U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says his country is sticking with Canada in fighting what he calls China’s “coercive detentions of Canadian citizens.”
Pompeo and Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne spoke Monday about a range of global concerns, including China, the ongoing crisis in Venezuela and the United States’ upcoming presidency of the G7 group of countries with large economies.
Champagne said it was “a very productive call.”
Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor were picked up days after Canada arrested Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition warrant related to charges of bank fraud.
Canada has had no luck so far in pressing for their release.
“The United States stands with Canada in calling on Beijing for the immediate release of the two men and rejects the use of these unjustified detentions to coerce Canada,” said a statement from Morgan Ortagus, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department.
Under President Donald Trump, the United States and China have been in a deepening spiral of tariffs and counter-tariffs on each other’s goods, which Trump has said he hopes will end with a major new trade deal that will see China import more American products.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he’s asked the U.S. not to sign a new trade agreement with Beijing until the Canadians are freed.
War of words
China’s attitude toward the United States has grown increasingly belligerent. In a regular news conference at China’s foreign ministry this week, spokesman Geng Shuang took aim at the U.S. over several issues, including the weaponization of space and humanitarian aid in Syria.
For instance, Pompeo had criticized Russia and China for voting against a UN Security Council resolution on Syria — a move Champagne called disappointing in a statement on Sunday.
Geng said the crisis in Syria is ultimately the Americans’ fault.
“The world sees clearly who keeps lying with hearts full of hypocrisy and blood on their hands,” Geng said, according to a transcript posted in English on the foreign-ministry website. “It is they who should repent.”
Today's coronavirus news: Tory calls alarming jump of 130 new cases in Toronto 'troubling'; Ontario surpasses 400 infections for first time since June; Canada/U.S. border closure extended to Oct. 21 – Toronto Star
The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
12:13 p.m.: Deputy public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo declines to say generally there’s a second wave across Canada.
The seven-day average of new daily cases is now 849, he said at his daily media briefing.
“It’s too early to declare a second wave, but the increase is the trend that’s concerning us.”
11:50 a.m.: Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has tested positive for COVID-19, the party says.
His wife said earlier this week she had tested positive.
Blanchet was already in self-isolation after a staff member contracted the illness.
In a statement, Blanchet says he feels healthy.
11:35 a.m. (updated): Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the partial closure of the border with the United States is being extended another month, to Oct. 21.
Crossings of the border have been largely restricted to trade goods, essential workers and citizens returning home since March, in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Blair and his American counterpart, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, each tweeted the latest one-month extension of the closure agreement this morning.
The pandemic has raged in the United States throughout the spring and summer, and cases in Canada have recently started rising again as well.
At the same time, leaders in border communities have asked federal authorities to loosen restrictions slightly to allow people with links on both sides to live more normally.
The Conservatives also called Friday for Blair to allow more compassionate exemptions to the closure, such as for people who are engaged to be married or where loved ones are seriously ill.
11:10 a.m.: New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh is accusing his Liberal and Conservative counterparts of doing the bidding of big business during the pandemic.
Singh takes the swipe at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole in a speech today that lays out the NDP’s priorities ahead of next week’s throne speech.
Singh is calling on the Liberals to do more to help working people cope with the economic hardship of the COVID-19 crisis.
That includes extending benefits for unemployed Canadians that he says the Liberals are planning to curtail.
He’s also calling on the government to do more to help seniors, and address the crises in climate change and affordable housing.
But Singh is differentiating himself from Trudeau and O’Toole by telling his supporters his two main political rivals are essentially in the back pocket of big business and the “super-rich,” who he says have profited massively during the pandemic at the expense of working people.
11 a.m.: In light of an alarming jump Friday in new COVID-19 infections in Toronto, Mayor John Tory says the city is looking hard at new restrictions.
Calling the increase of 130 cases for Toronto reported by the provincial governmen “troubling,” Tory said rules could include applying the new smaller gathering limits to banquet halls and other businesses.
Toronto had asked Premier Doug Ford to apply the new limits — 10 people indoors, 25 people outdoors — to businesses that host wedding.
But the new rules announced this week for Toronto, Peel and Ottawa apply only to private events and not Ones hosted by businesses.
The mayor said city officials will over the weekend what other steps Toronto can take on its own.
Tory said he learned Friday of a fifth Toronto wedding where infections occurred.
Toronto is also expected next week to introduce new mandatory mask rules applying to workplaces.
10:23 a.m. (updated): Ontario is reporting 401 new cases of COVID-19 today, a daily increase not seen since early June.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says Toronto is reporting 130 new cases, with 82 in Peel Region and 61 in Ottawa.
She says nearly 70 per cent of the new cases are in people under the age of 40.
The total number of cases in Ontario now stands at 46,077, which includes 2,825 deaths and 40,600 cases classified as resolved.
There were also 176 cases newly marked as resolved over the past 24 hours.
The province says it processed 35,826 tests over the previous day.
10:15 a.m.: Hamilton has its first confirmed case of COVID connected to a school.
A late-Thursday release from Hamilton public health says a staff member at the Umbrella Family and Child Centres of Hamilton’s before- and after-school program at Templemead Elementary School tested positive for COVID-19. Templemead is located on the east Mountain and is part of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.
“HWDSB is working with public health officials to facilitate case and contact tracing,” the release states.
No information was provided on when the person tested positive, nor what their role with the program is or when they last worked.
“It is vital that personal health information and identifiers are not released, and the privacy of everyone involved is respected,” the release states.
10:10 a.m. Two Canadian film and television organizations say hundreds of productions and thousands of jobs are on hold because the government has yet to intervene and help them get COVID-19 insurance.
The Canadian Media Producers Association and the Association québécoise de la production médiatique say $1 billion in production volume is at risk because of the lack of insurance options.
They have identified 214 camera-ready film and TV projects that cannot move forward because they can’t find insurance and say those productions would generate 19,560 jobs.
The organizations pitched a federal government-backed insurance program in June, but say politicians have yet to act on the proposal.
The groups say the lack of government help now means that the entertainment industry is facing an even more dire situation and they hope intervention will come soon.
Several Canadian productions were halted when COVID-19 started spreading across the country in March, but many are slowly returning with added precautions, including mandatory distancing and mask policies.
9:05 a.m.: The European Medicines Agency is recommending an inexpensive steroid be licensed for the treatment of people with severe coronavirus who need oxygen support.
The EMA says it is endorsing the use of dexamethasone in adults and adolescents age 12 or older who need either supplemental oxygen or a ventilator to help them breathe. The drug can be taken orally or via an infusion.
In June, British researchers published research showing dexamethasone can reduce deaths by up to one third in patients hospitalized with severe coronavirus. Shortly afterward, the U.K. government immediately authorized its use in hospitals across the country for seriously ill coronavirus patients.
Steroid drugs like dexamethasone are typically used to reduce inflammation, which sometimes develops in COVID-19 patients as their immune system kicks into overdrive to fight the virus.
9:02 a.m.: Statistics Canada says retail sales rose 0.6 per cent in July to $52.9 billion, helped by higher sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations.
Economists had expected an increase of 1.0 per cent for the month, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
Statistics Canada says sales were up in six of 11 subsectors in July with the motor vehicle and parts dealers subsector contributing the most to the increase with a 3.3 per cent increase. Sales at gasoline stations rose 6.1 per cent.
However, the agency said core retail sales, which exclude those two subsectors, fell 1.2 per cent.
Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers fell 11.6 per cent, while sales at food and beverage stores dropped 2.1 per cent.
Retail sales in volume terms were up 0.4 per cent in July.
8:07 a.m.: Young people are reporting higher levels of stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic compared to those over age 60 despite their significantly lower risk of dying from the virus itself, a new study has revealed.
Levels of generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder are proving to be the highest and more prevalent among those under 25, while those over age 60 reported the lowest levels for both disorders.
These numbers are revealed in new research published in early September by Dr. Izunwanne Nwachuchwu from the University of Calgary, alongside researchers from the University of Alberta and Alberta Health Services. The study shows that 96 per cent of people under age 25 said they’ve experienced moderate or high levels of stress as a result of the pandemic, compared to 68 per cent of people over the age of 60.
7:31 a.m.: Canada’s top curling teams are trying to cobble together a competitive fall season despite the COVID-19 pandemic decimating the calendar.
The Grand Slam of Curling was whittled from six events this winter to just two scheduled for next April and November’s Canada Cup of Curling was cancelled, creating a competitive void for the country’s elite curlers.
A slew of September and October bonspiels across Canada have been called off, but some remain on the calendar.
Curling Canada’s return-to-play guidelines provide a template for events to go ahead with several modifications on and off the ice to prevent the spread of the virus.
“We want to play as much as we can under whatever guidelines are set and get some competition in,” said skip Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
“That’s about all we can hope for. It’s not about going out and trying to win prize money and points. None of that stuff really matters.
6 a.m.: British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has hinted that fresh restrictions on social gatherings in England could be announced soon as part of efforts to suppress a sharp spike in confirmed coronavirus cases.
Following reports that the government was considering fresh curbs on the hospitality sector, such as pubs and restaurants, Hancock said this is a “big moment for the country.”
He said that another national lockdown is the “last line of defence” and that most transmissions of the virus are taking place in social settings.
Hancock says the government’s strategy over the coming weeks is to contain the virus as much as possible “whilst protecting education and the economy.”
The government has come under sustained criticism in the past week following serious issues with its virus testing program.
5:45 a.m.: Confirmed cases of the coronavirus have topped 30 million worldwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
The worldwide count of known COVID-19 infections climbed past 30 million on Thursday, with more than half of them from just three countries: the U.S., India and Brazil, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins researchers.
The number increased by 10 million in just over a month; global cases passed 20 million on August 12.
5:31 a.m.: Joe Biden on Thursday went after President Donald Trump again and again over his handling of COVID-19, calling Trump’s downplaying of the pandemic “criminal” and his administration “totally irresponsible.”
“You’ve got to level with the American people — shoot from the shoulder. There’s not been a time they’ve not been able to step up. The president should step down,” the Democratic presidential nominee said to applause from a CNN drive-in town hall crowd in Moosic, outside his hometown of Scranton.
Speaking about Trump’s admission that he publicly played down the impact of the virus while aware of its severity, Biden declared: “He knew it and did nothing. It’s close to criminal.”
Later, Biden decried Americans’ loss of basic “freedoms” as the U.S. has struggled to contain the pandemic, like the ability to go to a ball game or walk around their neighbourhoods. “I never, ever thought I would see just such a thoroughly, totally irresponsible administration,” he said.
5:21 a.m.: China says imported coronavirus cases climbed to 32 over the previous 24 hours.
Thirteen of the cases reported Friday were in the northern province of Shaanxi, whose capital Xi’an is a major industrial centre. The eastern financial and business hub of Shanghai reported 12.
China has gone more than a month without reporting any cases of locally transmitted coronavirus cases within its borders.
5:18 a.m.: U.N. World Food Program chief David Beasley is warning that 270 million people are “marching toward the brink of starvation” because of the toxic combination of conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beasley on Thursday urged donor nations and billionaires to contribute $4.9 billion to feed the 30 million he said will die without U.N. assistance.
He reminded the U.N. Security Council of his warning five months ago that “the world stood on the brink of a hunger pandemic,” and welcomed the response, which averted famine and led countries to fight back against the coronavirus.
Beasley said the U.N. food agency is keeping people alive “and avoiding a humanitarian catastrophe” but he said “the fight is far, far, far from over.”
5:14 a.m.: India’s coronavirus cases have jumped by another 96,424 infections in the past 24 hours, showing little signs of slowing down.
The Health Ministry on Friday raised the nation’s confirmed total since the pandemic began to more than 5.21 million. It said 1,174 more people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 84,372.
India is expected within weeks to surpass the reported infections seen in the United States, where more than 6.67 million people have been reported infected, the most in the world.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday made a fresh appeal to people to use face masks and maintain social distance as his government chalked out plans to handle big congregations expected during a major Hindu festival season beginning next month.
5:10 a.m.: The Australian government on Friday announced a 5 million Australian dollars ($3.7 million) grant to the national news agency as part of pandemic-related assistance to regional journalism.
Australian Associated Press is critical to media diversity and has consistently demonstrated its commitment to accurate, fact-based and independent journalism over its 85-year history, including a strong contribution to regional news, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a statement.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered unprecedented challenges for Australia’s regional media sector, with severe declines in advertising revenue threatening the sustainability of many news outlets,” Fetcher said.
AAP provides services to more than 250 regional news mastheads across Australia, covering public interest content on national, state and regional news. This allows regional mastheads to concentrate on local news stories important for their communities, he said.
AAP Chair Jonty Low and Chief Executive Emma Cowdroy welcomed the funding as an “endorsement of the role that AAP plays in providing a key piece of Australia’s democratic Infrastructure.”
5 a.m.: Israel is set to go back into a full lockdown later Friday to try to contain a coronavirus outbreak that has steadily worsened for months as its government has been plagued by indecision and infighting.
The three-week lockdown beginning at 2 p.m. (1100 GMT) will include the closure of many businesses and strict limits on public gatherings, and will largely confine people to their homes. The closures coincide with the Jewish High Holidays, when people typically visit their families and gather for large prayer services.
In an address late Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that even stricter measures may be needed to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. There are currently more than 46,000 active cases, with at least 577 hospitalized in serious condition.
“It could be that we will have no choice but to make the directives more stringent,” Netanyahu said. “I will not impose a lockdown on the citizens of Israel for no reason, and I will not hesitate to add further restrictions if it is necessary.”
Under the new lockdown, nearly all businesses open to the public will be closed. People must remain within 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) of home, but there are several exceptions, including shopping for food or medicine, going to work in a business that’s closed to the public, attending protests and even seeking essential pet care.
4:05 a.m.: Four conservative-minded premiers are to issue today their wish list for next week’s throne speech on which the fate of Justin Trudeau’s minority Liberal government could hinge.
Quebec’s François Legault, Ontario’s Doug Ford, Alberta’s Jason Kenney and Manitoba’s Brian Pallister plan to hold a news conference in Ottawa to spell out what they hope to see in the speech.
Billions more for health care is likely to top their list.
Ford and Legault last week called on Ottawa to significantly increase the annual federal transfer payments to provinces and territories for health care.
The transfer this year will amount to almost $42 billion under an arrangement that sees it increase by at least three per cent each year.
On top of that, the federal government is giving provinces and territories $19 billion to help them cope with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, including some $10 billion for health care.
4 a.m.: A new survey finds that young people have been vaping less frequently since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The survey, conducted by the Lung Association of Nova Scotia and Smoke-Free Nova Scotia, finds that respondents decreased vaping to five days per week from six, on average.
They also cut back to an average of 19 vaping episodes per day, down from 30.
The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario.
The researchers say it may be related to warnings of potential complications from COVID-19 for e-cigarette users.
The survey heard from more than 1,800 respondents between 16 and 24 years old, and found most begin vaping at around the age of 15.
Thursday 8.18 p.m. B.C. has once again topped its previous daily record for new COVID-19 cases, the Richmond Sentinel reports.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 165 new cases since Wednesday. That raises the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 7,663. There are 1,705 active cases, an increase of 91 from yesterday, and of nearly 300 from a week ago, the Sentinel reports.
Health Minister Adrian Dix said it’s important to put the high case count in context; yesterday, there were 7,674 tests conducted across B.C., the highest number in a single day since the pandemic began.
Sorry to burst your COVID-19 'social bubble' but even small gatherings are getting riskier – CBC.ca
For months, Canadians have been bubbling up with other friends and family to socialize safely during the pandemic.
But with COVID-19 case counts rising in many communities, kids back in schools and more people returning to work, many public health experts agree that what worked as a safe approach in the early days of the lockdown now comes with more risk.
“I honestly think with the return to school right now, most people’s bubbles have burst,” says epidemiologist Ashleigh Tuite. “You’re talking about large numbers of connections.”
In Ontario, “social circles” allow you to see up to 10 people without the usual pandemic precautions in place as long as all of those family members, friends or neighbours make a pact to socialize only with each other, while in Alberta, the cap for your “cohort” is your household plus up to 15 other people.
In B.C., the guidelines for a “bubble” are a little looser. Officials say the members of your immediate household can be “carefully expanded” to include outsiders, with the goal of limiting the number as much as possible — since these are people you’re allowed to kiss, hug, chat with and dine with, without masks or distancing.
It’s a concept being adopted in several countries around the world. And while it works well in principle, experts warn it may be harder to maintain at this point in the pandemic.
Bubble makes sense in ‘theory’
“As a theory, the bubble makes a lot of sense,” said Dr. Dominik Mertz, an associate professor in the division of infectious diseases at Hamilton’s McMaster University. “But there’s a lot of confusion from people over what it is.”
He also added it can be tough to do safely, particularly if the bubble involves multiple households “who all have different risks.”
Say you have two four-person households socializing without the usual pandemic precautions. On paper, it follows the Ontario and B.C. guidelines.
But what if one person is back at work, leaving them exposed to dozens of colleagues? Or either family’s children are in school, where physical distancing and mask wearing might be a challenge?
A small sphere of contacts can quickly expand to include everyone that each family member comes in contact with, which means the bubbling approach really isn’t “useful” anymore, according to Tuite, an assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
‘It’s not going to work for all people’
Raywat Deonandan, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Ottawa, agreed it’s not a “perfect model” at this point in the pandemic.
“It would’ve worked better back when things were fully locked down,” he said, adding there’s still merit in bubbling with a few close friends or family if everyone is cautious.
“I don’t want to remove any tools from the table,” he said. “If bubbling is working for some people, keep on doing it. But it’s not going to work for all people.”
For instance, a supply teacher, with a social network of students and staff in various classrooms or even buildings, can’t realistically have a social bubble without any precautions, Deonandan said, while someone working from home might be able to do it more safely.
WATCH | ‘Exponential’ growth in new cases in parts of Canada, says infectious disease specialist:
For many people, losing their bubble could mean a long, lonely winter, made worse by mental health struggles or living alone.
“We know there are benefits to having that human contact,” said Dr. Nitin Mohan, a physician epidemiologist and assistant professor at Western University in London, Ont.
But when dropping temperatures push people indoors, where transmission risk is higher, and families start making plans to gather over the upcoming stretch of holidays, it could make adhering to the bubble principles even tougher.
Bubble burst? Isolate for a while
Mertz says Canadians should already be planning for upcoming gatherings like Thanksgiving.
If outside-the-bubble family members want to celebrate together, find ways to do it safely, he says, by meeting outdoors and staying apart as much as possible. Otherwise, you’re blending several household bubbles together and upping the risk for everyone.
And if you do throw caution to the wind for a turkey feast, there’s another approach: Isolate yourself as much as possible for two weeks after the gathering.
“That would give us downtime, so in case someone got infected, you are not spreading it from that gathering into each individual bubble,” Mertz said.
The various experts who spoke with CBC News acknowledged the challenges in sticking to even the safest bubbling plan, with peer pressure, slip-ups, and our innate desire for human connection all potential obstacles.
For that reason, Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious disease specialist with the Sinai Health System and University Health Network in Toronto, stresses the onus shouldn’t just be on individuals to reduce transmission.
From a system-wide perspective, he says, provincial governments need to ensure every piece of the pandemic plan is adequately resourced: testing capacity, contact tracing, personal protective equipment and hospital staff.
“If you can’t test people who are symptomatic, then you can’t contact trace … and you can’t identify people who are about to become symptomatic and are unknowingly and unwittingly spreading the disease,” he said.
Ontario gathering sizes reduced
Ontario officials say they’re working to increase testing capacity amid hours-long lineups in multiple cities, including Ottawa and Toronto.
The province is also lowering the maximum size limit for private gatherings — things like backyard barbecues or dinner parties, with precautions in place among people in different social circles — in some regions.
The new limits will be 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, with hefty fines of $10,000 or more for organizers who flout the rules.
Deonandan calls that the “single best policy intervention” for controlling the spread of COVID-19, given the growing body of research showing large gatherings can be hot spots for virus transmission.
“Mask wearing, that’s important. Distancing, that’s important, too,” he said. “But time and time again we see explosions of cases in otherwise controlled areas … driven by these super-spreading events.”
Even smaller gatherings can fuel the virus’s spread, like infections after a family outing documented in Toronto, and a 10-person cottage trip — which would still meet the province’s new rules — that led to 40 new cases in Ottawa.
It’s not clear if anyone involved in those gatherings was bubbling together, and Mertz stresses in all situations, the same safety precautions apply.
“Whether you continue with the bubble concept or not, it comes down to the less people gathering, the more time you can spend outside, the more you can spread out — the lower the risk.”
Canada’s coronavirus cases are surging, but experts reject it’s a ‘second wave’ – Global News
With Canada’s coronavirus cases escalating at a worrying rate, health officials say they are preparing for what many call a “second wave” of the pandemic, with some suggesting it may have already arrived.
But experts say framing the rise and fall of COVID-19 cases in “waves” is inaccurate, and ignores how human behaviour is playing a role — and how it’s critical to controlling the spread of the virus.
The country has seen a dramatic resurgence of the virus in recent weeks, along with long lines for testing in some cities. In the last two weeks alone, the number of cases reported nationwide each day has risen by nearly 50 per cent.
While Canada saw a brief rise in cases earlier this summer, cases have now risen back to levels last seen in late May and early June, when daily cases were falling from their peak in mid-to-late April.
Yet even when the pandemic was at its lowest point during last spring’s widespread economic lockdown, Canada was still reporting over 200 new cases daily — which experts say is proof that we’re still dealing with the first wave.
“It didn’t go anywhere,” said Caroline Colijn, a mathematics professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver who specializes in infectious disease modelling.
“What does a wave do? It comes and then recedes and disappears by itself, not because you jump off the towel and push it back. We haven’t had that sort of natural thing where the infection burns itself out. We brought it down through our own behaviour, but it’s still here.”
Coronavirus: ‘Can’t rule out’ second wave of COVID-19, says Canadian health minister
Sarah Otto, an evolutionary biologist and modelling expert at the University of British Columbia, is even more blunt.
“Technically, we’re nowhere near a ‘second wave’ as it’s defined in terms of a disease,” she said. “The second wave happens when people lose immunity to that disease and it comes back.
“Instead, what we’ve had are ebbs and flows based on how we’ve changed our behaviour to combat the spread of the virus. So as we’ve returned more and more to so-called ‘normal’ behaviour — and especially now that schools have reopened — we’re seeing more cases.”
While younger people have appeared to lead the way in recent infections, older Canadians have also continued to contract the virus at steady rates.
Several provinces have also reported cases in schools among both students and teachers since in-class learning resumed earlier this month, with some schools — including in Winnipeg and parts of Ontario — shutting down and moving classes online.
Health officials and experts say they have yet to see community transmission result from those school outbreaks. However, Colijn and Otto both say their models suggest cases across the country may continue to rise over the short term, particularly in the provinces driving the surge: British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec and Ontario.
Concerns of COVID-19 second wave as new cases rise
But Daniel Coombs, a mathematical modelling expert at the University of British Columbia, says that rise could be tempered the same way cases were brought down the first time: by managing our behaviour.
“The problem I have with the language of ‘waves’ is it suggests (the pandemic) is out of control, where I strongly feel that we have the capacity in this country to control it,” he said.
“I think what we’re going to see over the fall and winter is health officials pulling those levers to sort of tune their policies so that schools can stay open — as they’re really critical to our society — while adjusting regulations elsewhere to keep transmission low.”
Coombs pointed to last week’s order in British Columbia that closed nightclubs and banquet halls while putting new restrictions on bars and restaurants. Although it was met with some opposition from owners, he said the order struck a balance between cutting down on large gatherings while doing relatively minimal economic damage.
Cases have continued to climb in that province, however, reaching a new record high on Thursday with 165 new infections.
The premiers of Ontario and Quebec have warned of similar restrictions, along with fines and minimal lockdowns, if behaviour doesn’t change and cases don’t start falling again.
Coronavirus: Legault says Quebec could see second wave if COVID-19 case trend continues
A new Ipsos poll suggests 75 per cent of Canadians would approve a widespread shutdown of non-essential businesses if cases reach another peak like last spring’s. Roughly the same number said they anticipate another rise in cases this fall, which they called a “second wave.”
But Otto says those penalties can be avoided if people remember that they’re part of the solution, and remember their responsibility to their community.
“Especially now that kids are back in school, it’s so critical they get that in-person learning, so I want to reduce my own activities so they can have that opportunity,” she said.
She also suggested keeping an eye on the case numbers and which communities are seeing surges, and adjusting behaviour accordingly if cases start rising closer to home.
“Our health officials are reading the thermometer and saying, ‘Oh, it’s too warm in here, it’s getting out of control there,’” she said. “But we’re the switch on the furnace, and it’s our decision to go, ‘Oh, I have to listen to the thermostat, I better shut off.’ We’re part of the solution.”
“We’ve had some successes in Canada that we can be proud of, and we still have models of clear, compassionate public health messaging,” she said. “We just need to keep listening to them and not be complacent.
“We’re not the kind of society that will nail your door shut to make sure you stay quarantined. We’re not going to have surveillance on people’s indoor parties. This is still a matter of trust, and we need to keep working ourselves while trusting each other. Because this isn’t over.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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