Tag Archives: It’s

B.C.’s health minister says it’s time to ‘dig in’ to obey COVID-19 safety rules as cases mount

B.C. Minister of Health Adrian Dix has defended measures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, even as his province set one-day case counts records on Friday and Saturday.

“Right now they’re strict measures and we need everyone to dig in,” Dix said in an interview Sunday. “This is the time to follow those measures.”

Dix along with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry cancelled indoor dining, in-person worship and group fitness classes last week to curb an alarming growth in COVID-19 cases.

Other measures in place since November include restricting indoor gatherings to individual households only and to avoid travel to other health regions.

In early March, the province allowed for British Columbians to gather outside in groups of up to 10 people, following four months of restrictions on social gatherings. 

Surge in young patients

Dix said on Sunday that B.C.’s latest COVID-19 measures were very strict, and did not say if other new measures could be coming in days ahead.

A record 2,090 new cases of COVID-19 for Friday and Saturday were announced in a release from the province on Saturday, but it did not include information about deaths, variants of concern or the number of active cases.

The 1,018 new cases on Friday and 1,072 new cases on Saturday were both single-day infection records.

The release said 90 patients were in critical care, which was up 11 from 79 on Thursday.

Dix said on Sunday that a higher proportion of younger people are becoming ill from the disease.

“I’m not one bit happy about where we are at now,” he said, adding that provincial measures are targeting indoor transmissions.

On Saturday, a tweet from Dr. Kevin McLeod of Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver said hospitals are seeing a surge in young patients needing serious medical intervention for illnesses caused by COVID-19.

Dix said he saw the tweet and said its message was an important one.

“What it says to everybody is this is the time to take care,” he said. “Right now is the time to really follow public health orders whether you’re 25 or 75.”

The minister also said  B.C. had delivered a record number of vaccinations this past week.

A total of 856,801 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. to date, including 87,455 second doses.

Vaccine appointments are currently open for seniors aged 72 and up, Indigenous people over the age of 18 and people that the province has deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable.

People between the ages of 55 and 65 are also eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine in the Lower Mainland while more communities are expected to be added by the end of next week.

No travel, says Dix

Dix has also pleaded with people to stay local this weekend, as he said unnecessary travel has contributed to the rise in infections.

Some officials in tourist destinations in B.C. said over the weekend that they were noticing an influx of visitors.

“My feeling is that the province’s restrictions on indoor dining and the messaging about staying local are getting through certainly to a lot of people, not everybody,” said Tofino Mayor Dan Law.

In the Southern Interior, Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff said it appears that more people are visiting her community this weekend than over the past two weeks, but not as much as a normal year.

She says people coming are doing so to play golf, visit wineries or be at properties they own and are playing it safe.

“We offer Canada’s warmest welcome, that’s our motto, and so it seems unusual. But I appreciate the fact that people are looking after themselves and looking after our businesses and looking after the community by obeying … the health regulations. I don’t see it being a problem.”

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CBC | Health News

It’s ‘absolutely essential’ Canada repatriate citizens in Syrian camps: Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says it’s “absolutely essential” countries such as Canada repatriate Canadian women and children currently being held in Syrian prison camps.

Guterres made the remarks to chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton when asked if the Liberal government’s lack of diplomatic staff on the ground and fears over possible links with ISIS are sufficient reasons not to bring them home. 

“We understand the concerns of security of countries, but we believe that countries also must have the capacity to deal with those problems of security,” he said in an exclusive interview airing Sunday on Rosemary Barton Live. 

“And especially in relation to children and women, I believe it’s absolutely essential that they have an opportunity to to go back.”

Global Affairs Canada told CBC news that it is aware of “Canadian citizens being detained by Kurdish authorities in northeast Syria and is particularly concerned with cases of Canadian children in the region.” It would not say, however, how many Canadian children may be imprisoned in the country. 

Speaking at the foreign affairs committee earlier this month, human rights lawyer Paul Champ told MPs there are 64,000 people being held at the Al-Hol and Al-Roj prison camps in Syria, 25 of them Canadian children.  

CBC’s Margaret Evans, who visited the region this week, said Al-Roj camp is under the official supervision of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, (SDF), which are running what’s known as the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).  

The camp manager told Evans that there are 784 families of ISIS militants in the camp, totalling 2,618 individuals including Syrians, Iraqis and women from a number of other countries, including about 30 Canadians, the majority of them young children.

Dying from dehydration

Global Affairs Canada said that because of the security situation on the ground, its ability to provide “any kind of consular assistance in Syria remains extremely limited.”

The department also told CBC News that consular officials are, however, working actively with Syrian Kurdish authorities to “seek information on Canadians in their custody.” The United States and Germany have, however, been able to provide consular assistance to citizens in the region. 

Public Safety Canada says that it is aware of an estimated 190 Canadian extremist travellers that are currently abroad, half of which travelled to Turkey, Syria and Iraq. 

On top of that, some 60 foreign fighters have returned to Canada, Public Safety Canada said. 

Champ said that the UN has reported that many of the children in Syrian prison camps are dying from malnutrition, dehydration, diarrhea and hypoglycemia. 

“Their daily lives could not be more desperate were it not also for the violence in these camps,” he said. “Exploitation and abuse is rife. People are killed by gunfire almost daily.”

Guterres told Barton that the UN has worked with several governments to repatriate citizens and will continue to do so. 

“We have a very clear position on this issue. We believe that people should have the possibility to voluntarily go back to their countries of origin,” he said.

You can watch full episodes of Rosemary Barton Live on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service.

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CBC | World News

White House says it’s ‘carefully’ considering vaccine requests from Canada and Mexico

This story is part of Watching Washington, a regular dispatch from CBC News correspondents reporting on U.S. politics and developments that affect Canadians. 

A White House spokesperson says the United States is carefully considering requests to eventually ship that country’s excess supplies of COVID-19 vaccines across the border to its neighbours in Canada and Mexico.

But she cautions that nothing is confirmed at this point. 

The comments come amid mounting anticipation of what might happen to the stockpile of doses in the U.S. after that country has enough supply for all its residents, likely by late May.

This week, U.S. President Joe Biden said he was speaking with several countries — without naming any. On Wednesday, Bloomberg News reported that Canada and Mexico topped Biden’s list of priority export destinations, according to an administration official.

The issue was raised with White House spokesperson Jen Psaki, who replied with a warning that any shipments are not imminent. She said the U.S. still needs its vaccines, as 1,400 Americans are still dying of COVID-19 each day, and that the U.S. priority remains getting Americans vaccinated.

Psaki added, however, that the administration also wants to be a contributing member of the global community in getting the pandemic under control, and that there are requests from around the world.

“We have received requests from both Mexico and Canada and are considering those requests carefully,” Psaki said.

“But I don’t have any update for you on whether they will be granted, and a timeline for that.” 

Some members of the U.S. Congress have said it should be a U.S. priority to vaccinate others on this continent next, in order to get land borders reopened, citing the economic and human ties Americans have with those two neighbouring countries. 

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CBC | World News

It’s March Madness time, but with a Canadian flavour

It’s another year of trying to do the impossible: predict a perfect March Madness bracket.

Do you go all-in on the top seeds or hedge your bets with a few Cinderella stories? Do you do hours of research or flip a coin?

Considering the odds of picking a perfect bracket — a feat that has literally never been achieved — are about 1 in 9.2 quintillion (that’s a lot of zeros), we’re not sure the method you use even really matters.

That’s why we’re taking a different approach this year by setting out to make the most Canadian bracket possible, a winner in our hearts if not in our wallets.

The Method

We carefully combed through all 68 team rosters to find the Canadian players.

For the purposes of our bracket, the team with the most Canadians moves on. If both teams in a match-up happen to have the same number of Canadian players, we take the higher seed.

If a match-up doesn’t have a clear choice, we get creative, like giving the nod to Michigan as the alma mater of North Court’s very own Jevohn Shepherd.

Finally, if there were no Canadians or Canadian connections on either roster, we simply chose the team that had the closest proximity to Canada. Sorry, Florida; We The North, after all.

West Picks

(CBC Sports)

A respectable six teams in the West region have Canadians on their roster, and that includes No. 1 seed and tournament favourite Gonzaga who comes into March Madness as the only undefeated team.

But to keep it Canadian, it was all eyes on UC Santa Barbara, the only school in the region to have two Canadians on its roster — Brandon Cyrus of Oakville, Ont., and Max Cheylov of Toronto.

That much Canadian talent was enough for us to pick No. 12 UCSB as our giant killer and take them past Gonzaga all the way to the Final Four.

Other Canadians on West rosters: Andrew Nembhard (Gonzaga – Aurora, Ont.), Victor Radocaj (East Washington – Richmond B.C.), Eugene Omoruyi (Oregon – Rexdale, Ont.), Okay Djamgouz (Drake – Toronto)

East Picks

(CBC Sports)

The East is the quietest region for Canadian talent, having just four teams with Canucks on their roster.

But after a chaotic first round in our bracket (and a lot of mapping which schools were closer to Canada) a clear favourite emerged: No. 2 Alabama.

Like UCSB, Alabama boasts not one but two Canadians — freshmen Joshua Primo and Keon Ambrose-Hylon, both from Toronto. That was enough to catch our attention and send them straight into the Final Four.

At the other end of the bracket, No. 1 seeded Michigan is without a Canadian player, but received some special treatment in our bracket as CBC’s North Courts co-host Jevohn Shepherd played basketball there in the late 2000s.

That was enough for us to take Michigan to the Sweet Sixteen, where they ran into their first game against a Canadian player in Colorado and Keeshan Barthelemy of Montreal, and it was game over for the Wolverines.

Other Canadians on East rosters: Jahvon Blair (Georgetown – Brampton, Ont.), Nathaneal Jack (Florida State – Mississauga, Ont.)

South Picks

(CBC Sports)

You heard it here first, welcome to the region of Cinderella stories.

With neither of the top seeded teams boasting a Canadian on their roster, our bracket has No. 16 Hartford taking a huge upset victory over No. 1 Baylor (based solely on proximity to Canada), and No. 2 Ohio State falling to No. 15 Oral Roberts and Elijah Lufile of Milton, Ont.

And then there’s No. 14 Colgate, the third team in our bracket with two Canadians on the roster in Sam Thomson from Otterville, Ont., and Malcolm Bailey from Stratford, Ont.

And just like that, we’ve got a 14 seed in our Final Four. Hate it or love it, the underdog’s on top.

Other Canadians on South rosters: Liam McChesney (Utah State – Prince Rupert, B.C.), Zach Edey (Purdue – Toronto)

Midwest Picks

(CBC Sports)

Things get especially interesting in the Midwest, as seven of the 16 teams in the first round have a Canadian on their roster and sailed into the Round of 32, meaning we only had to break out the map once to decide a winner.

Once teams got out of the first round, it was all about seeding. With no two-Canadian team to take the edge, our Final Four pick was the highest seed left, No. 3 West Virginia and Gabe Osabuohien of Toronto.

Other Canadians on Midwest rosters: Matey Juric (Drexel – Toronto), Aher Uguak (Loyola Chicago – Edmonton), Maurice Calloo (Oregon State – Windsor, Ont.), Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe (Oklahoma State – Mono, Ont.), Quincy Guerrier (Liberty – Montreal), Olivier-Maxence Proser (Clemson – Montreal)

Final Four

(CBC Sports)

After the dust settled, we landed with three high seeds and a Cinderella story in our Final Four predictions. Seems very March Madness, no?

This is also where that Cinderella story comes to an end, as No. 12 UCSB meets a much higher seeded opponent in No. 2 Alabama in the semifinals, two of three Final Four teams with two Canadians on the roster.

The third team is No. 4 Colgate, who makes quick work of No. 3 West Virginia and their solo rostered Canadian in the semifinal.

That lines up an NCAA finals clash featuring four Canadians between the two teams. But in the end, we’re giving the edge to the higher seeded Alabama and their dynamic Canadian freshman duo of Primo and Ambrose-Hylton.

So there you have it.

63 games later, the most Canadian bracket we could muster ends with the Crimson Tide cutting down the nets in Indianapolis. Nothing like a little red and white confetti to set the mood.

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CBC | Sports News

Canadian Premier League opens up about finances, saying it’s time for transparency

Entering its third season, the Canadian Premier League has demonstrated there is an appetite for a domestic soccer circuit.

Two-time champion Forge FC has done the CPL proud in CONCACAF club play. Atletico Ottawa joined last year; an addition more remarkable in that the expansion franchise arrived during a pandemic.

Some 10 CPL players — 11 if you include Montreal FC defender Karifa Yao, who has been loaned to Calgary’s Cavalry FC — were named in Canada’s provisional men’s roster for CONCACAF Olympic qualifying.

CPL talent has made the jump to Major League Soccer and abroad.

The eight-team league has shown plenty. What it hasn’t done is lift the curtain on its finances.

Until now.

The CPL, with teams in Halifax, Hamilton, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Langford, B.C., is sharing some of its financial data for the 2021 season, saying it’s time for more transparency.

“It needs to be done,” commissioner David Clanachan said in an interview.

‘In a long-term game’ to make profit

With media and supporters clamouring for such information, Clanachan said the decision was made to share numbers to get the accurate information out there.

  • The league says this season each team will operate with a $ 1.2-million salary cap, which covers both players and coaching/technical staff.
  • Player spending must fall between $ 650,000 and $ 850,000 while the coach/technical range is between $ 350,000 and $ 550,000. Combined, the two must fall under $ 1.2 million.
  • The cap includes salaries, housing and travel allowances and individual player bonuses but not “league or club accomplishment bonuses.” The league says, on average, the salary cap accounts for some 57 per cent of team revenue — and could reach some 70 per cent factoring in bonuses.

The league says, on average, it takes more $ 4 million a year to run a CPL team.

Asked when the league might make a profit, Clanachan replied “We’re not there yet, that’s for sure. We’re going to be a few years into it.”

“Our owners know that. They’ve invested circa $ 60 million already in this league. We’re in a long-term game here.”

The league says the salary cap is the same as it was last year, because of the shortened season in 2020. The plan is to raise it in 2022.

The decision to share some of the financial figures comes at a time when CPL players are trying to form a union. Last April, some 90 per cent of the players in the league signed on during the association’s organizing drive.

The Professional Footballers Association Canada (PFACan) was accepted last month as a candidate member by FIFPRO, which represents more than 65,000 professional men’s and women’s players across 65 affiliated national player associations.

PFACan will have to serve two years as a candidate member before becoming a full member of FIFPRO, which recognizes one player association per country.

Time for league to adjust, former player says

PFACan has complained about the league’s lack of transparency with regards player pay. Other complaints include the league adopting new rules and not publicizing them, and teams having access to player wage details throughout the league while the players themselves are not allowed to disclose their pay.

“It’s a deeply unfair field right now for players,” said Paul Champ, an Ottawa-based labour and human rights lawyer who is helping the players organize. “And we’re just trying to make it a bit fairer in terms of mobility, and negotiating free contracts and also having a minimum standard.”

Canadian international Marcel de Jong is president of PFACan. The 34-year-old, who retired as a Pacific FC player last Friday, says he understands the CPL is a new league.

“But it’s been two years now and I think that’s enough time for the league to make some adjustments and see what it did wrong and correct them,” he said.

  • The league says its average player pay in 2021 is around $ 40,000, which may include housing, car allowances and incentive bonuses. The league says the top end of the salary scale is $ 77,000.
  • There will be a minimum player salary of $ 22,000 in 2021, which including other compensation is expected to reach $ 26,000. The league says it had a “target” minimum salary in the past but is now “raising and codifying it.”
  • The minimum does not cover those on U-Sports contracts, who play during the summer while not at school. Clanachan said those deals would be in the range of $ 10,000 to $ 12,000.
  • Options on player contracts come with 15 per cent raises on average, according to the league.

Champ, however, said there are CPL players with contacts under $ 10,000 with a “large number” in the low teens. They would now be eligible for a bump in salary, according to the league figures.

“We recognize there will be economic realities of this league. But these clubs still do OK. In the first season, a lot of clubs averaged 5,000 spectators per game. And they’ve got a big broadcast contract [with MediaPro],” said Champ. “So, they don’t have to be paying these poverty wages to players.”

Dreaming big

De Jong says some players are forced to move home and live with their parents in the off-season because they can’t afford their own place.

Clanachan says the league is young and looking to improve standards and conditions every year.

“Look at the amount of young Canadians that are playing professional football today that weren’t playing it prior to 2019,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. That’s what we’re doing. We’re creating a soccer economy in the country.”

The CPL is dreaming big. Clanachan says the goal is to become one of the top three leagues in CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.

To get there, Clanachan says the CPL has to take “a managed, staged approach to how we grow the league.”

As a comparison, Major League Soccer teams will be able to spend $ 9.225 million US on player salaries in 2021, including basic general allocation money and targeted allocation money. The number is higher if they have designated players, only a portion of whose salaries count against the cap.

The minimum MLS salary in 2021 is $ 81,375 on the senior roster and $ 63,547 on the reserve roster.

The league has yet to release its 2021 schedule but is targeting the Victoria Day weekend (May 22-24) for kickoff. The hope is some fans will be allowed in.

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CBC | Soccer News

It’s world championships season for winter Olympic sports

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

Quick note before we get started: no newsletter tomorrow or on the holiday Monday. Back Tuesday.

It’s winter world championships season

Several winter Olympic sports are holding their world championships right now. Here’s what’s going on:

Speed skating

The worlds opened today at the same oval in the Netherlands where Canadians won 11 medals in the two meets that made up the pandemic-shortened World Cup season. Canada got off to a slow start — its best result today was a fifth by Isabelle Weidemann in the women’s 3,000 metres.

But tomorrow could be a huge day with strong Canadian medal contenders in three of the four events. Canada won both World Cup races in the women’s team pursuit and finished second and third in the two men’s team pursuits. Laurent Dubreuil reached the podium in three of the four men’s 500-metre races this season. Watch Friday’s races live from 9 a.m. to noon ET here.

Alpine skiing

Rough weather in northern Italy forced the start of the worlds to be delayed by three days. But they finally got going today and Canada’s Brodie Seger had the race of his life. The 25-year-old, who had never finished in the top 12 of a World Cup or world championship race, came just four hundredths of a second — shorter than a blink of an eye — from winning a medal. He finished fourth in the men’s super-G, which was won by Vincent Kriechmayr for the Austrian’s first world title.

The women’s super-G also went to a first-time world champ from Switzerland: Lara Gut-Behrami, who had previously won five medals at the worlds and another at the Olympics, but none of them gold. Defending champion Mikaela Shiffrin took bronze in her first speed race (super-G or downhill) in more than a year. Marie-Michele Gagnon was the top Canadian, finishing sixth.

The next events are the downhills. Watch the women’s Saturday at 5 a.m. ET and the men’s Sunday at 5 a.m. ET here.

Snowboard and ski cross

Canadian teenager Eliot Grondin won his first world-championship medal today by taking bronze in the men’s snowboard cross event. No Canadians advanced past the quarter-finals in the women’s competition.

The snowboard cross team event goes tomorrow. Watch it live at 6:30 a.m. ET here.

The ski cross world championships are Saturday. Canada’s Reece Howden has won three of the last four men’s World Cup races and leads the season standings. Marielle Thompson ranks second in the women’s chase and has reached the podium in five of the last six events. Watch the world championship races Saturday starting at 6:30 a.m. ET on CBCSports.ca and the CBC Sports app.

Bobsleigh and skeleton

They opened last week with the great German pilot Francesco Friedrich winning his seventh consecutive world title in the two-man event and Kaillie Humphries grabbing her record fourth women’s gold. Her first two (in 2012 and ’13) came while competing for Canada, but she’s won the last two women’s world titles for the U.S. after a bitter falling out with the Canadian program led to her departure.

The skeleton competitions opened today with the first two runs of the men’s and women’s events. The top Canadian was Jane Channell, who’s seventh heading into the final two legs tomorrow.

Canada will have a better shot at a medal in the four-man bobsleigh event, where pilot Justin Kripps’ sled ranks third in the World Cup standings. That race begins Saturday and finishes Sunday. Same for the women’s monobob — an event that’s being added to the Olympics next year. Watch all the bobsleigh and skeleton world championship races live here.

Sainte-Marie, Quebec’s Eliot Grondin captured a world championship bronze medal in snowboard cross Thursday in Idre Fjäll, Sweden. 4:59


The head of the Tokyo Olympics is reportedly stepping down. Organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori got himself in trouble last week when he complained that meetings with a lot of women in them “take so much time” and that “if their speaking time isn’t restricted to a certain extent, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying.” The 83-year-old later issued a ham-fisted apology, but calls for his resignation were still trending on Japanese Twitter today and female politicians wore white to a House of Representatives session to protest Mori’s sexist remarks. Also — and this is probably what really did Mori in — some big Olympic sponsors criticized him after being threatened with boycotts. According to several reports in Japan, Mori will resign tomorrow. Read more about the controversy here.

The Raptors are staying in Tampa for the rest of the season. They’d hoped to return to Toronto for the second half, but ongoing border restrictions and the general pandemic situation forced them to give up on that. Playing out of Tampa’s Amalie Arena, the Raptors started the season 2-8 but have improved since. At 12-13 they sit fifth in the Eastern Conference and can get to .500 with a win at Boston tonight. Maybe some of the “Champa Bay” vibes are rubbing off. Tampa is now home to the reigning Super Bowl and Stanley Cup champions and, by the looks of things, everyone there is living their best life.

Someone in Australia really dislikes Rafael Nadal. A woman was thrown out of his Australian Open match today for heckling Nadal and giving him the finger. It didn’t throw him off: the gentlemanly Spaniard seemed genuinely amused (“Maybe she took too much gin or tequila,” he said later) and cruised to a straight-sets win. Meanwhile, defending women’s champion Sofia Kenin found herself on the wrong side of a blowout, falling in just 64 minutes to 65th-ranked Kaia Kanepi. Tonight, Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime face each other in the men’s third round at 3 a.m. ET. The only other Canadian singles player remaining, Milos Raonic, plays at 1 a.m. ET. Watch video of Nadal’s strange encounter and read more about all the notable Day 4 action here.

And finally…

Remember The Rick Nash Goal? It happened in a Blue Jackets-Coyotes game in the dog days of the 2007-08 season, so there’s no real historical significance to it. But, for pure aesthetics, it’s tough to top Nash’s video-game-like moves to undress a pair of Coyotes defencemen before beating goalie Mikael Tellqvist. For a fresh perspective on one of the prettiest goals ever scored, check out the latest episode of Rob Pizzo’s terrific I was in net for… series. Tellqvist explains how the “sick” play unfolded from his point of view, and how he almost foiled it at the last second. Watch the video here:

In episode 12, Rob Pizzo speaks to goalie Mikael Tellqvist about the time the Blue Jackets star turned the Coyotes inside out. 5:55

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CBC | Sports News

How Canadians will know when it’s their turn to get vaccinated

With the recent announcement that Health Canada has approved Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, the second being made available to the public, Canadians are likely wondering when it will be their turn to get inoculated.

But with the country currently in the first phase of vaccine rollout, that’s still unclear, with much depending on what they do and where they live.

It’s up to each individual province and territory to decide how the vaccine will be administered. But generally, they are following the recommendations put forward by the federal government’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). The advisory committee made these recommendations using experts in the fields of pediatrics, infectious diseases, immunology, pharmacy, nursing, epidemiology, pharmacoeconomics, social science and public health. 

Who is getting vaccinated first?

For the first phase of the vaccine rollout plan, NACI advised that initial doses should go to these four groups:

  • Residents and staff of long-term care homes.
  • Adults 70 and older, beginning with people 80 and older, then decreasing by five-year increments to 70 as supply becomes available.
  • Health-care workers, including all those who work in clinical settings, and personal support workers who come in direct contact with patients.
  • Adults in Indigenous communities, where infection can have disproportionate consequences.

For Phase 2 of the vaccination rollout, NACI recommended that recipients include:

  • Health-care workers who are not part of the initial rollout.
  • Residents and staff of all other congregate settings (e.g., living quarters for migrant workers, correctional facilities, homeless shelters).
  • Essential workers, including police, firefighters and those in food production.

Provincial and territorial governments may make modifications to that list. For example, Alberta’s plan separates the first phase into Phase 1A and Phase 1B — with First Nations, Métis and people 65 and over living in a First Nations community or Métis settlement not getting the vaccine until the second half of the first stage.

In Quebec, it was recently decided that caregivers over the age of 70 who visit residential and long-term care homes at least three times a week will be added to the high-priority group.

As for Phase 2, many regions have not yet prioritized who will be eligible or defined who will be considered an essential worker.

The first phase is expected to wrap up for many provinces by the end of March, while the second phase could last into mid-summer.

When is the general public expected to receive a vaccine?

Much of that depends on the province or territory. In Ontario, retired general Rick Hillier, the head of the province’s vaccination distribution task force, said he believes “we can get into a lot of mainstream Ontario by later July.”

But other provinces, such as Alberta, have pegged the fall of 2021 as the beginning of the third phase, when the general population will receive the vaccine.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says the entire country should have enough doses on hand next year to vaccinate every Canadian who wants a shot by the end of September. But those timelines may differ depending on the province and territory.

Where do I get the vaccine?

For the first stage, because the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech must be kept frozen between –80 C and –60 C, the vaccine is being administered at clinics across the country equipped with special freezers. That means some of the vulnerable living in long-term care centres are unable to get the vaccine because it can’t be transported to care homes, and many residents are unable to travel to the clinics.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says the entire country should have enough doses on hand next year to vaccinate every Canadian who wants a shot by the end of September. But those timelines may differ depending on the province and territory. (Frank Augstein/The Associated Press)

However, the approval of the Moderna vaccine, which doesn’t have the same onerous storage requirements as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, means some of those residents may have access to vaccination in long-term care homes. It also means that people in northern remote and Indigenous communities who weren’t able to store the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will start receiving the Moderna vaccine.

By the second phase, vaccines should become more widely available at more sites, including hospitals and potentially some pharmacies.

For the third phase, family doctors’ offices and pharmacies will likely offer the vaccine. Hillier said that getting a COVID-19 vaccine during this period should be no harder than getting a shingles or flu shot.

How do I find out when it’s my turn to get vaccinated?

During the first phase, health officials are urging the general public not to show up at vaccine clinics set up across the country. Many regional health officials are contacting those who are eligible, or those who are eligible are being notified through their employer. In Manitoba, appointments are being made by phone, with a new online system to be launched in early 2021.

As for the general public, who don’t fit into the priority groups, British Columbia, for example, is currently putting together a system that will allow the public to register for access to the vaccine and to be formally recorded as being immunized.

Mostly, however, provinces are still developing those plans.

WATCH | Rick Hillier on whether the Moderna vaccine works with just one shot:

The head of Ontario’s vaccine distribution task force, retired general Rick Hillier, wants Health Canada to see if a single dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine offers enough protection to avoid a second shot. 1:14

For more information about each province and territories’ vaccine rollout plan, click on their government website:

Who shouldn’t get a vaccine yet?

The national advisory committee has recommended that certain populations not be vaccinated until more evidence is gathered about potential risks. They include those who:

  • Are immunosuppressed due to disease or treatment.
  • Have an autoimmune condition.
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding.

However, a  COVID-19 vaccine may be offered to individuals if a risk assessment deems that the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

Will Canadian snowbirds have to fly home for a shot?

According to the Canadian Snowbirds Association, for those snowbirds currently in Florida, the state’s vaccination plan states that residency will not determine access to the COVID-19 vaccine. This means that non-residents, including Canadians who live in Florida part of the year, will be able to receive the vaccine in the state when it is more readily available in the coming months.

The same applies for Canadian snowbirds in Arizona.

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CBC | Health News

Joe Biden gets COVID-19 vaccine, urges Americans to get it as soon as it’s available

U.S. president-elect Joe Biden received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine live on television Monday at a hospital in Newark, Del., in an effort to boost confidence in its safety ahead of its wide distribution in the new year.

Biden has said he would make the fight against COVID-19, which has killed more than 315,000 Americans and infected more than 17.5 million, his top priority when he takes office on Jan. 20. At age 78, he is in the high-risk group for the highly contagious respiratory disease.

His black long-sleeved shirt rolled up, Biden received the injection from Tabe Masa, nurse practitioner and head of employee health services at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Del., in front of reporters.

After getting the shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Biden praised medical professionals as “heroes.”

“I’m doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared when it’s available to take the vaccine. There’s nothing to worry about,” Biden said.

His wife, Jill Biden, who got the injection earlier in the day, stood by.

WATCH | Biden gets the shot and tells Americans they should do the same: 

U.S. president-elect Joe Biden says he got the shot to demonstrate that people should take the vaccine themselves when it is available. “There’s nothing to worry about,” he said. 3:34

But Biden also noted that the vaccine would take time to roll out and that people should listen to medical experts and avoid travelling during the holidays.

Vice-president-elect Kamala Harris is expected to get the vaccine next week.

Republican President Donald Trump has frequently played down the severity of the pandemic and overseen a response many health experts say was disorganized, cavalier and sometimes ignored the science behind disease transmission.

Efforts to limit the economic fallout on Americans from the pandemic were boosted on Sunday when congressional leaders agreed on a $ 900-billion US package to provide the first new aid to citizens in months, with votes likely on Monday.

Biden names more economic officials

Biden on Monday named additional members to his National Economic Council, rounding out his economic policy-making team with people his transition office said would help lift Americans out of the economic crisis.

David Kamin, an official in former president Barack Obama’s White House, will be NEC deputy director, and Bharat Ramamurti, a former top economic adviser to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign, will serve as NEC deputy director for financial reform and consumer protection, Biden’s team said in a statement.

Joelle Gamble will be special assistant to the president for economic policy.

“This is no time to build back the way things were before, this is the moment to build a new American economy that works for all,” Biden said in the statement.

Biden had already named Brian Deese, who helped lead Obama’s efforts to bail out the automotive industry after the 2008 financial crisis and negotiate the Paris climate agreement, to lead the council, which co-ordinates the country’s economic policy-making.

Much of the fate of Biden’s White House agenda will hinge on the outcome of a pair of Senate runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5 that will determine which party controls the upper chamber of the U.S. Congress.

Harris travelled on Monday to Columbus, Ga., to campaign on behalf of Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, the Democratic candidates locked in tight races with incumbent Republicans.

U.S. President Donald Trump was briefly hospitalized with COVID-19 in October. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Trump was briefly hospitalized in October with COVID-19, and many of his advisers and White House staff have also contracted the illness.

The outgoing president, making unsubstantiated claims of widespread electoral fraud, has focused on trying to overturn his election loss in recent weeks, even as daily COVID-19 deaths soared. His campaign’s latest long-shot effort was another petition to the U.S. Supreme Court on Sunday that legal experts predict will fail.

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It’s winter. It’s cold. How do I deal with a mask that freezes?

There is a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon. But first, winter. 

We’ve been hearing the warnings for weeks. It’s going to be a long, hard few months. 

People who live in Canada fashion themselves as cold weather warriors — able to withstand -20 C temperatures. This year, that could be an especially good thing. 

The advice from medical experts is to resist retreating indoors where COVID-19 is much more easily transmitted. Bundle up, mask up if necessary, and get outside as much as possible.   

“You know, if you’ve ever wanted to learn broomball, this is your chance,” said Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious diseases specialist at Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital and an assistant professor at McGill University. 

But what about masks in winter? Do they still work if they get wet? Do you really need to wear them outside anyway? 

Here’s some advice for how best to tackle the coming winter pandemic months.

Will my mask work if it gets wet and/or freezes?

The short answer is probably not. Oughton, officials from Health Canada and the Centers for Disease Control in the United States pretty much agree that once a mask gets wet, it’s no longer fully effective. 

And that’s why you should always have back-up masks.

There is no concrete, scientific data on mask efficacy in cold weather. However, when you breathe through a mask in cold conditions, the moisture from your warm breath collects on the mask. It tends to stay warm enough on the inside due to your body temperature to remain liquid, but will freeze on the outside. 

WATCH | Why health experts recommend three-layer masks: 

Doctors answer viewer questions about COVID-19 including why three-layer masks are now being recommended to protect against the virus. 5:22

That leads to two mask issues Oughton said: they become harder to breathe through; and become less effective at “capturing respiratory droplets and preventing them from leaving the proximity of someone’s mouth and nose.”

But that doesn’t mean they are completely useless, according to Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and an associate professor at McMaster University. 

“Masks offer a little bit more [protection], particularly in those settings where people are bunched up outdoors, where there may be a bit more risk of transmission.”

Oughton said if you are going to wear a mask outdoors in the cold for a long period of time, you should have two or three back-ups, so you can keep a dry one on.

And most important: make sure the mask is cloth. The paper kind — the surgical style ones — degrade and tear far more easily when they get wet, said Oughton. 

All in a Day9:44Anti-fogging tips and tricks

Tired of contending with foggy glasses while wearing masks? Help is on the way. 9:44

Do you really need a mask out in the cold? 

It depends on the circumstances. 

Being outdoors while observing proper distancing measures is “really, really protective” on its own, according to Chagla. He said the documented cases of outdoor transmission of COVID-19 have involved situations like barbecues or people watching a sports event, gathered together for longer periods of time.

For activities like going for a walk in your neighbourhood or skating on a not-too-crowded rink, he said the risk of transmission is very low. But he does advise that if you are going in and out of stores, or getting on and off transit while doing errands, it is best to just keep the mask on the whole time to minimize touching the mask and potential contamination.  

The advice is the same if you are planning to gather with others over the holidays for an outdoor gift exchange or short visit. If you can maintain distance, you should be fine as long as there is no eating and drinking or singing, all of which create more droplets in the air. If you’re going to be closer, exchanging gifts perhaps, best to put on a mask. 

Wearing a mask in the cold can make is less effective. (Mathieu Theriault/CBC/Radio-Canada)

Is a scarf a good alternative to a mask?

No. Medical experts point out that there is too much variation in scarves and neck gaiters for them to be used as masks. Stitching can be too loose and the material too thin to be an effective barrier to potentially infected droplets — both going out or coming in.

But both physicians agree it might keep your mask from freezing and therefore be more comfortable for the wearer to put a scarf up over it.

Cold temps bring runny noses. Here’s how to deal with that joy when you’re wearing a mask. 

Unfortunately, people tend to pull their mask aside or off when they sneeze or cough, which kind of defeats the purpose of it, Chagla said. 

“It is horrible to sneeze in a mask,” he said. “I give you that.” But he urges people to make sure they are in an area away from people if they are going to pull it off to sneeze, or even to blow their nose, as that is one of the best ways to spread infection. 

And be careful when you pull your mask aside to blow your nose. Don’t let it get snotty, both doctors say, and after blowing your nose, sanitize your hands before you replace your mask. 

So with all the issues with masks, is it best just to stay indoors this winter?

The resounding answer to this one is no. On the contrary.  

“The indoor stuff is like a hundred times more worrisome than the outdoor stuff,” Chagla said.  

He cites factors including poor ventilation, crowded rooms, people being together for prolonged periods of time, eating and drinking together. 

He said this year, people are going to have to change the way they think about socializing if they don’t want to just get stuck for months with the people they live with or having nothing but virtual get-togethers. 

“I think we have to start changing our attitudes and saying the outdoors is going to be the way. We just have to make it appropriate for people to do it.”

Municipalities across the country are coming up with guidelines for outdoor activities, such as skating, to make sure they don’t get too crowded. Many are restricting the number of people allowed on the ice at any given time in order to better maintain a safe distance between skaters, with some bringing in online pre-registration to book ice time.

If you go, change your skates in the car or out on a bench, rather than in a public hut, Oughton said.

It’s best to put your skates on outside, or in your own vehicle, rather than in a public hut. (Evan Mitsui/CBC News)

Among other outdoor measures, Toronto is also adding an additional 60 kilometres of paved recreational trails and pathways with snow maintenance and is encouraging communities to apply for permits to build and maintain new rinks. 

The City of Calgary is also adding to its outdoor options with the North Glenmore Ice Trail,  where people can skate 730 metres of connected track and the installation of fire pits in key spots around the city.

Todd Reichardt, a Calgary parks manager, said the plans should enable people to maintain social distance and make the most of the season. 

“There’s something about being outside when it’s cold and you smell like wood smoke,” he said. “It just puts a smile on people’s faces.” 

In Manitoba, ski resorts have been working on plans to make skiing a safe pandemic activity, while Montreal is setting up cross-country ski trails at each of the city’s large parks, as well as trails for snowshoeing and walking. 

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Anatomy of an ICU: Why it’s so hard for Manitoba to add ICU beds for the sickest COVID-19 patients

In the first seven months of the pandemic, the number of Manitoba patients infected with COVID-19 admitted to intensive care units never crept into the double digits. For weeks at a time, not a single patient with the illness caused by the novel coronavirus occupied an ICU bed.

Beginning in late October, however, that number began a rapid rise, quadrupling to more than 40 patients in less than four weeks.

Health-care workers warned that the units caring for patients with the most severe illnesses would be overwhelmed. If hospitals couldn’t find more space, they feared they could soon face heartbreaking choices about who would get care and who would not.

In early November, the province rolled out a three-phase plan that would more than double the number of ICU beds, from 72 to 173, if needed.

Adding those beds requires more than simply making space to put the patients, according to critical-care physicians and health-care officials who spoke with CBC News.

Behind each COVID-19 patient in an intensive care unit stands a team providing round-the-clock care, with a pile of specialized equipment.

The number of beds open to intensive care patients in Manitoba has increased to more than 100, and COVID-19 patients regularly make up roughly half of the patient population in those units.

“To staff these additional beds … we are relying on staff and physicians who normally work in other areas to support these high-demand areas,” Manitoba Shared Health Chief Nursing Officer Lanette Siragusa said at a Nov. 18 news conference.

The plan involves creating teams, led by nurses, that include a wide range of health-care workers, many of whom may never have worked in an ICU before. 

Other provinces and countries have increased ICU capacity using mobile units, but these are typically staffed by workers trained for those environments, said the president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions.

“What Manitoba is suggesting is something we’ve never seen before,” said Linda Silas.

[Redeployed workers are] going to freak out. They’re going to be scared, going to an ICU.– Patricia Tamlin, ICU nurse in Toronto

For the health-care professionals pulled into working in an ICU for a first time, the experience could come as a shock, said Patricia Tamlin, an ICU nurse in Toronto with 40 years of experience.

“It’s overwhelming. It’s noisy. It’s loud,” said Tamlin. “It can be fast-paced. You’re in PPE that is very different. They may be assigned a ventilated patient — they’ve maybe never seen a person on a ventilator.”

‘The sickest patients’

Patients on mechanical ventilators need constant monitoring and often need to be completely sedated. (Hailley Furkalo/CBC)

In a normal year, Manitoba ICUs take care of around 5,000 patients, according to Shared Health, the authority responsible for co-ordinating health care in the province.

“ICUs are places in hospitals to take care of the sickest patients,” said Dr. Allan Garland, an ICU physician and co-head of the critical care medicine section of the University of Manitoba’s college of medicine.

The vast majority of COVID-19 patients admitted to an ICU — around 95 per cent — will either be on the verge of respiratory failure so severe they need to be put on a medical ventilator, or already need ventilation, said infectious disease expert Dr. Anand Kumar.

The experience of being on a ventilator is “extremely unpleasant” and can even be traumatic, said Kumar, an intensive care unit physician at Health Sciences Centre.

“You have to basically sedate the heck out of them to the point that they’re almost in a coma, or sometimes you have to put them in a full coma and pharmacologically paralyze them.”

A tube is inserted into the patient’s mouth, down their trachea and into their lungs. Then the machine pumps in highly concentrated oxygen, while forcing the lungs to expand and contract.

The disease doesn’t only affect the lungs. 

“COVID is associated with problems in multiple organ systems,” Garland said, including the heart and gastrointestinal systems.

‘The whole gamut of people’

Beyond trained nurses and physicians, intensive care units need a host of other medical specialists and other staff to provide round-the-clock care for pateints. (Hailley Furkalo/CBC)

Caring for these patients requires a range of medical staff support.

Normally, there would be one critical care nurse for each ICU patient at all times, with a critical care physician for every four to eight patients, Kumar said.

But beyond that, “You need the whole gamut of people that work in hospitals to take care of these patients, and many of them are highly specialized,” said Garland.

ICU physicians need access to specialists in various fields, including surgery, cardiology, nephrology (kidneys), and gastroenterology. ICUs also need pharmacists, dietitians, anesthesiologists, nursing assistants and cleaners. 

In addition, ICUs need respiratory therapists to operate the ventilators — approximately one for every eight patients. 

As Manitoba health leaders expand the number of ICU beds, they’ve been forced to pull in staff from all corners of the health system. They have offered training to family physicians and redeployed nurses who have completed critical care training and now work in other fields.

The province is working to implement a team-based model that would enable critical care nurses to care for more than one patient at a time. These teams include “nurse extenders” — often ward nurses who haven’t completed a six-month critical-care nursing program offered through the WRHA — as well as respiratory therapists, physiotherapists and other support staff.

“By identifying the tasks that other health-care workers are able to support, the critical-care nurses are able to support the most specialized care needs of more than one patient,” said a spokesperson for Shared Health.

Tamlin, the ICU nurse in Toronto, worries about the impact this could have on the care each patient receives. ICU nurses receive specialized training to do things like interpreting wave signatures on a heart monitor, or increasing and decreasing specialized medications. 

“Now, if you have me watching three critically ill patients, I’m not only watching after the patients. I’m also going to be trying to monitor these staff of various expertise, coming from various places,” she said.

Space and power

The equipment needed to take care of patients in an ICU, including monitors, ventilators and IV pumps, requires more power than a typical hospital room has. (Hailley Furkalo/CBC)

Patients with lesser needs can be moved to other areas of the hospital not traditionally used for medical care, or even to sites outside the hospital. The same is not true for ICU patients.

“You need a special space that’s been designed or adapted for the mechanical needs, the equipment that needs to be there,” Kumar said.

The rooms need to be big enough to fit all that equipment.

ICU beds are larger than typical hospital beds, in order to safely accommodate a sedated patient hooked up to a variety of complex equipment. That includes banks of monitors such as echocardiograms (heart monitors), blood pressure monitors and electroencephalograms (brain activity monitors).

Patients may need continuous low-intensity dialysis, requiring another bulky piece of equipment.

The rooms also need medical gas pumped in through outlets connected to large tanks outside the hospital, suction machines to clear airways and numerous IV poles for the medications needed to keep patients alive. 

To power all of this equipment, each bed needs a number of electrical outlets — more than an average hospital room would have. 

All of that limits which spaces can be converted to ICU beds, leaving operating rooms and post-op recovery rooms among the few options. Hundreds of procedures have been postponed, and more simply aren’t being scheduled, so these spaces can be turned over to intensive care.

Ideally, when treating patients with infectious respiratory diseases, the rooms would have negative-pressure ventilation that continuously sucks air out. 

“Those are at a premium,” said Kumar, who estimates that about a quarter of Winnipeg ICU beds are equipped with negative-pressure ventilation under normal circumstances.

Spaces may need to be re-engineered to create negative pressure, he said. Some hospitals have accomplished this using high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.

Experience matters

Even trained nurses who haven’t experienced working in an intensive care unit might feel overwhelmed, said Toronto ICU nurse Patricia Tamlin. (Hailley Furkalo/CBC)

Despite the challenges of squeezing more ICU beds into the available space, the province says it has mapped out room to potentially care for over 100 more patients than the system could typically handle. 

Staffing those beds remains the challenge. 

“Even before COVID happened, there were some serious concerns about the supply of ICU nurses. Now, that concern has got to be dramatically increased,” Garland said.

Working in an ICU requires extensive training. Before taking the six-month ICU program, nurses need one year of experience in acute care. 

Health officials have repeatedly said no one will be required to do a task that they have not been trained to do.

It remains unclear what the ratio of nurses to patients will look like under the new team-based model. 

Even if nurses receive training to give them the skills needed to work in an ICU, without the years of experience of people like Tamlin, some health workers may still feel unprepared.

“They’re going to freak out. They’re going to be scared going to an ICU,” she said.

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CBC | Health News