What you need to know today in Alberta:
An outbreak of COVID-19 has been declared at Cargill’s “case ready” facility in northeast Calgary. It’s a “further processing” facility that provides retail meat products for supermarkets across Western Canada.
Five cases of the virus have been confirmed at the plant, according to the latest provincial update. Approximately 400 people work at the facility on Freeport Way N.E.
Two other outbreaks were also declared by the province on Friday: five cases are now linked to the Fledglings Educare Centre in Calgary, and 13 cases are linked to a private gathering.
The Edmonton zone continues to have the most active cases, having surpassed the Calgary zone over the weekend.
The City of Edmonton is reviewing its mandatory face covering bylaw less than two weeks after it went into effect, council heard Thursday. The city provides exemptions to those who are unable to wear a mask due to physical or health conditions, but the city is considering changes to who is considered exempt and possible fines for people who lie about being exempt.
And as people gear up for the return to school, the province has mandated that students from Grades 4 through 12 will be required to wear masks in all public spaces and can choose to wear them while seated in the class. Masks will be optional for younger students.
A number of parents in Calgary are trying to make the difficult decision on whether to enrol their children in the public school system’s online learning Hub program instead of returning them to the classroom. Those considering online include an immunocompromised single mom whose doctor recommended keeping her daughter out of classes, a parent who feels the Alberta government’s return to school plan is “reckless” and a child who’s feeling too anxious about being in class amid the pandemic.
Meanwhile, some teachers say they’re terrified of returning to classrooms packed with dozens of students and are drawing up their wills, if they haven’t already done so.
School gym rentals in Edmonton are suspended until at least November, leaving sports and community groups across the city scrambling to make alternate plans for the fall.
The school reopening plans released by the Edmonton public and Catholic divisions earlier this month include a policy limiting outside community access to all school spaces.
With evidence suggesting that ethnicity is one of the risk factors for COVID-19, some human-rights advocates want the Alberta government to collect race-correlated data on infections.
There are hundreds of jobs up for grabs at Alberta’s ski resorts as they prepare for a winter season without their usual pool of foreign workers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel restrictions caused by the pandemic are giving locals a leg up.
Kendra Scurfield, director of communications at Sunshine Village, says the resort has about 800 paid positions on offer during a typical season.
CBC News has curated a list of towns and cities in the province, outlining their policies on masks. We’ll try to keep it updated regularly.
Here’s a regional breakdown of active cases across the province as of Friday:
- Calgary zone: 305 cases (11 in hospital, none in ICU).
- Edmonton zone: 497 cases (22 in hospital, 7 in ICU).
- Central zone: 81 cases (4 in hospital, none in ICU).
- North zone: 103 cases (6 in hospital, 3 in ICU).
- South zone: 45 cases (5 in hospital, 3 in ICU).
- Unknown: 5 cases.
What you need to know today in Canada:
As of 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 121,758 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 108,043 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,059.
Canada’s top doctors say they’re striving for a best-case scenario but preparing for the worst: a so-called “fall peak” of COVID-19 cases across the country.
Public Safety Minister Bill Blair announced Friday that the federal government will extend the Canada-U.S. land border closure for another 30 days until September 21.
Ottawa was slow to respond to personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages that were flagged in February, documents obtained by CBC News reveal.
Some asylum seekers who cared for patients in hospitals and long term care homes at the height of the pandemic last spring will be eligible for permanent residency, Radio-Canada has learned.
Canada’s mortgage ‘stress test’ level has fallen for the third time since the pandemic began.
The bar at which the finances of Canadian mortgage borrowers gets tested has just been lowered, making it easier for would-be home buyers to reach.
Five-year posted mortgage rates at Canada’s big banks have inched lower in recent weeks, enough to compel the Bank of Canada to formally lower the average rate they base their calculations on to 4.79 per cent.
Self-assessment and supports:
Alberta Health Services has an online self-assessment tool that you can use to determine if you have symptoms of COVID-19, but testing is open to anyone, even without symptoms.
The province says Albertans who have returned to Canada from other countries must self-isolate. Unless your situation is critical and requires a call to 911, Albertans are advised to call Health Link at 811 before visiting a physician, hospital or other health-care facility.
If you have symptoms, even mild, you are to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of symptoms, until the symptoms have disappeared.
The province also operates a confidential mental health support line at 1-877-303-2642 and addiction help line at 1-866-332-2322, both available 24 hours a day.
Online resources are available for advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk with children.
There is a 24-hour family violence information line at 310-1818 to get anonymous help in more than 170 languages, and Alberta’s One Line for Sexual Violence is available at 1-866-403-8000, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Number of COVID-19 cases in schools on the rise in Quebec – Global News
Two Lower Canada College (LCC) teachers have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the school.
The college located in the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough sent a letter to parents with the news Thursday.
“In order to limit the possibility of further transmission in the school and after consulting with Public Health, teachers and staff who were in close contact with these teachers have been asked to be tested for COVID-19 and will remain at home for a period of 14 days following their exposure,” the letter read in part.
According to the school’s headmaster Christopher Shannon, no student was exposed. Shannon says teachers are in full personal protective equipment when they are with students and maintain a two-metre distance at all times.
Lower Canada College is just one of 489 schools that have reported cases of the virus in Quebec so far, according to numbers released by the province on Friday.
It brings the total of cases in schools to 1,163 of which 722 are currently active.
Olivier Drouin, a Montreal-based parent who decided to track COVID-19 cases in schools on a website he created, says he’s alarmed about the increase in cases lately.
Drouin believes it’s time for the government to take more measures in schools.
“I am worried and I would like at least — if the schools are going to stay open — that we introduce maybe mandatory masks in schools, or a little bit more of social distancing, or online learning,” Drouin said. “But [that] doesn’t seem the way the government is going right now.”
Coronavirus: Parents worried over differing protocols in Quebec schools
Health officials insist schools are not a problem.
“There are a lot of cases because there are a lot of schools and schools are a reflection of what’s going on in the community,” said Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s public health director.
“There’s going to be small outbreaks under control. If they are not in control then we can go to other steps.”
Arruda added that the virus is being brought into schools rather than it being a matter of schools driving the spread.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Toronto's top doctor orders closure of four businesses over concerns about transmission of COVID-19 – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Friday, September 25, 2020 4:43PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 25, 2020 6:17PM EDT
Toronto’s top public health official has ordered the closure of four hospitality businesses that she says failed to take the necessary precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa says that the reasons behind the closure orders are specific to each business but generally point to an abdication of responsibility to help control the spread of COVID-19.
As an example, she said that investigators with Toronto Public Health found that one of the businesses served food buffet-style in direct contravention of provincial regulations.
Others, she said, pressured employees to work when they were ill and were “frequently uncooperative” with Toronto Public Health investigators as they attempted to trace cases of COVID-19.
De Villa also said that investigators found a “concerning link” among the businesses with many people who contracted COVID-19 having visited more than one of them. There were also instances in which staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 worked at more than one of the locations.
“These factors combined to create a significant risk to efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 so I am acting under my authority to close down these businesses,” de Villa said during a briefing at city hall on Friday afternoon. “These are not actions I take lightly but I act first in the interest s of public health and in these circumstances the action taken is the right action to protect your health.”
De Villa said that orders requiring the closure of all four businesses are currently being issued, at which point their names and locations will be released to the public.
She said that in order to reopen each business will have to satisfy the specific conditions spelled out in the closure orders.
Speaking with reporters alongside de Villa, Mayor John Tory said that her decision to use her powers under the Health Protection and Promotion Act to order the closure of the business is the sort of “tactical responses” that the city will have to take when it finds “specific hot spots contributing to the spread of COVID-19” going forward.
“The action that Dr. de Villa is taking today will close some businesses but they must close so the vast majority of businesses can stay open,” he said.
Chinese company says coronavirus vaccine ready by early 2021 – WellandTribune.ca
BEIJING – A Chinese pharmaceutical company said Thursday the coronavirus vaccine it is developing should be ready by early 2021 for distribution worldwide, including the United States.
Yin Weidong, the CEO of SinoVac, vowed to apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell CoronaVac in the United States if it passes its third and final round of testing in humans. Yin said he personally has been given the experimental vaccine.
“At the very beginning, our strategy was designed for China and for Wuhan. Soon after that in June and July we adjusted our strategy, that is to face the world,” Yin said, referring to the Chinese city were the virus first emerged.
“Our goal is to provide the vaccine to the world including the U.S., EU and others,” Yin said.
Stringent regulations in the U.S., European Union, Japan and Australia have historically blocked the sale of Chinese vaccines. But Yin said that could change.
SinoVac is developing one of China’s top four vaccine candidates along with state-owned SinoPharm, which has two in development, and military-affiliated private firm CanSino.
More than 24,000 people are participating in clinical trials of CoronaVac in Brazil, Turkey, and Indonesia, with additional trials scheduled for Bangladesh and possibly Chile, Yin said. SinoVac chose those countries because they all had serious outbreaks, large populations and limited research and development capacity, he said.
He spoke to reporters during a tour of a SinoVac plant south of Beijing. Built in a few months from scratch, the plant is designed to enable SinoVac to produce half a million vaccine doses a year. The bio-secure facility was already busy on Thursday filling tiny bottles with the vaccine and boxing them. The company projects it will be able to produce a few hundred million doses of the vaccine by February or March of next year.
SinoVac is also starting to test small doses of CoronaVac on children and the elderly in China after noticing rising numbers of cases globally among those two groups.
Yin said the company would prioritize distribution of the vaccine to countries hosting human trials of CoronaVac.
While the vaccine has not yet passed the phase 3 clinical trials, a globally accepted standard, SinoVac has already injected thousands of people in China under an emergency use provision.
Yin said he was one of the first to receive the experimental vaccine months ago along with researchers after phase one and two of human trials showed no serious adverse effects. He said that self-injecting showed his support for CoronaVac.
“This is kind of a tradition of our company,” Yin said, adding that he had done the same with a hepatitis vaccine under development.
Earlier this year, China permitted “emergency use” of vaccine candidates for at-risk populations like border personnel and medical workers if companies could show “good safety and good antibodies” from tests of about 1,000 people, Yin said.
SinoVac received that approval in June along with SinoPharm and CanSino, and was able to provide tens of thousands of doses of CoronaVac to Beijing’s municipal government, Yin said.
SinoVac employees qualified for emergency use of the vaccine because an outbreak inside the company would cripple its ability to develop a vaccine, he said. About 90% of the company’s staff have received it.
“We are confident that our research of the COVI-19 vaccines can meet the standards of the U.S. and EU countries,” Yin said.
___ Associated Press video producer Olivia Zhang contributed to this report.
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