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Ontario reports 2,005 new COVID-19 cases, 18 more deaths – CBC.ca

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Ontario is reporting 2,005 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and 18 more deaths linked to the virus.

Sunday’s figure marks the lowest number reported since Dec. 14, when 1,940 new COVID-19 cases were recorded.

Of the new cases, Health Minister Christine Elliott says 572 were recorded in Toronto, 331 in Peel Region, 207 in York Region and 140 in Windsor-Essex County.

Data regarding the number of tests completed from Dec. 24 to Dec. 26 was not made available by the province until Sunday afternoon. In a tweet, Elliott said 61,465 tests were completed on December 24, followed by 49,511 on Christmas Day and 41,783 on Boxing Day. 

The province will not release new COVID-19 data on Monday or on Jan. 1. The health ministry says two reports will be posted on the next days after those dates.

Today’s numbers mark the thirteenth straight day Ontario has seen more than 2,000 new daily infections. 

Meanwhile, a total of 823 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 285 in intensive care. Some 194 patients require a ventilator to help them breathe.

Today’s new cases bring the province’s seven-day average to 2,212. The new figure also brings Ontario’s cumulative case count to 171,416. 

A handful of other areas that saw double-digit increases include: 

  • Waterloo: 89. 
  • Niagara: 83. 
  • Halton: 80. 
  • Hamilton: 74. 
  • Durham: 71. 
  • Middlesex-London: 53. 
  • Ottawa: 49.
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 41. 
  • Lambton: 37.
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 34.  
  • Southwestern: 28. 
  • Huron Perth: 20. 
  • Eastern Ontario: 18. 
  • Peterborough: 14. 
  • Brant County: 11. 

(Note: All of the figures used for new cases in this story are found on the Ontario Health Ministry’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its daily epidemiologic summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit because local units report figures at different times.)

Ontario identifies first cases of COVID-19 U.K. variant

Sunday’s update comes one day after Ontario announced its first two confirmed cases in the province of the COVID-19 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom.

The province announced a third confirmed case of the COVID-19 variant in Ottawa, in a news release on Sunday.

Ontario is the first Canadian province to confirm cases of the variant, which has been detected in several other countries, including Denmark, Belgium, France, Australia and the Netherlands.

The province initially said that the confirmed cases coming from Durham region were a couple that had no known travel history exposure or high-risk contacts, but in the news release on Sunday, they said that additional investigation and follow-up case and contact management revealed that the couple had indeed been in contact with a recent traveller from the UK. 

The Ministry of Health said this was new information not provided in earlier interviews.

The cases and contacts have been informed and are now in self-isolation as per public health protocols, it said.

“It is critically important that individuals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 provide all history of contacts and contact information to their public health unit. This is crucial to the prevention and control of this infection,” the news release said.

In an email to CBC News on Sunday, Public Health Ontario said laboratories across the province are screening large volumes of positive COVID-19 samples to investigate how prevalent the U.K. variant is in the province.

However, PHO says the diagnostic tests in Canada are effective in detecting the U.K. variant, but do not on their own distinguish that variant from other strains.

WATCH | Ontario becomes first province to identify new COVID-19 variant: 

A couple was found to be carrying the virus, but neither had travelled or been in contact with a known case, officials say. 2:45

Also on Saturday, Ontario entered into a provincewide lockdown in a bid to curb rising cases of COVID-19

The restrictions will remain in place for southern Ontario until Jan. 23, but will lift for northern Ontario on Jan. 9.

For the five regions already in lockdown — Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, Windsor-Essex and Hamilton — the new measures don’t look much different than what is currently in place, though there are a few differences.

For other regions, much tighter restrictions are now in place. 

For more information on what’s allowed and what isn’t under the new rules, click here

Vaccinations paused over the holidays 

Meanwhile, several doctors across the province took to Twitter over the weekend, criticizing the Ontario government for closing many vaccination clinics as of Friday. 

David Jensen, spokesperson for the provincial government, said only five hospitals are operating clinics today, approximately 10 will operate clinics Monday, and all will be back in operation on Tuesday.

“As with any holiday season, ensuring proper staff coverage can be challenging,” Jensen said in an email to CBC News. 

“Schedules for vaccination clinics were adjusted over the holidays to ensure that there was no impact on staffing levels within the long-term care homes or for the hospitals operating the clinics.” 

Ontario laboratories began administering the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to health-care workers earlier this month, and is poised to receive tens of thousands of doses of the newly approved Moderna shot by the end of the month.

As of 12 p.m. on Sunday, some 11,227 vaccines have been administered across Ontario. 

Deaths climb after massive outbreak at LTC home

As of Sunday afternoon, 41 residents have died due to a severe COVID-19 outbreak at a Scarborough nursing home. Fifteen of those deaths have occurred in the last four days. 

Another 128 residents have tested positive for the virus and 69 staff members who have also been confirmed positive are isolating at home, said North York General Hospital in a statement. Eight staff members who previously were infected are now considered resolved cases and were able to return to work, they said. 

Doctors and family members had raised concerns about conditions at the home this week, as they said residents were not being given enough water or their medication due to staffing concerns. North York General has been asked to step in.

Physician staffing levels at the home are now “strong” and health care workers across the city have volunteered to help at the home, the hospital said. Personal support workers are also available in “sufficient” numbers, but they are currently short on nurses and are actively recruiting, they said.

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If Canada can survive four years of Trump, it can navigate the new Buy American: PM – CTV News

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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA —
If Canada was able to navigate Donald Trump’s four years of bilateral bluster, it can surely find safe harbour from the protectionist measures of his Democratic successor, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested Tuesday.

Joe Biden’s White House has more in common with Canadians than Trump ever did, Trudeau said when asked if he expects stronger headwinds from the latest version of Buy American than the Conservatives fought through a decade ago.

That’s when then-president Barack Obama, desperate to jump-start the U.S. economy following the global economic crisis of 2008, imposed domestic procurement rules similar to those Biden enacted Monday.

Biden’s version reflects important differences, including more rigid enforcement rules, more stringent oversight and — perhaps most importantly — a U.S. electorate steeped in four long years of divisive and nationalist rhetoric.

Trudeau’s answer suggests the federal Liberals hope to extract every ounce of political cover from that rhetoric that they can, even though Trump is no longer in office.

“Over the past four years, we faced an American administration that was both unpredictable and extremely protectionist, and we were able every step of the way to stand up for Canadian interests,” Trudeau said.

He counted off a list of wins, including the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, an eventual end to Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs and last year’s agreement to keep trade and commerce moving across the otherwise-closed Canada-U.S. border.

“We were there to be able to advocate for Canada’s interests, and I can tell you we will continue to be effective in advocating for Canada’s interests with this new administration,” Trudeau said.

“President Biden has a lot of similar priorities to this government’s, to Canadians’ … and these are things that we’re going to be able to work on closely with our nearest ally and closest friend.”

The political goal behind Biden’s iteration of Buy American, a cornerstone of his successful election campaign, was to win over the same protectionist blue-collar workers who helped elect Donald Trump in 2016.

But on Monday, Biden didn’t sound like someone who’s backing down now that he’s in the White House.

Waivers, the exceptions that allow Canadian contractors, manufacturers and suppliers access to a lucrative and often essential source of business, will be granted only under “very limited circumstances,” Biden said.

A new “Made in America” office attached to the White House will review waiver applications and grant them only “when there’s an overwhelming national security, humanitarian or emergency need here in America,” he said.

“This hasn’t happened before. It will happen now.”

It took Canada more than a year to negotiate an escape from the rules Obama imposed in 2009, with Biden as his vice-president. Whether that experience makes those talks easier or more difficult this time around remains to be seen.

“We’ve got some work ahead of us in Canada to make sure we get exemptions from some of these things,” said Dennis Darby, CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

Canada is in a constant state of having to remind American officials of the integral role it plays not only in its own economic health, but that of the U.S. as well, Darby said.

“Is it a concern? Yes, and this is no time for us to take our foot off the gas.”

In Ontario, where the provincial government embarked on a strategy last year of forging closer economic ties and “strategic investment” agreements with regional and state leaders in the U.S., anxiety was running high Tuesday.

“If Ontario were a country, we would be the United States’ third-largest trading partner,” said Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli.

“Buy American policies disrupt existing Ontario-U.S. cross-border supply chains and erode the deep and long-standing relationships we have built over the years.”

If nothing else, the lesson from another round of Buy American hand-wringing ought to be the importance of diversifying Canada’s export markets, said Jenifer Bartman, a business adviser and consultant based in Winnipeg.

“From a Canadian perspective, this situation is a reminder that, although the U.S. is our largest trading partner and agreements are in place, it is beneficial for Canadian businesses to diversify their customer base into other countries,” Bartman said.

“It takes time for companies to understand the intricacies of foreign markets and to build customer relationships, and both time and qualified support are needed in order to achieve this.”

Conservative MP Tracy Gray, the party’s international trade critic, pressed the government Tuesday during question period on how it plans to secure a waiver, which the governing Conservatives did in 2010.

“We understand that both countries benefit from the integrated, secure and resilient supply chains between our two countries,” said International Trade Minister Mary Ng.

“Canada is the No. 1 customer for more than 32 states. We look forward to working with the American administration for the interests of Canadian workers and Canadian businesses here in Canada, indeed on both sides of the border.”

The latest Buy American strategy is the second potential blow to Canada’s economic fortunes to land in less than a week.

On his first day in the White House, Biden rescinded the presidential permit for Keystone XL, a controversial cross-border link between the Alberta oilsands and refineries and ports on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

“Expressing concern and disappointment on important issues to Canadian businesses and workers is simply not enough,” Gray said in a statement.

“Canada and U.S. trade are closely tied — but this Buy American plan puts our mutual economic recovery at risk.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021.

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If Canada can survive four years of Trump, it can navigate the new Buy American: PM – CTV News

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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA —
If Canada was able to navigate Donald Trump’s four years of bilateral bluster, it can surely find safe harbour from the protectionist measures of his Democratic successor, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggested Tuesday.

Joe Biden’s White House has more in common with Canadians than Trump ever did, Trudeau said when asked if he expects stronger headwinds from the latest version of Buy American than the Conservatives fought through a decade ago.

That’s when then-president Barack Obama, desperate to jump-start the U.S. economy following the global economic crisis of 2008, imposed domestic procurement rules similar to those Biden enacted Monday.

Biden’s version reflects important differences, including more rigid enforcement rules, more stringent oversight and — perhaps most importantly — a U.S. electorate steeped in four long years of divisive and nationalist rhetoric.

Trudeau’s answer suggests the federal Liberals hope to extract every ounce of political cover from that rhetoric that they can, even though Trump is no longer in office.

“Over the past four years, we faced an American administration that was both unpredictable and extremely protectionist, and we were able every step of the way to stand up for Canadian interests,” Trudeau said.

He counted off a list of wins, including the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, an eventual end to Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs and last year’s agreement to keep trade and commerce moving across the otherwise-closed Canada-U.S. border.

“We were there to be able to advocate for Canada’s interests, and I can tell you we will continue to be effective in advocating for Canada’s interests with this new administration,” Trudeau said.

“President Biden has a lot of similar priorities to this government’s, to Canadians’ … and these are things that we’re going to be able to work on closely with our nearest ally and closest friend.”

The political goal behind Biden’s iteration of Buy American, a cornerstone of his successful election campaign, was to win over the same protectionist blue-collar workers who helped elect Donald Trump in 2016.

But on Monday, Biden didn’t sound like someone who’s backing down now that he’s in the White House.

Waivers, the exceptions that allow Canadian contractors, manufacturers and suppliers access to a lucrative and often essential source of business, will be granted only under “very limited circumstances,” Biden said.

A new “Made in America” office attached to the White House will review waiver applications and grant them only “when there’s an overwhelming national security, humanitarian or emergency need here in America,” he said.

“This hasn’t happened before. It will happen now.”

It took Canada more than a year to negotiate an escape from the rules Obama imposed in 2009, with Biden as his vice-president. Whether that experience makes those talks easier or more difficult this time around remains to be seen.

“We’ve got some work ahead of us in Canada to make sure we get exemptions from some of these things,” said Dennis Darby, CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.

Canada is in a constant state of having to remind American officials of the integral role it plays not only in its own economic health, but that of the U.S. as well, Darby said.

“Is it a concern? Yes, and this is no time for us to take our foot off the gas.”

In Ontario, where the provincial government embarked on a strategy last year of forging closer economic ties and “strategic investment” agreements with regional and state leaders in the U.S., anxiety was running high Tuesday.

“If Ontario were a country, we would be the United States’ third-largest trading partner,” said Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli.

“Buy American policies disrupt existing Ontario-U.S. cross-border supply chains and erode the deep and long-standing relationships we have built over the years.”

If nothing else, the lesson from another round of Buy American hand-wringing ought to be the importance of diversifying Canada’s export markets, said Jenifer Bartman, a business adviser and consultant based in Winnipeg.

“From a Canadian perspective, this situation is a reminder that, although the U.S. is our largest trading partner and agreements are in place, it is beneficial for Canadian businesses to diversify their customer base into other countries,” Bartman said.

“It takes time for companies to understand the intricacies of foreign markets and to build customer relationships, and both time and qualified support are needed in order to achieve this.”

Conservative MP Tracy Gray, the party’s international trade critic, pressed the government Tuesday during question period on how it plans to secure a waiver, which the governing Conservatives did in 2010.

“We understand that both countries benefit from the integrated, secure and resilient supply chains between our two countries,” said International Trade Minister Mary Ng.

“Canada is the No. 1 customer for more than 32 states. We look forward to working with the American administration for the interests of Canadian workers and Canadian businesses here in Canada, indeed on both sides of the border.”

The latest Buy American strategy is the second potential blow to Canada’s economic fortunes to land in less than a week.

On his first day in the White House, Biden rescinded the presidential permit for Keystone XL, a controversial cross-border link between the Alberta oilsands and refineries and ports on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

“Expressing concern and disappointment on important issues to Canadian businesses and workers is simply not enough,” Gray said in a statement.

“Canada and U.S. trade are closely tied — but this Buy American plan puts our mutual economic recovery at risk.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021.

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Canada seeking reassurance as Europe mulls export controls on COVID-19 vaccines – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he remains confident in Canada’s vaccine supplies despite threats from Europe that it might impose export controls on vaccines produced on that continent.

Speaking to reporters outside his Ottawa residence Tuesday morning, Trudeau said the situation in Europe is worrisome but he is “very confident” Canada is going to get all the COVID-19 vaccine doses promised by the end of March. And despite the sharp decline in deliveries of a vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech this month, he said Canada will still vaccinate all Canadians who want shots by the end of September.

“We will continue to work closely with Europe to ensure that we are sourcing, that we are receiving the vaccines that we have signed for, that we are due,” Trudeau said.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a video statement posted to Twitter Tuesday that Europe will set up a “vaccine export transparency mechanism” so Europe knows exactly how many doses are being produced in the world’s largest trading bloc and where they are being shipped.

“Europe invested billions to help develop the world`s first COVID-19 vaccines to create a truly global common good,” she said. “And now the companies must deliver.”

Europe is also getting smaller shipments from Pfizer than promised, because the company temporarily slowed production at its plant in Belgium so it can be expanded.

AstraZeneca has also warned Europe its first shipments of vaccine will be smaller than expected because of production problems.

But Europe, which invested more than C$4 billion in vaccine development, is demanding the companies fulfil their contracts on time.

“Europe is determined to contribute to this global common good but it also means business,” said von der Leyen.

International Trade Minister Mary Ng said she had spoken to her European counterpart, Valdis Dombrovskis, about the situation and will keep working with Europe to keep the supply chain open.

“There is not a restriction on the export of vaccines to Canada,” Ng said in question period.

Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner accused Ng of playing games with her response, noting the issue isn’t that there is an export ban now, but that Europe is threatening to impose one.

With all of Canada’s current vaccine doses coming from Europe, “that’s a concern,” Rempel Garner said.

“If the Europeans ban exports of vaccines, what’s Plan B for Canada?” she asked.

Both Pfizer and Moderna are making doses of their vaccine in the U.S. and in Europe, but all U.S.-made doses are currently only shipped within the U.S.

Former U.S. president Donald Trump invoked the Defence Production Act last year to prevent export of personal protection equipment. He then signed an executive order in December demanding U.S.-produced vaccines be prioritized for Americans only and threatened to use the act to halt vaccine exports as well.

President Joe Biden has already invoked the act to push for faster production of PPE and vaccines. Though he has not specifically mentioned exports, Biden has promised 100 million Americans will be vaccinated within his first 100 days of office, making the prospects the U.S. shares any of its vaccine supply unlikely.

Canada has contracts with five other vaccine makers, but only two are on the verge of approval here. AstraZeneca, which has guaranteed Canada 20 million doses, needs to finish a big U.S. trial before Health Canada decides whether to authorize it.

Johnson and Johnson is to report results from its Phase 3 trial next week, one of the final things needed before Health Canada can make a decision about it. Canada is to get 10 million doses from Johnson and Johnson, but it is the one vaccine that so far is administered as only a single dose.

Trudeau said AstraZeneca isn’t supplying Canada from its European production lines. A spokeswoman for Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Canada will not say where the other vaccines are coming from because of the concerns about security of supplies.

AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson have set up multiple production lines in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, India, Australia and Africa. Canada has no current ability to produce either those vaccines or the ones from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. It is entirely reliant on foreign production at the moment.

More than 113,000 people in Canada have received two full doses of either the Moderna or BioNTech vaccine. Another 752,000 have received a single dose.

But the reduction in Pfizer shipments to Canada forced most provinces to slow the pace of injections. Europe, Mexico, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia also have slowed their vaccination campaigns because of the supply limits.

Trudeau said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla assured him the full shipments will resume in mid-February, and that Canada will get its contracted four million doses by the end of March. He said he spoke to Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel Tuesday morning and was promised Moderna’s shipments of two million doses by March 31 are also on track.

MPs were scheduled to have an emergency debate on Canada’s vaccine program Tuesday night.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021

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