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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

Aguero, Man City’s record goal scorer, to leave club at end of season after 10 years

Sergio Aguero, Manchester City’s record scorer, will leave the English club after 10 years when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The 32-year-old Argentina striker has 257 goals for City, the most famous being his stoppage-time winner against Queens Parks Rangers on the final day of the 2011-12 season that clinched the team its first league title in 44 years.

A key player in the growth of the Abu Dhabi-owned club as a major force in England and Europe, Aguero has struggled with injuries over the past year and been restricted to just 14 appearances in all competitions this season. The penalty he converted against Fulham on March 13 was his 181st goal in the Premier League but his first in the division since January 2020.

In a Twitter post on Monday to his 14 million followers, Aguero said he had a “huge sense of satisfaction and pride” about playing for City for a decade and is ready to “continue competing at the highest level.”

“Sergio’s contribution to Manchester City over the last 10 years cannot be overstated,” club chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said. “His legend will be indelibly etched into the memories of everyone who loves the club and maybe even in those who simply love football.”


Al Mubarak said a statue of Aguero has been commissioned to stand alongside those currently being made to honour the player’s former teammates, David Silva and Vincent Kompany.

That trio, along with midfielder Yaya Toure, were central to City’s success over the past decade.

Aguero, who joined from Atletico Madrid in 2011, scored at least 28 goals in all competitions in six straight seasons for City and will go down as one of the greatest strikers to have played in the Premier League.

He is the league’s highest-scoring overseas player. His haul of 181 puts him fourth on the all-time scoring list, behind Alan Shearer (260), Wayne Rooney (208) and Andy Cole (187).

Aguero also has a Premier League-high 12 hat tricks.

Aguero said he forged “an indestructible bond with all those who love this club — people who will always be in my heart.”

“I will continue to give it my utmost for the rest of the season to win more titles and bring more joy to the fans,” Aguero said in his Twitter post. “Then, a new stage with new challenges will begin.”


City is on course for the “quadruple” this season, as it leads the Premier League by 14 points, has reached the final of the English League Cup, the semifinals of the FA Cup, and the quarterfinals of the Champions League — a trophy Aguero has yet to win at the club.

He has, though, won the Premier League four times, the League Cup five times, and the FA Cup once.

Aguero was able to change his game to fit in with the style of play demanded by Pep Guardiola after the Spanish coach took charge of City in 2016. He transformed himself into more of an all-round player, with the ability to drop deeper and link up play, but never lost his fearsome ball-striking and poacher qualities inside the area.

Aguero has previously spoken about returning to Argentina to finish his career with former club Independiente.

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CBC | Soccer News

Canadian men set scoring record, crushing Cayman Islands 11-0 in World Cup qualifier

Substitute Lucas Cavallini scored a second-half hat trick as a young Canada side ran up a record goal total Monday, crushing the Cayman Islands 11-0 in World Cup qualifying play.

The Canadian men’s previous scoring record was 8-0 over the U.S. Virgin Islands in September 2018 in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying play. The previous high in World Cup qualifying was a 7-0 victory in St. Lucia in October 2011.

Alphonso Davies and Mark-Anthony Kaye each scored twice while Frank Sturing, Cyle Larin, David Wotherspoon and Alistair Johnston added singles for Canada, which led 4-0 after 27 minutes and 6-0 at the half.

Sturing’s goal came five minutes into his Canadian debut. Wotherspoon, Kaye and Johnston also opened their Canadian scoring accounts.

Cavallini, who could have had a hat trick last time out against Bermuda but had no luck in front of goal, upped his Canadian total to 14 with goals in the 68th, 74th and 76th minutes.

Canada is ranked 73rd in the world, 120 places above the Caymans part-timers. And the first-ever meeting between the two at the senior level quickly turned into a rout. For long stretches, it looked like a training game contested in the Caymans’ end.

The Canadians showed no mercy at the IMG Academy, knowing that No. 141 Suriname had won its two first qualifying games with a plus-nine goal differential in CONCACAF’s Group B.

Canada (2-0-0) upped its goal difference to plus-15.

Canada opened its qualifying campaign with a 5-1 win over No. 169 Bermuda in Orlando last Thursday. The Caymans lost 3-0 Wednesday at Suriname, which improved to 2-0-0 with a 6-0 thumping of No. 200 Aruba on Saturday in Bradenton.

Next up for Canada is a June 5 match at Aruba and a June 8 home game against Suriname. Whether the team can play at home in June depends on whether the pandemic-related border restrictions are eased.

Thirty CONCACAF countries have been split into six groups in the first round of qualifying in the region that covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. Only the six groups winners will advance.

WATCH | Larin hat trick leads Canada past Bermuda:

Canada dominates Bermuda 5-1 as they start World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region. 3:19

It was 27 degrees Celsius at kickoff Monday, feeling like 29 C.

The game was slated to be played Sunday but was pushed back a day so the Caymans delegation could undergo the PCR tests required by FIFA rather than rapid antigen tests originally taken.

Alfredo Whittaker, president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, said the testing problem occurred because of travel delays that disrupted the necessary COVID-19 protocols.

Canada coach John Herdman, rotating his squad against the CONCACAF minnow, made nine changes to the starting lineup that dispatched Bermuda.

Only Larin and Davies retained their starting spots. Midfielder Samuel Piette wore the captain’s armband for the first time, taking over for Atiba Hutchinson, who has returned to Turkey to rejoin club team Besiktas.

Maxime Crepeau started in goal, with Milan Borjan returning to Red Star Belgrade. He could have taken a cup of coffee and newspaper out on the field because he had nothing to do.

Canada’s starting 11 had a combined cap count of just 144, with 118 of those coming from Piette (51) Larin (33), Davies (19) and Kaye (15). Six of the seven other starters have single-digit caps.

Ferreira, Sturing earn first caps

Ricardo Ferreira and Sturing started at centre back, earning their first Canadian caps in the process. Winger Theo Corbeanu and Johnston made their first starts — and second appearances — for Canada.

Davies, who had started further up front against Bermuda, returned to the fullback role he fills at Bayern Munich.

Herdman said prior to the game that he expected the Caymans to park the bus, “maybe a couple of buses,” meaning it would stack its defence. But the defensive block was breached quickly with 21-year-old Caymans goaltender Albertini Holness finishing himself in a shooting gallery.

WATCH | Canada looks to keep World Cup 2022 hopes alive:

Canada’s men’s national team squad, filled with as much raw talent as there is experience, has to win the group stage in the First Round of qualification to keep their hopes of participating in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 alive. 10:08

Sturing opened the scoring, knocking in a rebound through traffic in a goalmouth scramble after Larin’s shot bounced of the crossbar following a corner. Wotherspoon unselfishly set up Larin for a tap-in in the 13th minute to make it 2-0 with his 12th for Canada.

Kaye played provider for Wotherspoon in the 25th with the St. Johnstone midfielder beating a defender and then Holness. Taken down in the box, Davies converted from the penalty spot in the 27th minute.

Kaye made it 5-0 in the 32nd minute, tapping in a Wotherspoon feed from the byline as the Canadian attackers cut through the Caymans defence like a hot knife through butter. Johnston hammered a shot home in the 42nd to pad the lead to 6-0 after Corbeanu and Wotherspoon ripped open the Caymans backline.

Cameron Gray gave the Caymans something to celebrate when he nutmegged Davies early in the second half.

Canada showed its depth, bringing on Cavallini, Junior Hoilett and Sam Adekugbe on the hour-mark, with Davies pushing forward.

Still the Caymans managed to slow the Canadian attack to open the second half, holding them off the scoreboard for the first 18 minutes. Kaye made it 7-0, beating Holness after Wotherspoon hit the goalpost.

Cavallini made it 8-0 in the 63rd minute, heading home a perfect cross from Johnston.

After taking down Hoilett, Holness denied Kaye his hat trick, stopping both the LAFC midfielder’s spot kick and followup shot before Davis knocked in the rebound in the 73rd for his seventh Canadian goal. Cavallini goals in the 74th and 76th made it 11-0.

Monday’s game was officially a home game for the Caymans. But the three-island group with a population of some 63,000 has the same 14-day quarantine as Canada so opted to shift the site to Bradenton where the Canadian men had held a camp in January.

The Caymans have enjoyed some success under 31-year-old English coach Ben Pugh, a former academy coach at Ipswich Town. They won four of six League C matches in the CONCACAF Nations League in 2019, including a 3-2 victory over No. 162 Barbados.

This Caymans team was without 22-year-old winger Elijah Seymour, who plays professionally in Romania for CS Tunari. Whittaker said there were too many travel restrictions to bring him in.

“We are in a rebuilding process,” Whittaker said of his squad.

He said the Caymans roster included some “key players” from the national under-17, under-20 and under-23 and “a handful of players that we called experienced players that are 24, 25, 26.”

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Jennifer Jones breaks career wins record at Scotties

Athletes setting significant records in their sport are often too busy achieving those milestones to process their place in history at the moment.

What helps Jennifer Jones wrap her head around a career 153 wins at the Canadian women’s curling championship is seeing them through the eyes of people she loves.

Jones became the career leader in wins at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts with a 6-5 win Tuesday over Newfoundland and Labrador’s Sarah Hill.

Jones arrived at the 2021 Tournament of Hearts two back of the 152 victories held by Colleen Jones.


Jennifer Jones knows the record would have meant a lot to her late father Larry, who died two years ago at age 80.

“My dad always loved the records,” Jones aid Monday. “He always followed all the records. I know he would watching from above, [be] very, very proud.

“It definitely means something to me. As you kind of approach the end of your career, just to be remembered for doing something that you love is pretty remarkable.”

The wins record is among many Jones holds in women’s curling.

If the six-time national champion prevails in Calgary, the 46-year-old from Winnipeg will be the only woman to win seven.

Should daughters Isabella and Skyla take up curling, the record book provides a compelling argument that their mother is the best to ever play the game.

“My kids do look at it. There’s a book with my name in it with some records,” Jones said.

“I hope if anything it just shows them that if you work hard, that dreams are possible. I just want them to have the best possible life and if this can have any impact on that, it’s absolutely incredible.”

WATCH | That Curling Show: Jones brought to tears by mother, daughters:

The Team Manitoba skip is surprised on screen by her mom Carol and daughters Skyla and Bella. 3:15

Jones’ first win in 2002 was an 8-4 victory over Prince Edward Island’s Kathy O’Rourke, who is P.E.I’s alternate in Calgary this year.

Jones’ 153rd wasn’t a work of art as her team’s shooting accuracy was 80 per cent, but it was one Jones and her Manitoba foursome needed to get to a 3-2 record.

Sitting on 2-3 until their next game Wednesday wouldn’t have felt uncomfortable.

“We were grinding it out today,” Jones said. “We really needed this win to stay kind of in there in the competition.”

Other results at the Scotties

Quebec’s Laurie St-Georges topped Pool B at 4-1 ahead of Prince Edward Island’s Suzanne Birt at 3-1. Manitoba was knotted at 3-2 with Chelsea Carey’s Wild Card One.

St-Georges downed Nunavut’s Lori Eddy 7-5. Carey lost a second straight game, falling 7-5 to B.C.’s Corryn Brown.

B.C., Newfoundland and Saskatchewan were even at 2-2. Saskatchewan’s Sherry Anderson fell 7-6 to New Brunswick’s Melissa Adams, who won her first game. Nunavut was winless in five games.

Ontario’s Rachel Homan and defending champion Kerri Einarson at 4-0 were the only undefeated teams in the tournament heading into Tuesday’s Pool A draw.

The top four teams from each pool of nine at the end of the preliminary round Thursday advance to the two-day championship round and take their records with them.

The championship round’s top three will be Sunday’s playoff teams, with the No. 1 seed rewarded with a bye to that day’s final.

‘A role model’

Jones has won everything there is to win in women’s curling, including two world titles a decade apart in 2008 and 2018.

Jones, third Kaitlyn Lawes, second Jill Officer and lead Dawn McEwen went undefeated en route to an Olympic gold medal in 2014.

“I can’t believe this is my 11th year with Jennifer and the girls,” Lawes said. “I still feel like I’m the 21-year-old kid when I joined the team.

“I was just so eager to learn from the best. I’ve always looked up to Jen. She’s a role model and how special is it to be able to play with people that you’re inspired by?”

Jones and former second Officer own the record for most Hearts final appearances (9). Dawn McEwen, who is pregnant and sitting out this year, played lead for Jones in seven of them.

Jones has appeared in the most playoff games (33) and shares the playoff win record (21) with Officer.

“I’ve been so fortunate to have the best human beings as teammates that have supported me throughout I don’t know how many years,” Jones said.

In her 16th Hearts appearance, Jones trails only Colleen Jones (19) for the most by a skip.

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CBC | Sports News

Thai court gives record 43-year sentence for insulting king

A court in Thailand on Tuesday sentenced a former civil servant to a record prison term of 43 years and six months for breaching the country’s strict law on insulting or defaming the monarchy, lawyers said.

The Bangkok Criminal Court found the woman guilty on 29 counts of violating the country’s lese majeste law for posting audio clips to Facebook and YouTube with comments deemed critical of the monarchy, the group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said.

The sentence, which comes amid an ongoing protest movement that has seen unprecedented public criticism of the monarchy, was swiftly condemned by rights groups.

“Today’s court verdict is shocking and sends a spine-chilling signal that not only criticisms of the monarchy won’t be tolerated, but they will also be severely punished,” said Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher for the group Human Rights Watch.

Controversial law

Violating Thailand’s lese majeste law — known widely as Article 112 — is punishable by three to 15 years’ imprisonment per count. The law is controversial not only because it has been used to punish things as simple as liking a post on Facebook but also because anyone — not just royals or authorities — can lodge a complaint that can tie the person accused up in legal proceedings for years.

During Thailand’s last 15 years of political unrest, the law has frequently been as a political weapon as well as in personal vendettas. Actual public criticism of the monarchy, however, had until recently been extremely rare.

That changed during the past year, when young protesters calling for democratic reforms also issued calls for the reform of the monarchy, which has long been regarded as an almost sacred institution by many Thais. The protesters have said the institution is unaccountable and holds too much power in what is supposed to be a democratic constitutional monarchy.

Authorities at first let much of the commentary and criticism go without charge, but since November has arrested about 50 people and charged them with lese majeste.

Sunai said Tuesday’s sentence was likely meant to send a message.

‘Last resort measure’

“It can be seen that Thai authorities are using lese majeste prosecution as their last resort measure in response to the youth-led democracy uprising that seeks to curb the king’s powers and keep him within the bound of constitutional rule. Thailand’s political tensions will now go from bad to worse,” he said.

After King Maha Vajralongkorn took the throne in 2016 following his father’s death, he informed the government that he did not wish to see the lese majeste law used. But as the protests grew last year, and the criticism of the monarchy got harsher, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha warned a line had been crossed and the law would be used.

The protest movement has lost steam since the arrests and a new restrictions on public gatherings that followed a surge in coronavirus cases.

Thai Lawyers for Human Rights identified the woman sentenced Tuesday only by her first name Anchan and said she was in her mid-sixties. The court initially announced her sentence as 87 years, but reduced it by half because she pleaded guilty to the offences.

Held for almost 4 years

Her case dates back six years, when anti-establishment sentiment was growing after a 2014 military coup led by Prayuth. She was held in jail from January 2015 to November 2018.

She denied the charges when her case was first heard in military court, where lese majeste offences were prosecuted for a period after the coup. When her case was transferred to criminal court, she pleaded guilty with the hope that the court would have sympathy for her actions, because she had only shared the audio, not posted or commented on it, she told local media Tuesday on her arrival at court.

“I thought it was nothing. There were so many people who shared this content and listened to it. The guy (who made the content) had done it for so many years,” Anchan said. “So I didn’t really think this through and was too confident and not being careful enough to realize at the time that it wasn’t appropriate.”

She said she had worked as a civil servant for 40 years and was arrested one year before retirement, and with a conviction would lose her pension.

What is believed to have previously been the longest lese majeste sentence was issued in 2017, when a military court sentenced a man to 35 years in prison for social media posts deemed defamatory to the monarchy. The man, a salesman, had initially been sentenced to 70 years, but had his sentence halved after pleading guilty.

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CBC | World News

How hot was 2020? It depends who you ask, but it was another one for the record books, agencies say

Once again, 2020 was a hot one.

According to NASA and recent findings from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, last year tied 2016 as the warmest on record.

It was the second-warmest according to the U.S.-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — with a global average temperature that was 0.98 C higher than the pre-industrial average. 

But the differences between the findings are negligible, the scientists say, with a 0.02 C difference on either side. But the message is still the same: Earth is continuing to warm.

“Year to year, there are always differences,” said Chris Derksen, a senior researcher at Environment and Climate Change Canada. “We don’t always expect every year to break the record set the previous year. But what’s important is the long-term trend and the consistency of this trend that has emerged.”

That long-term trend pegs the past decade as the warmest on record, dating back to 1880. 

The slight differences between the agencies are due to a few factors, including how they analyze the raw temperature data and how they account for missing temperatures in polar regions.

Ultimately, though, “It’s a statistical tie,” Gavin Schmidt, a climatologist and director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said at a news conference on Thursday.

The record heat comes amid almost a year of lockdowns around the globe due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But the researchers found that didn’t really affect the upward temperature trend.

That’s because Earth is basically playing catch-up with the greenhouse gases that have already been released in the atmosphere, said Ahira Sanchez-Lugo, a physical scientist who compiles global temperature data at NOAA’s National Centres for Environmental Information.


This graphic illustrates how the global land and ocean temperatures differ from the pre-industrial average. (NOAA)

Greenhouse gases live for thousands of years in the atmosphere, acting like a blanket. 

“Just think about yourself, when you’re in bed, and you keep adding extra layers of blanket over you: there’s a point where you’re going to start getting hot,” she said. “[With] COVID, we’ve seen a decrease in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. That does not mean that we’re peeling off these layers that we’ve already added to Earth, it just means that we’re not adding more layers.”

Change in the Arctic

According to NOAA, the Northern Hemisphere experienced its hottest year ever, with the Arctic warming at twice the global average, and some parts as high as three to four times the average.

No one needs to tell Fred Sangris, the community negotiator for the Yellowknife Dene in the Northwest Territories. He said his community is seeing the changes firsthand.

“In the last 30, 40 years, climate change is starting to warm up a bit,” he said. “We have cougars that moved into this area. We have coyotes that moved here from the south. We also have birds like magpies. We have other animals that are moving north. Birds that we’ve never seen before are migrating here.”

But more importantly, it’s changing the way of life in the Arctic, one that has existed for generations: Lakes are drying up, caribou numbers are dwindling, the permafrost is thawing and the ice isn’t as thick as it once was, posing a serious danger for those who depend on it for hunting and fishing. And it’s threatening lives.


Aerial view of melting permafrost tundra and lakes near the Yupik village of Quinhagak on the Yukon Delta in Alaska on April 12, 2019. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

“The rivers are not freezing like they used to,” Sangris said. “I used to cross the river here with the sled dogs, dog teams way back. But now that the rivers are thin ice, they’re not freezing … People are going through the ice as they travel. And if they don’t get injured, then they lose their life.”

Sangris is trying to find a way to make it safer for the younger generation to travel in an ever-changing Arctic, one where the traditions no longer seem to apply.

“In the past year, we’ve been trying to develop a map for a young generation, a community map that they can take with them saying this area is soft here, that river is soft, this point here is open water,” he said. “So we’re trying to educate the younger generation so that they have safe travel.”

While the changes aren’t as dramatic south of the Arctic, Canadians can expect to see more climate-change linked events.

“We should expect temperatures to continue to increase,” Derksen said. “We can expect changes in precipitation, so more extreme precipitation events during the summer. But in overall reduction in water availability, we have changes in glaciers happening in Western Canada that also affects freshwater access for Canadians.”

44 consecutive years 

Canadians can expect more heat waves, a potential increase in fires and more precipitation. 

Weather events across the country in 2020 had an insured loss estimate of close to $ 2.5 billion. And while it was a quiet fire season in the west, southern B.C. was plunged into darkness as smoke from fires in California and Oregon sent thick smoke high into the atmosphere, blanketing the region.

WATCH | 2020 tied for hottest year on record, NASA says:

Last year was also the 44th in a row that Earth’s temperature has been above the pre-industrial average. 

“I’m of the age where Earth has had warmer-than-average temperatures for 44 consecutive years … That means I’ve lived almost my entire life on a planet that’s warmer than average,” Derksen said. “So Canadians should anticipate and expect to continue living in that environment.”

So what does that mean for the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit pre-industrial warming to 1.5 C by 2100?

“Using baselines now, it’s likely that we will have one year or so of 1.5 C before around 2030,” Schmidt said. “Personally, I don’t think that there’s much that will change [in upward trajectory] that barring a massive volcano that would slow things down for a few years.”

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CBC | World News

Ford promises more restrictions as Ontario reports record 4,249 new COVID-19 cases

Premier Doug Ford is promising further restrictions coming for Ontario, as the province reported a record 4,249 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

That number comes with the caveat — about 450 were attributable to a data upload delay from Toronto Public Health.

Even so, that would mean about 3,800 were newly confirmed infections, considerably more than the previous record of 3,519 reported Thursday. The cases that were delayed were “primarily” from Jan. 5 and 6, the province said.

Ford held a rare morning news conference Friday, where he again asked Ontarians to follow public health guidelines. The premier said new modelling coming early next week will paint a potentially dire scenario in the province.

“We’re in a desperate situation, and when you see the modelling, you’ll fall out of your chair,” Ford said.

“There will be further measures, because this is getting out of control.”

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, agreed with that assessment. “I think we do need to consider more serious measures, perhaps similar to what happened in the spring,” she said.

“Today’s numbers, to be frank, are scary.”

WATCH | Premier promises new measures to curb COVID-19’s spread:

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says new models forecasting coronavirus cases will show the province is in ‘a desperate situation’ and he warns new measures are coming to try to curb the spread. 1:03

The new cases reported today include 1,382 in Toronto, 691 in Peel Region, 427 in York Region, 213 in Niagara Region and 184 in Windsor-Essex.

Combined, they push the seven-day average to 3,394, also a pandemic high for the province. 

They come as Ontario’s network of labs processed 71,481 test samples for the novel coronavirus and reported a test positivity rate of 6.2 per cent. 

Hospitalizations dip, patients in ICU climb

There are now 28,203 confirmed, active cases of the illness provincewide, the most at any point during the pandemic by a considerable margin.

“This is so, so serious,” Ford said. “This is the most serious situation we’ve ever been in ever, ever, since the start of this pandemic.”

While overall hospitalizations fell slightly to 1,446, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care and on ventilators both climbed to new highs — 369 and 250, respectively.

The following public health units also reported double- or triple-digit case count increases:

  • Hamilton: 176.
  • Durham Region: 170.
  • Ottawa:154.
  • Waterloo Region: 147.
  • Halton Region: 134.
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 85.
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 75.
  • Lambton: 56.
  • Middlesex-London: 53.
  • Eastern Ontario: 45.
  • Brant County: 41.
  • Southwestern: 40.
  • Huron-Perth: 31.
  • Grey Bruce County: 20.
  • Haldimand-Norfolk: 20.
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge: 13.
  • Sudbury: 13.
  • Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington: 12.
  • Renfrew County: 12.

(Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.)

Numbers worsening despite lockdown

Meanwhile new data crunched by Ontario scientists with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences shows test positivity rates for some of the hardest-hit parts of the province are only worsening.

Residents of northeast Brampton with postal codes starting with L6P are testing positive for the virus at a higher rate than anywhere in the province. 

From Dec. 6 to Dec. 12, that neighbourhood had a positivity rate of 14.7 per cent, after north Etobicoke at 15.2 per cent and South Windsor at 15. 4 per cent. 

But that number only grew after the provincewide lockdown, with the rate jumping to 23.7 per cent for the period Dec. 27 to Jan. 2. Rounding out the top three for that period are North York and northeast Scarborough. 

Dr. Jeff Kwong, a senior scientist with the group that compiled the data, says one of the biggest contributing factors is that low-income workers in these areas have no choice but to go to work. 

But he also believes regional travel over the holidays has contributed to rising levels of virus across the province.

“And I mean, I think the timing of the lockdown may have been unfortunate,” he said. “They said, ‘OK, we’re going to go into lockdown, but we’re going to be doing it in five days from now.’ I think that maybe sent mixed messages to people.”

On Thursday, Williams pointed out the hardest-hit areas of the province, Toronto, Peel and York, which previously made up 70 per cent of Ontario’s total cases, now make up closer to 50 per cent. 

Kwong points out those infected around New Year’s may not begin showing symptoms until several days later.

“I’m fearful that next week’s numbers are going to be even worse,” he said.

Vaccination progress

Late Thursday, CBC News obtained a memo from the president and CEO of Ontario Health, Matthew Anderson, telling hospitals to prepare for transferring dozens and potentially hundreds of patients across and even out of regions.

Ontario’s hospitals are projected to have more than 500 patients with COVID-19 in intensive care units and more than 1,700 COVID-19 in other beds by Jan. 24, according to the memo. 

Ford took multiple questions today about the situation in the province’s long-term care homes, where deaths continue to mount despite the province’s repeated assertions that it has placed an “iron ring” around facilities.

“It’s heartbreaking. It’s frustrating as well, with the long-term care homes,” Ford said.


A worker at St. George Care Community watches during a union-organized rally outside the Toronto long-term care home on Thursday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

The premier also talked about vaccines for a considerable portion of the news conference, saying the province vaccinated nearly 15,000 people Thursday. Ford said he spoke with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last night about the need to increase supply.

“All of Ontario will be out of Pfizer vaccines by the end of next week,” Ford said. Provincial officials have told CBC News that they expect another shipment of 80,000 doses next week, alongside 80,000 each of the two following weeks.

“We have a long, long way to go before enough vaccines arrive for everyone,” Ford said.

On Thursday, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that elementary students in southern Ontario will not be returning to schools for in-class learning until at least Jan. 25 as test positivity rates for COVID-19 rise for adults and children alike. 

At the news conference this morning, Lecce said the province will be expanding asymptomatic testing and all schools across Ontario will have access to it. The minister also promised improvements with personal protective equipment and staffing.

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Ontario reports record high 3,328 new COVID-19 cases, 56 new deaths

Ontario reported a single-day record of 3,328 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and 56 new deaths related to the illness. 

The figure marks the first time the province has reported more than 3,000 cases in a single day, and the third consecutive day Ontario has recorded a record-breaking case count.

A record number of patients were also hospitalized and admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) on Thursday. Currently, there are 1,235 patients in hospital. Of those, 337 are in intensive care.

Forty-five patients were admitted to Ontario ICUs on Wednesday, another record during the pandemic.

The number of ICU patients being treated for COVID-19 has doubled since the last day of November, when hospitals were treating 168 patients.

Residents of long-term care homes accounted for 28 of the newly tallied deaths. There are now active COVID-19 outbreaks in 187 LTC facilities, a decrease of five since Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Ontario’s network of labs processed 63,858 test samples for the novel coronavirus while another 72,283 tests are in the queue waiting to be completed.

The province’s test positivity rate now sits at 5.7 per cent.

Of Thursday’s newly confirmed infections, there were 888 in Toronto, 431 in Peel Region, 418 in York Region, 257 in Windsor-Essex, and 194 in Ottawa. 

Ontario’s cumulative case count now sits at 182,159. The province’s seven-day average has also reached a new record-high, climbing to 2,436.

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:

  • Hamilton: 156 
  • Waterloo: 127
  • Durham: 114
  • London: 112
  • Niagara: 110
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 83
  • Southwestern: 79
  • Halton: 79
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 58
  • Eastern Ontario: 58
  • Brant County: 26
  • Lambton: 25
  • Huron Perth: 19
  • Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington: 13
  • Haldimand-Norfolk: 12
  • Chatham-Kent: 12
  • Leeds, Grenville and Lanark: 10

[Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.]  

ICUs nearing capacity, hospitals say

Ontario hospitals continue to warn that intensive care units are reaching maximum capacity and threatening to overwhelm the wider health-care system.  

In a statement to CBC Toronto on Wednesday, Anthony Dale, CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association said the situation grows “ever more serious by the day.” 

“Do not celebrate the holidays with people outside your own household. It would be the ultimate tragedy if the worst consequences from the COVID-19 pandemic happened just as vaccines arrived on Canadian soil,” Dale said.

Health Minister Christine Elliott is also urging people to celebrate New Year’s Eve only with people in their own households. 


 

LTC residents receive first shots of Moderna vaccine

A small number of Ontario long-term care (LTC) residents were the first people in Ontario to be inoculated with Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

A shipment of approximately 50,000 doses arrived in Ontario Wednesday. A select number of long-term care homes are participating in a pilot project that aims to iron out logistical challenges as the province begins rolling out the vaccine.


Unlike the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Ontario received earlier this month, the Moderna vaccine does not need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures, making it more suitable for transportation to LTC facilities.

Ontario has now administered 23,502 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. Both vaccines it has in stock require two doses to achieve maximum protection from the virus.

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Fusion Reactor Sets Record By Running for 20 Seconds

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Most of the methods we currently use to produce power come with substantial drawbacks such as pollution or limited availability. Reliable fusion power could theoretically change all that. By harnessing the power of the sun, we could safely produce more power than ever before. The problem, however, is that fusion power generation doesn’t work yet. A team from South Korea just made a major advancement — the Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research (KSTAR) device recently ran for 20 seconds. That might not sound impressive, but it doubles the previous record

The sun and other stars produce energy through nuclear fusion — the process of sticking together two hydrogen atoms (and later heavier atoms) yields enormous energy, and the byproducts are entirely safe, unlike the leftovers from nuclear fission and combustion. However, fusion only takes place at extremely high temperatures and pressures. It’s not a self-sustaining chain reaction like fission. 

KSTAR is one of the most advanced Tokamak-style reactors in the world. These devices use powerful magnetic fields to shape super-heated plasma into a torus (ring) shape. Currently, our ability to sustain artificial fusion reactions in this way is extremely limited. The best experimental reactors like KSTAR can only keep super-heated plasma active for a few seconds. The number of seconds is finally increasing, though. 

KSTAR recently maintained fusion plasma at 180 million degrees Fahrenheit for 20 seconds. This device’s previous record was just eight seconds in 2019, and the global record before this experiment was a mere 10 seconds at 100 million degrees or higher. The longer plasma remains active in the reactor the more likely the atoms will undergo fusion and produce usable amounts of energy. That’s the goal, but current fusion reactors like KSTAR consume more power than they produce. The record holder in that arena is the Joint European Torus (JET), which can produce 16MW of power from 24MW of input power. 

The team says an improved Internal Transport Barrier (ITB) performance was the key to this most recent improvement. An ITB reduces the movement of ions inside the plasma, leading to improved plasma confinement and stability. Thus, the KSTAR reactor was able to smash the previous record. 

We’re still a long way from making fusion a viable source of energy. For now, the KSTAR team hopes to continue improving its reactor stability, eventually scaling to 300 seconds of continuous operation by 2025.

Now read:

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Messi breaks all-time single-club scoring record with 644th strike for Barcelona

Lionel Messi broke Pele’s all-time scoring milestone for their clubs by netting his 644th career goal for Barcelona on Tuesday, while Atletico Madrid beat Real Sociedad 2-0 to increase its lead of the Spanish league.

Messi, who helped Barcelona win 3-0 at Valladolid, had equaled Pele’s all-time scoring tally on Saturday. His 643rd career goal for Barcelona since his 2004 debut matched Pele’s tally for Santos from 1957-74.

In a meeting between the front-runner and the sensation of the league this season, Atletico put on another dominant performance to show why it is the early title favourite.

Diego Simeone’s team took full advantage of its best scoring opportunities and its defense remained airtight from start to finish.

Mario Hermoso headed in a free kick by Yannick Carrasco to put the visitors at San Sebastian ahead four minutes after halftime. Marcos Llorente put the result beyond doubt in the 74th with a powerful strike from the edge of the area.

Atletico moved three points clear of second-place Real Madrid. Sociedad was left in third place at six points adrift. The Basque Country club had led the league earlier this season but has now gone six rounds without a victory.

Barcelona stayed in fifth place at eight points behind Atletico.

Atletico has one more game to play than both Madrid and Barcelona and three more games to play than Sociedad.

Messi tallies late for record

Messi scored his team’s final goal at Valladolid as Barcelona excelled in an experimental lineup by coach Ronald Koeman.

Koeman has tried several different lineups since he took over Barcelona last summer with the mission to fix a team that had hit rock bottom in a historic 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich.

After seeing his side not win away from home in four games, Koeman opted for his most profound makeover at Valladolid. He deployed a defence of three center backs and kept Antoine Griezmann and Philippe Coutinho — the club’s star signings in recent seasons — and midfield leader Sergio Busquets on the bench.


That left Martin Braithwaite alone to spear the attack behind two playmakers in Messi and 18-year-old Pedro “Pedri” Gonzalez. The scheme also allowed Sergino Dest to attack deeper on the right flank.

Messi lobbed a pass forward for Clement Lenglet to head in for the 21st-minute opener. Messi then played the ball wide to Dest, who squared it low for Braithwaite to tap home in the 35th.

The connection between Pedri and Messi clicked throughout, but it shone in the 65th when the teenager set up the veteran.

After receiving the ball near the edge of the area, Pedri assisted Messi by deftly rolling his boot over the ball to push it behind him to meet the Argentine’s run. The slick pass left Messi clear to finally beat goalie Jordi Masip, who had denied with twice.

Messi also hit the post in stoppage time.

Defence first

Atletico was without Joao Felix due to a throat infection. It made up for the absence of its most dynamic forward by applying a suffocating defense to nullify Sociedad’s normally fluid attack.

Sociedad had David Silva back after he recovered from a muscle injury that had sidelined him for three consecutive matches.

Silva’s return was not enough, however, to break through the visitors’ defensive block that left Jan Oblak with very little work. The Slovenian goalkeeper didn’t have to make a save until the 83rd when he stretched to parry a free kick by Martin Merquelanz.

Oblak has conceded only five goals in 13 league games.

Hermoso had struggled to break into Atletico’s starting 11 last season, but he has earned a spot on the left side of the three-man defence Simeone has used at times this campaign. The goal was his second of the season.

After Hermoso’s opener, Atletico pushed for a second goal with Carrasco twice threatening with his crosses from the left flank. Another attack down the left led to Luis Suarez receiving the ball deep in the box. His pass intended for Carrasco was deflected by a defender into the path of Llorente, who blasted it home.

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