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Province announces 4 rapid test pop-up dates for Barrhaven – CBC.ca

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The Ontario government has announced a single Ottawa pop-up location where people can pick up a free COVID-19 rapid antigen test or take a test on site over a four-day period this week.

Rapid antigen test kits have become a hot commodity in recent weeks as people seek to screen themselves and their family members ahead of holiday gatherings — which are limited to 10 people indoors.

Unlike the gold standard PCR tests which are offered through assessment centres, hospitals and other health-care settings and have to be sent to a lab for analysis, rapid antigen tests offer a quick way to detect a potential infection.

Rapid tests — similar to at-home pregnancy tests — are a do-it-yourself version that shows results in around 15 minutes.

Initial public offerings quickly spoken for

Earlier this week, the province announced a “holiday testing blitz” in which it plans to give out nearly two million rapid tests from now to mid-January at malls, city centres and LCBOs.

Just over 200,000 rapid test kits — each containing five tests, and therefore totalling just over one million tests — were quickly gobbled up by visitors at participating LCBOs on Friday. 

More tests are expected to be dispersed over the coming days, including at 10 sites in Ottawa.

While the full list of Ottawa locations has yet to be confirmed, the province’s holiday testing page was updated Saturday to include the Minto Recreation Complex at 3500 Cambrian Rd., in Ottawa’s west end.

Tests will be offered at the centre starting at 7 a.m. between Tuesday and Friday.

Province facing limited supply

Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer had health, announced last week that Ottawa’s first shipment of non-LCBO tests was expected to arrive on Dec. 21. Ontario Premier Doug Ford then said the province is expecting another 10 million more tests on Dec. 27.

It remains unclear how many of those 10 million tests will go to the holiday blitz meant for the general public versus prioritized settings such as schools, vulnerable workplaces and health-care settings. 

In an email to CBC on Saturday, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said the government recognizes there is significant demand for rapid tests. 

“That said, Ontario has a limited supply of rapid tests and every single test the province has received from the federal government is out the door to thousands of workplaces, hospitals, home and community care settings, long-term care homes, schools and child-care centres on top of the many pop-up sites across the province,” the spokesperson wrote. 

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China cuts rates on policy loans for first time since April 2020 – CNBC

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A woman walks past the headquarters of the People’s Bank of China in Beijing, China.
Jason Lee | Reuters

China’s central bank on Monday cut the borrowing costs of its medium-term loans for the first time since April 2020, defying market expectations, to cushion any economic slowdown.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said it was lowering the interest rate on 700 billion yuan ($110.19 billion) worth of one-year medium-term lending facility (MLF) loans to some financial institutions by 10 basis points to 2.85% from 2.95% in previous operations.

Thirty-four out of the 48 traders and analysts, or 70% of all participants, polled by Reuters last week predicted no change to the MLF rates, although a rising number of market participants start to forecast a rate cut.

With 500 billion yuan worth of MLF loans maturing on Monday, the operation resulted a net 200 billion yuan of fresh fund injections into the banking system.

The central bank also lowered the borrowing costs of seven-day reverse repurchase agreements, or repos, by the same margin to 2.10% from 2.20%, when it offered another 100 billion yuan worth of reverse repos into the banking system on the day, compared with 10 billion worth of such short-term liquidity tool due on Monday.

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Credit Suisse chairman resigns after company probe – BBC News

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Antonio Horta-Osorio, former chairman of Credit Suisse.

Reuters

The chairman of global banking giant Credit Suisse, Antonio Horta-Osorio, has resigned with immediate effect after an internal company probe.

He was reportedly found to have broken the UK’s Covid-19 quarantine rules.

The former boss of Lloyds Banking Group joined Credit Suisse after a series of scandals at the Swiss bank.

Now, Mr Horta-Osorio, who was the chairman of Credit Suisse for less than a year, has been replaced by board member Axel Lehmann.

“I regret that a number of my personal actions have led to difficulties for the bank and compromised my ability to represent the bank internally and externally,” Horta-Osorio said in a statement issued by the bank.

“I therefore believe that my resignation is in the interest of the bank and its stakeholders at this crucial time,” he added.

Last month, it was reported by the Reuters news agency that a preliminary investigation by Credit Suisse had found that Mr Horta-Osorio had breached Covid-19 rules.

He reportedly attended the Wimbledon tennis finals in July at a time when the UK’s Covid-19 rules required him to be in quarantine.

Speaking to the BBC, a spokesperson for Credit Suisse said that the bank would give no further details on Mr Horta-Osorio’s resignation other than those in its statement.

They also said that there were no plans to release the findings of the investigation.

Before joining Credit Suisse Mr Horta-Osorio was chief executive of British lender Lloyds Banking Group.

He was brought in to lead Switzerland’s second-largest bank to help clean up a corporate culture marred by its involvement with collapsed investment company Archegos and insolvent supply chain finance firm Greensill Capital.

In February 2020, then-Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam resigned after a scandal revealed the bank had spied on senior employees.

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UK government to cut funding for BBC – Mail on Sunday report

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Britain’s government will cut the BBC’s funding by ordering a two-year freeze on the fee that people pay to watch the broadcaster, the Mail on Sunday reported.

The future of the licence-payer funded British Broadcasting Corporation is a perpetual topic of political debate, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government most recently suggesting its funding needs to be reformed.

Set against an inflation rate expected to reach a 30-year high of 6% or more in April, freezing the licence cost at its current 159 pounds ($217.40) would provide some relief to consumers battling sharply rising costs of living.

But it would also be a large blow to the BBC’s finances as it tries to compete with privately funded news outlets and the likes of Netflix and other entertainment streaming services funded by consumer subscriptions.

In November, the government launched negotiations to agree how much the TV licence would cost, part of a five year funding settlement due to begin in April 2022.

The Digital, Media, Culture and Sport department declined to comment when asked about the Mail on Sunday report.

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries said that the licence fee settlement would be the last such agreement and tweeted a link to the Mail on Sunday article.

“Time now to discuss and debate new ways of funding, supporting and selling great British content,” she said on Twitter.

The BBC declined to comment on Dorries’ tweet or the Mail on Sunday report.

The opposition Labour Party said the funding cut was politically motivated.

“The Prime Minister and the Culture Secretary seem hell-bent on attacking this great British institution because they don’t like its journalism,” said Lucy Powell, Labour lawmaker and culture policy chief.

The BBC’s news output is regularly criticised by UK political parties. Its coverage of Brexit issues – central to Johnson’s government – has long been seen as overly critical by supporters of leaving the European Union.

Last week, one Conservative lawmaker said BBC coverage relating to parties in Johnson’s Downing Street residence during coronavirus lockdowns amounted to a “coup attempt” against the prime minister.

($1 = 0.7314 pounds)

 

(Reporting by William James. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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