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Smoky skies, poor air quality across Canada as nearly 800 wildfires burn – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Parts of seven provinces and one territory were subject to air quality alerts Tuesday morning as smoke from hundreds of wildfires caused hazy conditions and health risks.

As of 10:15 a.m. EDT, Environment Canada had issued weather advisories for major cities including Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto and Ottawa, as well of all of New Brunswick. A stronger smog warning covered much of southern Quebec, including Montreal and Quebec City.

The agency’s alerts covered much of B.C.’s interior and northeast, western and northern Alberta, eastern and northern Saskatchewan, Ontario’s far northwest, all of southern Ontario, most of southern Quebec, all of New Brunswick, and Thebacha Region in the Northwest Territories.

However, the worst air quality in the country at that time was said to be in Winnipeg, based on the federal air quality health index (AQHI).

Manitoba’s largest city was said to have an AQHI value above 10, representing a very high risk to human health. The air quality was forecast to improve to only a high risk by Tuesday night.

High-risk air quality levels were also reported Tuesday morning in Edmonton, Regina, Montreal and Quebec City.

In all of these cities, the air quality was expected to start improving later Tuesday and through Wednesday. However, there was no sign of any impending rain, which would make a big difference in both reducing the smoke and combating the approximately 800 wildfires that have caused the haze.

Nearly 300 wildfires were burning in British Columbia as of Tuesday morning, including one that flared up late Monday, resulting in an evacuation order from the Osoyoos Indian Band. There were 68 wildfires burning in Alberta as of Monday, 171 active in Saskatchewan as of Tuesday, 130 in Manitoba as of Sunday, and 121 in Ontario as of Monday.

Four fires in Ontario are of particular concern for firefighters, including a 16,000-hectare blaze that is seven kilometres from the evacuated Poplar Hill First Nation.

As is the case with other forms of smoke, smoke from wildfires can be hazardous to human health. Symptoms can include increased coughing, headaches and shortness of breath.

There is also emerging evidence that even a little bit of exposure to wildfire smoke may worsen eczema and other skin conditions, and that its fine particular matter is more dangerous to our health than car exhaust.

Environment Canada warns that children, seniors and those with cardiovascular issues are at increased risk of smoke-related symptoms, and that anyone exposed to wildfire smoke should limit outdoor activity and hydrate often.

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Canada to receive 2.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this week – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
The federal government is expecting to receive more than 2.3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this week, as public health officials brace for a potential fourth wave of infections.

Ottawa has already received more than 66 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, enough to fully immunize all eligible Canadians.

As of Tuesday, the federal government had 6.7 million COVID-19 vaccines in its national reserve, an amount that provinces and territories can draw from if they need more doses.

The new COVID-19 vaccine shipments come as Canada’s top doctor warns that the country could be headed towards a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases if public health restrictions are lifted before vaccination rates pick up.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Dr. Theresa Tam said an updated national modelling for the pandemic trajectory suggests that the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 could drive a fourth wave of infections.

“The trajectory will depend on ongoing increase in fully vaccinated coverage and the timing, pace and extent of reopening,” Tam said.

“While some resurgence is expected as measures are eased, this updated model shows that if we maintain current levels of community-wide contacts, we would expect to see a modest increase in cases.”

Tam said the country could see a high increase of COVID-19 infections if reopening continues quickly before enough people are fully immunized.

“We could expect to see a sharp resurgence by the end of the summer,” she said.

She said the new forecast “reaffirms the need to take a cautious approach to relaxing public health measures to remain vigilant and responsive to signs of resurgence and to continue to increase first and second dose vaccine coverage.”

Canada reported an average of 640 new cases over the past seven days, she said, which is still 93 per cent lower than the peak of the third wave.

As of Friday, 80.3 per cent of those eligible had received a first dose, while 63.7 per cent are now fully vaccinated.

Tam said the country has made “great progress” on vaccinating those who are eligible over the last month, but there is a need to increase numbers of vaccinated even more.

“This means increasing fully vaccinated coverage above 80 per cent across all age groups and particularly in younger age groups where most of the transmission is occurring.”

——

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 2, 2021.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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Canada's Quinn to become 1st openly transgender, non-binary athlete to win Olympic medal – CBC.ca

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Canada’s appearance in the gold-medal match in Japan won’t be the only first for the women’s soccer team when it takes to the pitch Friday (10 p.m. ET on Thursday in Canada).

Quinn, a 25-year-old midfielder from Toronto, will also become the first openly transgender and non-binary athlete to win an Olympic medal, as the team is assured of a gold or silver.

Quinn came out publicly as transgender in a social media post last fall, changed their pronouns to they/them and now goes by one name.

Since Canada’s 1-0 semifinal victory over the United States on Monday at Kashima Stadium, setting up the final against Sweden, Quinn said they’ve been “getting messages from young people saying they’ve never seen a trans person in sports before.”

Quinn played college soccer for Duke University in North Carolina, and is the highest-drafted Canadian in National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) history — taken third overall by the Washington Spirit in 2018. They now play for the OL Reign.

They won the bronze at the 2016 Games in Rio and were also on the squad that suffered a heartbreaking loss to the U.S. in London in 2012. 

Bring on the cheers

Find live streams, must-watch video highlights, breaking news and more in one perfect Olympic Games package. Following Team Canada has never been easier or more exciting.

More from Tokyo 2020

Quinn came out last September, telling The Canadian Press it was partly because they were “tired of being misgendered” in society and the media, and also to be a “visible figure” for younger people who may be “questioning their gender, exploring their gender.”

WATCH | Redemption 9 years in the making — Canada to play for women’s soccer gold:

The Canadian women’s national team defeated the United States for the first time in 20 years, pushing their way through the Olympic semifinals and into the gold-medal match. 1:52

New guidelines coming for transgender athletes

At these Games, another transgender athlete has helped spark a conversation about greater inclusivity in sports. New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard, the first openly transgender Olympic weightlifter, competed Monday in the women’s +87-kg category, but was knocked out of medal contention by failing to complete a lift in the first portion of the event.

“Of course, I’m not entirely unaware of the controversy which surrounds my participation in these Games,” Hubbard said after exiting the competition. “And, as such, I’d particularly like to thank the IOC [International Olympic Committee] for, I think, really affirming their commitment to the principles of Olympism, and establishing that sport is something for all people. It is inclusive. It is accessible.”

In 2015, the IOC established a set of regulations for transgender athletes in the Games. It has said it will release updated guidelines in the coming months.

For Quinn, being an advocate and a role model is not new. While at Duke, Quinn sat on the board of the school’s chapter of Athlete Ally, an organization that aims to foster equal opportunity in sports regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

“Athletics is the most exciting part of my life and it brings me the most joy,” Quinn told CBC Sports on Monday.

“If I can allow kids to play the sports they love, that’s my legacy and that’s what I’m here for.”

WATCH | While You Were Sleeping — Canada to play for gold, Biles is back:

For the first time in 20 years, Canada’s women’s soccer team gets a win over the United States. Simone Biles announces she will compete in a final, and the stage has been set for Canadian beach volleyball players. 3:36

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Canada’s Delta-driven 4th wave of COVID-19 will be ‘different’ amid vaccinations: experts – Globalnews.ca

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As public health officials warn of an incoming Delta variant-driven fourth wave of COVID-19, experts are saying that its spread will likely be “very, very different” than Canada’s previous waves.

The warning came from chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday, who pointed at the upward trend in cases across Canada. The public health agency of Canada’s long-range epidemic forecasts “suggests we are the start of a Delta-driven fourth wave,” Tam told reporters at a press conference.

Tam warned that if vaccine uptake doesn’t increase in the country’s younger populations, cases could eventually exceed some communities’ health-care system capacities.

Read more:
Delta COVID-19 variant as contagious as chickenpox, internal CDC report says

The news also comes on the heels of a new CDC report and study, the former of which warned that the Delta COVID-19 variant could be as contagious as chickenpox and the latter pointing to a string of outbreaks even among those who have been vaccinated.

However, according to Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Queen’s University, Canada’s fourth wave of COVID-19 will differ greatly from its previous ones despite the CDC reports and warning from PHAC officials.

“If we have a fourth wave, it’s going to look very, very different than the previous waves,” said Evans.


Click to play video: 'Dr. Fauci says unvaccinated responsible for latest COVID-19 outbreak'



2:10
Dr. Fauci says unvaccinated responsible for latest COVID-19 outbreak


Dr. Fauci says unvaccinated responsible for latest COVID-19 outbreak

He said that there’s “no way” that such a wave would be as big as the previous ones simply because of Canada’s vaccinations rates, which remain among the highest in the world.

Even with Canada’s rise in cases, Evans said that they would primarily be in unvaccinated communities, pointing to the fact that over 97 per cent of all new cases were among those who did not get a shot.

Canada added at least another 218 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing its total infections to 1,431,219. Another two deaths were reported as well, with the country’s death toll now standing at 26,600. Over 1.39 million people have recovered and more than 49.5 million vaccinations have been doled out.

Read more:
Canada’s 4th COVID-19 wave will be among unvaccinated, with fewer restrictions: experts

Active cases now look to be on the rise across the country, though. Thursday saw another 903 new cases, Friday 897 more and Saturday another 531. In comparison, Canada recorded 391 recoveries on Thursday, 412 on Friday and 190 on Saturday.

This weekend’s COVID-19 data is limited, however, with only Ontario and Quebec reporting new cases as of today.


Click to play video: 'CDC reinstates face mask recommendations amid U.S. surge in Delta variant cases'



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CDC reinstates face mask recommendations amid U.S. surge in Delta variant cases


CDC reinstates face mask recommendations amid U.S. surge in Delta variant cases

According to Evans, the CDC’s study on vaccinated people contracting COVID-19 after large events actually presents stronger evidence of the effectiveness of vaccines.

The main problem in the study he said was that the disease control agency was not reporting denominators — the amount of people that had visited or travelled around the state during the period which the study was conducted.

Read more:
U.S. events led to massive COVID-19 outbreak – mostly among fully vaccinated

According to the CDC, 469 cases were found among Massachusetts residents from July 3 to 26, and of those, 74 per cent were among those fully vaccinated.

Evans estimated at least 100,000 people travelling and moving around the state’s events during that time period, and that the only 469 cases reported among such high volume events were a better indicator of vaccine’s effectiveness.

Secondly, Evans pointed to the high vaccination rates in the state — Massachusetts has at least 72 per cent of its population having received at least one dose and over 63 per cent of its population fully vaccinated, compared to the national average of 57.7 per cent and 49.6 per cent, respectively.


Click to play video: 'Ottawa extending multiple COVID-19 subsidies for workers, businesses amid Delta variant spread'



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Ottawa extending multiple COVID-19 subsidies for workers, businesses amid Delta variant spread


Ottawa extending multiple COVID-19 subsidies for workers, businesses amid Delta variant spread

Speaking on the Roy Green Show, Dr. Ronald St John, the former WHO director for the Americas and national manager for Canada’s response to SARS, expressed caution when interpreting the findings of the internal CDC report that pointed at the ability of the Delta variant to spread like chickenpox.

He pointed out as well that the data in the report was not peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.

“I assume they mean [Delta is spreading among] unvaccinated people, but it’s not specified,” he said.

“How often they spread it, the frequency of spread — that’s what’s not clear to me in the data that’s been presented so far and so far, I think it’s just been an internal document that’s been spread around. So I’m waiting to see a little more data.”


Click to play video: 'Concerns rise over easing protocols amid Delta variant surge'



1:43
Concerns rise over easing protocols amid Delta variant surge


Concerns rise over easing protocols amid Delta variant surge

Read more:
Canada facing the start of a Delta-driven 4th wave, top doctors warn

According to University of Toronto epidemiologist Dr. Colin Furness, the next wave would be “primarily experienced by unvaccinated people.”

He pointed out in a previous interview with Global News that the vaccines were a “firebreak” that acted to prevent mass spread of the virus, as well as hospitalizations and severe outcomes.

Instead of the previous mass outbreaks of COVID-19 in Canada, Furness said that they were now more likely to occur in non-vaccinated people, who “occur in clumps.”

“They’re not randomly, evenly distributed among the population. It’s a church group. It’s an ethnic group. It’s people in an apartment building,” he said.

— With files from The Canadian Press, Reuters, Eric Stober and Rachel Gilmore.

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

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