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N.S. reports 7 new cases of COVID-19; active cases rise to 40 – CTV News Atlantic

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HALIFAX —
Nova Scotia has announced seven new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. Five previously reported cases are now considered resolved, increasing the total number of active cases in the province to 40.

Four of Tuesday’s new cases were identified in the province’s Northern Zone and are close contacts of previously reported cases.

The other three new cases were identified in the Central Zone and are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada. 

The province says all new cases are self-isolating as required.

“COVID-19 is still here and wants us to let our guard down. But we are not going to let that happen after all the hard work and sacrifice by Nova Scotians,” said N.S. Premier Stephen McNeil in a release. “We will contain the virus over the holiday season by keeping our gatherings small, wearing a mask and following all of the other public health protocols.”

“I’m encouraged to see that our case numbers have remained low as we get closer to the holiday season,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “Let’s keep up the good work by continuing to follow all the public health measures – adhere to the gathering limits, keep a consistent social group, stay home if you are feeling unwell, wash your hands and self-isolate if required.”

N.S. COVID-19 CASE DATA

The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 1,795 tests on Monday.

Since Oct. 1, Nova Scotia has done 101,394 tests. There have been 365 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and no deaths. 

Since the pandemic began, there have been 1,454 cumulative confirmed cases, and 65 deaths. 1,349 cases are considered recovered, leaving 40 active cases in the province.

There is currently no one in hospital due to COVID-19.

The province’s confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.

Fifty-six per cent of cases are female, and 44 per cent are male.

There are cases confirmed across the province, but most have been identified in the Central Zone, which contains the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The provincial government says cumulative cases by zone may change as data is updated in Panorama, the province’s electronic information system.

The numbers reflect where a person lives and not where their sample was collected.

  • Western Zone: 82 cases
  • Central Zone: 1206 cases
  • Northern Zone: 94 cases
  • Eastern Zone: 65 cases

The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, has been extended to Dec. 27.

NEW RESTRICTIONS IN EFFECT

New measures meant to prevent any possible surge of COVID-19 over the holiday period have come into effect across Nova Scotia.

Starting Monday and until Jan. 10, in-person dining at restaurants in the Halifax area will remain closed, while restaurants and licensed establishments in the rest of the province will have to stop service by 10 p.m. and close by 11 p.m.

Indoor gatherings provincewide are capped at 10 people and retail stores across Nova Scotia are required to limit the number of shoppers to 25 per cent of legal capacity.

“I’m sorry for the gathering limits, I know it’s difficult to manage, but Dr. Strang has said 10 is 10,” McNeil said. “The fact that we can gather at all is a blessing. Look at what’s happening in other parts of our country. (It) is because of your hard work and the commitment to following the protocols in this province that we’ve had any resemblance of a Christmas. So, rather than thinking about what we don’t have or what we can’t do, maybe this is a Christmas to focus on the moment and find creative ways to celebrate.”

Long-term care residents are allowed two designated caregivers while seniors facilities can permit limited visits by family members.

The province is asking citizens to avoid any unnecessary travel throughout the province and is recommending that if people need to travel, that they go directly to their final destination and stay there.

POTENTIAL EXPOSURE AT STELLARTON RESTAURANT

Late Monday, the Nova Scotia Health Authority warned of potential COVID-19 exposure at a restaurant in Stellarton, N.S.

The exposure warning was issued for Andre’s Pizza, located at 243 S Foord St. in Stellarton, from Dec. 10 to 14. 

Those who were at the location during those days should monitor for symptoms, which may develop up to and including Dec. 28. 

Click here for a full list of potential COVID-19 exposures in Nova Scotia.

AUTOMATED TEST CALLS

Nova Scotians now have the option to choose either an email or automated phone calls to notify them of negative COVID-19 test results.

“We recognize that it’s stressful to wait for test results and it can have an impact on the ability to go to work, school and daycare, so anything we can do to make that process more efficient for those being tested is a big win,” said Catherine Hebb, director, Public Health, Nova Scotia Health.

Upon receiving an automated call, Nova Scotians will be asked to enter the last four numbers of their health card or identification number to receive their result. Email results may be received 24 hours a day. Auto-calls may occur daily between noon and 5 p.m.

“It’s very important that people keep their phones with them and on if they are expecting a test result,” said Hebb. “The caller ID will indicate unknown name, unknown number; we ask people to answer those calls. They’ll also need to have their health card or identification ready.”

If a patient cannot be reached after receiving an email and two auto-calls, they will contacted by staff from Public Health or Service Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia Health has partnered with Service Nova Scotia to help deliver negative test results. 

COVID ALERT APP

Canada’s COVID-19 Alert app is available in Nova Scotia.

The app, which can be downloaded through the Apple App Store or Google Play, notifies users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

LIST OF SYMPTOMS

Anyone who experiences a fever or new or worsening cough, or two or more of the following new or worsening symptoms, is encouraged to take an online test or call 811 to determine if they need to be tested for COVID-19:

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose/nasal congestion 

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GameStop’s volatile rally smashes Wall St price targets – Aljazeera.com

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The video game retailer’s stock surged as much as 145 percent to $159.18 on Monday, triggering at least nine trading halts.

To see how far GameStop Corp. has outrun anyone’s ability to render sensible analysis, consider what its current dizzying rally has done to Wall Street’s best guesses of its value.

Now perched close to $75 a share, hoisted by a short squeeze ignited and arguably organized in chat rooms, the game retailer’s stock is about $60 above the average forecast of equity handicappers tracked by Bloomberg. The ratio between the two is by far the biggest in the Russell 3000 and jumped for a third day, as crazed trading capped a stretch in which the 37-year-old company burned bears who had shorted 139% of its shares.

It’s happening in a stock that before 2020 had fallen six straight years as earnings shrunk, and which isn’t projected to turn a profit before fiscal 2023. While fundamentals may one day matter again, GameStop has now become the latest show of force by newbie day traders in a market that seems more like their plaything each day.

The stock surged as much as 145% to $159.18 on Monday, at one point triggering at least nine trading halts. It briefly turned negative before bouncing back to trade up 22% to $79.56 at 2 p.m. in New York. The shares have advanced more than 320% since the start of the year.

“It doesn’t make business sense,” said Doug Clinton, co-founder of Loup Ventures. “It makes sense from an investor psychology standpoint. I think there’s a tendency where there is heavy retail interest for those types of traders to think about stocks differently than institutional investors in terms of what they’re willing to pay.”

Right now, they’re willing to pay 471% more than what analysts consider reasonable, on average. While perhaps fairly priced relative to its annual sales of about $5.2 billion in the 12 months through October, those sales are down 40% in just two years. The company is expected to report a per-share loss in both fiscal 2021 and 2022. To get a price-earnings multiple it’s necessary to look two years into the future, where the P/E is around 58.

Bears have seen more than $6.1 billion mark-to-market losses this year, according to financial analytics firm S3 Partners.

While Wall Street may have no clue what GameStop shares are worth, it does have ideas on what the company should do with them: sell.

“GameStop can issue equity and should sell stock to pay down debt,” said Wedbush Securities Inc. analyst Michael Pachter, who had a price target of $16 for GameStop as of Jan. 11. Doing so would involve “minimal dilution at these levels” and provide protection against an economic downturn. “They should do as much as the market will absorb,” he said.

Separately, Telsey Advisory Group analyst Joseph Feldman double-downgraded the stock to underperform from outperform on Monday, removing GameStop’s only buy-or-equivalent recommendation.

Bullish Options

Whatever the future holds, the recent past has been a bonanza for anyone who dared own the stock — or, even better, bullish options. Calls expiring Jan. 29 with a strike price of $115 were the most-traded GameStop contract early Monday. Other similar wagers had correspondingly heady gains as contracts once seen as long-shot upward bets suddenly were in the money.

At investment research firm Hedgeye, analysts advised clients to not go short the stock, despite removing it from their “best idea long list” to reanalyze fundamentals. “Wouldn’t dare do that given the positive catalysts we think will be coming down the pike as the year progresses” with a very bullish calendar on the horizon, Brian McGough and Jeremy McLean wrote.

GameStop “has become a cult stock because of Ryan Cohen’s success with Chewy,” Wedbush’s Pachter said, referring to the activist investor and co-founder of online pet retailer Chewy Inc., who joined GameStop’s board this month. “I cannot discount Mr. Cohen’s past successes and don’t know what he has in mind going forward, but I need to see their strategy before I give them credit for materially higher earnings power.”

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Canadian provinces push back vaccination plans as Pfizer deliveries grind to a halt – Canada News – Castanet.net

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Some Canadian health-care workers are being told they’ll have to wait longer to receive their first doses of COVID-19 vaccines as deliveries from a major manufacturer grind to a temporary halt.

Canada is not expected to receive any Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines this week as the company revamps its operations, and deliveries are expected to be slow for the next few weeks.

Ontario announced today that it was pausing COVID-19 vaccinations of long-term care staff and essential caregivers so that it can focus on giving the shots to all nursing home residents.

Several provinces have used up nearly all their vaccine supply and have been forced to push back their vaccination schedules.

Saskatchewan announced Sunday that it had exhausted all the doses it has received so far, while Quebec has used up more than 90 per cent of its supply.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the delay is only temporary and that Canada is expected to receive 4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of March.

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Merck Gives Up on Coronavirus Vaccines – The Motley Fool

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Pharmaceutical giant Merck (NYSE:MRK) officially threw in the towel on its efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. The company said it’s discontinuing the development of two candidates, V590 and V591, after a review of results from phase 1 studies indicated that they were unlikely to provide adequate protection against the coronavirus. It will instead focus its COVID-19 research and production capabilities on two therapeutic drugs for the disease.

Merck had hinted at a conference last month that the efficacy rates of Moderna‘s mRNA vaccine and the one developed by collaboration partners Pfizer and BioNTech were better than it had expected, and set a high bar for its efforts. As it turned out, V590 and V591 produced immune responses that were inferior not only to those produced by other vaccines, but to those seen in patients who have recovered from COVID-19 infections.

Syringe and torn paper with "Coronavirus" written on it.

Image source: Getty Images.

Merck is the second-largest vaccine seller in the world, but had hesitated to develop one for COVID-19, falling months behind in the race. Eventually, it launched programs to develop single-dose vaccine candidates based on proven technology, one using the viral vector Merck uses in its approved Ebola vaccine, and one from a company it acquired last year in the hope of getting multiple shots on the COVID-19 goal. Instead, Merck will take a non-cash charge to its fourth-quarter earnings for the programs.

However, the pharma company still has high hopes for two COVID-19 treatment candidates. MK-7110 is an anti-inflammatory drug that appears to reduce the risk of death or respiratory failure in moderately to severely ill COVID-19 patients by as much as 50%. Phase 3 trial results for it are expected in the first quarter. Molnupiravir (MK-4482) is an oral antiviral being evaluated in trials that are expected to be complete in May. If successful, that drug could compete with Gilead‘s remdesivir, which faces some skepticism over its efficacy.

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