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Today's coronavirus news: York Region imposes modified Stage 2 restrictions; Ontario reports 712 cases; Canada's count climbed by an average of 2300 cases per day over the past seven days – Toronto Star

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KEY FACTS

  • 1 p.m. Trudeau says long-term care homes have not done a good enough job of protecting seniors

  • 10:52 a.m. Tennis Canada has postponed three Challenger pro events

  • 10:31 a.m. Ontario is reporting 712 new COVID-19 cases today

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

3:32 p.m. The Manitoba government is imposing increased restrictions in the greater Winnipeg area due to rising COVID-19 numbers, The Canadian Press reports.

Starting Monday, and lasting for two weeks, gatherings will be limited to five people and a maximum of five people will be allowed to sit together at a restaurant, according to CP.

Beverage rooms, bingo halls and casinos will have to close, while restaurants, lounges and retail stores will be limited to half capacity.

Health officials say the measures were prompted by growing community transmission of the novel coronavirus, and data that shows many cases have been connected to people socializing in bars, restaurants and homes.

3:25 p.m. Ontario, parts of Quebec, and Manitoba are looking to ramp up COVID-19 restrictions as Canada’s caseload inches closer to the 200,000 mark, The Canadian Press reports.

Canada’s chief public health officer says the national count has climbed by an average of 2,300 cases per day over the past seven days, while an average of 20 people per day die from the illness, according to CP.

As of Friday afternoon, there were 193,575 confirmed cases in Canada.

Ontario tightened restrictions on long-term care homes in three hotspots Friday, as the premier also made the reluctant decision to reinstate stricter rules on a fourth region north of Toronto.

Premier Doug Ford said the York Region will revert back to a modified stage 2 of the province’s pandemic plan Monday in an effort to curb an “alarming” surge in COVID-19 cases.

“We’re seeing a rapid increase in the rate of infection, with the positivity rate of 2.77 per cent, above the high-alert threshold of 2.5 per cent,” Ford said of York.

“Most concerning of all, critical care admissions are reaching alarming levels.”

The new measures for the region, which will be in place for 28 days, prohibit indoor service at restaurants and close gyms, among other services.

Most of Ontario’s cases are concentrated in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa. As of Friday, residents of long-term care homes in those regions are not allowed to leave for social or personal reasons.

The Ontario Long-Term Care Association told an independent commission last month that many facilities face severe staffing shortages that could leave them unprepared for the pandemic’s second wave.

Meanwhile, Quebec’s public health institute urged Quebecers to shrink their social circles even further as the province reported an increase of 1,055 new COVID-19 cases and one new virus-related death in the past 24 hours.

As hospitals admit a weekly average of 870 patients per day, Dr. Theresa Tam urged Canadians to do their part to reduce the burden on the health-care system by getting their flu shot as the seasonal virus converges with the second wave of the pandemic.

While the flu shot doesn’t protect against the virus that causes COVID-19, Tam said getting vaccinated reduces one’s risk of back-to-back or simultaneous infections that can lead to more severe health outcomes.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that the federal government is prepared to step in to ensure provincial authorities are protecting older Canadians from the outbreaks that ravaged long-term homes in several regions last spring.

Some provinces handled the crisis better than others, Trudeau said. And while health policy falls under provincial purview, all levels of government share a responsibility to keep seniors safe during the second wave, he said.

That’s why Trudeau said he’s calling for “national norms” to address chronic gaps in the long-term care system.

2 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting one new case of COVID-19. Health officials say the new case is in the central health zone, which includes Halifax, and is related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada.

The infected person is in self-isolation. The province now has four active cases of novel coronavirus infection.

In total, Nova Scotia has had 1,093 positive cases of COVID-19 while 1,024 cases have been resolved and there have been 65 deaths.

The province also announced that it is renewing its state of emergency on Sunday and the order will extend until noon on Nov. 1.

1:55 p.m. Toronto FC will play before fans at its Nov. 1 game against Inter Miami CF in East Hartford.

The MLS club said Friday that it has the green light from local authorities to have up to 5,000 spectators at the 38,000-seat Pratt and Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field, which is serving as Toronto’s home away from home during the pandemic.

“We look forward to having some fans in the stands for our final regular-season game in East Hartford,” Toronto president Bill Manning said in a statement. “Toronto FC is so grateful to the state of Connecticut and everyone at Pratt and Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field for providing us with such an outstanding facility during this unique stretch of games. Our players feel the support already and having some fans will make it even better.”

Select seating will be available in both the stadium’s lower and upper bowls. Spectators will be required to wear a mask or face covering and adhere to social distancing within the stadium.

1:16 p.m. (will be updated) Premier Doug Ford says York Region will enter the modified Stage 2 that Toronto, Peel Region, and Ottawa have been in since Friday. That means no indoor dining or drinks service in restaurants and bars there after Sunday.

1 p.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says long-term care homes have not done a good enough job of protecting seniors in the COVID-19 pandemic and the federal government has a responsibility to step in.

He says health is an area of provincial responsibility but the pandemic has revealed numerous cracks in the system that need to be fixed, with different levels of care in different parts of the country.

If all the politicians don’t get together to address the problems, Trudeau says that would be a mass failure.

He says public officials need to be able to look seniors and their families in the eye and say they’ve been properly cared for.

11 a.m. Eight pairs of skaters are set to hit the ice for “Battle of the Blades” next week after production was put on hold by a COVID-19 case.

The televised skating competition was supposed kick off on Thursday, but the premiere was postponed last week when a person involved in the production tested positive for the virus.

CBC says the two-hour live debut has been rescheduled to Oct. 22, with singer, TV host and actress Keshia Chante set to join sportscaster Ron MacLean as hosts of the sixth season.

An executive producer said last Wednesday that a member of the show’s team had tested positive for COVID-19, but creators were confident the case was isolated and planned to resume production this week.

10:52 a.m. Tennis Canada has postponed three Challenger pro events because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization announced Friday that the Calgary and Drummondville, Que., National Bank Challenger men’s events and the Fredericton Challenger women’s event are off the schedule.

The Calgary event was scheduled for February, while Fredericton and Drummondville were slated for March.

Challenger events offer opportunities for pros who can’t get into tour-level events.

“We are optimistic about hosting more professional events in 2021 and will address this topic in the coming months as we continue to monitor the pandemic situation,” Gavin Ziv, vice-president professional events for Tennis Canada, said in a statement.

10:44 a.m. As Toronto enters a second wave of COVID-19, divorce lawyers are also expecting a “second wave of calls.”

Toronto based family law practice Shulman & Partners LLP, saw an almost 20 per cent increase in clients in June, 2020 compared to the prior year and, expect an increase of inquiries following the pandemics second wave.

“During the first wave, we saw a pretty significant increase when you compare to the inquiries that were received in previous years. A majority of them were dealing with COVID related issues,” says lawyer Alyssa Bach.

Parenting arrangements are included in the list of potential problems that couples are facing during the pandemic.

Read the full story from the Star’s Irelyne Lavery

10:31 a.m. (will be updated) Ontario is reporting 712 new COVID-19 cases today, as well as nine new deaths linked to the virus.

The majority of the cases are in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa.

As of today, residents of long-term-care homes in those three regions — where cases have been surging — are not allowed to go out for social or personal reasons.

10:05 a.m. Julia Smith has had difficulty breathing, body aches and “unbelievable” sinus pain ever since she caught COVID-19 at Hamilton’s SpinCo spin studio two weeks ago.

Despite all that, she says she has no regrets.

It’s important to keep gyms open for people’s mental health, she says.

But with fitness centres already closed temporarily in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel — Ontario’s COVID “hot spots” — and the province reviewing guidelines for gyms, the threat of broader closures looms large.

Read the full story from the Hamilton Spectator

9:37 a.m. We all know who the real winner of 2020 is: screen time.

The pandemic screen binge has been some surprise hits, like “Cheer” on Netflix, Sarah Cooper’s TikTok videos and, over on Twitch, online chess.

Yes, chess, as in the strategy game that sees two players peg off each other’s pawns and rooks and other things on a 64-square board until they can finally corner the king. Spoiler alert: the king is actually a loaf, while it’s the queen who does most of the heavy lifting.

Anyhow, over on Twitch, the biggest streaming network for gamers, people are tuning in in droves to watch chess whizzes and master play chess, giving “Fortnite” a run for its money.

Read the full story by Christine Sismondo

9:20 a.m. An Ontario court has ruled that Toronto breached its obligations under a settlement about physical distancing in its homeless shelters, and must resume weekly reporting about its compliance.

The verdict released by Ontario’s Superior Court on Thursday is the latest development in a case that began earlier this year, when a coalition of homeless service providers and human rights groups filed a lawsuit accusing the city of failing to provide safe living conditions in its respites, shelters and drop-in facilities.

The two sides reached a settlement in May, which required the city to use best efforts to achieve and sustain physical distancing standards.

The settlement also required the city to issue weekly progress reports to the coalition and two monthly reports after full compliance had been reached.

Read the full story by the Star’s Victoria Gibson

9:14 a.m. Statistics Canada says manufacturing sales fell 2.0 per cent to $52.4 billion in August, weighed down by a drop in the transportation sector.

The decline followed three consecutive months of strong increases, the agency said.

Economists on average had expected a decline of 1.4 per cent for the month, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

Sales in the transportation equipment industry fell 13.7 per cent to $9.6 billion as Canadian exports of motor vehicles and auto parts fell in August.

Excluding transportation equipment, manufacturing sales rose 1.1 per cent.

In constant dollar terms, manufacturing sales fell 2.2 per cent, indicating a smaller volume of products was sold in August.

8:41 a.m. The TTC is recalling the last remaining employees it furloughed earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 180 front-line employees, 97 of them bus operators, will be back on the job in the first week of November, according to a statement released Thursday evening.

System-wide ridership is at about 36 per cent of normal.

The TTC had previously said it wouldn’t recall the remaining furloughed workers until ridership across the network was back to half what it was.

Read the full story from the Star’s Ben Spurr

8:33 a.m. To avoid disaster, Toronto residents must continue doing everything possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19, despite an apparent improvement in some of the city’s pandemic indicators, virus experts say.

“Toronto Public Health continues to see substantial and concerning numbers of new cases, including in long-term care settings, and new hospitalizations daily,” said Dr. Vinita Dubey, an associate medical officer of health.

“We cannot drop our guard. As long as the virus is circulating in the community, it can and will continue to spread.”

Read the full story from the Star’s David Rider

8:32 a.m. Days after forcing thousands of restaurants and bars to cease indoor service to curb COVID-19, the governing Progressive Conservatives are fundraising off of the party’s “support for small businesses.”

In an email appeal Thursday night for cash donations, PC Ontario Fund chair Tony Miele says “we know small businesses — the cornerstone of our communities — are struggling.”

“And we know that helping them get back on their feet is critical to Ontario’s recovery. Our message to them is this: your PC government will do whatever it takes to support you and help you get back on your feet,” wrote Miele.

“Nothing is off the table.”

Read the full story from the Star’s Robert Benzie

8:30 a.m. The usual jitters before Alpine skiing’s World Cup season opener won’t be limited to the racers this weekend.

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Organizers, sponsors and fans will be just as anxious about the 2020-21 campaign, which starts amid rising numbers of coronavirus cases across Europe.

Even before its traditional start in Soelden, Austria, on Saturday, the season is surrounded by many questions — and they are not just about who will win the races.

The American and Canadian swing in November and December was cancelled and partly replaced by events in Europe, and the men’s and women’s circuits have been kept apart as much as possible.

But can all 38 men’s and 34 women’s races on the current calendar take place as scheduled?

What about the Feb. 8-21 world championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo? Or the Feb. 24-28 Olympic test event in Yanqing, China?

There are questions about travel restrictions, testing, and how racers will perform after their mostly hampered off-season preparations.

8:17 a.m. Australia’s largest city, Sydney, lifted quarantine restrictions on travellers from New Zealand on Friday while the second largest city, Melbourne, marked the 100th day of one of the world’s longest pandemic lockdowns.

More than 350 passengers were scheduled to take three flights from Auckland on Friday and will not have to undergo hotel quarantine on arrival in Sydney.

New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said: “This is great news for tourism. It’s also great news for family reunification and grateful businesses.”

New Zealand will continue to insist that travellers from Australia quarantine in hotels for 14 days on arrival.

The Victoria state government has resisted pressure from businesses and the federal government to relax a second lockdown that began when stay-at-home orders took effect in Melbourne on July 9.

Victoria recorded only two new COVID-19 cases in the latest 24-hour period. The state last recorded such a low number on June 8, with daily tallies peaking at 725 on Aug. 5.

8:15 a.m. Global shares were mixed on Friday as investors weighed concerns about a U.S. economic stimulus package, on top of flaring outbreaks of coronavirus.

The futures for the Dow industrials and the S&P 500 were both up 0.3 per cent. European indexes recovered some of the previous day’s heavy losses, with France’s CAC 40 up 1.6 per cent to 4,913, while Germany’s DAX gained 1 per cent to 12,835. Britain’s FTSE 100 added nearly 1.4 per cent to 5,913.

Markets have turned cautious this week amid a confluence of worrisome trends amid the pandemic. Coronavirus infections are rising in Europe, prompting governments in France and Britain to impose new measures to contain the outbreak. Caseloads area also climbing in the Americas and parts of Asia.

In the U.S., investor optimism that the Trump administration and Congress will soon reach a deal on another round of stimulus for the economy has waned.

8 a.m. Seniors advocates and medical professionals are warning we could be on the cusp of another long-term-care catastrophe as COVID-19 cases in Ontario homes hover around similar numbers seen in early April — just two weeks before a massive spike of infections tore through hundreds of facilities.

“I absolutely am very terrified and worried,” said Dr. Amit Arya, a palliative care physician specializing in long-term care who witnessed first-hand the devastation of the first wave in GTA facilities. “We have to really realize that long-term care is not a parallel universe. More spread of COVID-19 in the community increases the risk of an outbreak starting in long-term-care facilities.”

As of Thursday, there were 159 residents and 199 staff members of long-term-care homes with active cases of COVID-19, according to the provincial government. Compare that to 176 long-term-care residents and 141 staff members with COVID-19 as of April 7, according to data collected by the Ontario Health Coalition, a non-profit, non-partisan network of public health care advocates. The April numbers collected by the coalition are not scientific and likely didn’t capture all infections, but they are the best data available from that time because the province didn’t start publishing active home-by-home long-term-care outbreak figures until more than two weeks later.

Read the full story from the Star’s Kenyon Wallace

6:01 a.m.: Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said Friday that she had left the European Union summit in Belgium “as a precautionary measure” and was flying back home to undergo a coronavirus test.

The move came one day after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen left the summit venue in Brussels shortly after the meeting began because one of her close staffers tested positive for COVID-19.

Marin wrote, “I left the European Council meeting as a precautionary measure and asked the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to represent the Finnish end of the meeting time.”

Marin had attended a meeting Wednesday at the Finnish parliament together with lawmaker Tom Packalen who later had tested positive for the coronavirus and had mild flu symptoms.

5:25 a.m.: Coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic have set a new one-day record for the second straight day.

Health Ministry figures show the day-to-day increase reached 9,721 on Thursday, 177 more than the previous record set a day earlier.

The nation of more than 10 million has had a total of 149,010 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Almost 50,000 of them were registered last week. It has also seen 1,230 deaths.

Hospitals across the country have been postponing nonvital planned operations to focus on the growing number of COVID-19 patients. The government said their full capacity could be reached around the end of October.

The Czech military will start build a field hospital at Prague’s exhibition centre over the weekend for 500 patients. A similar plan is ready for the second largest city of Brno, while the government is negotiating with neighbouring Germany and some other countries for Czechs to be treated there if the local health system is overwhelmed.

5:21 a.m.: A top British scientist says continuing arguments about how and when to impose tighter restrictions to combat COVID-19 are damaging public health and leading to more economic hardship.

An infectious disease specialist who sits on the government’s scientific advisory committee says the U.K. needs to quickly implement tighter restrictions nationwide to slow the spread of the virus and limit broader damage to society.

Jeremy Farrar, director of the research funding charity the Wellcome Trust, says restrictions under the government’s current three-tier strategy aren’t tough enough to bring the virus under control and squabbling over where and when to impose the measures risks confusing the public.

“I think we’ve got to come together as a country,” Farrar told the BBC’s Newscast podcast. “The fragmentation and, frankly, making this either a north-south or a party political issue that’s a very, very dangerous route to go on.”

5:19 a.m.: Germany has confirmed more than 7,000 new coronavirus infections for the first time, its second consecutive daily record.

The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s national disease control centre, said early Friday that 7,334 new cases were confirmed in the previous 24 hours. That compares with 6,638 a day earlier.

Until this week, Germany’s highest recorded figure was nearly 6,300 in late March, though testing has expanded vastly since then. Figures tend to peak around the end of the week, but the latest reading underlines a sharp upward trend in recent weeks.

Earlier this week, the federal and state governments agreed to toughen mask-wearing rules and make bars close early in areas where infections are high.

5:15 a.m.: South Korea’s daily coronavirus tally has dropped below 50 for the first time in more than two weeks despite reports of small-scale local infections.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Friday the 47 cases added in the past 24 hours took the country’s total to 25,035 with 441 deaths. It’s a decline from the 110 reported a day earlier, about half of them tied to a hospital for the elderly in the southeastern city of Busan.

Health official Son Youngrae says South Korea’s caseload is currently showing a downward trend. But he says the public must stay vigilant as cluster infections have also been detected sporadically in hospitals and other high-risk facilities.

5:11 a.m.: India’s confirmed coronavirus fatalities jumped to 895 in the past 24 hours, a day after recording the lowest daily deaths of 680 in nearly three months.

The Health Ministry on Friday also reported 63,371 new cases, raising India’s total to more than 7.3 million, second in the world behind the U.S. The worst-hit western Maharashtra state accounted for nearly 36% of the 112,161 total deaths since the outbreak of the pandemic. The country was seeing more than 1,000 deaths per day last month.

According to the Health Ministry, India’s average number of daily cases dropped to 72,576 last week from 92,830 during the week of Sept. 9-15, when the virus peaked. It is recording an average of around 70,000 cases daily so far this month.

5 a.m.: Italy has two weeks to stop the rising rate of transmission of coronavirus or it risks “following in the footsteps” of European neighbours where exponential spreads have ushered back harsh restrictions, a virologist on the front lines says.

Italian health officials have declared that the resurgence of COVID-19 has reached an “acute phase.” Massimo Galli, the director of infectious diseases at Milan’s Luigi Sacco hospital, said Italy’s surge — which hit pandemic highs of new daily infections this week — is not the result of record testing, as policy-makers have suggested, but a sign of a real return among the population most at risk.

It only takes a look at Sacco’s COVID-19 ward, a few steps from Galli’s office, to raise the alarm.

“We have a situation that reminds one quite distressingly of the one that we already have experienced,’’ Galli told The Associated Press, referring to the peak in March and April when the surge in infections resulted in a one-day record of 969 deaths.

4 a.m.: Members of Ontario’s fitness industry say they’re eagerly awaiting the outcome of a provincial review of COVID-19 protocols for gyms and similar facilities.

The province’s associate medical officer of health said this week that the safety guidelines for gyms were being reconsidered after a large outbreak of the novel coronavirus linked to a cycling studio in Hamilton.

Jason Sheridan, the senior vice-president of operations at GoodLife Fitness, said he and his colleagues with the Fitness Industry Council of Canada would “love the opportunity” to work with public health officials to create new guidelines.

“We are very open to navigating this situation together with them and supportive of the direction we receive from these medical experts based on an evidence-based approach,” said Sheridan.

“We are open to learning about the concerns surrounding gyms and offering solutions that would allow us to reopen.”

More than a quarter of Hamilton’s active COVID-19 cases are connected to the SPINCO cycling studio outbreak.

The city’s public health unit said on Thursday that 47 positive cases were primary infections from the cycling studio, which recorded its first related case on Oct. 5.

According to Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province’s associate medical officer of health, the cycling studio followed all of the current provincial guidelines but they still weren’t enough to prevent the outbreak. That sparked the current review, she said.

Thursday 10:56 p.m.: Australia’s largest city Sydney lifted quarantine restrictions on travellers from New Zealand on Friday while the second largest city, Melbourne, marked the 100th day of one the world’s longest pandemic lockdowns.

More than 350 passengers are scheduled to take three flights from Auckland on Friday and will not have to undergo hotel quarantine on arrival in Sydney.

New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian said: “This is great news for tourism. It’s also great news for family reunification and grateful businesses.”

New Zealand will continue to insist that travellers from Australia quarantine in hotels for 14 days on arrival.

The Victoria state government has resisted pressure from businesses and the federal government to relax a second lockdown that began when stay-at-home orders took effect in Melbourne on July 9.

Click here for more of Thursday’s coverage.

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A closer look at Canada's homegrown COVID-19 vaccine candidates – CBC.ca

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More than 100 groups around the world are racing to produce a vaccine against COVID-19, with most of the attention focused on front-runners currently in Phase 3 clinical trials in the U.S. and overseas.

But Canada has also invested in some COVID-19 vaccines in development here, and there are more than half a dozen Canadian vaccine candidates registered with the World Health Organization, at least one of which is already being tested on humans.  They represent a wide range of technologies, from more traditional protein subunit vaccines to newer technologies such as replicating viral vector and DNA vaccines. The options, if approved, would include both needles and a nasal spray.

Dr. Volker Gerdts, director and CEO of  the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, argues that “it’s very important … to be self-sufficient and have access to vaccines that are being produced here in Canada for Canadians.”

He and other advocates say that will give Canadians more control over when and how vaccines become available here.

The federal government recently invested $1 billion dollars in preorders for six foreign vaccine candidates, even though there’s no guarantee that any of them will ever make it through clinical trials to market.

But some Canadian vaccine developers have reported facing big hurdles in development, including not enough government support. Gerdts said lack of manufacturing capacity in Canada slowed efforts earlier this summer. 

Michael Houghton, who is leading a vaccine development team at the University of Alberta, said lack of funding to manufacture vaccines for a clinical trial has set his team back. Providence Therapeutics, a Toronto-based company whose mRNA vaccine is not listed with the WHO, has complained about a lack of government support for clinical trials. However, some teams, such as Halifax-based IMV and Edmonton-based Entos, have announced getting federal government funding to proceed with trials.

Stephen Barr, who is leading a vaccine development team at Western University, says it’s important to support the development of multiple vaccine candidates, as some may be better for certain populations than others.

“The best candidate may not be best for everybody,” he said. Some may have other advantages, such as being cheaper to produce or logistically easier to store or ship, he added.

Despite the challenges, many Canadian researchers are plugging away at a variety of technologies and strategies. Here’s a closer look at the COVID-19 vaccines produced by Canadian teams listed by the World Health Organization.

WATCH | How wealthy countries buying up vaccine supplies could hinder pandemic fight:

Vaccine nationalism, when rich countries buy up vaccines making them unavailable for other countries, could hinder the global fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic and a program to have vaccines available everywhere is still not fully funded. 4:12

Entos Pharmaceuticals

Location: Edmonton

Vaccine type: DNA

Stage of development: Preclinical

Entos Pharmaceuticals is a University of Alberta spinoff focused on genetic therapies.

It’s working on a DNA-based vaccine against COVID-19 that will work by delivering genes from SARS-CoV-2 into the body. The body’s cells then use those instructions to make coronavirus proteins, exposing the immune system to them so it can learn to recognize and fight off SARS-CoV-2.

It’s similar to gene-based RNA vaccines like the ones being made by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech, with some tradeoffs. DNA is more stable than RNA, which means it can be stored and shipped more easily, and it stays active in the body for longer. But DNA needs to get into the nucleus of the cells in the body, and it’s more complicated to deliver effectively.

Entos’s key technology is a way of delivering the DNA. DNA and RNA are typically packed into tiny spheres called lipid nanoparticles for delivery into the body. Normally, those are engulfed by cells whole, which means that once inside the cell, the DNA or RNA still has to escape its container, said John Lewis, CEO of Entos Pharmaceuticals and an associate professor at the University of Alberta.

Entos’s Fusogenix technology, on the other hand, is a “fusion protein” on the outside of the nanoparticle that fuses the nanoparticles with human cell membranes, freeing the DNA from the nanoparticle as it enters the cell.

The DNA in Entos’s vaccine contains genes for both the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and the n-protein, a protein that is similar among different coronaviruses.

That means it could potentially provide protection against other coronaviruses, Lewis said.

The DNA also contains two “genetic adjuvants,” special codes designed to enhance the immune response to the vaccine.

Once the DNA has entered the nucleus of human cells, the instructions are used to make the coronavirus proteins, which are displayed on the cell surface and released into the bloodstream to generate an immune response.

Lewis said animal tests so far suggest a single dose will be enough to generate good immunity, making it logistically easier to deliver than a vaccine requiring two doses.

As of early October, Entos was aiming to start Phase 1 clinical trials at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology in Halifax in November. Lewis said the company had also received funding to proceed to the end of Phase 2 trials. 

WATCH | How COVID-19 vaccines are being created in months, rather than years:

Some potential COVID-19 vaccines are already in the third stage of clinical trials. It’s taken a lot of effort and money to squeeze a process that can normally take five years into about 10 months and still be done safely. 2:17

IMV

Location: Halifax

Vaccine type: Protein subunit

Stage of development: Preclinical

IMV’s vaccine is a protein-based vaccine, a relatively traditional and widely used vaccine type, where pieces of viral protein are injected to teach the immune system to recognize them. Like many teams around the world (including Novavax, which is in Phase 3 clinical trials), IMV is focused on the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. 

“But instead of giving the immune system the entire spike protein, we’ve selected very small regions that have been described to be important for its function,” said Marianne Stanford, the company’s vice-president of research and development.

In IMV’s case, the pieces are so small that they’re pieces of protein called peptides, which don’t need to be manufactured by living organisms — simple chemistry is all you need. 

“Many manufacturers all over the world can make peptides in pretty significant quantities,” Stanford said. “And the fact that our our whole vaccine is synthetic is an advantage because we can scale it up reasonably simply.”

The vaccine consists of four peptides from the spike protein. Instead of putting them in a water-based solution like many other vaccines, IMV uses an oil “which holds it at the site of injection,” Stanford said. The idea is that concentrates it at the site of injection instead of dispersing it through the body, which allows the immune system to interact with it over a longer period of time and generate a stronger response from a small dose.

The vaccine has been tested on mice and ferrets. On Oct. 8, the company said it had received additional funding and support from the federal government, including $5.4 million for clinical trials. IMV says it plans to start a combined Phase 1/2 clinical trial with the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology in Halifax after more preclinical safety studies, but did not say when. It also said it was collaborating with a “global manufacturing partner” with facilities in India and Europe to scale up production of the vaccine to several hundred million doses if it’s approved.

WATCH | Canada’s chief public health officer discusses Health Canada’s vaccine approval process:

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, sidestepped a question about a new Russian coronavirus vaccine, saying Canada uses ‘solid’ processes to ensure the quality and safety of its vaccines. 1:29

Medicago

Location: Quebec City

Vaccine type: VLP (virus-like particle)

Stage of development: Phase 1 clinical trials

Medicago is a Canadian subsidiary of Japan’s Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp. 

Its COVID-19 vaccine candidate became the first in Canada to start human trials in July.

The main component of the vaccine is the spike-protein from SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, but multiple spike proteins are assembled into a virus-like particle, or VLP.

“The virus-like particle has the advantage of looking like a virus to the immune system without being infective,” said Nathalie Landry, the company’s executive vice-president of scientific and medical affairs. That generates a good immune response, she said.

Quebec City-based Medicago uses plants to mass-produce vaccines. Using a plant-based protein makes it easier to scale up than vaccines that use animal cells, which some other teams around the world are using. (Submitted by Medicago)

The particles are made by inserting the spike protein gene into plants — tobacco relatives called Nicotiana. The plant produces the protein for about a week, automatically assembling the proteins into microscopic spheres that consist of membranes studded with spike protein.

The leaves are then crushed and the VLPs are purified, Landry said.

The protein is easier to scale up and purify when grown in plants than in animal cells, as some other teams around the world are doing. The vaccine can be stored in an ordinary refrigerator. Landry said there are also some indications it may be stable at room temperature, making it easier to store and distribute than other vaccines that require extremely cold temperatures, such as -20 C or -80 C for RNA vaccines. 

Tests on mice showed a positive immune response 10 days after a single dose, the company said in a news release. The results have not be published in a peer-reviewed journal, but Medicago says it plans to announce Phase 1 human trial results in October and publish its results from both mouse and monkey trials after that. 

During human tests, the company is combining the VLPs with proprietary adjuvants from Dynavax and GSK in an effort to enhance the immune response to the vaccine and decrease the amount of vaccine needed per dose.

The company has been working for 20 years on the vaccine technology, which was originally developed by Agri-Food Canada and Laval University. It’s previously been used to create a seasonal flu vaccine that is being reviewed by Health Canada, and, if approved, would be the first plant-based vaccine in the world, the company says.

For the COVID-19 vaccine, the company has received federal funding for both animal and human testing, as well as for expansion of its manufacturing capacity. The Quebec government also gave Medicago $7 million.

Landry said the company expects to be able to produce 20 million doses a year at its plant in Quebec, and another 100 million doses a year at its plant in Raleigh, N.C. However, CEO Bruce Clark has previously suggested the U.S. location of that plant means there’s no guarantee of a Canadian supply of the vaccine if it’s successful.

WATCH | Quebec company begins human trials for potential COVID-19 vaccine:

Medicago says it administered the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine candidate to volunteers this week. The trial is a study of 180 healthy men and women between 18 and 55 years old. 7:49

Mediphage Bioceuticals/University of Waterloo

Location: Toronto/Waterloo, Ont.

Vaccine type: DNA

Stage of development: Preclinical

If you don’t like needles, you may be interested in the COVID-19 vaccine being developed at the University of Waterloo. It’s being designed for administration as a nasal spray.

Roderick Slavcev, chief scientific officer at Mediphage Bioceuticals Inc. and an associate professor of pharmacy at the University of Waterloo whose specialities include vaccine design, said the goal is to mimic the route of infection that SARS-CoV-2 normally takes, including targeting the right cells in the lungs and lower respiratory tract.

“There’s good data that suggests that by doing so, you generate the most pertinent type of [immune] response,” he said. 

The downside is that it doesn’t work if your nose is congested. 

The vaccine itself is a DNA vaccine. Instead of containing a virus or viral protein, it contains only the genetic instructions for making one or more proteins. Once it gets inside the body, human cells will make viral proteins based on the instructions.

One of the challenges with DNA vaccines is how to get the DNA into cells. The Waterloo team is using to possible strategies:

  • Putting the DNA into a liposomal nanoparticle, similar the ones used in similar RNA vaccines such as Moderna.

  • Packaging the DNA into a bacteriophage, a virus that only infects bacteria, using technology from Toronto-based University of Waterloo spinoff Mediphage Bioceuticals.

Using bacteriophages means the team can infect bacterial cells in the lab to produce “massive amounts” of the bacteriophage and the DNA, making it easy to scale up production. While phages can’t infect human cells, the ones in the vaccine have been fused to peptides — protein subunits — that bind to the ACE-2 receptor in human cells. That’s the same receptor that binds to the coronavirus spike protein and lets it enter cells. 

Once that happens, Slavcev says, the phage enters the cell, gets broken down, and releases its DNA.

The DNA contains not just instructions for the spike protein in this case, but also the protein that forms the outer membrane or “envelope” of the coronavirus. The system is designed to generate not just spike proteins, but an entire “virus-like particles,” or VLPs.

“You’re forming something that looks almost entirely like the virus, but has no genetic material,” Slavcev said. Each cell can generate large quantities of VLPs for up to two weeks (a far longer effect than for an RNA vaccine) that can leave the cell and trigger a broader immune response than viral proteins alone. The phage itself also generates an immune response, acting as an adjuvant. 

Slavcev said on Oct. 9 that the team expected to start preclinical (animal) trials later in the month.

University of Alberta

Location: Edmonton

Vaccine type: Protein subunit

Stage of development: Preclinical

The University of Alberta’s vaccine development team is led by Prof. Michael Houghton, director of the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute and recent co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

It’s a protein subunit vaccine, which Houghton describes as “very well tried and very well tested” technology compared to mRNA, DNA and viral vector vaccines.

In this case, a SARS-CoV-2 gene is inserted into mammal cells to produce large quantities of a viral protein that’s subsequently injected in the body as a vaccine. Like IMV, the University of Alberta isn’t targeting the entire SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, just a small piece of it — the receptor binding domain (RBD), the part that binds to human cells in order to enter them.

Houghton said that region activates the production of at least three kinds of neutralizing antibodies that can stop an infection. And it can be produced much more efficiently than the entire spike protein.

He said that it can likely be purified more easily than an entire protein and reduces the risk of antibody-dependent enhancement, a potential problem where “non-neutralizing”antibodies are produced and end up enhancing infection instead of neutralizing it.

The vaccine would ultimately contain both the RBD protein and a commercial adjuvant, as is typical for protein-based vaccines.

WATCH | Will life return to normal once a COVID-19 vaccine is available?

An epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist answer questions about a COVID-19 vaccine, including what happens after a vaccine is approved and available in Canada. 4:54

As of early October, Houghton said the team had done successful preclinical tests and was trying to get funding for manufacturing and clinical testing, but didn’t have it yet, after failing to obtain a federal grant. The team is currently preparing a “clinical-grade” cell line and has partnered with an adjuvant maker to be prepared for clinical testing anyway.

Houghton noted that the international vaccine frontrunners are currently in Phase 3 clinical trials, but mostly represent newer technologies.

“We will be ready with our tried and tested adjuvanted protein platform just in case the Phase 3 trials disappoint (which will be very alarming),” he wrote in an email.

However, even if those trials succeed, he said a protein subunit vaccine may be used as a booster to promote long-term immunity, as the newer vaccine types will likely be more expensive and have only been tested with two shots.

“We do not know if they will be well-tolerated after three shots,” he said.

WATCH |  Who will be on the priority list in Canada to receive a vaccine first?

When the first COVID-19 vaccines become available, there won’t be enough for everyone who wants it. So, which Canadians should get it first and how will that be decided? Dr. Peter Lin answers that and other questions from viewers. 7:22

University of Manitoba

Location: Winnipeg

Vaccine types: VLP, replicating viral vector

Stage of development: Preclinical

Dr. Xiao-Jian Yao, a professor of medical biology at the University of Manitoba, is leading the development of two COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

VLP vaccine

Like Medicago, Yao and his team put coronavirus genes into other cells to produce coronavirus proteins in the form of virus-like particles.

In this case, the spherical particles are grown in mammalian cells and studded with two proteins:

  • The receptor binding domain (RBD) of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein — the subunit of the spike protein that actually attaches to human cells, allowing the virus to enter.

  • An Ebola virus protein that targets special immune cells called dendritic cells to generate a stronger immune response.

Yao and his team are currently testing this vaccine in mice and trying to produce it more efficiently.

Xiao-Jian Yao, centre, and his research team at the University of Manitoba are working on two COVID-19 vaccine candidates using two distinct approaches. (Submitted by Research Manitoba)

Replicating viral vector vaccine

Viral vector vaccines against COVID-19 use a “carrier” virus to bring coronavirus genes — and therefore a coronavirus protein itself — into the human body.

Using viral vectors is a strategy used by many teams developing a COVID-19 vaccine around the world, including three in Phase 3 clinical trials: University of Oxford/AstraZeneca; Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson; and Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute.

The University of Manitoba team is using a viral vector called the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), which mainly infects livestock such as horses and pigs. Humans aren’t typically exposed to it unless they work with animals, generally don’t show symptoms if infected, and can’t transmit it to other humans.

It’s similar to the system (also based on VSV) used to make the Canadian-developed Ervebo Ebola vaccine, which has been approved by U.S. and European regulators. That vaccine has been used to vaccinate hundreds of thousands of people in Congo.

Unlike the adenoviruses used in the vaccines currently in Phase 3 trials, the VSV vector can replicate in the body and only a small amount is needed for each dose.

Yao’s team is putting into the VSV vector the same two proteins that they’re targeting in the VLP vaccine.

At the moment, they’re still working on the last steps of the method for producing the vaccine.

VIDO-Intervac

Location: Saskatoon, Sask.

Vaccine type: Protein subunit

Stage of development: Preclinical

The University of Saskatchewan’s Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre (VIDO-Intervac) has previously produced two coronavirus vaccines — one for cattle and one for pigs.

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was working on a vaccine against the MERS coronavirus.

“In essence, it’s almost identical to the approach we’re using right now,” said Dr. Volker Gerdts, director and CEO of VIDO-Intervac.

The vaccine is a protein subunit vaccine made up of molecules of the virus’s spike protein. It’s made by putting the gene for the protein into a culture of mammalian cells, which instructs them on how to make the protein. It’s a vaccine approach that many groups around the world are taking. 

“But what is unique about our vaccine is we’re mixing this protein with an adjuvant…that really now drives the immune response toward a certain direction,” Gerdts said.

WATCH | Canada’s role in the global race to find a COVID-19 vaccine:

Canada’s leading vaccine researcher and a team at the University of Saskatchewan are working around the clock to find a COVID-19 vaccine to save lives. 3:04

Vaccines made from proteins instead of entire viruses is generally don’t activate all arms of the immune system. Adjuvants are extra compounds intended to compensate for that.

“So they mimic, essentially, a full-blown infection and provide what we call the ‘danger signal’ to the immune system,” Gerdts said. “I would argue the adjuvant in the vaccine is almost as important as the actual protein.”

The adjuvant VIDO-Intervac is testing uses three different chemical compounds to convey different kinds of “danger signals.” In doing so, it activates immune cells called T-cells.

“That is something that, in addition to neutralizing antibodies, we seem to need,” Gerdts said.

In May, the researchers announced their vaccine was “highly effective” in preclinical trials in ferrets, generating antibodies and decreasing viral infection. However, before moving to human trials, the researchers need to complete studies using higher-grade materials, and production was delayed by busy manufacturers, they reported in August. However, as of early October, the Gerdts said the materials had been manufactured, the toxicology studies were nearly complete and his team hoped to start clinical trials at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology in Halifax in December.

Volker Gerdts, director and CEO of VIDO-Intervac, said his team expects to start clinical trials of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate in December. (Submitted by VIDO-InterVac/University of Saskatchewan)

Western University

Location: London, Ont.

Vaccine type: Replicating viral vector

Stage of development: Preclinical

In March, vaccine researchers at Western University in London, Ont., were just starting Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials for a vaccine against the MERS coronavirus.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Canada that month, the trials were put on hold. But the researchers didn’t stop working — they just switched to SARS-CoV-2 instead.

The system they had been working on was a replicating viral vector vaccine, using the same viral vector as the University of Manitoba, the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). 

Stephen Barr, an associate professor at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry and co-leader of the vaccine team, said when the coronavirus spike protein gene is inserted into VSV, the virus develops a coat around it that looks like SARS-CoV-2, which teaches the immune system to recognize it.

“You don’t need to inject a lot of the virus into the body because it can make copies of itself,” Barr said. That could make it quicker and cheaper to produce than vaccines based on non-replicating viruses. “And also because it can make copies of itself, it mimics more what a natural virus would do. It would go through that whole process of finding a cell, getting into a cell, making proteins.”

The technology, unlike some others, has already been commercialized and shown to work for the Ebola vaccine — “which is why we think it will have a good chance of success,” Barr said.

As of early October, Barr said two versions of the COVID-19 vaccine had generated good antibody responses in animal tests. The team is trying to get funding to proceed to combined Phase 1/2 clinical trials.


 

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Canada inches toward 200000 COVID-19 case mark – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Canada’s COVID-19 caseload edged closer to the 200,000 mark on Sunday after a weekend in which Quebec had the majority of new infections and public health officials urged Canadians to remain united in their efforts to combat the pandemic.

The country reported 1,827 new cases Sunday, for a total of 198,151 infections.

Quebec accounted for 1,094 of those new cases, marking the third day in a row the province has had more than 1,000 infections.

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube tweeted that the number of hospitalizations in the province continues to rise and urged residents to “break the wave to slow this down” and “protect the most vulnerable.”

Ontario reported the second-highest number of new cases Sunday at 658, while Manitoba had 44, Saskatchewan logged 24, New Brunswick posted five and Nova Scotia had two. Health authorities said the new cases in the Atlantic provinces were related to travel outside the region

Ontario has taken steps to curb the spike in cases in four hot spots by reverting them to a modified Stage 2 of pandemic recovery, which includes the closure of gyms and movie theatres, and a ban on indoor dining in restaurants or bars.

Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa moved to the modified Stage 2 on Oct. 10 and York Region will join them on Monday.

“Our challenge now and going forward is to remain united in our efforts to get all of Canada back on a ‘slow burn,”‘ Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said Sunday in a statement.

“Our goal is to reduce cases of COVID-19 infection to manageable levels. But public health cannot do this alone. Everyone is needed on the frontlines, from essential workers to volunteers to businesses, workplaces, and everyday citizens across Canada.”

Tam added individuals “can go the extra mile” by downloading the COVID Alert contact tracing app or “sharing credible information” on COVID-19 risks and prevention measures via social media.

Her sentiments echoed those in a statement on Saturday, when she stressed the importance of a “collective effort,” even though the pandemic is affecting each part of the country differently.

As of Sunday, there have been 9,760 COVID-19-related deaths in Canada.

The federal Conservatives on Sunday called for the House of Commons’ health committee to investigate Ottawa’s preparations for a second wave of COVID-19, with Tory health critic Michelle Rempel Garner accusing the Liberal government of being caught flatfooted despite expectations that there would be a resurgence in the number of cases in the fall and winter.

“As businesses are closed in another series of COVID related economic shutdowns, we are looking for answers as to why the federal government left Canadians unprepared to deal with this second wave,” Rempel Garner said during a news conference as MPs prepared for the resumption of Parliament on Monday.

“We need these answers so that we can move forward and keep Canadians safe while also keeping things open.”

With files from Lee Berthiaume

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2020.

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Coronavirus: The place in North America with no cases – BBC News

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Coronavirus: The place in North America with no cases

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By Jessica Murphy
BBC News, Toronto

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.css-14iz86j-BoldTextfont-weight:bold;Covid-19 cases are rising in many parts of Canada, but one region – Nunavut, a northern territory – is a rare place in North America that can say it’s free of coronavirus in its communities.

Last March, as borders around the world were slamming shut as coronavirus infections rose, officials in Nunavut decided they too would take no risks.

They brought in some of the strictest travel regulations in Canada, barring entry to almost all non-residents.

Residents returning home from the south would first have to spend two weeks, at the Nunavut government’s expense, in “isolation hubs” – hotels in the cities of Winnipeg, Yellowknife, Ottawa or Edmonton.

Security guards are stationed throughout the hotels, and nurses check in on the health of those isolating. To date, just over 7,000 Nunavummiut have spent time in these hubs as a stopover on their return home.

It’s not been without challenges. People have been caught breaking isolation and have had stays extended, which has in part contributed to occasional waiting times to enter the some of the hubs. There have been complaints about the food available to those confined there.

But, as coronavirus infections spread throughout Canada, and with the number of cases on the rise again, the official case count in Nunavut remains zero.

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Graph of daily cases and deaths in Canada, showing recent uptick

The “fairly drastic” decision to bring in these measures was made both due to the population’s potential vulnerability to Covid-19 and the unique challenges of the Arctic region, says Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr Michael Patterson.

About 36,000 people live in Nunavut, bound by the Arctic Ocean to the north and the Northwest Territories to the west, in 25 communities scattered across its two million square kilometres (809,000 square miles). That’s about three times the size of Texas.

The distances are “mind-boggling at times”, admits Dr Patterson.

Natural isolation is likely to be part of the reason for the lack of cases – those communities can only be reached year-round by plane.

A general view of Sylvia Grinnel Territorial Park on 29 June 2017 in Iqaluit, Canada.

image copyrightGetty Images

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In late September, there was an outbreak linked to workers who flew in from the south to a remote gold mine 160km (100 miles) from the Arctic Circle.

(Those cases are currently being counted as infections in the miners’ home jurisdictions, keeping the territory’s official case count at nil).

That outbreak has “almost no chance” of spreading in the community because there hasn’t been any travel between the mine and any of the communities for months, says Dr Patterson.

But while isolation can help, it can also create hurdles.

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  • The superpower fight for internet near the Arctic

Most communities don’t have the capacity to do Covid-19 testing locally, so tests have to be flown in and out.

Early on, tests results could take a week, meaning “you’re really, really far behind by the time you can identify and respond”, Dr Patterson says. There are efforts under way to boost testing capacity and turnaround times for results in the territory.

There are also limited medical resources in the north. The 35-bed acute care Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit, the capital, could handle about 20 Covid-19 patients, Dr Patterson estimates.

In the case of an outbreak, “those people who need treatment, or need admission, many of them will wind up having to go south and so that will another load on our Medivac system”.

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A map of Canada showing coronavirus cases by province

Many Inuit communities – in Nunavut and elsewhere – are potentially at much higher risk.

There are a few factors at play, including inadequate and unsafe housing conditions and high rates of overcrowding, an all too common reality in the territory.

The high prevalence of tuberculosis is another concern.

Inuit, who make up over 80% of the territory’s population, are a high-risk group in general for respiratory infections, including tuberculosis, says Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a national advocacy group.

Inuit are nearly 300 times more likely to get tuberculosis than non-indigenous Canadians.

His own family experience with the respiratory illness brought home the potential dangers of Covid-19 for Ian Kanayuk.

The 20-year-old student and his mother came down with it a few years ago. He spent nine months on medication, his mother had a lengthy hospital stay.

Both are fine now but “it was really serious”, he says.

So he’s in favour of the social distancing measures, limits on gatherings, and the mask rules that are in place across the territory despite the lack of cases.

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Frobisher Bay in Iqaluit, Nunavut,

image copyrightAlamy

Dr Patterson says those are still necessary because “even though the hubs are there, the hubs aren’t perfect”. There are also some exemptions to the mandatory out-of-territory isolation, for example for certain critical workers.

So even with no community cases, the pandemic has touched the territory in ways that will be similar to people living throughout Canada.

Mr Kanayuk, like college students in many parts of the world, is disappointed to be studying remotely from his home in Iqaluit, and not in Ottawa, the national capital, where he had plans to attend in-person Nunavut Sivuniksavut, a programme for Inuit youth from across the country.

“It’s disheartening to not be able to go down”, he says. Then there’s the added challenge that slow internet speeds in the territory place on remote learning.

The pandemic has also overwhelmed an already strained mail system, leading to frustrations over length queues to pick up packages.

Inuit children on Baffin Island

image copyrightAlamy

The Iqaluit post office was already one of the busiest in Canada, since so many residents depend on Amazon’s free delivery to the Arctic city.

That post office has seen a spike in the number of parcels during the pandemic “beyond anything we could have anticipated”, Canada Post said in a statement.

Since the strict measures came into force in Nunavut in March, there has been some relaxing of regulations.

With some conditions, Nunavummiut can now travel to the Northwest Territories and back without isolating, as can people going to Churchill, Manitoba for medical treatment.

But there needs to be measures in place to limit contagion when the virus does make its way to Nunavut, says Dr Patterson, who doesn’t think it will be free of Covid-19 forever.

Graph comparing Canada coronavirus case load with the US and Europe

“No. Not indefinitely,” he says, “I wouldn’t have bet that it would stay this way for this long.”

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How is the rest of Canada doing?

Canada as a whole managed to stem the tide of the outbreak over the summer months, through full lockdowns in spring to a reopening over the summer.

As of late last week, there had been 191,732 cases nationwide and 9,699 deaths.

But with colder weather approaching, infections have been climbing sharply in many parts of the country, driven by the highly populated provinces of Quebec and Ontario.

A woman in a mask walks through downtown Toronto, 7 October, 2020

image copyrightNurPhoto via Getty IMages

The average number of people sent to hospital each day is also rising in the places with the most cases, and health officials have warned a major surge still has the potential to overwhelm the healthcare system. Additionally, infections have begun making their way back into long-term care homes.

Parts of Ontario and Quebec have brought back some lockdown measures as they try to bring infections under control, pressing pause on such things as indoor dining and gyms in hotspots like Montreal and Toronto.

Other parts of Canada are fairing better.

Atlantic Canada, the four provinces east of Quebec, has been able to limit community spread and has implemented a travel bubble, with free movement for residents and strict 14-day isolation orders for outside travellers.

The country is still lagging in testing capacity, and has experienced long queues and slow turnarounds for results in some areas as children returned to school.

About 77,000 Canadians are being tested daily, but the goal is to be able to test up to 200,000 daily nationwide.

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