on the virus.

The U.S., on the other hand, has a private system that has led to a decentralized approach. The result is a hodge-podge of results (within states, some neighboring counties have differing “lockdown” rules; some hospitals do not even report case numbers or deaths).

Two countries side-by-side, yet we could not be further apart in this pandemic.

Keith Baldrey is the legaslative bureau chief for Global BC, based at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canada's UNESCO natural wonders – CBC.ca

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A wild horse grazes at Dungeon Provincial Park in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Bonavista Peninsula, part of Discovery Geopark, which has just been named a UNESCO Global Geopark. (EB Adventure Photography/Shutterstock)

Nova Scotia’s Cliffs of Fundy and the Discovery Global Geopark in Newfoundland and Labrador received official status Friday as UNESCO Geoparks — a designation that recognizes sites and landscapes of international geological significance. They join three other Canadian UNESCO Geoparks and a collection of other UNESCO-designated Canadian sites. Here’s a look at some of Canada’s impressive natural wonders recognized by the UN agency. 

Cliffs of Fundy, N.S.

The Cliffs of Fundy Global Geopark in Nova Scotia stretches along a roughly 165-kilometre drive, with about 40 designated sites from Debert to the Three Sisters cliffs, past Eatonville, out to Isle Haute. The area is the only place on Earth where geologists can see both the assembly of supercontinent Pangea 300 million years ago and its breakup 100 million years later.

(Kayla Hounsell/CBC)

Discovery Global Geopark, N.L.

The Discovery Global Geopark in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Bonavista Peninsula, a rugged coastline that overlooks views of caves, arches and sea stacks.

(Shutterstock)

Stonehammer Geopark, N.B.

Stonehammer Geopark covers 2,500 square kilometres across southern New Brunswick, stretching from Lepreau Falls to Norton, Saint John and Grand Bay-Westfield to St. Martins. It became Canada’s first UNESCO Geopark in 2010. This couple walks on the ocean floor at low tide to view caves carved into the red sandstone by the Bay of Fundy.

(Kevin Bissett/The Canadian Press)

Tumbler Ridge Geopark, B.C.

The Tumbler Ridge Geopark includes part of the eastern Hart Ranges of the northern Rocky Mountains in British Columbia. The area is notable for fossils, including the northernmost prints of brontosaurus, the most complete dinosaur skeleton ever found in the province and, below, ankylosaurus footprints preserved in rock.

(Pecold/Shuttestock)

Percé, Que.

The most noticeable landmark at Percé Geopark is the Percé Rock, a massive limestone stack 433 metres long, 90 metres wide and 88 metres at its highest point, rising from the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Quebec near the village of Percé.

(Marika Wheeler/CBC)

Nahanni National Park, N.W.T.

Canada’s first entry on the UNESCO list, in 1978, this preserve protects a portion of the Mackenzie Mountains Natural Region, including massive canyons, sulphur hot springs, alpine tundra and the spectacular rapids of the South Nahanni River.

(GeGiGoggle/Shutterstock)

Pimachiowin Aki 

An expanse of boreal shield became Canada’s first mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Site in 2018. Pimachiowin Aki is nearly 30,000 square kilometres of boreal land straddling the Ontario-Manitoba border, where Anishinaabe peoples have lived for thousands of years.

(Matt Medler/International Boreal Conservation Campaign/The Associated Press)

Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alta.

A World Heritage Site 75 million years in the making, this spot in the heart of Alberta’s badlands has been a destination for paleontologists since dinosaur fossils were first discovered here in 1884. UNESCO also recognized the provincial park’s “particularly beautiful scenery” when adding it to the World Heritage list in 1979.

(Elena Elisseeva/Shutterstock)

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Alta.

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, also known by its Blackfoot name Áísínai’pi, became Alberta’s sixth World Heritage Site in 2019. According to the provincial government, the park is home to the most significant concentration of rock carvings and paintings on the North American prairies, some of which date back 2,000 years. 

(Paul Karchut/CBC)

Joggins Fossil Cliffs, N.S. 

Nova Scotia’s Joggins Fossil Cliffs, regarded as the best record of life in the Coal Age 300 million years ago, was added to the exclusive ranks of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2008. The fossil cliffs are home to enormous fossilized trees and what’s believed to be the remains of the world’s oldest reptile. 

(Joggins Fossil Institute)

Kluane/Wrangell-St.Elias/Glacier Bay/Tatshenshini-Alsek

The first binational entry on UNESCO’s list, named in 1979, the agency describes this 97,000-square-kilometre site as “an impressive complex of glaciers and high peaks on both sides of the border between Canada (Yukon Territory and British Columbia) and the United States (Alaska). It  includes the 5,959-metre-high Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak.

This massive reserve is home to some of the world’s fastest-moving glaciers and the largest non-polar icefield on the planet.

(Chuck Stoody/The Canadian Press)

Mistaken Point, N.L. 

Mistaken Point, on the southeastern point of the Avalon Peninsula, is home to the oldest-known evidence of Earth’s first large, complex, multicellular life forms — a 565-million-year-old sea floor that holds a collection of fossils known as the Ediacaran biota.

Mistaken Point became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016. 

(UNESCO)

Wood Buffalo National Park

Wood Buffalo, which straddles the Alberta-Northwest Territories border, is one of the world’s largest freshwater deltas and a breeding ground for millions of migratory birds from four continental flyways.

But it has been deteriorating for decades. In 2014, the Mikisew Cree asked UNESCO to examine the park and see if it still merited designation as a World Heritage Site.

UNESCO is considering the park’s status, while Parks Canada considers a $27.5-million plan to rescue it.

(Lennard Plantz/CBC)

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