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What Canadians need to know about the coronavirus variant in Ontario – CBC.ca

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Health officials in Ontario said on Saturday that two confirmed cases of the new coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom have appeared in the province — the first confirmed instances in Canada.

The new variant is believed to spread more easily and faster than the original version of the virus, but it is not believed to be more deadly.

Scientists say there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines currently being deployed — including those approved for use in Canada — will not protect against this variant.

Here is what Canadians should know about the new variant.

What makes this variant different?

This variant is not the first new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to emerge since the pandemic began. The main worry is that the variant seems to be more transmissible than the original. It has 23 mutations in its genetic code — a relatively high number of changes — and some of these could be affecting its ability to spread.

“While early data suggests that these new variants may be more transmissible, to date there is no evidence that they cause more severe disease or have any impact on antibody response or vaccine effectiveness,” the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) said in a statement Saturday.

The agency said more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Where were the Canadian cases found?

The Canadian cases, identified in a couple in southern Ontario, came as the province went into a lockdown on Saturday.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, said the couple from Durham Region, just east of Toronto, had no known travel history, exposure or high-risk contacts.

WATCH | Coronavirus variant identified in Ontario:

A couple was found to be carrying the virus, but neither had travelled or been in contact with a known case, officials say. 2:45

“This further reinforces the need for Ontarians to stay home as much as possible and continue to follow all public health advice, including the provincewide shutdown measures beginning today,” Yaffe said in a statement issued Saturday.

According to the statement, both individuals have been informed of the diagnosis and are now in self-isolation as per public health protocols. It noted the discovery of the variant was “not unexpected” due to inbound international travel.

How should Canadians approach this new variant?

Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician and associate professor of medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, told CBC News Network’s Natalie Kalata on Saturday that people should take the same precautions with this variant that they would for the original virus.

“It’s important that everyone adheres to the public health rules now a hundred times better than they were before, given that it is more transmissible,” Chagla said.

Those include physical distancing, wearing masks, practising good hand hygiene, avoiding going out when feeling unwell and seeking a COVID-19 test when appropriate, he said.

WATCH | What is known about the new coronavirus variant:

The new variant of coronavirus is not showing itself to be more severe, but it is spreading exponentially faster, which is a serious concern in the middle of a pandemic. At this point, doctors believe the vaccines that have started rolling out around the world will protect people. 1:57

Although the Canadians with the variant had no known travel history, Chagla said it was likely brought into Canada from somewhere else — particularly as the mutations in the U.K. variant match the Canadian cases.

Last week, Canada extended to Jan. 6 a ban on passenger flights arriving from Britain and expanded enhanced screening and monitoring measures for travelers arriving from South Africa, citing the rise of the more infectious variant.

“It just is another reinforcement that we do have quarantine and border controls, but they’re not perfect. And we’ve seen in many countries around the world, we can still see transmission from international travel,” Chagla said.

Will COVID-19 vaccines be effective against the variant?

Several drugmakers expect their COVID-19 vaccines will be effective against the new fast-spreading variant of the virus, including those whose vaccines are currently approved for use in Canada.

Ugur Sahin, chief executive of Germany’s BioNTech — which partnered with Pfizer to create a vaccine — said on Tuesday he expects its messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine to still work well.

“Scientifically it is highly likely that the immune response by this vaccine can also deal with this virus variant,” Sahin said. He added that it will take another two weeks or so of study and data collection to get a definitive answer.

WATCH | Comparing the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines:

The two COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, both use new mRNA technology, but they differ on timing for the second shot, as well as storage and transportation requirements. 2:30

Moderna said on Wednesday it expects the immunity induced by its COVID-19 vaccine would be protective against the variants reported in the U.K. The U.S.-based company said it plans to run tests to confirm its mRNA vaccine’s effectiveness against any strain.

“We have already tested sera from animals and humans vaccinated with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine against a number of previous variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that have emerged since the first outbreak of the pandemic and found our vaccine to remain equally effective,” the company said in a statement.

In the event that the variant presents vaccine developers with an unexpected challenge, an advantage of mRNA is that scientists can quickly re-engineer genetic material in the shot to match that of the mutated protein, whereas modifying traditional vaccines would require extra steps.

“In principle, the beauty of the mRNA technology is we can directly start to engineer a vaccine which completely mimics this new mutation,” Sahin said. “We could be able to provide a new vaccine technically within six weeks. Of course, this is not only a technical question. We have to deal with how regulators… would see that.”

Canada began rolling out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine earlier this month and started distributing Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine across the country last Thursday.

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Canada adds 4,630 new coronavirus cases as global infections near 100M – Global News

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Canada added 4,630 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 753,011.

To date, the novel coronavirus has claimed 19,238 lives in Canada, with the majority of fatalities occurring in Ontario and Quebec.

Read more:
Coronavirus tracker: how many new cases of COVID-19 in Canada today?

However, over 671,000 Canadians have recovered after falling ill, and more than 21.3 million tests for COVID-19 have been administered.

In a series of tweets Monday, Canada’s Chief Public Health Minister Dr. Theresa Tam said while daily case counts are “trending down nationally, continuing concerns including the emergence of more transmissible virus variants, warn us that trends can change all too quickly.”

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Tam warned that the risk of re-acceleration of the COVID-19 virus is “ever present.”

She urged the public to continue abiding by measures in place to stem the spread of the virus, including limiting their number of contacts, wearing masks and practicing physical distancing and good hand hygiene.


Click to play video 'Experts answer your COVID-19 questions, part 16'



2:25
Experts answer your COVID-19 questions, part 16


Experts answer your COVID-19 questions, part 16

Tam’s comments come as the vaccine rollout continues across the country.

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According to Health Canada, as of Thursday, a total of 1,119,225 doses of the two vaccines approved to protect against COVID-19 had been distributed across the country.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Of those, 839,949 doses have been administered, representing approximately 1.1 per cent of Canada’s total population.

New cases in the provinces

Ontario added 1,958 new cases and 43 more deaths on Monday. To date, the province has seen 256,960 infections and 5,846 fatalities.

In Quebec, 1,203 more cases were detected and health officials said 43 more people have died after testing positive for the virus.

The new cases bring Quebec’s total case load to 254,836 while the new fatalities push the death toll to 9,521.

Meanwhile, 240 new cases were detected in Saskatchewan, while 113 new COVID-19 infections were reported in Manitoba.

Five more people have died in Manitoba after testing positive for the virus, health officials said, while Saskatchewan said one more resident has died.

Read more:
Moderna vaccine approved: What we know about side effects, ingredients and doses

In Atlantic Canada, 27 more cases were reported, all in New Brunswick.

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The new infections push the province’s total case load to 1,151, however, health officials said no one else has died.

Neither Nova Scotia nor Newfoundland and Labrador saw a new case or death on Monday.

Prince Edward Island did not release any new COVID-19 data, however, the latest data released on Tuesday said 103 of the province’s 110 cases are considered to be recovered.

In Western Canada, 1,088 more cases were reported.

Alberta added 742 new infections, for a total of 121,535.

Twenty-five new deaths mean that, so far, 1,574 people have died in Alberta after testing positive for COVID-19.


Click to play video 'Do new variants makes this a race between the coronavirus and the vaccine?'



3:43
Do new variants makes this a race between the coronavirus and the vaccine?


Do new variants makes this a race between the coronavirus and the vaccine?

Meanwhile, health authorities in British Columbia said 346 more people have contracted the virus, pushing the total number of infections to 64,828.

Story continues below advertisement

Officials also confirmed 26 additional fatalities have occurred since Friday, meaning the province has now seen a total of 1,154 deaths associated with COVID-19.

Read more:
Coronavirus vaccine tracker: How many Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19?

Two new cases in Nunavut bring the total number of infections in the territory to 282, however health authorities say 264 of those cases are recovered.

No new cases or fatalities were reported in the Yukon or Northwest Territories.

Global cases near 100 million

The total number of cases around the world neared 100 million on Monday.

By 8:30 p.m. ET, there were a total of 99,655,985 cases globally, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Since the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, it has claimed 2,138,251 lives.

The United States remained the viral epicentre on Monday with 25,261,902 COVID-19 infections and more than 420,000 fatalities to date.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canada adds 4,630 new coronavirus cases as global infections near 100M – Global News

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 on


Canada added 4,630 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 753,011.

To date, the novel coronavirus has claimed 19,238 lives in Canada, with the majority of fatalities occurring in Ontario and Quebec.

Read more:
Coronavirus tracker: how many new cases of COVID-19 in Canada today?

However, over 671,000 Canadians have recovered after falling ill, and more than 21.3 million tests for COVID-19 have been administered.

In a series of tweets Monday, Canada’s Chief Public Health Minister Dr. Theresa Tam said while daily case counts are “trending down nationally, continuing concerns including the emergence of more transmissible virus variants, warn us that trends can change all too quickly.”

Story continues below advertisement

Tam warned that the risk of re-acceleration of the COVID-19 virus is “ever present.”

She urged the public to continue abiding by measures in place to stem the spread of the virus, including limiting their number of contacts, wearing masks and practicing physical distancing and good hand hygiene.


Click to play video 'Experts answer your COVID-19 questions, part 16'



2:25
Experts answer your COVID-19 questions, part 16


Experts answer your COVID-19 questions, part 16

Tam’s comments come as the vaccine rollout continues across the country.

Story continues below advertisement

According to Health Canada, as of Thursday, a total of 1,119,225 doses of the two vaccines approved to protect against COVID-19 had been distributed across the country.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Of those, 839,949 doses have been administered, representing approximately 1.1 per cent of Canada’s total population.

New cases in the provinces

Ontario added 1,958 new cases and 43 more deaths on Monday. To date, the province has seen 256,960 infections and 5,846 fatalities.

In Quebec, 1,203 more cases were detected and health officials said 43 more people have died after testing positive for the virus.

The new cases bring Quebec’s total case load to 254,836 while the new fatalities push the death toll to 9,521.

Meanwhile, 240 new cases were detected in Saskatchewan, while 113 new COVID-19 infections were reported in Manitoba.

Five more people have died in Manitoba after testing positive for the virus, health officials said, while Saskatchewan said one more resident has died.

Read more:
Moderna vaccine approved: What we know about side effects, ingredients and doses

In Atlantic Canada, 27 more cases were reported, all in New Brunswick.

Story continues below advertisement

The new infections push the province’s total case load to 1,151, however, health officials said no one else has died.

Neither Nova Scotia nor Newfoundland and Labrador saw a new case or death on Monday.

Prince Edward Island did not release any new COVID-19 data, however, the latest data released on Tuesday said 103 of the province’s 110 cases are considered to be recovered.

In Western Canada, 1,088 more cases were reported.

Alberta added 742 new infections, for a total of 121,535.

Twenty-five new deaths mean that, so far, 1,574 people have died in Alberta after testing positive for COVID-19.


Click to play video 'Do new variants makes this a race between the coronavirus and the vaccine?'



3:43
Do new variants makes this a race between the coronavirus and the vaccine?


Do new variants makes this a race between the coronavirus and the vaccine?

Meanwhile, health authorities in British Columbia said 346 more people have contracted the virus, pushing the total number of infections to 64,828.

Story continues below advertisement

Officials also confirmed 26 additional fatalities have occurred since Friday, meaning the province has now seen a total of 1,154 deaths associated with COVID-19.

Read more:
Coronavirus vaccine tracker: How many Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19?

Two new cases in Nunavut bring the total number of infections in the territory to 282, however health authorities say 264 of those cases are recovered.

No new cases or fatalities were reported in the Yukon or Northwest Territories.

Global cases near 100 million

The total number of cases around the world neared 100 million on Monday.

By 8:30 p.m. ET, there were a total of 99,655,985 cases globally, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

Since the virus was first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, it has claimed 2,138,251 lives.

The United States remained the viral epicentre on Monday with 25,261,902 COVID-19 infections and more than 420,000 fatalities to date.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Canada braces for Biden’s expected executive order enacting ‘Buy American’ plan – Global News

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Less than a week after the economic gut punch of Keystone XL, Canada is bracing for more bad news today from the White House.

President Joe Biden is enacting a new Buy American regime to ensure U.S. workers and companies reap the benefits of government spending.

The plan promises to increase the amount of U.S. content a project would require to qualify as being “made in America.”

Read more:
Biden’s ‘Buy American’ plan could impact Canadian business — here’s how

It also includes a “crackdown” on waivers like the hard-won exceptions Canada secured during the Obama administration in 2010.

Today’s executive order comes less than a week after Biden rescinded a presidential permit for the Keystone XL pipeline expansion.

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It also establishes a new Made-in-America office in the White House to oversee the new rules and ensure they are properly enforced.

In a statement Monday, Canada’s Trade Minister Mary Ng said Prime Minister Trudeau emphasized that workers in both countries “benefit from our integrated, secure and resilient supply chains,” during his call with Biden on Friday.

“The Prime Minister and President agreed to consult closely, and discussions between our two countries are already underway,” the statement read.

Ng said Canada is the “largest export market for the U.S., buying more goods from the U.S., than China, Japan and the U.K. combined.”

“Canada is the number one customer for 32 U.S. states,” she said.

Ng said the Canadian government will “continue to work closely together to support sustainable economic recovery, create jobs, and grow the middle class in Canada and the United States.”

-With files from Global News

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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