With the increasing presence of the Delta variant in Canada, experts say that it will soon become the dominant strain of COVID-19 infections. But, having a larger proportion of the population vaccinated, along with other measures, can help prevent Canada from entering a fourth wave of the pandemic.
As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been more than 4,100 cumulative cases of the Delta variant in Canada, with Ontario accounting for 42 per cent of the cases in the country and British Columbia accounting for 31 per cent.
The Delta variant, also known by its lineage of B.1.617.2, was first identified in India. According to experts it is 50 per cent more transmissible than the original strain and is also more transmissible than the Alpha variant, currently making up 90 per cent of all new infections in the U.K.
“When you have a more transmissible variant – also known as a more fit variant – you’re going to see a takeover,” Dr. Isaac Bogoch, infectious disease specialist, told CTVNews.ca. “It’s more fit than the Alpha variant. It’s more transmissible, and we’re seeing it take over as the more dominant variant here in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada, and quite frankly, in many other parts of the world.”
With a daily average of approximately 166 cases of the Delta variant per day in Canada, is the country at risk of heading into another wave?
Bogoch said that as things open up, there will be more opportunities for transmission, but vaccinations can be one factor in preventing another wave from occurring.
“As we gradually open up, there will be more and more opportunities for the virus to be transmitted. This virus isn’t going anywhere and we know it’s not going anywhere, and if it’s given opportunities to be transmitted, we’ll see cases,” he said. “But the vaccines work against this variant. A single dose is pretty effective. Regardless of the vaccine, it’s pretty effective in keeping people out of the hospital, and of course, two doses are more effective than one.”
Studies show that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are more than 90 per cent effective in preventing hospitalizations due to the Delta variant, however there may be some breakthrough infections with the reduction of antibodies in the bloodstream.
Moderna also announced Tuesday that, after a lab study, they found their vaccine to be effective in producing the antibodies needed to fight against the Delta variant.
“There will still be cases among fully vaccinated people, they’ll just be less common. Fully vaccinated people, even if they test positive, are much less likely to have severe illness,” said Bogoch.
Thomas Tenkate, associate professor at the Ryerson University School of Occupation and Public Health, adds that while vaccinations can help curb the spread of COVID-19, Delta variant cases can still increase, especially in unvaccinated people and under-vaccinated communities.
“Those who are partially vaccinated are at greater risk than those who are fully vaccinated of becoming infected with the Delta variant,” Tenkate told CTVNews.ca Tuesday. “We also have under 12s who are not able to be vaccinated as yet, and the number of people under 19 who have been vaccinated is still relatively low compared with the rest of the adult population. These groups are really the most vulnerable.”
Tenkate said that to avoid another wave, vaccination efforts need to continue and more Canadians need to become fully vaccinated.
“We need to ramp up the proportion of the population who are fully vaccinated and we have to encourage those who haven’t been vaccinated yet with their first dose to do so,” he said. “It is important to reach these unvaccinated people because having the herd immunity rate as high as possible will give us the best change of curbing the Delta variant.”
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said Friday that while vaccinations are still underway, “sustained control efforts” are needed, such as wearing masks. The modelling Dr. Tam presented shows that if 80 per cent of the Canadian population is fully vaccinated, it is less likely that a fourth wave will occur.
WHICH REGIONS ARE SEEING THE MOST DELTA VARIANT CASES?
The interactive map below plots the public health regions that have reported the most number of Delta variant cases, with information obtained from provincial and regional reports as of June 29, 2021. The points are approximate locations of the provincial health region, its health authority location, and its surrounding areas. Numbers may fluctuate as more case counts are added.
Atlantic provinces and territories did not have detailed information on Delta hotspots, therefore were not included on the map.
Of the five health regions in British Columbia, all but the Interior Health Authority and Northern Health Authority have seen a presence of the Delta variant as of June 25. Vancouver Island is currently seeing the most Delta variant cases, with a rate of 21 per cent for every 100 sequenced lab samples. The Fraser Health Authority has a rate of 14 per cent and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority is reporting a rate of 11 per cent.
Although not all public health units have detailed Delta variant data available, the provincial government listed the following 10 health units as Delta variant hotspots: Toronto, Peel, York, Durham, Hamilton, Waterloo, Halton, Porcupine, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, and Simcoe-Muskoka. Ontarians living, working, or going to school in those regions have been able to book an accelerated appointment for their second vaccine dose in order to prevent the spread of the Delta variant.
In Quebec, Montreal is seeing the highest number of Delta variant cases, reporting a cumulative total of 16 cases on Tuesday. Other health regions are currently seeing fewer than 10 cases with the Delta variant.
Of the variants of concern identified in Alberta, the Calgary Zone and Edmonton Zone are seeing the most Delta variant cases. On Sunday, a cumulative total of 588 Delta cases have been reported in the Calgary Zone and 71 in the Edmonton Zone.
The Regina health region leads the province in the highest number of Delta variant cases, reporting 113 cumulative cases Monday. Saskatoon is reporting the second highest number of cases with 30 confirmed Delta variant cases to date. All other health regions have reported fewer than 10 cases.
In Manitoba, the Winnipeg regional health authority is reporting the most number of Delta cases, recording 102 cumulative cases on Tuesday. The Southern Health – Santé Sud region is reporting 62 Delta variant cases and the Northern region is reporting 54.
There have been no Delta variant cases reported in the Prairie Mountain Health region and Interlake – Eastern region.
Note: Atlantic provinces and territories did not have detailed information on Delta variant cases available.
DELTA VARIANT AROUND THE GLOBE:
This variant has already set back some countries in their reopening plans.
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the Delta variant is now identified in approximately one in every five COVID-19 infections in the country. With the increasing presence of the Delta variant, the Los Angeles County Department of Health is encouraging everyone to wear masks in indoor public spaces.
In Israel, COVID-19 infections involving the Delta variant were four times higher in the past week, with 138 cases attributed to this variant. Now, less than two weeks after lifting the mandatory indoor mask mandate, the Israel health ministry has reversed its decision and announced Friday that masks must again be worn indoors.
In Australia, Sydney and its surrounding cities reported more than 100 cases of the Delta variant on Sunday. Sydney is now in a two-week lockdown which became effective Sunday, while Darwin has mandated a two-day, stay-at-home order. Other regions in Australia have closed their borders and have enforced additional COVID-19 safety protocols, such as stronger physical distancing and mask regulations.
As the Delta variant starts to become the dominant strain worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) encourages everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, to continue physical distancing measures and the wearing of masks.
Line 5 pipeline between U.S. and Canada could cause 'devastating damage' to Great Lakes, say environmentalists – CBC.ca
An aging pipeline that carries oil along the bottom of the ecologically sensitive and turbulent Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet, is in such a state of disrepair it could burst at any moment and cause catastrophic damage to the Great Lakes, environmentalists warn.
Line 5, a 1,000-kilometre-long pipeline owned by Calgary-based Enbridge, carries up to 540,000 barrels of oil and natural gas liquids a day from Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ont., where it is shipped to other refineries in Ontario and Quebec.
It’s at the centre of a politically charged dispute between Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who’s ordered what she calls the “ticking time bomb” to be shut down, and Canadian officials, including Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who’ve sided with Enbridge in insisting it’s safe to keep running.
“Over the past year, I have both written and spoken to the Governor to express my disappointment and stress the importance of Line 5 in ensuring economic, environmental and energy security to the entire Great Lakes Region,” Ford said in a statement to CBC News.
“Our government believes pipelines are a safe way to transport essential fuels across the Great Lakes, operating in accordance with the highest pipeline safety standards.”
Enbridge says Line 5 is safe and saves the hassle of transporting huge amounts of fuel by truck or train.
But Michelle Woodhouse, water program manager at Toronto-based Environmental Defence, said it’s time to put politics aside and cut through Enbridge’s “manufactured narrative.” She says the danger the pipeline poses to the Great Lakes is too risky to take “a gamble.”
Line 5 has leaked oil before
Line 5 was designed in 1953 to have a lifespan of 50 years, or until 2003. Eighteen years later, it’s still running, and has had its fair share of problems, said Woodhouse.
“This is a very old, deteriorating, dangerous pipeline that has already leaked significant amounts of oil into the surrounding lands and water that it crosses through,” she said.
Since 1953, Line 5 has leaked 29 times, spilling 4.5 million litres of oil into the environment, according to media reports.
The pipeline has also repeatedly violated safety standards, said the State of Michigan’s court filings against Enbridge in 2020. Recently, a ship’s anchor struck and damaged the pipeline in 2018 and contractors mistakenly damaged its supports in 2019, which wasn’t discovered for a year, Michigan’s complaint said.
A spill would cause “devastating damage” to Lake Huron and Lake Michigan’s shorelines, compromising drinking water, fisheries, businesses and homes, said Woodhouse.
Dianne Saxe, the former environmental commissioner of Ontario and now deputy leader of the Ontario Green Party, said if Line 5 did leak in the Straits of Mackinac, it would create “an enormous cloud of pollution” that would disrupt intricate fish ecosystems and also flow downstream to Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
“It’s running under one of the most dangerous places in the Great Lakes, where there is highly turbulent waters,” Saxe said.
A University of Michigan study from 2014 corroborates this. Researchers found strong currents in the straits, which switch directions every few days, would contaminate shorelines up to 80 kilometres away within a few days.
Enbridge says pipeline in good condition
Enbridge spokesperson Tracy Larsson said every year, the company inspects Line 5’s twin pipes that cross the Straits of Mackinac, which are made of “thick seamless steel” and have been shown to be in good condition. She also said that Line 5’s lifespan is determined by inspections and maintenance, not when it was built.
Enbridge is also spending $500 million Cdn to build a tunnel through the straits to cover and protect Line 5.
“Ultimately, the Great Lakes Tunnel is the common sense solution to meeting Michigan’s energy needs while protecting the Great Lakes, our communities and waterways,” Larsson said.
However, the upgrade likely won’t be done for years, as President Joe Biden’s administration recently ordered a rigorous environmental review.
Natural Resources Canada told CBC News the alternative to Line 5 would be shipping fuel on 800 rail cars and 2,000 trucks a day across Canada, plus 15,000 trucks in the U.S.
“These options are less safe, more polluting, and more expensive,” NRC said in a statement.
Woodhouse called these figures “completely overblown” and said there’s capacity within Canada’s existing transportation system to transport the oil and natural gas to meet the region’s energy needs.
She said tankers and trucks should only be a temporary solution as Canada moves away from fossil fuels, as it has pledged to do in its climate commitments.
“We know about where things are headed with climate change and global warming,” Woodhouse said. “We have to get things done ASAP. And so the fact that these corporations and their allies are doing things like signing deals that basically send a signal that we don’t care, it’s very unsettling.”
‘There is no co-operation’
Whitmer recently revoked the 1953 easement that had allowed Enbridge to run Line 5 through Michigan and gave the company a May 12 deadline to stop operations, although it has not been enforced. The two parties remain locked in a court-ordered mediation process that will wrap up in August, although it’s unclear when the dispute will be resolved.
Enbridge said in a news release earlier this year it has no intentions of shutting down Line 5, and that Whitmer’s actions are unlawful and ignore science and evidence.
Whitmer’s administration maintains Michigan can’t trust Enbridge after another of its pipelines in the state ruptured in 2010, “causing one of the worst inland oil spills in U.S. history,” press secretary Bobby Leddy said in a statement.
“If Enbridge continues to operate the pipeline beyond the deadline, the state will seek to disgorge the company of its profits earned while unlawfully trespassing on state land,” Leddy said.
Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said if Line 5 is shut down, his city would lose up to 5,000 well-paying jobs. He said the action would also significantly impact communities across Ontario and Quebec that use the oil and natural gas to manufacture more than 600 products.
He said every time he’s attempted to raise his concerns with Whitmer, she hasn’t responded.
“The governor of Michigan has done incredible damage to the relationship between Ontario and Michigan,” Bradley said. “And that’s what’s disturbing. There is no co-operation when there should be.”
Cruising through Canada with a criminal record? – Canada Immigration News
Attention all cruisers! Canada’s transport minister, Omar Alghabra recently stated that the country will soon open up to travellers by boat.
As of November 1, 2021, cruise ships and their passengers can enter Canada, if they comply with the Canadian government’s public health guidelines.
Canada, on both the West and East coasts, is a convenient and popular cruise stop. Boats to or from Alaska commonly dock in Vancouver or Victoria, while east coast ships visit the ports of Montreal or Halifax. Canada welcomes and values the cruise industry. The re-opening news should attract many tourists to come explore what the country has to offer.
By lifting the restrictions in November, the government aims to give the country’s tourism industry a boost leading up to the 2022 cruise season. The Canadian government itself notes that the cruise ship industry contributes $4 billion annually to the Canadian economy and supports approximately 30,000 jobs.
If you are one of the many tourists planning on entering Canada with criminal history, it is important to know that you can be denied entry at the border.
Canada has strict rules for people with criminal records. They are designed to keep the country and its people safe. Canada will take the foreign criminal offence and translate it into Canadian law. Factors such as what the offence is, how long ago the sentence was completed, and how many convictions a person has, all factor in. Since late 2018, a driving under the influence conviction means that a person is inadmissible to Canada for serious criminality. In theory, such a person is banned from Canada forever. However, there are ways to overcome inadmissibility.
Denial can take place at any point. It can occur at an airport for example, if you are flying from another country to Canada to get on a cruise leaving from Vancouver. It can also occur at your port outside of Canada. This is because Canada receives the passenger lists before the ship leaves for Canada. Lastly, it can take place at a port in Canada even if you plan on visiting for only a few hours.
How do I go on a Cruise with a criminal record?
The Canadian government offers short and long-term solutions to tourists who have a criminal record. Generally, there are three paths to resolving inadmissibility:
Temporary Resident Permit (TRP): This document grants temporary access to Canada for someone who is otherwise criminally inadmissible. If the traveler is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, they can apply for a TRP at a Canadian consulate or border. A TRP might be valid for a single day, or for up to three years. It may be good for only a single entry to Canada, or it may allow multiple entries. These elements will depend on the purpose of the visit to Canada. Reviewing officers use discretion when determining how long a TRP is valid for. The purpose for entering Canada is usually the most important factor. Cruise travellers are often suggested to apply for criminal rehabilitation.
Criminal rehabilitation: Criminal rehabilitation gives permanent admissibility to someone who was formerly inadmissible. Being eligible for criminal rehabilitation depends on several factors. These include:
- the crime committed,
- the sentence, and;
- how much time has passed since sentence completion.
If you have been convicted of a crime or crimes in a foreign country, and more than five years have passed since you finished your sentence, you are likely eligible to apply for Canadian criminal rehabilitation. Criminal rehabilitation is a one-time solution that, unlike a TRP, never requires renewal.
Applying for a TRP can often be risky when attempting to enter for leisure purposes. This is because Canadian immigration officers may conclude that the importance of someone who has a criminal record stopping in Canada for a cruise does not outweigh the risks of allowing that person into the country.
Legal Opinion Letter: Another remedy to a potential criminal inadmissibility problem is a legal opinion letter. This is a document that a Canadian immigration lawyer prepares. The letter discusses a past charge or conviction, as well as the lawyer’s legal conclusions. The lawyer will identify the relevant Canadian law and explain why the person should be deemed admissible to Canada. A legal opinion letter can also be beneficial to those in a pre-sentencing situation before making a final plea. It can explain the different consequences of various pleas on the person’s ability to enter Canada.
Knowing Canada’s rules about tourists with criminal records is important. It can help individuals who have records understand what obstacles they may help, as well as what solutions are available.
© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Discover your Canadian immigration options at CanadaVisa.com.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world Tuesday – CBC.ca
Chinese authorities have announced mass coronavirus testing in Wuhan as an unusually wide series of COVID-19 outbreaks reached the city where the disease was first detected in late 2019.
The provincial capital of 11 million people in central China is the latest city to undergo city-wide testing. Three cases were confirmed in Wuhan on Monday, its first non-imported cases in more than a year.
China has largely curbed COVID-19 at home after the initial outbreak that devastated Wuhan and spread globally. Since then, authorities have tamped down and controlled the disease whenever it pops up with quick lockdowns and mass testing.
The current outbreaks are still in the hundreds of cases in total but have spread much more widely than previous ones. Many of the cases have been identified as the highly contagious delta variant.
The National Health Commission said Tuesday that 90 new cases had been confirmed the previous day.
-From The Associated Press, last updated at 7:05 a.m. ET
What’s happening in Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of early Tuesday morning, more than 198.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.2 million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan will focus on hospitalizing patients who are seriously ill with COVID-19 and those at risk of becoming so while others isolate at home amid worries about a strained medical system as cases surge in Olympics host city Tokyo.
Pakistan’s top health official says his country for the first time has administered one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine across the country in the past 24 hours. The latest development comes days after Pakistan imposed a lockdown in the southern port city of Karachi and in other high-risk areas.
In the Americas, the U.S. states of Florida and Louisiana were at or near their highest hospitalization numbers of the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, a trend driven by the still-spreading delta variant.
Nearly three out of four Americans above the age of 18 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday, according to the U.S. Centers for Disesae Control.
In Africa, Morocco will lengthen its night curfew as it tightens restrictions to counter a surge in infections.
In the Middle East, Iran on Monday reported 37,189 new cases of COVID-19 — a single-day high, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracker. The country, which has been hit hard by several waves of the novel coronavirus, also saw 411 additional deaths.
In Europe, France’s overseas territory of Guadeloupe will to go into a new lockdown for at least three weeks.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he wanted to get the travel industry moving again with a simple user-friendly system to allow for trips abroad without importing new virus variants.
–From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 6:55 a.m. ET
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