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Rate of COVID-19 variant spread ‘very concerning’ as cases near 3,000 – Global News



Coronavirus cases and outbreaks of new more transmissible variants are continuing to increase across Canada, raising concerns of a possible third wave of the ongoing pandemic in the country.

As of March 11, there were close to 3,000 confirmed cases of “variants of concern” (VOC) across all 10 provinces, with the B.1.1.7 variant accounting for more than 90 per cent of these cases. The B.1.1.7 variant was first detected in the United Kingdom in mid-December.

Read more:
How prevalent are variants? A closer look at what — and where — they are in Canada

All viruses mutate over time, but the pace of the spread and the reproductive rate of the new variants in the country is “very concerning,” experts say.

“We are starting a variant-driven third wave now,” said Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto.

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Click to play video 'Viral evolution in immunocompromised COVID-19 patients'

Viral evolution in immunocompromised COVID-19 patients

Viral evolution in immunocompromised COVID-19 patients

The province of Ontario has the highest number of variant cases – 956 of the U.K. variant, 41 of the B.1.351 variant and 28 of the P.1 variant — those variants were first discovered in South Africa and Brazil respectively. The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table estimates that 41 per cent of the total cases are of VOCs.

Projections for Ontario released Thursday estimated that in the next two to three weeks, COVID-19 rates could grow to up to 8,000 new cases a day under the worst-case scenario, depending on the spread of variants.

Janet Cordahi/Global News

Jean-Paul Soucy, an infectious disease epidemiologist and PhD student at the University of Toronto, noted that cases of the B.1.1.7 variant, which is responsible for an increasing fraction of infections across the country, were able to grow under lockdown conditions even as conventional COVID-19 cases shrank.

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“We are facing a twindemic here,” he told Global News.

Click to play video 'Alberta identifies 47 COVID-19 variant cases Wednesday'

Alberta identifies 47 COVID-19 variant cases Wednesday

Alberta identifies 47 COVID-19 variant cases Wednesday

Alberta has the second-highest number of VOC cases (775), but has yet to report the P.1 variant. Alberta is followed by British Columbia and Quebec, where all three variants have been found.

Given B.1.1.7’s prevalence and competitive advantage in reproduction, Donald Sheppard, an immunologist and microbiologist at McGill University Health Centre, says Canada has passed the “tipping point” where it will replace the original strain of coronavirus.

Click to play video 'First case of Brazilian COVID-19 variant found in B.C.'

First case of Brazilian COVID-19 variant found in B.C.

First case of Brazilian COVID-19 variant found in B.C.

Provincial modelling out of both Quebec and Ontario suggests that the B.1.1.7 variant could dominate in the provinces in a matter of weeks.

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“The variants of concern continue to spread across Ontario and our ability to control the rate of spread will determine whether we return to normal, or we face a third wave of infection,” Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, the co-chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, said during a news conference on Thursday.

Janet Cordahi/Global News

Experts are concerned that the variants could also delay the end of the pandemic, that has now entered its second year.

“I fear the spread of more transmissible and potentially more deadly variants will lead to one last, preventable tragedy,” said Soucy.

Sheppard said had there been no variants of concern, we would be looking at winding down the pandemic over the summer.

Read more:
Booster shots, new clinical trials: What the COVID-19 variants could mean for vaccines

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On a positive note, however, there is emerging evidence that the current vaccines appear to be effective against the new variants.

However, a number of studies have shown decreased protection of the COVID-19 vaccines against the B.1.351 and P.1 variant. Both contain the E484K mutation in the spike protein of the virus, which appears to have an impact on the body’s immune response and vaccine efficacy.

Click to play video 'Ontario coronavirus models show pandemic progress has stalled'

Ontario coronavirus models show pandemic progress has stalled

Ontario coronavirus models show pandemic progress has stalled

Over the next few weeks and months, Canada is set to receive a heavy influx of vaccine supplies.

As a larger percentage of the population gets vaccinated, the mass vaccination campaigns will eventually help reduce transmission and suppress the variants, Soucy said.

But until then, public health measures and personal vigilance will be key, he said.

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Furness predicts that schools will likely need to close briefly in April.

Read more:
Fewer Canadians holding out hope for summer reprieve from pandemic: Ipsos

Meanwhile, as daily case counts have stabilized, a number of provinces have eased restrictions in recent weeks.

“If we take a more gradual approach to reopening and take a proactive approach in regions to halt accelerating growth, I think we will be in great shape for a COVID-safe summer and a vigorous vaccination campaign to lead us out of this mess,” Soucy said.

Janet Cordahi/Global News

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canadian Business During the Pandemic



In 2019 the world was hit by the covid 19 pandemic and ever since then people have been suffering in different ways. Usually, economies and businesses have changed the way they work and do business. Most of which are going towards online and automation.

The people most effected by this are the laymen that used to work hard labors to make money for there families. But other then them it has been hard for most business to make such switch. Those of whom got on the online/ e commerce band wagon quickly were out of trouble and into the safe zone but not everyone is mace for the high-speed online world and are thus suffering.

More than 200,000 Canadian businesses could close permanently during the COVID-19 crisis, throwing millions of people out of work as the resurgence of the virus worsens across much of the country, according to new research. You can only imagine how many families these businesses were feeding, not to mention the impact the economy and the GDP is going to bear.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said one in six, or about 181,000, Canadian small business owners are now seriously contemplating shutting down. The latest figures, based on a survey of its members done between Jan. 12 and 16, come on top of 58,000 businesses that became inactive in 2020.

An estimate by the CFIB last summer said one in seven or 158,000 businesses were at risk of going under as a result of the pandemic. Based on the organization’s updated forecast, more than 2.4 million people could be out of work. A staggering 20 per cent of private sector jobs.

Simon Gaudreault, CFIB’s senior director of national research, said it was an alarming increase in the number of businesses that are considering closing.

We are not headed in the right direction, and each week that passes without improvement on the business front pushes more owners to make that final decision,”

He said in a statement.

The more businesses that disappear, the more jobs we will lose, and the harder it will be for the economy to recover.

In total, one in five businesses are at risk of permanent closure by the end of the pandemic, the organization said.

The new sad research shows that this year has been horrible for the Canadian businesses.


The beginning of 2021 feels more like the fifth quarter of 2020 than a new year,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president of the CFIB, in a statement.

She called on governments to help small businesses “replace subsidies with sales” by introducing safe pathways to reopen to businesses.

There’s a lot at stake now from jobs, to tax revenue to support for local soccer teams,”

Jones said.

Let’s make 2021 the year we help small business survive and then get back to thriving.”

The whole world has suffered a lot from the pandemic and the Canadian economy has been no stranger to it. We can only pray that the world gets rid of this pandemic quickly and everything become as it used to be. Although I think it is about time, we start setting new norms.

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Shopify shares edge up after falling on executive departures



By Chavi Mehta

(Reuters) -Shopify Inc shares edged higher on Thursday, recovering partially from the previous day’s fall, with analysts saying the news of planned senior executive departures may have limited impact due to the company’s deep talent pool.

Chief Executive Officer Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday the company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all leave their roles.

“We remain confident it (Shopify) can continue to execute at a high level, despite the departures,” Tom Forte, analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co said, pointing to the company’s “deep bench of talented executives.”

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the past year as many businesses went virtual during the COVID-19 lockdowns, turning it into Canada‘s most valuable company.

Shopify declined to comment further on Lutke’s statement suggesting current company leaders would step in to fill the three roles. After chief product officer Craig Miller left in September, Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

The Ottawa-based company is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

Jonathan Kees, analyst at Summit Insights Group, called the timing of the departures “a little alarming” but said the specific roles make it less concerning, given that the executives leaving are “more back-office roles.”

Lutke said each one of them had their individual reasons to leave, without giving details.

“I am willing to give Tobi’s explanation the benefit of the doubt,” Kees added.

Toronto-listed shares of Shopify were up 3.5% at C$1526.41 on Thursday, giving it a market value of C$188 billion ($150 billion). It ended down 5.1% on Wednesday.

“While we would refer to the departure of three high-level executives as ‘significant,’ we would not refer to it as a ‘brain drain,'” Forte added.

($1 = 1.2541 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Dan Grebler)

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Almost half of Shopify’s top execs to depart company: CEO



By Moira Warburton

(Reuters) – Three of e-commerce platform Shopify’s seven top executives will be leaving the company in the coming months, chief executive officer and founder of Canada‘s most valuable company Tobi Lutke said in a blog post on Wednesday.

The company’s chief talent officer, chief legal officer and chief technology officer will all transition out of their roles, Lutke said, adding that they have been “spectacular and deserve to take a bow.”

“Each one of them has their individual reasons but what was unanimous with all three was that this was the best for them and the best for Shopify,” he said.

The trio follow the departure of Craig Miller, chief product officer, in September. Lutke took on the role in addition to CEO.

Shopify, which provides infrastructure for online stores, has seen its valuation soar in the last year as many businesses went virtual during COVID-19 lockdowns. It has a market cap valuation of C$182.7 billion ($146 billion), above Canada‘s top lender Royal Bank of Canada.

It is Canada‘s biggest homegrown tech success story, founded in 2006 and supporting over 1 million businesses globally, according to the company.

“We have a phenomenally strong bench of leaders who will now step up into larger roles,” Lutke said, but did not name replacements.

Shopify said in February revenue growth would slow this year as vaccine rollouts encourage people to return to stores and warned it does not expect 2020’s near doubling of gross merchandise volume, an industry metric to measure transaction volumes, to repeat this year.

Chief talent officer, Brittany Forsyth, was the 22nd employee hired at Shopify and has been with the company for 11 years. She said on Twitter that post-Shopify she would be focusing on Backbone Angels, an all-female collective of angel investors she co-founded in March.

Shopify shares fell 5.1% while the benchmark Canadian share index ended marginally down.

($1 = 1.2515 Canadian dollars)


(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Toronto; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

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