- The province also reported the first two cases of the new UK variant of the virus, the first cases in Canada.
- Ottawa reported 59 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, but the data is from Thursday, Christmas Eve, and does not include Christmas Day.
- Ontario reported 4,301 new cases of the virus over a two-day period.
- While some small businesses have been struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic, independent bookstores have been among the few economic success stories.
- Some not-for-profit long-term care homes say they are facing financial uncertainty.
What’s the latest?
It’s the second day of Ontario’s provincewide 28-day lockdown. Ottawa reported 59 new cases of the virus Saturday, but the numbers were only recorded as of Christmas Eve and did not include data from Friday.
Ontario has recorded the first cases of the new strain of COVID-19 from the United Kingdom. The cases were identified in a couple from Durham Region, east of Toronto, with no known travel history, exposure, or high-risk contacts.
Independent bookstores in Ottawa have been thriving during the pandemic, thanks to people choosing to shop local, even hiring people when some stores had to lay off staff.
Some not-for-profit long-term care homes in Ottawa say they are running deficits because of their inability to fundraise this year.
How many cases are there?
Ottawa Public Health reported 59 new cases of the virus on Saturday and no new deaths, but the numbers did not include data collected Friday. Currently, 9,569 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa. There are 372 known active cases, 8,807 resolved cases and 390 deaths linked to COVID-19.
Ontario has had more than 2,000 cases a day, 12 days in a row, with the majority of cases reported Saturday stemming from the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton and Windsor-Essex.
Public health officials have reported more than 16,800 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 15,100 resolved cases.
Ninety-two people have died of COVID-19 elsewhere in eastern Ontario and 101 people have died in western Quebec.
What can I do?
With Ontario’s lockdown measures now in effect, the Ontario government says people need to stop gathering and moving across the province to avoid even more COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths — including in areas with low case counts.
People are asked to only leave home when they need to and if they leave the province, to isolate for 14 days upon returning.
No indoor public events or indoor social gatherings will be allowed, except with members of the same household or one other home for people who live alone.
Outdoor gatherings can’t have more than 10 people and should be distanced and masked.
WATCH | Provincewide lockdown comes into effect in Ontario
In-person shopping will be limited to essential businesses. Restaurants and non-essential businesses can offer curbside pickup and delivery.
Schools won’t immediately return with in-person classes, except for post-secondary classes that can’t be held virtually. Child care centres will be open, but day camps will not.
The province is offering support to Ottawa’s small businesses and central residents.
Across southern and eastern Ontario the plan is for rules to be in place for four weeks, though that could be either shortened or lengthened depending on the data.
Ottawa’s mayor and medical officer of health say Ottawa should have a two-week lockdown.
In western Quebec, now considered a red zone by that province, health officials are asking residents not to leave home unless it’s essential, including for Christmas. There is an exception for people living alone.
Being in the red means no indoor dining at restaurants and gyms, cinemas and performing arts venues are all closed.
Quebec will shut down non-essential businesses today until at least Jan. 11 and has extended holiday school closures until Jan. 11.
Travel from one region to another is discouraged throughout Quebec.
Distancing and isolating
The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, breathes or speaks onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.
People can be contagious without symptoms.
This means people should take precautions such as staying home when sick, keeping hands and frequently touched surfaces clean, socializing outdoors as much as possible and maintaining distance from anyone they don’t live with — even with a mask on.
Ontario has abandoned its concept of social circles.
WATCH | Growing fears holiday gatherings will lead to January COVID-19 surge
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who’ve been ordered to do so by their local public health unit. The duration depends on the circumstances in both Ontario and Quebec.
Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get friends and family to help with errands.
Anyone who has travelled recently outside Canada must go straight home and stay there for 14 days.
Canada and several European countries have temporarily halted flights from the U.K. in response to a new coronavirus strain.
Symptoms and vaccines
If you have severe symptoms, call 911.
Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by Health Canada.
While details are scarce, it’s expected the general public will be able to get vaccinated between April and September 2021.
Where to get tested
Many clinics have different hours around Christmas and New Year’s Day, with more information in the links below.
In eastern Ontario:
Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.
Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you’ve been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria. That no longer includes international travellers.
People without symptoms, but who are part of the province’s targeted testing strategy, can make an appointment at select pharmacies.
WATCH | A doctor’s account from an Alberta ICU during Christmas
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit has sites in Alexandria, Casselman, Cornwall, Hawkesbury, Rockland and Winchester.
People can arrange a test in Bancroft and Picton by calling the centre or Belleville and Trenton, where online booking is preferred.
The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark health unit has permanent sites in Almonte, Brockville, Kemptville and Smiths Falls and a mobile test clinic visiting smaller communities or people with problems getting to a site.
Renfrew County residents should call their family doctor or 1-844-727-6404 for a test or with questions, COVID-19-related or not. Test clinic locations are posted weekly.
In western Quebec:
Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms or who have been in contact with someone with symptoms.
Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau seven days a week at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 avenue Buckingham.
They can now check the approximate wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.
There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Gracefield, Val-des-Monts and Fort-Coulonge.
Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis:
Akwesasne had most of its known COVID-19 cases in November, with the virus still spreading in that community. Its council is asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel, and its curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. is back.
Akwesasne schools and its Tsi Snaihne Child Care Centre are temporarily closed to in-person learning. It has a COVID-19 test site available by appointment only.
Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who’s been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-2259.
Anyone in Tyendinaga who’s interested in a test can call 613-967-3603.
Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.
For more information
Norway warns of vaccination side-effects, deaths in some patients over 80 – Global News
Norwegian officials have adjusted their advice on who gets the COVID-19 vaccine in light of a small number of deaths in older people, leaving it up to each doctor to consider who should be vaccinated.
The Norwegian Medicines Agency on Thursday reported a total of 29 people had suffered side effects, 13 of them fatal. All the deaths occurred among patients in nursing homes and all were over the age of 80.
The agency listed fever and nausea as side effects which “may have led to the deaths of some frail patients,” Sigurd Hortemo of the Norwegian Medicines Agency said in the body’s first report of the side effects.
More than 30,000 people have received the first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccine in the Scandinavian country since the end of December, according to official figures.
“We are not alarmed by this. It is quite clear that these vaccines have very little risk, with a small exception for the frailest patients,” Steinar Madsen, medical director with the agency, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK.
“Doctors must now carefully consider who should be vaccinated. Those who are very frail and at the very end of life can be vaccinated after an individual assessment,” he added.
Coronavirus: Ontario to complete long-term care home vaccinations in high-risk zones in upcoming weeks
Earlier this week, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said that “any side effects of the vaccine will be outweighed by a reduced risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19 for elderly, frail people.”
It added that “for very frail patients and terminally ill patients, a careful balance of benefit versus disadvantage of vaccination is recommended.”
In its report, the Norwegian Medicines Agency said that 21 women and eight men had side effects. Beside those who died, the agency said nine had serious side effects without a fatal consequence and seven had less serious side effects. The nine patients had allergic reactions, strong discomfort and severe fever while the less serious side effects included severe pain at the injection site.
Overall, Norway has seen 57,279 cases and reported 511 deaths.
Across the world, officials expect deaths and other severe side effects to be reported after any mass vaccination campaign given the huge numbers of people involved. But determining whether or not the vaccine caused deaths can be very challenging and requires that all other potential causes be ruled out first.
The United Kingdom and the United States have also reported a number of cases of side effects that had fatal consequences.
The European Medicines Agency said Friday that it will receive and consider monthly safety reports from companies authorized to sell vaccines, starting in January with the Pfizer jab.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
Canadian home sales see a record December — and a record 2020 – CBC.ca
National home sales set an all-time record in December, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported Friday.
Sales were up 47.2 per cent compared to December 2019, the largest year-over-year increase in monthly sales in 11 years.
The spike in sales from November to December, 7.2 per cent, was driven by gains of more than 20 per cent in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Greater Vancouver.
It was a new record for the month of December by a margin of more than 12,000 transactions.
For the sixth straight month, sales activity was up in almost all Canadian housing markets compared to the same month in 2019.
It was also a record for the entire year.
Average home price up 17%
Almost 552,000 homes traded hands over Canadian MLS systems — a new annual record. It was an increase of 12.6 per cent from 2019 and 2.3 per cent more than the previous record year, 2016.
The actual national average home price was a record $607,280 in December, up 17.1 per cent from the final month of 2019.
The CREA said that excluding Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, two of the most active and expensive markets, lowers the national average price by almost $130,000.
Many of the areas with the biggest price gains last month were in Ontario, including Belleville, Simcoe, Ingersoll, Woodstock and the Lakelands region, where prices were up more than 30 per cent from December 2019.
Areas with more modest price growth included Calgary and Edmonton, where prices rose 1.5 per cent and 2.7 per cent, respectively.
TD expects sales and prices to cool
“What a fitting end to a surprisingly strong year,” TD Bank economist Rishi Sondhi said in a note to clients. “Relative strength in high-wage employment, record low mortgage rates, rising supply of homes available for purchase and solid demand for larger units all supported exceptional sales and price growth last year.
“Looking ahead, we’re expecting sales and prices to cool somewhat from their robust pace in the first quarter. However, December’s surprisingly strong performance makes hitting our forecast a tougher proposition.”
Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s senior economist, said in a statement that Canada faces a “major supply problem” in 2021.
“On New Year’s Day there were fewer than 100,000 residential listings on all Canadian MLS systems, the lowest ever based on records going back three decades,” he said.
“Compare that to five years ago, when there was a quarter of a million listings available for sale. So we have record-high demand and record-low supply to start the year. How that plays out in the sales and price data will depend on how many homes become available to buy in the months ahead.”
Quebec confirms it will delay second vaccine dose for CHSLD residents and staff – Montreal Gazette
Article content continued
On Feb. 15, Quebec will begin vaccinating seniors ages 80 and over who live at home.
Health officials told the Montreal Gazette this week that they aren’t ready to release details about the next phase of vaccination plan.
Public health authorities say they’re closely monitoring seniors in CHSLDs who have received the first dose to make sure it’s still effective weeks later, said Richard Massé, a public health epidemiologist.
Massé defended Quebec’s decision to ignore a recommendation by the National Advisory Committee on Vaccination, which said if provinces delay administering the second dose due to logistical or epidemiological reasons, it should be given with 42 days of the first dose.
On Thursday, Canada’s Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health, which includes the Chief Medical Officer of Health from each province and territory, also weighed in on Quebec’s plan, saying if the second dose is extended beyond 42 days, “the impact on people vaccinated must be closely monitored.”
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