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Today's coronavirus news: COVID-19 tracing app faces criticism; Conspiracy theories spreading at alarming rate – Toronto Star

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KEY FACTS

  • 7:15 a.m.: The federal government’s COVID-19 contact tracing app is facing criticism for its download requirements

  • 7:01 a.m.: Researchers say conspiracy theories about COVID-19 are spreading at an alarming rate across Canada

  • 5:33 a.m.: “Girls” mastermind Lena Dunham shares her “Covid Story”

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

11:25 a.m.: A Norwegian cruise ship line halted all trips and apologized Monday for procedural errors after a coronavirus outbreak on one ship infected at least 5 passengers and 36 crew members. Health authorities fear the ship also could have spread the virus to dozens of towns and villages along Norway’s western coast.

The confirmed virus cases from the MS Roald Amundsen raise new questions about safety on all cruise ships during a pandemic even as the devastated cruise ship industry is pressing to resume sailings after chaotically shutting down in March.

The Hurtigruten cruise line was one of the first companies to resume sailing during the pandemic, starting cruises to Norway out of northern Germany in June with a single ship, then adding cruises in July to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.

The 41 people on the MS Roald Amundsen who tested positive have been admitted to the University Hospital of North Norway in Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle, where the ship currently is docked. The cruise line said it suspended the ship and two others — MS Fridtjof Nansen and MS Spitsbergen — from operating for an indefinite period.

11:15 a.m.: The U.S. reported more than 47,000 new coronavirus cases, the smallest daily increase in almost four weeks, despite signs of an uptick in new infections in some northeast and midwest states.

Total coronavirus cases world-wide surpassed 18 million Monday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, with the U.S. accounting for more than a quarter of the tally. The U.S. death toll was approaching 155,000.

California reported 9,032 new cases for Saturday, higher than the previous day but down from its peak of more than 12,000 cases on July 21, according to the California Department of Health. The state has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country, according to Johns Hopkins.

Florida, another hard-hit state, reported 7,084 new cases among residents, with more than 481,000 cases counted there since the start of the pandemic, according to the Florida Department of Health. The state closed some state-supported testing centers through Tuesday because of the now Tropical Storm Isaias.

10:39 a.m.: Danish organizers say the Tour de France start due to take place in Copenhagen next year has been moved to 2022 to avoid being held in the same month as the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and the European Championship soccer tournament.

Copenhagen Mayor Frank Jensen says the move means the three-stage Tour start in his city will now be planned for July 1-3, 2022, adding that he hopes the coronavirus pandemic will have passed by then.

The 2021 Tour was scheduled set to start on July 2.

The Tour’s French organizers have yet to announce a replacement city for Copenhagen, although there have been reports that the three-week event could start from the French region of Brittany in 2021.

This year’s Tour, which was supposed to start in June, will now be held Aug. 29-Sept. 20 — starting in Nice.

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7:15 a.m.: The federal government’s COVID-19 contact tracing app is facing criticism for its download requirements, which restrict some Canadians from accessing and using the app.

The app requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system.

Christopher Parsons, a senior research associate at Citizen Lab, part of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Policy, says that makes the app inaccessible for older Canadians and other marginalized groups.

“The worst affected by (the pandemic) are Black, Indigenous, people of colour, people who often have a lower socio-economic bracket. Who’s not going to be able to install the application? That same group … that’s a problem,” he said.

Parsons says criticism should be directed at the federal government, not those who designed the app.

7:01 a.m.: Researchers say conspiracy theories about COVID-19 are spreading at an alarming rate across the country — and they warn misinformation shared online may lead to devastating consequences and push Canadians to shun important safety measures.

“I think that people should be enormously concerned,” said Aengus Bridgman, a PhD candidate in political science at McGill University and co-author of a study published last month on COVID-19 misinformation and its impact on public health.

The study found the more a person relies on social media to learn about COVID-19, the more likely they are to be exposed to misinformation and to believe it, and to disregard physical distancing and other public health guidelines. About 16 per cent of Canadians use social media as their primary source of information on the virus, Bridgman said in a recent interview.

5:33 a.m.: “Girls” mastermind Lena Dunham has shared her “Covid Story” in a lengthy Instagram post detailing her experience battling the virus as someone who suffers from chronic illness.

On Friday, the writer, actress and producer revealed she tested positive for COVID-19 in March after being “reluctant” to add her voice “to a noisy landscape on such a challenging topic.” Her early symptoms included achy joints, a high fever and “crushing fatigue.”

“Seeing the carelessness with which so many in the United States are treating social distancing … I feel compelled to be honest about the impact this illness has had on me, in the hopes that personal stories allow us to see the humanity in what can feel like abstract situations,” she wrote. “Suddenly my body simply… revolted. The nerves in my feet burned and muscles wouldn’t seem to do their job. My hands were numb. I couldn’t tolerate loud noises.

“I couldn’t sleep but I couldn’t wake up. I lost my sense of taste and smell. A hacking cough, like a metronome keeping time. Inability to breathe after simple tasks like getting a glass of water. Random red rashes. A pounding headache right between my eyes. It felt like I was a complex machine that had been unplugged and then had my wires rerouted into the wrong inputs. This went on for 21 days … that blended together like a rave gone wrong.”

Click here to read more coverage from Sunday

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Quebec health minister asks people to avoid gatherings for 28 days as COVID-19 cases surpass 70000 – CTV News Montreal

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MONTREAL —
Quebec’s health minister is insisting for Quebecers to avoid social gatherings for at least 28 days. 

Christian Dube made the announcement at a press conference on Friday after the province surpassed 70,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

“If we do this, I think that it’ll encourage people to understand that, yes, it’s an additional effort that we’re asking you to do, but there’s an end to it,” he said. “It’s for a month, it’s not permanent, we are asking you for one month of efforts to break this second wave.” 

In a news conference on Thursday, Dube specified he’s asking Quebecers to avoid dinners, barbecues, parties, and other such gatherings between people who aren’t part of the same bubble. The measure is an attempt to halt community transmission that public health says is the culprit of Quebec’s recent uptick in cases of COVID-19. 

“We’re saying make a small social effort now,” Dube said. “If we succeed, well, the curve — we will flatten it.” 

If members of the same bubble would like to dine together at a restaurant, they can do so, the government said. 

When pressed about whether restaurants and bars will close once regions begin entering the “red alert” level on the province’s COVID-19 map, public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda said it all depends on where the outbreaks in the province are coming from. If restaurants aren’t presenting a risk, they won’t have to close, Arruda said. 

Quebec health authorities reported 637 new cases of the disease on Friday, bringing the provincial total to 70,307 since the start of the pandemic. 

Friday’s update is the highest number of cases Quebec has reported over a 24-hour period since May 21, when it reported 718. 

Four more people have died in the province, for a total of 5,814. Officials say the deaths took place between Sept. 18 and 23. 

A significant portion of the cases have been recorded in the Montreal region (229, for a total of 32,292), while 132 cases have been recorded in Quebec City (3,483), 17 in the Eastern Townships (1,658), 38 in Chaudiere-Appalaches (1,098), 43 in Laval (6,831), 20 in Outaouais (1,230), 16 in the Laurentians (4,593) and 83 in Monteregie (10,281). 

Dube announced that the entire metropolitan region of Montreal and the MRC Riviere du Nord — including the Saint-Jerome area — are now in the “orange” alert level on the province’s regional COVID-19 alert map.

“The changes in the alert levels demonstrate the seriousness of the situation,” Dube said.

As of Friday, there are 199 people being treated for COVID-19 in Quebec hospitals, which is an increase of 15 from the number reported on Thursday. Of them, 33 people are receiving treatment in the intensive care ward, which is an increase of two over the past 24 hours. 

Quebec reported another 313 recoveries on Friday, bringing the total number of people who’ve recovered from the disease in the province to 60,256 — or 85.7 per cent of the cumulative cases. 

Quebec reported that it completed analyses of 36,060 samples on Sept. 23 (Quebec reports its daily testing figures from two days prior). Health Minister Christian Dube said on Friday that this testing update beat Quebec’s daily record. 

WHEN PUBLIC HEALTH CALLS

Public health said last week that only one third of the people it attempted to reach for contact-tracing purposes answered the phone. Citizens were quick to point out that the calls come from a blocked number, which creates confusion and prevents people from calling back. Dube announced on Friday that calls from public health will now be labelled “Sante Publique.” 

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Quebec tops 70,000 coronavirus cases as province reports 637 new infections – Global News

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada has inked a deal to obtain up to 20 million doses of another coronavirus vaccine candidate.

The vaccine is being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

READ MORE: Here’s when experts say Oxford University’s coronavirus vaccine could be ready






3:15
Coronavirus: Canada’s PM, top doctor urge patience on development of COVID-19 rapid testing


Coronavirus: Canada’s PM, top doctor urge patience on development of COVID-19 rapid testing

It’s one of several potential vaccines that the government has signed deals to procure in the event they are successful.

Story continues below advertisement

Agreements were previously reached with major pharmaceutical companies including Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

“Canadians must have access to a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 as quickly as possible, no matter where it was developed,” Trudeau said during a press conference in Ottawa on Friday.






0:47
Coronavirus: Canada secured packaging materials for up to 80 million vaccine doses, minister says


Coronavirus: Canada secured packaging materials for up to 80 million vaccine doses, minister says

Trudeau also announced that Canada is joining an international coalition on vaccine distribution.

Canada will contribute $440 million toward the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, known as COVAX.

Canada is joining both parts of the initiative: one which secures access to millions of doses of vaccines for Canada, and the other which has wealthier nations pooling their funds to help lower and middle-income countries secure doses as well.

The deal will give Canada the option to buy up to 15 million doses, Trudeau said.

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Joining the program will allow Canada to help ensure the successful vaccine is distributed “quickly and fairly” around the world, according to the prime minister.

“This pandemic cannot be solved by any one country alone because to eliminate the virus anywhere, we need to eliminate it everywhere,” he said.

–With files from The Canadian Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday, Sept. 25 – CBC.ca

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Recent developments: 

What’s the latest?

As a second wave of COVID-19 hits Ottawa, experts in the region are calling on the province to shut down activities again and bring the virus under control.

Eleven Ottawa pharmacies will begin offering free COVID-19 tests today to certain people who have no symptoms of the viral illness.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board says there are hundreds of kids now trying to switch to remote learning, building a waiting list of some 1,600 students.

WATCH | Dad says he’s disappointed with class sizes, mask guidance:

Thomas Williams, who has children in Grade 1 and Grade 3, says his family originally chose in-person learning but is hoping to switch to online, disappointed with class sizes and mask guidance. 0:40

Some families in Ottawa say the long wait for COVID-19 test results is placing a burden on them as they’re forced to stay home from work and school.

WATCH | One family’s experience:

Caroline Bicker, who got tested for COVID-19 after she and her son developed runny noses, says her family’s life has been put on hold for five days as they await test results. 1:11

How many cases are there?

As of the most recent Ottawa Public Health (OPH) update on Thursday, 3,919 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. That includes 587 known active cases, 3,052 resolved cases and 280 deaths.

Its five-day average of new cases per daily report is at its highest level of the pandemic.

Overall, public health officials have reported more than 5,900 cases of COVID-19 across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, with more than 4,700 of those cases considered resolved.

COVID-19 has killed 104 people in the region outside Ottawa: 52 people have died in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark counties, 34 in the Outaouais and 18 in other parts of eastern Ontario.

According to data shared by Ottawa’s four boards and OPH, more than 50 schools had reported at least one case of COVID-19 involving a staff member or student.

Five have what OPH considers an outbreak, or a reasonable chance COVID-19 passed from one person to another during a school activity.

What’s open and closed?

Some public health rules are being rolled back because of the second wave of the pandemic.

Ottawa public health officials are ordering anyone with symptoms or who has been identified as a close contact of someone who’s tested positive to immediately self-isolate or face a fine of up to $5,000 per day in court.

Private, unmonitored gatherings across Ontario are now limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

Festival of Small Halls director Mark Monahan breaks down this year’s lineup, and the changes they’ve made to keep music goers safe. 9:38

Kingston, Ont., has tightened its distancing rules in city parks and increased fines.

Quebec has introduced tighter restrictions in the province’s “orange zones,”  which now includes the Outaouais.

Ottawa will resume ticketing drivers who park longer than allowed in unmarked areas Thursday.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something.

People can be contagious without symptoms.

This means precautions such as working from home, keeping your hands and frequently-touched surfaces clean socializing outdoors as much as possible and keeping distance from anyone you don’t live with or have in your social circle, including when you have a mask on.

WATCH | COVID-19’s impact on Black people:

There’s mounting evidence that COVID-19 disproportionately affects Black Canadians. Now, a Black-led research team is trying to pin down just how widespread infections are in Ontario. 2:02

Ottawa’s medical officer of health and Quebec’s top health official are pleading with residents to reduce the number of people they’re in close contact with as new cases of COVID-19 continue to surge.

Masks are mandatory in indoor public settings in all of eastern Ontario and Quebec, including transit services and taxis in some areas.

Masks are also recommended outdoors when you can’t stay the proper distance from others.

A rider in a mask exits the uOttawa LRT station near downtown Ottawa on Sept. 22. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.

Most people with a confirmed COVID-19 case in Quebec can end their self-isolation after 10 days if they have not had a fever for at least 48 hours and has had no other symptom for at least 24 hours.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible. 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and the loss of taste or smell. 

Less common symptoms include chills, headaches and pink eye. Children can develop a rash.

Getting tested any sooner than five days after potential exposure may not be useful since the virus may not yet be detectable, says OPH.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Where to get tested

Wait times and lines have been long at many of the area’s test sites, causing some to reach capacity before closing time or even before opening.

It’s also taking up to five days for laboratories to process tests, according to OPH’s Etches on Wednesday.

Ontario health officials have said they’re trying to add more test capacity.

The Ontario government has revised its guidelines for who should get tested for COVID-19 at an assessment centre. But will that do much to cut down the long, long lines of people waiting for tests every day? 10:54

In eastern Ontario:

As of Thursday Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, have been told to by your health unit or by the province because of your work.

Most of Ottawa‘s testing happens at one of four permanent sites, with additional mobile sites wherever demand is particularly high.

A test clinic is expected to open at the Ray Friel Recreation Complex in Orléans, likely by mid-October.

People without symptoms, but who are part of the province’s targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select Ottawa pharmacies.

The line up for a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre winds its way through several parking lots, across a street and through another parking lot, outside the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa on Sept. 20. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

In the Eastern Ontario Health Unit, there are drive-thru centres in Casselman and Limoges and a walk-up site in Hawkesbury that doesn’t require people to call ahead.

Its medical officer of health says the Casselman centre will be moved to reduce its impact on traffic.

Others in Alexandria, Rockland, Cornwall and Winchester require an appointment.

In Kingstonthe Leon’s Centre is hosting the city’s test site though Gate 2.

It moves to the Beechgrove Complex near King Street West and Portsmouth Avenue this weekend and will start with two days of drive-thru testing as a trial.

Napanee‘s test centre is open daily for people who call ahead.

WATCH | Why did Ontario cut comprehensive nursing home inspections?

When the Ford government scaled back comprehensive, annual inspections of Ontario nursing homes in 2018, experts say it may have left facilities unprepared and residents vulnerable to the novel coronavirus because the only oversight mechanism that reliably found infection control weaknesses had been removed. A joint CBC Marketplace and The National investigation analyzed thousands of long-term care violations in the year leading up to the pandemic and found the new system caught 68 per cent fewer infection control infractions. And the province’s 2015 report reveals these “resident quality inspections” were up to five times better at catching serious infractions. 8:29

People can arrange a test in Bancroft, Belleville, Picton or Trenton by calling the centre. Only Belleville and Trenton run seven days a week and also offer online booking.

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark unit has walk-in sites in Kemptville and Brockville — the latter with extended hours this weekend. 

Testing sites in Smiths Falls and Almonte which require an appointment, same for a pop-up site in Perth today.

Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor. Those without access to a family doctor can call 1-844-727-6404 for a test or if they have health questions, COVID-19-related or not.

People can also visit the health unit’s website to find out where testing clinics will be taking place each week.

In western Quebec:

Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.

They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.

There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.

They can call 1-877-644-4545 if they have other questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms. People without symptoms can also get a test.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

Akwesasne has had 14 confirmed COVID-19 cases, most linked to a gathering on an island in July.

It has a mobile COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.

Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who’s been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Inuit in Ottawa can also call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.

People in Pikwakanagan can book an appointment for a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259. 

Anyone in Tyendinaga who’s interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 to talk to a nurse.

For more information

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