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Most Canadians optimistic about 2021 in light of COVID-19 vaccines: online poll –



The COVID-19 pandemic continued to wreak havoc across the country on Sunday, causing the first deaths in Nunavut and, according to media reports, pushing Ontario towards a provincewide lockdown.

Citing sources briefed on the provincial plan, two media outlets, Global News and 680 News, said the Ontario government is poised to announce a sweeping shutdown of non-essential services on Monday.

The duration of the lockdown will vary in length depending on the region, the outlets said in reports released Sunday afternoon.

A spokesperson for Ontario Premier Doug Ford did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The province has been holding emergency talks over the weekend to discuss additional pandemic measures in the wake of several consecutive days with case counts exceeding 2,000. The new restrictions are expected to be announced Monday.

Meanwhile, Nunavut reported its first two deaths related to the novel coronavirus on Sunday as case counts remained high in several provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, which account for the bulk of the country’s infections.

A joint statement issued by Nunavut’s premier, health minister and chief public health officer said a resident of Arviat and one from Rankin Inlet died Saturday.

The territory had no cases of COVID-19 until November, and has since recorded 259.

The news comes a day after Canada surpassed 500,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

The latest 100,000 cases were recorded across the country over just 15 days — the shortest growth period since the pandemic was declared in March.

It took six months for Canada to register its first 100,000 cases of the virus, another four to reach 200,000, less than a month to hit 300,000 and 18 days to hit 400,000.

The two provinces hardest hit by the pandemic, Ontario and Quebec, each reported more than 2,000 new infections Sunday, with Ontario’s tally at 2,316 and Quebec’s at 2,146. The provinces also recorded 25 and 21 new deaths, respectively.

Out east, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador each reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday.

The new infections came as Ottawa opted to ban travel from the U.K. for 72 hours, effective first thing Monday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the measure is necessary to protect Canadians from a new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 that is quickly spreading through the U.K.

The Public Health Agency of Canada said that while early data suggests the new strain is more transmissible than other variants of the novel coronavirus, there’s nothing to suggest that it has any impact on symptom severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy.

The agency said the variant has yet to be found in Canada.

At the same time, a new online survey shows the majority of Canadians report feeling optimistic about the new year in light of the COVID-19 vaccines.

A report commissioned by the Association for Canadian Studies and conducted by Leger said 70 per cent of those polled said they were somewhat optimistic about 2021, while 15 per cent reported feeling very optimistic.

Another 10 per cent said news of the vaccines left them feeling somewhat pessimistic about the new year, and five per cent said they felt very pessimistic.

Quebecers were slightly more positive overall, with 87 per cent reporting some level of optimism, compared with 84 per cent in the rest of Canada.

Those who described themselves as very optimistic were the most likely to say they will get immunized once a shot is publicly available.

More than 88 per cent of them said they would get the vaccine, compared with roughly 72 per cent of the somewhat optimistic respondents, 25 per cent of the somewhat pessimistic and just over six per cent of the very pessimistic.

The survey polled 1,528 Canadian adults between Dec. 11 and 13. According to the polling industry’s generally accepted standards, online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 20, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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COVID-19 variant identified at Barrie, Ont., long-term care home where 19 residents have died – CTV Toronto



A COVID-19 variant has been identified in six swab tests done at Roberta Place in Barrie, Ont., where an outbreak has claimed at least 19 lives.

Since the health unit declared an outbreak at the long-term facility, cases have exploded, with 122 residents, 69 staff, and two visitors testing positive for COVID-19.

Nineteen residents have now died after becoming infected.

“The impact of this outbreak on the facility has been tragic, and these interim results of a variant are extremely concerning for everyone,” says Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.

Gardner says the virus spread so rapidly the health unit was immediately concerned about a possible variant. It’s not known how the new strain got into the seniors’ home.

“Usually, we never do find out for sure,” Gardner says contact tracing is challenging. He says one staffer was in contact with a person who travelled out of the country and tested positive for COVID-19 but says it’s unknown if that was the source.

Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital took the lead on containing the outbreak after Gardner issued the order on Saturday.

“The health unit, Orillia Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, and Roberta Place, as well as our partners including the Red Cross, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, community physicians, are all working together to contain the spread of the virus and protect residents and staff,” Gardner adds.

The health unit says it is testing to find out what strain of COVID-19 they are dealing with using a two-part test.

The first part of the test indicated “a very high probability that they are of a variant strain of concern.” The second portion of the test is a whole-genome sequencing that determines the exact strain.

Gardner says the concern goes beyond Roberta Place. “This institution, like any, is part of the community,” he says. “There is potential for it to spread to the community.”

“We know from research that it [the strain] is more communicable,” Gardner says.

Meanwhile, a mobile vaccine clinic administered the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to residents who were able and willing.

“We understand that these are very unprecedented and challenging times for the families, residents and staff of Roberta Place, and we appreciate the concern of all involved as we get more information on the variant in the coming days,” said Dr. Gardner.

The results from the genome testing are expected in three to four days.

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B.C. records 500 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 more deaths –



B.C. health officials announced 500 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 more deaths on Wednesday.

In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 320 people, 66 of whom are in intensive care.

Hospitalizations are at their lowest level since Nov. 30,  though the 14 deaths represent the second highest total recorded in January. 

A total of 1,104 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

There are currently 4,345 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with public health monitoring 6,905 people across the province who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. More than 55,564 people who tested positive have recovered.  

B.C. recorded two new outbreaks in health-care facilities at Villa Cathay in the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and Acropolis Manor in the Northern Health Authority. 

There is one new community outbreak at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre.

Outbreaks at Guildford Seniors Village and Maple Ridge Seniors Village in the Fraser Health authority, as well as Mountainview Village and Village by the Station in the Interior Health authority have been declared over.

So far, 98,125 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C.

The province has had to adjust its vaccination plan in response to news that Pfizer-BioNTech isn’t sending any doses of its vaccine to Canada next week, leaving B.C. with a shortfall of 5,800 doses. 

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B.C. reports 500 new COVID-19 cases, 32 in Island Health – CHEK



British Columbia health officials on Wednesday reported 500 new cases of COVID-19, including 32 new cases Island Health, since their last update on Jan. 19.

Officials also reported an additional 14 deaths in the past 24 hours.

The number of confirmed cases in B.C. 62,412 while the province’s death toll is now 1,104.

Of the new cases, 125 were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 216 new cases in the Fraser Health region, 32 in the Island Health region, 91 in the Interior Health region, 35 in the Northern Health region. There was one new case identified in an individual who does not normally reside in Canada.

There are currently 4,345 active cases in the province, 320 people in hospital — 66 of whom are in intensive care — and 6,905 people under active public health monitoring due to possible exposure to an identified case.

A total of 55,564 people in B.C. have recovered from COVID-19 while 98,125 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered province-wide.

More to come

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