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Trudeau to update on COVID-19 as border restricted

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OTTAWA —
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Canada-U.S. border is likely to close to non-essential travel by the weekend, though talks are still ongoing to iron out all the details as both sides implement increasingly restrictive measures to combat COVID-19.

Speaking from outside his residence at Rideau Cottage, the prime minister said that his best estimate for when the border will be closed to tourists and non-essential visitors is between Friday and Saturday.

“We are continuing to work on the fine tuning of the agreement between Canada, the United States. I think it’s almost there. My understanding is that the measures will probably come into place in the night between Friday and Saturday, so in about a day and a half,” Trudeau said.

The discussion on implementation continues between Canadian officials and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

When governments on both sides announced the restrictions on Wednesday, talks were still underway about the details, given the need for commerce and trade to not be interrupted by the shutdown across the longest undefended border in the world.

Canada has already shut its border to most non-citizens looking to enter the country. International flights have been rerouted to four airports where more intensive screening is being conducted on passengers arriving, and travellers with symptoms are being denied entry on flights to Canada.

If a passenger demonstrates symptoms of the virus upon arriving in Canada they are being taken under the care of public health officials, and everyone arriving in Canada from abroad is being asked to acknowledge they are to self-isolate for 14 days.

‘Weeks or months’

A week into his self-isolation, Trudeau once again addressed Canadians on the latest developments in the COVID-19 pandemic and Canada’s response and emphasized the steps taken so far.

In his remarks, Trudeau also said Canadians across the country have seen significant interruptions to their daily lives, due to the virus.

“Over the last week, we’ve seen significant changes in what COVID-19 means for the country,” Trudeau said.

“I know it’s also a lot to take in,” Trudeau said, going over the research, treatments, and supports the government is working on.

He offered another thank-you to those on the front lines of the fight against the novel coronavirus and said more information will be coming soon on the procurement of essential supplies and how industry can chip in, after hearing from many who have offered to retool their manufacturing setups to start producing supplies needed to combat the disease.

Trudeau said based on the best advice they are getting, the social distancing measures are set to be the reality for “weeks to months.”

“There’s no doubt, these are uncertain times. But no matter what happens next, we can count on each other,” Trudeau said.

Plan to pass financial aid

With the number of confirmed Canadian cases continuing to rise, and citizens slowly adjusting to the reality of necessary self-isolation and social distancing, there is pressure to see the promised financial assistance reach Canadians’ wallets as quickly as possible, to allow people to continue to heed public health advice without fear of being unable to make ends meet.

On Wednesday, Trudeau also unveiled a major $82-billion two-pronged financial package, but questions remained about when these policy actions will come into force.

While some assistance is coming through pre-existing programs such as Employment Insurance and the Canada Child Benefit, the government needs to pass legislation to fully enact the suite of financial top-ups, tax deferrals and loans they have readied to help Canadians and stimulate the economy badly hit by the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The prime minister said Thursday that the public service is already working on getting these supports rolling out the door, and he’s planning to speak with the Clerk of the Privy Council later this afternoon “to talk about how we can support our public servants and ensure that Canadians can access these new programs.”

Trudeau did not offer any more concrete timing of Parliament’s return to pass those measures, though the opposition parties have made it clear that they are on board. Both the House and Senate suspended last week in an effort to combat the spread of the virus on Parliament Hill.

Plans are being set for the minimum number of politicians — ideally those with the shortest distance to travel — to reconvene in Ottawa early next week.

‘Plank the curve’

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland chaired a meeting of the special cabinet committee focused on the federal response to COVID-19 on Thursday morning, and then joined her colleagues and health officials for another noon update on the virus.

There, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam implored Canadians to go beyond flattening the curve, suggesting instead that Canada’s job at the moment is to “plank the curve.”

“We don’t just need to flatten the curve, we need to plank it. And we need everyone, from government to communities, families and individuals to work together. We all have got to get it right, and get it right, right now because the price of not doing so is too high,” Dr. Tam said.

As of Thursday afternoon there are 773 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Canada.

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Canada and its manufacturing sector face harm if PPE documents are released, says industry group – CBC.ca

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Releasing confidential documents detailing the federal government’s business deals with suppliers of personal protective equipment and testing devices could hurt Canadian manufacturers and sully Canada’s global business reputation, a major industry association says.

Dennis Darby is president and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, a 150-year-old organization that represents some 2,500 businesses. He has written to the Liberals, Conservatives and the NDP asking them to push back against a Conservative motion requesting those documents.

“We urge you to resist calls for disclosing any proprietary and confidential business information shared in private with the government of Canada and we commit ourselves to working with you to ensure that this does not happen,” Darby wrote.

The letter refers to Conservative MP Michelle Rempel-Garner’s motion calling on the federal government to release “all memoranda, emails, documents, notes and other records” detailing federal government’s purchasing of all testing-related equipment, from swabs to devices, and all personal protective equipment.

The motion also calls for detailed information about vaccines and asks the federal government’s Vaccine Task Force for information about its contacts with the federal government and its vaccine distribution and monitoring strategy.

“If these disclosures are too broad, it will negatively impact business operations for manufacturers in Canada and around the globe,” Darby wrote. “Furthermore, we worry that the reputations of many manufacturers, who stepped up to produce and sell personal protective equipment (PPE), testing devices, or other goods, will be unfairly tarnished.”

Darby said that the expense involved in retooling factories to produce masks, face shields, gowns and other items increased the cost of those products, even though the manufacturers sold them to the government at cost.

“Without doubt, those sudden ramp-up costs are significantly higher than a manufacturer who had been producing those same products for years,” Darby said in the letter. “We do not think their intentions should be called into question.”

The motion will go to a vote on Monday. Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez’s office confirmed Thursday it won’t be considered a confidence vote — meaning it won’t trigger a general election if it passes.

The parties are debating how much time the government should have to gather the relevant documents after the Liberals said the motion’s 15-day timeline was unrealistic.

Negotiations ongoing

Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, made a similar plea on Twitter this week, saying that the Conservative motion is threatening the “biggest industrial mobilization of Canadian industry in its history.” 

Volpe said that if manufacturers find their work being politicized, the companies that dropped everything to be a part of the effort to make PPE could abandon the work and tell the federal government to shop for PPE in China.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand told CBC News Network’s Power & Politics Thursday that the federal government is in the middle of negotiating contracts and disclosing sensitive business information could threaten those deals.

“If we go ahead and release information, that will undermine our supplier relationships,” she told guest host David Cochrane. “I am very concerned with releasing documents, vaccine contracts, PPE contracts … because we will undermine those relationships.” 

The co-chairs of the Liberal government’s COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force also expressed their concern in a letter sent Thursday to the leaders of all five federal political parties.

Joanne Langley and Mark Lievonen said that in order to provide advice to cabinet, they have entered into non-disclosure agreements with companies from Canada and around the world.

The task force has offered MPs from all parties a briefing, providing those MPs are also “subject to the same confidentiality arrangements” that bind the task force.

“Without this guarantee of commercial confidentiality, it would not have been possible for us to meaningfully engage with these firms nor to obtain the data needed to make evidence-based, informed recommendations,” the letter from the task force co-chairs said. 

It’s not clear what the final motion will look like come Monday; as it stands now, it includes a provision that appears to allow for some information to be withheld.

The motion says the documents can be “vetted for matters of personal privacy information and national security … the disclosure of which could reasonably be expected to interfere with contractual or other negotiations between the Government of Canada and a third party.” 

That vetting, the motion says, should be done by the law clerk and parliamentary counsel within seven days of delivery of the documents.

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Trudeau announces $214M for potential made-in-Canada COVID-19 vaccines – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying to offer Canadians modest hope about progress in testing and vaccine development after Canada notched an all-time high of new COVID-19 cases in a day.

Trudeau told a news conference Friday that the government is spending $214 million towards the development of COVID-19 vaccines, signing deals with two Canadian biotech firms.

But even as he touted Canada’s portfolio of potential vaccines, Trudeau warned it’s unlikely that any of these candidates will be ready to distribute to Canadians this year or early next year. It’s reasonable to expect that vaccines will start to roll out at some point in 2021, said Trudeau, but even then, supply will be limited, and high-risk populations will be prioritized for inoculation.

“We are hopeful that the vaccines will arrive yesterday, but they won’t,” said Trudeau. “There’s still a number more months of work to do.”

Trudeau said his government signed a $173-million contract with Quebec’s Medicago to secure the rights to buy 76 million doses of its vaccine, should it meet health and safety standards. The funding will also be used to establish a production facility in Quebec City, he said.

Ottawa is also investing $18.2 million in a potential vaccine from British Columbia’s Precision NanoSystems. Meanwhile, the National Research Council is spending $23 million to support other Canadian vaccine initiatives, Trudeau said.

The prime minister said Canada has signed six agreements with a number of companies taking part in the global race to produce a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 .

Two more American vaccine makers, Moderna and Pfizer, have asked Health Canada to review their products, which are undergoing clinical trials.

The prime minister also said Canada has acquired “hundreds of thousands” of rapid test kits from medical company Abbott. Trudeau said his government has started distributing the kits to provinces and territories, and it will be up to those authorities to decide how to deploy them.

But new innovations and investments will only prove effective in the fight against the COVID-19 contagion if Canadians do their part to curb the spread, Trudeau said.

Canada’s chief public health officer told reporters Friday that a record 2,788 new illnesses were reported Thursday, bringing the country’s total count to just over 209,000 COVID-19 cases, including more than 9,800 deaths.

Dr. Theresa Tam said authorities need the public’s help to rein in infection rates through practices such as limiting in-person contacts, wearing masks and physical distancing.

Meanwhile, a Quebec health institute released projections Friday suggesting that province’s health system should have the capacity to handle the number of COVID-19 patients expected to need care in the next four weeks.

Quebec is reporting 905 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 more deaths from the illness.

Ontario also reported 826 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and nine new deaths linked to the virus.

Manitoba reported a total of 163 new infections Friday, most concentrated in Winnipeg, and the positivity rate is now up to 6.5 per cent. The province also said a man in his 80s is the latest death linked to an outbreak at Winnipeg’s Parkview Place that has killed a total of 15 people.

New Brunswick is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 in the Campbellton region, which is one of two areas that saw significant outbreaks two weeks ago.

Newfoundland and Labrador is asking passengers who travelled on Air Canada Flight 7484 from Toronto to Deer Lake on Oct. 12 to get tested in relation to a new COVID-19 case announced on Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020.

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Provinces are taking different approaches to rising COVID-19 numbers. Alberta is not considering new restrictions, while Manitoba has announced tighter measures for its northern region and British Columbia warns new rules could be coming for social gatherings.

Canada saw a record high number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed on Thursday, with 2,788 new infections recorded.

Among the recently hard-hit province is Alberta, which broke two records on Thursday when the province reported 427 new cases and a total of 3,519 active cases.

While acknowledging the government is “obviously concerned” about the growing number of active cases, Premier Jason Kenney said there are no plans to impose “indiscriminate” restrictions that would shut down the hospitality industry.

WATCH | Reduce gatherings even more, health experts urge:

British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry expressed concerns around the spread of COVID-19 at social gatherings, something that infectious diseases specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti says is being seen across the country. 1:54

“I think it’s important to acknowledge that the virus is here to stay,” Kenney said Thursday while self-isolating at home after a minister in his government tested positive the day before. “And unless or until there is widespread immunity either through natural infection or through the widespread use of a vaccine, we have to cope with it and we have to carry on with life.”

The premier said Alberta has so far accomplished its primary goal of protecting lives while ensuring the health-care system is not overwhelmed.

Meanwhile, the Manitoba government has introduced sweeping new rules for the fourth time in as many weeks in an effort to get a handle on its own recent record-breaking COVID-19 numbers.

Effective Monday, the Northern Health region — where there are increasing signs of community spread and cases among vulnerable populations, such as those experiencing homelessness — will move to the orange, or “restricted,” level on Manitoba’s pandemic response system. 

WATCH | Manitoba’s top doctor on the increasing community spread of COVID-19:

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, explains why increasing community spread of COVID-19 makes targeted approaches to control the illness less effective. 0:48

The decision was made after consultation with municipal and First Nations leaders in the region, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at a news conference Thursday. “We know that the north is already at risk for transmission of this virus, especially in remote, isolated communities, [with limited] access to health care,” he said.

The new measures, which are already in place in the Winnipeg area, include a five-person cap on gatherings, the closure of casinos and other sites with live entertainment licences and a requirement for many businesses to cut occupancy to 50 per cent.

In British Columbia, the provincial health officer warned Thursday she may introduce new rules on gatherings like weddings and funerals as B.C. announced a record-high 274 new cases.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said the measures could include conditions on wedding licences and reducing the province’s current 50-person limit on gatherings.

WATCH | B.C.’s current rules for weddings, funerals not enough, says Dr. Henry:

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s warning comes as Fraser Health reports a number of social gatherings lasting days has led to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the province. 1:39

“The reality is that, right now, everywhere in B.C., weddings, funerals and other life occasions need to be small — as small as possible,” she said. “Every gathering needs to be our own household only, and at maximum, our safe six.”


What’s happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 1 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 210,881 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 177,307 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting rose to 9,883.

The federal government has signed a contract to procure 76 million doses of a promising COVID-19 vaccine from the Quebec City-biotech company Medicago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday.

Ottawa is spending $176 million to help Medicago develop the vaccine, which is being developed in partnership with British drug company GlaxoSmithKline, and build a large plant in Quebec to produce it.

So far, Canada has secured 358 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine through contracts with pharmaceutical giants, including AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer — an insurance policy if some of the vaccines in development prove to be ineffective in clinical trials.

Trudeau also announced a $18.2-million investment in Vancouver-based Precision NanoSystems, which offers technology to produce vaccines and therapeutic drugs.

Nova Scotia reported new no cases of COVID-19 on Friday, a day after the province warned residents against unnecessary travel to the Campbellton-Restigouche area of New Brunswick due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

The recommendation came after New Brunswick announced new restrictions for the Campbellton region, almost two weeks after it was pushed back to the orange phase of recovery. While Zone 5 will remain in the orange stage, people will be limited to interacting with a single household bubble, N.B. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said.

New Brunswick announced two new COVID-19 cases and eight recoveries on Friday. That brings the total number of cases the province has recorded to 324, with four deaths.

Newfoundland and Labrador announced no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The province has recorded a total of 288 cases and four deaths.

Ontario reported an additional 826 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as the seven-day average of new daily cases continued its upward trend to 778. That’s the second highest it’s been since the resurgence of COVID-19 in the province began in early August.

Nine more deaths were also recorded. There are currently 6,474 confirmed, actives cases of COVID-19, a record high for the province.

Meanwhile, the list of Toronto hospitals that have declared outbreaks of COVID-19 grew to seven, with Sunnybrook announcing five cases in a surgical unit at the hospital.

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-thru COVID-19 clinic in Montreal on Wednesday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Quebec on Friday reported 905 new COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths, four of which were in the past 24 hours.

There are 540 people in hospital, including 99 in intensive care. In its latest projections, the province’s national health institute said hospitals will not reach full capacity in the next four weeks due to the rate of transmission having stabilized in recent days.

Premier François Legault has said it’s likely the province will have to maintain many public health restrictions currently in place in red zones past Oct. 28, including keeping restaurants and bars closed.


What’s happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 41.9 million. More than 1.1 million people have died, while more than 28.4 million have recovered.

In the Americas, the pandemic was predictably the opening topic of the U.S. presidential debate between Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden on Thursday evening. Trump claimed the country was “rounding the corner” even as cases spike again across the country, while Biden said: “Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.” More than 223,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus.

WATCH | Trump, Biden clash over pandemic in debate: 

The president lamented that the city became a ‘ghost town’ amid the pandemic, while the Democratic candidate praised its response in flattening the curve. 1:00 

The Peruvian government said on Thursday that it refused to sign a coronavirus vaccine purchase agreement with AstraZeneca PLC because it did not provide sufficient data from its studies and offered minimal amounts of inoculations.

In Europe, the Netherlands began transferring COVID-19 patients to Germany again on Friday, as hospitals come under increasing strain from a second wave of infections. During the first wave in March and April, dozens of Dutch patients were transferred to Germany, where the intensive care capacity is significantly larger.

Poland will close restaurants and bars for two weeks and limit public gatherings to five people, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday, after new coronavirus infections hit a daily record of more than 13,600.

The number of new coronavirus infections in Romania also rose by a daily record, with 5,028 cases added in the past 24 hours, the government said on Friday, as new restrictions were introduced in Bucharest and other cities.

People ride bikes and an electric scooter in Bucharest on Thursday. Romania’s capital city has decided to close schools and cinemas and make mask-wearing in public spaces compulsory. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images)

In Asia, South Korea on Friday reported 155 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, its highest daily jump in more than 40 days. Officials say most of the new cases were local transmissions and primarily in the Seoul region, where hundreds of infections have been tied to a handful of hospitals and nursing homes.

Iran’s health ministry on Friday reported a record 6,134 new coronavirus cases for the previous 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 556,891 in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country. A spokesperson said 335 people had died from the disease in the past 24 hours, bringing total fatalities to 31,985.

India reported 54,366 new cases on Friday, the fifth day in a row below 60,000 new cases, and 690 deaths in the
past 24 hours. A political row erupted after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party promised free COVID-19 vaccination, when it is available, to people in eastern Bihar state, where state elections are scheduled to begin next week. Opposition parties accused Modi’s party of politicizing the pandemic.

Motorcyclists gather during a rally in Amritsar, India, this week to raise awareness about the use of face masks and physical distancing to fight the spread of COVID-19. (Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images)

In Africa, Ethiopia’s attorney general’s office has announced people can be jailed for up to two years if they deliberately violate COVID-19 restrictions, amid concern that citizens are becoming lax after a state of emergency was lifted.

Countries on the continent have reported a total of more than 1.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa. There have been more than 40,000 deaths, for a case fatality ratio of 2.4 per cent, and 1.3 million recoveries so far.

Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca

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