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Police report 2,200 home quarantine checks as Trudeau talks about stricter border measures – CBC.ca

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Police officers have made nearly 2,200 home visits to make sure Canadians are complying with the self-isolation rule when they cross back into the country — a small percentage of the more than one million travellers who have returned home since the start of the pandemic.

The new statistics are coming out as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hints at new measures to track travellers who cross into Canada once border restrictions start to ease.

Canadians who cross back into the country now are required by law to self-isolate for 14 days, whether they have symptoms of COVID-19 or not. That order came into effect in late March as global cases of COVID-19 were climbing rapidly.

Anyone arriving in Canada by air or land must complete a contact tracing form (either on paper, online or via mobile app) to help the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) enforce the 14-day quarantine requirement.

The Canada Border Services Agency says it alerts PHAC if it suspects a returning traveller won’t comply.

The health agency then flags the RCMP’s national operations centre if it needs help enforcing the act. The RCMP has been playing a coordinating role with local police during the pandemic.

As of May 13, the Public Health Agency of Canada had passed on to the RCMP 2,198 referrals for “physical verification” of quarantine compliance — 705 in Ontario alone — said PHAC spokesperson Natalie Mohamed in an email to CBC News. Not all of the verification visits were conducted by RCMP; some were handed off to other police services.

PHAC says there have been no arrests under the Quarantine Act since the pandemic restrictions began — although one person in Richmond, B.C. was fined $1,000.

Failing to comply with the Quarantine Act can lead to a fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months. If someone is found to have jeopardized another person’s life while wilfully or recklessly contravening the act, the penalties can be even greater: $1 million or three years in prison, or both.

A spokesperson for the RCMP said PHAC is only asking for police help in certain cases, after the health agency has run initial checks by phone, text or e-mail.

The federal government first introduced the 14-day quarantine rule through the Quarantine Act order on March 25 — and later expanded the order by saying that anyone returning home from abroad without a credible self-isolation plan would be forced to stay at a designated quarantine facility, such as a hotel.

Border deal with U.S. extended until June 21

For now, travel into Canada from abroad remains limited.

On Tuesday, Trudeau announced that Canada and the U.S. had arrived at a deal to extend the restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border for another 30 days.

Both countries reached an agreement in March to temporarily close the border to non-essential travel — meaning no recreational visits — while keeping it open to commercial traffic and essential workers who cross for work.

Trudeau also hinted Tuesday that Canada could bring in tougher measures to slow the spread of the virus once the border finally reopens to non-essential travel.

“These are ongoing questions. We’ve given ourselves another month before we have to have the right answers to those questions on non-essential travel,” he told reporters.

“But even now, we know that we need to do more to ensure that travellers who are coming back from overseas or from the United States … are properly followed up on, are properly isolated and don’t become further vectors for the spread of COVID-19.”

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam called the mandatory 14-day quarantine for arrivals a “cornerstone” of federal pandemic policy going forward. Trudeau said the federal government is working with the premiers on the issue. 

“But certainly, once we get to a point where non-essential travel picks up again in the coming months, I guess, we need to have strong measures in place and we’re looking at those closely,” he said. 

WATCH | Mandatory 14-day quarantine a ‘cornerstone’ of pandemic response: Dr. Tam

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says a mandatory 14-day quarantine for any international arrivals remains a “cornerstone” of federal pandemic policy going forward, in response to a question about the public health argument for keeping the Canada-U.S. border closed to non-essential travel. 3:45

Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus, the party’s critic for public safety and border security, said the government needs to offer a plan for easing border restrictions and explain the benchmarks it’s using to guide its actions.

“It was the Trudeau government’s failure to close our borders that allowed the virus to spread in the first place. It is incumbent on the Trudeau government to explain how they plan to ensure that travellers who are coming back to Canada are not spreading COVID-19,” he said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, right now the Trudeau government is telling Canadians to ‘wait and see’ without explaining what metrics they are relying on to make decisions.”

The NDP’s public safety critic, Jack Harris, said public health officials need to be involved in deciding which measures are necessary at the border.

“We have concerns about the lack of consistency in the application of quarantine rules at the border,” he said.

“As the pressure increases to open up the border with the Americans, people are going to be less and less comfortable unless there are better measures in place to ensure our communities are safe.”

As of Tuesday evening, there were more than 4.8 million reported cases of the novel coronavirus worldwide. More than 1.5 million of those cases are in the U.S., according to a Johns Hopkins University tracking tool.

Outside of its deal with the U.S. administration, Canada closed off most international travel back in March with some caveats, including an exception for temporary foreign workers.

More than a million Canadian citizens and permanent residents returned home at the onset of the pandemic, when government officials began urging Canadians to avoid all international travel and come home as soon as possible. 

Since then, travel into Canada has dropped dramatically but tens of thousands of people still cross by land and air every week.

During the week of May 11 to May 17, more than 127,000 people crossed at land borders — most of them truckers — according to the CBSA. That’s an 88 per cent drop compared to the same time period a year ago.

And 14,536 individuals landed at Canada’s international airports last week, said the CBSA — a drop of 98 per cent.

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Canada sees lowest daily coronavirus death toll in 2 months, 759 new cases – Globalnews.ca

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The novel coronavirus pandemic has claimed 31 more lives across Canada, yet the number represents the lowest daily death toll in two months.

Monday also saw just 759 new confirmed infections across only six provinces — nearly matching Sunday’s number of new cases and marking a full week with numbers below 1,000.

Canada has now seen 91,694 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Of those, 7,326 people have died and 49,739 patients have since recovered from the illness.


READ MORE:
How many Canadians have the new coronavirus? Total number of confirmed cases by region

The last day the country saw a death toll as low as Monday’s was on April 2, when 27 people died. The number of new deaths has trended downward since Saturday, after weeks that saw an average of 100 people and more dying daily.

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While the number of new cases has been trending downward since the beginning of May, the past week has seen a sharper decline since May 26, when fewer than 1,000 infections were confirmed for the first time since March 29.

Monday saw Ontario, with 404 new cases, surpass the total reported by Quebec at 295. The last time that happened was on March 22, as Quebec has regularly topped the country in new infections — often by wide margins.

Yet both provinces recorded their lowest death tolls in weeks: Quebec saw 20 more deaths, while in Ontario, 10 people died over the past 24 hours.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Nova Scotia was the only province in Atlantic Canada to report any cases Monday, and only saw one new infection.






1:11
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau calls for more ‘granularity’ on COVID-19 data


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau calls for more ‘granularity’ on COVID-19 data

In the west, Alberta announced 34 more cases, while British Columbia recorded 24 new cases — representing numbers over the past 48 hours — and one additional death. Saskatchewan also reported a new case while announcing a previously-reported case had come back negative after retesting.

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Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick reported no new cases after seeing upticks in recent days. Prince Edward Island and the three northern territories have gone several weeks without new cases.

Every province and territory has now relaxed some physical distancing and economic shutdown measures, with an eye towards reopening businesses and public spaces.


READ MORE:
Physical distancing, mask use cuts relative coronavirus risk by at least 80%, study finds

The federal government is now setting its sights on contact tracing and supporting municipalities and provinces. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said Ottawa is rushing $2.2 billion in expected infrastructure funding to Canada’s cities.

Worldwide, the coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 6.25 million people and killed over 375,000 people. The United States remains the country with the most confirmed cases, at 1.8 million, while its death toll of 105,000 is also the highest globally.

Canada is currently the 14th most infected country in the world based solely on the number of cases confirmed, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

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

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Trudeau says anti-black racism is alive in Canada and 'we need to be better' – CBC.ca

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed today to do more to end anti-black racism in Canada after days of massive street protests in U.S. and Canadian cities against police brutality.

Trudeau said racism is not a uniquely American problem and more must be done in Canada to address systemic inequalities that have long plagued black and Indigenous communities.

“We need to be better in Canada. Even though we’ve made strides forward in the fight against racism and discrimination, racism still exists in Canada,” he said. “To young black Canadians, I hear you when you say you are anxious and angry.”

He said his government has funded black community groups, supported anti-racism programming and bolstered the collection of racial data at Statistics Canada to fight against discrimination, but he promised to do more.

Watch: Justin Trudeau addresses anti-black racism

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with reporters on Monday. 2:31

Protests have erupted in major North American cities in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. 

Floyd, 46, died a week ago after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck for just over eight minutes. His death was caught on video and swiftly went viral around the world.

All four responding officers were fired. The officer who pinned Floyd to the ground, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called the video of George Floyd’s death “chilling” and “painful” and called on Canadians to channel the anger they feel over his death into action against injustice here in Canada.

Singh said Canadian police need more “de-escalation” training so routine police stops don’t turn deadly for racialized Canadians.

Singh started his political career in provincial politics and led a fight against the police policy of random street stops of minorities, known as ‘carding’.

“We need to tackle the injustice in the criminal justice system — the over-policing of black bodies and black lives,” he said.

Watch: Jagmeet Singh calls for criminal justice reform

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh spoke with reporters on Parliament Hill on Monday. 2:47

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said he was “heartbroken” to see the video of Floyd’s death.

“No one should ever feel unsafe around police officers who must uphold the law for all, or feel unsafe because of the colour of their skin. We all have a responsibility to fight anti-black racism,” he said.

Watch: Andrew Scheer says he’s ‘heartbroken’

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was asked about protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, in light of his own comments months ago that Wetʼsuwetʼen supporters were “radical activists” and should “check their privilege.” 2:38

Some of the protests demanding fair treatment from police have turned violent. A number of cities have been hit by looting and rioting.

In Montreal Sunday night, vandals broke into a music store and stole guitars, while others defaced buildings with graffiti.

Trudeau condemned the violence, saying it distracts from calls for an end to institutional racism.

“They do not represent the peaceful protesters who are standing up for very real issues in Canada,” he said.

Asked whether his own history of wearing blackface diminishes his ability to provide moral leadership on the problem of anti-black racism, Trudeau said he has “spoken many times about how deeply I regret my actions hurt many, many people.”

“We need to focus on doing better every single day, regardless of what we did or hadn’t done in our past,” he added.

Families, Children and Social Development Minister Ahmed Hussen, a Somali-Canadian, said in a tweet Sunday that he has “heard from people who have said that we should not worry about what is happening in the U.S. because that is not our problem.”

But he said racism is “a lived reality for black Canadians,” and he asked other Canadians to “step up” and “raise your voices and ensure that real inclusion accompanies the diversity of our country.”

He said black Canadians are disproportionately followed in stores by shop owners fearing theft, while black drivers have every reason to be anxious when they’re pulled over by a police officer.

“Check the unconscious bias around you and within you,” Hussen said.

That tweet received an angry response from Ed Ammar, a former chairperson of Alberta’s United Conservative Party, who tweeted at Hussen: “Don’t bring this to Canada you f—ing loser.”

Tweeting a video of the destruction in Montreal, Ammar, a Lebanese-Canadian immigrant, said: “Don’t bring what’s happening in the U.S. across the borders.”

Hussen addressed Ammar’s comments in an interview with CBC News Monday. “I publicly invite Mr. Ammar to call me,” he said.

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Strange symptoms, flare-ups, weeks-long illnesses for some COVID-19 survivors – CBC.ca

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Chandra Pasma thought it was strange when she started feeling a burning sensation in her neck and ear canal.

It was March 16, just days after COVID-19 had been declared a pandemic, and the 40-year-old Ottawa resident knew people were being infected across the country. But since her symptoms weren’t among those listed for the virus, she didn’t think much of it.

Then every single member of Pasma’s household started falling ill.

First it was her husband, 44-year-old Matt Helleman, who suddenly felt exhausted. Just days later, the couple’s three children — seven-year-old twins and a nine-year-old daughter — started experiencing fevers, sore throats, and fatigue. And around the same time, Pasma’s own symptoms ramped up into chest pain and a cough.

“I thought, oh crap,” she recalls. “This is COVID.”

Like many people with milder forms of the illness, the whole family hunkered down, hoping to get better over a couple weeks at home — not knowing it would mark the start of a months-long recovery, with none of the family members feeling back to normal even now, more than 10 weeks later.

So far, at least 90,000 Canadians have been infected with COVID-19. In some cases, the illness leads to a stay in intensive care or even causes death, with roughly 7,000 people dying to date. 

But in most other instances, those suffering from less-severe forms do recover outside the health-care system. What’s growing clear, both patients and clinicians agree, is that some of those people wind up facing a long, rocky road to recovery.

‘Constant cycle’ of new symptoms

A few months back, as the little-understood virus was first spreading around the world, health officials initially described it as a respiratory illness, even weaving that piece into its official name: SARS-CoV-2, referring to “severe acute respiratory syndrome.”

Since then, evidence and patient stories have emerged suggesting it actually impacts various parts of the body.

One recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, for instance, determined that changes to someone’s ability to taste and smell are likely a common feature of infection — a symptom first noticed anecdotally by doctors around the world.

Similarly, early notions of a roughly two-week recovery period for mild cases — outlined in a February review of preliminary Chinese data from the World Health Organization — have been questioned by people who say their less-severe illnesses are still taking weeks, if not months, to fully clear up.

Pasma first realized her family wasn’t alone after joining a COVID-19 support group called Body Politic on Slack, an online communication platform. The group now includes more than 4,000 people. 

There, she met other global COVID-19 sufferers who were also documenting weeks-long illnesses with a strange mix of symptoms.


In Pasma’s home, multiple family members wound up having gastrointestinal issues, such as nausea and diarrhea, while she experienced inflammation in between her lungs and chest wall. Then, weeks later, a chicken pox-like rash broke out on her stomach and upper thigh.

Business trips

“It just went on like that: A constant cycle of new symptoms developing,” Pasma said. “One symptom would get better, and I’d start to feel optimistic I was through it. Then something new would set in — something totally random and strange.”

She isn’t sure where she caught the illness, but said it may have been during one of two business trips to Toronto for her job as a researcher at the Canadian Union of Public Employees in the weeks before her symptoms started.

Like many Canadians early in the pandemic, she wasn’t told to get tested by her family physician, who instead encouraged her to just stay at home. 

It’s an experienced echoed by others, who’ve reported bouts of illness but no positive test result to record their experience as a confirmed case of COVID-19 — an issue more common when testing guidelines in many places like Ontario were initially tied to travel abroad, which now represents the transmission source for less than six per cent of all confirmed cases to date in the province.

Test came back negative

Some now question how many cases are flying under the radar, amid additional concerns over false negatives from COVID-19 tests, which detect the active virus circulating in someone’s body, and a lack of access to antibody testing to see if someone previously had the virus, which wasn’t approved for use in Canada until May and isn’t widely available.

For Pasma, it wasn’t until after her symptoms worsened, flaring up a previous bout of pneumonia, that she went to a local hospital and got tested.

The test came back negative. Pasma believes that’s because it came so late in her illness — not that she wasn’t infected.

“There seems to be zero followup,” she said. “I don’t know if there would be more follow up if we were acknowledged cases.”

Pasma also worries both the media and medical community have painted COVID-19 as far too binary, either on or off.

“You get better in two weeks, or you die,” she said. “There’s no talk at all about what happens to the people who do not get better in two weeks.”

600+ people surveyed about symptoms

Hannah Wei, a Toronto-based design and qualitative researcher who helped launch the Slack channel where COVID-positive people are swapping recovery stories, said most people are lacking “clarity” about how COVID-19 plays out beyond the most critical cases.

Like Pasma, Wei also believes she got the illness back in March, likely after travelling abroad to Taiwan. But she didn’t get tested after she returned to Canada because she said hospital staff in Vancouver, where she was staying for a client meeting, told her they were short on nasal swabs.

Wei said she was sent back to her Airbnb room with just a sheet of paper featuring COVID-19 information from the hospital’s website. She wound up stuck there with no followup until she tested negative weeks later before finally flying back home to Toronto.

“There’s no centralized way to track and monitor how we’re all doing,” she said.

Hannah Wei, a Toronto-based design and qualitative researcher, helped launch the Slack channel Body Politic where COVID-positive people are swapping recovery stories. (Supplied by Hannah Wei)

To give sufferers more insight into the spectrum of symptoms and recovery time frames, Wei’s team surveyed around 640 people from both their online channel, which is primarily younger adult COVID-19 sufferers, and other social media platforms.

Many respondents shared similar experiences of weeks-long recoveries, with some stretching beyond a month, and featuring a range of symptoms — including respiratory issues, gastrointestinal problems, and sometimes neurological symptoms like dizziness, trouble concentrating, insomnia, or just a general feeling of “brain fog.”  

“When we ran the survey, people were on, on average, their 40th day,” Wei said. “A lot of these people, they’re getting to the point where they’re not quite recovering, but they’re not severely sick in the bed either. They just can’t get back to their normal life.”

Patients calling for more followup

Wei and Pasma both say the medical community needs to focus more on these under-the-radar patients.

Ontario family physicians who spoke to CBC News say thanks to the rise of telemedicine, it’s easier to keep in touch with COVID-19 patients who don’t need hospital care. Still, treating them remains a challenge given the wide range of symptoms and length of illness.

It’s a mixed bag, according to Markham-based family physician Allan Grill.

“You can have patients with mild symptoms that recover in a few days, like less than a week,” said Grill, who is chief of family medicine at Markham Stouffville Hospital and lead physician at the Markham family health team.

“You can have other people where the symptoms last two or three weeks.”

WATCH | Physical distancing advice for those who have recovered from COVID-19:

An infectious disease specialist answers viewer questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, including whether someone who has recovered from COVID-19 can stop physical distancing. 2:46

Pasma said the digital divide between patients and care providers can leave people feeling isolated as they recover at home.

As she and her family slowly get their lives back, she’s hoping more physicians grow aware of the challenging recovery process many COVID-19 sufferers are experiencing — so they can give newly diagnosed patients a heads up on what to expect, and help them manage the possible weeks ahead.

“Just because you’re well and don’t die from pneumonia doesn’t mean you won’t spend three or four months of your life trying to recover from this virus,” she said.

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