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VIA Rail shutting down passenger service in Canada due to blockades – CityNews

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CN Rail says blockades are causing it to shut down its train network in Eastern Canada.

The company says that means stopping all transcontinental trains across its Canadian network and it may lead to temporary layoffs for eastern Canadian staff.

VIA Rail says that also means shutting all its passenger service in Canada, which mostly uses CN track.

“Following a notice from the infrastructure owner, CN Rail, that they are no longer in a position to fulfill their obligations under the Train Service Agreement between VIA Rail and CN Rail, VIA Rail has no other option but to cancel all of its services on the network, effective immediately and until further notice,” read a statement from VIA.

“Passengers are being informed that as of 4pm EST, there will be no more train departures.”

“Upon infrastructure owner instructions, all VIA Rail trains currently en route will be brought to the closest major train station.”

“We understand the impact this unfortunate situation has on our passengers and regret the significant inconvenience this is causing to their travel plans.”

VIA says it is providing full refunds for all cancelled trips, which are being processed automatically but that due to the volume of transactions it may take up to 15 days to receive.

Metrolinx says they are monitoring the situation very closely and are in contact with CN but at this point they are not anticipating any GO Train / UP Express service disruptions on any of their lines.

Part of the tracks they use along Lakeshore West, Barrie and Kitchener are owned by CN Rail but Metrolinx has agreements in place to operate along those corridors.

CN Rail says in a statement it has sought and obtained court orders and requested the assistance of enforcement agencies for the blockades in Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia.

It says while the blockades have been dismantled in Manitoba and may be ending imminently in B.C., the court order in Ontario has yet to be enforced and continues to be ignored.

Protesters across Canada have said they’re acting in solidarity with those opposed to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which crosses the traditional territories of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in northern B.C.

CN Rail says it has tried to adjust its operations to serve customers but it is now left with the only remaining responsible option: progressively shutting down eastern Canadian operations.

“With over 400 trains cancelled during the last week and new protests that emerged at strategic locations on our mainline, we have decided that a progressive shutdown of our eastern Canadian operations is the responsible approach to take for the safety of our employees and the protesters,” said JJ Ruest, president and chief executive officer at CN in a news release.

“This situation is regrettable for its impact on the economy and on our railroaders as these protests are unrelated to CN’s activities, and beyond our control. Our shutdown will be progressive and methodical to ensure that we are well set up for recovery, which will come when the illegal blockades end completely.”

The union which represents over 16,000 workers in the rail industry says the CN shutdown could see up to 6,000 workers laid off. Teamsters Canada is calling on the federal government to intervene to find a solution.

“These blockades are having a catastrophic impact on ordinary, working-class Canadians who have nothing to do with the Coastal Gaslink pipeline,” said Teamsters Canada president François Laporte. “Now up to 6,000 of our members risk not being able to support their families or make ends meet this month, and they are powerless to do anything about it.”

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Over 500 coronavirus cases connected to public places in Canada since July 4, data shows – Global News

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There have been over 500 reported cases of the novel coronavirus connected to outbreaks or confirmed infections at public places like grocery stores, restaurants and day camps across Canada since early July, according to new data on COVID-19 cases.

The data, compiled by the Institute of Investigative Journalism (IIJ) at Concordia University, reveal new details about how the virus has spread across Canada, since July 4, in places where members of the public can gather.

Reporters at the IIJ’s Project Pandemic identified at least 505 reported infections linked to outbreaks or exposures at 148 locations that span across 61 cities in seven provinces.

The newly released statistics come at a crucial moment in Canada’s fight against its COVID-19 outbreak, with many provinces and municipalities entering the final stages of their plan to reopen their economies and students set to return to classrooms in September.

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According to the data, a majority of the documented COVID-19 exposures or infections were related to food sales — with groceries, restaurants and liquor stores accounting for a total of 198 cases that involved employees and patrons. Only locations open to the public were included in the analysis of data and excluded facilities like long-term care homes or food processing plants.

Two major outbreaks of COVID-19 in July occurred at the Cactus Club restaurant and Fire and Ice lounge, both located in downtown Calgary. The Cactus Club location was linked to 25 COVID-19 cases, while Fire and Ice was linked to 57, according to the data.

“The safety and well-being of our guests and employees is our number one priority,” the Cactus Club said in a statement. “While (Alberta Health Services) has not mandated it, we have decided to voluntarily close this location out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health of everyone.”

The owners of Fire and Ice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Eight fitness centres were linked to 79 infections, with one location in Alberta accounting for 62 cases. The cases were linked to the Ride Cycle Club in Calgary, which was added to Alberta’s list of confirmed outbreaks in July.

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The company has said the studio was informed on July 13 that a member of its training community had tested positive for COVID-19 and “immediately shut down all Calgary operations and deployed a notification and awareness strategy.”

Eight day camps were associated with 46 infections, while schools or daycares had 23 infections at seven locations. One of the largest outbreaks occurred at a day camp on Montreal’s south shore, the Boucherville-based Les Ateliers de Charlot l’Escargot, which has seen at least 28 cases of COVID-19 among kids and staff.






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Retail stores, which include electronic and hardware shops, were also among the highest in the country with a total of 21 reported outbreaks. Other public areas that were measured as having fewer exposures or outbreaks included parks, hotels and malls, according to the data.

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On a province-to-province basis, the highest number of exposures or outbreaks occurred in Quebec, which had a total of 65. Alberta closely followed at 61 COVID-19 exposures or outbreaks, and Ontario had 45.

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Saskatchewan and Manitoba had 21 and 11 recorded incidents, respectively, while both British Columbia and Nova Scotia’s reported exposures were in the single digits.

To date, Canada has reported over 119,000 cases of the coronavirus as well as 8,981 deaths. Daily reported increases in coronavirus cases across the country have averaged at about 400 over the past week, according to Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

While new cases of the virus continue to follow a downward trend across Canada, health experts and authorities continue to warn of a potential second wave or another outbreak should measures to prevent the spread of the virus ease too soon.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases physician at Toronto General Hospital, said the new data confirms what public health experts have been sounding the alarm over: indoor settings spread transmission.

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“Indoor settings where there is lots of people in close proximity for prolonged periods of time are at the greatest risk of transmitting infection,” Bogoch said. “There have even been a few cases transmitted at grocery stores and liquor stores.”

Read more:
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Bogoch said masking, handwashing and physical distancing have had a significant impact on reducing the number of cases across all provinces but warned that we still need to vigilant as more people flock to bars and restaurants and schools look to reopen in the coming weeks.

“We’ve had a few high profile outbreaks associated with restaurants and bars in the country and of course internationally,” he said. “We know these are hotspots for infections.”

“The key, is ensuring that people adhere to public health measures while in bars,” he said. “It’s one thing to have a plan in place. It’s another thing to implement that plan.”

He’ll also bee watching Ontario’s case numbers closely as the province has seen less than 100 cases for nearly a week, but reported 115 new cases on Monday.

“Some of this could be undone if people disregard these public health measures,” he said. “If businesses and organizations provide a safe environment for employees and customers, then we will be doing OK.

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“If there are breakdowns, then it should come to no one’s surprise that we are going to see a rise in cases in congregate settings.”

Community shutdowns more effective than closing schools, study finds

New research from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) found that shutting down communities — closing businesses and asking people to stay home — has a greater impact on reducing the total number of infections than closing schools.

According to a study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers with PHAC used computer modelling to evaluate the impact of several of the main interventions used to control the spread of the virus — case detection and isolation, contact tracing and quarantine, physical distancing and community closures — taken both together and alone.

After adding school closures to that mix, they found that while closing classrooms would indeed reduce the rate of infections within schools, it had far less of an impact on the pandemic overall compared to partial community closures, the likes of which were seen across Canada starting in March.

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In a scenario without any other public health measures taken, for example, the overall rate of virus infection was 54.7 per cent with schools closed versus .04 per cent with much broader closures, including workplaces and schools.

“When we have high levels of community transmission combined with minimal public health interventions and low adherence to physical distancing, school closures will have a minimal impact in combination with these interventions and will not be sufficient to control the epidemic,” lead researcher Dr. Victoria Ng, senior scientific evaluator with PHAC, said in a statement.

“In contrast, workplace and general community closures were much more effective, because transmission outside of the household is occurring predominantly in these settings,” she said.

Bogoch said Canada saw the effectiveness of lockdown measures play out in real time in March, April and May.

“We were able to bring our new cases down to very low levels from coast-to-coast,” he said. “It was extremely challenging and economically devastating for many individuals. It’s psychologically and emotionally challenging … but it did reduce the transmission of COVID-19.”

Read more:
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The findings come amid intense scrutiny over the decision to reopen schools in all provinces, as well as the effectiveness of the measures governments have in place to protect students.

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After peaking in early May, the number of new coronavirus cases in Canada has declined dramatically this summer, though some provinces, including B.C. and Alberta, are seeing a recent uptick.

“The virus doesn’t care about our past efforts. It’s what we do now that matters,” Tam said in her daily statement on Sunday.

“We’ve come too far, lost too much, and have so much to protect. Our biggest struggle is to persevere with our collective effort, to maintain the careful balance of keeping the infection rate low… protecting the most vulnerable, while minimizing the unintended health and social consequences of restrictive public health measures.”

Researchers found that anywhere from 0.25 per cent to 56 per cent of Canadians could become infected over the course of the pandemic depending on the level of public health intervention implemented in the coming months and even years. The infection rate of 56 per cent could occur if no control measures were taken.

According to the study, the infection rate varied and depended on how much testing, isolation, contact tracing and quarantine were carried out, combined with effective physical distancing measures.

And while each of the measures studied was effective at curbing the spread of COVID-19 to varying degrees in the model, none of them except partial community closure could eliminate the virus on its own.

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A combination of case detection, isolation and contact tracing — and ramping up those activities along with physical distancing — was crucial to lowering the infection rate to a quarter of a percentage point.

“These interventions would need to be maintained until the epidemic is extinguished (either via herd immunity or vaccination), or there will be a resurgence,” the authors wrote.

Project Pandemic is co-ordinated by the IIJ, with the support of Esri Canada and the Canadian Association of Journalists.

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

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Today's coronavirus news: Global COVID-19 cases expected to hit 20 million this week; Ontario reporting 115 new cases – Toronto Star

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KEY FACTS

  • 10:13 a.m. The head of the World Health Organization predicted that the number of people infected by the coronavirus will hit 20 million this week.

  • 10:12 a.m. Ontario is reporting 115 new cases of COVID-19.

  • 9:10 a.m. Windsor-Essex will move into Stage 3 of reopening on Wednesday

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

1:52 p.m. Quebec’s updated back-to-school plan requires students in Grade 5 and up to wear masks in all common areas of school buildings, except classrooms.

Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge said today the government’s new strategy aims to make communication between teachers and students as easy as possible.

Roberge says each classroom will be its own bubble, and students will not be required to maintain a two-metre distance with their classmates.

And while all elementary and high school students will be expected to return to school at the end of the month, children with significant health problems will be offered a remote learning option.

Roberge says in order to protect children from harm, schools need to fully reopen in order to offer students the ability to properly socialize and learn.

Quebec reported one new death in the past 24 hours attributed to COVID-19 and 98 new cases of the virus — the lowest daily number of cases since July.

1:42 p.m. The British government is laying off 6,000 coronavirus contact tracers and deploying the rest to work in local teams, in an acknowledgment that the centralized track-and-trace system is not working well enough.

The U.K. has been criticized for failing to keep track of infected people’s contacts early in the pandemic, a factor that contributed to the country’s high death toll of more than 46,500, the most in Europe.

Since May the country has rapidly set up a test-and-trace system to try to contain the outbreak, recruiting thousands of staff in a matter of weeks. But the system, which relies on telephone call centres, has failed to reach more than a quarter of contacts of people who have tested positive for the virus.

Some frustrated local authorities have set up their own contact-tracing networks, which have proved more effective because they know communities better and can go door-to-door if needed.

The national test-and-trace program said Monday it was officially adopting that localized approach. Some 6,000 contact tracers will be laid off this month, and the remaining 12,000 will work with local public health authorities around the country.

The government also abandoned plans to create a contact-tracing phone app, but says it will be reintroduced in some form in the near future.

1:42 p.m. Greece’s culture ministry is closing down the Museum of the Ancient Agora, a major archaeological site in central Athens, for two weeks after a cleaner there was diagnosed with COVID-19.

A ministry statement Monday said the museum would be comprehensively disinfected, while the actual site of the Ancient Agora, which was the administrative, political and social centre of the ancient city, will remain open.

Greek sites and museums are open to visitors, with the wearing of masks obligatory in museums.

The closure also comes as Greece has announced 126 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the last day, bringing the country’s total to 5,749, and one more death for a total death toll of 213 amid a spike in daily infections.

Of the new cases, 17 were migrants who arrived on the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos who arrived from the nearby Turkish coast.

The government announced new measures Monday to curb the spread, including orderings bars, restaurants and cafes in several regions to shut between midnight and 7 a.m. Other measures include requiring those arriving in the country from land borders, as well as those flying in from several European countries, to have proof of a negative coronavirus test.

12:20 p.m. Ontario reported 115 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, ending a seven-day stretch with fewer than 100 new infections a day.

It was a sharp increase from 79 new cases Sunday and 70 on Saturday as health officials keep a close watch on daily tallies with most of the province in Stage 3, where the risk of spread is higher if people do not take proper precautions such as physical distancing and wearing face coverings.

Health Minister Christine Elliott cautioned against reading too much into a one-day jump in the case count.

“While a slight uptick and an end to our steak, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that thanks to your efforts the trend in the province remains downward,” she said on Twitter as Premier Doug Ford’s government allowed Windsor-Essex to move to Stage 3.

Over the weekend, the active number of cases across the province dropped below 1,000 for the first time since the virus peaked and now sits at 994, the Ministry of Health said in its daily status report based on figures reported by health units at 4 p.m. the previous day.

Eighteen of Ontario’s 34 public health units had no new cases and 10 regions had fewer than five new infections. The highest numbers were 20 in Ottawa, 19 in Peel and 16 in Toronto.

Read more from the Star’s Rob Ferguson: Ontario ends weeklong streak of COVID-19 cases below 100

12:18 p.m. The federal Liberals are defending their decision to have the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. oversee a rent-relief program for small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The opposition Conservatives have questioned why the CMHC, rather than the Canada Revenue Agency, was asked to run the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program, given the revenue agency manages several other pandemic-related support programs.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s spokeswoman Maeva Proteau says the CMHC was considered the best fit because it deals with mortgages and understands Canada’s real estate market.

She says going with the Crown corporation was seen to be fastest because it could make payments to businesses without requiring new legislation, which would have further delayed the rent program.

The CMHC later contracted mortgage firm MCAP to administer the rent program — another choice the Tories have questioned, since an executive vice-president at the company is married to Katie Telford, chief of staff to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The Prime Minister’s Office says Telford followed proper ethical procedures when it came to the government’s dealings with MCAP, while the Liberals and CMHC say the $84-million contract was awarded independent of any political involvement.

12 p.m. From the most romantic spots along the Seine to popular shopping streets, residents and visitors in Paris were required to wear face masks in some outdoor areas of the French capital starting Monday amid an uptick in reported coronavirus cases.

Police are authorized to issue a 135-euro ($159) fine to people who do not follow the new public health requirement.

One location covered by the measure is the banks of the Canal Saint-Martin, among the city’s most popular outdoor spots for lunch or an aperitif with friends.

“In the morning when there is nobody on the canal, I think it is a bit of a drastic measure,“ lawyer Helene Rames said after the face mask rule took effect.

“But it is true that at night and on the weekends, you can see many young people here close to each other, which is scary,“ she added. ”If it’s for the health of our elders then let’s wear it.”

11:56 a.m. Thailand is making plans to allow at least 3,000 foreign teachers to enter the country, even as it continues to keep out tourists and tightly restricts other arrivals to guard against new coronavirus infections.

Attapon Truektrong, secretary-general of the Private Education Commission, said Monday that those who have registered include teachers returning to their jobs after leaving during the pandemic, as well as newly employed teachers.

The teachers, who come from countries including the Philippines, New Zealand, the United States and Britain, will have to be quarantined for 14 days after arrival. Thailand barred scheduled passenger flights from abroad in early April

Thailand hosts many international schools and there is a general shortage of qualified teachers of English and other non-Thai languages.

11:56 a.m. Students have begun returning to some Florida university campuses as the state reports its lowest number of new daily cases in more than a month.

Classes for new students started Monday at Stetson University. Students moved into dormitories over the weekend at the DeLand campus as well as at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

In Orange County, public school students started the school year with two-weeks of online learning. At the end of the month, they will get to choose between continuing with virtual learning or going to in-person classes.

Meanwhile, Florida reported 4,155 new coronavirus cases on Monday, the smallest daily caseload increase since the end of June.

11:56 a.m. The number of day-to-day increases in new COVID-19 infections in Italy dropped significantly on Monday. But frequently numbers provided by the Health Ministry on Mondays tend to be on the low side, reflecting often incomplete reports from regional public health offices during the weekend.

Still, the 259 cases nationwide registered in the 24-hour period ending on Monday evening was a steep decrease from the 463 infections registered on Sunday.

Outstripping northern Lombardy, the region which had by far suffered the brunt of the pandemic, were Emilia-Romagna, also in the north, and Lazio, the south-central region which includes Rome.

Lazio health authorities said at least nine of its latest 38 cases were confirmed in tourists who returned from vacations on the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Spain’s Ibiza. Sicily and Puglia, two southern Italian regions popular for its beaches, also registered more cases than in Lombardy.

11:56 a.m. The incoming president of the United Nations General Assembly has praised Pakistan for quickly containing the coronavirus, saying the South Asian nation’s handling of the pandemic is a good example for the world.

The Turkish diplomat Volkan Bozkir made his comment Monday at a news conference in the capital, Islamabad.

Bozkir was recently elected as the president of the 75th session of the U.N. General Assembly.

Upon his arrival in Islamabad, he met with the country’s prime minister, Imran Khan, who wants international financial institutions and rich nations to give a debt relief to poor countries whose economies have badly been affected by the new virus.

Bozkir’s visit comes amid a steady decline in COVID-19 deaths and infections in Pakistan.

Pakistan reported its first confirmed case of coronavirus in February and in March it imposed a nationwide lockdown, which has gradually been lifted in recent weeks. Pakistan on Monday reported 15 fatalities from coronavirus in the past 24 hours, raising its total COVID-19-related fatalities to 6,097.

11:56 a.m. Veterans who weren’t given military funeral rights when they were buried during the coronavirus pandemic have been given a final salute at the Fargo National Cemetery.

United Patriotic Bodies and Fargo Honor Guard volunteers were at the cemetery Saturday when three rifle volleys were fired and taps were played individually for 14 different families of veterans.

United Patriotic Bodies Cmdr. Jason Hicks says the salute is an honour and a duty to those who sacrificed for their country.

Gary Varberg came to the cemetery to honour his brother, Roger Nelson. KVLY-TV reported that the two served in Iraq together and decades in the National Guard.

Nelson was just one of the many veterans who wasn’t given military rights and honours when he was buried during the global pandemic.

“This means we get to say our final goodbye to our brothers and sisters,” Fargo Honor Guard Chaplain Russel Stabler said.

11:56 a.m. The family of a fourth worker who died from the coronavirus during an outbreak at Tyson Foods’ largest pork processing plant is suing the company over his death.

The lawsuit says that Isidro Fernandez, of Waterloo, Iowa, died April 26 from complications of COVID-19, leaving behind a wife and children.

The lawsuit is similar to one filed in June by the same lawyers on behalf of the estates of three other deceased Waterloo employees.

The lawsuits allege Tyson put employees at risk by downplaying concerns and covering up the outbreak to keep them on the job. They allege the company failed to implement safety measures, allowed some sick and exposed employees to keep working, and falsely assured the public that the plant was safe.

The company says the workers’ deaths are tragic but that it vigorously disputes the allegations. Tyson says that it worked during the pandemic to follow safety guidelines and has invested millions of dollars to keep workers safe.

11:56 a.m. Greece’s government has announced additional restrictions aimed at curbing a flare-up of coronavirus cases that has led to a spike of new daily infections and an increase in the number of critically ill people in the country.

Deputy government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni said Monday that as of Aug. 17, anyone arriving in Greece by plane from Spain, Holland, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Sweden will have to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test taken up to 72 hours before arrival. Proof of negative tests will also be required for anyone entering the country by land, including Greek citizens and permanent residents.

All events with standing customers or spectators, such as concerts, are cancelled across the country. Bars, restaurants and cafes will be shut from midnight to 7 a.m. in several locations, including the popular tourist destinations of Mykonos, Paros, Antiparos and Santorini, among others.

After managing to keep infections and deaths at low levels following an early lockdown in the initial phase of the pandemic, Greece has seen a recent surge in cases. On Sunday, Greece announced 203 new confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 5,623, with an overall death toll of 212.

11:56 a.m. Denmark’s health minister says the virus is “on its way back,” and has announced local measures to contain it.

“We are intervening with local measures that are fitted to local needs,” Magnus Heunicke told a news conference on Monday. “We are doing that to avoid a total lockdown of the country.”

Increases in the number of cases were reported in Aarhus — Denmark’s second-largest city — and in six other places geographically spread across the country of nearly 6 million.

Since Sunday, Denmark has recorded 76 new cases, totalling 14,815 cases and 620 deaths. More than half of the new cases are in Aarhus,

The decision comes after Aarhus made it mandatory as of Monday to use face masks on public transportation.

10:18 a.m. The Quebec government is set to unveil its COVID-19 strategy for a return to class today as schools prepare to reopen in less than a month.

Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge has been under pressure to provide updated details, as other provinces have done in recent weeks.

Parents have raised several concerns including questions about remote learning, smaller class sizes and details of how another COVID-19 shutdown would be handled.

Under Quebec’s back-to-school strategy announced in June, the government said students across the province would return to class full time from pre-school to Grade 9, with in-class bubbles of six children and physical distancing.

Teachers would move between classrooms and maintain a two-metre distance from students.

For students in Grades 10 and 11, the current plan offers them the choice to go back full time or attend classes in person once every two days.

School boards are responsible for creating contingency measures should a COVID-19 outbreak occur.

Roberge, Health Minister Christian Dube and Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health, will take part in today’s news conference in Montreal.

On Friday, Arruda explained the general approach to the return to school.

“If our expectation is to have no cases in schools, that’s nearly impossible,” he said.

He added it is more important to make sure COVID-19 outbreaks are not widespread in schools when they do occur.

10:13 a.m. Germany’s foreign minister says it is critical that any vaccine developed for the coronavirus is made available to everyone around the world.

Heiko Maas spoke with his counterpart from South Korea, Kang Kyung-wha, during her visit to Berlin on Monday, and said they both agreed that “we need more worldwide co-ordination to shoulder the challenges, not less.”

Both South Korea and Germany have been lauded for being able to quickly and effectively slow the spread of the virus in their countries, but Maas cautioned that “we are still in the middle of the pandemic.”

He says “in order to overcome it, the question of how drugs and vaccinations are distributed after their development will be central.”

“It is a human imperative that they be made available quickly and to as many people as possible, and not just those who can afford it,” Maas said.

10:13 a.m. The head of the World Health Organization predicted that the number of people infected by the coronavirus will hit 20 million this week, including about 750,000 deaths.

In a briefing on Monday, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged that “behind these statistics there is a great deal of pain and suffering” but said there were still “green shoots of hope” no matter what stage in an outbreak a country or region might be. He offered no new strategies to combat the virus but said again that “leaders must step up to take action and citizens need to embrace new measures,” pointing to New Zealand as an example for the world. The country recently marked 100 days with no local spread of the virus.

Tedros said that recently adopted measures in countries including Britain and France, which have imposed targeted lockdowns and mask-wearing strategies in the last week, were a good example of specific strategies needed to curb a new upsurge in cases.

10:13 a.m. The head of the German Teachers’ Association is calling for coronavirus masks to be made compulsory in the classroom.

Heinz-Peter Meidinger told the newspaper Passauer Neue Presse that “whoever wants full lessons can’t avoid compulsory masks.”

In an interview published Monday, Meidinger pointed out that most of Germany’s 16 states require basic mouth and nose coverings in supermarkets, public transport and at large events, but not in schools.

So far, only Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, requires students and teachers to wear masks during lessons, though some others are considering such a move.

In Berlin, where students return to school Monday, masks are only required outside the classroom.

10:13 a.m. New locally transmitted cases of coronavirus in China fell to just 14 over the past 24 hours, the National Health Commission reported Monday. The low figure was offset, however, by 35 cases brought into the country by Chinese travellers from overseas.

All the cases of local transmission were in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, whose main city Urumqi is the centre of China’s latest outbreak. Tightened restrictions on travel, widespread testing and a lockdown on some residential communities appear to have been effective in bringing down numbers of new infections in Urumqi, while a separate outbreak in the northeastern city of Dalian seems to have run its course.

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Chinese hospitals are currently treating 802 people for COVID-19, 41 of them in serious condition, while another 290 people are under observation while being isolated for showing signs of having the virus or for testing positive without displaying symptoms. China has reported a total of 4,634 fatalities from the disease among 84,668 cases.

Hong Kong reported another 72 cases and five deaths as it continues to battle a new wave of infections with tightened rules on indoor dining and obligatory mask wearing in public settings. The semi-autonomous southern Chinese city has reported 52 deaths among 4,079 total cases.

10:13 a.m. Former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee says he has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Mukherjee, 84, said Monday that he found out he was positive when he went for a routine health check-up. He requested all those who came in contact with him in the last week to isolate themselves and get tested.

Mukherjee was India’s president between 2012 and 2017.

Over the last few weeks, several political leaders in India have either tested positive for the coronavirus or gone into quarantine.

India has reported nearly 2.3 million cases of coronavirus, the third-highest number in the world after the United States and Brazil. At least 44,386 people have died.

The country has been reporting an average of around 50,000 new cases a day since mid-June.

10:12 a.m. Ontario is reporting 115 new cases of COVID-19. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 28 out of 34 public health units are reporting five or fewer cases, with 18 of them reporting no new cases. On Sunday, the province processed 22,275 tests.

9:42 a.m. (updated): The Windsor-Essex region will join the rest of Ontario in Stage 3 of the province’s reopening plan on Wednesday.

The provincial government made the announcement Monday morning.

Outbreaks among migrant workers on farms in the region had previously held Windsor-Essex back from Stage 3.

Other parts of the province entered Stage 3 on July 17, 24, and 31.

Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, says he made the decision based on positive local trends.

Those include lower transmission of COVID-19, a significant increase in testing and the local public health unit’s capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management.

Read the full story from the Star’s Robert Benzie

9:10 a.m. Windsor-Essex will be allowed to move into Stage 3 on Wednesday, the Ontario government says. In a press release, it says the decision was based on “positive local trends of key public health indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, ongoing hospital capacity, public health capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management, and a significant increase in testing.”

8:10 a.m. The emergencies chief for the World Health Organization said that COVID-19 doesn’t seem to follow the seasonal patterns that some viruses exhibit, making it harder to control.

Unlike other respiratory viruses like influenza that spread mainly in the winter, the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating in the summer. That’s despite earlier predictions from some scientists and politicians it would fade in the heat.

“This virus has demonstrated no seasonal pattern as such,” said Dr. Michael Ryan at a press briefing on Monday. “What it has clearly demonstrated is that if you take the pressure off the virus, the virus bounces back,” he said. Ryan said the U.N. health agency continues to advise countries even where COVID-19 appears to be under control, such as those in Europe, to maintain measures to slow virus spread.

He called for countries where transmission remains intense, such as Brazil, to adopt measures so that communities have the necessary support they need to implement strategies like social distancing, wearing masks, and self-isolating if they have symptoms.

7:36 a.m. Iran shut down a newspaper on Monday after it published remarks by an expert who said the official figures on coronavirus cases and deaths in the country account for only 5 per cent of the real toll.

Mohammad Reza Sadi, the editor-in-chief of Jahane Sanat, told the official IRNA news agency that authorities closed his newspaper, which began publishing in 2004 and was mainly focused on business news.

On Sunday, the daily quoted Mohammad Reza Mahboobfar, an epidemiologist the paper said had worked on the government’s anti-coronavirus campaign, as saying the true number of cases and deaths in Iran could be 20 times the number reported by the Health Ministry.

He also said the virus was detected in Iran a month earlier than Feb. 19, when authorities announced the first confirmed case. He said they held up the announcement until after the commemorations of the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution and parliamentary elections earlier that month.

“The administration resorted to secrecy for political and security reasons,” he said, and only provided “engineered statistics” to the public.

He also criticized testing efforts and warned of a renewed outbreak next month as universities hold entrance exams and people mark major Shiite holidays.

Iran’s Health Ministry has reported a total of nearly 330,000 cases and 18,616 deaths, including 189 fatalities in the last 24 hours.

6:18 a.m.: Decades of progress in one of modern history’s greatest achievements, the fight against extreme poverty, are in danger of slipping away because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The world could see its first increase in extreme poverty in 22 years after whittling it down to 10% of the population, further sharpening inequalities.

Up to 100 million more people globally could fall into the bitter existence of living on just $1.90 a day, according to the World Bank. That’s “well below any reasonable conception of a life with dignity,” the United Nations special rapporteur on extreme poverty wrote this year. It comes on top of the 736 million people already there, half in just five countries: Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Congo and Bangladesh.

6:09 a.m.: After nearly a decade of doing keg stands in university lectures, funnelling beers next to police and provoking hockey dads, they’ve become two of the most recognizable personalities for young people in North America: Jesse Sebastiani and Kyle Forgeard, a pair of heavy-drinking, hard-talking Ontarians, better known as “Nelk.”

Boasting nearly 5.5 million subscribers on YouTube alone, their provocative prank videos — which have led to arrests — have garnered more than 700 million video views. On Instagram, flanked by a crew of abrasive, hypermasculine personalities, Nelk broadcasts their brand of pranking and partying to more than 3.4 million followers (including Drake and Justin Bieber).

But the crew’s actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, which include organizing packed “brotests” to push California to open its gyms, lavish partying and constant travel within the U.S., are being criticized by fans who want them to set a better example.

Read Ted Fraser’s full story on the Canadian pranksters and how their ‘dangerous’ decision to party during the pandemic is good for business.

6 a.m.: On the line from Windsor, twin sisters Mesia Walker and Nena Buduhan are laughing in that way you laugh when you’ve reached the end of your rope. Laughing to keep from crying.

Walker and Buduhan are the owners of two yoga studios — Modo Yoga Windsor and Modo Yoga Tecumseth — in the only part of the province where yoga studios are still prohibited from opening.

While every other region in Ontario has moved forward into Stage 3 and is able to reap the economic benefits of a broader reopening, Windsor-Essex has been left behind, largely due to a series of COVID-19 outbreaks among migrant farm workers in the towns of Kingsville and Leamington.

Tension is growing between the business community — anxious to reopen like the rest of the province — and public health officials, who say Windsor-Essex still isn’t ready.

Read the full story here from the Star’s Brendan Kennedy.

5:31 a.m.: As they struggle to salvage some semblance of a campus experience this fall, U.S. colleges are requiring promises from students to help contain the coronavirus — no keg parties, no long road trips and no outside guests on campus.

No kidding. Administrators warn that failure to wear masks, practice social distancing and avoid mass gatherings could bring serious consequences, including getting booted from school.

Critics question whether it’s realistic to demand that college students not act like typical college students. But the push illustrates the high stakes for universities planning to welcome at least some students back. Wide-scale COVID-19 testing, quarantines and plexiglass barriers in classrooms won’t work if too many students misbehave.

5:20 a.m.: India has registered a record 1,007 fatalities in the past 24 hours as fresh coronavirus infections surged by another 62,064 cases.

The Health Ministry says the total fatalities touched 44,386 on Monday.

The number of positive cases reported so far are 2,215,074. At least 634,935 patients were still undergoing treatment.

India has recorded more than 60,000 cases of the virus daily in the last four days and more infections than any other country in the world for six consecutive days. It has averaged around 50,000 new cases a day since mid-June.

India has the third-highest caseload in the world after the United States and Brazil. It has the fifth-most deaths but its fatality rate of about 2% is far lower than the top two hardest-hit countries.

5:15 a.m.: Sri Lanka has started reopening schools nearly five months after they were shut down to contain the spread of the virus. The government’s move to reopen schools from Monday comes as health authorities say that they have successfully brought the coronavirus under control.

Under the reopening plan, students in grades 5, 10, 11, 12 and 13 will attend school every day because they need to be prepared to for government examinations. Students in grades 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8 will attend a single day per week, while students in grades 4 and 9 will come two days per week. Sri Lanka has reported 2,841 coronavirus cases and 11 deaths.

5:12 a.m.: China’s number of local transmissions fell to just 14 but was offset by 35 new cases among Chinese travellers coming from overseas. All of the new local cases reported Monday by the National Health Commission were in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, whose main city Urumqi is the centre of China’s latest outbreak.

China has reported 4,634 fatalities from the disease among 84,668 cases. Hong Kong reported another 72 cases and five deaths as it continues to battle a new wave of infections with tightened rules on indoor dining and obligatory mask wearing in public settings. The semi-autonomous Chinese city has reported 52 deaths among 4,079 total cases.

Monday 5:10 a.m.: Australia has reported fewer new daily cases from its virus hotspot in the city of Melbourne than on any single day since last month. But it has also reported the nation’s highest daily death total since the virus outbreak began.

The state of Victoria reported 322 new infections and 19 new deaths on Monday, with 14 of the deaths connected to outbreaks at aged-care facilities.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was more hopeful now that cases are stabilizing in Victoria than he has been at any time over the past week.

But state premier Daniel Andrews cautioned that not too much could be read into a single day’s worth of data, and that some of the state’s most stringent lockdown measures had only come into effect at midnight Sunday.

The number of new cases was the lowest recorded in Victoria since July 29.

Sunday 9:30 p.m.: Quebec reported 104 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday along with three further deaths linked to the virus.

The total number of infections in the province stood at 60,471.

Of the three deaths announced by health authorities, two were reported in the past 24 hours while the other dates back before Aug. 1.

The province has seen total of 5,695 deaths since the pandemic began.

Sunday 8:35 p.m. The federal Liberal government has handed over thousands of pages of documents related to the WE controversy to a House of Commons committee, which lawyers are now vetting for personal information and cabinet secrets.

The finance committee demanded the documents last month as it probes whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s relationship with WE Charity influenced the government’s ill-fated decision to have the organization run a federal student-volunteer program.

Committee members are hoping the documents will shed light on the discussions that led to the decision to have WE run the Canada Student Services Grant, before the deal was cancelled amid controversy in early July.

“People are asking a lot of questions,” NDP finance critic Peter Julian said in an interview. “There’s been a lot of contradictions in testimony. So the documents should be revealing a lot more of what the real answers are.”

Yet while the Liberals turned more than 5,000 pages over to the committee ahead of Saturday’s deadline, it wasn’t clear when they would be released to members as committee lawyers go through them to prevent the release of protected information.

“We don’t know,” Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said during a news conference on Sunday when asked when committee members would get the documents. “We have asked. They have not given us the timeline.”

Committee chairman Wayne Easter, a Liberal MP, predicted the documents would be released in the coming days to members as additional lawyers from the public service have been brought in to help review them for cabinet secrets and other information.

Even after the documents are released, however, there will could be disagreements about why certain information was withheld.

Sunday 5:45 p.m.: New Zealand on Sunday marked 100 days since it stamped out the spread of the coronavirus, a rare bright spot in a world that continues to be ravaged by the disease.

Life has returned to normal for many people in the South Pacific nation of 5 million, as they attend rugby games at packed stadiums and sit down in bars and restaurants without the fear of getting infected. But some worry the country may be getting complacent and not preparing well enough for any future outbreaks.

New Zealand got rid of the virus by imposing a strict lockdown in late March when only about 100 people had tested positive for the disease. That stopped its spread. For the past three months, the only new cases have been a handful of returning travellers who have been quarantined at the border.

“It was good science and great political leadership that made the difference,” said professor Michael Baker, an epidemiologist at the University of Otago. “If you look around the globe at countries that have done well, it’s usually that combination.”

Click here to read more of Sunday’s coverage.

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Salome Bey, Canada's First Lady of the Blues, has died – CBC.ca

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Award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter Salome Bey — affectionately known as Canada’s “First Lady of the Blues” — has died.

The Grammy-nominated Bey was a multi-disciplinary performer and honourary member of the Order of Canada who achieved legendary status during her life due to contributions in both music and theatre. 

Bey died Saturday, Aug. 8 in Toronto, at age 86, according to the family’s publicist. No cause of death was given, but the family’s release said the singer began showing signs of dementia in 2004. 

Born in Newark, N.J., Bey was a student at the well-known Arts High, the performing arts high school also responsible for producing jazz greats Wayne Shorter and Sarah Vaughan. Together with her brother Andy Bey and sister Geraldine Bey, she toured the United States and Europe as vocal group Andy and the Bey Sisters.

After making their first appearance in Toronto in 1961, Salome settled there in 1964 and began playing the jazz club circuit, soon earning the sobriquet that would be with her the rest of her life: “Canada’s First Lady of the Blues.”

Contributions to music, theatre, TV 

Bey also saw success on the stage, receiving a Grammy nomination for her work on the cast album of the Broadway play Your Arms Too Short to Box with God. Indigo — a cabaret show on the history of the blues that she conceived, wrote and starred in — garnered her two Dora Mavor Moore awards, and was later filmed for TV, airing on CBC in 1984.

 

She continued working and releasing music through the coming decades, and added vocals for the 1985 charity single Tears Are Not Enough, which brought together some of Canada’s premier entertainers to contribute to the We Are The World album in aid of Ethiopian famine relief.

Bey also created and appeared in numerous other productions, such as Justine (later renamed Love Me, Love My Children), Galt MacDermot’s Dude, Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope and the children’s musical Rainboworld. This last production helped nurture and launch the career of many young Black Canadian artists, such as Deborah Cox and Divine Brown.

Later in life, Bey would often appear with her daughters Jacintha Tuku and Toronto vocalist and songwriter SATE — formerly known as Saidah Baba Talibah — who would accompany her as the Relatives. In 1996, Bey received the Martin Luther King Jr. award for lifetime achievement from the Black Theatre Workshop of Montreal, Canada’s longest-running Black theatre company.

In 2005, she was made an honorary member of the Order of Canada.

Bey’s late husband, Howard Berkeley Matthews, was one of the original founders and owners of The Underground Railroad, a famous restaurant on Toronto’s Bloor Street East focused on serving the city’s Black community.

Bey is survived by her two daughters and son, Marcus Matthews. 

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)

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