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With New Brunswick COVID surge, Nova Scotia tightens border restrictions – CBC.ca

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Nova Scotia has announced it is tightening border restrictions with New Brunswick following the outbreak of cases in that province.

As of 8 a.m. on Jan. 9, everyone coming into the province from New Brunswick will have to self-isolate for 14 days. There are exceptions for those who are crossing the border due to work, a medical appointment, child custody arrangements or legal reasons.

“What we are saying is, do not go to New Brunswick,” Premier Stephen McNeil said in Friday’s news conference, adding that the numbers will be monitored to determine when the restrictions can be lifted.

“I feel for New Brunswick and wish them nothing but good luck.”

There has been a surge of cases in New Brunswick this week, with the province hitting a single-day record of 31 new cases on Wednesday. Twenty-four new cases were identified in New Brunswick on Thursday and 18 more on Friday.

Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I. and New Brunswick have all imposed isolation rules for all out-of-province travellers since the Atlantic bubble burst in November.

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People coming from New Brunswick must fill out an online check-in form before arriving in Nova Scotia.

McNeil said the land border would look similar to the first wave, where there is a separate line for essential service providers. Everyone else will be required to stop and identify where they are going.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said on Friday that people coming from P.E.I. and N.L. do not have to isolate when they come to Nova Scotia.

For those coming to Nova Scotia from P.E.I. via New Brunswick, he said they must drive straight through.

“You need to drive directly. Do not stop for food or gas in New Brunswick,” Strang said.

Nova Scotians who have had visitors from New Brunswick in the last 14 days should get tested immediately, Strang said. Those people should also consider a second test 5 to 7 days later.

Any Nova Scotians who visited New Brunswick in the past two weeks should also get tested and they must self-isolate while they await their first test result. Those who had visitors from New Brunswick do not have to quarantine while they wait for their result.

Any specialized workers from New Brunswick doing “critical urgent work” that cannot be done by anyone from the other Atlantic provinces can enter Nova Scotia to do their work, but otherwise must self-isolate.

Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang at the COVID-19 update on Jan. 8, 2021. (Communications Nova Scotia)

Most restrictions remain in place until Jan. 24

The province is also renewing its state of emergency starting at noon on Jan. 10 and lasting until noon on Jan. 24. Most of the current province-wide restrictions will remain in place for another two weeks.

“Keeping things as they are for at least two more weeks will really give us a chance to see the impact of the holidays,” Strang said adding they will continue to be cautious throughout January.

These include:

  • Gathering limits of 10 in your home and in the community.
  • Restaurants and bars stopping service by 10 p.m. and closing by 11 p.m.
  • Fitness facilities must operate at 50 per cent capacity and must have three metres between people for high-intensity activities, including indoor and outdoor fitness classes.
  • There is a maximum of 25 people for sports practices and arts rehearsals. Games, tournaments or performances are not permitted.
  • Social events, festivals, arts and cultural events and sports events are not allowed.
  • Faith gatherings, weddings and funerals can have 150 people outdoors and 50 per cent of an indoor venue’s capacity to a maximum of 100. Wedding and funeral receptions are not permitted.

There are also some easing of restrictions:

  • Retail businesses and malls may increase the number of customers to 50 per cent from 25 per cent capacity.
  • The Halifax casino, VLTs and First Nations gaming establishments can reopen.
  • The Halifax and Sydney casinos must follow the guidelines for licensed establishments, which includes stopping service by 10 p.m. and closing by 11 p.m. The First Nations establishments can open their regular hours since they are not licensed to serve alcohol.

Strang also reminded people about the importance of wearing masks when three metres of distance cannot be maintained, including in outdoor spaces.

He also said that applies to people who receive home care and anyone else in the home who is in close proximity to the home care worker. 

2 new cases on Friday

Nova Scotia is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

One case is in the eastern health zone and the other in the central zone. Both cases are related to travel outside of Atlantic Canada and the people are self-isolating.

There are now 29 active cases in the province. No one is in hospital in Nova Scotia related to the virus.

Strang said on Friday that there is no sign of the COVID-19 variant appearing in Nova Scotia, but one case was sent off for testing. He said travel-related cases will automatically be tested for the variant.

Nova Scotia labs completed 1,831 tests on Thursday.

Between Jan. 3-7, there were 558 rapid tests administered at pop-up sites in Halifax.

New guidelines for music education come into effect in Nova Scotia on Monday. (Kirk Fraser/CBC News)

Public schools to reopen as planned

Schools in Nova Scotia will reopen on Monday. The evening use of school gyms for sport and community activities can resume, as long as public health orders are followed.

As well starting Monday, there will be new guidelines for music education that will allow singing and playing instruments in a modified way.

Strang said that includes making sure physical distancing is in place, limiting the time playing and the number of students in class.

He said people raised legitimate concerns about sports and arts being allowed, but not music.

But Strang said any sports or arts activities that involve connections between schools are not resuming right now.

University testing IDs 2 COVID cases

The province is also urging post-secondary students who have returned to Nova Scotia from outside of the Atlantic provinces to book a COVID-19 test on the sixth, seventh or eighth day of their isolation, regardless if they have symptoms.

Strang said two positive COVID cases have already been found through this testing stream, which highlights its importance.

“Doing this testing along with sticking with your quarantine will make a difference in keeping our communities safe,” he said.

Students coming from New Brunswick should check with their school about any potential changes in residence accommodations related to self-isolation.

A technician places rapid COVID-19 swabs into a test tube container on Nov. 24 at Dalhousie University in Halifax. There are currently 29 active cases in the province. (Robert Short/CBC)

The appointments can be booked up to three days in advance.

Students must have self-isolated for the full two weeks even with a negative test result. They may not attend in-person classes until they have completed their isolation.

Any students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 need to complete a self-assessment online or call 811.

No cases at Jamieson Hall

Shannex reported no new cases at Jamieson Hall, an assisted-living community in Dartmouth, N.S., after an outbreak last month.

“We are pleased to report that all resident testing at Jamieson Hall conducted earlier this week has been returned negative. One employee case was reported on December 24, 2020,” Shannex said in a release Friday.

Retesting has not revealed any additional cases of COVID-19 in the past 14 days, according to the release, and Public Health has directed that residents are no longer required to isolate in their suites. Visitors can return with precautions in place.

Atlantic Canada case numbers

The latest COVID-19 numbers from the Atlantic provinces are:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on Friday. There are nine active cases and one person is in hospital.
  • New Brunswick reported 18 new cases on Friday with 143 active cases. Every zone of the province has been rolled back to the orange phase to deal with the growing number of cases.
  • P.E.I. reported one new case on Thursday and currently has eight active cases.
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Pfizer is cutting shipments to Canada | How will the COVID-19 vaccination strategy be impacted? – CTV News

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  1. Pfizer is cutting shipments to Canada | How will the COVID-19 vaccination strategy be impacted?  CTV News
  2. Pfizer to temporarily reduce vaccine deliveries to Canada, minister says  CBC.ca
  3. Canada’s coming month of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shipments will be reduced by half  CTV News
  4. Why were US media silent on Pfizer vaccine deaths?: Global Times editorial  Global Times
  5. 39 active COVID-19 cases in Medicine Hat, 5000th recovery in South Zone  CHAT News Today
  6. View Full coverage on Google News



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Couche-Tard seeks to rescue Carrefour bid as objections rise – BNN

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Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc.’s top executives are in Paris seeking to salvage a US$20 billion bid for Carrefour SA as officials from Canada press the French government to relax its objections to the deal.

Pierre Fitzgibbon, the economy minister in Couche-Tard’s home province of Quebec, said he would speak with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire Friday to apply “positive pressure” in favor of the transaction. Fitzgibbon said he would stress the close-knit relationship between the province and France that has facilitated previous deals, including Alstom SA’s purchase of Bombardier Inc.’s rail unit, announced last year.

Couche-Tard “could be a very strategic shareholder that would benefit Carrefour’s operations in France,” Fitzgibbon said to reporters.

The Canadian convenience-store operator plans to pump 3 billion euros (US$3.6 billion) into the French supermarket operator over five years, according to a person familiar with the situation, as part of a set of assurances to the government of President Emmanuel Macron.

Other pledges include preserving jobs for two years, keeping Carrefour’s headquarters in France and maintaining stock listings in France as well as Canada, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.

Carrefour shares gave up some of this week’s gains after Le Maire said he was prepared to give a “clear and definitive no” to a deal, falling 2.9 per cent to 16.61 euros in Paris. Couche-Tard’s offer is for 20 euros per share; both sides see room for negotiation on the final price, according to people familiar with the situation.

A Carrefour representative didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Le Maire previously cited concerns about a French supermarket chain falling into foreign hands, saying the country needs to maintain domestic control over its food supply. France recently beefed up its authority to block foreign takeovers.

“We have the legal instrument available to us,” Le Maire said Friday. “I’d rather not have to use it, but will if needed.”

The finance ministry is ready to study the proposal once the Canadian side officially presents it, people familiar with the matter said earlier this week. They said Macron’s administration plans to take as long as needed to assess its impact on jobs and the sector.

Despite Le Maire’s strident comments, Couche-Tard Chief Executive Officer Brian Hannasch and other managers are in Paris negotiating with Carrefour’s leadership in an effort to come up with a package that’s palatable to the French company’s shareholders and the government, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Couche-Tard shares were up 5.1 per cent to $38.10 as of 12:47 p.m. Toronto time. Prior to Friday’s gains, they had fallen for eight consecutive days.

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hinted that his government is prepared to throw its weight behind the company’s effort. “Our role as a government is always to be there to support Canadian companies including as they look to expand around the world. I know that discussions continue to be ongoing and I won’t make any further comments on that,” he told reporters Friday in Ottawa.

Biggest Employer

Carrefour employs around 100,000 people in France and is the country’s largest private employer, with stores ranging from convenience outlets to giant hypermarkets dotting the landscape.

The company has been implementing a turnaround plan under Chief Executive Officer Alexandre Bompard that involves investments in online shopping and organic food. Analysts point to the absence of geographical overlap between the companies.

The investment plan was reported first by Les Echos, which is owned by Bernard Arnault’s LVMH. Arnault also controls a 5.5 per cent stake in Carrefour.

If Couche-Tard goes ahead with its bid, it would need to submit its plans for screening by the Finance Ministry, which has 30 days to respond to such requests, to which it can add 45 days for a deeper examination. No reply from the government amounts to a refusal. In parallel, or before that, Couche-Tard could start informal negotiations on the commitments it’d be ready to make.

French Revolution

“If Carrefour’s board of directors and reference shareholders see a real strategic interest in the deal and manage to convince the Finance Ministry, the door could open,” said Pascal Bine, Paris-based partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

But that’s not a given in a country where riots over the availability of bread set in motion a process that toppled the monarchy in 1789, Bine added.

“Since the COVID crisis, a new paradigm has emerged, aimed at preserving the economic sovereignty of the country, including the supply of essential goods and services,” he said. “If people are not fed, it’s the Revolution.”

–With assistance from Kait Bolongaro and Derek Decloet.

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Canada's coming month of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shipments will be reduced by half – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Over the next month Canada will be experiencing a “temporary” delay in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments due to the pharmaceutical giant’s expansion plans at its European manufacturing facility, with the shortage resulting in an average of 50 per cent of coming doses delayed each week.

While shipments will continue in the coming weeks, the amount of doses in them will be lessened, sometimes by hundreds of thousands of doses.

“Pfizer has confirmed that Canada’s deliveries will be impacted for the next four weeks. We will see an average reduction over this timeframe of 50 per cent of expected deliveries. There will minimal impact next week… The most profound impact will be in the week of January 25,” said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who is leading Canada’s logistical rollout. 

This setback to Canada’s short-term COVID-19 vaccine delivery schedule means the number of doses going to each province and territory will have to be readjusted. Fortin said that the allocations will begin to scale back up in the first two weeks of February, before returning to the size of doses originally anticipated. 

Canada was planning on receiving between 124,800 and 366,600 Pfizer doses every week between now and the end of February, as part of the plan to have six million doses total from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of March when Phase 1 ends.

The delivery for the week of Jan. 25, which Fortin said is likely to see the largest reduction, was set to be 208,650 doses. If that’s reduced by half, Canada will receive 104,325 Pfizer doses that week, which is fewer than the forecasted allocation received this week.

“In my conversation this morning with Pfizer, it was very clear that we’re are still correct in our planning assumption to receive approximately four million doses of Pfizer by March 31,” Fortin said,

Fortin said that knew the company would at some point need to scale-up their manufacturing to ramp-up its mass production, but the news of the looming construction project was brought to the federal government’s attention in the last 24 hours, according to Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos.  

Procurement Minister Anita Anand announced the delay on Friday, saying all nations who are receiving vaccines from this Pfizer facility will be receiving fewer doses.

“It is a temporary reduction, it’s not a stoppage… We will make up those doses,” Anand said.

Addressing the setback during his Rideau Cottage address on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that shipments have largely been ahead of schedule so far, but that “with an undertaking this historic, it’s only to be expected that there will be a few bumps along the way.”

Norway, which is also receiving Pfizer doses from its Europe facilities has announced that “for some time ahead” their deliveries will be reduced. In the coming week their shipment will be reduced by approximately 18 per cent.

“The reduction is due to a reorganisation at Pfizer in connection with an upgrade of production capacity… It is not yet clear how long it will take before Pfizer is up to maximum production capacity again,” said the statement published by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. 

The government sought to ensure that all countries who will be impacted, will be “equitably treated” in terms of delivery reductions, according to Anand. Fortin confirmed later Friday that this will be the case, with all seeing deliveries reduced by 50 per cent on average.

Anand said that while Canada is expecting to be able to catch up, the delay is “unfortunate.”

“However such delays and issues are to be expected when global supply chains are stretched well beyond their limits,” Anand said.

By end of the day Friday, the federal government will have distributed a total of 929,000 doses of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines, around 84 per cent of which have been administered.

WON’T IMPACT PHASE 2  

The plan is to receive “more than” one million doses of approved vaccines every week, on average, starting in April with Phase 2. 

Trudeau said that while this issue is out of Canada’s hands, the country “must still get ready for the ramp-up,” in Phase 2. 

Fortin said the delays “will not change our second quarter goals,” though he could not guarantee future delays. He said he understands and feels the “disappointment,” but “we need to move forward.”

He committed to keep all key stakeholders, and Canadians appraised of any future delivery schedule changes. 

The ongoing initial vaccination stage has seen Canada pushing to properly allocate and prioritize key groups like residents and staff in long-term care homes as well as front-line health-care workers. 

In this first stage of the vaccine campaign, Canada has seen both doses sitting in freezers as well as provinces saying they are running short, while those on the front line have sought to sort out who should and shouldn’t be receiving shots at this time.

“It was with precisely these types of issues in mind that Canada pursued the aggressive procurement strategy that we did,” Anand said. “This approach of ensuring diversity and volume months ago is what now gives us flexibility and margins to remain on track in difficult times.” 

Asked whether Canada will be looking to revisit their decision to not procure additional Moderna doses to make up the shortage over the next few weeks, Fortin said the amount scheduled to arrive from that company will stay the same.

As previously reported, the additional 16 million Moderna doses that the federal government left on the table in talks with that company would not be arriving until late 2021. 

As for whether Canada looked into being able to receive Pfizer shipments from the  United States facility, Fortin said that the federal government looked into it, but for now Canada’s line of doses will continue to come exclusively from the European facility.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu added that because as part of the regulatory approval granted to Pfizer, Health Canada approves the manufacturing sites as well as the vaccine itself.

“So, should we procure from even the same company a different site, then there would need to be review of the manufacturing data,” she said. 

Several federal officials sought to reassure Canadians Friday that the country remains on track to vaccinate everyone who wants to be, by the end of September.   

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