The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):
A curfew intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Quebec is now in effect.
The new measure was announced earlier this week by Premier Francois Legault and kicked in at 8 p.m.
Under the terms of the curfew, most Quebec residents could face fines of up to $6,000 if they go out into the streets between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. for the next four weeks.
There are exemptions in place for certain groups such as essential workers.
Alberta is reporting 31 new deaths due to COVID-19 and 989 more cases of the virus.
The province’s chief medical officer of health says there are 827 people in hospital — 132 of whom are in intensive care.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw says there are some positive signs in the province, but the virus is still spreading so people must remain vigilant.
Saskatchewan is reporting 332 more cases of COVID-19 and seven added deaths today.
As it stands, there are nearly 3,200 active cases of the virus in the province.
Health officials say 179 people are hospitalized with the virus, including 30 in intensive care.
Manitoba is reporting seven new deaths from COVID-19 and 203 new cases as of 9:30 a.m.
The province’s daily pandemic update says there are more than 4,600 active COVID-19 cases.
The province says there are 229 people in hospital with active COVID-19, plus another 84 who are no longer infectious but who remain in hospital because they still require care.
The number of patients in intensive care stands at 37.
Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting three new cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 31.
The province says two cases are in the central zone, with one a close contact of a previously reported case, while the other is related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.
The last case in the eastern zone is a student at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, and is also related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, says the cases among post-secondary students returning to the province serve as a reminder of the importance of public health measures.
New Brunswick is reporting 30 new cases of COVID-19 today, one of the highest single-day increases since the onset of the pandemic.
The outbreak is spread out across much of the province, with the Fredericton, Edmundston, Campbellton and Moncton regions all reporting the highest number of cases.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical health officer, encouraged residents to download the COVID alert app.
The number of active cases in New Brunswick is 171.
Quebec is reporting 3,127 new cases of COVID-19 today hours before a provincewide curfew is set to take effect.
The province is also reporting 41 new deaths related to the virus, 12 of which occurred in the past 24 hours.
Data shows 24 of the deaths took place between Jan. 2 and 7, while five occurred before Jan. 2.
Hospitalizations declined slightly to 1,392 across the province, with 206 patients in intensive care.
Ontario’s education minister says the province is expanding the list of essential workers eligible to receive free child-care during the time school is taught remotely.
Stephen Lecce says Canada Post staff, workers with the RCMP and Canada Border Services, and workers with homeless shelters and children’s aid societies are among those on the expanded list.
Earlier this week, the province announced online learning would continue until at least Jan. 25 for students across southern Ontario in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The province reported 3,443 new cases of the virus today along with 40 related deaths.
Quebec’s premier is urging residents to respect a curfew that takes effect tonight and that he argues is necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Francois Legault says the month-long curfew is meant to discourage gatherings he says are responsible for rising case numbers and hospitalization rates.
He calls the measure a “shock treatment” necessary to keep the province from reaching a tipping point that would leave the most seriously ill patients without proper care.
Starting tonight and until at least Feb. 8, most Quebecers are being asked to remain at home between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Residents will receive an emergency alert later today to remind them of the new rules.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 9, 2021.
The Canadian Press
COVID-19 cases are down across Canada, but hospitals aren’t celebrating yet. Here’s why – Global News
According to the country’s top public health official, new infections now stand at a national seven-day average of 2,960 cases daily — down from the average 5,270 cases exactly a month earlier. Several health experts and government officials have also said that the country was still on its way to meet its September target of having everyone who wants a vaccine inoculated.
Despite the positive outlook, hospitals and health-care workers aren’t celebrating just yet.
A report published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information on Thursday found the total number of health-care workers infected with COVID-19 has tripled since July of last year. By Jan. 15, the institute said health-care workers accounted for at least 65,920 — over nine per cent — of Canada’s 695,707 confirmed cases then.
The CIHI report also added 24 health-care workers have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic, including 12 in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta within the last six months.
Gillian Howard, vice-president at University Health Network in Toronto, told Global News that the organization has seen an overall decrease in COVID-19 patients over the last two weeks, but that the health-care system was still in danger of being overwhelmed.
As of last week, she said 95 per cent of the UHN’s beds were occupied and that ICUs were still full — which could pose problems for health-care workers should the COVID-19 variants trigger a third wave.
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“The concern is that the variants, which are present in the community, will drive a third wave and that if patients with COVID are admitted to the ICU, the length of stay is much longer than usual,” she said.
“The other concern is the delay in surgeries and procedures for patients who require ICU beds following surgery or because of other health issues.”
‘Psychological trauma’ for years to come
The decreasing case numbers of COVID-19 are encouraging, but Dr. Ann Collins, president of the Canadian Medical Association, noted that “it’s too early to celebrate.”
“No question it is good news, but we still have to be very mindful of the variance and what’s happened in other parts of the world,” she said.
The aggressive nature of the variants is concerning, Collins said, adding that health-care workers are still under a great deal of pressure.
“Being stressed is probably an understatement in many ways,” she said.
Even as cases fall, Collins said many health-care workers — particularly those working in the country’s COVID-19 hotspots — are exhausted, face severe burnout and have been forced to completely isolate themselves from family and friends due to the nature of their jobs.
Health-care workers have the added stress of working directly with sick patients who have developed anxiety or depression due to their illness.
“They’ve had to become almost like family to patients that they’ve been caring for in the latter days of their lives because no family has been able to be there with them because of restrictions around visitation and so on,” said Collins.
“We expect to see some psychological trauma well beyond whenever we say that this is over.”
Some provinces ease restrictions as variant concerns rise
Anthony Dale, president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, said that COVID-19 has put pressure on our health system that was “unimaginable a year ago.”
As a result, he said hospital staff have also been re-deployed to provide support to a number of non-hospital services — whether it’s running COVID-19 assessment centres and laboratories, working closely with long-term care homes to protect residents or on Ontario’s vaccination rollout.
According to Dale, the only reason such staff redeployments were even possible in the first place was because COVID-19-related hospitalization crowding cancelled most scheduled and elective surgeries.
“Now we have new, highly contagious variants that are circulating in the province, a vaccination roll out that continues to be delayed and a health care system operating under significant stress,” he said.
“A month ago we saw an all-time high of 420 COVID-19 patients in our ICU, while that number has decreased we remain at an alarming 325 patients, which represents almost 20 per cent of open ICU beds today.”
Some provinces seeing improvement
Out of the country’s ten provinces, many say hospitals are now less full than they were at the height of the pandemic, though several still warn of several regions continuing to face strain in terms of capacity.
Last month, Ontario’s hospitalizations peaked at 1,701 patients — including 385 in the ICU, though the numbers have dropped dramatically over the last month to just 680 current hospitalizations due to the virus.
The COVID-19 Modelling Collaborative — a joint collaboration between doctors and scientists from the University of Toronto, University Health Network and Sunnybrook Hospital — said this week that ICU resources were still strained in “every region” and that 43 per cent of Ontario’s surgical ICU’s had fewer than two available beds, however.
Saskatchewan also peaked last month at a total of 238 hospitalized patients, including 33 in the ICU, due to the virus. The number has lowered to that of 135 receiving inpatient care and 16 in the ICU as of Saturday.
Manitoba also saw a gradual decline after peaking at just over 360 hospitalizations in December. As of Saturday, the province registered 189 current hospitalizations due to the virus, of which 27 were admitted to the ICU.
A spokesperson from Manitoba’s Department of Health and Seniors Care said in a statement there were no hospitals within the province currently at or approaching capacity.
“As of midnight today, 206 individuals are in hospitals throughout the province due to COVID, the lowest number seen in this province since early- to mid-November. This includes both active patient cases and those who are past the infectious period but still sick enough to require inpatient care,” the statement read.
Alberta’s demand on its health system from the spread of COVID-19 had also peaked in late December. Despite the decline, the province said that the demand still remained high and warned that a rapid growth in cases would have consequences on its health system.
“We are maintaining the health system’s high capacity right now. If Alberta experienced the same sort of rapid growth that occurred in November and December while hospitalizations remain high, the health system would be severely impacted,” read the government’s website.
Quebec worries new COVID-19 variants could derail progress
A total of 5,000 people have been hospitalized there due to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, with the province currently at 262 hospitalizations — 51 of which are in ICU.
British Columbia health minister Adrian Dix said last week that the province was in a “fairly stable situation with respect to available beds.”
He said B.C.’s health-care system was currently operating at 74 per cent capacity, for a total of 3,531 available regular and surge beds. Meanwhile, he added ICU is operating at 51.7 per cent capacity with 367 available beds.
Quebec, which remains the hardest hit among all provinces, now currently sits at 599 hospitalizations, of which 112 are in intensive care.
The numbers are a far cry from the over 1,870 concurrent hospitalizations the province registered during the first wave of the pandemic, though health experts there have recently warned of a possible “nightmare scenario” of having to pick which patients are admitted to ICU and who will die should hospitalizations rise to similar numbers again.
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New Brunswick currently has one person in-hospital with COVID-19, though health systems there have previously warned of staffing and bed shortages caused by the onset of the pandemic.
In Nova Scotia, there is only one person in-hospital with COVID-19, who has been set up in the province’s ICU, while 10 are currently in-hospital with COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador.
P.E.I. currently does not have any patients with COVID-19 admitted to hospital.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
U.S. approves Johnson & Johnson's single-dose COVID-19 vaccine – CBC.ca
The U.S. is getting a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Saturday cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two.
Health experts are anxiously awaiting a one-and-done option to help speed vaccinations, as they race against a virus that already has killed more than 510,000 people in the U.S. and is mutating in increasingly worrisome ways.
The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85 per cent protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents — protection that remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading.
“This is really good news,” Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told The Associated Press Saturday. “The most important thing we can do right now is to get as many shots in as many arms as we can.”
Shipments of a few million doses to be divided among states could begin as early as Monday. By the end of March, J&J has said it expects to deliver 20 million doses to the U.S., and 100 million by summer.
J&J also is seeking authorization for emergency use of its vaccine in Europe and from the World Health Organization. Worldwide, the company aims to produce about 1 billion doses globally by the end of the year. On Thursday, the island nation of Bahrain became the first to clear its use.
Health Canada is still reviewing the vaccine. Canada has ordered 10 million doses from Johnson & Johnson with options for up to 28 million more, if necessary. Most of those shots are expected to arrive by the end of September.
‘We’re champing at the bit to get more supply’
On Sunday, a U.S. advisory committee will meet to recommend how to prioritize use of the single-dose vaccine. And one big challenge is what the public wants to know: Which kind of vaccine is better?
“In this environment, whatever you can get — get,” said Dr. Arnold Monto of the University of Michigan, who chaired an FDA advisory panel that unanimously voted Friday that the vaccine’s benefits outweigh its risks.
Data is mixed on how well all the vaccines being used around the world work, prompting reports in some countries of people refusing one kind to wait for another.
WATCH | Will Canadians be able to choose which vaccine they get?:
In the U.S., the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna shots were 95 per cent protective against symptomatic COVID-19. J&J’s one-dose effectiveness of 85 per cent against severe COVID-19 dropped to 66 per cent when moderate cases were rolled in. But there’s no apples-to-apples comparison because of differences in when and where each company conducted its studies, with the Pfizer and Moderna research finished before concerning variants began spreading.
Collins said the evidence of effectiveness shows no reason to favour one vaccine over another.
“What people I think are mostly interested in is, is it going to keep me from getting really sick?” Collins said. “Will it keep me from dying from this terrible disease? The good news is all of these say yes to that.”
Also, J&J is testing two doses of its vaccine in a separate large study. Collins said if a second dose eventually is deemed better, people who got one earlier would be offered another.
The FDA cautioned that it’s too early to tell if someone who gets a mild or asymptomatic infection despite vaccination still could spread the virus.
There are clear advantages aside from the convenience of one shot. Local health officials are looking to use the J&J option in mobile vaccination clinics, homeless shelters, even with sailors who are spending months on fishing vessels — communities where it’s hard to be sure someone will come back in three to four weeks for a second vaccination.
WATCH | Canada’s procurement minister on Johnson & Johnson vaccine:
The J&J vaccine also is easier to handle, lasting three months in the refrigerator compared to the Pfizer and Moderna options, which must be frozen.
“We’re champing at the bit to get more supply. That’s the limiting factor for us right now,” said Dr. Matt Anderson of UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin, where staffers were readying electronic health records, staffing and vaccine storage in anticipation of offering J&J shots soon.
The FDA said studies detected no serious side effects. Like other COVID-19 vaccines, the main side effects of the J&J shot are pain at the injection site and flu-like fever, fatigue and headache.
The FDA said there is “a remote chance” that people may experience a severe allergic reaction to the shot, a rare risk seen with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The vaccine has been authorized for emergency use in adults 18 and older for now. But like other vaccine makers, J&J is about to begin a study of its vaccine in teens before moving to younger children later in the year, and also plans a study in pregnant women.
All COVID-19 vaccines train the body to recognize the new coronavirus, usually by spotting the spike protein that coats it. But they’re made in very different ways.
WATCH | Provinces offer different timelines for COVID-19 vaccine rollout:
J&J’s shot uses a cold virus like a Trojan horse to carry the spike gene into the body, where cells make harmless copies of the protein to prime the immune system in case the real virus comes along. It’s the same technology the company used in making an Ebola vaccine, and similar to COVID-19 vaccines made by AstraZeneca and China’s CanSino Biologics.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are made with a different technology, a piece of genetic code called messenger RNA that spurs cells to make those harmless spike copies.
The AstraZeneca vaccine — which was approved for use in Canada on Friday and is already in use in numerous other countries — is finishing a large U.S. study needed for FDA clearance. Also in the pipeline, Novavax uses a still different technology, made with lab-grown copies of the spike protein, and has reported preliminary findings from a British study suggesting strong protection.
Still other countries are using “inactivated vaccines,” made with killed coronavirus by Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm.
Canada will not be pressured to release Meng Wanzhou, Trudeau says – Global News
Trudeau’s remarks were according to a transcript of a wide-ranging interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd and Meet the Press, which was provided to Global News. The interview is set to air on Sunday.
The two Canadian men — Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig — were arrested in China in 2018 on espionage charges, shortly after Meng was arrested by authorities in British Columbia on an extradition charge from the U.S.
During the interview, the prime minister said the men were detained on “national security trumped-up charges” and have been detained for nearly 800 days “in an attempt to try and pressure us to release the executive.”
“We, of course, are a country of the rule of law,” he said. “We will not do that. We live by our treaties and live by the rule of law.
But it is extremely difficult for Canada to be going through this, when we know it’s fundamentally unfair of China to have arbitrarily detained our citizens.”
Biden calls on China to release Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor
Trudeau’s comments come just days after he and newly sworn-in U.S. President Joe Biden shared their first bilateral meeting.
Shortly after the leaders met virtually, Biden vowed to work with Canada to secure the safe release of Spavor and Kovrig, saying “humans are not bartering chips.”
Trudeau told Meet the Press his conversation with Biden regarding the two men was “very positive,” adding that they have agreed to work together to try to resolve the situation and “hold China to account.”
During the interview, Trudeau was also asked about the Keystone XL pipeline expansion project, which has been a point of contention between the two countries since Biden became president.
Hours after he was sworn into office, Biden signed an executive order to revoke a presidential permit signed by his predecessor, Donald Trump, that would have allowed the cross-border Keystone XL pipeline expansion project to continue.
The democrat had long-promised to revoke the permit in an effort to honour one of his campaign promises to shift the U.S. from fossil fuels towards clean energy.
However, the move dealt an especially hard blow to Alberta and Saskatchewan, whose energy sectors were counting on the US$8-billion project.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney called the move a “gut punch” and urged the federal government to consider sanctions if the Biden administration refused to discuss the project further.
However, Trudeau said, “it’s fairly clear that the U.S. administration has made its decision on that.”
“And we’re much more interested in ensuring that we’re moving forward in ways that are good for both of our countries,” he said.
Trudeau said the government does have “concerns” about the Line 5 initiative.
Trudeau questioned on cancellation of Keystone XL project, impacts of calls to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5
“We want to make sure we’re continuing to sell hydro-electricity into the United States, and that the two of us are partnering in ways that are going to create good jobs and compete successfully against the world for cleaner products and cleaner solutions,” he said.
Ultimately, Trudeau said there is “so much” Canada and the U.S. can do together that he doesn’t “spend too much time worrying about the tension points.”
“It’ll always come up in our relationship, but we’ll work through them, particularly given the alignment on so many things that we’re able to bring with this new administration,” he said.
Trudeau said the decision around the Keystone XL pipeline expansion project “was a disappointment,” though.
“But when you talk about clean energy and hydro-electricity from Canada, when we talk about what we can do around smarter grids, what we can do around electric vehicles and transportation, there is so much we’re going to continue to do together.”
Canada’s vaccine rollout
Trudeau was also asked about Canada’s vaccine rollout plan, which has been repeatedly hampered by delays from manufacturers.
He conceded that the rollout has not been “going as fast as everyone would want,” but said “we are going to have everyone vaccinated probably by the end of the summer.”
“And that is something that we’re very positive and excited about,” Trudeau said.
However, Canada has fallen considerably behind even its closest allies when it comes to vaccine rollout.
As of Saturday afternoon, only 1,816,797 doses had been administered across Canada, amounting to approximately 2.43 per cent of the country’s population.
Asked if he regrets not investing in a company in Canada to develop a vaccine at home, Trudeau said the country didn’t have the domestic pharmaceutical capacity to do so.
Health Canada green lights the AstraZeneca vaccine
“We had had it in decades past. But off-shoring and globalization meant that we no longer have the capacity,” he said. “We had from the very beginning of this pandemic started re-investing in Canadian pharmaceutical capacity which will be online in the coming year, not quick enough for this wave. But certainly moving forward, we have rebuilt and are rebuilding our scientific and domestic capacity so that we can be ready.”
“That’s what international supply chains are for,” he said. “And that’s why we’re pleased that we were able to sign so many contracts in order to be able to say we’re going to get all Canadians vaccinated in the coming months.”
Trudeau has repeatedly said Canada remains “on track” to deliver vaccines to all Canadians who want one by the end of September, despite the delays.
On Friday, Health Canada announced it had approved the COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford University-AstraZeneca for use in the country.
To date, three vaccines have been approved for use in Canada.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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