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Ontario reports fewest daily COVID-19 cases in 8 weeks – CityNews Toronto

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Ontario is reporting 390 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, 458 new cases on Monday and two additional deaths related to the virus.

Tuesday’s case count is the lowest the province has seen since Aug. 17.

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday no COVID-19 data was released by the province on Monday.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 260 cases are in individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 130 are in fully vaccinated individuals. On Monday, 333 cases were in individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 125 were in fully vaccinated individuals.

The rolling seven-day average of cases has dropped to 525, reaching the lowest point since Aug. 20.


ontario covid-19 data

Graphic courtesy of Ontario Ministry of Health


There were 39,065 tests completed over the past two days for a test positivity rate of 1.9 per cent on each day.

There are now 155 people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the province and 149 in the ICU due to COVID-19 complications.

The province administered another 17,725 vaccine doses over the last two days and has now administered 22,089,455 total doses.

There are now 87.1 per cent of Ontarians 12 and older who have received at least one dose, 82.4 per cent are now fully vaccinated.


covid-19 in schools Oct. 12

Graphic courtesy of Ontario Ministry of Health


The province is reporting another 117 school-related cases among students and staff. As of Tuesday, nearly 14 per cent of schools in the province have at least one COVID-19 case and six schools have been forced to close.

Toronto Public Health (TPH) has shut down Silverthorn Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke and moved all classes to remote learning due to a COVID-19 outbreak. TPH says the school could be closed for up to 10 days as they investigate the outbreak.

It is the first full closure of a school in Toronto since the new school year started in September.

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Facebook to rebrand itself and focus on the metaverse – CBC.ca

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Facebook Inc., under fire from regulators and lawmakers over its business practices, is planning to rebrand itself with a new group name that focuses on the metaverse, the Verge reported on Tuesday.

The name change will be announced next week, according to technology blog The Verge, which cited a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been talking up the metaverse, a digital world where people can move between different devices and communicate in a virtual environment, since July. The group has invested heavily in virtual reality and augmented reality, developing hardware such as its Oculus VR headsets and working on AR glasses and wristband technologies.

The move would likely position the flagship app as one of many products under a parent company overseeing brands such as Instagram and WhatsApp, according to the report. Google adopted such a structure when it reorganized into a holding company called Alphabet in 2015.

Facebook said it does not comment on “rumour or speculation.”

Rebrand would revamp tarnished image: analysts 

If true, the rebranding would make sense as the core Facebook business becomes less important to the group and it seeks to revamp an image tarnished by regulatory and legal scrutiny of how it handles user safety and hate speech, analysts said.

“It reflects the broadening out of the Facebook business. And then, secondly, I do think that Facebook’s brand is probably not the greatest given all of the events of the last three years or so,” internet analyst James Cordwell at Atlantic Equities said.

Facebook is under wide-ranging scrutiny from global lawmakers and regulators over its content moderation practices and harms linked to its platforms, with internal documents leaked by a whistleblower forming the basis for a U.S. Senate hearing last week.

WATCH | Ex insider blows the whistle on Facebook’s business practices: 

Whistleblower put spotlight on the future of Facebook | Conversation Panel

10 days ago

A Facebook whistleblower delivered scathing criticism of the company this week, calling it morally bankrupt for putting profit over the safety of users, including children. The Conversation Panel discusses what the testimony means for the future of the company and its users. 14:36

“Having a different parent brand will guard against having this negative association transferred into a new brand, or other brands that are in the portfolio,” said Shankha Basu, associate professor of marketing at University of Leeds.

Last month, Facebook appointed Andrew Bosworth, who heads up the social media company’s augmented reality and virtual reality efforts, including products like its Oculus Quest VR headset, as chief technology officer.

Metaverse, a term first coined in a dystopian novel three decades earlier, is popular in Silicon Valley and has been referenced by other tech firms such as Microsoft. The popular children’s game Roblox describes itself as a metaverse company. Epic Games’ Fortnite is also considered to be part of the metaverse.

Zuckerberg plans to talk about the name change at the company’s annual Connect conference on Oct. 28, but according to the Verge, it could be unveiled sooner.

WATCH | Tech reporter says Facebook is on the verge of a massive rebrand:

Tech reporter says Facebook is on the verge of a massive rebrand

2 hours ago

The Verge’s senior reporter Alex Heath tells Power & Politics the social media giant is set to undergo a series of changes — including a new company name. 5:31

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B.C. Children's Hospital reports troubling influx of kids with colds and flu – Vancouver Sun

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Health officials say a surge in respiratory syncytial virus is happening earlier than normal this year.

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B.C. Children’s Hospital reported Wednesday a spike in non-COVID-19 respiratory viral illnesses, such as colds and flus in children.

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That means the emergency room has been busier than normal and long waiting times can be expected.

Thirty per cent of all cases in the hospital’s emergency department in the past month have been children with respiratory illnesses, according to Dr. Claire Seaton, a pediatrician at B.C. Children’s Hospital.

Rates of severe infection caused by COVID-19 remains low and overall only two per cent of people hospitalized in B.C. are under the age of 19.

“That hasn’t changed but what has changed is we are seeing a lot of other viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus, and parainfluenza, along with some of the other common cold viruses.”

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common virus that causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract, and most children have been infected with the virus by age two. RSV symptoms are mild in healthy children and adults but the virus can cause severe infection in young infants, especially those born prematurely, or young children who have heart of lung disease.

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Seaton said they didn’t see many children with colds or flus last year, so they are worried it’s going to get a lot busier in the emergency department because of the RSV surge.

It is not unusual to see a spike in cold and flu viruses after kids go back to school in September and October but this year the kids may have reduced immunity to these common illnesses because it just wasn’t around last year.

Public health measures such as wearing masks, keeping a physical distance, washing hands, and getting a flu vaccine can help to keep the kids safe, she said.

Part of the reason for the surge at B.C. Children’s may be because parents are worried their child has COVID-19 so they take them to the emergency room.

Seaton said if a child has a cough or the sniffles then it’s best to keep them home from school or take them to get a COVID test , but it’s not always necessary to go to the emergency room.

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“I think it’s important to realize that the viral surge has already increased hospitalization rates in other parts of Canada,” she said. “So the RSV surge, which normally happens in November, is happening earlier this year … and we are starting to see those cases here.”

If parents are worried about their child’s illness they can check symptoms on the B.C. Children’s Hospital website.

“For respiratory illness, you should take your baby or young child to an emergency department if they have trouble breathing, significant problems with breathing or lips that look blue, and if your baby can’t suck or drink or feed very well,” she said, adding infants younger than three months with a fever should also be brought in to the ER.

Doctors and health experts are recommending that children six months and older get a flu vaccine this year, especially because of the potential for reduced immunity.

“Last year, the rates for RSV infection were very low or basically non-existent so we have a whole year’s worth of children who did not get those viruses so their natural immunity is potentially lower,” she said.

ticrawford@postmedia.com


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Canada competition watchdog may have to rely more on litigation – top official

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 Competition Bureau Canada watchdog may have to rely more on litigation after its proposed veto of a takeover was overturned, and this could make life harder for companies seeking to merge, the agency head said on Wednesday.

Matthew Boswell, commissioner of competition, noted his bureau had tried this year to block western Canadian oil and gas waste firm Secure Energy Services Inc from buying rival Tervita Corp.

Secure then turned to the independent Competition Tribunal, which denied the bureau’s injunction and underscored “the high bar that needs to be met to prevent mergers … that we allege are anti-competitive,” he said.

The tribunal, he said, had acted so quickly that the bureau had not had time to present all its evidence, raising valid questions about the state of competition laws in Canada.

“This decision has significant implications for how we conduct future merger reviews, particularly in cases where there are competition concerns,” Boswell said in a speech to the Canadian Bar Association.

“This may mean that we must pursue a litigation-focused approach that is costly and less predictable for merging parties,” he added.

Secure relied on the so-called efficiencies defense, which is unique to Canada. Boswell said this procedure allowed the tribunal to allow an anti-competitive merger to proceed if the transaction was deemed to produce efficiency gains that were greater than its anti-competitive effects.

“The efficiencies defense raises significant practical

challenges for the Bureau to estimate and measure anti-competitive harm,” he said. “(We should) ask ourselves whether our competition laws are really working in the best interest of all Canadians.”

The bureau is an independent law enforcement agency set up to ensure fair competition. It investigates price fixing, bid-rigging and mergers, among other matters.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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