Tag Archives: Canada

Ontario sees record new cases; Tam says Canada nearing same peak as 2nd wave

The latest:

Ontario has reported its highest daily count of new COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with 4,456 more infections confirmed on Sunday.

The province also registered 21 more deaths attributed to the respiratory illness. On Saturday, health officials confirmed 3,813 new cases and 19 additional deaths.

The province now has 1,513 patients in hospital for treatment of COVID-19, with 605 in intensive care.

The latest figure comes just days after the province ordered hospitals to halt non-emergency surgeries. A memo was sent to hospitals Thursday night telling them to postpone their non-emergency surgeries, effective Monday, everywhere but in northern Ontario. Pediatric specialty hospitals are excluded from the order. 

WATCH | COVID-19 patient says time in ICU was a ‘scary experience’:

Matthew Cardinal talks about his time in the intensive care unit, after he was put into a medically induced coma and on a ventilator after catching the B117 coronavirus variant. The 34-year-old shares his experience, which he described as ‘traumatic.’ 8:10

Meanwhile, Canada’s chief public health officer says the country is nearing case totals seen at the peak of the second wave.

Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement on Sunday that intensive care admissions across the country increased by 23 per cent over the last seven days compared to the week before, which is putting strain on the health system. She also said that COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are increasingly impacting younger people and says there’s been a jump in the number of hospitalizations among those 40 to 59 years old.

On the vaccine front, Pfizer confirmed to CBC News on Sunday that it it intends to seek approval from Health Canada “within the next few weeks” for children aged 12 to 15 to use its vaccine.

The drugmaker and it development partner, BioNTech, have already asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to expand emergency use for that same age group in the United States.

The companies say preliminary results through March 31 from late-stage testing in that age group found the vaccine safe and 100 per cent effective in blocking infections.


What’s happening across Canada

As of 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 1,060,163 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 73,446 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 23,315.

In British Columbia, a worker who was fired for refusing to wear a mask has had his complaint dismissed by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal. The worker alleged he was discriminated against based on his religion. But the tribunal disagreed.

In Whistler, adults living and working in the ski resort community will be able to receive vaccine shots starting tomorrow. Vancouver Coastal Health says the move comes in response to increasing transmission recorded there.


Alberta logged 1,183 new COVID-19 cases and an additional death on Sunday.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people rallied outside the GraceLife Church just west of Edmonton on the first Sunday after it was shut down and fenced off by health officials for refusing to follow COVID-19 rules related to capacity, physical distancing and masking.

Dozens of police officers monitored the large crowd as they sang hymns and prayed for the church to reopen.

There was a tense moment around noon when a group splintered from the crowd and tore down part of the fence. RCMP and others from the crowd pushed back the group and re-established the fence.

PHOTOS | Hundreds rally outside Alberta church closed over COVID-19 violations:

In Saskatchewan, residents who are 51 can be vaccinated at a drive-thru clinic in Regina starting Sunday. The previous age range for eligibility was 52 to 54.

Manitoba registered 112 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and no new deaths.

Quebec confirmed 1,535 new cases of COVID-19 and five more deaths.

In Montreal and Laval, the 9:30 p.m. curfew in those cities was pushed up to 8 p.m. on Sunday night.


People wait in line at a walk-in clinic to receive a dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in Montreal on Sunday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

In New Brunswick, lockdowns came into effect in the Edmundston and Haut-Madawaska areas on Sunday, forcing all non-essential businesses to close and schools to move to virtual learning.

Additionally, residents must continue to maintain a single-household bubble and non-essential travel in and out of the area is not permitted.

The measures come as hospitals in those areas are reaching capacity due to an influx of COVID-19 patients, driven by coronavirus variants.

WATCH | 3rd wave renews pressure on Canada’s hospitals:

The fast-spreading third wave of COVID-19 is making younger people sicker and it’s renewing the pressure on hospitals across the country. 1:49

In Prince Edward Island, 12 pharmacies will start administering AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine shots to residents over 55 on Monday.

Nova Scotia reported five new cases on Sunday while Newfoundland and Labrador recorded one.

In Yukon, visitors to the territory can now apply to self-isolate in the wilderness instead of in hotels. The Wilderness Tourism Association of Yukon came up with the idea after seeing the government approve alternative self-isolation plans for the mining industry and for outdoor outfitters last year. It was approved by Yukon health officials last month. 


What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 135.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll had increased to more than 2.9 million.

In the Middle East, Iran on Sunday reported 258 new deaths — its highest single-day death toll from COVID-19 this year — bringing the country’s total deaths in the pandemic to nearly 64,500, state TV reported.


People wearing face masks walk past closed shops in Tehran on Sunday following the tightening of restrictions to curb the surge of COVID-19 cases. (Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

In Europe, France said Sunday that residents over age 55 will be granted access to COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, which is earlier than had been anticipated.

In the Americas, Mexico will expand vaccinations to adults over 50 at the end of April, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said.

In Africa, Cameroon received 200,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine, the first vaccines to arrive in the country, which will enable it inoculate frontline workers as it battles rising cases of coronavirus, the health ministry said.

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CBC | Health News

How parts of Canada are going about vaccinating teachers against COVID-19

This weekend, teachers and school staff in Ontario’s Niagara region are getting their first chance at a COVID-19 vaccine, thanks to the recommendation of the area’s vaccination co-ordination task force. 

The group had previously flagged education workers as a priority and now the timing just made sense, said task force chair Dr. David Dec, a family physician based in Niagara Falls, Ont.

Many educators are under the age of 55 and cannot access mass clinics still aimed at older populations, nor can they receive the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine rolling out in pharmacies and some doctors’ offices. But now prioritized, Niagara-area teachers off for the April break next week can easily attend daytime vaccination clinics, Dec said.

As provinces and territories move into the next phase of their coronavirus vaccination campaigns, educators and school staff are starting to join the priority groups becoming eligible for shots. While different approaches are being used thus far, some emerging trends may offer lessons for bringing this immunization drive to all education workers.

Our thinking has thus far been to vaccinate the most at-risk populations first, Dec said, starting with long-term care and nursing homes, because “we knew that if you’re in that congregate setting, and if you bring that virus into that setting, then it can transmit like wildfire.”

Yet, we don’t seem to appreciate that classrooms are also congregate settings, he said. “They’re a bunch of people bunched-in close together.” 


A push to vaccinate school staff in Ontario’s Niagara Region now makes sense, since being off for April break next week makes it easier to attend daytime vaccination clinics, says Dr. David Dec, chair of the region’s vaccination co-ordination task force. (Regional Municipality of Niagara)

This push to prioritize educators is a “proactive approach,” according to Dec. “Everybody wants the schools to stay open, so if this is a small part of doing that, then I think it’s the right thing to do.”

Here is a look at how some jurisdictions are approaching the challenge.

B.C. starts in Surrey 

Annie Ohana recalls feeling “absolute elation” upon learning at her union’s annual general meeting in March that school staffers in Surrey, B.C., would be prioritized next in the vaccine rollout, with officials citing how hard the Fraser Health region has been hit by COVID-19.

“I remember lining up for the shot on that Sunday and all of us smiling ear-to-ear — behind our masks, of course — and very much [feeling] just relief,” Ohana said of getting her first dose two weeks ago.


Teacher Annie Ohana says she was elated when she learned teachers and school staff in Surrey, B.C., were being prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine. But she says she’s concerned about colleagues in other regions that haven’t had a similar rollout. (Mike Zimmer/CBC, Submitted by Annie Ohana)

 

Yet the L.A. Matheson Secondary School teacher recognizes that it’s only a first step, since students, families and other B.C. education colleagues are still waiting for their chance.

“I got an exposure notice Sunday [for] my classroom. About half my class was missing yesterday. It’s good to feel that, ‘OK well, at least I had the first dose and so hopefully that can help me.’ But the reality is my kids don’t and many of their family members don’t yet,” Ohana said.  

The campaign hasn’t moved as quickly as she’d anticipated out to educators in other B.C. regions, who haven’t yet been prioritized. The province’s teachers continue to push for safety measures like mask mandates and improved ventilation as well, she said.

“The more protected we are, the more we can keep the schools open.”

WATCH | Amid a third wave, educators are beginning to get priority for COVID-19 vaccines: 

Most Ontario schools are staying open during an emergency stay-at-home order and education workers in COVID-19 hot zones will be prioritized for vaccinations, something already being done in Quebec and British Columbia. 1:45

New Brunswick blitz

Last month, New Brunswick high schools were also put on the priority list. Beginning March 22, the province launched a campaign offering vaccinations to all in-school secondary staffers, which took just over a week. It came ahead of a return to full-time in-person learning for high schoolers that was set for Monday, but later cancelled amid a rise in cases.

“In the region where the vaccination clinics were happening, they closed the school down completely [for the day]. All of the school staff had the opportunity to go to the vaccination clinic, get the vaccines done,” said Rick Cuming, president of the New Brunswick Teachers’ Association and co-president of the New Brunswick Teachers’ Federation.

The clinics were very well attended, according to Cuming, who is based in Fredericton. However, one major lesson that emerged, he said, was the need to account for the fact that some people will inevitably experience mild-to-moderate vaccination side-effects such as fever, fatigue and muscle pain — also among the symptoms listed for COVID-19 screening at schools. This was something Ohana, the teacher in Surrey, also noted.

“We have a supply teacher shortage … we certainly feel that effect here in the best of times, and then under this COVID situation, anybody that’s showing symptoms can’t show up into the school,” Cuming said.

“Our schools certainly noticed that in the days that followed the vaccine clinics.”


One lesson that came out of New Brunswick’s vaccination blitz for high school staffers was to be aware that some will experience post-vaccination symptoms such as fever, fatigue and muscle pain — which are also among the symptoms listed for COVID-19 screening at schools, says Rick Cuming, co-president of the New Brunswick Teachers’ Federation. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

Similar to Ohana, Cuming noted that the education workers not yet vaccinated — New Brunswick’s elementary and middle school teachers, administration and support staffers in those schools, as well as bus drivers and supply teachers — are anxiously awaiting their chance to get a shot.

Quebec, Ontario target hot spots

Following Niagara Region’s announcement this week about accelerating education sector vaccinations, the Quebec and Ontario governments also took a step in that direction, but primarily focusing on hot spot regions. 

In late March, a vaccination blitz targeting two Montreal neighbourhoods seeing rapid spread of the coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K. expanded to include teachers. On Wednesday, Quebec announced plans to start vaccinating Montreal’s essential workers — including school and daycare staff — as of this weekend.


Educators in Montreal are now being considered essential workers and prioritized for a COVID-19 vaccine, but that ‘should have been the case a while ago,’ says teacher Andrew Adams. School and daycare staffers in the city could book their appointments as of Friday. (CBC)

“I’m ecstatic to hear that teachers are finally being considered essential workers. That should have been the case a while ago,” said Andrew Adams, who teaches Grade 7 and 8 English at Montreal’s LaurenHill Academy.

The same day, as Ontario declared a third state of emergency and a new stay-at-home order, it also announced it was opening vaccination access to special education workers provincewide along with school staff in at-risk Toronto and Peel region neighbourhoods, starting next week during the April break. Officials in both Quebec and Ontario said the plan is to scale up vaccination in other regions of concern as soon as supply allows in the coming weeks. 

Though the Ontario government’s announcement means some educators will soon get their first injections, union leader Harvey Bischof is looking for a more robust rollout beyond Toronto and Peel, which is located west of the city. Those two public health regions closed schools and shifted to remote learning this week.

“If it doesn’t reach face-to-face educators in [other provincial] hot spots where there are significant reasons for concern … then it’s potentially a case of too little, too late,” said Bischof, the president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, from Brantford, Ont.

Halton, the region northwest of Niagara, announced Friday it is also moving ahead to prioritize school-related workers and child-care staff among the essential workers able to get a COVID-19 vaccine as of April 16.


A more robust vaccination rollout must quickly reach school staff in the many hot spot regions of Ontario, says Harvey Bischof, president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Bischof said he also wants to see schools in high-risk regions remain in remote learning until three weeks after educators can receive a shot, so the vaccine has time to take effect.

He’s heartened to see some regions and local public health units “striking out on their own” beyond decisions being made at the provincial level, like Niagara’s move to vaccinate all school staffers and Peel and Toronto shuttering in-person learning this week.

“We’ve had quite a few school boards across the province now call for the priority vaccination of educators. We’ve seen some medical officers of health and public health units take really important steps,” he said. 

Back in B.C., high school teacher Ohana recognizes the pandemic is complex, “a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” but she wants politicians and decision-makers to be more willing to pivot their vaccination rollout strategy. 

“It was great to see [officials] kind of re-tinker things and say, ‘OK, it’s not just about age. We need to consider positions and jobs.'”

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CBC | Health News

Hockey Night in Canada: Edmonton vs. Calgary

Watch live on television and online on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET as the Calgary Flames take on the Edmonton Oilers on Hockey Night in Canada.

Please note that this stream is optimized for desktop or mobile web. If you prefer viewing this on the CBC Sports app, please open or download to watch this program.

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CBC | Sports News

Prince Philip’s relationship with Indigenous people in Canada memorable, complicated

Prince Philip made more than 70 visits or stopovers in Canada between 1950 and 2013, many of which included meetings and events with First Nations leaders and people.

It was during one of those visits that the prince, who died on Friday at the age of 99, made an impression on Bill Erasmus.

In 1994, Erasmus was the Dene national chief and regional chief for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). He was part of a contingent of Indigenous leaders who met with Queen Elizabeth and Philip when the royal couple paid a visit to Yellowknife to celebrate the creation of a new Inuit territory.

In a prepared speech before the Queen, Erasmus voiced his frustration that the federal government hadn’t honoured treaties signed by the monarchy nearly a century ago. He said such inaction had “tarnished and sullied” the Crown’s reputation.

But Erasmus later took part in a more private and relaxed function with the royals, where he found himself connecting with Philip over a shared interest.

“I knew that he was really big on climate change and environmental issues, so I thanked him for that,” Erasmus said.

As they talked further, Erasmus was impressed by Philip’s knowledge on the subject.

The prince criticized “how multinationals were approaching the environment, the great amount of wealth and the waste that they generated,” and was keen “to keep the Earth pristine,” Erasmus said.


Prince Philip is seen here attending the wedding of his granddaughter Princess Eugenie of York to Jack Brooksbank at St. George’s Chapel on Oct. 12, 2018. (Alastair Grant/Getty Images)

“He commended our people for having a similar view, so we hit it off that way,” he said.

Erasmus said he found the prince’s forthrightness “refreshing.”

“He was really easy to get along with, really easy to speak to. He encouraged you to say what you had to say,” Erasmus said.

Arctic char for ‘a regular guy’ 

That easy camaraderie is also what Johnny May, a 75-year-old bush pilot from Kuujjuaq, remembers about Philip.

The Duke of Edinburgh used to pass through the northern Quebec community to refuel his private plane in the late ’70s and early ’80s, which is where May met and chatted with him on several occasions.

To him and the other pilots, Philip was just “a regular guy,” May said in an interview with CBC News.

“We didn’t treat him any special compared to any other pilot up at the airport. So I guess he enjoyed that and he seemed to be really relaxed around us.”

May recalled one time giving Philip a couple of Arctic char to take home to England. A year later, Philip flew through again and had a message for May from “the missus”: that “she enjoyed the Arctic char immensely.”

May also said that Philip had a good sense of humour and was “always joking around.”


Johnny May and his daughter Jeannie May are pictured circa 1980. Jeannie says the Arctic char that Prince Philip received from her father possibly came from this fishing trip to Dulhut. (Courtesy Jeannie May)

History of controversial statements

However, some of Philip’s comments have landed him in trouble, with the prince establishing a reputation over the years for blunt, controversial and sometimes offensive statements. In particular, some of his comments about Indigenous people were seen as racist, not funny.

For example, on a 2002 visit to Australia with the Queen, Philip infamously asked a group of Aboriginal people if “you still throw spears at each other.”

In 1995, he said to a Scottish driving instructor: “How do you keep the natives off the booze long enough to pass the test?”

Indeed, Buckingham Palace felt compelled to issue an apology after another gaffe in 2000, when Philip, while touring a factory in Scotland, remarked that some electrical equipment looked so crude “it must have been installed by an Indian.”

“The Duke of Edinburgh regrets any offence which may have been caused by remarks he is reported as making earlier today,” the palace said. “With hindsight, he accepts that what were intended as lighthearted comments were inappropriate.”

WATCH | Royal Family lands in present-day Iqaluit in 1970:

The Queen, her husband and two oldest children land in present-day Iqaluit for a visit to Canada’s North in 1970. 1:48

Legacy of public service

Some Indigenous leaders have indicated a desire to not dwell on any past controversies and instead focus on Philip’s public service, as well as the Royal Family’s role in advancing Indigenous affairs in Canada.

Shawn Atleo met Philip in passing as part of official royal visits when he was AFN national chief from 2009 to 2014. He spoke with CBC News in March, when Philip was in hospital.

“I know that the principals that I engaged with, whether it was the Queen herself, Prince Charles or other members, always expressed respect and support for the treaty relationship,” Atleo said.


Chief Eric Large of the Saddle Lake First Nation in Alberta checks his video camera as the royal couple, accompanied by N.W.T. Premier Nellie Cournoyea, attend a traditional and cultural demonstration in Yellowknife on Aug. 21, 1994. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

He also expressed sympathy for the intense spotlight the family operates under.

“I know mine, like a lot of people’s hearts, will go out to the family for the amount of attention that they get,” he said.

In a statement to CBC News on Friday, current AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde extended his condolences to the Royal Family and paid tribute to Philip’s legacy.

“In almost a century of life, Prince Philip has given so much to public service and was a lifelong champion of many worthy causes, especially youth fitness and volunteerism,” he said.

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Canada eliminated from men’s curling worlds with tense loss to Scotland

Canada won’t play for a medal at the men’s world curling championship.

Brendan Bottcher lost 5-3 to Scotland’s Bruce Mouat in a playoff game Friday. The Scots advance to Saturday’s semifinals to face either Sweden or Russia.

  • Watch and engage with CBC Sports’ That Curling Show live (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET; Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET; Sunday 5 p.m. ET) featuring the men’s curling championship on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The medal games are Sunday in Calgary.

Canada finishes off the podium for the eighth time in 62 years of the men’s world championship, and for the first time since 2014.

The United States and Switzerland meet in a another playoff game Saturday morning with the victor advancing to the semifinals.

Bottcher’s team from Edmonton finished fourth in the round-robin standings with a 9-4 record.

WATCH | Scotland upends Canada in qualification game:

Canada’s Brendan Bottcher loses to Scotland’s Bruce Mouat 5-3 in the qualification game at the men’s world curling championship. 1:04

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Coronavirus variants are testing the limits of what we once thought was safe in Canada

This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.


The rapid spread of more contagious coronavirus variants across Canada is driving a devastating third wave in much of the country and increasing the level of risk in situations previously thought to be relatively safe from COVID-19.

Experts say the risk of exposure is higher in everyday situations and the margin of error is lower for what we can and can’t do safely until more Canadians are vaccinated. 

“The things that you’ve gotten away with previously, and that you’ve put into your mindset that were safe … it wasn’t that they were safe, it’s that you got lucky,” said Erin Bromage, a biology professor and immunologist at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth who studies infectious diseases. 

“That luck — it’s like rolling dice.” 

Bromage said activities such as visiting a loved one, sharing a meal or working out in a gym might seem safe because public health restrictions may allow them, but are even riskier now than they were before. 

The variants of concern not only appear to be more transmissible and potentially more deadly, but Bromage says they may also transmit for longer periods of time in infected individuals and bind to our cells more easily — providing more opportunities for infected people to spread the virus. 

WATCH | Canada facing perilous mix of coronavirus variants:

The mix of COVID-19 variants circulating in Canada has turned the country into a dangerous petri dish unlike anywhere else. 2:07

“If you’re only transmitting for a few days out of an infection cycle, you can only have so many contacts during those days,” he said. “But if that duration of shedding is now twice as long, you can have double the contacts and so therefore it moves more easily between people.”  

Linsey Marr, one of the top aerosol scientists in the world and an expert on the airborne transmission of viruses at Virginia Tech, says it’s possible variants may also be causing more virus particles in the exhaled air of infected individuals for longer.

“The virus is still transmitting the same way,” she said. “What’s different is likely that either the people who are infected are releasing more virus over a longer period of time or it’s possible that it takes fewer of those viruses to make you sick.” 

The number of confirmed variant cases in Canada has skyrocketed in recent weeks, rising from about 2,000 a month ago to close to 17,000 this week and counting, with more than 90 per cent of those being the B117 variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

The P1 variant first discovered in Brazil is also on the rise in Canada, with cases doubling in the past week to more than 1,000 — mostly in British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta. 

And the B1351 variant first found in South Africa is also picking up steam, with more than 150 cases identified in Quebec, more than 70 in Ontario and more than 50 in B.C. as of Thursday. 

“The race between the vaccine and the variants is at a critical point,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, told reporters Friday. “It is clear that we need stronger control to combat variants of concern that are driving rapid epidemic growth in many areas of the country.”

Tam said in a statement Thursday that serious illness can occur at any age and evidence indicates that variants of concern can be associated with more severe illness and increased risk of death.

Younger Canadians are being impacted harder in the third wave as well, Tam said, with infection rates highest among those aged 20 to 39 and a rise in the number of hospitalizations and ICU admissions in those under 60. 


Experts say Canada’s third wave of COVID-19 is showing no signs of slowing down, meaning Canadians need to buckle down and take precautions until more of us get a dose of vaccine. (Evan Mitsui/CBC News)

Airborne transmission driving spread

New research is shedding light on the way in which infection was occurring around the world even before variants took hold, calling into question whether our previous public health guidelines go far enough. 

A recent study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that a singer at a church in Australia in July was able to infect several others from a distance of more than 15 metres indoors. 

While a second CDC study found an infection occurred in a New Zealand quarantine hotel in September after an exposure time of less than a minute in an open doorway. 

And a recent outbreak at a gym in Quebec City where physical distancing and mask use were not enforced has been linked to at least 440 cases of COVID-19 and one death in the community.

Quebec health officials say the rise of variants and a more relaxed approach to public health rules by residents have led to the spike in cases in the province, leading them to introduce a mandatory mask mandate for outdoor activities and indoor workplaces.

“The evidence just keeps piling up in favour of the importance of aerosol transmission,” said Marr. “We thought it was important before, I would say it’s probably predominant in terms of how the virus is transmitted.”

WATCH | Quebec City’s COVID-19 surge leads to more restrictions:

Quebec is imposing more COVID-19 restrictions as case numbers swell, especially in Quebec City where variants have gained control. Quebec City, Levis, Gatineau and Beauce are facing tougher controls while Montreal and Laval are returning to an 8 p.m. curfew. 2:02

Bromage says the reluctance of Canadian public health officials to acknowledge aerosol transmission in a meaningful way has been “frustrating” and adds to confusion among Canadians about how infections are occurring.

Aerosol transmission refers to spread via microscopic airborne particles that can remain suspended in the air longer than larger droplets, which tend to fall to the ground within a distance of two metres — a trait that informed the original physical distancing guidelines. 

“There has been a reluctance to accept that both in schools and in hospitals,” he said of aerosol transmission. “That poor messaging has led people indoors and infection starting up that really shouldn’t have.”

Canada revised its guidelines on how COVID-19 spreads to include the risk of aerosol transmission in November, weeks after other countries and international health organizations acknowledged the airborne threat.

“People tend to latch on to the first thing they hear, which was to wipe down your groceries a year ago,” said Marr. “But I think we need really a campaign to just clarify to people kind of how the virus is transmitting and then policies that match that.” 

The CDC also updated its guidelines to say the risk of COVID-19 infection from surfaces is now officially considered low — meaning disinfecting groceries, wiping down packages and cordoning off playgrounds are likely unnecessary.  

Outdoors not without risk 

Experts say now more than ever, Canadians need to mitigate the increased risk of transmission from variants by going above and beyond public health guidelines and moving activities outdoors — though not all outdoor environments are created equal. 

“Imagine, for example, the terrace of a cafe that would be enclosed by plastic sheeting on three of the four walls, in which you have a lot of people close to one another at tables,” said Dr. Raymond Tellier, an infectious diseases specialist and associate medical professor at McGill University. “This is logically outdoor, but physically has all the characteristics of an indoor environment.”


Now more than ever, experts say, Canadians need to mitigate the increased risk of transmission from variants by going above and beyond public health guidelines and moving activities outdoors — though not all outdoor environments have the same risk level.  (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician and a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore, Md., says it’s important to remember that while transmission can occur outdoors, it’s much less likely. 

“Even with the more contagious variants, the virus is still going to have difficulty transmitting in those settings,” he said. 

“But when you look at some of the issues that we had in the United States, for example the protests after George Floyd’s death, those were all outdoors and we saw very little transmission.” 

Even if you are moving activities outdoors, experts say to wear a mask with a high filtration level and stay as far apart from others as possible. 

The fact is Canada’s third wave of COVID-19 is showing no signs of slowing down as the vaccine rollout gradually ramps up — meaning Canadians need to buckle down until more of us get a shot, experts say.

Bromage says both Canada and the U.S. have a “rough” couple of months ahead, but that Canada’s slower vaccine rollout means our third wave could last into June. 

“The race is really on in the U.S.,” he said. “The variants are winning in Canada right now, whereas I think in the U.S. it’s sort of neck and neck.”

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CBC | Health News

Christine Sinclair injured as Canada blanks Wales in U.K. friendly

Canada blanked Wales 3-0, but lost captain Christine Sinclair to an injury in the first half of a soccer friendly Friday.

Sinclair, playing her first game for Canada in more than a year, had to leave two-thirds of the way through the first half after contact with a Welsh player with Canada leading 1-0.

The 37-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., was clearly in pain as she lay on the ground but hobbled off the field under her own power in the 32nd minute, holding one of her boots.

There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury.

Deanne Rose, Evelyne Viens and Jessie Fleming scored for Canada at Leckwith Stadium as coach Bev Priestman got the offence she has been looking for. Canada had scored just three goals in its previous seven matches (1-4-2).

It marked the first time the Canadian women had scored three goals or more since Feb. 1, 2020, when they blanked Jamaica 9-0 in Olympic qualifying play.

Canada plays No. 6 England Tuesday

Canada is ranked eighth in the world, compared to No. 31 for Wales. The two teams had met just once before, with a teenage Sinclair scoring twice in a 4-0 win at the 2002 Algarve Cup.

Canada heads 235 kilometres northeast next to Stoke-on-Trent for a game Tuesday against No. 6 England.

Canada turned its early superiority into a goal in the 25th minute with Quinn, who goes by one name, playing provider. Taking advantage of a poor clearance, the midfielder sliced open the Welsh defence with a superb looping ball from inside her own half that put Rose in all alone. The University of Florida forward smashed a high shot home for her 10th international goal.

Viens, who had replaced the injured Sinclair, made it 2-0 in the 58th minute with a nice touch at the near post to knock in a Janine Beckie cross for her first for Canada in her fourth appearance.

Fleming made it 3-0 in the 62nd minute, curling in a beautiful shot past goalkeeper Laura O’Sullivan for her 11th goal in Canadian colours.

Sinclair had not played for Canada since a tournament in France in March 2020. She missed the SheBelieves Cup in February due to injury.


Sinclair, who earned her 297th cap Friday after tweeting “It’s go time” prior to kickoff, is the world’s all-time leading goal-scorer with 186. She almost notched No. 187 in the 21st minute after a giveaway in a dangerous position by Rachel Rowe but a diving O’Sullivan was able to palm her shot around the post.

Controlling the tempo

Priestman fielded a more experienced starting 11 than she was able to at the SheBelieves Cup, with several veterans inured or unable to take part in the Florida tournament due to quarantine issues.

Her starting 11 Friday came into the match with a combined 939 caps — compared to 604 for the SheBelieves Cup finale 2-0 loss against Brazil on Feb. 24.

Only six of the starters against Brazil were back in the 11 Friday, with Sinclair, Jordyn Huitema, Ashley Lawrence, Vanessa Gilles and Quinn joining them.

The Canadians controlled the tempo early, moving the ball around and threatening on several corners. Quinn was influential in midfield.

Wales had a chance in the 29th minute but a deflected shot proved to be easy pickings for goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe.

Sinclair’s departure seemed to rattle Canada. Wales came on as the first half wore down, playing more in the Canadian end. Still Canada had 59 per cent of the possession in the first 45 minutes, outshooting Wales 6-4 (2-0 in shots on target).

Priestman brought on Beckie and Jayde Riviere in the 53rd minute with Beckie soon influencing play.

Wales argued unsuccessfully for a penalty in the 60th minute when Natasha Harding went down after contact with Labbe. Canada came close in the 69th but O’Sullivan tipped Viens’ powerful shot over the crossbar.

Canadian substitute Sarah Stratigakis had a good chance at the far post but was off target.

Friday’s game was the first as Wales coach for Gemma Grainger, who worked in the England setup with Priestman.

It was game No. 4 for Priestman at the Canada helm. She went 1-2-0 at the SheBelieves Cup, losing to the U.S. and Brazil and beating Argentina.

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Canada clinches 2022 men’s curling Olympic spot with Bottcher’s key win over Norway

Canada’s Brendan Bottcher downed Norway’s Steffan Walstad 6-4 in the men’s world curling championship Thursday — an important win for the host country.

The victory ensured the Canadian rink a spot in the playoffs, thus qualifying the country for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The World Curling Federation confirmed to CBC Sports that Canada clinched following the match.

  • Watch and engage with CBC Sports’ That Curling Show live (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET; Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET; Sunday 5 p.m. ET) featuring the men’s curling championship on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The top six teams at the conclusion of the preliminary round Friday remain in contention for the world title while qualifying for the Olympics.

The top two seeds earn byes to Saturday’s semifinals. Sergey Glukhov’s Russian Curling Federation team and Sweden’s Niklas Edin locked down those semifinal berths with 10-2 records Thursday.

John Shuster of the United States earned a playoff spot with a 9-3 record.

Scotland’s Bruce Mouat and Canada are tied at 8-4, and Norway and Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz are both 7-5 . They will battle for the three remaining playoff berths Friday. Canada caps the round-robin against Germany (4-8) on Friday.

Teams third through sixth in the standings will compete in qualification games with winners reaching the final four. The medal games are Sunday.

WATCH | Bottcher clips Walstad for key victory:

Canada clinches playoff spot in the men’s world curling championship and qualifies for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing with Brendan Bottcher’s 6-4 win over Norway’s Steffen Walstad. 0:42

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Canada is losing the race between vaccines and variants as 3rd wave worsens

Much of Canada is in the grips of a worsening third wave as COVID-19 vaccinations slowly ramp up, and experts say the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants is throwing gasoline on an already-raging fire.

“We have a lot of virus moving around the country and escalating very, very quickly,” said Jason Kindrachuk, an assistant professor of viral pathogenesis at the University of Manitoba and Canada Research Chair of emerging viruses.

“Vaccinations are certainly starting to pick up, but we’re nowhere near where we need to be to get this thing under control.”

More than 15,000 cases of the more transmissible and potentially more deadly variants have been reported across Canada to date, with more than 90 per cent of those being the B117 variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

But the P1 variant first discovered in Brazil is also on the rise in Canada, with cases doubling in the past week to close to 1,000 — mostly in British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta. 

And the B1351 variant first found in South Africa is also picking up steam, with over 150 cases identified in Quebec, more than 70 in Ontario and over 50 in B.C as of Tuesday. 

But experts say Canada’s slow vaccine roll out has failed to keep up with the exponential rise in variants in the third wave and the premature loosening of restrictions has led to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths — even in younger Canadians.

WATCH | Variant first found in Brazil newest COVID-19 challenge in B.C.

The P1 COVID-19 variant, first seen in Brazil, is creating a big problem for health officials because of how quickly it spreads. Currently concentrated in the Vancouver area, modelling shows it could spread out of control by late April. 2:06

“People were hoping that we could get to the finish line and get everyone vaccinated without having to deal with another wave and unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case,” said Dr. Leyla Asadi, an infectious diseases physician at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. 

“That’s a combination of both our reopening too quickly and now you add in these variants of concern.”

Canada has emerged as one of the only countries in the world with significant outbreaks of three different variants occurring at the same time — turning us into a giant experiment on the world stage.

“There’s no other country that’s kind of dealing with it as we are — we have all of them emerging at once,” said Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious diseases physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.

“What happens to all three of them in the mix? Which one takes over? Which one is the fittest of the three?”


Canada has emerged as one of the only countries in the world with significant outbreaks of three different coronavirus variants occurring at the same time and driving a devastating third wave. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Variants could threaten vaccine effectiveness

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says another unanswered question that has huge implications for our ability to control the third wave is whether variants like P1 pose a threat to COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness.

“This virus might be capable of evading the immune response,” she said. “But we do not have an actual vaccine effectiveness estimate that is solidified.”

Tam says she has asked medical officers of health across the country to gather more information on vaccine effectiveness against P1 in particular, while encouraging Canadians to get vaccinated and provinces and territories to keep public health restrictions in place.

Amid that black hole of data, Tam says Canada may be able to fill the international research void due to our surging rates of variant cases — for better or worse.

“We don’t have enough information from other countries, including Brazil, about how well these vaccines work against P1,” she said. “If Canada is seeing the evolution of spread of P1, we might be a country where we will be able to produce some of this data.”

Tam says scientists believe one specific mutation common to all three variants, called E484K, could actually allow the virus to escape the immune response and even make it possible for someone who has previously had COVID-19 to become reinfected.


Scientists believe one specific mutation common to all three variants, called E484K, could actually allow the virus to escape the immune response and even make it possible for someone who has previously had COVID-19 to become reinfected. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

“That was the initial event that caused us to be concerned about this P1,” she said. “There was reinfection in a particular person that already had COVID-19 before.” 

Tam said while there have so far only been laboratory studies done on the antibody response to P1 that showed in some cases there was a reduced ability for a vaccinated person’s antibodies to neutralize P1 — the evidence so far is still a “signal of concern.” 

Officials warn against travelling within Canada

Health officials are imploring Canadians to avoid recreational travel within Canada as the third wave rages, but experts say stricter travel restrictions may not be enough now to prevent widespread outbreaks of more contagious coronavirus variants. 

“Variants of concern are posing new challenges in different locations across the country. Now is not the time to travel for recreational purposes,” Tam said Tuesday. “Limit your travel to essential trips only and do your part to stop the spread.”

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said individuals need to take “personal responsibility to the extent that it’s possible.”

“Stay at home as much as possible, don’t have any sort of non-essential travel — especially vacations going from one province to another.”

Alberta is reinstating strict restrictions at a time when variants are surging, with a total of 676 announced Tuesday making up more than 40 per cent of the province’s active COVID-19 cases.

WATCH | Alberta renews restrictions as communities battle P1 variant outbreaks:

Several Alberta communities fighting P1 variant outbreaks are frustrated by a lack of information from health officials as the province announces a return to tougher restrictions to get its COVID-19 situation under control. 2:09

Officials there are also investigating several major P1 outbreaks at large workplaces, at least one of which is tied to a traveller returning to Alberta from out of province.

“Even before the variants have taken hold, we could have been far more responsive. But we weren’t and now we’re in a situation where we have these variants that are far more transmissible,” said Asadi.

“We have to take far more strict measures than previously, at least for a while until we can get the vaccination rates up.”

Manitoba is the only province or territory outside of Atlantic Canada and the North to implement strict regional travel restrictions, requiring a mandatory 14-day quarantine for all travellers, and has so far avoided a third wave.

“Manitoba implemented it when they saw the variants and the rest of us just didn’t,” said Asadi. 

“There’s just this reluctance to do anything that seems too drastic, whereas doing the same old things results fundamentally in then having to institute stay at home orders, which themselves are really quite drastic but become necessary once you lose control.”


Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says another unanswered question that has huge implications for our ability to control the third wave is whether variants like P1 pose a threat to COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Ontario announced sweeping restrictions and a stay at home order on Wednesday due to a surge in cases and overwhelming pressure on the healthcare system, but stopped short of regional travel restrictions to slow the spread of variants.

Ashleigh Tuite, an infectious disease epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, says variants already make up close to 70 per cent of Ontario’s COVID-19 cases.

“It’s incredibly widespread, so I think there’s merit in restricting movement between areas,” she said. “But as a way to control the spread of variants? That ship has likely already sailed.”

Kindrachuk said Manitoba’s travel restrictions have been a key part of their ability to control the spread of variants in the third wave, but a recent spike in cases and variants locally could jeopardize that. 

“Once they get in, they start circulating a little bit under the radar, and then they start to take off,” he said.

“Now what we’re seeing is really it’s raging in basically all the provinces with the exception of the Atlantic provinces, Manitoba, and the Territories. The question is going to be now, how long can it be maintained?”

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COVID-19 shots for school? What needs to happen to get kids in Canada immunized

Parents and children wanting to know when COVID-19 vaccines could roll out to Canada’s youngest people recently got a glimpse at the answers.

Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada’s chief medical adviser, said it is “likely that Pfizer, if all the data is fine, may be the first” vaccine that children and teens could receive.

Pfizer and BioNTech said in a media release on Wednesday that their COVID-19 vaccine, BNT162b2, is safe with “demonstrated 100 per cent efficacy” in preventing the disease in teens aged 12 to 15.

The data hasn’t been peer reviewed or scrutinized by regulators like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada.

In the trial of 2,260 adolescents, there were 18 cases of COVID-19 in the group that got a placebo shot and none among those who received the vaccine.

Side-effects were similar to those reported in clinical trials in adults, such as pain at the injection site, headaches, fever and fatigue.

WATCH | Pfizer’s early data on vaccine for kids:

Pfizer-BioNTech says its vaccine is safe and showed 100 per cent efficacy in a clinical trial of 12- to 15-year-olds. Health officials say more data is needed, but parents are optimistic about the results. 2:03

Sharma said Health Canada will review Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine data on younger teens “in a couple of weeks.” Full data, including on children aged six to 12, is expected in months.

Any approvals will only come after the regulator checks the data for safety, efficacy and quality.

Pfizer’s vaccine has been cleared for people as young as 16 in Canada.

Dr. Noni MacDonald, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Dalhousie University in Halifax who researches vaccine safety, said Pfizer’s research is a “bridging study.”

In a bridging study, researchers check if antibody and cell-based immune responses are equivalent to what’s seen in adults. For Pfizer, they were.

“The results are really very encouraging,” MacDonald said.

Protection for all Canadians

Moderna is also conducting a clinical trial in Canada for children aged five to 11. The results are expected early in 2022. The company also launched a trial in those aged six months to less than 12 in the U.S. in March. 

Johnson & Johnson, which recently won approval for its vaccine in adults in Canada and the U.S., expanded its Phase 2 trial for those aged 12 to 17 and plans to include younger children.

 AstraZeneca launched in similar trial in February

But it’s only when vaccines roll out in the real world to children with diabetes, heart disease and other underlying conditions that answers on effectiveness will be clearer.

“We want to protect everybody in our community, even those who cannot be immunized or will not respond to the vaccine,” MacDonald said. “To do that, we need children, we need teenagers, we need young adults, we need middle-aged adults and we need older people.”

Alyson Kelvin, an assistant professor at Dalhousie working on COVID-19 vaccines at the VIDO lab in Saskatoon, said she’s excited about how the vaccines could help children return to school and sports.

“Children can be infected with the virus and pass on the virus,” Kelvin said. “Even though we might not see clinical disease in kids or the clinical disease might not be as severe as in adults, it’s really important that children are not able to be part of the transmission chain.”

MacDonald hopes vaccines could be ready for younger teens by September, in time for mass immunization programs in school.

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