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Today’s coronavirus news: U.S. nears 5 million COVID-19 cases; Canada’s top doctor warns country will be responding to pandemic for at least another year

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KEY FACTS

  • 12:44 p.m. The U.S. has recorded more than 155,000 dead in a little more than six months and is fast approaching an almost off-the-charts 5 million COVID-19 infections.

  • 10:10 a.m. For each of the past two days, Ontario’s public health units are reporting fewer than 100 cases of COVID1-9, with 88 cases on Monday and 91 today.

  • 9:46 a.m. The Windsor-Essex region will remain in Stage 2 as it continues to struggle with new cases of COVID-19

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Tuesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

3:02 p.m. Canada’s top public health doctors warned Tuesday that vaccines in development for COVID-19 provide hope but will not mean an immediate end to the pandemic.

Dr. Theresa Tam says the Public Health Agency of Canada is planning to be responding to the pandemic for at least one and more likely two or three more years.

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world, and in the best-case scenario, one or two might be approved for widespread use by the end of the year.

But infectious-disease and pandemic experts say it will take some time after a vaccine is approved to produce, distribute and administer billions of doses.

Dr. Srinivas Murthy, a critical care specialist and pandemic researcher at the University of British Columbia, says the world has never attempted a vaccine program at this speed or scale before.

Tam says the vaccine work is only one component of the pandemic response and that people must remain focused on strong public health measures to control the outbreak, including physical distancing and hand-washing.

2 p.m. At least 25 campers and staff members at a camp east of Portland, Oregon, have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the virus was first detected July 18 at Trout Creek Bible Camp near Corbett when a staff member tested positive, and the camp shut down for the season on July 21.

Multnomah County health officials say the outbreak has grown to 11 campers and 14 staff members, all 20 or younger. The camp’s executive director, Joe Fahlman, says the camp followed all requirements set forth by the Oregon Health Authority. Those include daily temperature checks of all campers and staff, frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer stations spaced throughout the 265-acre grounds.

The campers also were divided into groups of 10 or less.

2 p.m. The owner of a plant nursery in Washington state has been fined $4,200 for failing to ensure a safe workplace by preventing staff from wearing masks. The Daily Herald reported that the state Department of Labor and Industries cited Flower World last week for violating state guidelines intended to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The violations include not requiring masks or face coverings, social distancing and employee temperature checks. Authorities say inspectors visited the Maltby business three times and discovered multiple violations of state regulations. Owner John Postema couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

2 p.m. Turkish health ministry statistics show an increase in daily coronavirus cases, with confirmed infections back above 1,000.

Ministry figures show 1,083 new cases and 18 deaths Tuesday, bringing total infections to nearly 235,000 and deaths to 5,765.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted the increase was “serious.”

Cases had dropped below 1,000 before Turkey began reopening businesses in early June. The cases had decreased to an average of 945 for the past three weeks.

1:34 p.m. Answering criticism that the federal “COVID Alert” app only works on newer smartphones, Dr. Theresa Tam says it’s one of many tools in fighting the novel coronavirus.

The app released last week is meant to tell users if their phones have recently been close to a phone registered to someone who volunteers that they’ve tested positive for COVID-19.

But it works only on phones released in the last five years or so because it needs a relatively recent operating system.

Critics say that will leave out poorer and older Canadians, who are more likely to use older devices and suffer worse effects from the virus.

The government said Monday that 1.1 million people had downloaded the app.

Tam says we need to use every tool we have to fight the pandemic, even if they aren’t perfect.

1:17 p.m. New York City replaced its top public health official Tuesday at a key point in its fight to keep the coronavirus from surging.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot is leaving. She’ll be replaced by Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, an official and primary care physician in the city’s public hospital system. He also worked in Louisiana’s Department of Health before and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Barbot told staffers in an internal memo she resigned because as the city braces for an expected eventual second surge of the coronavirus, the staff’s “talents must be better leveraged alongside that of our sister agencies” and the virus fight needs to proceed “without distractions.” Barbot had prioritized personal protective equipment go to health care workers and tangled with police officials who made requests for PPE.

De Blasio, a Democrat, thanked Barbot for her “important work” during the crisis when New York was the nation’s epicenter for the virus this spring.

1:17 p.m. The Israeli military says it will launch a coronavirus command this week meant to assist in reducing Israel’s surging infections.

Working with the Health Ministry, the military says the command will attempt to streamline testing, contact tracing, quarantine orders and other elements of pandemic control in a bid to bring down infection numbers. The command will begin work on Thursday.

The military was enlisted into Israel’s fight against the virus last month after a new coronavirus czar said it would be best placed to handle the logistics behind combating the outbreak.

Israel largely contained its first outbreak in the spring but has seen a surge in cases over the summer. It now has one of the world’s highest daily infection numbers adjusted for population.

1:07 p.m. Prince Edward Island’s chief public health officer says her province won’t make a final decision on adopting the federal government’s COVID-19 contact tracing app until data is available from Ontario where it’s already been launched.

Dr. Heather Morrison says the app’s use by the Ontario health system provides an opportunity for other provinces to evaluate it before adopting it.

Morrison says P.E.I. will be part of a federal advisory group that will ensure the app safeguards the confidentiality and privacy of its users.

She says the app will provide another layer of protection against the virus, but won’t replace health measures such as physical distancing, hand washing and the need to wear masks in indoor public spaces.

Users of the free app, which is available for Android and iPhones, can be notified if their phones have recently been near the phone of a person who later volunteers that they have tested positive for COVID-19.

There are no active cases of COVID-19 on the Island and Morrison says all 36 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic are considered recovered.

12:44 p.m. Big house parties and weddings, summer camps, concerts, crowded bars and restaurants, shopping trips without masks — Americans’ resistance to curbs on everyday life is seen as a key reason the U.S. has racked up more confirmed coronavirus deaths and infections by far than any other country.

The U.S. has recorded more than 155,000 dead in a little more than six months and is fast approaching an almost off-the-charts 5 million COVID-19 infections.

Some Americans have resisted wearing masks and social distancing, calling such precautions an over-the-top response or an infringement on their liberty. Public health experts say such behaviour has been compounded by confusing and inconsistent guidance from politicians and a patchwork quilt of approaches to containing the scourge by county, state and federal governments.

“The thing that’s maddening is country after country and state after state have shown us how we can contain the virus,” said Dr. Jonathan Quick, who is leading a pandemic initiative for the Rockefeller Foundation. “It’s not like we don’t know what works. We do.”

The number of confirmed infections in the U.S. has topped 4.7 million, with new cases running at over 60,000 a day. While that’s down from a peak of well over 70,000 in the second half of July, cases are on the rise in 26 states, many of them in the South and West, and deaths are climbing in 35 states.

On average, the number of COVID-19 deaths per day in the U.S. over the past two weeks has gone from about 780 to 1,056, according to an Associated Press analysis.

12:28 p.m. Florida on Tuesday got another stark reminder of how the coronavirus pandemic has been so deadly —another 247 fatalities were reported.

This means the state has had 7,526 people die from COVID-19 complications. The latest daily total is not reflective of deaths in the past 24 hours, but rather recent weeks, and it also may be from a delay caused by Tropical Storm Isaias interruptions.

Still, it’s the third-highest total of fatalities reported on the state Department of Health’s daily pandemic report. Last week had the most deaths logged on Friday, 257.

New COVID-19 cases also increased Tuesday, with 5,446 new diagnoses, a day after the state reported the fewest infections since June 23. That’s an increase of 694 from Monday’s tally.

Still, the drop in cases follows the closure of many state COVID-19 testing sites due to the storm. The test results reported on a single day typically reflect tests taken over several days.

12 p.m. Ontario reported 91 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 419 new infections across the province over the long weekend.

The 91 cases included nine in Windsor-Esex, which has the largest number of active infections in Ontario at 262, well above much larger Toronto which has 184 and moved to Stage 3 last Friday, allowing bars and restaurants to serve patrons indoors and movie theatres, gyms and playgrounds to reopen.

Read the full story from the Star’s Rob Ferguson: Ontario reports more than 400 new cases of COVID-19 over long weekend

11:50 a.m. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers recently issued a statewide mask requirement to help stem the spread of the coronavirus.

It took effect Saturday. Nearly a quarter of Wisconsin’s 55,328 total cases had been confirmed in the last 14 days, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Much of the spike has occurred in counties in the state’s densely urban southeastern corner. But the disease has spread with amazing speed in northern Wisconsin’s sparsely populated rural counties.

Evers, a Democrat, had issued a stay-at-home order shortly after the pandemic took hold in the state in March. The conservative-leaning state Supreme Court struck it down in May amid pressure from restaurants and taverns.

Republican legislators are talking about convening an extraordinary session to strike down the current mask mandate.

11:50 a.m. Germany’s government is lifting its travel warning against trips to certain popular destinations in Turkey after determining the coronavirus rate there is low.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer says the warning will be lifted for Antalya, Izmir, Aydin and Mugla, where the spread of the coronavirus has slowed.

Demmer says Turkey has developed a plan to ensure safe tourism to the areas. It will require people returning to Germany from Turkey to test negative for coronavirus within 48 hours before departure.

Germany is home to a sizable Turkish minority and Germans are among frequent visitors to Turkey.

11:50 a.m. The Afghan government is reopening universities after positive tests for the coronavirus has decreased.

The spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Sediq Sediqqi, says the administration is emphasizing preventive measures at universities. Other schools will remain closed for now.

The country’s Health Ministry says despite the recent reduction in new cases, many people didn’t adhere to protocols for preventing the spread during the recent Eid ul-Adha holiday. That means there may be a virus spike in the next few weeks.

In the last 24 hours, the Afghan government has recorded 36 confirmed cases and no deaths. However, international organizations say up to 80% of the population remains untested.

11:29 a.m. The Alberta government says it will make wearing masks mandatory for most students and staff when schools reopen in September.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says students in Grades 4 to 12 and all staff will be required to wear masks in common areas, hallways and on buses.

Children will not have to wear masks when sitting in class at a safe distance from others.

She says the province will provide two reusable masks for each student and staff member, and employees will also receive a face shield for optional use.

Alberta’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, says she has reviewed COVID-19 research and believes masks are essential to limiting spread of the illness in schools.

She says the use of masks is similar to school reopening requirements announced in Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

11:27 a.m. As Quebec moved this week to allow gatherings of up to 250 people both indoors and outdoors, a Mohawk community south of Montreal isn’t following suit.

Officials in Kahnawake say they will stick to a 50-person limit for gatherings and say a plan to open bars and gaming establishments next Monday has been postponed indefinitely.

In a statement, the body overseeing Kahnawake’s pandemic response says the decision comes as statistical trends suggest there will be an increase in the weekly number of new infections in the province.

Quebec reported 123 new COVID-19 cases today along with two additional deaths.

The Health Department reported three fewer hospitalizations for 169, but three more patients are in intensive care, for a total of 21.

The province has been hardest hit by the pandemic in Canada, recording 59,845 cases and 5,685 deaths.

10:55 a.m. Indian health authorities say phase 2 clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines developed by Indian companies have started.

They involve an inactivated virus vaccine developed by Bharat Biotech and a DNA vaccine candidate developed by Zydus Cadila. The phase 2 trials for the vaccine candidate developed by the University of Oxford will start at 17 locations in the next week.

The ministry added half the deaths from the coronavirus in India are below age 60. It says 37% of the deaths were between 45-60. Global research indicates the disease is particularly fatal for the elderly. Health experts in India say this anomaly could be because deaths among the elderly in India weren’t detected or they weren’t tested.

India is No. 3 in confirmed coronavirus cases at 1.8 million and No. 5 in deaths with more then 39,000, according to a worldwide tally by Johns Hopkins University.

10:55 a.m. Kosovar deputy prime minister says he’s tested positive for the coronavirus.

Driton Selmanaj posted in Facebook that he was asymptomatic, self-isolating and would work from home. Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti tested positive on Sunday and is working from home.

After the release of the lockdown measures in May, Kosovo has noted a significant rise of the new daily cases. Last week, religious ceremonies and other activities were suspended to prevent spread of virus clusters. Public gatherings of more than five people in squares or parks are prohibited. Restaurants, cafes and night clubs cannot operate past 10:30 p.m.

Sports, cultural or entertaining activities are prohibited. Older people and children are encouraged to stay home and limit outdoor activities.

Kosovo officials have reported 9,274 confirmed cases and 269 total deaths.

10:55 a.m. The Dutch public health institute says the number of people who tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week was 2,588, nearly double from the previous week.

The institute says a quarter of the people who tested positive were in their 20s. The percentage of positives among the tests also was higher; 2.3% compared to 1.1% the week earlier.

Coronavirus infections in the Netherlands have been on the rise since many restrictions that had successfully reined in the virus were lifted July 1. No new nationwide measures have been reinstated, but Rotterdam and Amsterdam officials will require people to wear masks in busy shopping areas and markets on Wednesday.

In the last week, there’s been six deaths from the virus, three fewer than a week earlier. The total for the Netherlands stands at 6,150 confirmed deaths. The true toll is likely higher because not all who died of the suspected coronavirus were tested.

10:50 a.m. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on some of Toronto’s most vulnerable communities, but for two residents of a new housing project in the city’s midtown area, the pandemic has been an unexpected blessing.

Just a few months ago, Jason Greig and Rob Dods were each sleeping in tents. Now, the two men are among 149 previously homeless residents living in a pair of apartment buildings leased by the city at the height of the pandemic.

The deal was struck between Toronto’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration and the buildings’ developer, the Times Group Corporation, not long after a number of outbreaks in the shelter system led to a wave of outdoor encampments cropping up across the downtown core.

Residents moved in at the end of April and have since enjoyed amenities they were deprived of while in the street: a hot shower, a kitchen of their own, air conditioning and privacy.

But the agreement was never supposed to be permanent, and at the end of this month, all 149 residents will have to move out as the buildings are prepared for demolition.

Both Greig and Dods said they were grateful for the program — and would like to see the city pursue similar options in the future.

Read More: Toronto’s COVID-19 housing project winds down, but residents hope for change

10:30 a.m. The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has announced that there will be no 2020-21 season as previously planned for the full orchestra.

Although the Nashville Symphony Orchestra has reportedly made a similar decision, Matthew Loden, CEO of the TSO, acknowledges that his orchestra is “ahead of the curve” in doing so.

According to Loden, the Toronto Symphony has spent the past year working on a strategic plan “to evolve our orchestra in a way that reflects Toronto’s vibrancy, diversity and creativity.”

In other words, the orchestra will be breaking up into smaller units to perform in a variety of venues, hopefully expanding the breadth of its audience along the way.

10:15 a.m. Booking Holdings Inc. is the latest online travel giant to eliminate thousands of jobs after the coronavirus pandemic hammered the industry.

As much as 25 per cent of employees at Booking.com, the company’s biggest business, will be cut, the company said in a statement Tuesday. That’s about 4,000 workers. The reductions will be implemented globally.

Chief executive officer Glenn Fogel discussed the move during a video call with workers, saying the past five months represented “the largest social and economic crisis of our lifetime.”

The pandemic has hit Booking’s business hard and the wider travel industry remains under “significant pressure,” the CEO added. “In my heart, for a long time, I hoped that this would not happen. However, nothing can mitigate the impact this crisis has had, and will continue to have, on both the travel industry and our business.”

10:10 a.m. For each of the past two days, Ontario’s public health units are reporting fewer than 100 cases of COVID1-9, with 88 cases on Monday and 91 today, Minister of Health Christine Elliott announced on Twitter. Combined over the same two days, there are a 242 more resolved with over 42,000 tests processed. Today, 29 of 34 public health units are reporting five or fewer cases, with 16 of them reporting no new cases.

10:07 a.m. Commuter trains, buses and other public vehicles stayed off the main roads of the Philippine capital Tuesday and police were again staffing checkpoints to restrict public travel as surging virus cases forced another lockdown.

Officials deployed dozens of shuttle buses, along with army trucks, to ferry stranded medical personnel and workers of authorized businesses. Most domestic flights to and from the capital were cancelled, and night curfews will return in places.

Crowds trooped to some supermarkets Monday to stock up on food after the hasty return to a lockdown sparked panic-buying.

The lockdown is milder than was first one imposed, which largely confined most people to their homes for months, but is more severe than the quarantine restrictions the capital had been under recently. It is being imposed in metropolitan Manila and outlying provinces for two weeks.

Businesses previously allowed to partly reopen, including barbershops, gyms, dine-in restaurants and tourist destinations, will again be closed. Authorized companies including banks, health and food processing firms must shuttle their employees between home and work. Travelling by bike, motorcycle and private car is allowed for essential reasons, but mass transit will be closed.

President Rodrigo Duterte agreed to reinstate the lockdown after medical groups warned the health care system was being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. Health officials reported a record-high daily tally of 6,352 new infections Tuesday, bringing the country’s total to more than 112,500, including 2,115 deaths.

9:46 a.m. The Ontario government says Windsor-Essex will remain in Stage 2 of the province’s COVID-19 reopening strategy for the time being.

While the rest of the province has moved to the looser restrictions of Stage 3, Windsor-Essex will stay in Stage 2 until further notice.

The province says the decision is based on the advice of health experts in light of outbreaks among farm workers.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says the region will move to Stage 3 only when it’s safe to do so.

The province says it is monitoring local transmission of COVID-19 and will support efforts to contain its spread.

It says outbreaks, especially in agriculture and agri-food sectors, pose unique challenges.

“We are working hard with our federal and local partners to provide the communities in Windsor-Essex with the support they need during their reopening,” Elliott said in a statement.

9:38 a.m. Moscow has begun to enforce its rules on wearing masks more vigorously amid an uptick of new coronavirus cases over the last three weeks.

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Police this week started issuing 5,000 ruble ($90 Cdn) fines to metro passengers in the Russian capital for failing to wear protection, state-run Tass news service reported, citing an unidentified person in law enforcement. Stores also have begun demanding customers wear masks after city hall stepped up inspections.

Moscow has had a mandatory mask policy in place since May 12, when it began easing a lockdown aimed at stemming the spread of the epidemic. While the rules on masks were relaxed on July 13, they remained compulsory on public transport, in medical centres and in shops. However, the requirements are widely flouted, with restaurants and shops full and few locals bothering to wear protection in public.

“The requirements for businesses to comply with protection measures weren’t canceled,” city hall spokeswoman Gulnara Penkova said Tuesday. Moscow continues to enforce the mask regime, she said.

The city is the epicenter of coronavirus infections in Russia, with 28% of the country’s total. The number of new daily cases in Moscow has steadily increased since a July 16 low of 531, and 691 new cases were reported Tuesday.

City hall has issued over 300 million rubles in fines to stores for violations of the mask policy, Tass reported last week, citing the head of Moscow’s trade department Alexei Nemeryuk.

The fines are coming as Moscow is preparing to open schools on Sept. 1.

9:14 a.m. French President Emmanuel Macron announced that home caregivers who helped the elderly and people with disabilities during the pandemic will receive a bonus of up to 1,000 euros ($1,175) by the end of the year.

During a visit to the French southern city of Toulon on Tuesday, Macron paid tribute to about 320,000 caregivers who provided essential at-home services to 1.1 million people in the country.

He says the bonus will be financed by a 160-million euros package from the state and local authorities.

The French government had previously announced a bonus of up to 1,500 euros ($1,760) for healthcare staff in hospitals and nursing homes working in areas most impacted by the virus.

France, which has confirmed 30,294 virus-related deaths since the pandemic, brought the virus nearly under control with a strict two-month nationwide lockdown.

Yet the country is now seeing an uptick in virus infections, notably as young people gather at cafes or dance parties and families get together for summer vacation.

9:14 a.m. Local government officials say 166 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus at a canned food plant in a southern German town, where some 230 workers at a nearby vegetable farm already have been infected.

The local council in Bavaria’s Dingolfing-Landau county says the facility in Mamming has been closed temporarily, news agency dpa reported. All its employees are in quarantine.

The first 43 infections were reported at the weekend after an initial round of tests. Officials believe the virus was transmitted from workers at the vegetable farm to employees of the canned food plant and hope they are dealing with a single outbreak.

New infections in Germany have been creeping higher in recent weeks as officials deal with a variety of small outbreaks in different parts of the country.

7:52 a.m. Bayer Leverkusen says midfielder Nadiem Amiri will miss its Europa League last-16 game against Rangers on Thursday after he had contact with someone believed to have the coronavirus.

The club says Amiri reported the “short-term” contact in his private life himself and is isolating at home for a week as a precaution.

Leverkusen managing director sport Rudi Völler says in a statement that “Nadiem’s behaviour is exemplary and important. Precisely because infection numbers are rising again in Germany, it’s an example of a serious and responsible approach to the pandemic.”

Leverkusen takes a 3-1 lead from the first leg in March when it hosts Rangers on Thursday.

Amiri has played 41 games for Leverkusen this season across all competitions.

6:56 a.m. China and the World Health Organization are discussing plans to trace the origin of the coronavirus outbreak following a visit to the country by two experts from the U.N. agency, the foreign ministry said Tuesday.

Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters the experts conducted “preparatory consultations on scientific research co-operation on virus tracing” during their two-week stay, which ended Sunday.

Their talks touched on research in the areas of population, environment, molecules, animal traceability and transmission routes of the coronavirus, as well as plans for further scientific research, Wang said.

The two sides also further investigated the possible animal source, intermediate host and transmission route of the coronavirus to “more effectively prevent and control the epidemic,” Wang said.

Wang said the two sides worked on formulating a plan for China’s contribution to the global tracing effort under a resolution passed by the World Health Assembly under WHO. No word was given on when that effort will begin in earnest.

The virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and has been linked to a wholesale food market where wild animals were sold. Scientists think it likely jumped from a wild animal such as a bat to humans via an intermediary species, possibly the anteater-like pangolin.

However, China says a full investigation may have to wait until the pandemic is under control and has rejected accusations that it delayed releasing information to WHO at the start of the outbreak.

6:08 a.m. Italian air traffic controller provider ENAV says that air traffic in July showed signs of recovery from the coronavirus shutdown.

Air traffic in July was three times higher than a month earlier in Italy, as the first Western nation to be hard hit by the coronavirus epidemic started to emerge from lockdown, ENAV reported Tuesday.

ENAV said 75,200 flights were recorded last month, down 60 per cent from a year earlier but significantly higher than June’s 26,000. Further recovery is expected in August. On the first August weekend, flights were down by just half from last year’s number.

Nearly half of flights in July were international, one quarter domestic and one-third were fly-overs with no take-off or landing in Italian airspace.

5:55 a.m. China aims to boost Hong Kong’s coronavirus testing capacity to 20 times its current ability, said the leader of a support team sent from Guangdong province to aid the city in its worst outbreak ever.

The Chinese testing team of about 60 people will work with the Hong Kong government and three mainland Chinese testing companies to process 100,000 to 200,000 samples every day, said Yu Dewen in a state media video interview released on Monday.

“Our main mission is to help the Hong Kong government conduct testing on a large scale for the population,” said Yu, who is an official with Guangdong’s health commission. Yu also led the Guangdong delegation earlier sent to help Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the virus first emerged last year.

5:48 a.m. Booking Holdings Inc. is the latest online travel giant to eliminate thousands of jobs after the coronavirus pandemic hammered the industry.

As much as 25 per cent of employees at Booking.com, the company’s biggest business, will be cut, the company said in a statement Tuesday. That’s about 4,000 workers. The reductions will be implemented globally.

Chief Executive Officer Glenn Fogel discussed the move during a video call with workers, saying the past five months represented “the largest social and economic crisis of our lifetime.”

The pandemic has hit Booking’s business hard and the wider travel industry remains under “significant pressure,” the CEO added. “In my heart, for a long time, I hoped that this would not happen. However, nothing can mitigate the impact this crisis has had, and will continue to have, on both the travel industry and our business.”

The continued spread of COVID-19 has drastically reduced tourism, while halting most business trips in favor of video conferencing and other remote work. Airlines have announced huge job cuts, hotels have closed down and the online part of the industry has not been spared.

5:19 a.m. The United Nations chief says the coronavirus pandemic has led to the largest disruption of education in history, with schools closed in more than 160 countries in mid-July affecting more than 1 billion students.

In addition, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday that at least 40 million children worldwide have missed out on education “in their critical pre-school year.”

As a result, he warned that the world faces “a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities.”

“We are at a defining moment for the world’s children and young people,” Guterres said in a video message and a 26-page policy briefing. “The decisions that governments and partners take now will have lasting impact on hundreds of millions of young people, and on the development prospects of countries for decades to come.”

Guterres called for the reopening of schools once the local transmission of the virus is under control.

4:28 a.m. The number of passengers on a Norwegian cruise ship who have tested positive for the coronavirus has reached 43, authorities said Tuesday.

The outbreak on the MS Roald Amundsen raised new questions about safety on cruise ships during the pandemic even as the industry is pressing to resume sailings after shutting down in March.

The ship’s owner on Monday halted all trips and Norway closed its ports to cruise ships for two weeks.

The city of Trondheim reported the two new cases — a man in his 70s with light symptoms and a child under age 10 with no symptoms — saying both had been passengers on the ship. They were not identified.

A third passenger will be tested Tuesday, the city said. Trondheim sits about halfway to Tromsoe, north of the Arctic Circle, where the empty ship is docked.

But since the cruise line often acts like a local ferry, travelling from port to port along Norway’s west coast, some passengers disembarked along the route and may have spread the virus to local communities.

A total of 69 municipalities in Norway could have been affected, Norwegian news agency NTB reported on Monday.

4 a.m. A challenge of Newfoundland and Labrador’s COVID-19 travel ban is scheduled to be heard before the province’s supreme court beginning Tuesday.

Halifax resident Kim Taylor and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association filed a claim in Newfoundland and Labrador’s Supreme Court in May, claiming the restrictions violate the charter and fall outside provincial jurisdiction.

The provincial government passed legislation banning anyone but permanent residents and asymptomatic workers in key sectors from entering the province.

Taylor was denied the opportunity to travel to Newfoundland after her mother died suddenly.

The association says it is also challenging changes to the province’s Public Health Protection and Promotion Act which allows police officers to detain and remove individuals to “points of entry” to the province, and authorizes increased search powers.

The case is scheduled to be heard through Friday.

Taylor has said she was denied her request for an exemption to be allowed to visit her home province following her mother’s death, despite including a plan to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

While her case was later reconsidered and she was granted an exemption by provincial officials, Taylor said the decision came too late.

She said the court challenge is about others avoiding the same experience.

12:17 a.m. The Trump administration’s plan to provide every nursing home with a fast COVID-19 testing machine comes with an asterisk: The government won’t supply enough test kits to check staff and residents beyond an initial couple of rounds.

A program that sounded like a game changer when it was announced last month at the White House is now prompting concerns that it could turn into another unfulfilled promise for nursing homes, whose residents and staff represent a tiny share of the U.S. population but account for as many as 4 in 10 coronavirus deaths, according to some estimates.

“I think the biggest fear is that the instruments may be delivered but it won’t do any good, if you don’t have the test kits,” said George Linial, president of LeadingAge of Texas, a branch of a national group representing non-profit nursing homes and other providers of elder care.

Monday

10:41 p.m. Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis announced Monday a complete lockdown of the country for the next two weeks, saying the bed capacity and human resources were being “increasingly stretched” amid a sharp rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

“Our ICU beds are at capacity and noncritical care beds are approaching capacity,” Minnis said during a national address about the economic shutdown of the archipelago, just days after being spared by Hurricane Isaias. “We can and we will rebuild our economy and our society. But what we cannot do is bring people’s life back. We can rebuild, but we cannot re-create new life.”

On Monday, the Bahamas, whose population is about 385,000, confirmed 31 new infections —9 in the island of New Providence and 22 in Grand Bahama, which was put on a lockdown two weeks ago after it began leading the country in newly confirmed cases.

The new infections, Minnis said, gave a tally of 679 confirmed cases, the country’s highest since it confirmed its first case in March and forced the closure of all airports and seaports to outside visitors.

Monday 8:54 p.m. A member of the press who covered President Donald Trump’s trip to the Tampa Bay area Friday has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the White House Correspondents’ Association.

The association’s president, Zeke Miller, a reporter for The Associated Press, wrote in a message to the group’s members Sunday about the member’s positive test.

“We’ve already reached out to those who were in the pools with this individual, and the White House Medical Unit is conducting additional contact tracing and providing follow-on tests for those in the pools and potentially exposed,” Miller’s message read.

The positive test came Sunday, just over a day after the journalist stood in close proximity to dozens of other reporters and photographers —and inhabited the same room as the country’s top elected official at the Pelican Golf Club in Belleair.

Also in the room with the journalist were Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Rick Scott, state Sen. Wilton Simpson, Pinellas County Commissioner Kathleen Peters, state Rep. Danny Perez and Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida CEO Justin Senior.

Miller declined to name the journalist Monday, citing privacy concerns.

The White House declined to comment.

Monday 7:20 p.m.: Ontario’s plan to reopen schools without reducing class sizes for elementary students in the age of COVID-19 is “disappointing” and “disturbing,” says one Toronto parent.

Kelly Iggers, who works as a teacher-librarian for the Toronto District School Board, said it is nearly impossible to practise physical distancing in already overcrowded classrooms.

On Saturday, she started a petition calling on the Ontario government to reduce class sizes. By Monday evening, more than 65,000 people had signed it.

Iggers fears the lack of physical distancing in schools will lead to coronavirus outbreaks in the wider community.

Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce last week announced the plan for a full-time return to school for elementary students across the province this fall, and a part-time class schedule for secondary students in larger school boards. They also announced mandatory face masks for students starting in Grade 4, and said the province will spend $309 million on personal protective equipment for educators, additional staffing and cleaning supplies. But reducing class sizes for elementary students was not part of the plan.

Read Monday’s rolling file



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Finalists announced for 2020 Nature Inspiration Awards from Canadian Museum of Nature

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OTTAWA, Sept. 18, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Canadian Museum of Nature, Canada’s national museum of natural history and natural sciences, is pleased to announce the 23 finalists and the Lifetime Achievement recipient for its 2020 Nature Inspiration Awards.

These national awards, now in their seventh year, celebrate projects by individuals, groups and organizations whose leadership and innovation connect Canadians with the natural world. Due to COVID precautions, this year’s winners will be announced by the museum on November 25 through online means, rather than during an in-person gala ceremony.

The projects led by this year’s finalists, which were selected from among 85 nominations, address topics that include biodiversity and conservation, environmental education, and sustainable practices.

Among them are youth who advocate about the wonder of species diversity, as well as adults who galvanize others to conserve natural areas. Not-for-profits show leadership in education to preserve waterways and forests, engagement of citizen-scientists, and the protection of natural environments. The businesses being recognized show innovation with the development of “green” products, as well as environmental stewardship programs.

This year’s laureate of the Lifetime Achievement Award is spiritual leader, teacher and conservationist Father Charles Brandt, who lives in Black Creek, British Columbia. Now aged 97, the “hermit-priest” is best known for galvanizing volunteers and spearheading a campaign to successfully clean up the Tsolum River on Vancouver Island. This helped revitalize the river’s salmon population, which had declined due to pollution from an abandoned copper mine.

The shortlist for the 2020 awards comprises finalists in six categories: Youth (aged 17 and younger), Individuals (aged 18 and up), Not-for-Profits (small to medium), Not-for-Profits (large), Businesses (small to medium), and Businesses (large).

“Unlike past years, these 2020 awards are being announced at a time when access to nature, and a healthy connection with the natural world, seem more important than ever. Each of the finalists lead by example and inspire us in supporting a sustainable future,” says Meg Beckel, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Nature and Chair/ex-officio member of the selection jury. “We are pleased to recognize the efforts of our finalists, and even though we are forgoing our usual celebration gala, we look forward to acknowledging their achievements online through our website and social media channels.”

The Nature Inspiration Awards are supported by media partners The Globe and Mail and the Walrus. Category sponsors are the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for the Youth Award, and Ontario Power Generation for the Not-for-Profits (small to medium) Award.       

The jury included Shelley Ambrose, former Executive Director/Co-Publisher, The Walrus; Caitlyn Baikie, Education Policy Advisor, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami; Carolynn Beaty, Director of Granting, The Sitka Foundation; Jack Cockwell, Chairman/CEO, Partners Limited; Philip Crawley, Publisher, The Globe and Mail; Dolf DeJong, CEO, Toronto Zoo; Marti Ford, Executive Director, Arctic Inspiration Prize; John Geiger, CEO, Royal Canadian Geographical Society; Danika Goosney, Vice-President, Scholarships and Fellowships, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; Geoff Green, Founder and Executive Director, Students on Ice Foundation; and Erica Thompson, Senior National Director, Conservation Engagement and Development, Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Winners for each category receive $5,000 that they can designate to a nature-related program of their choice. The Nature Inspiration Awards are produced by the Canadian Museum of Nature. Full details, as well as profiles of the finalists, can be found at nature.ca/awards.                                                                                                                                      

Here is the list of finalists:
Youth category (aged 17 and under)

  • Vesa Barileva, youth scientist (biodegradable food packaging), Oakville, Ontario
  • Genevieve Leroux, environmental advocate for the Monarch Butterfly, Gatineau, Quebec
  • Grace Gong, founder of Greenshirt, not-for-profit that diverts used clothing from landfill, Mississauga, Ontario
  • Sophia Spencer, author, insect enthusiast and founder of #BugsR4Girls, Sarnia, Ontario

Individual category (aged 18 and up)

  • Nory Esteban, teacher and naturalist, coordinator of Wings over the Rockies bird festival, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
  • Elin Kelsey, environmental activist and author, Victoria, British Columbia
  • Amanda McConnell, co-founder of Grassroots Albany, a community forum for environmental discussion and action, Toronto, Ontario
  • Gary Schneider, environmentalist and co-founder of the Environmental Coalition of PEI, Stratford, Prince Edward Island

Not-For-Profit category (small/medium organization)

  • International Conservation Fund of Canada, programs to conserve threatened tropical ecosystems, Chester, Nova Scotia
  • Tree Canada, community engagement for tree-planting, Ottawa, Ontario
  • Water Rangers, citizen-science efforts to collect water quality data, Ottawa, Ontario

Not-For-Profit category (large organization)

  • Beaty Water Research Centre, research, education and outreach about aquatic ecosystems, and clean water. Kingston, Ontario
  • David Suzuki Foundation, Butterflyway Project: planting local wildflower, plant and shrubs patches Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Goodwill Industries of Alberta, diversion and reuse of goods from landfill, Edmonton, Alberta
  • Nature-Action Québec, protection and preservation of natural areas in Montreal’s urban areas, Beloeil, Quebec

Business category (small to medium)

  • FireRein Inc, development of bio-based, non-toxic foams for use by firefighters, Napanee, Ontario
  • PBA Tundra Supply, Ltd., research and development of a maple hybrid to grow in adverse soil conditions, West Elgin, Ontario
  • Sans façon, integration of a stormwater treatment facility into the design of an urban public park, Calgary Alberta
  • ULAT Dryer Balls, invention, patent and development of wool dryer balls Parksville, British Columbia

Business category (large)

  • Fresh City Farms, Canada’s largest commercial urban farm, with a sustainable and locally focussed approach, North York, Ontario
  • Nutrien, use of a waste byproduct from the phosphate fertilizer industry to create soil and grow trees. Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
  • Ontario Power Generation, implementation of biodiversity conservation programs and environmental assessments, Toronto, Ontario
  • TELUS, sustainable business practices towards 2030 carbon neutral goal, including tree-planting program to offset paper usage, Ottawa, Ontario

About the Canadian Museum of Nature
Saving the world through evidence, knowledge and inspiration! The Canadian Museum of Nature provides evidence-based insights, inspiring experiences and meaningful engagement with nature’s past, present and future. It achieves this through scientific research, a collection of 14.6 million specimens and artifacts, education programs, signature and travelling exhibitions, and a dynamic web site, nature.ca.

Information for media:
Dan Smythe
Head, Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.698.9253 (cell)
1.800.263.4433
dsmythe@mus-nature.ca

John Swettenham
Chief Marketing Officer
Canadian Museum of Nature
613.868-8277 (cell)  
1.800.263.4433
jswettenhamnature.ca

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University education program still on hold for inmates across Canada

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As university and college students start school this month, inmates across the country will not have access to a program that offers university credits at no cost.

The Walls to Bridges program has been on hiatus at federal prisons and provincial jails since the start of the pandemic shutdown in March as a safety precaution. It’s not clear when it’ll start again, according to Shoshana Pollack, who founded the program in partnership with Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ont. in 2011.

The program has been taught in five federal institutions across Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia, as well as several provincial jails. It’s even been expanded to a jail in Paris, France.

The university or college working with the facility helps fund the course for the incarcerated students with the help of community organizations and charities, and then the other half of the class is made up of students from the school.

“We’re the only post-secondary program in Canada that brings people from outside to study with people on the inside,” said Pollack, who’s also a professor in the Department of Social Work at Wilfrid Laurier University.

The program is an accessible option for students because it doesn’t require an internet connection, which inmates don’t often have access to, said Pollack.

‘Felt like I was a human being’

Rachel Fayter, who was incarcerated at Grand Valley Institution from 2014 to 2017, says she’s concerned for the students who are missing out on the program because of the pandemic.

“For those folks that are locked up, Walls to Bridges might have been their only opportunity to have an education,” said Fayter.

“There’s not very much access to [post-secondary] education, there’s not internet access, the computers are ancient … any kind of mail correspondence you have to pay for the courses yourself. So it’s very difficult for somebody in prison and has no income.”

Fayter, who’s now a third year PhD student in the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa, says the program changed her life.

It didn’t happen after the first class, but the confidence it gave her changed her outlook. She became hopeful again.

“In the Walls to bridges classroom, it was the first time in probably a year where I actually felt like I was a human being and my voice and experiences were valuable and respected,” said Fayter.

The classes are taught through a learning circle. The idea is to allow all perspectives into the circle, learn from one another and discover how students’ experiences have shaped how they view the world.

‘Don’t know where I’d be’

Since 2011, there have been 559 inmates across the country who have taken courses through the program.

Rachel Fayter (left) and Shoshana Pollack (second from left) with two other alumni of the program. Fayter says the program changed her life. (Submitted by Shoshana Pollack)

Melissa Alexander is another graduate. She was studying computer systems technology at Seneca College in Toronto before she became an inmate at Grand Valley Institution. 

“When you’re inside, you feel like you have no rights,” said Alexander. “Even when you get out you feel like there’s nothing you can do because you have a permanent record.”

Alexander took four courses over three years through the social work department at Laurier. 

Inmates who complete courses then become part of a collective, helping advise the program going forward. She describes that community as pivotal in helping her forge a path for herself after her release in 2017.

“Without this group, I don’t know where I’d be today,” said Alexander, who now is a peer support worker in Toronto and a carpenter apprentice. She also plans to get her degree in social work with a minor in law.

‘It’s a necessity’

Peter Stuart, chief of education at Grand Valley Institution, says when women come into the prison, they’re often hungry to learn. They want to further their education, he says, and post-secondary education is critical.

“This idea that post-secondary education is a perk for offenders, I think is an outdated concept. I think it’s a necessity,” said Stuart.

“In our society, a high school diploma is obviously essential, but it’s not really enough anymore. Especially if you have a criminal record as an obstacle, you need to have not only the same as what other people have, but if anything something more,” said Stuart.

He says the prison looked at different models such as video conferencing to keep the program going through the pandemic, but Walls to Bridges relies on having students from the outside and inside together in one space without barriers.

“The model that Walls to Bridges uses just couldn’t work while COVID protocols were in effect,” said Stuart.

The women have been taking part in literature exchanges and correspondence while the program is on hold, according to Stuart. He hopes the program will start running again in the spring of 2021 at the prison. 

“As soon as we get the go ahead from public health and provincial and federal authorities, we’ll bring it back in immediately,” said Stuart.

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Government of Canada announces ongoing investments to improve railway safety

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OTTAWA, ON, Sept. 17, 2020 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is committed to keeping Canadians safe by improving rail safety and increasing public awareness and confidence in Canada’s rail transportation system.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, announced funding of more than $25 million over three years for the Rail Safety Improvement Program. This investment will support 165 new projects and initiatives that will increase safety and Canadian’s confidence at grade crossings and along rail lines.

The Rail Safety Improvement Program is an essential component of the Government of Canada’s commitment to improving rail safety and preventing serious incidents. In the past four years, $85 million have been invested in the form of grants and contributions.

Today’s announcement includes funding for:

  • 161 new projects that focus on Infrastructure, Technology and Research, including: safety improvements on rail property; the use of innovative technologies; research and studies; as well as the closures of grade crossings that present safety concerns.
  • Four rail safety Education and Awareness initiatives that focus on reducing injuries and fatalities in communities across Canada.

Quotes

“Rail safety remains my top priority, even as we continue to face the challenges of COVID-19. Over the years, our government’s renewed commitment to rail safety demonstrates our dedication to supporting projects that keep Canadians safe, stimulate the economy, and ensure that our rail network remains one of the most efficient and secure rail transportation systems in the world.”

The Honourable Marc Garneau,
Minister of Transport

Quick Facts

  • Grade crossing and trespassing accidents still cause the most rail-related deaths and serious injuries in Canada.
  • Transport Canada is taking action to implement recommendations from the 2018 Railway Safety Act Review report, including improving grade crossing safety and safer interactions of people and trains. Today’s investment complements efforts to bring together a broader range of partners to work with us to find ways to reduce largely preventable deaths and injuries at grade crossings due to trespassing.
  • This year, Transport Canada is funding four public education and awareness activities, 146 grade-crossing improvements including crossing infrastructure projects, 12 grade crossing closures and three technology and research projects across the country.

Related Products

  • Backgrounder – Rail Safety Improvement Program

Associated Links

SOURCE Transport Canada

For further information: Livia Belcea, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, Ottawa, [email protected], 613-314-0963; Media Relations: Transport Canada, Ottawa, 613-993-0055, [email protected]

Related Links

http://www.tc.gc.ca/

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