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One will live, one will die: How Canada is preparing for tough coronavirus choices – Global News

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There is one ventilator, two people.

The first person is a 12-year-old with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The second person is 74 years old and has COVID-19, too, but he’s an infectious diseases doctor and an expert in vaccine development.


READ MORE:
Canada at critical juncture in coronavirus battle, says top doctor

Neither is breathing very well, and the window to choose who gets the machine, which mechanically helps patients struggling to breathe, is closing quickly. Unlike other forms of treatment, experts note, “the decision about initiating or terminating mechanical ventilation is often truly a life-or-death choice.”

So, says Timothy Christie, a medical ethicist, you have the 12-year-old, the 74-year-old and a choice:

“One is going to live and one is going to die.”

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Who do you save?

***

Save the child or save the doctor is the first scenario that Christie, regional director of ethics services for Horizon Health Network in New Brunswick, will put to the network’s ethics board this week.


READ MORE:
‘All it takes is one slip’ — Impassioned pleas from the coronavirus front lines

He’s writing a discussion paper outlining different scenarios, which the board will discuss at length. What they decide will become policy should New Brunswick reach the point where COVID-19 patients overwhelm its health-care system and force its doctors into the same position as their Italian counterparts, who’ve had to make heartbreaking life-or-death decisions with alarming frequency.

That hasn’t happened in Canada. Yet.

But across the country, hospitals and medical ethicists are readying for similar shortages.






1:29
Montreal hospital foundation launches ventilator challenge


Montreal hospital foundation launches ventilator challenge

A recent study from the University of Toronto, University Health Network and Sunnybrook Hospital says Ontario could run short of machines and space to ventilate very sick patients in a little over a month. Companies like Dyson are trying to produce as many new ventilators as fast as they can.

“Public health is going to do whatever it can to reduce the impact of this epidemic so that you don’t go beyond your capacity,” chief public health officer of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam, told reporters on March 28.

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“Having said that, of course, you have to prepare for much more worst-case scenarios.”

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A worst-case scenario is an inadequate number of ventilators.

It’s what’s happening right now in Italy, where doctors consider age, pre-existing medical conditions and whether a person has a family to help them recover before deciding who gets a coveted intensive care unit (ICU) bed — where they can access intubation, ventilators and other life-saving treatment — and who doesn’t.

It’s also happening in the United States. The country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said on March 29 that he expects upwards of 100,000 deaths linked to COVID-19.

In Michigan, one hospital says patients who have severe health issues like heart, lung, kidney or liver failure, as well as terminal cancer or severe burns, may be ineligible for critical care in a worst-case scenario.

In states like Alabama and Washington, similar worst-case plans indicate that people with intellectual disabilities may not be prioritized for life-saving treatment.

In New York, Dr. Eric Cioe-Pena said it already feels as though “we’ve ventured into a battle.”

In the likely event Canada runs short, Kerry Bowman, a bioethicist at the University of Toronto, says Canadians need to talk about how we choose who gets life-saving treatment and who doesn’t.

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The hope is that if Canadians continue to self-isolate and physically distance themselves, we will flatten the curve, reduce the surge of people needing critical care resources at the same time and, in doing so, avoid more deaths.






2:07
B.C. health officials release medical models of worst-case coronavirus scenarios


B.C. health officials release medical models of worst-case coronavirus scenarios

But if it isn’t enough, Bowman says, “people have a fundamental right to know” how we’ll pick who gets what care.

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“It’s not just what decisions were made but how people made those decisions that’s going to be very very important,” he says.

“Trust is the cornerstone of every element of health care.”

***

In 2003, the SARS outbreak killed 44 Canadians and infected more than 400 others in Toronto. In the aftermath, a provincial working group, made up of doctors and ethicists, put together a report for providing critical care during future pandemics.

“Every human life is valued and every human being deserves respect, caring and compassion,” the group noted — even if not every person gets critical care. Like Bowman, the working group said transparency and accountability in developing triage protocols are key.


READ MORE:
More Canadians have now died of coronavirus than SARS

To do that, the group stressed that health-care systems would need an effective strategy for when their services were stretched thin by a sudden influx of patients. In the short term, doctors and nurses can double up on shifts, but a pandemic is about long-term sustainability.

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Part of ensuring sustainability will mean knowing when to implement pandemic triage protocols, the group wrote. Do it too soon and you risk unnecessarily hurting patients, do it too late and you’ll use many resources on only a few patients and risk filling all critical care beds, limiting care options for anyone who comes after.

For all the great strides Canada has made post-SARS — including creating the Public Health Agency of Canada — there are still limits to what can be done. Many hospitals were struggling with overcrowding before the COVID-19 outbreak hit in earnest in March.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Dr. Fauci says deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. could top 100,000


Coronavirus outbreak: Dr. Fauci says deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. could top 100,000

“One of the strongest recommendations after SARS was our hospitals had to have surge capacity. They don’t,” Bowman says. He isn’t blaming hospitals; he’s blaming a lack of public funding.

“We’ve put off ethical decisions and we’ve put off major (health-care) changes… which has gotten us into big trouble with this outbreak.”

***

Right now, Judy Illes, professor of neurology at the University of British Columbia and Canada Research Chair in neuroethics, says Canada is “in triage… not rationing.”

In other words, we’re deciding who goes first and who goes second. We haven’t yet started deciding who gets and who doesn’t.

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But any plan requires “good ethics principles,” she says.

“There’s no black and white, no right and wrong — it’s all balance.”

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In balancing risk and benefit, Illes says a utilitarian framework used by Canadian hospitals and health-care systems will focus on making choices that maximize the best outcomes for the highest number of people.

These are hard choices but “a necessary response to the overwhelming effects of a pandemic,” wrote 10 doctors in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 23.

“The question is not whether to set priorities, but how to do so ethically and consistently.”

Those 10 doctors recommend prioritizing COVID-19 tests, personal protective equipment, ICU beds, ventilators and vaccines for front-line health-care workers and those who provide the critical infrastructure that keeps hospitals operating.






3:53
How to support health-care workers during the COVID-19 crisis


How to support health-care workers during the COVID-19 crisis

“These workers should be given priority not because they are somehow more worthy but because of their instrumental value,” the doctors wrote. “They are essential to pandemic response.”

The doctors also suggest that in some cases, it will be necessary to remove somebody who is already on a ventilator to give it to someone else who may have a better prognosis.

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“(That) will be extremely psychologically traumatic for clinicians,” the doctors cautioned, and yet:

“Many guidelines agree that the decision to withdraw a scarce resource to save others is not an act of killing and does not require the patient’s consent.”

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In cases where two patients have a similar prognosis, the doctors recommend deciding based on a lottery method because sticking with the usual “first come, first served” health-care approach would be unfair to those who become critically ill later during the outbreak.






2:30
Trudeau promises “millions more items” of protective gear


Trudeau promises “millions more items” of protective gear

“These are essential conversations,” says Bowman, even though he expects to be called a fearmonger for trying to discuss it now with the public.

“We cannot simply wait until people are being taken off ventilators or denied ventilators to start having this conversation,” he says.

“Let’s hope this never happens, but we have to be prepared.”

***

If Toronto health organizations learned anything after SARS, it is that not speaking openly about difficult life-or-death decisions can be damaging, several ethicists wrote in the BMC Medical Ethics journal a few years after the outbreak.

“The costs of not addressing the ethical concerns are severe,” they wrote in 2006. “Loss of public trust, low hospital staff morale, confusion about roles and responsibilities, stigmatization of vulnerable communities and misinformation.”

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Christie, the bioethicist in New Brunswick, says that after the ethics committee decides on a policy, it will be communicated to the broader public.

The work, Christie says, is very much in progress — a point echoed by many of the hospitals, provincial health authorities and physician licensing bodies to which Global News reached out.


READ MORE:
From custodians to abortion providers, how coronavirus is changing our lives

In Nova Scotia, a health ministry spokesperson said an ethical framework is in progress but “it’s a little too soon” to share publicly. While a ministry spokesperson in Quebec did not respond to requests for comment, a spokesperson for the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal said there is a provincial working group putting together triage guidelines.

Ontario recently announced an ethics table, which the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics would lead, to help devise a plan for prioritizing who gets treatment.

While a spokesperson for B.C. did not provide responses on the province’s approach, Bowman says his understanding is a provincial ethics group has also been convened there.

It would be beneficial to have those policies sync up nationwide, says Illes, the neuroethicist.

“We have disproportionate people with disabilities, socio-economic challenged people, Indigenous people across different provinces, but their rights and their views and their needs need to be taken into consideration,” she says.

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“A strong policy that’s harmonized, that takes all those factors into consideration, is the best way forward.”






1:57
Taking stock of Canada’s ICU beds, number of ventilators


Taking stock of Canada’s ICU beds, number of ventilators

While Canadians cannot gather in person right now to share their opinions, Illes says she is pleased to see “vital” public engagement happening through medical opinion pieces and webinars, like the two-hour virtual discussion the University of Alberta recently hosted on pandemic ethics.

“We want to stay socially engaged, even more than we are normally, and support each other,” Illes says. “If there’s a silver lining to this story, it’s how well we can band together as Canadians in terrible times.”

***

Christie has had to make life-or-death decisions before. But this might be the first time he has to make end-of-life decisions “because of blatant rationing.”

“We were trying to be conservative, realistic and practical, but this is exponentially worse than any of us had planned for,” he says. “It’s hard to believe how big it’s getting and how quickly.”


READ MORE:
Five people to listen to during coronavirus outbreak — and five to ignore

It’s why he says this needs to be a community endeavour. It’s not only about an ethics committee deciding who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t — if that’s what it comes to.

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It’s about asking people to self-isolate when they’re sick or have been exposed to the virus or are newly home from travelling abroad. It’s about asking everyone to take physical distancing seriously so there is no surge in patients needing critical care.

“This situation is no one’s fault, but we have to deal with it,” Christie says.

“I would rather us be heartbroken but really agonize over making good decisions.”

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— With files from the Associated Press and Reuters

Email us: Jane.Gerster@globalnews.ca

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

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Most Canadians opposed to Wexit, but poll finds new party could pose challenge to Conservatives – CBC.ca

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A majority of Canadians remain opposed to the concept of the four most western provinces separating from Canada, but a new Abacus Data poll suggests the limited support the Wexit Canada party currently enjoys could come at the expense of the federal Conservatives.

“If you isolate the four western provinces, the federal Conservatives rely on those provinces disproportionately for more of their support, more of their seats,” said David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data. “When you distil down and look at it, who are these Wexiteers?”

Coletto said among those who support separation from Canada, “almost half of them nationally voted Conservative. Among those western Canadians, 81 per cent voted Conservative in the last election.”

The poll found that only seven per cent of Canadians think Wexit is a good idea — but Coletto said that number increased to 15 per cent of Conservative Party voters in the 2019 election.

How survey respondents said they would feel about a separation of Canada’s four western provinces. (Abacus Data)

Among Albertans, the new party gets slightly higher support. Twenty per cent of survey respondents in the province said Alberta separating from the rest of the country was a “good idea.” Another 26 per cent said they could “live with it,” while 54 per cent called it a “terrible idea.”

“It shows that Wexit Canada, as a starting point, has an audience that is open to listening, and in Alberta particularly, an audience who may not be strongly in favour of separating but signal that they could live with it,” Coletto said.

How Alberta survey respondents said they would feel about Alberta separating from Canada. (Abacus Data)

The results mirror frustrations felt by Albertans that were indicated in a November 2019 Abacus poll. It found that three-quarters of Albertans said their province is treated “unfairly” in its relationship with the rest of the country.

“This is not necessarily a wholesale shift of views, but I think it reflects an environment where this kind of perspective, this kind of party, could find some traction with a portion of the electorate or voters and residents in Alberta and other western provinces,” Coletto said.

Party has a new leader

Last month, veteran conservative politician Jay Hill was named interim leader of the Wexit party following the resignation of founder Peter Downing. Hill was Conservative House leader under then-prime minister Stephen Harper at the time of his retirement in 2010.

Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary, said the new Abacus data shows pro-separation numbers at a rate that is largely consistent with other polls but indicates a higher amount of what he called “soft” separatists.

“There is a committed small minority that is hardcore separatist, around nine to 13 per cent. The remaining supporters are soft,” Bratt said in an email. “Meaning that their support could be hardened or dissipate based on current events or if a serious referendum would be put into play.”

He said the Wexit party also poses a problem for the Conservatives in Western Canada, given that none of the four candidates running for the party leadership are from that part of the country — the first time since the federal Conservative party’s formation in 2003.

“[The polls indicated] that Wexit is driven by Alberta. While there is support in the other western provinces, the heart of the movement is in Alberta,” Bratt said. “This is also a challenge for [Premier Jason] Kenney.”

He said that many supporters of separatism back the governing United Conservative Party, “and a few may even be in his caucus.”

Premier Jason Kenney has said that threatening separation from Canada would destabilize investor confidence and would be ‘hugely counter-productive.’ (CBC)

Kenney himself has pushed back against the idea of Alberta separation, calling it an empty threat that could hurt the province’s economy.

But others in his party disagree, including UCP Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes, who has called for “consequences” should Alberta’s demands not be met by Ottawa.

Abacus said the survey was conducted online with 1,500 Canadian residents from June 26 to 30, and was weighted according to census data “to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region.”

For comparison purposes, a probability-based sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margins of error would be higher on provincial results or other subsets of the main sample.  

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Black in small-town Canada: From racism to building inclusive communities – Globalnews.ca

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Seeing Confederate flags sold and displayed around Stratford, Ont., had left Edward Smith feeling disappointed and disturbed.

The 37-year old, originally from Ohio, moved to Stratford to work as an actor; he.has lived in the Ontario city that’s known for its arts and culture scene for 10 years.

According to the 2016 census, Stratford has a population of around 31,00 people. Fewer than 350 identified as Black. 

Last week, Smith was out walking his dog and saw a Confederate flag hanging in the window of an apartment in his building. He snapped a photo and posted it in the community association group with the question: ‘Can we do better?”

READ MORE: What it’s like to rent as a Black Canadian: ‘I don’t even have a chance’

“And then the vitriol came,” he said. Blatantly racist memes were sent his way, which depicted lynching, blackface and language that praised white supremacy.

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While many supported him, Stratford also needs to face the hateful environment that has been created, he said. 

“The community needs to take responsibility for the fact that racism feels welcomed and at home in its midst,” he said. “We need to realize our own culpability in allowing people to hold these views unchallenged.”

Being Black in a small town or city in Canada can hold a different set of challenges when it comes to one’s sense of belonging, multiple residents told Global News. Some may experience both overt and subtle forms of racism, while others find themselves teaching their non-Black neighbours how to be allies.  

In recent months, protests have been happening across the world stemming from the deaths of multiple Black people at the hands of police, including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. People have also continued to call for an end to anti-Black racism across the country.

Feelings of isolation 

But being Black at this time in a community without many Black people can be extra isolating, says Meghan Watson, a registered psychotherapist based in Toronto.

“It’s not necessarily just geographic,” she said. “That isolation is defined by feelings of hopelessness. There may be triggers around previous experiences of isolation, perhaps instances of microaggressions or macroaggressions and invalidation may arise.”

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3:32
Discussing race and raising children of colour


Discussing race and raising children of colour

Watson says Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BlPOC) can feel further isolation if they don’t have an understanding, accepting or supportive community of allies around them.

“That’s going to create some mental health issues where you might see someone in persistent anxiety and stress or hyper-vigilance of their surroundings.”

She says many have long believed that racism may not exist in a country like Canada or that we’re just too “nice,” especially in small-town living, but experiences involving overt and subtle racism still exist.

“There’s a lot of benevolent racism that happens in small communities.”

“There’s a lot of well-meaning individuals who have pure intentions, but it’s deeply rooted in a history of believing in and considering people of colour and Black individuals in Canada as less-than.”

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‘Pain’ from daily microaggressions, racist comments

After feeling isolated and dealing with racist comments living in the small town of Pembroke, Ont., Burgundy Morgan, 23, knew she had to leave.

In high school, she remembers teachers would hammer her with questions, asking where she was “really from.” Some white classmates called her “the whitest Black girl” because of how she spoke, she said. 

“I just kind of went along with it … because I wanted to make friends. I did feel pain from things like that,” she said. 

Burgundy Morgan left the small town she grew up in due to racism.


Burgundy Morgan left the small town she grew up in due to racism.


Photo provided by Burgundy Morgan

Pembroke has a population of around 15,000 people and only 75 are Black, according to 2016 census data. For Morgan, the worst experience was how some people treated her natural hair. 

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READ MORE: Want to support Black people? Stop talking, start listening

“People were always coming up to me, touching my hair, playing with my hair, always asking me questions.”

She eventually moved to Ottawa to go to college and doesn’t plan on going back to Pembroke. 

She remembers white classmates saying the N-word around her, not knowing the history of that word. 

“There’s a lot of things that weren’t taught about racism in schools (and) it’s not enough to be ‘not racist.’ You have to be anti-racist and continuously be educating and taking accountability for your actions.”

The importance of building a community

Tristan Barrocks, 36, has been living in Shelburne, Ont., for five years with his wife and children. The town had about 8,100 people, according to the 2016 census, about 750 of whom were Black.

Barrocks, a documentary filmmaker and cinematographer, says he has seen how diverse his town has become in just the last few years. In fact, when he first moved from Brampton, Ont., to Shelburne, a few other Black families also moved with him.

“It was definitely a dramatic difference in the sense of the pace of life and also the quality of life,” he said.

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READ MORE: Companies aren’t ‘comfortable’ talking about anti-Black racism. Here’s how to start

Now, Barrocks has invested his time in building a more inclusive community for his children. He joined a local parent council to include more Black-focused events and programming within the school system and hopes to bring more extra-curricular activities to students of all backgrounds.

Tristan Barrocks pictured with his family.


Tristan Barrocks pictured with his family.


Photo provided by Tristan Barrocks

In his eyes, this is a way to expand his community and make it more diverse.

“There is the old-school string of thought where Shelburne is small-town … and we need to keep that vintage style,” he said. “Some of these people have never left Shelburne or been around Black or brown people or Asian people.”

He says that while he has not experienced racism in his town himself, he often deals with racial bias or stereotypes about being Black. But he also has a lot of respect for his local leaders and neighbours — Barrocks says hundreds of people showed up to a Black Lives Matter protest recently.

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1:58
Move to re-name some of Quebec’s racially offensive location names


Move to re-name some of Quebec’s racially offensive location names

There are things happening (here). There is progress being made,” he said.

Barrocks says he spent months soul-searching his decision when he first moved and realized he also had assumptions about small-town living.

Tristan Barrocks moved to a small town with his family and is invested in the community.


Tristan Barrocks moved to a small town with his family and is invested in the community.


Photo provided by Tristan Barrocks

“We made assumptions people weren’t friendly or people were looking at us a different way … We took the initiative upon ourselves to engage in dialogue.”

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The cost of living in a city

Alyssa, a 44-year old woman who has lived in Paris, Ont., for most of her life, says that while living in the town of around 12,000 people is usually quiet, she has faced microaggressions.

Global News has changed Alyssa’s name to protect her identity.

As a school teacher, students have made fun of her lips and the colour of her skin, she said. 

“I didn’t say anything about it because I was a little bit in shock and numb,” she told Global News.

READ MORE: An 8-hour drive for braids — Why Black haircare is hard in small-town Canada

Alyssa says she would feel more comfortable living in a larger city, as the environment would be more diverse.

“I just physically feel more comfortable there,” she said.

But the cost of living in a major urban centre like Toronto or Montreal is a deterrent that has kept her in Paris.

Racism is a burden for Black people everywhere, but within a city, it may be “easier to bear,” she said. Finding other Black people to discuss what she is going through is close to impossible in Paris, as seeing another Black person is a “rarity,” she said. 

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2:29
Black Lives Matter chalk messages appear then disappear in Athens, Ont.


Black Lives Matter chalk messages appear then disappear in Athens, Ont.

Watson understands how important it is to be around communities that look like you and support you, but she also understands how hard it can be.

She recommends reaching out to support groups digitally or trying to build relationships with others in your city or town.

Small-town living may not be for everyone either, she stresses, and if you are planning to make the move, do some reflection first. She says it’s not a Black person’s job to “fix” diversity problems in small towns either.

“Everybody has a different tolerance and understanding of what it means to feel connected to others.”

More information about anti-Black racism in Canada:
Racial profiling and racial discrimination against Black people is a systemic problem in Canada, according to numerous reports and experts.

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Black Canadians account for 3.5 per cent of the country’s total population, according to the latest government statistics, but are over-represented in federal prisons by more than 300 per cent, as found by the John Howard Society.

A Black person is nearly 20 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a fatal shooting by Toronto police, a 2018 report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission found, and Black Canadians are more likely to experience inappropriate or unjustified searches during encounters and unnecessary charges or arrests.

They’re also more likely to be held overnight by police than white people, according to the John Howard Society.

Black Canadians experience disparities in health outcomes compared to the population at large, according to research from the Black Health Alliance. The Black Experiences in Health Care Symposium Report notes that they often face barriers and discrimination within health-care systems. Black people report higher rates of diabetes and hypertension compared to white people, which researchers published in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health say may stem from experiences of racism in everyday life.

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

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Today's coronavirus news: Canada begins testing thousands of blood samples for antibodies; Iran mandates masks after record death toll – Toronto Star

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KEY FACTS

  • 10:49 a.m.: New York City prepares for phase 3 Monday

  • 9:09 a.m.: Public housing locked down in Melbourne

  • 6:11 a.m.: Canada begins testing thousands of blood samples for COVID-19 antibodies

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Sunday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

11:03 a.m.:

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 11:01 a.m.:

There are 105,455 confirmed cases in Canada.

Quebec: 55,784 confirmed (including 5,566 deaths, 25,280 resolved)

Ontario: 35,794 confirmed (including 2,689 deaths, 31,266 resolved) (The Star does its own tally and will be updating this story later today. As of 5 p.m. Saturday, by the Star’s count, cases were up a total of 117 since Friday evening.)

Alberta: 8,259 confirmed (including 155 deaths, 7,532 resolved) British Columbia: 2,947 confirmed (including 177 deaths, 2,608 resolved)

Nova Scotia: 1,064 confirmed (including 63 deaths, 998 resolved)

Saskatchewan: 796 confirmed (including 14 deaths, 711 resolved)

Manitoba: 314 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 302 resolved), 11 presumptive

Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 258 resolved)

New Brunswick: 165 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 162 resolved)

Prince Edward Island: 30 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

Nunavut: No confirmed cases, 1 presumptive

Total: 105,455 (12 presumptive, 105,443 confirmed including 8,676 deaths, 69,173 resolved)

11:02 a.m.: Iran on Sunday instituted mandatory mask-wearing as fears mount over newly spiking reported deaths from the coronavirus, even as its public increasingly shrugs off the danger of the COVID-19 illness it causes.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicized an image of himself in a mask in recent days, urging both public officials and the Islamic Republic’s 80 million people to wear them to stop the virus’s spread.

But public opinion polling and a walk through any of the streets of Tehran show the widespread apathy felt over a pandemic that saw Iran in February among the first countries struck after China.

On June 30, Iran saw its highest single-day reported death toll of the pandemic with 162 killed.

The new rules require those in Tehran’s subway, riding buses or indoors to wear them. The government said those seeking “public services” also will be required to wear a mask.

10:49 a.m.: New York City is preparing for Phase 3 of the reopening process Monday, but without indoor dining.

The city, which suffered terribly in the spring from the virus., will allow nail salons, tattoo and massage parlours to reopen at 50 per cent capacity, ABC reports.

New York state was seeing almost 800 deaths a day at the virus’s peak but recent numbers have been in the single digits or low double digits.

9:52 a.m.: The U.K. government says selected sports stars are to be exempt from quarantine requirements when competing in England.

However, those involved will instead live and work in “bubbled” environments behind closed doors, U.K. culture secretary Oliver Dowden announced on Sunday.

The new measures will allow Formula One, international soccer, golf and snooker events to take place. Competitors involved in these events will be granted quarantine exemptions.

9:09 a.m.:The hard-hit Australian state of Victoria has recorded 74 new coronavirus cases after announcing a record 108 new infections on Saturday.

The Saturday increase resulted in state Premier Daniel Andrews announcing a lockdown of nine Melbourne inner-city public housing blocks containing 3,000 people, where 27 cases have been detected.

Police are guarding every entrance of the housing estates and residents are not allowed to leave their homes for any reason.

Andrews said the residents will have their rent waived for the next two weeks and will receive one-off hardship payments of between about $750 and $1,500 (Canadian). The government said it would arrange the delivery of food and medical supplies to all homes.

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Australia had for months been largely successful in keeping the virus at bay.

7:45 a.m.: Israel ordered thousands of people into quarantine after a contentious phone surveillance program resumed while Palestinians in the West Bank returned to life under lockdown amid a surge in coronavirus cases in both areas.

A statement Sunday from Israel’s Health Ministry said “many” messages had been sent to Israelis following the renewed involvement of the Shin Bet domestic security agency. The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that more than 30,000 people were notified they must enter quarantine since Thursday.

After imposing strict measures early on during a first wave of infections, Israel and the Palestinian territories appeared to have contained their outbreaks, with each reporting only a few dozen new cases a day in May. But an easing of restrictions led to a steady uptick in cases over the past month.

“We are in a state of emergency,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, adding that Israel would need to further clamp down to rein in the virus.

Israel is now reporting around 1,000 new cases a day, higher than its peak during the previous wave and it is set to reimpose restrictions in response, limiting occupancy in bars, places of worship and event spaces to 50 people. It is requiring citizens wear masks and has urged more stringent social distancing.

6:11 a.m.: The national immunity task force has started testing thousands of blood samples for COVID-19 antibodies and should be able to produce a more detailed picture of how many Canadians have been infected with the novel coronavirus within a couple of weeks.

It will be much longer, however, before we know more about what kind of protection against future infection having the antibodies provides, said Dr. Timothy Evans, executive director of the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force.

Plus, said Evans, most of the people whose blood is being tested will not be informed of the results because of how the blood is being collected for testing.

“There won’t be an opportunity for individuals to find out their status,” said Evans, who is also director of the McGill School of Population and Global Health.

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified in January, while many others were sick but couldn’t get tested because provinces were limiting who could access the procedure until just a few weeks ago.

Evans also said a significant number of people get the infection and show no symptoms and will have no clue they were ever sick. Evans said immunity testing in other countries has suggested the actual infection rate is 10 to 20 times more than the number of confirmed cases.

Saturday 8:32 p.m.: Mexico topped 30,000 COVID-19 deaths Saturday, overtaking France as the country with the fifth-highest death toll since the coronavirus outbreak began.

Officials reported 523 more confirmed coronavirus deaths for the day, bringing the nation’s total to 30,366 for the pandemic. Mexico’s total confirmed infections rose by almost 6,000 to 251,165, about on par with Spain, the eighth highest caseload.

Also Saturday, about 200 street vendors briefly blocked several major avenues in downtown Mexico City on Saturday to demand they be allowed to sell again amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Saturday 6:47 p.m.: Officials across the U.S. pleaded with Americans to curb their enthusiasm for large Fourth of July crowds Saturday even as President Donald Trump enticed the masses with a “special evening” of tribute and fireworks staged with new U.S. coronavirus infections on the rise.

People wandered the National Mall in baking heat and took shade under the scattered trees while, not far away, music wafted from a party on the White House South Lawn. To come: the “Salute for America” celebration with Trump’s speech from the White House grounds, a military air show and a more ambitious fireworks display than has been seen in years.

The crowds on the Mall were strikingly thinner than the one gathered for last year’s jammed celebration on the National Mall. Many who showed up wore masks.

At the White House, several hundred invited guests assembled on the sweeping South Lawn, gathering around tables decorated with flowers and small U.S. flags as a military rock band played. Most guests were unmasked.

Trump’s guests were doctors, nurses, law enforcement officers and military members as well as officials from the administration, said Judd Deere, deputy White House press secretary. He said the event was a tribute to the “tremendous courage and spirit” of front-line workers and the public in the pandemic.

Saturday 5:30 p.m.: As of 5 p.m. Saturday, Ontario’s regional health units are reporting a total of 37,675 confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, including 2,733 deaths, up a total of 117 new cases since Friday evening, according to the Star’s latest count.

As has been the case in recent weeks, the vast majority of new cases were reported in a handful of health units. Only Windsor-Essex (35 new cases), Peel Region (25 cases), York Region (21 cases) and Toronto (20 cases) reported increases in the double digits. The 20 cases in Toronto were the fewest in any day since March 26.

Meanwhile, just two more fatal cases were reported — both in Toronto. The daily rate of deaths has also fallen sharply since peaking in early May when the health units reported as many as 94 deaths in a single day.

Earlier Saturday, the province reported 150 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including 39 in an intensive care unit, of whom 26 are on a ventilator — numbers that are all near the lowest levels in data that goes back to early April.

The province says its data is accurate to 4 p.m. the previous day. The province also cautions its latest count of total deaths — 2,687 — may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system, saying that in the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to date.”

The Star’s count includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases, meaning they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.

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