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Omicron: Canada tightening border measures – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canada is reviewing its vaccine booster strategy, adding new countries to the list of nations subjected to federal travel restrictions, and is imposing new testing requirements on all air travellers coming from outside of Canada with the exception of the U.S., due to concerns over the Omicron variant.

Federal ministers and public health officials announced these three new steps on Tuesday during an update on the latest measures Canada is taking, with the aim of preventing further importation and spread of the variant of concern.

The new testing requirements mean that all air travellers coming from outside Canada, with the exception of the United States, will now need to be tested at the airport when they land in Canada, on top of the existing pre-departure test requirement.

Those who are vaccinated will have to isolate until they get a negative result, and those who are unvaccinated will continue to have to isolate for the full 14 days and test on day one and day eight of their quarantine. So long as these travellers have a safe place to isolate they do not have to spend their isolation in a government quarantine hotel.

The new air traveller testing requirement for non-travel ban countries is set to come into effect “over the next few days,” said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos. He expects this will see approximately 32,000 tests being administered at Canadian airports per day, with the government covering the cost of these tests.

Duclos said Canada is preparing for a “possible extension” of this policy to include the United States and the land borders if the situation evolves to the point that re-imposing further restrictions on Canada’s borders is warranted.

REVIEWING BOOSTER PLAN

While it remains unclear just how transmissible and severe infection by the variant B.1.1.529 might be, Duclos said given that Omicron is highly mutated, the federal government is asking the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to quickly provide an update on its directives on the use of COVID-19 vaccine boosters.

“This measure, this call that we are making is to ask NACI to provide quick guidance on whether we should revise national standards, national attitudes, and actions on the use of boosters across Canada in the context of the new Omicron variant,” Duclos said. “We are explicitly asking NACI to come up quickly with a revised view on where, and how, and to whom these boosters should be administered.”

While all provinces and territories are handling how boosters are being prioritized in their jurisdictions, access is not currently widespread, with the conversation continuing to play out over whether Canada should be offering third doses to healthy adults or sending those shots to other nations who do not have the kind of access that Canada does.

TRAVEL BAN TERMS

In terms of the travel ban, Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt will join seven other African countries— South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini—that the federal government moved to restrict travellers from on Friday.

The policy bans the entry into Canada of all foreign nationals who travelled to these countries in the last 14 days. Canadians, permanent residents as well as all those who have the right to return to Canada will still be able to return home but will face new measures upon arrival.

Travel restrictions

All returning Canadians and others with right of entry will have to be tested before entering Canada, and effective Tuesday night, that test cannot have been administered in one of the 10 countries on the list. This means that those looking to get back to this country will first need to go to a third country to receive a negative test result before travelling home.

Once landed, returning travellers from these countries who are vaccinated will have to be tested at the airport upon arrival and remain in a government quarantine facility until they receive a negative result. Then, they can go home to finish isolating as the await their day eight test result.

Those who are unvaccinated will have to quarantine for the full 14 days in a government facility.

“These testing measures will allow us to assess the evolving situation and determine any additional and appropriate measures,” said Transport Minister Omar Alghabra.

The government said singling out these 10 countries, when Omicron has shown up in other countries, is because of the rate of community transmission.

MORE CHANGES COULD COME

The federal cabinet discussed the evolving situation surrounding Omicron at a closed-door cabinet meeting Tuesday morning.

As of Tuesday evening, seven cases of the variant of concern have been confirmed in Canada, with public health officials cautioning that more cases will likely be discovered in the coming days.

Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia all have detected cases of the variant, though health officials across the country are doing targeted testing of people who have travelled from the southern African countries subjected to the ban.

Federal officials said Tuesday to expect the situation and federal policies to continue to evolve.

“This is what we are doing today, it may well be that as we gain time we find that the new variant is of less concern than what some experts might be fearing, but the situation might also evolve differently, so we’re reminding Canadians that travel rules and border rules in particular can always change… and we will be watching the situation as all Canadians will do over the next days and weeks,” Duclos said.

In an interview on CTV News Channel’s Power Play, Alghabra said that the government will likely be re-assessing the rules in the next two to three weeks, but added it’s too soon to say what the travel situation will be like come the holidays.

“This is going to add other measures at the border, and we are going to work very hard with our partners at airports and CBSA to make sure that the process is as smooth as possible… But I do want to ask for patience and understanding why these measures are important,” he said. “I understand how frustrating this whole thing has been, but what we’re doing is really to avoid going back to lockdowns.”

Reacting to the news, opposition MPs on CTV News Channel’s Power Play expressed their desire for more clarity over the measures, but voiced support for temporary measures given the current pandemic situation.

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Ellen DeGeneres makes her final entrance onto the Ellen Degeneres Show

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Los Angeles, United States of America (USA)- Ellen DeGeneres yesterday made her final appearance on the Ellen Degeneres Show after 19 seasons.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show began back in September 2003 and has been host to various issues and people.

“Mary and Andy you have been with me since day one, and I am so grateful, I am so lucky that I have two executive producers that not only knew how to make a great show but make a great show for me because you understood me, you got me, you knew who was.

You have been with me for 25 years. We have been through everything together, 25 years, thick and thin. We have laughed, we have cried, you have been my constant source of support and love and I thank you. You are brilliant, you are talented, you are super smart, I admire you, I respect you, and I love you.

To all of you who have watched this show and supported me thank you so much for this platform and I hope that what I have been able to do over the last 19 years has made you happy and that I was able to take a little bit of pain away from a bad day or anything you are going through and I hope I have been able to inspire you to make other people happy and to do good in the world to feel like you have a purpose.

I have said it before and I will say it again if I have done anything in the past 19 years, I hope I have inspired you to be your true, authentic self and if someone is brave enough to tell you who they are, be brave enough to support them, even if you don’t understand. They are showing you who they are and that is the biggest gift anybody can ever give you, and by opening your heart and your mind, you are gonna be that much more compassionate and compassion is what makes the world a better place.

Thank you so much for being on this journey with me. I feel the love and I send it back to you. Bye,” said Ellen.

In May 2021, Ellen announced that the 19th season of her show would be her last. However, the show will continue to air new episodes with guest hosts and re-runs throughout the course of this year.

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US maintains it does not support Taiwan independence, China hints at chopping hands

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Washington DC, United States of America (USA)- Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, has reiterated that the country’s policy on Taiwan remains resolute.

Under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the US recognizes but does not endorse, China’s sovereignty over Taiwan. While the act codifies the US’ one-China Policy, it also authorizes informal diplomatic relations with the government of Taiwan and allows Washington to provide Taipei with enough military support to enable Taiwan to maintain sufficient self-defence capabilities.

“In Taiwan, our approach has been consistent across decades and administrations. As the President has said, our policy has not changed. We do not support Taiwan’s independence, and we expect cross-strait differences to be resolved by peaceful means,” said Blinken.

However, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, has said some people in the US will have their hands chopped if they play the salami-slicing tactic in dealing with the Taiwan question.

“We want to make it clear to some people in the US that their hands will also be chopped off when they play the salami-slicing tactic in dealing with the Taiwan question. The People’s Liberation Army is ready to take all necessary measures to crush any form of Taiwan independence moves and to safeguard our national sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The US has been continuously marginalizing and diminishing the one-China principle. It wants to use the salami-slicing tactic to play the Taiwan card to contain China and that is a complete illusion.

We request that the US stops disguising its own rules as international norms and promoting the US-style, hegemony-based order. It must accept China’s peaceful development with a rational, objective perspective, which is in the interest of Sino-US relations and the world’s peace and stability,” said the Senior Colonel.

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BBC to layoff 1 000 staff workers

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London, Britain- The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has revealed plans to layoff 1 000 of its staff within the coming few years.

According to the corporation, BBC World News and BBC News channels will merge to create a single 24-hour TV news channel serving both Britain and international audiences as part of the corporation’s wider plans.

Regional TV news programmes in Oxford and Cambridge are also among the services being scrapped merging with the BBC’s Southampton and Norwich operations.

BBC Four and Children’s BBC will no longer be aired as traditional broadcast channels after the next few years and will end as linear TV channels and are expected to move online to the iPlayer, while Radio 4 Extra could become available on the BBC Sounds service only.

According to Tim Davie, BBC’s Director-General, the layoffs will save at least £200 million (US$252 million) annually.

“When I took this job, I said that we needed to fight for something important, public service content and services freely available universally for the good of all. This fight is intensifying, the stakes are high.

Driven by the desire to make life and society better for our licence fee payers and customers in every corner of the UK (United Kingdom) and beyond. They want us to keep the BBC relevant and fight for something that in 2022 is more important than ever. To do that, we need to evolve faster and embrace the huge shifts in the market around us.

This is our moment to build a digital-first BBC. Something genuinely new, a Reithian organization for the digital age, a positive force for the UK and the world. Independent, impartial, constantly innovating and serving all. A fresh, new, global digital media organization which has never been seen before,” said Davie.

The move comes off the back of remarks made by Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, in January, that the licence fee will be frozen at £159 (US$201) per annum for the next two years.

 

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