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Today's coronavirus news: Ontario sees 81 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths; Quebec reports 67 new cases, one new death – Toronto Star

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

2:51 p.m.: New Brunswick has reported two new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of active cases in the province to 15.

Public health officials said in a statement Sunday that both cases are in the Moncton region and are related to international travel.

One of them is under age 10 and the other is between 10 and 19 years old, the authorities said, and both people are self-isolating.

1:00 p.m.: Georgia’s governor, who has opposed local mask mandates and even sued over one in Atlanta, has signed a new executive order that allows local governments to enact mask requirements to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.

As with previous orders, the one issued Saturday says residents and visitors of the state are “strongly encouraged” to wear face coverings when they are outside of their homes, except when eating, drinking or exercising outside. But unlike previous orders, this one allows local governments in counties that have reached a “threshold requirement” to require the wearing of masks on government-owned property.

12:09 p.m. Quebec is reporting 67 new COVID-19 infections today and one death linked to the virus.

Health authorities say the death stems from an unknown date and none have been reported in the past 24 hours.

The province has 61,151 infections and 5,720 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Both hospitalizations and patients in intensive care remained unchanged from one day earlier.

The province’s Health Department reports 149 patients in hospital, with 25 in intensive care.

Authorities report having conducted 14,947 tests as of Friday, the last day for which figures were available.

10:57 a.m. Ontario is reporting 81 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths related to the virus.

The total number of cases now stands at 40,646, which includes 2,789 deaths and 36,953 cases marked as resolved.

Active hospitalizations increased by one between Saturday and Sunday, while ongoing ICU cases declined by two.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said the positivity rate on testing remains low.

Elliott also said that 31 of Ontario’s 34 public health regions reported five or fewer cases, while 17 reported no new cases.

The province was able to complete more than 30,000 tests in the previous day.

8:42 a.m. Russia reached an agreement in principle with Saudia Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to conduct clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine, the head of its sovereign wealth fund said. China and Russia may also work together on a vaccine, a top Chinese virus expert said.

CureVac NV won’t sell its virus vaccine candidate at cost, the German company’s finance chief told the Financial Times.

The Netherlands raised its travel advisory level to orange for three Spanish regions, including Madrid and the Balearic Islands, as well as the French and Belgian capitals.

Cases in the U.S. rose by 0.9%, less than the 1% increase over the previous week, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg showed.

8:00 a.m. The Victoria & District Cricket Association was among the first Canadian recreational sports leagues to restart play in June, the same month guidelines were released on how such a restart could take place. Health officials, including B.C. public health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, said staying active by playing sports should be encouraged throughout the pandemic — as long as organizers could limit the number of people coming into contact with one another, and maintain physical distancing and sanitizing.

Many more leagues in Canada are struggling to find their footing, sorting out questions like whether it’s even possible to practise physical distancing during play.

The biggest question for some is liability. While B.C. has shielded sports organizations by making them exempt from legal liability should players contract COVID-19, other provinces haven’t been able to do that.

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford and Lisa MacLeod, the minister for heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, on Friday announced additional capacity would be allowed for some sports facilities and additional funding to support recreational leagues, but MacLeod said they’re still working on the liability issue.

Read more from Star reporter Alex McKeen here.

7 a.m. In the pitched battle over Ontario’s back-to-school plan, advocates say a glaring issue is being largely ignored, one that is critical for tens of thousands of families and increases the potential COVID-19 risk for elementary schools, even if class sizes shrink: Before- and after-school programs. 

With September just weeks away, child-care advocates say there has been an “abdication of responsibility” by the province to ensure these programs are safe and viable, further fuelling parental anxiety and leaving child-care providers and school boards scrambling. 

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Before- and after-school care is a lifeline for many parents whose working hours don’t align with the school day but they can also see up to 30 kids mixing in a single space, often from different classrooms or even schools — meaning they could be part of two “cohorts” or even three, if they take the bus. 

Read more from Star reporters Rachel Mendleson and Jennifer Yang here.

5:58 a.m. After France recorded its highest one-day rise in virus infections since May, the government is pushing for wider mask use and tighter protections for migrant workers and in slaughterhouses.

But France still plans to reopen schools nationwide in two weeks, and the labour minister says the government is determined to avoid a new nationwide lockdown that would further hobble the economy and threaten jobs.

France’s infection count has resurged in recent weeks, blamed in part on people criss-crossing the country for weddings, family gatherings or annual summer vacations with friends. Britain re-imposed quarantine measures Saturday for vacationers returning from France as a result.

France reported 3,310 new infections in a single day Saturday, and the rate of positive tests has been growing and is now at 2.6%. The daily case count was down to several hundred a day for two months, but started rising again in July. Overall France has reported more than 30,400 virus-related deaths, among the world’s highest tolls.

Labour Minister Elisabeth Borne said in an interview published Sunday with the Journal du Dimanche newspaper that the government wants to expand mask use in workplaces.

“We must avoid new confinement at any cost,” she said.

Sunday 1:04 a.m. South Korea has reported 279 new coronavirus cases in the highest daily jump since early March, as fears grow about a massive outbreak in the greater capital region.

The figures released by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Sunday brought the national caseload to 15,318, including 305 deaths.

The number of new cases is the highest since 367 on March 8, when the country was concentrating public health tools and personnel nationwide to bring an outbreak in the less populated southern region under control.

The KCDC said 253 of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, home to 26 million people, where health authorities have been struggling to stem transmissions linked to churches, nursing homes, schools, restaurants and door-to-door salespeople.

Saturday 9:30 p.m.: After an increase in COVID-19 cases in B.C. this past week, Vancouver-born actor and comedian Seth Rogen tweeted Saturday that the “people of British Columbia” should forego parties, barbecues and other gatherings in favour of more low-key activities.

“It’s more fun to hang out alone and smoke weed and watch movies and TV shows anyway!” he wrote. “Do that instead!”

B.C. reported 85, 78 and 84 new cases on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday respectively.

7 p.m.: Toronto’s public school board is reeling after learning its plan to shrink elementary class sizes to 15 or 20 students has been rejected by the province and — like other large, urban boards including Ottawa-Carleton — it must now also overhaul its schedule for high schools, too.

Trustees say officials had given the go-ahead for the half-day, every-other-day schedule for secondary schools, but that was nixed late last week because the ministry expects teens to be in class, in person, 50 per cent of the time. Boards had opted for the every-other-day model to limit the number of contacts for secondary students.

Now, just three weeks before classes are expected to resume, the country’s largest school board must overhaul its back-to-school plans for all grades, from kindergarten to Grade 12.

Read the full story by the Star’s Kristin Rushowy here

From Friday: This Sunday, the only thing keeping a flotilla of minimally clothed Americans on their side of the border is a strong east wind.

It’s the same predicament every year in Sarnia, Ont., when thousands of U.S. citizens — and some Canadians — hop aboard rafts, inner tubes and the odd trampoline or picnic table rigged with barrels — and transform the St. Clair River into a party for a 12-kilometre float downstream. In earlier decades, officials tried to stop the “unsanctioned marine event” known as the Port Huron Float Down, but now there is a weary acceptance that on the third Sunday in August thousands of people will show up without fail, in storms, strong winds and, yes, even in a pandemic.

Read more from Star feature writer Katie Daubs here.

Read more of Saturday’s coverage here.

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COVID-19 in Canada: What a second shutdown might look like – CTV News

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This article was featured in the Nightly Briefing, CTV News’ evening reading recommendation. You can sign up here to receive it each weekday night.

As countries around the world start re-imposing coronavirus restrictions amid spikes in new cases, Canadian politicians and health officials are warning that parts of the country may soon enter a second shutdown.

However, infectious disease physician Dr. Zain Chagla says the second lockdown will not look like the first.

“We’re very different than we were in March, we had no clue how deep this was going to spread into our communities, there was hospital issues in terms of health care utilization, and we really had limited testing and didn’t really understand where this disease was transmitted within our community,” Chagla explained in an interview with CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday.

“So we had to really do something very global to get things to work.”

Now, Chagla said provincial health authorities have a better grasp on what measures work in mitigating the risk of COVID-19.

While Canada’s case numbers are rising, Chagla said the country has access to reasonable testing, healthcare systems aren’t currently overloaded and both the public and officials understand that private, indoor gatherings are largely contributing to the spread of the virus.

He added that having these factors under control gives Canada the opportunity to thoughtfully prepare for a second wave and another possible shutdown.

“We have the luxury of sitting here and actually making some very precise changes to see if we can keep transmission down afterwards, rather than putting everyone through what we did in March and April,” Chagla said.

To avoid a repeat scenario, he explained that policymakers need to keep COVID-19 messaging positive and consistent, plan creative long-term solutions for outdoor facilities, and closely monitor allowable gathering sizes.

“We’re going to have ebbs and flows but these sorts of solutions, what we’re going to be doing for the months and going into the winter and even further than that, are going to have to be sustainable and so that’s where the positive messaging comes from,” Chagla said.

Chagla added that there is a misconception about who is transmitting the virus. He says “there’s a big thought” that recent spikes are all young people that are partying together but in reality, “it’s still families that are having get-togethers” such as weddings and other celebrations where the virus is spreading.

“All of us kind of need to be messaged positively to say ‘OK, [COVID-19] is still here. We can protect our communities. We can do things safely’,” he said.

To help with this, Chagla said outdoor facilities and restaurants need to be better equipped to allow Canadians to safely socialize especially as the country heads into the winter months.

“Making more outdoor facilities gives us the recognition that we need to socialize. We need to actually be around people and there is a way to do it safely with a few more layers, but sparing what’s going to happen to the medical system,” Chagla said.

Additionally, Chagla said policymakers should not impede Canadians’ ability to get tested, but also not encourage over-testing.

As long lines are being reported at COVID-19 testing centres across the country, the federal government has pledged billions in funding to address the issue and improve other pandemic measures.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch told CTV News Channel that the testing wait times stem from a combination of factors, including limited testing capacity and an increased desire from the population to receive a test.

Bogoch said in an interview on Thursday that these factors need to be addressed amid the current rise in cases.

“The capacity currently is significantly better than what it was in for example March or April of this year, but clearly it’s not where it needs to be,” he said.

New testing centres have recently opened in Edmonton and Laval, Que. while another is slated to open soon in Brampton, Ont. However, Bogoch said this still might not be enough.

To address the capacity issue, Bogoch said provinces may have to change their messaging around testing.

“Given the snapshot that we’re in right now, maybe it’s best for messaging to focus on people to get tested if they’re either at risk for getting this infection, if they have any signs or symptoms of infection regardless of how mild, or if they’ve had any possible exposures to this infection,” Bogoch explained.

“Certainly those individuals should be prioritized, but in the same breath of course, you shouldn’t be turned away from a testing centre,” he added.

Amid the testing issues, Chagla says monitoring gathering sizes remains key in managing Canada’s recent COVID-19 spikes.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce that the province will lower limits on social gatherings in its hotspots to stem recent increases in COVID-19 cases. Ford said that the “highest fines in the country” will be put in place to stop people from breaking the regulations but Chagla says the move does not go far enough.

“I think that’s a good symbolic gesture, but there does need to be some enforcement unfortunately for some of these people that take things out of control and lead to a significant public health event,” Chagla said.

Bogoch told CTV News Channel that rolling back gathering limits in Ontario’s hotspots is the “right move.”

“We clearly can’t continue on at the status quo, and there clearly needs to be measures to limit transmission, especially in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa. That’s a smart move,” Bogoch said in an interview on Thursday.

He added that the province will see some benefit from the rollback, if the implementation of the new gathering limits are clearly communicated and enforced.

While Ontario rolls back its gathering limit, Bogoch said other provinces experiencing outbreaks should follow suit.

“We’re seeing widespread community transmission in four provinces. Clearly, we need to clamp back down to get this virus under control,” he said.

“What does clamp down mean? It’s not entirely clear. Different provinces are taking different steps, but it’s obvious that we need to take action now to prevent these cases from rising.”

Last week in Quebec, the government said police can hand out tickets, ranging between $400 and $6,000, to those who don’t have a face covering in indoor public spaces or on public transit.

The province also announced several measures in addition to the fines, including the banning of karaoke and obliging bars to keep registers of clients as infection numbers rise.

In response to its increase in cases, B.C. ordered the immediate closure of nightclubs and banquet halls and reduced restaurant hours last week after daily COVID-19 case numbers were consistently above 100.

“I think we need to all start rethinking about what we need to do to get us through the next few months as a community together, and these are some of the things that we’ll need to put aside for now,” B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained at a news conference.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam reminded Canadians at a press conference on Tuesday to take precautionary measures if they must socialize, including having hand sanitizer readily available, wearing masks or other face coverings, and cleaning common areas before and after the event.

“The key message is that the time to act is now across the board in terms of reducing some of the contacts you’ve had over the summer months,” Tam said.

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Trump says Canada wants to reopen the border. But do we, really? – CBC.ca

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U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments on Friday suggesting Canada is keen to reopen the border with his country stand in direct contrast to statements made by Canadian officials supporting the continued border restrictions. 

“We’re looking at the border with Canada. Canada would like it open, and, you know, we want to get back to normal business,” Trump said at the White House, adding that “we’re going to be opening the borders pretty soon” to take advantage of the renegotiated NAFTA. 

“We’re working with Canada. We want to pick a good date, having to do with the pandemic. And I happen to think we’re rounding the turn,” Trump said. 

Asked by CBC News to respond, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office pointed to a tweet from Public Safety Minister Bill Blair earlier in the day, saying the border will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least Oct. 21. 

“We will continue to base our decisions on the best public health advice available to keep Canadians safe,” Blair wrote.

WATCH | Trump suggests U.S-Canada border could reopen soon:

U.S. President Donald Trump responded to a question about the border as he left the White House on Friday. 0:48

When CBC first reported on the extension of restrictions into October — they were due to expire this week — one source said Canadians should prepare for them to last even longer. 

The official stopped short, however, of saying they would remain until Christmas, but that the policy was open to tweaks. 

Three senior sources with direct knowledge of the situation, speaking to CBC News on condition they not be named, have repeatedly expressed — over recent months and again on Friday — how pleased they are with the current restrictions. 

One source said both Canada and the U.S. see them as effective and as strong, co-operative measures necessary to respond to the pandemic.

Keeping Canadians safe

Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., said last week that she speaks with U.S officials about the border restrictions on a weekly basis and there is a general agreement the current situation is working well. 

“The measures are doing what they were designed to do … to allow the flow of commercial goods and essential services while controlling the spread of the virus and reduce the risk to our citizens on both sides,” Hillman said.

“When push comes to shove, our No. 1 goal is going to be to keep Canadians safe.”  

Blair told reporters Wednesday that he’s looking to make adjustments to allow more travel on humanitarian grounds, but that any changes will be limited and that, broadly, he wants to keep the restrictions. 

90% support 

With COVID-19 caseloads still high in many U.S. states, public opinion surveys have also suggested there’s little appetite in Canada for change.

A new poll by Research Co. found earlier this month that out of 1,000 Canadians surveyed online at the end of August, 90 per cent agreed with the current restrictions.

The world’s longest international border has been closed to non-essential travel for months though essential workers — such as truck drivers and health-care professionals — are still able to cross by land. Canadians are also still able to fly to U.S. destinations.

Ottawa has also moved to curb the movement of Americans through Canada on their way to Alaska. U.S. travellers destined for the northern state have been limited to five crossings in Western Canada and they must commit to taking a direct route.

In June, a man travelling from Alaska to the continental United States was charged with violating Canada’s Quarantine Act. He was accused of twice failing to follow COVID-19 public safety rules while in Banff, Alta.

If he’s found to have violated a quarantine order, he could be fined up to $750,000 or sentenced to six months in jail.

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75% of Canadians approve of another coronavirus shutdown if second wave hits: Ipsos – Global News

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Canadians would largely be supportive of another widespread shutdown if a second wave of the coronavirus occurred, new polling from Ipsos suggests.

In a survey conducted on behalf of Global News, Ipsos found that 75 per cent of respondents would approve of quickly shutting down non-essential businesses in that scenario, with 37 per cent strongly supporting the idea.

Read more:
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About three quarters said they anticipated a second wave to hit their communities this fall.

The polling comes as Canada sees a dramatic resurgence in the virus, along with long lines for testing in some cities. In the last two weeks, the number of cases being reported across the country each day has risen by nearly 50 per cent.

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Coronavirus: Patty Hajdu says she won’t rule out another economic shutdown if COVID-19 cases continue to rise

In her most recent update, Canada’s chief public health officer said the uptick was cause for concern.

“With continued circulation of the virus, the situation could change quickly and we could lose the ability to keep COVID-19 cases at manageable levels,” Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement.

Ipsos Public Affairs CEO Darrell Bricker said as case counts rise, support for lockdown measures similar to what we saw when the pandemic broke out in the spring will likely increase.

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“People are really watching on a daily basis … (the) number of case counts going up, and they’re really worried,” he said.

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The support shown for shutdown measures in Canada is in line with an international trend, Bricker said. Ipsos polling shows people in many countries are generally on board with the unprecedented measures taken to combat the spread of COVID-19, though Canadians tend to show stronger approval.

“There is, generally speaking, a fairly consistent view that we need to be careful, that this is a real problem, that they believe that shutdowns and controls are a way of dealing with it,” he said.

There were, however, some differences across the country when it comes to how well Canadians think their governments are prepared for a potential second wave.

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Nationally, 71 per cent said they’re confident their province is ready, with 29 per cent disagreeing. But the proportion of those critical of their province’s ability to handle another wave of the virus was highest in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, at 42 per cent.

Read more:
Time to stock up again? The likelihood of empty shelves in a second coronavirus wave

Just under two thirds of Canadians are concerned about contracting the virus themselves. Even though those who are older are most at risk, the bigger difference was between genders, the polling revealed. Seventy-two per cent of women said they were concerned versus 55 per cent of men.

Bricker said that result is part of a larger pattern shown in health polling data more generally.

“They tend to pay less attention to their health,” he said of men. “They tend to be less concerned about things that are risky.”

The poll also looked at the issue of mandatory vaccination in the event a vaccine is developed and approved. Almost two thirds, or 63 per cent of those asked, said they thought the vaccine should be mandatory, a figure that is down nine points since July.

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The survey was conducted between Sept. 11 and 14 — after the start of the school year for most Canadian families. There have already been outbreaks reported at schools in a few provinces.

Thirty-eight per cent of respondents said they felt schools were opening up too quickly, while about half — 53 per cent — said the speed of reopening has been just right.

This Ipsos poll was conducted between Sept. 11 and 14, 2020, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,000 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled.

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

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