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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada on Nov. 23, 2020 – Kamloops This Week

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

6:15 p.m.

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There have been 17 deaths in British Columbia over three days due to COVID-19 and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says most of the victims were seniors in long-term or assisted care.

There have been 1,933 new cases since Friday, with 1,304 of them diagnosed in the Fraser Health region.

There are 60 active outbreaks in health-care facilities, including 54 long-term care or assisted-living sites and six hospitals or acute-care facilities.

Henry says it’s now the most challenging time of COVID-19 and everyone is feeling the strain.

4:10 p.m.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is self-isolating due to a possible exposure to COVID-19.

A spokesman for Moe’s office says the potential exposure happened on Nov. 15 in the Prince Albert area.

Jim Billington says the premier is not experiencing symptoms but was tested today out of an abundance of caution.

He says Moe is to work remotely from his home in Shellbrook until Sunday.

The province announced 235 new cases today and four new deaths.

2:55 p.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting 11 new cases of COVID-19 today.

The province says the new cases were identified on Sunday in the Central Zone, bringing its total active case count up to 51.

Eight of the infections are connected to previously reported cases, while three are still under investigation.

Officials say the recent rise in cases has led to stricter rules for metro Halifax Regional Municipality and parts of Hants County which go into effect today.

2:10 p.m.

New Brunswick is reporting one new death and 15 new cases of COVID-19.

The new death brings the provincial fatality total to seven.

The province currently has 89 active cases of novel coronavirus and has registered 445 total cases and 349 recoveries.

Premier Blaine Higgs says there are no changes planned at this point around the Atlantic bubble despite the temporary withdrawal of Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island.

1:40 p.m.

COVID-19 cases in Yukon have jumped to 38, 14 more infections than just a week ago.

Territorial health officer Dr. Brendan Hanley says two of the new cases involve children under nine years old and at least one of those infected is over 60.

Yukon increased restrictions last week as infection rates jumped in jurisdictions around it, requiring all but critical services workers to self-isolate for two weeks when they enter the territory.

Hanley says community transmission has not yet been ruled out in some of the latest cases.

1:40 p.m.

Manitoba health officials are reporting a record-high 543 new COVID-19 cases.

Chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says there are some positive signs, however.

He says the average number of contacts per case is dropping, which could slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Manitoba brought in strict measures last week that limit store openings and public gatherings.

11:40 a.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 and its first case confirmed in a school.

In a press conference today, officials announced one of the new cases is a student at the elementary school in Deer Lake, in western Newfoundland.

The student’s infection is connected to a cluster of cases in the area.

Officials say the other case is also in western Newfoundland, but is related to travel and is not connected to the ongoing cluster.

11:20 a.m.

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King has announced his province will be temporarily withdrawing from the Atlantic bubble for a two-week period starting tomorrow.

He says it’s a necessary step because of a spike in COVID-19 cases in the other three Atlantic provinces.

King says all non-essential travel to and from the Island will be suspended until December 7th, at which time the situation will be re-evaluated.

The Island reported one new case of COVID 19 today.

11:10 a.m.

Quebec is reporting 1,164 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including three that occurred in the past 24 hours.

Health officials say today that hospitalizations decreased by eight, to 634, and 98 patients were in intensive care, a drop of five.

The province says 1,282 more people recovered from COVID-19, for a total of 115,367 recoveries.

Quebec has reported 133,206 COVID-19 infections and 6,842 deaths linked to the virus since the start of the pandemic.

10:45 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 1,589 new cases of COVID-19 today, and 19 new deaths due to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says 535 in Peel Region, 336 cases are in Toronto, and 205 cases in York Region.

The province says it has conducted 37,471 tests since the last daily report.

In total, 507 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 156 in intensive care.

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

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In blow to Trudeau, queen’s representative in Canada quits after harassment allegations

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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian Governor General Julie Payette, the representative of the country’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth, quit on Thursday amid allegations of workplace harassment in an embarrassment for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The resignation has no immediate implications for the Liberal government. The governor general has a largely ceremonial job such as swearing in governments and formally signing legislation, but can on rare occasions be asked to settle constitutional questions.

She resigned just hours after senior officials received the results of an independent probe into reports of verbal abuse and bullying by Payette.

“I have come to the conclusion that a new Governor General should be appointed. Canadians deserve stability in these uncertain times,” Payette said in a statement, adding she was sorry for tensions that had arisen with staff.

She was the first governor general to quit under a cloud. Richard Wagner, chief justice of the Supreme Court, will temporarily take over her duties until she is replaced.

Payette, 57, took office in October 2017 for a five-year term on Trudeau’s recommendation. Even after the probe was launched last July, Trudeau defended Payette, saying in September that she was “an excellent governor general.”

She was formerly the country’s chief astronaut and the first Canadian to serve on the International Space Station.

In a brief statement, Trudeau said the resignation meant workplace concerns in the governor general’s office could be addressed. He notably did not thank Payette.

Trudeau is an avowed feminist, and Liberal officials said at the time that the appointment would advance the cause of women. Potential candidates for the job are supposed to be vetted by a special committee, a step Trudeau chose to ignore.

“The colossal failure of Ms. Payette’s term falls squarely on his shoulders,” said Don Davies, a legislator for the opposition New Democrats.

“It’s not a constitutional crisis. … There is a system in place to allow for continuity of the role,” Barbara Messamore, a history professor and constitutional expert at the University of the Fraser Valley, told the CBC.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney)

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Spartan Bioscience says Health Canada approves rapid COVID-19 test – CBC.ca

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Ottawa-based company Spartan Bioscience has received Health Canada approval for its made-in-Canada rapid COVID-19 test, authorizing the sale of the device. 

“Spartan’s test is the first truly mobile, rapid PCR test for COVID-19 for the Canadian market,” a news release from the company states. “The Spartan COVID-19 system offers the speed and ease of use of a rapid test, while using the technology of lab-based COVID-19 testing solutions.”

Health Canada originally provided regulatory approval for the company’s device in April 2020 — with the federal government ordering 40,000 tests monthly. At the time, the portable test was being called a “game changer” by health officials because it could deliver on-location results within 60 minutes.

The federal agency restricted the device to research use in May, however, after finding problems with the test that made it unreliable. Approval was granted on Friday after the company conducted clinical trials based on a new device design, Health Canada spokesperson Natalie Mohamed told CBC News in an email.

“The Spartan Bioscience test is a point-of-care molecular test,”  Mohamed wrote. “This new device meets Health Canada’s requirements for safety and effectiveness.”

New swab, upgrades to chemistry kit

Dr. James Spiegelman, a co-founder of the company who also practises internal medicine at Humber River Regional Hospital in Toronto, said the problems stemmed from the efficacy of the swabs used to collect tissue samples, not the machine itself.

Spartan originally used a proprietary cheek swab that it developed for other DNA diagnostics, he said, but it became clear that the swab wasn’t collecting enough genetic material to produce consistent, reliable results.

The company now uses standard nasopharyngeal swabs to collect tissue from the nose.

“We found that that provides the best sample for increased sensitivity of the test,” Spiegelman said.

Spiegelman said the company also made improvements to the sample processing kit so that it no longer needs to be shipped and stored at frozen temperatures but can be stored at room temperature. 

With the Spartan test, a trained health-care professional swabs the nose of the person being tested, places the swab into a processing kit that generates a chain reaction and then puts that kit into the cube-shaped device, which takes about 50 minutes to analyze and produce results. 

Spiegelman said the test could be used to provide quick and accurate COVID-19 diagnostics everywhere from hospitals and workplaces to pharmacies and remote communities. 

“I think [Spartan’s rapid test] will really help alleviate and give us a tool in our toolbox to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

Rapid tests already in use across Canada 

Rapid diagnostic tests are already in use in many settings across Canada to test for COVID-19, including in homeless shelters, long-term care homes and remote communities. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday that the federal government had distributed more than 14 million to the provinces and territories. 

“The Spartan system will be able to provide quality results to remote communities, industries and settings with limited lab access, helping relieve the burden on overwhelmed health-care facilities,” the company’s news release states. 

The company said production of the rapid tests is already underway and that shipments will begin immediately to federal, provincial and commercial customers 

CBC News has contacted Health Canada but did not hear back immediately.  

In an emailed statement, Ontario’s Ministry of Health said it welcomes the authorization of additional rapid tests.  

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Canada working with the U.S. to close travel 'loophole' – CTV News

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Canadian officials said Friday they are working with the Biden administration to close what they describe as a travel “loophole” and to get more symmetry with COVID-19 safety protocols between the two countries.

“A loophole, frankly, does exist because the Americans previously had not placed any restriction on international flights coming into the U.S.,” said Bill Blair, Canada’s public safety minister, during a news conference Friday.

“That concerns us because that restriction is at our land border but not at air travel,” he added.

While the Canada-U.S. border remains closed and all nonessential travel is prohibited until at least February 21, in the 10 months since the border restrictions were put in place, hundreds of thousands of travelers have made discretionary trips between both countries as air travel has not so far been subject to the same restrictions.

With the United States not imposing any air travel restrictions from Canada, the loophole has allowed everything from Canadian snowbirds going to the warm climes of Florida and Arizona for winter to family members on both sides of the border setting up nonessential visits.

TRUDEAU TO CANADIANS: AVOID TRAVEL

On Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau underscored his plea to Canadians to stay home and avoid travel of any kind, including domestic and international travel.

Trudeau has acknowledged that constitutionally he cannot prevent Canadians from traveling, but he did warn that it might soon become much more difficult to return to Canada.

“We could be bringing in new measures that significantly impede your ability to return to Canada, at any given moment, without warning,” Trudeau said during a news conference Friday, adding, “The bottom line is this: This is not the time to travel either internationally or across the country.”

International air travelers who currently enter Canada must show proof of a negative test result for COVID-19 taken within 72 hours of departure and are also subject to a 14-day mandatory quarantine with violators facing stiff financial penalties. There are exceptions for essential workers.

LOOKING FOR MORE MEASURES

Canadian officials say they are looking for more measures that would discourage as much travel as possible, and they are hoping a new agreement with the United States will help.

“We are looking at a number of measures that can include further restrictions on international travel, additional tracing measures, additional quarantine measures and enforcement measures in order to de-incentivize and discourage people from making unnecessary trips,” Blair said Friday.

Officials also indicated that weeks of lockdowns throughout most of Canada are slowly starting to work with new daily cases of COVID-19 falling.

“This gives us hope that community based control measures are starting to take effect,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer. “But it is still too soon to be sure that these measures are strong enough and broad enough to set us on a steady downward trend.”

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