Amid calls to present a comprehensive border reopening plan before thinking about calling a federal election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that it’s going to be “quite a while” yet before Canada is ready to welcome in any tourists who are unvaccinated.
In response to a question from CTV News about when the tourism sector could start accepting vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers from abroad, Trudeau said: “I can tell you right now that’s not going to happen for quite a while.”
“We need to continue to ensure that the safety of Canadians, of all the sacrifices that so many people have made over the past many, many months, are not for nothing,” Trudeau said Thursday during a press conference in British Columbia.
The prime minister said he doesn’t want to jeopardize the progress made in the fight against the pandemic by throwing open the border too quickly.
Earlier on Thursday, Ottawa business owners and the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable held a press conference imploring the federal government to put forward a plan that will allow the tourism sector to plan for what their summer travel season will look like.
“Business owners aren’t picky, what they ask for is a plan that they can rely on, a plan that allows for preparation, for rehiring and for retooling, a predictable path forward that creates confidence for the future. And they need lead time to prepare,” said Canadian Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Perrin Beatty. “Canadians need clarity and certainty, which today we don’t have, and the goalposts keep moving. It’s time to pick a goal, and to stick with it.”
Beatty said that because governments typically ease off of major decision making once an election is called, the industry is worried that if a border plan isn’t put in place soon, it may be months before one comes to fruition.
The industry stakeholders said that their sector has lost billions in revenue already, and the prospect of being closed for business for a second summer is hard to think about given the high vaccination rates among Canadians.
“What’s been frustrating and infuriating is being on the government regulated yo-yo, not knowing if you’re going to be open, when you’re going to be open,” said Joe Kowalski, founder of Wilderness Tours. “The people that are making these decisions do not have a clue how the real world works.”
Earlier on Thursday, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said that the Public Health Agency of Canada is currently looking at the data related to the updated policy that came into effect earlier this week, easing up on quarantine requirements for Canadian citizens, permanent residents and select others who are fully vaccinated.
“What is the test positive rate? And what are we finding in the actual travellers coming in right now in this in very initial precautionary phase?” Tam said. “That might then help us adjust the next phases moving forwards in terms of what’s the testing regime that’s appropriate for vaccinated travellers, for example.”
Trudeau was asked to, but did not commit to putting some goalposts in place for when even fully vaccinated foreign nationals could start visiting Canada, with the ongoing border restrictions continuing to limit non-essential travel for most.
The prime minister said that he understands the impatience to return to as much of pre-pandemic normalcy as possible but the government remains hesitant to put dates or timelines on the table for when the month-over-month extensions of the international and Canada-U.S. border restrictions could be lifted.
“Before we get to reflecting on what international travellers who are not fully vaccinated might be able to do… The next step will be looking at what measures we can allow for international travellers who are fully vaccinated. That will be our first focus, and we will have more to say in the coming weeks,” Trudeau said, promising continued aid for the tourism businesses.
“We will continue the reopening of our borders, but we will do it in a way that ensures the ongoing safety of all Canadians.”
Canada to receive 2.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses this week – CTV News
The federal government is expecting to receive more than 2.3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this week, as public health officials brace for a potential fourth wave of infections.
Ottawa has already received more than 66 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, enough to fully immunize all eligible Canadians.
As of Tuesday, the federal government had 6.7 million COVID-19 vaccines in its national reserve, an amount that provinces and territories can draw from if they need more doses.
The new COVID-19 vaccine shipments come as Canada’s top doctor warns that the country could be headed towards a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases if public health restrictions are lifted before vaccination rates pick up.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Dr. Theresa Tam said an updated national modelling for the pandemic trajectory suggests that the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 could drive a fourth wave of infections.
“The trajectory will depend on ongoing increase in fully vaccinated coverage and the timing, pace and extent of reopening,” Tam said.
“While some resurgence is expected as measures are eased, this updated model shows that if we maintain current levels of community-wide contacts, we would expect to see a modest increase in cases.”
Tam said the country could see a high increase of COVID-19 infections if reopening continues quickly before enough people are fully immunized.
“We could expect to see a sharp resurgence by the end of the summer,” she said.
She said the new forecast “reaffirms the need to take a cautious approach to relaxing public health measures to remain vigilant and responsive to signs of resurgence and to continue to increase first and second dose vaccine coverage.”
Canada reported an average of 640 new cases over the past seven days, she said, which is still 93 per cent lower than the peak of the third wave.
As of Friday, 80.3 per cent of those eligible had received a first dose, while 63.7 per cent are now fully vaccinated.
Tam said the country has made “great progress” on vaccinating those who are eligible over the last month, but there is a need to increase numbers of vaccinated even more.
“This means increasing fully vaccinated coverage above 80 per cent across all age groups and particularly in younger age groups where most of the transmission is occurring.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 2, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Canada's Quinn to become 1st openly transgender, non-binary athlete to win Olympic medal – CBC.ca
Canada’s appearance in the gold-medal match in Japan won’t be the only first for the women’s soccer team when it takes to the pitch Friday (10 p.m. ET on Thursday in Canada).
Quinn, a 25-year-old midfielder from Toronto, will also become the first openly transgender and non-binary athlete to win an Olympic medal, as the team is assured of a gold or silver.
Quinn came out publicly as transgender in a social media post last fall, changed their pronouns to they/them and now goes by one name.
Since Canada’s 1-0 semifinal victory over the United States on Monday at Kashima Stadium, setting up the final against Sweden, Quinn said they’ve been “getting messages from young people saying they’ve never seen a trans person in sports before.”
Quinn played college soccer for Duke University in North Carolina, and is the highest-drafted Canadian in National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) history — taken third overall by the Washington Spirit in 2018. They now play for the OL Reign.
They won the bronze at the 2016 Games in Rio and were also on the squad that suffered a heartbreaking loss to the U.S. in London in 2012.
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Quinn came out last September, telling The Canadian Press it was partly because they were “tired of being misgendered” in society and the media, and also to be a “visible figure” for younger people who may be “questioning their gender, exploring their gender.”
WATCH | Redemption 9 years in the making — Canada to play for women’s soccer gold:
New guidelines coming for transgender athletes
At these Games, another transgender athlete has helped spark a conversation about greater inclusivity in sports. New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard, the first openly transgender Olympic weightlifter, competed Monday in the women’s +87-kg category, but was knocked out of medal contention by failing to complete a lift in the first portion of the event.
“Of course, I’m not entirely unaware of the controversy which surrounds my participation in these Games,” Hubbard said after exiting the competition. “And, as such, I’d particularly like to thank the IOC [International Olympic Committee] for, I think, really affirming their commitment to the principles of Olympism, and establishing that sport is something for all people. It is inclusive. It is accessible.”
In 2015, the IOC established a set of regulations for transgender athletes in the Games. It has said it will release updated guidelines in the coming months.
For Quinn, being an advocate and a role model is not new. While at Duke, Quinn sat on the board of the school’s chapter of Athlete Ally, an organization that aims to foster equal opportunity in sports regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.
“Athletics is the most exciting part of my life and it brings me the most joy,” Quinn told CBC Sports on Monday.
“If I can allow kids to play the sports they love, that’s my legacy and that’s what I’m here for.”
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Canada’s Delta-driven 4th wave of COVID-19 will be ‘different’ amid vaccinations: experts – Globalnews.ca
As public health officials warn of an incoming Delta variant-driven fourth wave of COVID-19, experts are saying that its spread will likely be “very, very different” than Canada’s previous waves.
The warning came from chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday, who pointed at the upward trend in cases across Canada. The public health agency of Canada’s long-range epidemic forecasts “suggests we are the start of a Delta-driven fourth wave,” Tam told reporters at a press conference.
Tam warned that if vaccine uptake doesn’t increase in the country’s younger populations, cases could eventually exceed some communities’ health-care system capacities.
The news also comes on the heels of a new CDC report and study, the former of which warned that the Delta COVID-19 variant could be as contagious as chickenpox and the latter pointing to a string of outbreaks even among those who have been vaccinated.
However, according to Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Queen’s University, Canada’s fourth wave of COVID-19 will differ greatly from its previous ones despite the CDC reports and warning from PHAC officials.
“If we have a fourth wave, it’s going to look very, very different than the previous waves,” said Evans.
Dr. Fauci says unvaccinated responsible for latest COVID-19 outbreak
He said that there’s “no way” that such a wave would be as big as the previous ones simply because of Canada’s vaccinations rates, which remain among the highest in the world.
Even with Canada’s rise in cases, Evans said that they would primarily be in unvaccinated communities, pointing to the fact that over 97 per cent of all new cases were among those who did not get a shot.
Canada added at least another 218 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing its total infections to 1,431,219. Another two deaths were reported as well, with the country’s death toll now standing at 26,600. Over 1.39 million people have recovered and more than 49.5 million vaccinations have been doled out.
Active cases now look to be on the rise across the country, though. Thursday saw another 903 new cases, Friday 897 more and Saturday another 531. In comparison, Canada recorded 391 recoveries on Thursday, 412 on Friday and 190 on Saturday.
This weekend’s COVID-19 data is limited, however, with only Ontario and Quebec reporting new cases as of today.
CDC reinstates face mask recommendations amid U.S. surge in Delta variant cases
According to Evans, the CDC’s study on vaccinated people contracting COVID-19 after large events actually presents stronger evidence of the effectiveness of vaccines.
The main problem in the study he said was that the disease control agency was not reporting denominators — the amount of people that had visited or travelled around the state during the period which the study was conducted.
According to the CDC, 469 cases were found among Massachusetts residents from July 3 to 26, and of those, 74 per cent were among those fully vaccinated.
Evans estimated at least 100,000 people travelling and moving around the state’s events during that time period, and that the only 469 cases reported among such high volume events were a better indicator of vaccine’s effectiveness.
Secondly, Evans pointed to the high vaccination rates in the state — Massachusetts has at least 72 per cent of its population having received at least one dose and over 63 per cent of its population fully vaccinated, compared to the national average of 57.7 per cent and 49.6 per cent, respectively.
Ottawa extending multiple COVID-19 subsidies for workers, businesses amid Delta variant spread
Speaking on the Roy Green Show, Dr. Ronald St John, the former WHO director for the Americas and national manager for Canada’s response to SARS, expressed caution when interpreting the findings of the internal CDC report that pointed at the ability of the Delta variant to spread like chickenpox.
He pointed out as well that the data in the report was not peer-reviewed or published in a scientific journal.
“I assume they mean [Delta is spreading among] unvaccinated people, but it’s not specified,” he said.
“How often they spread it, the frequency of spread — that’s what’s not clear to me in the data that’s been presented so far and so far, I think it’s just been an internal document that’s been spread around. So I’m waiting to see a little more data.”
Concerns rise over easing protocols amid Delta variant surge
According to University of Toronto epidemiologist Dr. Colin Furness, the next wave would be “primarily experienced by unvaccinated people.”
He pointed out in a previous interview with Global News that the vaccines were a “firebreak” that acted to prevent mass spread of the virus, as well as hospitalizations and severe outcomes.
Instead of the previous mass outbreaks of COVID-19 in Canada, Furness said that they were now more likely to occur in non-vaccinated people, who “occur in clumps.”
“They’re not randomly, evenly distributed among the population. It’s a church group. It’s an ethnic group. It’s people in an apartment building,” he said.
— With files from The Canadian Press, Reuters, Eric Stober and Rachel Gilmore.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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