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Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Monday

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Provinces are reimposing restrictions on gatherings as health officials worry that the new increases in COVID-19 cases could lead to an equivalent spike in hospital patients or deaths in the coming weeks. 

As of 6 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 145,415 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 125,714 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 9,268.

Over the past week, as Premier Doug Ford and his government slapped new restrictions on private gatherings, Ontario reported an average of 335 new confirmed COVID-19 infections daily. That’s triple the pace of the last week of August. 

On Monday, Ford claimed that Ontario was “doing more testing … than every province combined in the entire country.”

WATCH | Ontario doing ‘fabulous’ on COVID-19 testing, Ford says:

Premier Doug Ford claims Ontario is now doing more daily COVID-19 tests than all of the other provinces combined. 0:53

So far, the rise in hospitalizations is nowhere near as steep as it was. There were 63 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals as of Sunday. The hospitalization rate hit its low ebb in the third week of August, with a daily average of 38 patients in beds around the province.

Ontario reported an additional 425 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the most on any single day in three and a half months.

Consistent with recent trends, the majority of new infections were concentrated in three public health units. Toronto saw 175, while Peel confirmed 84 and Ottawa 60. 

However, hospitalizations and deaths are what epidemiologists call “lagging indicators” of the impact of a pandemic: you don’t see those numbers rising until well after the infections were transmitted. 

“It’s just unfortunately a matter of time,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, infectious disease physician at Toronto General Hospital. 

In Alberta, three units at a local hospital declared a COVID-19 outbreak over the weekend.

On Monday the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said 14 patients and four staff members at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary had tested positive. 

Alberta Health Services (AHS) said all at-risk patients are being offered testing and that contact tracing is ongoing.

“While we appreciate it may be difficult for some, visitors to the units are limited to only end of life situations until further notice,” AHS said in a statement.

On Monday Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said 14 patients and four staff members at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary had tested positive. (Alberta Health Services)

Meanwhile in British Columbia, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced a series of new COVID-19 measures over the weekend that are enforceable with a fine.

The expanded list of provincial health orders, mostly centred around the restaurant and bar industry, comes after the province ordered the closure of banquet halls and nightclubs earlier this month.

Operators and organizers who are caught violating the health orders could be fined $2,000, while patrons could face a $200 ticket.

WATCH | Your questions about COVID-19 testing:

Quebec’s COVID-19 situation has become so serious the province is setting its new Covid Alert system to its second highest level in several regions, including Montreal and Quebec City, just weeks after it was implemented. Officials say they have no patience for protocol breakers and warn that if people don’t co-operate, a full lockdown is next. 1:45

Quebec reported 462 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and 427 new cases on Saturday. The province hasn’t seen similar daily increases since late May. Hospitalizations have been increasing at a slower rate and are now at 138, up from 124 a week ago.

At a news conference on Sunday evening, Health Minister Christian Dubé announced several new public health rules for residents in areas that have been deemed orange zones under the province’s COVID-19 alert system. 

The maximum number of people allowed at a private gathering has been reduced from 10 to six. (Though exceptions will be made for large families.) 

Bars and restaurants will stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m. and will close at midnight. A maximum of six people will be allowed per table.

A maximum of 25 people will be allowed to take part in events like weddings, barbecues or religious services. In settings that involve sitting and little talking, such as movie theatres or concert halls, the current 250-person limit remains in place.


What’s happening around the rest of Canada

A student at Riverside Public School in Elmira, Ont., has tested positive for COVID-19, the Waterloo Region District School Board says.

The student was last in the building on Friday, the board said in a statement posted to its website on Sunday. The school is being cleaned, and it’s expected staff and students will be able to return on Monday morning.

The case is the third one in a school in Waterloo Region. There is also a student case at St. Anne Catholic Elementary School in Cambridge, Ont., and a staff member at Edna Staebler Public School in Waterloo tested positive for the virus.

An employee in Toronto’s parks, forestry and recreation division has tested positive for COVID-19, and a number of staff members who may have had contact with the infected person have been advised to self-isolate, a union local says.

The employee worked at Falstaff Community Centre, near Jane Street and Wilson Avenue, according to Dave Mitchell, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 79. The local represents about 20,000 city inside workers.

Mitchell said the employee received the positive test result on Sept. 11, and the union local was informed on Sept. 12. 

Some members have told the union local that they want more information about the case, he said. There is a larger group, outside of the employee’s close contacts, who were not informed of the case by Toronto Public Health, but found out through word of mouth, he said. 

Race-based data is confirming what some on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic have been saying for months — that the novel coronavirus affects communities of colour at a disproportionate rate.

According to early data from Ottawa Public Health (OPH), 66 per cent of people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa are racialized, a term OPH is using to refer to Black people and others from non-white backgrounds.

The term does not include people who identify as Indigenous.

According to data from Ottawa Public Health, 66 per cent of people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa are Black people or others from non-white backgrounds. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

“We know that there are systemic inequities for these communities,” said Naini Cloutier, executive director of the Somerset West Community Health Centre, in an interview with CBC. 

“With COVID, the cracks are becoming bigger and you’re seeing the very negative impact.”

Only 25 per cent of Ottawa residents identified as being a visible minority in the 2016 census, according to Statistics Canada.


What’s happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 31 million. More than 960,800 people have died, while 21.2 million have recovered.

Health officials in the United Kingdom have issued a dire warning as the number of coronavirus cases continue to increase.

According to week-old data, new cases are rising by at least 6,000 per day with hospital admissions doubling every eight days.

Chris Whitty, the U.K.’s chief medical officer, and Patrick Vallance, its chief scientific adviser, cautioned that if left unrestricted, the epidemic would reach 50,000 new cases per day by mid-October.

“If this continued along the path … the number of deaths directly from COVID … will continue to rise, potentially on an exponential curve,” Whitty said. “That means doubling and doubling and doubling again, and you can quickly move from really quite small numbers to really very large numbers.”

WATCH | U.K. cases doubling roughly every 7 days:

Doctors answer viewer questions about COVID-19 testing in Canada, including how effective it is and who should be tested. 4:58

The United Kingdom already has the biggest official COVID-19 death toll in Europe and the fifth largest in the world.

Meanwhile, Scotland first minister Nicola Sturgeon says there is a need to move “sharply” now to curtail the explosive growth of the coronavirus.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus four additional areas, have all been put under restrictions preventing people from entering those areas without a reasonable reason, such as education or work. People are also only allowed to meet those they don’t live with outdoors.

“I need to be absolutely straight with people,” Sturgeon said. “Across Scotland, additional restrictions will almost certainly be put in place … over the next couple of days.” 

WATCH | Scotland sees tougher COVID-19 restrictions on the way:

Experts in the United Kingdom are issuing a dire warning about the number of COVID-19 cases in the coming months. Fifty-thousand new cases per day are possible by mid-October, leading to 200 deaths per day a month later. 2:46

A total of 156 countries have joined the global COVAX scheme intended to ensure fair distribution of supplies of future vaccines against COVID-19, an alliance led by the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

The goal of COVAX is to deliver two billion vaccine doses around the world by the end of 2021, with health-care workers prioritized initially, followed by the most vulnerable 20 per cent of people in every participating country, regardless of income level.

While many lower-income nations are seeking assistance via COVAX, some richer countries had been reticent in confirming their intentions. Some of those who have secured their own future supplies through bilateral deals, including the United States, do not plan to join COVAX.

All remaining virus restrictions will be lifted across much of New Zealand from late Monday with the exception of the largest city, Auckland, which will continue to have some restrictions for at least another 16 days.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement Monday after meeting with top lawmakers.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday that most of the COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted from the country. (Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

The nation of five million reimposed some restrictions last month after an Auckland outbreak, which now appears to be under control.

Lebanon registered a record 1,006 cases of COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, the government announced Sunday, amid a sharp increase in infections and deaths due to the coronavirus.

Health Minister Hamad Hassan recommended a total lockdown for two weeks to stem the alarming rise in daily detected infections, but authorities will find it difficult difficult to impose another lockdown amid an unprecedented economic collapse.

Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtech resigned on Monday following criticism of his handling of the pandemic after a surge in cases.

WATCH | Epidemiologist on people’s own power to change the course of COVID-19:

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, says there is a need to move ‘sharply’ now to curtail the explosive growth of the coronavirus. 1:04

Before the start of the summer, the government lifted almost all restrictions imposed during the first wave of the pandemic. The number of infections has doubled this month and has grown at the second fastest rate in Europe in recent weeks, behind Spain.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis thanked Vojtech for his work in a Twitter message. Vojtech had been heavily criticized over the new wave of infections, although some opposition politicians saw him as a scapegoat for the government.

“The prime minister is more responsible as he strongly and incompetently interferes with Health Ministry work,” Marian Jurecka, chairman of the opposition Christian Democrats, wrote on Twitter.

A migrant woman washes her face at a communal standpipe behind barbed wire at a quarantine area in the new temporary camp near Mytilene on the Greek island of Lesbos, as more than 200 people were diagnosed with coronavirus. (Manolis Lagoutaris/AFP/Getty Images)

Greece’s government spokesperson says more than 200 people have tested positive for the coronavirus among thousands of asylum-seekers admitted to a new camp on the island of Lesbos after the previous camp burned down.

Speaking during a regular briefing Monday, Stelios Petsas said 7,064 people who entered the new camp at Kara Tepe had been tested, and 243 of them received positive results.

The average age of those confirmed positive was 24, and most were asymptomatic, Petsas said. A further 160 people, mainly police and administrative staff who had come into contact with the migrants were tested, and were all negative.

Petsas said the positive cases from Lesbos would be added to Greece’s official coronavirus figures on Monday. Health authorities release daily statistics of the virus’s spread every evening.



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CBU to honour Donald Marshall Jr. with new research centre

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A new research institute planned for Cape Breton University will honour the legacy of Donald Marshall Jr., who fought for the Indigenous right to fish for a moderate livelihood.

The Mi’kmaw man’s name has been invoked in recent weeks by Indigenous fishermen in southwest Nova Scotia who have launched self-regulated lobster fisheries. 

“I think it’s very timely in terms of the need for knowledge sharing, for advocacy and for action,” said Janice Tulk, a senior researcher in the university’s development department. 

The idea for the institute has been in the works for a couple of years, sparked by one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which emphasized the need for education about Indigenous law and Indigenous rights.

Donald Marshall Jr. addresses a crowd in Sydney, N.S., after leading a peaceful protest over Indigenous fishing rights, on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2000. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

“We started thinking about what could we do at Cape Breton University that would respond to that call,” said Tulk, whose areas of expertise include Mi’kmaw history and culture, as well as Indigenous economic reconciliation.

Tulk said the university has partnered with Cape Breton’s Mi’kmaw communities over the past 40 years to provide higher education in a variety of fields, with the creation of Mi’kmaw studies programs, Mi’kmaw science programs and more recently, Indigenous business and mentorship programs. The university saw the research institute as a next opportunity, said Tulk.

‘I think it’s amazing’

Cape Breton University will work with members of the Marshall family over the coming months to solidify the vision for the institute.

“I think it’s amazing,” said Crystal Bernard, Donald Marshall Jr.’s daughter.

“We’re so humbled and honoured that they would do this for him, in his name. And I know he would be very proud, as well.”

The idea was made public Monday as the university unveiled plans for a proposed, $80-million Centre for Discovery and Innovation. The project has yet to receive funding, but should it go ahead, it will house the Marshall Institute.

“We need a space where community collaboration can occur,” said Tulk, noting the institute will proceed with or without the new building.

Janice Tulk’s expertise includes Mi’kmaw history and culture, as well as Indigenous tourism development and economic reconciliation. (cbu.ca)

That collaboration will involve university researchers, faculty members and students, as well as community members and organizations such as the Bras d’Or Lakes Collaborative Environmental Planning Initiative and the Unama’ki Institute of Natural Resources, as well as various levels of government.

“I think we’re going to have some really valuable conversations that will advance our understanding of environmental justice and Indigenous approaches to climate change, and hopefully start to make some progress on those things through those dialogues, through advocacy, through policy change,” said Tulk.

Asked what role the institute might play in situations such as the current unrest over the Indigenous moderate livelihood fishery in Nova Scotia, Tulk said it would serve to help educate people about treaties and Indigenous rights.

“I would imagine that there would be advocacy as well,” said Tulk. “Certainly the institute could play a role in bringing stakeholders together to have honest conversations and collaboratively come up with solutions.”

Bernard said she believes her father would be disappointed by the ongoing situation in southwest Nova Scotia.

“I think it would be very upsetting to him that we’re having to go through this again,” she said.

“On the other hand, I think he’d be on the front lines, fighting with our people, trying to get people to understand that the treaty rights are not up for debate.”

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Calgary Catholic school increases safety precautions after district’s ‘explosion’ of COVID-19 cases

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Just last week, the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Calgary Catholic School District was in the low twenties. But over the weekend, there was an “explosion of cases,” which has led some schools to take drastic steps to prevent the spread of the virus.

Chief superintendent Bryan Szumlas says there are now 64 students and six teachers within the district who have active cases of COVID-19.

“Over the weekend, we saw an explosion of cases.… This is like a three times increase in the last five days. I believe this is what we’re seeing now as a result of the gatherings that happened over the Thanksgiving long weekend,” he said. “Within Calgary Catholic, we have 118 schools, and 35 of our schools right now are dealing with active cases of COVID-19.”

Szumlas said dealing with COVID-19 in schools is an always evolving situation.

“After a 14-day period, some of these schools come off the list where others go on the list. Since the beginning of the school year, it has been a roller-coaster of ups and downs,” he said.  “Right now, we are at a low point and we’re asking all of our parents and our students to please be vigilant and to continue to practise our health measures as we go forward.”

Szumlas said there were roughly 1,000 students in isolation last week, but since then that number has more than doubled, and there are now about 2,400 students and staff who are in self-isolation.  

“Now, that number may seem fairly large, but to put it in perspective, our school district has just over 56,000 students. So that’s roughly 3.5 to four per cent of our total population,” he said.

“Of course, it worries me, but I have a lot of faith that working together with our communities, that this is a little blip right now and we can, if we work together, we can change that curve and bring it down, if we’re all working together and continuing to practise our health measures.”

The recent surge in cases at Calgary Catholic has lead some schools like St. Francis High School to take a more severe approach to curbing cases within the school population. 

In a letter home to St. Francis parents on Monday, the principal announced that five families had received confirmation of a student testing positive for COVID-19, and thus 300 students and 12 staff were in isolation.

As a result of the rise in cases, St. Francis will end its fall athletic program.

“This is necessary to reduce staff and students potentially needing to self-isolate because of a positive COVID-19 case. The start of our winter athletic season will also be postponed until we see a drop in positive cases at Saint Francis,” wrote principal Mark Berger.

The school has also chosen to make final exams “write to improve” only (meaning a lower grade can’t bring down the student’s overall mark).

Szumlas said he supports these moves. 

“I do support what this principal and the school is doing. This is innovative, collaborative. They’re informing their parents. We stand behind this and it is part of the assessment practices,” he said. 

Berger’s letter also appealed to parents to not let teens gather on weekends.

“Some of the positive cases reported were associated with weekend student gatherings. We ask families to consider the potential negative impacts of group gatherings on our school community,” said Berger.

“We are asking parents to discuss with their children the importance of social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and the sharing of food and beverages.”

The Calgary Board of Education, since the beginning of the school year, has had 140 positive cases and 80-plus schools affected by them. 

In October, the CBE said 3,300 students and 325 staff members had been impacted by mandatory isolations. 

Of those attending CBE’s in-person learning, five per cent of students and 3.5 per cent of staff have been affected by required quaranties since September.

“To date, we have had six cases of suspected in-school transmission,” said CBE superintendent of school improvement, Joanne Pittman.

“What I would also say, though, is that even with that suspected in-school transmission, individuals who may have then tested positive have already been in quarantine, and as a result, additional actions were not required because of the safety precautions already put into place. “

CBE board chair Marilyn Dennis said parents should be encouraged by these numbers. 

“The fact that we have only 0.1 per cent of in-person students and .06 per cent of staff that have been identified with a positive case, I would think that would be very encouraging for families,” she said. 

“The strength of it is, No. 1, that we have strong compliance due to the protocols we put in place [and], No. 2, that we have been thorough in our response. We think we can be proud of the work that we’re doing in our schools to try and keep our communities healthy.”

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Corrections watchdog urges moratorium on doctor-assisted deaths in Canadian prisons – Kamloops This Week

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