OTTAWA – COVID-19: In lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued the following statement Sunday:
“As the resurgence of COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are tracking a range of epidemiological indicators to monitor where the disease is most active, where it is spreading and how it is impacting the health of Canadians and public health, laboratory and healthcare capacity. The following is the latest summary on national numbers and trends, and the actions we all need to be taking to maintain COVID-19 at manageable levels across the country.
Since the first cases were reported in March 2020, there have been 213,959 cases of COVID-19, including 9,922 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Though the cumulative number is high and continues to increase, it is important to remember that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. This is why it is important for everyone to continue with individual precautions that will keep ourselves, our families and our communities safer.
At this time, there are 24,401 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 2,488 new cases (Oct 16-22) and 74,719 people tested, with 3.1% testing positive (Oct 11-17). Outbreaks continue to contribute to COVID-19 spread in Canada. These vary in size from just a few cases to larger clusters occurring in a range of settings including long term care and assisted living facilities, schools, congregate living settings, industrial work settings and large social gatherings. Larger clusters tell us that closed and crowded settings and/or not sufficiently maintaining public health practises, such as physical distancing and mask wearing, can amplify spread of the virus.
While I know keeping physically apart is difficult, particularly when we want to mark life’s important moments like weddings and funerals, now is not the time for hosting large in-person gatherings. Right now, doing the best thing to keep our family, friends and community safer means keeping safely apart, connecting virtually, and finding safer ways to care and support each other.
The number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase. Provincial and territorial data, indicate that an average of 1,010 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Oct 16-22), including 209 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 23 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.
As hospitalisations and deaths tend to lag behind increased disease activity by one to several weeks, the concern is that we have yet to see the extent of severe impacts associated with the ongoing increase in COVID-19 disease activity. As well, influenza and respiratory infections typically increase during the Fall and Winter, placing increased demands on hospitals. This is why it is so important for people of all ages to maintain public health practises that keep respiratory infection rates low.
Canada needs a collective effort to sustain the public health response through to the end of the pandemic, while balancing the health, social and economic consequences. We can all do our part by keeping our number of in-person close contacts low and committing to proven effective public health practises; stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, maintain physical distancing, wear a face mask as appropriate, and keep up with hand, cough and surface hygiene. Canadians can also go the extra mile by sharing credible information on COVID-19 risks and prevention practises and measures to reduce COVID-19 in communities and by downloading the COVID Alert app to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
Read my backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others.”
Ottawa must be more transparent regarding COVID-19 vaccine rollout: expert – Lethbridge Herald
By Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press on November 30, 2020.
TORONTO, Kan. – As some provinces push for clarity on when they will receive their share of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccines, one expert says the government should be more transparent about the terms of its contracts with the companies making the shots.
Kerry Bowman, who teaches bioethics and global health at the University of Toronto, says it’s likely Ottawa doesn’t have the information the provinces are seeking regarding the timing and quantity of vaccine deliveries, particularly if its contracts with drugmakers are conditional.
But he says if that’s the case, the federal government should state it clearly or risk eroding public trust in its system.
Bowman says that while news that COVID-19 immunizations could begin in some countries in a matter of weeks is good for Canada in the long term, it will lead to widespread frustration in the near future if the country is lagging behind.
As well, he says any delay in immunization translates to more COVID-19 cases and deaths, and mounting economic strain.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford renewed his calls Monday for a clear delivery date for the province’s share of vaccines, stressing that “the clock is ticking” when it comes to fighting the novel coronavirus.
Ford said he was set to speak to Pfizer, one of the drugmakers that has entered into an agreement with Canada, Monday afternoon but expected to be told the information must come from Ottawa.
The premier cited reports that other countries, such as the United Kingdom, are on track to start COVID-19 immunizations soon, adding Ontarians “need answers.”
Meanwhile, the American biotech company Moderna said Monday the first 20 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped to the United States next month.
The chairman of the American vaccine maker told the CBC on Sunday that Canada is near the front of the line to receive the 20 million doses it pre-ordered, confirming that the country’s early commitment to purchasing the shots means it will get its supply first.
Moderna is one of several companies to have already submitted partial data to a “rolling review” process offered by Health Canada. Rather than presenting regulators with a complete package of trial results, the would-be vaccine makers file data and findings as they become available. Canada has been looking at Moderna’s first results since mid-October.
The issue of when Canada will receive its orders came to the forefront last week when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the country will have to wait a bit because the first doses off the production lines will be used in the countries where they are made.
Trudeau has repeatedly defended his government’s vaccine procurement policy, saying Ottawa has secured multiple options for the country.
The federal government was pressed on the matter further during Monday’s question period, as some MPs called for greater transparency regarding vaccine rollout, noting other countries such as Australia have made their plans public.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the government has been working with the provinces and territories to ensure the plan is robust.
“Canada is well-served by the diversity of vaccines we have purchased early and in fact in great quantity. Canadians can be assured they too will have access to these vaccines that will bring us to the end of COVID-19,” she said.
Case counts remained high in several provinces Monday.
Ontario and Quebec, the two provinces with the bulk of COVID-19 cases, reported 1,746 and 1,333 new infections respectively, as well as eight and 23 new deaths related to the virus.
Toronto, one of two Ontario hot spots currently under lockdown, recorded a daily high of 643 new infections.
In Manitoba, health officials stressed residents must limit their contact with others in order to bring down the numbers, as the province reported 342 new cases and 11 additional deaths.
The provincial government imposed strict measures on business openings and public gatherings more than two weeks ago, but officials said the test positivity rate remains at 13 per cent.
Nunavut, however, will begin to lift the lockdown measures it enacted in mid-November on Wednesday, as more people recover from the illness.
Only Arviat, which has 86 active cases, will continue to be in lockdown for at least another two weeks, with travel restrictions in place, Nunavut officials said.
The territory reported four new cases Monday, bringing the total to 181.
Out east, six new infections have been recorded in New Brunswick today, while Newfoundland and Labrador reported one.
Nova Scotia reported 16 new cases of COVID-19, bringing its total of active cases to 138.
On Sunday, the federal government announced it will extend a series of travel restrictions meant to limit the spread of COVID-19 into January, in light of the steady rise in case counts across the country.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Hajdu said in a statement the measures, which were first enacted near the start of the global health crisis, would be in effect until Jan. 21, 2021, for travellers entering Canada from a country other than the United States.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.
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Quebec to announce decision on holiday gatherings Dec. 11, Legault says – Montreal Gazette
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The government initially pitched the Christmas plan as a way for Quebecers to see each other during a short window, from Dec. 24 to 27. Quebecers could attend a maximum of two gatherings of 10 people during that period, but they were expected to isolate themselves the week prior to reduce their risk of contracting the virus before meeting family members.
But if the coronavirus is widespread around Christmas, gatherings would likely lead to more infections and more hospitalizations.
“It’s worrisome,” Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade said Tuesday morning of the government’s plan.
“I think about January constantly,” she said in the lobby of the National Assembly. “How are we going to make sure that the people who are in seniors’ residences, who are going to go to certain gatherings, who are going to return to those residences, do not contract the disease, do not contaminate all the residents?”
Conservatives push for parliamentary committee study into failed vaccine deal – Red Deer Advocate
OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives are calling for a parliamentary committee to probe the Liberal government’s plan to refit a National Research Council facility in Montreal to start producing a COVID-19 vaccine.
The government announced the $44-million project in May as part of a partnership between the NRC and a Chinese company to develop a made-in-Canada vaccine.
By August, the Liberals confirmed the partnership with CanSino Biologics had fallen apart, after the Chinese government had blocked shipments of vaccine samples meant to be used in clinical trials in Canada.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has criticized the Liberals for putting too much faith in Beijing, and blamed the failed deal for Canada being late to order vaccines from other foreign companies.
The proposed committee probe would look at the investment intended to upgrade the NRC facility and how the deal impacted Canada’s efforts to ensure the country has timely access to vaccines.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted last week that Canada might have to wait for other countries to get access to vaccines, though the government and vaccine-makers have since downplayed any delay.
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