WATCH LIVE | Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, and Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, presentupdatedmodellingon the province’s ongoing response to COVID-19. <a href=”https://t.co/5nfr4ouOjY”>https://t.co/5nfr4ouOjY</a>
Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chairman of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, is detailing revised COVID-19 projections for the province at a news conference beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
You’ll be able to watch it live in this story.
Ontario has been over reporting the number of people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the province, the Ministry of Health said Thursday.
The error means that the number of people who have received both doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines is only half of what the province has been logging.
“Rather than provide data on the number of people who have been fully vaccinated … officials inadvertently provided data on the number of doses administered to achieve full vaccination,” a spokesperson for the ministry said in a statement sent to media.
Data on the total number of doses administered was not affected, the spokesperson said.
The province reported yesterday that 96,549 people had received both doses of either vaccine so far. In reality, only 48,239 had. That is up to 55,286 this morning.
The vaccine data page has since been updated to accurately reflect the current figures, the spokesperson said.
The news comes as Ontario reported another 2,093 cases of COVID-19 and 56 more deaths of people with the illness.
It’s the first time since Sunday that the province recorded more than 2,000 additional infections. The seven-day average of daily cases, however, continued to steadily decline down to 2,128.
The new cases in today’s update include 700 in Toronto, 311 in Peel, 228 in York Region and 123 in Niagara Region.
Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:
- Hamilton: 94.
- Durham: 85.
- Windsor-Essex: 67.
- Halton Region: 64.
- Waterloo Region: 56.
- Simcoe-Muskoka: 53.
- Ottawa: 45.
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 43.
- Middlesex-London: 37.
- Eastern Ontario: 30.
- Chatham-Kent: 25.
- Huron-Perth: 18.
- Southwestern: 16.
- Lambton: 15.
- Thunder Bay: 14.
(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’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.)
There are currently 21,478 confirmed, active infections provincewide, down from a peak of 30,632 on Jan. 11. That figure has been trending downward as resolved cases consistently outpace new ones.
Ontario’s labs processed 64,664 test samples for the virus and reported a test positivity rate of 3.3 per cent — the lowest in five days.
According to the Ministry of Health, there were 1,338 people with COVID-19 in hospitals, down 44 from the day before. The number of people that were being treated in intensive care fell by 19 to 358, while the number that required ventilator decreased by 15, down to 276.
The 56 additional deaths push Ontario’s total COVID-19-linked death toll to 6,014.
It has been two weeks since the provincial government implemented a stay-at-home order in a bid to halt surging transmission of the virus.
The province’s chief medical officer of health said earlier this week that it looks as though a provincewide “lockdown,” which began on Dec. 26, 2020, has contributed to a recent reduction in daily cases.
The last modelling update, outlined earlier this month, suggested that patients with COVID-19 in need of critical care could overwhelm Ontario’s health-care system if community transmission of the virus continued on pace.
Students in 4 more health units return to school next week
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education said today that students in four more public health units have a green light to return to schools for in-person classes next week.
That’s about 280,000 students in the following health units:
- Eastern Ontario.
In a release, Education Minister Stephen Lecce wrote that the government agrees with the “growing consensus in the medical community” that returning to school is “essential to the wellbeing, development and mental health of children.”
The government has introduced some new safety measures in schools this winter — including masking for grades 1 to 3 — though debate continues about whether the measures are adequate.
The next wave of students, from Toronto, Peel, York Region, Windsor-Essex and Hamilton, are currently scheduled to return on Feb. 10.
Students in eleven other health units, including Halton and Durham regions and Simcoe-Muskoka, have not yet been told to expect when they’ll be able to return to schools.
Montreal sauna suspected origin of Canada’s monkeypox outbreak: doctors – Global News
The country’s first two cases were reported by Quebec public health officials on May 19.
Dr. Robert Pilarski, a general physician in Montreal, who treated one of those patients last week, said the individual likely got the virus from a sauna he recently visited.
“He actually got it from G.I. Joe. So this is the suspected epicentre of the epidemic,” Pilarski told Global News.
Another doctor, who did not wish to be identified, also said the source of Montreal’s monkeypox outbreak was Sauna G.I. Joe.
Government officials have so far stayed clear of confirming the origin of monkeypox in Canada due to concerns of privacy and stigmatization.
“As it was the case with COVID-19, we never confirm publicly outbreaks for both privacy and identification matters,” Jean Nicolas Aubé, a spokesperson for Montreal public health, told Global News in an emailed response.
“Rest assured that we always intervene directly with businesses or settings where an outbreak occurs or where our investigation could lead us,” Aube added.
Quebec confirms 25 cases of monkeypox, plans to administer vaccine
Despite multiple attempts and inquiries from Global News about health regulations and tracing measures, there was no response from Sauna G.I. Joe by the time of publication.
Recent cases of monkeypox around the world have researchers scrambling to find out how the virus is spreading in countries that typically don’t see it.
Monkeypox, a rare zoonotic infectious disease, is usually found in certain parts of Africa, where it is endemic.
What started out as a small cluster of cases in Quebec is now being called a “serious outbreak” of the virus by provincial health officials.
As of Thursday, 25 cases have been confirmed in the province and about 20 to 30 suspected cases are under investigation.
The majority of confirmed cases in the province are tied to men aged between 20 and 30 years, who have had sexual relations with other men. There has been one case in a person under 18.
Monkeypox is not considered a sexually-transmitted infection, but the virus can survive on surfaces such as bedding and is transmitted through prolonged close contact.
“It’s not sexual activity as such that transmits it. It’s skin-to-skin contact that transmits it as far as we know at this moment,” said Dr. Michael Libman, a tropical disease expert and professor of medicine and infectious disease at McGill University.
Scientists trying to identify origins of Monkeypox cases detected in Canada
Stigmatization and transparency
Cases of monkeypox started emerging in Europe earlier this month.
Montreal public health said it had alerted physicians about a week before the first cases were confirmed. It also contacted “local actors” and communicated advice on hand hygiene and environmental cleaning procedures, Aubé said.
According to social media posts, Sauna G.I. Joe hosted a sex party on May 19, the same day Canada confirmed its first cases of monkeypox.
During a press conference on Thursday, Quebec public health officials said they do not think it’s necessary to single out locations over fears of “stigmatization,” adding that there are now measures in place.
“The enemy is the virus, not the people affected,” said Dr. Luc Boileau, Quebec’s interim public health.
However, experts stress that there should be greater transparency and omitting key public health information can be problematic.
Monkeypox is not a sexually-transmitted infection, WHO says
David Brennan, research chair in gay and bisexual men’s health at the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN), believes not disclosing information can have a negative impact on the community.
Hiding information could be interpreted as “men having sex with men is bad,” said Brennan.
There needs to be a culture shift and harm-reduction approach as has been the case in the past with sexually-transmitted infections, such as HIV/AIDS, added Nolan Hill, gay men’s health specialist at the Center for Sexuality in Calgary, Alta.
“I think it really does speak to this broader culture where we’re uncomfortable with the idea of sex and we’re uncomfortable talking about sex,” he said.
What is monkeypox and how is it transmitted?
Outside of Quebec, only one other case of monkeypox has been confirmed in Toronto.
On Saturday, Toronto Public Health (TPH) identified two locations connected to possible cases of monkeypox: Axis Club and Woody’s bar.
Kerry Bowman, a professor of bioethics and global health at the University of Toronto, said these details matter, especially when it comes to higher risk settings.
“I would argue it is important to identify where it is coming from because if you don’t then people are not in a position to protect themselves,” he said.
However, disclosing that information comes with the “added responsibility” of not feeding into any prejudice, Bowman added.
Federal public health officials are working to finalize and release guidance on case identification, contact tracing, isolation as well as infection prevention and control.
The Public Health Agency of Canada says this updated guidance will be released in the next few days.
Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said Thursday mass vaccinations are not yet needed, but people can avoid infection by maintaining physical distance, masking and hand hygiene.
Monkeypox: 26 confirmed cases in Quebec, Ontario, officials recommend physical distancing
© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Supreme Court of Canada to rule on sentencing for Quebec City mosque shooter
The high court decision in Alexandre Bissonnette’s case will determine the constitutionality of a key provision on parole eligibility in multiple murder convictions.
Bissonnette pleaded guilty to six charges of first-degree murder in the January 2017 assault that took place just after evening prayers.
In 2019, Bissonnette successfully challenged a 2011 law that allowed a court, in the event of multiple murders, to impose a life sentence and parole ineligibility periods of 25 years to be served consecutively for each murder.
A judge found the provision unconstitutional but did not declare it invalid, ultimately ruling Bissonnette must wait 40 years before applying for parole.
Quebec’s Court of Appeal struck down the sentencing provision on constitutional grounds and said the parole ineligibility periods should be served concurrently, meaning a total waiting period of 25 years in Bissonnette’s case.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2022.
The Canadian Press
‘Always hope’: Remains of Cree woman sent home to Alberta decades after disappearance
Violet Soosay’s search for her missing aunt began four decades ago.
The pursuit took her to parts of Alberta and B.C. and down paths of uncertainty as weeks, months and years passed without word of Shirley Ann Soosay.
On Friday, about 43 years after she was last heard from, the body of Shirley Ann Soosay is expected to be returned to her home community of Samson Cree Nation, south of Edmonton.
Her remains had been buried in a California cemetery in 1980 under the name Kern County Jane Doe. Last spring, the county sheriff’s office identified the remains as belonging to 35-year-old Soosay.
Violet Soosay has worked since then with the county coroner’s office and the California cemetery to transport the body back to Alberta.
“Now there’s closure. There’s healing that can start happening,” Violet Soosay said in a phone interview.
The website for the American non-profit group DNA Doe Project says the Jane Doe’s body was found in an almond orchard near Bakersfield, Calif., in July 1980. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed.
Wilson Chouest was convicted of killing the Jane Doe, along with another unidentified woman in 2018.
Violet Soosay said she last saw her aunt in 1977 at a family funeral. She remembers her as caring, supportive and a free spirit.
“That was my constant memory that I kept because it gave me that sense of connection,” she said.
Shirley Ann Soosay was close with her mother and had maintained regular contact with her, whether it was through holiday cards or letters, said Violet Soosay. The last correspondence came in 1979.
“After that, she just disappeared. Nobody knew. My grandmother was very frantic and heartbroken. She knew something happened.”
A few years later, Violet Soosay said she promised her grandmother she would bring Shirley Ann Soosay home. Her grandmother died in 1991.
In early 2020, Violet Soosay said she came across an artist’s rendering of the Jane Doe on a Facebook post from the DNA Doe Project. She believed the woman was her aunt.
The volunteer organization formed in 2017 to help identify unidentified deceased persons using forensic genealogy. The Kern County Sheriff-Coroner Division contacted the project in 2018 hoping to determine the identity of its Jane Doe.
Dawn Ratliff, the coroner division chief, said her office set up tip lines and worked with media to broadcast stories hoping to identify the woman, but every effort led to a dead end.
“In all the years that we had her, we never received a single inquiry. And at that point I just knew she wasn’t local. But I just didn’t know where she would be from.”
Ratliff said when she eventually heard from Violet Soosay, she asked her to submit a DNA sample. It was processed and compared to DNA they had from the remains. The two were a familial match.
Violet Soosay said that when she got the call with the results, she was flooded with years of emotions, including frustration, anger and elation.
“It was a crazy moment when I found out that she was my aunty.”
The family is planning to bury Shirley Ann Soosay in a cemetery at Samson Cree Nation.
Violet Soosay said bikers are supposed to follow her aunt’s casket from a funeral home in Wetaskiwin to her final resting place. There will also be a wake with traditional drumming.
Before the body was disinterred in California, the Tule River Tribe performed a ceremony there with prayers and drumming, added Ratliff.
“To be able to restore her name has really been tremendous,” she said.
Violet Soosay said she is grateful for the support and work of Ratliff, investigators and those involved with confirming the identity of her aunt’s remains.
She said she also has a message for Indigenous families with missing loved ones: “There’s always hope. There’s always some way to bring them home.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2022.
Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press
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