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Ontario's top doctor drops COVID-19 isolation requirements, expands booster eligibility to kids 5 to 11 – CBC.ca

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Ontario is dropping the mandatory five-day isolation period for those who test positive for COVID-19, the province’s top doctor announced Wednesday.

The move is part of the province’s broader plan to prepare for the fall respiratory illness season, and comes just as Ontario wastewater data is showing a slight uptick in the amount of COVID-19 in the province.

Dr. Kieran Moore said the COVID-19 pandemic has moved out of a “crisis phase” and become something that will require long-term management. The seventh wave has crested, he said, but the virus “remains in the community” and Public Health Ontario expects to see an increase in transmission as more people gather inside during the cooler fall months. 

However, Moore said the province is moving away from COVID-19-specific guidance in favour of an “all-virus approach,” meaning the new isolation guidelines will apply to other illnesses such as the flu as well.

Here are the guidelines Moore outlined for the general public:

  • If you have symptoms of any respiratory illness, stay home until symptoms have improved for at least 24 hours.
  • If you have a fever, stay home until it’s completely gone.
  • If you have gastrointestinal symptoms, stay home until symptoms have improved for at least 48 hours.
  • After isolating at home, wear a mask in public for 10 days since the onset of symptoms.
  • If sick, avoid non-essential visits to vulnerable or older people for a full 10 days starting the day after symptoms appear — including visits to high-risk settings such as long-term care homes and hospitals.
  • If you’re in the same household as someone who is sick or tested positive for COVID-19, mask in public spaces, even if you feel better, and avoid vulnerable individuals and settings for 10 days after exposure. Isolate immediately if you develop symptoms.

“We’re trying to be practical and pragmatic in our approach and these recommendations may change if we see more impact of respiratory viruses on the health of Ontarians and our communities,” Moore said.

“This approach should decrease the risk of all respiratory viruses in our communities,” said Moore, noting other provinces have already taken this step.

Opposition wary of move

Ontario Liberal health critic Dr. Adil Shamji said he is “deeply concerned” about the move as some Ontario hospitals have experienced shut-downs throughout the summer as a result of health-care staff shortages,.

“This press conference started out by saying we’re trying to move out of crisis mode,” said Shamji, who’s also the MPP for Don Valley East

“We’ve got ERs closing, ICUs closing, nearly 1,400 people admitted in hospital with COVID-19, and we’re not even in respiratory [illness] season yet.”

Data published by the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table shows wastewater signals, an early trend indicator, have ticked up since mid-August after declining for three weeks.

Last week, the group said that it will be dissolved early next month after more than two years of helping inform Ontario’s response to the pandemic.

Data from the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table shows a slight rise in the presence of the virus in wastewater samples in recent weeks. (Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table)

Province expands booster eligibility to kids 5 to 11

The announcement also comes as students are set to return to schools for the first time without COVID-19 restrictions.

Moore said improvements such as better ventilation and environmental cleaning in schools, combined with the level of immunization across Ontario, mean “we now can have a more permissive approach to return.”

Children aged 5 to 11 who’ve waited six months following their most recent dose of COVID-19 vaccine will be able to book their first booster as of Thursday, Moore said. The boosters have been available to children 12 and up and adults in the province for several months.

Ontario has announced children between 5 years and older will be eligible for a COVID-19 booster as of Thursday. (Steve Russell/The Canadian Press)

The province states appointments will be available through its vaccine portal starting at 8 a.m. ET, and parents can also book through their local public health units, participating pharmacies or health-care providers.

Health Canada approved COVID-19 booster doses for children aged 5 to 11 on Aug. 19. While Saskatchewan and Alberta had since expanded eligibility to include the age group, Ontario has not until now, just days before children are set to return to school.

“I know it wasn’t quick enough for some individuals, but I appreciate people’s patience,” says Moore.

Moore outlines 3 steps to stay healthy this fall

As colder weather approaches, Moore is asking Ontarians to do three things: continue wearing a mask when “it’s right for you,” be up to date with all vaccinations, and stay home if sick.

“I’d like to remind Ontarians that wearing a good fitting mask does not only prevent the spread of COVID-19, but other respiratory illnesses as well, including the flu,” said Moore.

Moore says he’s concerned that people are behind on routine immunizations such as hepatitis B, meningitis and HPV vaccinations  — particularly students who normally receive these vaccines at school.

“We have plans to deal with it this fall, and to get back into all schools and work with schools boards, public health agencies, as well as primary care.”

Moore says the province, like in previous years, will be prioritizing seniors and those in long-term care homes for the flu shot, but will be available to everyone to six months of age and older.

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Iran protests: Canada sanctioning 'morality police' – CTV News

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Canada will be imposing new sanctions on Iran as a result of a continuing violent crackdown on protesters, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday.

The sanctions will be levelled on “dozens of individuals and entities, including Iran’s so-called morality police,” the prime minister said.

“We’ve seen Iran disregarding human rights time and time again, and now we see with the death of Mahsa Amini and the crackdown on protests,” Trudeau said, referencing the death of a 22-year-old who was detained for allegedly violating the country’s forced veiling laws. Her death has sparked outrage and has prompted a wave of international demonstrations, seeing some women cut their hair or burn their hijabs in revolt.

“To the women in Iran who are protesting and to those who are supporting you, we stand with you. We join our voices, the voices of all Canadians, to the millions of people around the world demanding that the Iranian government listen to their people, end their repression of freedoms and rights, and let women and all Iranians live their lives and express themselves peacefully,” Trudeau said.

While no official notice of the new sanctions has been published by Global Affairs Canada, the prime minister noted they come in addition to outstanding measures Canada has taken against Iran.

In an email to CTV News, Adrien Blanchard, press secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said that Trudeau “announced Canada’s intention” to issue these sanctions, pledging more details “in due course.” 

Joly, as well as MPs from all parties, have spoken out about the escalating tensions and use of force against civilians in Iran, with the House of Commons unanimously passing a motion last week offering “solidarity to the women of Iran who are fighting for their rights and freedoms.”

With files from CTV News’ Michael Lee 

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Maine power workers cross border without incident to help in Nova Scotia

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OTTAWA — Nova Scotia Power says there were no issues delaying American power crews from crossing the border to help repair the electrical grid from the devastation of hurricane Fiona.

On Sunday, the utility company and Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston had both said an issue related to the controversial ArriveCan app was delaying power crews from crossing into Canada.

Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said this morning that the order making the app mandatory and requiring that foreign citizens be vaccinated to come to Canada will expire on Friday.

Power crews helping to restore electricity are considered essential workers and are exempt from the border measures.

In a new statement Monday afternoon, Nova Scotia Power spokeswoman Jacqueline Foster says there was some confusion about the app but it is now confirmed there were no problems.

Versant Power says 15 line workers and two mechanics left Bangor, Maine, for Canada early Monday morning without issue, and Central Maine Power reports more than a dozen two-person crews and 10 support workers crossed the border without incident at around 7 a.m. Monday.

“We now know there were not any issues with ArriveCan,” said Foster. “Our contractor crews have made their way over the border and we are grateful to have them as part of our restoration efforts here in Nova Scotia.”

The Canada Border Services Agency reported that it cleared 19 power trucks at the Third Bridge border crossing in St. Stephen, N.B., just after 7 a.m. Monday. The CBSA said the average processing time was between 30 and 60 seconds per vehicle.

The ArriveCan app has been fodder for heated political debates for months and Conservatives have repeatedly demanded that the government shut it down.

During question period on Monday, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre cited the allegations that ArriveCan delayed power crews to demand that the app be scrapped ahead of schedule.

He asked, “Will the prime minister suspend the ArriveCan app today, not Saturday, so that no more holdups happen at the border for those who are trying to help those in desperate need?”

Trudeau said he can “confirm that there were no delays at any border because of ArriveCan or otherwise.”

The utility company had said Sunday that crews were physically stuck at the border, but confirmed a few hours after question period on Monday that this had never been the case.

Foster suggested the error was a result of “confusion” after a concern arose Friday — before the storm actually hit — that crews from Maine might not be able to cross the border because of ArriveCan.

No New Brunswick border crossings reported issues over the weekend.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.

 

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

 

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Former top civil servant, medical association president appointed as senators

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OTTAWA — Ian Shugart, a longtime bureaucrat and the country’s top civil servant during the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been tapped for a seat in the Senate.

Dr. Gigi Osler, a Winnipeg surgeon, University of Manitoba professor and president of the Federation of Medical Women in Canada, is also set to become a senator.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the picks today after the two were recommended to him by the independent advisory board for appointments to the upper chamber.

Shugart, who will represent Ontario, stepped down as the clerk of the Privy Council in early 2021 to undergo cancer treatments and formally retired in May after a long public service career.

Trudeau also appointed him to the King’s Privy Council today, adding his name to a list that includes past and present cabinet ministers and people “honoured for their contributions to Canada,” according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Osler, who will represent Manitoba, became the first female surgeon and the first racialized woman to hold the presidency at the Canadian Medical Association in 2018.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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