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COVID-19: Coronavirus news and updates for Sunday, October 18, 2020

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Here are your local, national and worldwide COVID-19 updates for October 18, 2020.

CANADIAN CORONAVIRUS NEWS

-Canada’s chief public health officer urged residents to continue making a “collective effort” to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic on Saturday as parts of the country braced for new rounds of restrictions meant to curb the spread of the virus.

Dr. Theresa Tam issued a statement acknowledging that confusion over appropriate public health measures is understandable in light of the fact that the pandemic is playing out differently across different provinces and territories.

But she stressed that Canadians must “keep our number of in-person close contacts low” and adhere to public health practices.

“There are no quick fixes and COVID-19 is not going away, so public health is focused on making the response sustainable through to the end of the pandemic, balancing the health, social and economic consequences,” Tam said Saturday in a news release.

“What is certain, is that our response requires a collective effort. Everyone’s actions matter.”

Canada continued climbing toward the 200,000 mark for COVID-19 cases, with 196,324 confirmed cases reported Saturday across the country. Canada also recorded 9,746 deaths related to the virus.


Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

Sean Kilpatrick /

The Canadian Press

-Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole praised Alberta Premier Jason Kenney for his province’s handling of COVID-19 as the two sat side-by-side during a livestream on Saturday, while neither leader wore a mask.

“I’m the easiest guy to hang out with because I can’t give it or get it from anyone for four months,” O’Toole said, answering Kenney’s question about how O’Toole was doing after he and his wife got the novel coronavirus last month.

According to Alberta Health spokesman Tom McMillan, the province still advises everyone to wear masks when physical distancing isn’t possible. He said that includes those who have already had COVID-19.

-Women and moms of young kids are at risk of turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism for anxiety and depression during the pandemic, according to a new study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

The study, released earlier this week, surveyed 1,003 adults between Sept. 18 and 22 — just as elementary and high schools were reopening — and found women had higher levels of anxiety and loneliness than men.


Daily new cases in Ontario.

PUBLIC HEALTH ONTARIO /

ONTARIO

LOCAL NEWS

-According to Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliot, there were 658 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province on Sunday.

While Elliot tweeted that there were 66 new cases in Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health reported 67 new cases and two new deaths. The update brings Ottawa’s case total to 6036 and the official death toll to 303. There are 790 active cases and 47 people are in hospital.

OPH reported 70 new cases Saturday, down from 99 new cases a day earlier.

Also on Saturday Ontario reported 805 new cases of COVID-19. That represented an increase over the previous three days, but the number of people tested had also gone up, with 44,722 tests completed in the previous 24 hours.

-A fright-filled attraction at Lansdowne Park sponsored by Saunders Farm was cancelled just hours before it was to begin Friday night, with organizers blaming pandemic rules. The event, dubbed The Sawmill, was to have featured a spooky recreation of a horror story about a lost family of millworkers buried under the south stands at the stadium. It has been postponed until 2021.

-The head of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit has joined his Ottawa colleague in urging families not to trick-or-treat this year. Although the state of COVID-19 infection in the region — which stretches roughly from Cornwall to the Hawkesbury area — is not as severe as it is in Ottawa, EOHU medical officer of health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said in a special statement that the risk of infection was always front of mind.

“I understand that kids as well as many adults look forward to Halloween at this time of year, but we want everyone to remain safe,” Roumeliotis said in the statement.


Hospitalizations in Ontario.

PUBLIC HEALTH ONTARIO /

ONTARIO

QUEBEC

Quebec reported 1,094 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the third day in a row with more than 1,000 cases. A total of 93,391 cases have now been confirmed in Quebec. The number of hospitalizations increased by 10 to 527. Of those patients, 88 are in intensive care, which is an increase of three.

 


A man wearing a t-shirt adorned with a Swiss cross is controlled by the police during a protest against the new measures against the coronavirus in front of the House of Parliament on October 18, 2020 in Bern. The Swiss government said on October 17 it was making the wearing of masks in indoor public spaces compulsory under new measures introduced after a “worrying” rise in coronavirus infections. More than 15 people in public would also be banned under the rules to take effect on Monday, while service in restaurants and bars would be restricted to seated customers only.

FABRICE COFFRINI /

AFP via Getty Images

WORLDWIDE COVID-19 UPDATES

-There are now more than 39.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide and the death toll has surpassed 1,100,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland announced tighter restrictions on Sunday to tackle the recent spike in coronavirus cases, including a national obligation to wear masks and a ban on large scale public gatherings. Gatherings of more than 15 people in public places will be banned from Monday and masks must be worn in all indoor public places, the government announced following an extraordinary meeting.

IRELAND

Ireland will bring in “decisive” nationwide COVID-19 restrictions on Monday but will stop short of reintroducing the kind of lockdown imposed earlier this year, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said on Friday.

“The government will act tomorrow, the action will be decisive and it will be nationwide action,” Harris, who was the health minister during one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns from the end of March to mid-May, told national broadcaster RTE.

ITALY

Italy has approved a new stimulus package in its 2021 budget to foster an economic rebound from the recession caused by the coronavirus crisis, a government statement said on Sunday after a late-night cabinet meeting. Among measures to support the health and education system, the government will set up a 4 billion euro ($6.1 billion CAD) fund to compensate companies worst hit by coronavirus lockdowns.

One of the European countries worst hit by the pandemic, Italy has forecast a 9% economic contraction for 2020 and a budget deficit equating to 10.8% of gross domestic product.

Meanwhile, Italy registered 11,705 new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Sunday, up from the previous record of 10,925 posted on Saturday.

UNITED KINGDOM

Britain recorded 16,982 new daily cases of COVID-19 in the space of 24 hours, according to government data issued on Sunday, up from 16,717 the previous day. The number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test was 67, down from 150 the previous day. Britain needs to impose a three-week period of national lockdown restrictions immediately to stop cases of COVID-19 spiraling, government scientific adviser Jeremy Farrar said, adding that current regional measures would not be effective.

RUSSIA

Russia on Sunday recorded 15,099 new coronavirus cases, pushing the national tally to 1,399,334, officials said. They also said 185 people had died in the previous 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 24,187, and that 1,070,576 people had recovered from the virus.


A pro-democracy protester attends an anti-government protest, in Bangkok, Thailand October 18, 2020.

JORGE SILVA /

REUTERS

THAILAND

Thailand reported three additional locally transmitted cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, a day after reporting its first local infections in more than a month. Before this week’s five cases, Thailand last reported a confirmed local transmission on Sept. 11. In total, Thailand has reported 3,686 cases of the virus and 59 deaths.

UNITED STATES

Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen announced on Saturday that he tested positive for COVID-19. Mullen is the sixth known FBS football coach to test positive for COVID-19 this season. Blake Anderson (Arkansas State), Les Miles (Kansas), Mike Norvell (Florida State), Nick Saban (Alabama) and Kevin Sumlin (Arizona) also have tested positive since Labor Day.

-With files from The Canadian Press, Reuters and Postmedia.



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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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