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What's open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day – CTV News



Those hoping for a last minute snowfall in Toronto will be disappointed.

According to Environment Canada, the chances of a white Christmas is slim, with Tuesday expected to be mostly sunny with a high of 1 C, feeling like -9 C with the wind chill.

The weather agency is forecasting a balmy high of 5 C on Christmas Day and a low of 0 C in the evening. On Thursday, instead of snow, there is a 40 per cent chance of showers in the morning and a 60 per cent chance of showers in the evening.

Despite the disappointing weather for some, there is lots to do in the city during the holidays.

Here’s what’s open during the next three days:

What’s open on Christmas Eve?

  • Most malls will remain open until 6 p.m.
  • Most tourist attractions will be open.
  • LCBO and select Beer Store locations will be open until 6 p.m.
  • Most grocery stores will be open during select hours.
  • The Toronto Public Library will be open, but hours will vary.
  • Both the TTC and GO Transit will run on regular schedules.

What’s open on Christmas Day?

  • The CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada will be open, but most other tourist attractions will be closed.
  • Movie theatres will be open throughout the day.
  • Most TTC subway and bus routes will begin at 8 a.m. and run on a Sunday schedule.
  • GO Transit will operate on a Sunday schedule.

What’s open on Boxing Day?

  • Most malls and tourist attractions in Toronto will be open.
  • Select LCBO stores and The Beer Store locations will be open.
  • Most grocery stores will be open during select hours.
  • All TTC subway, streetcar and bus routes will operate on a holiday schedule. Subway service will begin at 6 a.m.
  • GO Transit service will operate on a Saturday schedule.

Most of the city’s outdoor skating rinks, including Nathan Phillips Square, will be open throughout the holidays.

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Canada signs deal to obtain 20M doses of Oxford coronavirus vaccine candidate – MSN Canada



© THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada has inked a deal to obtain up to 20 million doses of another coronavirus vaccine candidate.

The vaccine is being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

READ MORE: Here’s when experts say Oxford University’s coronavirus vaccine could be ready

It’s one of several potential vaccines that the government has signed deals to procure in the event they are successful.

Agreements were previously reached with major pharmaceutical companies including Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax.

“Canadians must have access to a safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19 as quickly as possible, no matter where it was developed,” Trudeau said during a press conference in Ottawa on Friday.

Trudeau also announced that Canada is joining an international coalition on vaccine distribution.

Canada will contribute $440 million toward the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, known as COVAX.

Canada is joining both parts of the initiative: one which secures access to millions of doses of vaccines for Canada, and the other which has wealthier nations pooling their funds to help lower and middle-income countries secure doses as well.

The deal will give Canada the option to buy up to 15 million doses, Trudeau said.

Joining the program will allow Canada to help ensure the successful vaccine is distributed “quickly and fairly” around the world, according to the prime minister.

“This pandemic cannot be solved by any one country alone because to eliminate the virus anywhere, we need to eliminate it everywhere,” he said.

–With files from The Canadian Press

Video: COVID vaccine tested, experts say no corners cut (The Canadian Press)

COVID vaccine tested, experts say no corners cut

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Canada signs deal to obtain 20M doses of Oxford coronavirus vaccine candidate – Global News



The coronavirus is continuing to mutate, and a recent study believes one of the lastest strains could be more contagious.

The study out of Houston was published Wednesday on the preprint server MedRxiv. It has not been peer-reviewed, meaning the research has yet to be evaluated and should not be used to guide clinical practice.

Read more:
Mutation that made coronavirus more infectious may make it vulnerable to vaccines, study says

The research found the mutation did not make COVID-19 deadlier, but with the spike in coronavirus cases across the U.S. and Canada, the virus has had opportunities to change and become more infectious.

David Morens, a virologist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Washington Post, that the findings could mean COVID-19, through its mutations, is responding to public health interventions, such as mask-wearing and social distancing.

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“Wearing masks, washing our hands, all those things are barriers to transmissibility or contagion, but as the virus becomes more contagious, it statistically is better at getting around those barriers,” Morens said.

But he stressed that this is still a new study and the research should not be over-interpreted.

The pandemic virus is mutating, but there’s no need to panic

The pandemic virus is mutating, but there’s no need to panic

About the study

The study’s researchers said they sequenced the genomes of 5,085 strains of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and examined it over the two pandemic waves in Houston, an ethnically diverse region with seven million residents.

The first coronavirus wave took place from March 5 to May 11. The second was from May 12 to July 7.

The authors said many different strains of the virus entered Houston initially. But when the city went from a small first wave in March to a much larger second one in late June, almost every coronavirus sample contained a particular mutation on the virus’s surface.

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Read more:
2nd coronavirus wave in U.S. hits plateau, but future still uncertain

The research found that “virtually all strains” in the second wave have a “Gly614 amino acid replacement in the spike protein,” which is linked to increased transmission and infection.

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Strains with the Gly614 amino acid variant represented 71 per cent of SARS-CoV-2 sequenced in March (the early part of wave one), 82 per cent a few weeks later and then 99.9 per cent in the second wave, the study found.

People infected with the mutated strain had higher loads of the virus in their upper respiratory tracts, a potential factor in making the strain spread more effectively, the authors said.

They added that the severity of each case depended on whether the patient had underlying health conditions.

The rise of this contagious strain of COVID-19 may have contributed to a spike in cases in the Houston area, the study concluded.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Trudeau says 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections ‘already underway’ in 4 biggest provinces'

Coronavirus: Trudeau says 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections ‘already underway’ in 4 biggest provinces

Coronavirus: Trudeau says 2nd wave of COVID-19 infections ‘already underway’ in 4 biggest provinces

Levon Abrahamyan, a virologist at the University of Montreal, said the study is “very important” as there are a large number of samples to examine.

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However, he said, it has limitations.

“It’s hard to take into account variables like ethnic background, age, economic status, medical care … All of this can have an influence on the outcome,” he explained.

So, what does this mean?

Morens said if the findings turn out to be correct, the mutation may have implications for a vaccine.

If someone receives a coronavirus vaccine, there is a “possibility” that the virus will find a way to get around the immunity, he said.

Read more:
Canada signs deal to obtain 20M doses of Oxford coronavirus vaccine candidate

Abrahamyan said if the virus does have the ability to transmit or infect more easily, this could mean that, on a global level, we would be dealing with a strain of the coronavirus that may change every few years, like influenza.

“Every year we may have a new strain, which means we may have to have a new vaccine and change it every few years,” he said.

Mutations happen

Ever since COVID-19 emerged in Wuhan, China last year, thousands of mutations have been observed, scientists said.

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“It’s absolutely normal for a virus to mutate. They do so at a very high rate, too, which is why they are so adaptable; they have the ability to adapt to new situations and new hosts. This is why we have this new coronavirus,” Abrahamyan said.

He added that even though the coronavirus mutates quite frequently, it still does not do so as fast as other viruses like influenza and HIV.

Click to play video 'Winnipeg’s influenza epidemic of 1918-1919'

Winnipeg’s influenza epidemic of 1918-1919

Winnipeg’s influenza epidemic of 1918-1919

“This is not the first report about this mutation. A change in a spike protein is important for the virus to bind to the host cell,” Abrahamyan said.

Abrahamyan said what could make this coronavirus mutation different is that scientists are speculating the coronavirus could have a higher “fitness,” meaning, it can increase its chance to attach and enter the human body or multiply.

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But in terms of its ability to get through a mask, he said he doesn’t buy it.

Read more:
Wearing a mask may reduce how sick you get from coronavirus

“I don’t believe in that speculation. It can’t change its ability to get through a mask — the size is still the same.,” he said. “(Instead) we’re talking about its higher fitness level for this mutant strain of coronavirus … Its mobility could be higher.”

Abrahamyan stressed until there is a safe vaccine available, wearing a mask, washing your hands and practising physical distancing is still the best way to safeguard against spreading COVID-19.

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

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Trudeau announces vaccine pact as COVID-19 cases hit 150000 – CTV News



Quebeckers were urged to stop socializing, Ontarians were barred from late-night pub-hopping, and the entire country was sternly warned of “critical” containment measures required in coming weeks as soaring COVID-19 case counts edged past 150,000 on Friday.

The escalating pandemic drew repeated pleas for vigilance from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam in a joint press conference that also outlined a deal with AstraZeneca, which would guarantee up to 20 million doses of an experimental vaccine.

With cases surging in Ontario and Quebec hot-spots, Trudeau implored the public to adhere to public health guidelines, stressing that “what we do now, will be critical for the weeks and months to come.”

This was a repeated refrain across the country as political and public health officials took pains to tell the public it was time to scale back parties, dinners out, group activities and other individual actions they said were key factors in an alarming spike in transmission.

In Quebec, Health Minister Christian Dube told residents to a “make a special effort” to limit contact with other people for at least 28 days in order to contain spread and save hospitals from increased burden.

“I insist on this,” said Dube, nevertheless saying he had no problem with people dining in small numbers, within their bubble.

“We’re asking you (for) a month of effort to break the second wave.”

Dube called it a “28-day challenge” to flatten the curve, which on Friday pushed Quebec’s daily tally to 637 new cases, bringing the total number in the province to 70,307.

There have been 5,814 deaths in Quebec.

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford said bars and restaurants must now close by midnight, with alcohol service to stop at 11 p.m., but that takeout and delivery will be permitted to continue into the wee hours.

All strip clubs will also close, he said, while explaining that the new restrictions strike a balance between public health needs and the province’s financial future.

“I don’t think it’s a huge ask if they can stop serving drinks at 11 o’clock and close their establishments at 12 o’clock,” he said during his daily media briefing.

The measures were not good enough for NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who criticized the Ford government for failing to provide “a proper, comprehensive and effective second wave strategy.”

Ontario reported 409 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death — about half of the new cases in Toronto and 65 per cent of them in people younger than 40.

The total number of cases in Ontario stood at 48,905, including 2,837 deaths.

Elsewhere, Alberta reported 17,190 confirmed cases, while British Columbia stood at 8,543 confirmed.

COVID-19 cases jumped in Manitoba, too, where masks will be mandatory in Winnipeg’s indoor spaces starting Monday.

Officials also limited indoor and outdoor gatherings to 10 people after 54 new cases emerged in the province — 44 of them in the capital region.

COVID-19 cases reached about 150,140 nationwide, with caseloads spiking dramatically in the four largest provinces over the past few weeks.

In the joint televised press conference with Trudeau, Tam said Canadians still have a chance to keep the epidemic from escalating, “if we all act together now.”

“Local public health authorities cannot do this alone. Each of us must take action to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities,” she said.

Despite the sombre warnings, Trudeau offered assurances that Ottawa has taken steps to secure a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as one proves viable.

The latest deal is the sixth such arrangement to ensure Canadians have access to crucial supply.

Trudeau also addressed urgent calls to make more COVID-19 testing options available, stating “there are a number of rapid tests in the process of being evaluated by Health Canada, and they will be made available as quickly as possible.”

Tam added that Health Canada was trying to evaluate a variety of new tools including point-of-care devices and serological tests but suggested that work was hindered by a lack of clinical data from the companies seeking approvals.

“There was really little data submitted to the regulator, and you need basic, minimal clinical information. And so we’re also looking at how do we help in the assessment of those types of tests,” said Tam.

“The whole thing has to work in real life, if you like, but I think we’ll be providing more information to people next week and as things evolve.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2020.

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