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The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for Dec. 2 – CBC.ca

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  • Coronavirus tracker: Follow the spread of COVID-19 as case numbers remain high in most of Canada.
  • Quebec hospitalization rates have doctors there concerned that allowing Christmas gatherings could lead to untenable January scenario.
  • Sask. corrections minister under fire because of COVID-19 outbreak at Saskatoon jail. .
  • U.S. advisory panel makes near-unanimous recommendations on priority groups to first receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Read more: Neskantaga First Nation residents deal with evacuation, pandemic stressors because of water crisis; some of Canada’s biggest retailers say Ontario lockdown rules ‘might actually be making things worse.’

Bob Underhill, 84, and his wife Patricia, 82, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, kiss through a face mask as they are allowed to resume visits with physical contact in London, U.K. at The Chiswick Nursing Centre, which introduced a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test with results ready in 30 minutes. (Kevin Coombs/Reuters)

Vaccine public opinion polling reflects polarization seen throughout pandemic

Since attention has turned to vaccines and what appears to be the likelihood in the near future that at least one will be authorized as safe to use for most Canadians, the Conservatives in Ottawa have focused their attacks on the federal government’s plan to acquire and distribute the doses, writes CBC’s Éric Grenier.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole has claimed that Canada will be “near the back of the line” for vaccines because of the country’s dependence on companies with production facilities outside the country. But this week’s Léger poll suggests a minority of Canadians share O’Toole’s concern — while 37 per cent of Canadians are worried Canada might not get the vaccine at the same time as the United States and the United Kingdom, 48 per cent said they are “not that concerned” and feel “a few months won’t make much of a difference.”

The Léger poll suggests Conservative voters are the ones most likely to be concerned about delays — and the ones least likely to say they would take the first vaccine made available to the public. According to Léger, about half of Conservative voters believe that the current federal government is withholding information about vaccines, with only 15 per cent of Liberal voters holding a similar view.

Trust in a vaccine could have an impact on Canadians’ willingness to get in line, and it appears to be taking on a partisan hue, writes Grenier.

On average, recent polls conducted by Abacus, Angus Reid and Léger suggest only 34 per cent of Canadians would get immunized as soon as possible, while 41 per cent said they would wait a little before getting the needle. Between 11 and 15 per cent of those polled said they would not get vaccinated at all.

In the Reid, Abacus and Léger surveys, an average of just 27 per cent of Conservative voters said they would get vaccinated as soon as possible, compared to 43 per cent of Liberals and 39 per cent of New Democrats.

Click below to watch more videos from CBC News

As Canada prepares to distribute millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines in January, Chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh and David Levine, who managed the H1N1 vaccine rollout for Montreal, say this vaccination campaign won’t be without challenges. 3:56

IN BRIEF

Quebec hospitals filling up, doctors concerned Christmas gatherings could push them over the edge

Quebec hospitals usually see a rise in visits to the emergency room in early January, but as of Wednesday morning, nearly one-third of the province’s emergency rooms are operating at full capacity or greater.

For now, the province plans to allow Quebec residents up to two gatherings between Dec. 24 and Dec. 27, with a maximum of 10 people in attendance and with no limit on the number of households those people would come from.

Dr. Vincent Bouchard-Dechêne, an internal medicine specialist at Notre-Dâme Hospital in Montreal, doesn’t see how hospitals can deal with an increase in COVID-19 patients after the holidays while still providing service to people with other ailments.

“To limit gatherings during Christmastime would be the best gift we could give ourselves,” said Bouchard-Dechêne.

Premier François Legault has said he will make a final call on holiday gathering guidelines by Dec. 11, but Dr. Matthew Oughton, a physician with the Jewish General Hospital’s infectious diseases division, is among those questioning that timeline.

The characteristics of COVID-19, including the time it takes for its symptoms to appear, make it difficult for trends to change much between now and Dec. 11, some doctors say.

“That’s really at the fine cutting edge of where anything that you would do today, you’d really see changes reflected in the numbers by Dec. 11,” said Oughton.

Read more about what’s happening in Quebec 

Sask. minister under fire over COVID-19 outbreak at jail

Some NDP members of the legislature are calling on Saskatchewan’s corrections minister to resign amid an outbreak at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre.

Corrections and Policing Minister Christine Tell says the government is doing all it can to protect the inmates and staff at the jail, but has offered little in the way of specifics. In the past 10 days, the number of staff and inmates testing positive for COVID-19 at the centre has gone from none to 142.

“Why it came into the facility with all the precautions, I can’t answer that,” said Tell.

Advocacy groups are calling for the targeted release of inmates from the centre. Earlier this year, the province’s Public Prosecutions agency moved to reduce the numbers in the province’s jails, instructing prosecutors to review all new arrests with an eye to keeping non-violent accused out of jail.

The order was a response to fears about the coronavirus getting into the jail system, which has been a problem during the pandemic in a number of North American prisons and jails. A CBC News analysis earlier in the year found infection rates among those Canadians imprisoned or jailed were up to nine times higher than in the general population.

According to the government, decisions about releasing inmates at the Saskatoon facility who don’t pose a community risk would be made by Public Prosecutions.

Tell said the jail has been taking precautions to slow the spread, including mandatory masking, no longer charging inmates for soap and banning visitors.

NDP MLA Nicole Sarauer said the province’s handling and response should cost Tell her position.

“This is a minister who shouldn’t be a minister anymore,” Sarauer said.

Read more about the situation in Saskatchewan 

U.S advisory panel sets out priority groups for 1st vaccinations

Health-care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line when the first coronavirus vaccine shots become available in the U.S., an influential government advisory panel said this week in a near-unanimous verdict.

The U.S. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 13-1 to recommend to the Centers for Disease Control those groups — which comprise about 24 million Americans — get priority in the first days of any coming vaccination program, when doses are expected to be limited.

About three million people in the U.S. live in nursing homes, long-term chronic care hospitals and other long-term care facilities. Those patients and the staff members who care for them have accounted for six per cent of U.S. coronavirus cases and a staggering 39 per cent of deaths, CDC officials say.

The recommendations are not binding, but the panel dates back to 1964 and for decades its advice has been widely heeded by doctors. But one potential complication is that it will be governors and state officials who ultimately have final say on the prioritization of specific populations in their jurisdictions.

The panel will meet again at some point to recommend who should be next in line. Among the possibilities: teachers, police, firefighters and workers in other essential fields, such as food production and transportation, could be among those under consideration then.

In Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, or NACI, has released preliminary recommendations that prioritize the elderly and others at severe risk of illness, including health-care workers, front-line staff and those with lower access to health care, such as Indigenous populations.

Read more about the recommendations 

(CBC News)

Stay informed with the latest COVID-19 data.

THE SCIENCE

U.K. approves Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for emergency use

Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, which licenses drugs in the United Kingdom, approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use on Wednesday.

While the U.K. has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine — enough for 20 million people — Conservative Health Minister Matt Hancock said the first shipment will be 800,000 doses and will arrive “within days” to the National Health Service.

China and Russia have offered different vaccinations to their citizens ahead of late-stage testing, but Britain is the first to sign off on a COVID-19 vaccine through a Western-style regulatory process.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is set to meet on Dec. 10 to review the Pfizer product. Pfizer’s vaccine is among seven that Canada has pre-ordered, and Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, Supriya Sharma, has said regulators here are expected to make decisions on timelines similar to those followed by the U.S.

Final testing must still be completed for the shots made by U.S.-based Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, but results appear to be effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease, with no known serious side-effects so far.

The vaccine itself does come with challenges in terms of deployment. It must be stored and shipped at ultra-cold temperatures of around -70 C, unlike some of the other vaccine candidates, and it will be delivered with a saline solution for dilution purposes.

AND FINALLY…

Nova Scotia study to examine COVID-19 shaming

Motorists go through checkpoints on July 3 leaving the Confederation Bridge in Borden-Carleton, P.E.I., as part of Atlantic Canada’s travel bubble. While the region has generally not seen virus outbreaks as in other parts of the country, shaming of those who test positive occurs, says a Dalhousie professor. (Brian McInnis/The Canadian Press)

A Dalhousie University professor hopes that a study of shaming during the COVID-19 pandemic can be a start to breaking the historical cycle. International development studies professor Robert Huish is looking for people who have been the targets of pandemic shaming to tell their stories.

Huish is starting his study in Nova Scotia, but hopes to expand it across Atlantic Canada and eventually across the country.

“There is always someone who is shunned, someone who is shamed, someone who is made to feel marginalized, and that’s been an unfortunate consequence of quarantine for thousands of years, Huish told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier.

The expected arrival of a vaccine, presented as a “light at the end of the tunnel” scenario, could paradoxically be a difficult time, Huish said. In the beginning there will not be enough vaccine for everyone, and the federal and provincial governments will prioritize groups to first be vaccinated. Many Canadians will have to physically distance and wear masks well into 2021.

“Allowing people to be vaccinated and then suddenly free of any of the ordinances that the rest of society is following, that could build huge resentment, stigmatization and all sorts of weird social complexities that we may not see coming,” he said.

Read more about the study here

Find out more about COVID-19

Still looking for more information on the pandemic? Read more about COVID-19’s impact on life in Canada, or reach out to us at covid@cbc.ca if you have any questions.

If you have symptoms of the illness caused by the coronavirus, here’s what to do in your part of the country.

For full coverage of how your province or territory is responding to COVID-19, visit your local CBC News site.

To get this newsletter daily as an email, subscribe here

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Coronavirus: Toronto ICU patients being flown to other hospitals as facilities overloaded – Global News

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  1. Coronavirus: Toronto ICU patients being flown to other hospitals as facilities overloaded  Global News
  2. Active COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations climb as Ottawa reports 136 new cases Saturday  CTV Edmonton
  3. A run with friends? A distanced drink? Let’s dig into Ontario’s opaque gathering rules  CBC.ca
  4. Ontario reports 3056 new COVID-19 infections, 51 more deaths  CP24 Toronto’s Breaking News
  5. Today’s letters: On travelling – and staying home – during COVID lockdown  Ottawa Citizen
  6. View Full coverage on Google News



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Key COVID-19 numbers in the Ottawa area today – CBC.ca

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  • Ottawa is reporting 136 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday.
  • Western Quebec has confirmed 43 new infections today.

Today’s Ottawa update

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) recorded 136 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. OPH also declared 111 more cases resolved and reported no new deaths.

The infection rate in Ottawa has risen to record levels since around Christmas, prompting OPH to declare the city is once again in a COVID-19 crisis.

The current lockdown in eastern Ontario went into effect Dec. 26, and is now scheduled to last until Feb. 11.

A provincial stay-at-home order is also in effect. 

Numbers to watch

88.9: The number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 Ottawa residents, down from Friday.

1.01: The average number of people infected by a single COVID-19 case, or R(t), has been in gradual decline this month but remains unchanged since Friday. OPH aims to keep the number below one.

4.1%: Ottawa’s average test positivity percentage, down from 4.5 per cent.

Across the region

Health authorities in western Quebec are reporting 43 new cases of COVID-19 but no more deaths.

Quebec’s lockdown lasts until Feb. 8. It includes an 8 p.m. curfew that went into effect last weekend.

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Ontario reports 3056 new COVID-19 infections, 51 more deaths – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Ontario is reporting more than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases and a slight decrease in hospitalizations on Saturday.

The province logged 3,056 new infections and 51 additional deaths.

Twenty-five of the latest fatalities were among long-term care home residents, according to the Ministry of Health’s latest epidemiological summary.

To date, 3,162 long-term care residents have died from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, representing 59 per cent of all virus-related deaths in the province. A total of 5,340 people have died from the virus in Ontario.

Provincial health officials said 3,212 more people have recovered from the virus on Saturday, bringing the number of active cases to 28,618.

Ontario recorded 2,998 new cases on Friday, 3,326 on Thursday and 2,961 on Wednesday.

A record 3,945 new cases were recorded on Jan. 10.

The seven-day rolling average now stands at 3,218, compared to 3,341 a week ago. Last week’s average does not include the approximately 450 additional cases that were reported by Toronto Public Health on Jan. 8 due to a data backlog.

In the past 24 hours, the province processed more than 73,800 tests, down from the record 76,472 tests conducted a day ago.

The testing positivity rate now stands at 4.9 per cent, up from 4.6 per cent a day ago, according to the Ministry of Health. The positivity rate was 5.3 per cent a week ago.

Most of the cases continue to be throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

“Locally, there are 903 new cases in Toronto, 639 in Peel, 283 in York Region, 162 in Durham and 152 in Ottawa,” Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted.

Toronto, Peel Region and York Region saw a decrease in new cases compared to a day ago, while Durham and Ottawa saw an increase.

Halton Region logged 61 new infections, down 20 from Friday, and Hamilton reported 53 new cases, a notable decrease from 138 cases logged a day ago.

Only three of Ontario’s 34 public health units reported zero new cases on Saturday, and 16 logged 10 or less new infections.

Patients hospitalized with the virus decreased slightly on Saturday as the province’s health care system remains overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases.

According to the government, 1,632 were hospitalized with the virus in the past 24 hours, down from 1,647 a day ago. On Tuesday, 1,701 people were in hospitals across the province with the virus but hospitalizations have been decreasing slightly ever since.

Of the latest hospitalizations, 397 are in intensive care units, up from 387 on Friday, and 281 are breathing with the help of a ventilator.

There have been more than 234,300 cases of the novel coronavirus in the province since the virus emerged almost a year ago. More than 200,400 people have recovered from COVID-19.

More than 19,000 completed vaccinations

As of 8 p.m. on Saturday, the government has administered more than 189,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines across the province.

In the past 24 hours, more than 14,400 doses were administered to Ontarians.

Since Dec. 14, more than 19,300 vaccinations have been completed across the province, as two doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are required for full immunization.

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