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The latest news on COVID 19 developments in Canada for December 31 – The Tri-City News



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

3 p.m.

Saskatchewan is reporting 190 new cases of COVID-19.

Health officials say someone in their 80s has also died, bringing the province’s death toll from the pandemic to 155.

The Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety is dealing with an outbreak at a Regina jail where 54 inmates and three staff have tested positive.

There are 142 people in hospital, with 30 receiving intensive care.

Meanwhile, the Opposition NDP is also calling for a minister to be removed from Premier Scott Moe’s cabinet for travelling to southern California over the holidays.

Highways Minister Joe Hargrave says he’s in Palm Springs to finalize a home sale and move things back to Saskatchewan, but the NDP says that can be done remotely and he showed poor judgement by travelling.

3 p.m.

The Northwest Territories is rolling out its first doses of the Moderna vaccine today.

Residents of the Jimmy Erasmus Seniors Home in Behchokǫ̀ and AVENS Manor in Yellowknife received the territory’s first vaccinations today.

Chief public health officer Kami Kandola says long-term care residents and staff are the the territory’s first priority for the vaccine.

The NWT aims to have vaccinations rolled out across the territory by March 2021.

2:50 p.m.

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians about the impacts on their health of increased alcohol consumption this New Year’s Eve.

Celebrations tonight often involve alcohol, the use of which has increased during the pandemic.

Dr. Theresa Tam says some may find this season difficult due to distance from friends and family and is urging people to be careful about their consumption.

She suggests in a statement that Canadians find alternative ways of celebrating and coping with stress that respect public health measures in their region, such as phone calls, video chats or having a mocktail or other non-alcoholic beverages.

While it is common to look for ways to cope during periods of uncertainty, Tam says she remains concerned about increased alcohol use linked to the pandemic.

2:50 p.m.

Quebec says it’s changing its COVID-19 vaccine strategy in order to vaccinate as many people as possible instead of holding doses back for booster shots.

The province said today that vaccine maker Pfizer had asked it to save half the doses received and to reserve them as booster shots for those already vaccinated.

Quebec says that over the next few weeks it will instead use all the vaccines it receives to inoculate as many priority groups as possible.

The province has so far received 87,000 doses of vaccine and has administered 29,250 injections.

2:45 p.m.

Alberta says that it has administered 11,102 doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

The province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, provided the update on Twitter.

Earlier this week, Premier Jason Kenney said Alberta was behind on its goal of giving 29,000 shots by the end of the year.

By Tuesday about 7,000 shots had been given, but Kenney said work was being done “as close to around the clock as possible” to catch up.

1:40 p.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 today and now has 22 active cases.

All three cases are in the Halifax area, with one a close contact of a previously reported case and the two others related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.

Heath officials say given low case numbers over the holiday period, restaurants and licenced establishments in the Halifax area can now reopen for dine-in service starting Monday.

They must still follow provincewide restrictions that include ending service by 10 p.m. and closing by 11 p.m.

1:35 p.m.

Manitoba is reporting 187 new cases of COVID-19.

The province also says six additional deaths have been linked to the virus.

That brings the death toll in Manitoba to 667.

There are 337 people in hospital, and 37 of those are in intensive care.

1 p.m.

Ontario’s finance minister has resigned from his cabinet position after going on a Caribbean vacation during the pandemic.

Premier Doug Ford says he has accepted Rod Phillips’s resignation as minister.

Phillips returned to Ontario this morning after spending more than two weeks in St. Barts despite provincial guidelines urging people to avoid non-essential travel.

Ford says he has asked Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy to assume the role of minister of finance and deliver the government’s 2021 budget.

12:45 p.m.

Alberta is estimating 1,200 new cases of COVID-19.

The province’s chief public health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, provided a modified update today.

She says the test positivity rate in Alberta is about 7 per cent.

And she says hospitalizations are increasing.

12:35 p.m.

New Brunswick is reporting its ninth COVID-related death.

Health officials said today a person in their 40s in the Moncton region died as a result of underlying complications including COVID-19.

Authorities are also reporting three new cases of the disease.

The province says the new cases involve people in their 40s in the Fredericton region.

11:20 a.m.

Quebec exceeded 200,000 COVID-19 infections today after reporting a record 2,819 new cases.

Health officials are also reporting 62 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.

Officials say hospitalizations dropped by 36, to 1,175 and 165 people were in intensive care, a rise of 13.

The province says 3,942 doses of vaccine were administered yesterday, for a total of 29,250.

Quebec has reported a total of 202,641 cases of COVID-19 and 8,226 deaths linked to the virus. 

10:50 a.m.

Ontario is reporting a record high of new COVID-19 cases.

Today’s total of 3,328 tops yesterday’s daily figure of 2,923.

Ontario is also reporting 56 more deaths linked to the virus, matching the highest death toll from the virus’s first wave.

10:20 a.m.

The leader of the Bloc Quebecois says the federal government’s plan to require travellers to have a negative COVID-19 test before landing in Canada should apply at all border crossings, not just those arriving by air.

Yves-Francois Blanchet also says the federal government should make sure that thousands of Canadians are reimbursed for travel plans that have been interrupted or cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The ideas are among seven he lays out in a statement this morning about ways the Trudeau Liberals can prevent travellers from bringing COVID-19 home from their vacations.

Blanchet says it is essential that Quebecers and Canadians understand they need to avoid non-essential travel to not spread COVID-19, including elected officials who need to model exemplary behaviour.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet wanted the government to reimburse affected travellers.

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Coronavirus: Regina police, SHA looking into maskless dance video – Global News



Police and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) are looking into a video circulating on social media that shows people dancing without masks at a Regina bar and restaurant.

The Tap Brewhouse & Liquor Store posted a statement on Facebook this past weekend regarding a video recorded on its premise on Jan. 15.

Read more:
Regina police fine woman $2,800 for disobeying COVID-19 public health orders

“There were some young patrons not adhering to the COVID rules and guidelines. They were asked to leave, which they did in a timely manner,” read the statement attributed to The Tap ownership and management group.

“Unfortunately, they decided to dance their way out the door.

“We have strictly followed the guidelines implemented from day one of the pandemic and assure everyone this is a very isolated incident. Because of this incident, we have implemented more supervision & education in our business for the safety of our customers … we sincerely apologize to everyone.”

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Read more:
Coronavirus outbreak at Saskatoon restaurant was potential superspreader event: SHA

The Regina Police Service (RPS) said on Monday the matter is in the hands of the SHA, and is working in conjunction with them.

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“A number have asked if people will be ticketed under the Saskatchewan’s Public Health Act as a result of this video,” read a RPS statement.

“The short answer is: we do not know; it’s not concluded yet.

“One of the messages from us and (the provincial) government was that each case is evaluated on its own merits. Another theme was that the goal is compliance, not handing out fines (although that is one of the options available) … and the matter will be dealt with appropriately.”

Fines for not following Saskatchewan’s public health orders, in cases where negligence or misconduct have been found, may be $2,000 for individuals and $10,000 for corporations, plus a victim surcharge.

RPS have issued at least nine tickets under the public health orders brought into effect during the pandemic.

Click to play video 'COVID-19 restrictions extended in Saskatchewan until Jan. 29'

COVID-19 restrictions extended in Saskatchewan until Jan. 29

COVID-19 restrictions extended in Saskatchewan until Jan. 29

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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

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Quebec high school students back in classroom after month-long break – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

Published Monday, January 18, 2021 10:32PM EST

MONTREAL – Quebec high school students returned to classrooms on Monday following a month-long, extended winter break imposed by the government to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The return of high schoolers came one week after primary schools reopened last Monday. High school students are required to wear procedural masks at all times inside school buildings, and the province is providing each student two masks per day.

Quebec is reopening schools despite imposing a provincewide curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. until at least Feb. 8. and despite ordering most businesses deemed non-essential closed.

Premier Francois Legault has said schools aren’t primary drivers of COVID-19 transmission and that the benefits to children of keeping them open outweigh the risks of contagion.

A recent study by a group of researchers, including some from the Universite de Montreal, indicated schools were, in fact, a significant vector of transmission. Government figures indicate that schools have accounted for about 22.5 per cent of all completed outbreaks in the province – second only to workplaces.

Monday’s return to class coincided with a sharp decrease in the number of reported COVID-19 infections. The province reported 1,634 new COVID-19 cases – including about 200 that were left out of Sunday’s tally due to a reporting delay. Quebec had been recently reporting more than 1,900 cases a day.

Benoit Masse, public health expert at the Universite de Montreal, said it’s too soon to know which way the numbers are trending.

“I would be very careful before we declare victory because I think everybody realized, especially in the last 10 days, that we are in a very, very difficult situation,” Masse said. “I think everybody is making their effort and following the rules.”

He said it’ll take another 10 days to two weeks to determine the epidemiological impact of reopening schools.

“We have to see for a week or two that the early trend that we’re seeing (currently) keeps going down and has an effect on hospitalizations,” Masse said in an interview Monday.

“It’s not going to be tomorrow . . . but we should be able to reach Feb. 8 and see whether we’re going to be in a good position,” he said, referring to the date when the curfew is scheduled to be lifted.

Despite a drop in new infections, authorities reported a rise in hospitalizations Monday after reporting decreases during the previous three days. The number of patients rose by 31, to 1,491, and the number of patients in intensive care rose by two, to 217.

“Before you see a reduction of hospitalizations, you have to see a reduction in the cases,” Masse said.

Quebec announced Monday it has vaccinated three-quarters of long-term care residents with a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

“Vaccination continues to give a first dose to the entire group,” Health Minister Christian Dube wrote on Twitter. Quebec administered 6,845 vaccine doses Sunday, for a total 153,539.

Vaccinations won’t help bring down Quebec numbers in the short term, but Masse said the protection will be needed should cases begin to rise in the spring.

Masse said it’s too early to say whether the curfew is having a direct impact on case numbers. On Monday, Quebec’s Public Security Department reported that 1,429 tickets had been handed out by Quebec police forces relating to the curfew between Jan. 11 and Jan. 17.

Montreal police said they handed out 353 curfew-related tickets and another 583 tickets for contravening public health rules.

Quebec has reported 244,348 infections and 9,087 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, with 215,325 people deemed recovered.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021.

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Survey offers glimpse of what could reopen in Manitoba – Winnipeg Free Press



The Manitoba government’s online survey on the easing of COVID-19 restrictions is mostly a public relations exercise. But it does provide insight into what the province may reopen this week — and what is off the table.

The Pallister government is expected to announce as early as Tuesday what changes are in store for public health orders when regulations expire Friday. The easing of restrictions are expected to be minor. Provincial officials have made it clear they don’t want a “yo-yo” approach, where measures are loosened and reinstated every few weeks.

The online survey, which went live Friday, is mostly about optics; an attempt to convince the public they have a real say over public health orders. It may have some impact on government decision-making. Not all low-risk businesses, services or activities can reopen at once. Decisions to open some and not others will be arbitrary. Knowing the priorities of the public could act as a tie-breaker in some cases.


Much to the chagrin of some protesters, the doffing of masks in indoor public places is also not on the table.

For the most part, though, public health officials will make those decisions on their own.

In the meantime, the survey acts as a short list for what could reopen. It shows what is under consideration and asks respondents to rank options in order of importance. If it’s not listed, it’s probably not on the table.

“Not all activities and services are immediately listed as not all are being considered in the current round of services and activities due to the higher risk of activity,” the survey says.

Bars, city libraries, movie theatres and tattoo parlours are not listed. Presumably, those are not up for consideration. Much to the chagrin of some protesters, the doffing of masks in indoor public places is also not on the table.

Bars are not one of the activities listed in the survey.


Bars are not one of the activities listed in the survey.

Reducing restrictions for places of worship is being considered. In-person services are banned under code-red restrictions. Given the high level of transmission reported in those settings, it seems doubtful those would reopen, even with capacity limits. Respondents were also asked about increasing the five-person limit for funerals and weddings. Those seem more likely.

Expanding retail has a good shot. It will probably be the most significant part of this week’s announcement. Respondents were asked whether they should be allowed to shop without limiting the products they can buy. Right now, stores can only sell essential items, as prescribed by regulation. Considering the low-risk nature of retail and what’s at stake economically for small business owners, eliminating the essential-items list (or at least broadening it) seems likely. With the help of face coverings and capacity restrictions, retail can operate relatively safely.

Barber shops and hairstylists are up for consideration, as are gyms and fitness studios. Those are possibilities.

Greater access to recreation opportunities, including resuming organized sports (such as amateur hockey and indoor soccer) are also on the list. I wouldn’t hold my breath on those. Most organized sports are volunteer-driven and don’t have the resources of public schools to enforce public health measures. Sports for adults, such as beer league hockey and indoor soccer, will probably have to wait.

Considering the low-risk nature of retail and what’s at stake economically for small business owners, eliminating the essential-items list seems likely.


Considering the low-risk nature of retail and what’s at stake economically for small business owners, eliminating the essential-items list seems likely.

The most concerning set of questions in the survey is around household gatherings. Once government finally agreed in late November to prohibit people from having visitors in their homes (with some exceptions), COVID-19 cases began to fall. It wasn’t the only reason for the decline, but it was a significant factor. People gathering indoors for prolonged periods without masks is a major source of transmission.

The survey asks respondents for their views on expanding the list of exemptions for household gatherings, returning to a limit of five visitors per home, or maintaining the status quo.

Loosening those measures when Manitoba still has over 100 cases of COVID-19 a day would be a big mistake.

If infection rates and hospital numbers continue to fall, Manitoba could ease restrictions further in late February. For now, baby steps are the name of the game.

Tom Brodbeck

Tom Brodbeck

Tom has been covering Manitoba politics since the early 1990s and joined the Winnipeg Free Press news team in 2019.

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