Canada’s top doctor warns of sharp rise in COVID-19 cases if Canadians don’t follow guidelines
Canada is at a crossroads in its pandemic battle, and the actions of individual Canadians will decide whether there’s a massive spike in COVID-19 cases coming, according to the latest projections from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Federal health officials presented new modelling Tuesday that shows the epidemic is accelerating nationally. They warned that if Canadians don’t step up preventative measures, the virus could spread out of control and trigger a wave of infections bigger than the first one.
“With minimal controls, the virus is capable of surging into a very sharp and intense peak because most Canadians don’t have immunity to the virus,” Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam told a news conference in Ottawa. Short-term projections show there could be up to 155,795 cases and up to 9,300 deaths by Oct. 3. If the current rate of infection is maintained, the epidemic is expected to resurge — but if that rate increases, it is expected to resurge “faster and stronger,” she said.
Rapid detection of new cases and a swift response to outbreaks are both key to controlling the pandemic, PHAC modelling documents show. Tam said there has been a significant demographic shift in the caseload since June: instead of the virus disproportionately affecting elderly Canadians, most infections are now being reported in Canadians aged 20 to 39.
The last modelling figures were released on Aug. 14. At that time, Canada’s public health officials said they were striving for a best-case scenario but preparing for the worst: a so-called “fall peak” of COVID-19 cases across Canada that would threaten to overwhelm the public health-care system.
The recent rise in cases coincides with the flu and cold season, which could put added strain on hospitals and other health resources. Health-care workers have been working on the front lines for months now and are bracing for a possible spike in hospitalizations, prompting concerns about potential burnout.
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Federal Conservatives make use of a COVID-19 test not sanctioned by Health Canada
The Ontario caucus of the federal Conservative Party made use of a COVID-19 serological test that has not yet been approved by Health Canada, according to Conservative MP Scot Davidson. Davidson, the Ontario caucus chair, said the caucus used the device “for safety” prior to a recent caucus retreat.
COVID-19 cases are rising sharply in parts of the country, including Ontario, and party leader Erin O’Toole, his wife and at least one of his staffers have all tested positive for the virus. O’Toole’s wife, Rebecca, received a positive test result late Monday after developing symptoms over the weekend.
A spokesperson for O’Toole said the Ontario caucus invited a Canadian company that is seeking approvals from Health Canada to distribute its serological test to appear at its regional meeting. Interested MPs were given the chance to take the test after they were shown a presentation by the company promoting the testing device, she said. The spokesperson said the test already has received approvals from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The tests — which use a blood sample from a finger prick — usually are reserved for people looking to learn whether they’ve been infected by coronavirus at some point in the past. The FDA warns that these kinds of tests can’t “diagnose active coronavirus infection at the time of the test or show that you do not have COVID-19.”
Canada nails down 5th deal for potential COVID-19 vaccine
Canada has now committed more than $1 billion to buy doses of COVID-19 vaccines after securing a fifth deal with Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline Tuesday. Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Tuesday that Canada has a deal in place to buy up to 72 million doses of their experimental vaccine candidate, which is just starting the second of three trial phases this month.
In all, Canada has committed $1 billion to buy at least 154 million doses of vaccines from five different companies, and most of that money will not be refunded even if the vaccines never get approved. “We need to make a substantial investment in order to ensure that Canada is well positioned to secure access to the successful vaccine or vaccines,” Anand said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “The way in which we are doing that is to bet on multiple horses at the same time in order to ensure that as one or more of those horses crosses the finish line we have access to those vaccines.”
Canada has signed deals with Moderna, Pfizer, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and now Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, all of which are among some of the most promising vaccines, but none of which have completed all the required clinical trials, or been approved for use in Canada.
Anand said Canada has also signed an agreement with Gilead Sciences and McKesson Canada to get 150,000 vials of remdesivir, the only antiviral drug that has proven effective at treating patients with COVID-19. Health Canada approved the drug for use on COVID-19 patients at the end of July. The doses will begin arriving at Canadian hospitals this month.
COVID-19 limits possibilities for former prime minister John Turner’s state funeral
Planning for a state funeral for former prime minister John Turner is proceeding in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic as his family and the government decide how to honour his public life while public events are restricted. Turner died last Friday at 91.
Typically, a former prime minister would be honoured with a public observance of the highest dignity and pomp. But the prospect of spreading COVID-19 will curtail the possibilities for Turner, as it has for many others who have died during the pandemic. The Turner family’s spokesperson, Marc Kealey, said Tuesday the family is still discussing with government officials the date of the funeral and how many people will attend in person.
Canadian Heritage spokesperson Amelie Desmarais said all decisions regarding funeral arrangements will be made in accordance with the family’s wishes and following advice from public health authorities. She said Canadians can send their condolences to the family by signing an online book of condolences or by sending their thoughts privately.
Stay informed with the latest COVID-19 data from Canada and around the world.
COVID-19 antibody testing finds ‘significant’ number of cases in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside
Since the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a heightened level of concern for what might happen to residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside if the neighbourhood was exposed to an outbreak of the disease. Many residents of the community live with limited resources, and poverty, drug use and other issues have left a trail of underlying health conditions.
Yet, while more than 8,200 British Columbians — nearly 3,000 of them within the Vancouver Coastal Health region — have tested positive for the virus, the Downtown Eastside appears to have avoided a major outbreak. But it’s now clear that the neighbourhood hasn’t been spared, according to the Vancouver Infectious Disease Centre (VIDC) — an independent non-profit that provides clinical services, research and outreach on infectious diseases in the Downtown Eastside.
Bloodwork from residents taken by the VIDC and sent to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control for testing indicates that many have had the disease, VIDC medical director Dr. Brian Conway said. “Our preliminary results suggest that a significant number of residents of the Downtown Eastside carry antibodies to COVID-19, indicating that they were infected at some point,” Conway said.
Of the few hundred residents Conway’s team tested, a couple of dozen have the antibodies, he said. There appears to be high levels of infection, at least in shelter environments where there is limited ability to maintain physical distancing, he said. Conway’s work is progressing to the contact tracing phase on Tuesday, as he and his team begin to meet with some of the people who tested positive to try to determine how they experienced the disease, when they had it, where they were, and to whom they might have transmitted COVID-19.
NFL issues more than $1M US in fines to teams, coaches who didn’t wear masks during games
NFL coaches thumbed their collective, and exposed, noses at the NFL’s mask mandate in Week 2 of the season. The league responded with hefty fines of $100,000 US per coach and $250,000 per club. The first three to get fined were Denver’s Vic Fangio, San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan and Seattle’s Pete Carroll, according to a person with knowledge of the punishment who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the coaches were not identified.
The punishment was meted out a week after the NFL reminded team personnel on the sidelines about the rules for wearing face coverings during the coronavirus pandemic, lest they put the fledgling season at risk. More coaches and clubs can expect similar punishments as the memo last week from Troy Vincent, who oversees the league’s football operations, was largely ignored throughout the weekend, with multiple offenders from coast to coast.
In his strongly worded memo, Vincent said teams “must remain vigilant and disciplined in following the processes and protocols put in place by not only the league, union and clubs, but also by state and local governments.” The rules don’t apply to players, but all other individuals with bench area access, including coaches and members of the club medical staff, are required to wear face coverings at all times.
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Cenovus-Husky deal to result in upward of 2150 layoffs – CTV Toronto
Officials with Cenovus Energy confirm the acquisition of Husky Energy will result in the elimination of between 20 and 25 per cent of the staff of the combined company.
Together, the companies currently have 8,600 employees and contractors, which means between 1,720 and 2,150 layoffs are planned.
According to Cenovus, the majority of the staffing cuts will occur in Calgary.
Cenovus announced it had purchased Husky on the weekend through a $3.8 billion share transaction. The deal is expected to be finalized in 2021.
Following the announcement of planned cuts at the combine company, Energy Minister Sonya Savage says there’s still reason for optimism regarding Alberta’s energy sector.
“Those who wish to see Canada’s energy sector shut down entirely will no doubt opportunistically seize upon today’s news,” said Savage in a statement. “But projections show continued global demand for fossil fuels well into the future. We believe that Canada should not cede that market to countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia.
“As companies across the globe navigate unprecedented economic times, job restructurings are an unfortunate reality of weathering the storm.
“As part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, the Government focused on ensuring that the oil and gas sector is in a strong position for recovery, while also diversifying the economy to create new jobs.”
'Already struggling' Calgary downtown core will be hit hard by job cuts from Cenovus-Husky merger – National Post
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“It’s an unfortunate thing, because, the timing being such, the pandemic has affected everyone in Calgary and certainly in Alberta,” Ball said. “For non-profits it means there’s been an increase in the demands for their services.”
It’s especially acute for the cultural non-profits, most of which are based downtown, she said.
“Of course people working downtown creates a vibrancy 5 to 7 and 7 beyond for bars and restaurants and also live in-person events and so the arts sector is tied to, in some ways, the vitality of the downtown core.”
Still, in spite of the doom and gloom, there are bright spots: On Monday, Suncor announced it would be relocating employees at its branch offices in the Toronto area to Calgary, essentially bringing 700 positions to Calgary.
“Yesterday, Suncor’s leadership spoke with our Downstream employees and let them know that over the course of 2021, we’d be moving our Downstream head office from Mississauga and Oakville to Calgary,” Suncor spokesperson Sneh Seetal said in an email.
Nenshi said that Suncor moving people to the city is good news, evidence of the city’s appealing real-estate market, compared to overheated business markets such as Toronto, something he hopes will bring even more business to the city.
“That’s really the pitch that we’re making to a lot of firms,” said Nenshi.
Woolley, for his part, also remains optimistic: “There is hope, I am a hopeful, optimistic Calgarian, I believe in our city, but it really does speak to the importance of us taking a look at economic diversification,” said Woolley.
With files from Geoffrey Morgan
UPDATE: 17 New COVID-19 Cases in Windsor-Essex – AM800 (iHeartRadio)
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 17 new cases of COVID-19 in our region.
Of the new cases, 12 are considered close contacts of confirmed cases. Further breaking that down, the health unit says nine of the 12 are household contacts of a confirmed case from the same household. Two other unrelated cases are close contacts of cases that visited from another jurisdiction and one case is a household contact from a different household.
According to the WECHU, the two households are not related to each other at this time.
Of the five remaining cases, three are community acquired and two are still being investigated.
There are still 44 active cases of COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex as well as outbreaks at two workplaces, one in the construction sector in Lakeshore and the food and beverage industry in Kingsville.
The health unit is not reporting any outbreaks at local schools, long-term care or retirement homes.
Meanwhile, the provincial government is reporting 827 cases of COVID-19. 355 new cases are in Toronto, 169 in Peel, 89 in York Region and 58 in Ottawa.
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