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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada on December 23 – Burnaby Now

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

3:15 p.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting four new cases of COVID-19 today, and now has 35 active cases.

Two cases are in the Halifax area — one is a close contact of a previously reported case and the other case is under investigation.

One case is in the western health zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case, while the remaining case is in the eastern zone and is a close contact of a previously reported case.

No one is currently in hospital.

3:15 p.m.

Saskatchewan says 4,900 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in the province next week.

Health Canada gave the green light to the Moderna vaccine earlier today.

Saskatchewan says its Moderna shots will go to care home residents, front-line health workers, those over 80 and residents in northern and remote communities who are over 50.

2:35 p.m.

Saskatchewan is reporting 159 new infections of COVID-19.

The province says five more people have also died from the virus.

That brings the death toll in Saskatchewan to 130.

There are currently 125 people in hospital with COVID-19, and 21 of them are in intensive care.

2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says a travel restriction on passengers from the United Kingdom is being extended by two weeks.

The original 72-hour ban imposed on Sunday was set to expire today.

Trudeau says the new ban will last until Jan. 6.

The U.K. is struggling with a new strain of COVID-19 that experts suggest is more contagious than other variants.

1:35 p.m.

Manitoba is reporting 201 new cases of COVID-19.

The province also says there have been 15 new deaths.

There are 259 people in hospital with the virus, and 37 of those are in intensive care.

1:15 p.m.

Public health officials in New Brunswick are reporting five new cases of COVID-19.

There are two cases in the Fredericton region, one in Campbellton, one in Bathurst and one in Miramichi.

The number of active cases in the province is 46, with two people in hospital, including one in intensive care.

A vaccine clinic for front-line health-care workers began today in Moncton.

12:40 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting one new case of COVID-19.

Health officials say the case affects a woman in her 40s who returned to the province from work in British Columbia.

As a result of her infection, officials ask passengers from Air Canada Flight 696 departing Toronto on Dec. 15 and arriving in St. John’s on Dec. 16 to call 811 for a COVID-19 test.

The province has 23 active cases of the disease with one person in hospital.

12:20 p.m.

Yukon’s minister of health says now that Health Canada has approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, immunization clinics will begin in the territory in the first week of January.

Pauline Frost says approval is the “exciting news Yukoners have been waiting for.”

She says delivery of 7,200 doses, expected by the end of this month, will be enough to allow 3,600 residents of the territory to receive the two doses needed to provide immunity against the virus.

Long-term care residents and staff will get the jab first and Frost says further shipments of vaccine will arrive next month, with 75 per cent of Yukon’s eligible adult population expected to be vaccinated by early 2021.

11:15 a.m.

Another day, another record number of COVID-19 infections in Quebec.

The province reported 2,247 new infections today — one day after it posted 2,183 new cases, which was a record at the time.

Health authorities also reported 74 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, 11 of which occurred in the past 24 hours.

Quebec says hospitalizations rose by 12, to 1,067, and 142 people were in intensive care, a rise of five.

10:30 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 2,408 new cases of COVID-19 today.

The province says 41 more Ontarians have died from the virus.

There are currently 1,002 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario.

That number includes 275 people in intensive care and 186 on ventilators.

10:15 a.m.

Health Canada says the COVID-19 vaccine from U.S. biotech firm Moderna is safe for use in Canada.

The vaccine is the second to be greenlit in Canada, following the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine on Dec. 9.

Moderna anticipates starting shipments to Canada within the next 48 hours.

Up to 168,000 doses are set to arrive by the end of December, and two million by the end of March.

Canada is to get 40 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine in 2021, enough to vaccinate 20 million people, or about two-thirds of the Canadian adult population.

The vaccine is not yet recommended for use on children as tests on adolescents only began in December and tests on children younger than 12 won’t begin until next year.

Canada’s doses of the Moderna vaccine are being made in Europe.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 23, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Canadian politicians struggle to come to grips with the global vaccine race – CBC.ca

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The global scramble to vaccinate the human race against COVID-19 is bigger than Canadian politics. But every Canadian politician no doubt understands the political and human importance of this country seeming to do well in this multinational competition. 

The result this week is anxiety and a rush to assign blame that has failed to produce easy answers to the central question of what, if anything, Canadian officials could be doing to procure more of what’s arguably the most precious commodity on Earth.

But this consternation among Canadian politicians might be obscuring a bigger question for the world: Is this really the best way to go about vaccinating 7.6 billion people against a common threat? 

The latest spasm of concern about Canada’s vaccine supply can be traced to a production facility in Puurs, Belgium, where Pfizer has been manufacturing one of the two approved vaccines for use in Canada. Pfizer has decided to retool that facility so that it can increase production. In the short-term, that means fewer doses will be available.

In response to Pfizer’s change of plans, Ontario Premier Doug Ford quickly declared that, if he were prime minister, he’d be on the phone to Pfizer’s top executive demanding the previously scheduled shipments. “I’d be up that guy’s ying-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn’t know what hit him,” Ford said.

WATCH | Ontario premier says Trudeau’s ‘No. 1 job’ is to get vaccines:

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to fight to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to Canada and he suggests the alternative to the Belgian plant may be Pfizer’s Michigan facility. 0:55

It stands to reason that if getting a plentiful supply of the Pfizer vaccine was as easy as getting up Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla’s ying-yang with a firecracker, nearly every leader on the planet would be doing so. But Ford got a chance to test his theory — a day later he spoke with the president of Pfizer Canada. If a firecracker was lit during that conversation, it has so far failed to change Pfizer’s plans.

In Ottawa, the consternation has been only slightly less colourful, culminating in an “emergency debate” in the House of Commons on Tuesday. 

The Conservatives argue that an ill-fated partnership between the National Research Council and China’s CanSino Biologics distracted Justin Trudeau’s government from pursuing better options — but Public Services Minister Anita Anand told the Canadian Press in December that Canada was the fourth country in the world to sign a contract with Pfizer and the first to sign with Moderna, the other major supplier of an approved vaccine. 

The New Democrats argue that the federal government should have negotiated for the right to domestically produce the currently approved vaccines — but that presumably depends in large part on the willingness of companies like Moderna and Pfizer to do so. 

A real effort to ensure Canada had domestic capacity to produce a pandemic vaccine likely would have had to have been implemented years ago.

Little control over vaccine supply

Eventually, Tuesday night’s debate landed on questions of transparency. The government says it has a plan for vaccinating Canadians, but the opposition says that plan isn’t detailed enough.

The opposition insists the government should release the details of the contracts it has signed with manufacturers, but the government says those contracts are necessarily confidential. There are suggestions that Europe’s supply of the Pfizer vaccine might be smaller than the interruption to Canada’s supply, but it’s not clear why that might be the case.

The Liberals surely understand the gravity of the vaccine race, but they have never shown much interest in explaining themselves in detail. They insist that their agreements with seven potential manufacturers have put Canada in a decent position and that their medium-term and long-term targets for vaccinating Canadians over the course of this year will not be affected by the current shortfall.

WATCH | EU threatens to slow vaccine exports, increasing concerns about vaccine nationalism:

The European Union is threatening to slow exports of the Pfizer vaccine after Astra-Zeneca announced a delay in production. With vaccines in short supply, global health leaders are growing increasingly concerned about the rise of vaccine nationalism. 2:00

But Pfizer’s decision to retool the plant in Puurs underlines how little control the Liberal government can claim to have over the situation and how little sympathy they’ll receive if things don’t work out the way they said they would.

It was just over a month ago that the federal government was able to answer a previous panic with earlier-than-expected approvals and shipments of the new vaccine. If the Liberals were only too happy to bask in that good news, this interruption feels like the universe’s way of telling them to not get cocky.

Canada vs. other countries

In the meantime, even the definition of success will be up for debate.

On Monday, for instance, Conservative MP Pierre Paul-Hus complained that Canada was not doing as well as the Seychelles, which had delivered at least a first dose to 20.22 per cent of its population through January 25. By comparison, Canada’s rate of vaccination was 2.23 per cent.

But the tiny island nation has a population of 98,000 people (roughly the equivalent of Red Deer, Alta). In absolute terms, the number of people who had received a dose in the Seychelles was 19,889. Canada, meanwhile, had administered doses to 839,949 people.

WATCH | Ottawa offers assurances about COVID-19 vaccine supply:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying to reassure Canadians about the COVID-19 vaccine supply after the European Union raised the possibility of imposing export controls on vaccines leaving the EU. Canada’s Pfizer-BioNTech shots are made in Belgium. 1:44

On Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland countered that Canada was ahead of Germany, France, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. But three of those countries — Japan, Australia and New Zealand — haven’t yet begun their vaccination programs. And in two of those countries — Australia and New Zealand — COVID-19 is almost non-existent. 

‘This is pure nonsense’

During the emergency debate on Tuesday night, the NDP’s Don Davies said Canada ranked 16th per capita in doses administered. He meant it as a complaint. But it could just as easily be framed as a compliment — if Canada ends up being the 16th fastest country to vaccinate its population, it will have finished ahead of 174 other countries. Among the 32 OECD countries who have begun vaccinations, Canada ranks 12th in doses administered per capita.

A few countries — the United States, United Kingdom and Israel — seem to be benefiting from their own unique circumstances. The U.S. and U.K., for instance, have access to domestic production of the available vaccines.

In every other country, there might be some version of the Canadian debate playing out; Trudeau said last week that he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had commiserated about the similar criticism that they were each facing. 

WATCH | COVID’s one year anniversary in Canada:

One year after the first confirmed case of COVID-19, are we really all in it together? A PSW speaks about the reality of working the front lines in long-term care homes, and an artist questions life after CERB. PLUS, why first-world countries like Canada are being accused of hoarding vaccines. 45:36

But all of this might underline the questions of whether an every-country-for-itself scramble to acquire vaccines from a limited number of private manufacturers is the sensible way to go about vaccinating the human race.

“‘Could Canada have done more?’ The problem for me is that this is not the right question. What we’ve been seeing, for me, is a bit of a catastrophe,” said Marc-Andre Gagnon, a political science professor at Carleton University who focuses on pharmaceutical policy.

“You end up with a handful of companies that are developing their own vaccines, each by themselves, working in silos. So then you have a product with a patent, so monopoly rights on the product. And then you end up with this vaccine nationalism of all countries basically doing a free market negotiation in terms of who can jump the queue in order to get faster access to the vaccines. In terms of priorities of global public health, this is pure nonsense.”

A better approach, Gagnon suggests, would have focused on collaboration, data sharing and making use of all available manufacturing capacity around the world. 

Pfizer’s new deal with Sanofi, a rival producer, might at least be a step in that direction. But any serious rethinking of global vaccination policy might have to wait for the next pandemic.

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Canada Post employee dies after contracting COVID-19 amid major outbreak at Mississauga facility – CTV Toronto

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TORONTO —
A Canada Post employee infected with COVID-19 during an outbreak that has impacted 224 workers at a Mississauga, Ont., facility died over the weekend, the union representing workers said.

Canadian Union of Postal Workers Toronto local president Qaiser Maroof told CP24 the employee at the Gateway East plant died on Monday.

He said the man worked nights on “Shift 1” at the Gateway East plant.

He was tested on Jan. 19 and isolated at home after his test.

Between the start of January and today, 224 workers at the facility have tested positive for coronavirus infection.

The spread at the 4,500-worker facility got so bad this month that 100 Canada Border Services Agency guards assigned to inspect packages at the facility were instructed to stay away.

More than 350 workers – an entire shift of workers in one area of the facility – were sent home to self-isolate last week as Peel Public Health sought to slow the spread of infection in the facility.

Maroof said the deceased employee was not part of the shift sent home to self-isolate, and sought out testing on his own.

He did not show symptoms prior to his test and was upset that he was not offered a test as a proactive measure, Maroof recalled.

“It is an unnecessary loss of life and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends,” Maroof said in a statement. “This tragedy underscores why we have been insisting to the government that the postal workers are indeed frontline workers.”

Employees told CP24 news of death was shared informally with some workers on Tuesday.

Chief Medical Officer of Health for Peel Region Dr. Lawrence Loh would not comment on the death when asked Wednesday.

He said that rapid tests were used to detect cases at Gateway East.

Maroof said he did not know whether the man was hospitalized prior to his death or where in the GTA he passed away.

The man’s wife also works for Canada Post, at a Toronto facility on Eastern Avenue.

Canada Post did not comment on the death when asked Wednesday, only saying that the outbreak was impacting parcel processing speeds at the facility.

Correction:

A previous headline said the employee died of COVID-19. While the worker had tested positive for the disease, it has not yet been confirmed if it was the cause of death.

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Could zero-waste shopping be the solution to Canada’s plastic packaging issue? – Global News

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When you walk into The Tare Shop, you’ll notice one thing that sets it apart from other stores: no plastic bags or containers in sight.

When Kate Pepler opened her flagship store in Halifax’s north end three years ago, it was hailed as Nova Scotia’s first completely package-free bulk store.

“After announcing the business in Jan. 2018, I was flooded with messages from folks from all over Nova Scotia saying how excited they were to finally be able to shop at a package-free place,” Pepler tells Global News.

“You bring in your own containers and we encourage folks to reuse what they have.”

Read more:
Love Your Local: The Tare Shop

It’s a business model that has seen so much success, the 27-year-old entrepreneur just opened up her second location on Portland St. in downtown Dartmouth.

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The Tare Shop owner Kate Pepler in her newly-opened second package-free bulk store located in downtown Dartmouth.


thetareshop.com

“It’s really encouraging to see. It definitely feels like this way of shopping is catching on and is growing,” says Pepler.

She says she’s seen more customers — particularly new customers — during the coronavirus pandemic: an increase of about 30 to 40 per cent each month.

It’s a surge in new customers that doesn’t come as a surprise to Sylvain Charlebois, a Dalhousie University professor who studies Canadian food trends and habits.

“We do waste a lot of food and our lifestyles have changed since the start of COVID,” he says.


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Soaring reliance on single-use plastics stalls zero-waste movement'



2:07
Coronavirus: Soaring reliance on single-use plastics stalls zero-waste movement


Coronavirus: Soaring reliance on single-use plastics stalls zero-waste movement – May 24, 2020

“There are reports that suggest that we are wasting more than ever, especially when it comes to packaging, so I’m not surprised that more and more people are conscious about this issue and they’re willing to do something about it.”

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And just how much work Canadians are willing to put in to their shopping trips to help the environment could depend on where they live, according to Charlebois.

“We conducted a study last year about food waste awareness or packaging waste awareness, and awareness levels on both coasts in Canada were higher than say, in the prairies, Ontario or Quebec. That’s probably because we can actually see the problem, they see things on the beach, they see things in parks. So I’m not surprised to see this movement actually getting some traction in our region,” he says.

Read more:
London’s first zero-waste grocery store could open by year’s end: Reimagine Co.

But, he says, while it may be a solution for some, he doesn’t believe a package-free shopping model will solve Canada’s food waste issue, as plastics have become a “safety net” for consumers.

“I do think that there is a good market for shops like that, but not for the masses. Everything that you have to do to visit these shops require more time. It’s a lot of work. The key is to save the planet, with convenient solutions for consumers,” Charlebois says.

He says during the pandemic, people simply aren’t focused on sustainability issues as public health takes centre stage. That said, Charlebois expects the focus to shift back to environmental issues soon.

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“We need to change behaviours as quickly as possible because right now, parks and oceans don’t care about the pandemic. The problem is still there,” Charlebois says.

Read more:
Toronto’s newest packaging-free market opens in east end

That is what motivates Pepler, who says she is happy to cater to those who are willing to put in the work today.

“It definitely can get very frustrating walking into a grocery store and not being given an option for a lower-waste or a plastic-free option. We can make these small changes in our lives, but we have to go one step further and push those big businesses and manufacturers and producers to take responsibility for their packaging and offer more sustainable solutions that are also economical,” she says.

“It’s been really great to be able to still provide folks with a safe way to shop a lower waste lifestyle, because, we are in a time of crisis, not just COVID-19, but the climate change and the plastic problem. We need to act, and we need to act now.”

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

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