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Ontario puts ‘pause’ on further loosening of public health measures as COVID-19 numbers rise

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Ontario is putting a “pause” of four weeks on any further loosening of public health measures in the province, Minister of Health Christine Elliott said Tuesday.

The province reported 185 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and 190 on Monday — the most on any single day since July 24. Data for both days was released early Tuesday because the province did not issue an updated report on Labour Day.

At the province’s daily news conference, Elliott said Ontario’s “latest trends and numbers have raised some concern.” She said the pause includes things like expanding the size of the province’s social circles and the number of people allowed at sporting events.

That pause does not include schools, which started reopening in parts of the province on Tuesday. Elliot acknowledged community spread will likely mean spread in schools, but said the province’s approach is to limit the spread at the community level to keep the virus from entering schools.

The pause also doesn’t include casinos, several of which will reopen on Sept. 28, with a limit of 50 guests per room.

 

As part of an effort to keep community transmission of COVID-19 low, Health Minister Christine Elliott says Ontario is putting a four-week pause on further openings, or relaxing of health measures. 3:19

As has consistently been the case in recent weeks, Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa saw the most additional infections in Tuesday’s update with 48, 42 and 37, respectively. The day before those three public health units confirmed, respectively, 60, 57 and 25 more cases.

Meanwhile, York Region reported 17 and 19 further cases over the last two days.

At Tuesday’s news conference, Premier Doug Ford said there are “three regions that are concerning to me” — Brampton, Ottawa and Toronto.

He pleaded with people to avoid large gatherings.

“It’s frustrating because it affects the rest of the province.”

When asked if he would consider a rollback to the second stage of the province’s reopening plan, Ford said he would consult with Ontario’s health experts.

“We aren’t there yet,” Ford said, but he also noted if infection levels continue to rise, that could change.

Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe echoed that sentiment in a news conference Tuesday afternoon saying, “There is no clear plan right now to go back to Stage 2.”

That doesn’t mean the province wouldn’t consider rollbacks, but restrictions might happen on a regional basis depending on various factors including the number of cases, trends in infection and the percentage of infections with no clear epidemiological link.

The five-day rolling average of new daily cases in Ontario, a measure that smoothes peaks and valleys in data, has been trending steadily upward since a low on Aug. 9.

The province has now seen a total of 43,536 confirmed infections of the coronavirus since the outbreak began in late January. Around 90 per cent of those are considered resolved, with 119 more marked as resolved in today’s update.

There are currently about 1,527 confirmed, active cases of the illness provincewide, with a majority in Toronto, Peel, York and Ottawa.

Several of Ontario’s newest cases are linked to a church in Toronto and a wedding in York Region, said Yaffe. Some schools have reported cases, she added, but those were acquired in communities, not in the schools themselves, she said.

Speaking to reporters this morning, Toronto Mayor John Tory drew attention to the troubling number of cases in younger people. Of the 968 cases confirmed in the city in the last month, he said 65 per cent were people under the age of 40, and that some 15 per cent of those cases were in people under 20.

“We can now see that a substantial number of cases are happening among people, sometimes very young,” Tory said.

Ontario’s official COVID-19 death toll now sits at 2,813. A CBC News count based on data directly from public health units puts the real toll at 2,853.

Return to school for many students

The new figures come as students in Ontario begin returning to the classroom in person today for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Ford said it’s a good thing that kids are getting back to school, “where they belong.”

The premier said the province has so far delivered more than 37 million pieces of PPE to Ontario school boards, including 19.5 million masks and 16 million gloves.

Ford also said that if anyone in a student’s household is sick this fall, everyone in the home should consider getting tested for COVID-19.

“If your child is sick, please have them stay at home,” he said.

The province shuttered all schools on March 13 as cases of the virus began to rise.

This fall, boards will offer a mix of in-person classes and online learning for students who opt to stay home.

Some boards in different parts of the province will reopen schools today, while others will begin to restart over the next two weeks.

Last month, Education Minister Stephen Lecce gave boards permission to stagger school reopenings if they required more time to put pandemic safety protocols in place.

For instance, high school students in the Peel District School Board will start orientation today and elementary students will begin Wednesday, while Toronto District School Board students will not return to class until Sept. 15.

Source: – CBC.ca

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Canada adds 1,454 COVID-19 cases as diagnoses soar in Ontario, Quebec – Global News

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Speed limits will once again be on Calgary city hall’s agenda on Wednesday when city administration presents a report on the topic to the Transportation and Transit Committee.

The report recommends that city council make changes to the speed limit bylaw by lowering the unposted speed limit from 50 km/h to 40 km/h within the city limits.

It also recommends that 50 km/h speed limit signs be posted on existing collector roadways if they aren’t already in place.

The final recommendation is for the city to work towards a long-term goal of lowering collector roads to 40km/h and residential roads to 30 km/h.






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Calgary city council approves public engagement on speed limit reductions


Calgary city council approves public engagement on speed limit reductions

The report says that these changes won’t happen quickly, and that buy-in from drivers will be necessary.

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“In order to continue to make progress towards the desired long-term state, administration will work with industry partners to revise road standards to ensure that the construction of future roadways and retrofits of existing roadways result in environments where the recommended long-term speed limits would be credible to most drivers,” the report says.

Ward 6 Coun. Jeff Davison said that making Calgary streets safer should be a priority but that he doesn’t expect any citywide changes to be made quickly.

“There’s going to be a cost associated with this but there’s going to be long-term savings,” said Davison. “What I think is probably going to happen in committee is that we will accept the administration’s recommendations, but then forwarded to our budget talks in November.”

In the report, administration laid out the costs and benefits of several scenarios, balancing the cost of signage and traffic calming measures with the reduction in serious collisions.

The city estimates that changing the signage on residential roads would result in a one-time cost of $2.3 million. It estimates with that change, 90 to 450 crashes could be avoided every year, which includes six to 29 serious or fatal crashes.

It also adds that the reduction in crashes and injuries would save the city $8.1 million a year in “societal” savings.


Click to play video 'Calgary city council looking for public opinion on residential speed limits'



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Calgary city council looking for public opinion on residential speed limits


Calgary city council looking for public opinion on residential speed limits

Pricier options such as putting permanent traffic calming measures in place across the city drive the cost up to $477 million, but as many as 900 crashes could be avoided.

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Ward 11 Coun. Jeromy Farkas said none of the options make financial sense for the city right now.

“Even by city hall standards, making the entire city a playground zone has to be the silliest idea I’ve ever heard,” said Farkas. “Not to mention that implementing this would cost millions of dollars. We just don’t have the money or the time for this right now.”

The recommendations will be presented to the Transportation and Traffic Committee on Wednesday.

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

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COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Ontario and Quebec – CBC.ca

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The latest:

The Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) expires on Sunday, ending the income support program the federal government rolled out during the COVID-19 pandemic to help people with payouts of up to $2,000 a month.

The government says about 8.8 million Canadians have received the benefit since April. Roughly half of the four million Canadians still getting the payments through Service Canada and who are eligible for employment insurance are expected to be transitioned to a modified EI program.

The changes will be in place for one year, with three additional programs proposed for those who do not qualify for EI.

On Monday, Parliament is set to debate a bill to implement those new recovery benefits.

The New Democrats and the governing Liberals reached a deal on Saturday that delivers two weeks of paid sick leave for people affected by the pandemic under the Canada recovery sickness benefit.

In return, the NDP is promising to vote in favour of the throne speech, giving the Liberals the backing they need to survive a confidence vote and avoid an election. 


What’s happening in the rest of Canada

As of 2:45 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 153,110 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 131,066 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,307.

WATCH | Trudeau says Canada at ‘crossroads’ as COVID-19 cases surge:

In a rare televised national address this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned that Canada is at a ‘crossroads’ as COVID-19 cases spike in some provinces and that the pandemic will get worse in the fall. 7:37

Quebec reported 896 new cases on Sunday — up from 698 the previous day — and its highest jump in intensive care-unit patients since late April with an increase of 12 patients. A total of 18 new hospitalizations were reported Saturday.

In Dorval, in Montreal’s West Island, a long-term care home that was hit hard by the first wave of the pandemic, with 38 dead in less than a month, has put residents in isolation after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19.

The regional health authority said staff at CHSLD Herron learned of the positive case Saturday morning and quickly isolated and tested all patients and employees who had been in contact with them. 

People wear face masks outside a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal on Sunday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Ontario added 491 more cases on Sunday, up from 435 on Saturday. The Ontario Health Ministry also reported that a total of 112 people are hospitalized, a number that is on the rise. On Saturday, the province reported that there were 100 people in hospital. 

The majority of newly confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus are concentrated in three public health units: Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa. 

In Wasaga Beach, Ontario Provincial Police say enforcing physical distancing at a large car meet on Saturday was an impossible task after more than 1,000 car enthusiasts flocked to the beach town for an evening of street racing and stunts. Social media posts from the scene captured footage of the gathering:

Despite a heavy police presence, hundreds gathered in close proximity for a car meet in Wasaga Beach on Saturday. 0:44

Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case on Sunday, the first in the province since Sept. 18. The province says the case is travel-related, as the man had returned home to the province from Manitoba, and he has been self-isolating since his arrival and following public health guidelines.

Manitoba reported 51 new cases on Sunday, including 36 in the Winnipeg health region. Starting Monday, people in Winnipeg and 17 surrounding communities will have to wear masks in all public indoor spaces and cap gatherings at 10 as the region moves to the orange — or “restricted” — level under the province’s pandemic response system.


What’s happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 32.9 million. More than 995,000 people have died, while over 22.7 million have recovered.


In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, has further eased lockdown restrictions imposed after a surge in coronavirus cases, allowing most children to return to school from next month and sending more than 125,000 people back to work. A further easing could take place on Oct. 19 if the average falls below five new cases per day. Masks remain mandatory.

India has registered 88,600 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours in a declining trend, with recoveries exceeding daily infections. Sunday’s surge has raised the country’s virus tally to over 5.9 million.

A COVID-19 test is performed in Ghaziabad, India, on Sunday. (Prakash Singh/AFP via Getty Images)

In Europe, hospitals in the Paris and Marseille regions are delaying some scheduled operations to free up space for COVID-19 patients as the French government tries to stem a rising tide of infections.

Italy reported another 1,766 coronavirus cases on Sunday, in line with its recent daily increases. Another 17 people died, bringing Italy’s official death toll to 35,835, the highest in Europe after Britain.

A guest wearing a face mask has their temperature taken before entering an event at Milan Fashion Week on Sunday. (Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images)

In the Americas, coronavirus cases in Colombia, which is nearly a month into a national reopening after a long quarantine, surpassed 800,000 on Saturday, a day after deaths from COVID-19 climbed above 25,000.

The U.S. state of Florida now has more than 700,000 confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus, according to statistics released by the state Department of Health on Sunday.

Africa has more than 1.4 million confirmed cases across the continent, a majority of them — more than 668,000 — in South Africa.

Health experts point to Africa’s youthful population as a factor in why COVID-19 has not taken a larger toll, along with swift lockdowns and the later arrival of the virus.

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Canada issues last-minute visas allowing pregnant mom to return home from Haiti with her children – CBC.ca

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A Canadian woman who is entering the last month of her pregnancy was finally able to return home to Canada, after the federal government granted last-minute Temporary Resident Visas to her soon-to-be adopted Haitian children.

Sarah Wallace, her husband Jean Pierre Valteau, and their three children Jean Moise Kessa, Jean-Jacques Valteau and Eva-Maria Doris flew in to Vancouver Saturday afternoon.

Immigration Canada issued the visas late Friday night as the family was en route to Seattle, and after spending the night in the U.S., they was able to rebook a connecting flight back to Canada, a spokesperson for the Rural Refugee Rights Network, which has been assisting the family, confirmed.

The family had booked the flight to Vancouver, through Seattle, without certainty that the visas would come through.

Wallace, a midwife originally from Devon, a town west of Edmonton in central Alberta, has lived in Haiti for the better part of 12 years.

She had hoped to return to Canada earlier in her pregnancy due to concerns that she might not be able to access emergency medical care.

But she had been told by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) that her two Haitian children couldn’t return to Canada with her because their adoptions aren’t finalized. 

While that normally wouldn’t prevent them from travelling to the country, under Canada’s COVID-19 travel restrictions, the children — four-year-old Jean Moise and two-year old Eva-Maria — don’t qualify as immediate family members. In pre-pandemic circumstances, Wallace would have been able to obtain travel visas for the children as their legal guardian. 

The IRCC had told CBC News earlier in September that for international adoptions, the adoption must be completed in the child’s home country before the immigration process to Canada can proceed. 

“In this case, the officer reviewing [the] request for exemption from the COVID-19 travel restrictions was not satisfied that the definition of a family member was met,” a spokesperson had said.

“My whole life is about trying to keep babies with their families, and yet here the Canadian government is forcing me to make an impossible choice between my own health and that of my soon-to-be born baby and that of my two dependent children,” Wallace had said earlier in the week, prior to her return flight to North America.

Wallace and her family will be self-isolating for 14 days in Edmonton. 

While Wallace was able to obtain visas, at least one other Alberta family who travelled abroad to adopt is still waiting to come home. 

Derek and Emilie Muth finalized their adoption of two-and-a-half-year-old Zoe in Nigeria last year. But despite her adoption being complete, her citizenship is not yet finalized. Canadian immigration staff have been repatriated from the only government office in West Africa that can finish processing their paperwork.

Zoe has sickle cell anemia, and doctors in both Nigeria and Canada have written letters advocating for the family’s return to Canada, where she’ll have more reliable access to the medication and care she needs.

The immigration minister’s office told the family that the IRCC is unable to provide a timeline for when they’ll be able to return.

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