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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada – 570 News

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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):

10:30 a.m.

Ontario has set a new single-day high for new COVID-19 cases in the province. 

The latest figures show 1,588 new cases of the virus over the past 24 hours, along with 21 new deaths. 

Today’s numbers come a week after the previous one-day record of 1,581 cases set last Saturday. 

Soaring case numbers prompted Premier Doug Ford to move the hot spots of Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region into the lockdown phase of the province’s COVID-19 management strategy effective Monday. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 21, 2020. 

The Canadian Press

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Hong Kong freezes listed shares of media tycoon Lai under security law

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Hong Kong authorities on Friday froze assets belonging to jailed media tycoon Jimmy Lai, including all shares in his company, Next Digital – the first time a listed firm has been targeted by national security laws in the financial hub.

Also among assets targeted were the local bank accounts of three companies owned by him, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Security John Lee said in a government statement.

The statement, issued after the market close, said Lee had issued notices “in writing to freeze all the shares of Next Digital Limited held by (Jimmy) Lai Chee-ying, and the property in the local bank accounts of three companies owned by him”.

Lai was sentenced to 14 months in prison for taking part in unauthorised assemblies during pro-democracy protests in 2019.

He faces three alleged charges under a sweeping new national security law imposed by Beijing, including collusion with a foreign country.

The move against his assets was also made under the security law, which criminalises acts including subversion, sedition, collusion with foreign forces and secession with possible life imprisonment.

The decision by authorities to use the law’s powers for the first time to target a Hong Kong listed company could have repercussions for investor sentiment.

There have been signs of capital flight since the law was imposed last June, to foreign countries including Canada, according to government agencies, bankers and lawyers.

CLAMPDOWN

Beijing said it imposed the law on the former British colony to restore order after months of pro-democracy, anti-China protests in 2019.

However, critics say the law has been used by China‘s Communist leaders to suppress freedoms and pro-democracy campaigners – scores of whom have been arrested and jailed, or have fled into exile.

The chief executive officer of Next Digital, Cheung Kim-hung, told the Apple Daily that Lai’s frozen assets had nothing to do with the bank accounts of Next Digital, and that their operations and finances would not be affected.

The firm’s employees pledged to continue to “uphold their duty and keep reporting”, in a statement posted on the Facebook page of Next Digital’s trade union.

Under Hong Kong stock exchange filings, Lai is Next Digital’s major shareholder and holds 71.26 percent of shares that were worth around HK$350 million ($45 million) based on Friday’s closing share price.

The value of the other “property” assets frozen by the authorities was not immediately clear.

Next Digital runs the Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s most influential pro-democracy newspaper that has long been a thorn in the side of Hong Kong and Chinese authorities.

Senior Hong Kong officials have recently warned Apple Daily about its coverage and have spoken of the possible introduction of a “fake news” law. Critics say this is all part of an ongoing crackdown on the city’s media.

The Taiwan arm of Apple Daily said on Friday it would stop publishing its print version, blaming declining advertising revenue and more difficult business conditions in Hong Kong linked to politics.

($1 = 7.7658 Hong Kong dollars)

(Reporting by Twinnie Siu, Jessie Pang and James Pomfret; Writing by James Pomfret; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Gareth Jones)

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Wall St sees chance of higher bid for Kansas City Southern from Canadian Pacific

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Wall Street is expecting Canadian Pacific to raise its offer for Kansas City Southern even at the cost of more debt to win the bidding war with larger Canadian railroad rival Canadian National.

In the latest twist to the takeover saga, the U.S. railroad operator on Thursday accepted Canadian National’s $33.6 billion offer, leaving Canadian Pacific just five business days to make a new offer.

Analysts said Canadian Pacific was unlikely to let go a chance to be the first railway spanning the United States, Mexico and Canada easily even though it had said it would not leverage its books to outbid Canadian National.

“If CP is willing to compromise a bit more on the leverage ratio, it could…match or potentially beat CNR’s latest offer,” Scotiabank analyst Konark Gupta wrote in a note.

It all started in March when Canadian Pacific agreed to buy Kansas City Southern in a $25 billion cash-and-stock deal, but Canadian National topped the offer in April.

Canadian Pacific’s shares have added about 3% since its March 21 offer, while Canadian National has fallen about 9% from its April 20 bid.

This gives Canadian Pacific room to cut down the size of any potential debt that it would need to outbid its rival. As of Thursday’s close, the implied value of its offer rose to $286 per share from $275 per share, according to Gupta.

That is just $39 per share below Canadian National’s offer of $325 per share. To match it, Canadian Pacific would need to stretch its leverage ratio to as much as five times, from about four times currently.

It had a long-term debt of about C$8 billion ($6.61 billion) as of March 31, while it was C$13 billion for Canadian National.

A final outcome for either combination would still hinge on a regulatory approval by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB), which oversees freight rail.

“The true power in this saga remains where it always has been…with the STB,” Cowen analyst Jason Seidl wrote in a note.

Shares of Kansas City Southern were down 1% and Canadian National 3.5%, while Canadian Pacific was up about 1% in early trading on Friday.

($1 = 1.2096 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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Italy lifts COVID quarantine for EU, UK and Israel from Sunday

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-Italy will scrap mandatory quarantine from Sunday for visitors from the European Union, Britain and Israel who test negative for COVID-19, the government said on Friday as it looks to give summer tourism a boost.

With vaccine roll-outs picking up pace in the EU, more countries are looking to ease travel curbs and restrictions on the hospitality sector to help it recover from the pandemic.

“We have been waiting for this move for a long time and it anticipates a Europe-wide travel pass,” Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia.

The EU plans to start a unified system recording COVID-19 vaccinations, tests and recovery from June to allow more movement.

People entering Italy from these countries have so far been requested to quarantine for five days and test both before arrival as well as at the end of their isolation period.

Quarantine for other countries, including the United States, is longer.

Entry restrictions on those coming from Brazil will remain in place, the health ministry said.

The government also extended the so-called COVID-tested flights to cover some destinations in Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. There will be no quarantine for those who test negative upon arrival on these routes, as well as on certain flights to Rome, Milan, Naples and Venice.

Although asked to supply a negative swab before travelling, passengers of these flights will be tested upon arrival and, if negative, exempted from quarantine.

Travel between Italy and much the rest of the world has been severely restricted for months as the government sought to contain resurgent coronavirus infections.

However, cases have declined steadily in recent weeks thanks in part to an increasingly effective vaccination campaign.

The national health institute (ISS) said on Friday the “R” reproduction number had fallen to 0.86 from 0.89 a week earlier. An “R” rate above 1 indicates that infections will grow exponentially.

Italy has recorded nearly 124,000 deaths due to coronavirus, the second-highest number in Europe after Britain. As of Monday, 19 of Italy’s 20 regions will be designated as “low-infection” zones and only one as a “medium-risk” one.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government is also due to discuss on Monday easing or abolishing Italy’s nationwide 10 p.m. curfew.

(Reporting by Maria Pia Quaglia and Angelo Amante, editing by Giulia Segreti and Gabriela Baczynska)

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