Ottawa rolling out rapid COVID-19 tests as vaccine mandates prepare to snap into place

The federal government says all federal public servants will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination by the end of October, or risk being put on leave without pay. Ottawa also announced that Canadians over the age of 12 must have both shots to board trains or planes, with few exceptions.

Federal public servants who have a valid medical or religious reason not to get the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to use rapid antigen tests as an alternative. However, those tests currently “aren’t accepted” for passengers on domestic planes or trains who have a medical exemption from getting their vaccine.

An order-in-council issued on Oct. 6 authorized the federal health minister to transfer COVID-19 test kits “to any province or to any body or person in Canada in support of the Government of Canada’s implementation of a COVID-19 vaccination initiative.”

A spokesperson for Health Canada confirmed the authorization comes as the federal government is preparing to deliver rapid antigen tests to organizations or departments that fall under the mandate so they can accommodate employees who are unable to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The rapid testing alternative does not apply to employees who are simply unwilling to get the vaccine.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Aug. 13 that COVID-19 vaccination will be required this fall for all employees of the federal public service, as well as for anyone wanting to board a plane or a train.

The details were unveiled earlier this month, when officials confirmed those requirements will snap into place on Oct. 30 for those over the age of 12 and seeking to board a plane or a train in Canada.

There will be a temporary grace period in the travel rules until Nov. 30, “when travellers who don’t yet qualify as fully vaccinated will be able to travel if they can show a valid COVID-19 molecular test taken within 72 hours of travel.”

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According to those travel rules, there will be “very limited exceptions to address specific situations such as emergency travel, and those medically unable to be vaccinated.”

Those regulations currently state that “rapid antigen tests aren’t accepted.”

For employees of the federal public service, those who either refuse to disclose whether they are vaccinated or refuse to get vaccinated can be placed on leave without pay as of Nov. 15.

There will only be exemptions from the federal public service vaccination requirement for “employees that cannot be fully vaccinated due to a certified medical contraindication, religion, or any other prohibited ground of discrimination as defined in the Canadian Human Rights Act.”

Mandatory testing measures can be put in place as accommodations are deemed necessary on a case-by-case basis for those unable to be fully vaccinated, the policy for federal workers states.

So will a vaccine-exempt public servant regulating Via Rail or a domestic airline end up using a different type of test than a vaccine-exempt passenger trying to board a train or a plane operated by the carriers?

Likely — but there appears to be a reason.

Dr. Susy Hota, the medical director for the University Health Network’s infection prevention and control unit in Toronto, told Global News that deciding which tests to require in which situations is all about balancing risks.

“These tests do function differently,” Hota explained.

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The PCR test is the one many Canadians will be familiar with as the “brain tickler” — it goes deep into the nasal cavity, and can range in sensation from uncomfortable to painful depending on the person.

As Hota explained, this is the default test used when “the stakes are high and you want to diagnose an infection,” because the test is highly accurate.

The drawback is that it can take anywhere from eight hours to 48 hours to get results, since the test needs to be processed in a laboratory.

Enter, rapid antigen tests.

These tests are less invasive, since they do not go as deep up the nose as a PCR test. They are also processed much more quickly — typically around 15 minutes. But they are also less accurate, particularly when it comes to producing false negatives.

Rapid antigen tests are more useful when used for repeated, regular screening, Hota said, noting that while there are “shortcomings” to using the rapid tests, the wait time to get results from PCR tests means they are not currently practical for use as a screening tool in workplaces.

With travellers, though, there is typically only one opportunity for testing.

“So you want something that’s a little bit better at detecting,” Hota said, adding that until a quicker, more accurate option is available for testing in environments like workplaces, the goal will be making the best choices possible out of a difficult set of options.

“You’re balancing the risk of the situations,” she said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

2 injured in Trans-Canada Highway collision near Salmon Arm, say police

Two drivers were taken to hospital after a serious collision on the Trans-Canada Highway in B.C.’s Interior on Thursday morning, say police.

According to the B.C. Highway Patrol, the collision happened near White Lake, west of Salmon Arm, and involved a cement truck and a pickup truck.

Police say the accident happened around 7:45 a.m., and began with the eastbound cement truck trying to avoid a collision with a merging vehicle.

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The driver of the cement truck lost control and crashed into the centre concrete divider and rolled over.

A westbound pickup truck then collided with one of the concrete barriers that had been dislodged into the westbound lanes.

Highway Patrol says both drivers were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

“B.C. Highway Patrol is asking for witnesses to this collision to come forward, in particular the occupant(s) of the white SUV that was merging onto the highway and may have caused the cement truck to take collision avoidance measures,” said police.

Anyone with information regarding this accident is asked to contact the B.C. Highway Patrol in Revelstoke at 250-805-2111.

 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

COVID-19: 2 new cases for Peterborough area as active cases at 9

Ontario's top doctor, Dr. Kieran Moore, said Thursday that 'at present,' it will not be mandatory for students to report their COVID-19 vaccination status as part of the Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA).

Peterborough Public Health reported two new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, according to data released late Thursday afternoon.

In its COVID tracker update issued around 4:25 p.m., the regional health unit reported nine active cases, up from eight reported on Wednesday

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Other data from the health unit, which serves Peterborough, Peterborough County, Hiawatha First Nation and Curve Lake First Nation:

  • Cumulative confirmed cases: 1,896 since the pandemic was declared in March 2020.
  • Variant of concern cases: 1,117 — unchanged since Wednesday’s update. The first variant case was reported on Feb. 23 and the first confirmed Delta variant case was reported on June 19.
  • Resolved cases: 1,864 — one more since Wednesday (1,863). Resolved cases make up approximately 97.4 per cent of all cases.
  • Close contacts: 77 — up from 75 reported on Wednesday. A close contact is a person who is known to have had close contact with someone who was infected with COVID-19. People who are close contacts have to self-isolate for 14 days from the last time they had contact with a person infected with COVID-19.
  • Hospitalizations: 89 cases have required hospitalization since the pandemic began — unchanged since Monday. The hospitalized cases make up approximately 4.7 per cent of all cases; 19 of the cases required the intensive care unit — one new admission was reported Monday. ICU admissions make up one per cent of all the health unit’s cases since the pandemic’s beginnings.
  • Outbreaks: An outbreak declared last Friday remains in effect at Roger Neilson Public School in Peterborough. The health unit has dealt with 336 cases associated with 57 outbreaks since the pandemic’s beginnings. Of the 336 outbreak cases, 97 have been in a school setting (19 elementary, six secondary and 72 post-secondary).
  • Deaths: 23 — the latest death was reported on Sept. 10.
  • COVID-19 exposure: 75.7 per cent of all cases (1,435) in the health unit’s jurisdiction are from contact with another existing case, 19.9 per cent (377 cases) are connected with community spread, 3.9 per cent (74 cases) are related to travel and 0.5 per cent (10 cases) have yet to be determined.
  • Testing: More than 62,950 people have been tested for COVID-19 — 100 more since Wednesday’s update.
  • Enforcement: Since Oct. 1, four charges have been laid businesses under the Reopening Ontario Act.

The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, as of 10:06 a.m. Thursday, reported one active case among its schools within the health unit’s jurisdiction (the school board does not state if cases involve students or staff):

  • Roger Neilson Public School in Peterborough: One case — unchanged since Wednesday. The health unit declared an outbreak at the school on Friday afternoon. The school remains open.

The Peterborough Victoria Northumberland Clarington Catholic District School Board reported two active cases at its schools within the health unit’s jurisdiction on Thursday afternoon (the school board does not state if cases involve students or staff). Data may not align with the health unit’s updates:

  • St. John Catholic Elementary School in Peterborough: One case — unchanged. School remains open.
  • St. Anne Catholic Elementary School in Peterborough: One case — unchanged. School remains open.

Trent University reported no active cases at its Peterborough and Durham campuses on Wednesday afternoon. It says 93 per cent of students and 96 per cent of employees are fully vaccinated and three per cent of students and one per cent of staff are partially vaccinated — all unchanged since Tuesday’s update.

Fleming College has not reported any cases at its Peterborough campus.

The health unit releases its weekly vaccination rate data on Wednesday. The latest data can be found in this Global News Peterborough story.

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The health unit will be holding vaccination clinics at the Healthy Planet Arena on Monaghan Road in Peterborough this week. Clinics include:

  • Friday, Oct. 29: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

All testing and medical assessments for COVID-19 in Peterborough are now consolidated at Peterborough Regional Health Centre’s assessment centre at 1 Hospital Dr. Appointments must be booked online.

A number of Peterborough and area pharmacies offer vaccinations to eligible recipients. Appointments are required and can be made by calling the respective pharmacies or visiting the Ontario government’s website.

 

 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

London Transit partners with MagnusCards to make conventional bus service more accessible

Officials with the London Transit Commission have unveiled a new digital initiative aimed at making the city’s conventional transit system more accessible and easier to navigate.

The commission announced Thursday that it had partnered with the makers of MagnusCards to integrate information about the city’s transit system into the mobile app.

Originally designed for those with autism or other cognitive special needs, the MagnusCards app “provides structured, step-by-step guidance with a game design to help teach a variety of life skills through free card decks,” according to LTC officials.

In the case of London Transit, the commission says the app will provide guidance to users on matters such as planning a trip, purchasing fares, riding the bus with accessibility devices, safety and getting help, using a smart card, and utilizing LTC’s real-time information service.

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The plan comes as one of the initiatives outlined in the LTC’s five-year Accessibility Plan, said Kelly Paleczny, the transit commission’s general manager. The plan set out strategies to address “local accessibility issues and regulatory requirements,” for 2020 through 2025.

The mobile app is a digital revamp of sorts of a spiral-bound, step-by-step booklet that was introduced as part of the LTC’s Get on Board Program several years ago, Paleczny says. The booklet was initially aimed at specialized transit riders, and was later expanded to more groups.

“Outlined in our Accessibility Plan was an update to that booklet, it needed to be updated,” Paleczny said. “It was a paper book, and with the rapid changes that we’ve seen in technology, the partnership with Magnus afforded us that opportunity to take that document and put it in an app.”

The London Transit Commission approached Magnus with the idea of utilizing the app after seeing other transit systems in Ontario do the same, Paleczny said.

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While the initial target for MagnusCard was people on the autism spectrum or with cognitive special needs, the commission’s industry partners and the app’s developer have observed an uptick in usage among other demographic groups, such as seniors and those who are new to a community or new to Canada, she added.

“They have indicated that they’ve seen a much wider demographic utilize this app, and part of the arrangement with Magnus is they will provide us that kind of information — who’s downloading the app, how often it’s being used, which decks are being used most often, that type of thing,” Paleczny said.

London Transit information began appearing in the MagnusCard app on Thursday. The app is currently available through the Apple App Store and Google Play. More information can be found on London Transit’s website.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Body recovered confirmed to be missing Whitby woman, police say

Durham Regional Police say the body of a missing Whitby woman has been recovered.

Police said in a news release Thursday that a post-mortem examination conducted on human remains found in Kawatha Lakes, Ont., had been confirmed to be 58-year-old Ava Burton.

The statement said Ontario Provincial Police officers were called after human remains were located on The Glen Road in Mariposa Township after 7 p.m. on Sunday. Durham police officers were notified that evening and assisted with the investigation.

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The release said a second body was recovered at the scene, but the identity of the second victim hasn’t yet been confirmed.

Police said both victims had “obvious signs of trauma.”

Officers previously said they were called to a home on Scepter Place in Whitby, near Garrard Road and Dryden Boulevard, just before 3 p.m. on Oct. 14.

Police said they received a call to “check on the well-being” of two women, identified as 58-year-old Ava Burton and 85-year-old Tatilda Noble, but when officers arrived they couldn’t find the women.

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Police deemed their disappearance suspicious and later said they were presumed dead.

Last week, officers announced that 30-year-old Whitby resident Joshua Burton had been charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the deaths of his mother and grandmother.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Major Crimes investigates apparent murder-suicide in Osoyoos, B.C.

B.C.’s Southeast District Major Crime Unit has confirmed two bodies located in Osoyoos, B.C., on Wednesday are believed to be connected to a murder-suicide.

Sgt. Jason Bayda said in a release that Osoyoos Mounties responded to an abandoned vehicle complaint in a rural area and the car was connected to a home in the 9000 block of 115 Street.

When police arrived at the home in question, they discovered a deceased person, while a second body was located in the area of the abandoned car.

The incident occurred in the Casitas Del Sol gated community.

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“Through the course of the investigations, officers have determined that the two deceased individuals were known to each other, and that there is no threat to public safety,” Bayda said.

“This incident appears to be a tragic murder-suicide within a family unit.”

Bayda said that no further information will be released at this time.

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The BC Coroners Service is also investigating.

Residents noticed at least four unmarked police cars flying down Highway 97 from Kelowna to Osoyoos prompting alarm on Wednesday morning.

An RCMP helicopter could also be seen landing at the Osoyoos airport. Police remained tight-lipped on Wednesday, only saying that two bodies had been located in Osoyoos.

RCMP said the murder-suicide is not believed to be connected to a non-fatal shooting in Naramata, B.C., on Tuesday.

Naramata is approximately 76 kilometres from Osoyoos in the South Okanagan.

Police said a 36-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound and the violence was believed to be related to the “drug subculture.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Supply chain woes cost Apple $6B in sales ahead of worse holiday quarter, CEO says

WATCH ABOVE: Apple posts $450-billion loss in three months.

Supply chain woes cost Apple Inc $6 billion in sales during the company’s fiscal fourth quarter, which missed Wall Street expectations, and Chief Executive Tim Cook said that the impact will be even worse during the current holiday sales quarter.

Cook told Reuters on Thursday the quarter ended Sept. 25 had “larger than expected supply constraints” as well as pandemic-related manufacturing disruptions in Southeast Asia. While Apple had seen “significant improvement” by late October in those Southeast Asian facilities, the chip shortage has persisted and is now affecting “most of our products,” Cook said.

“We’re doing everything we can do to get more (chips) and also everything we can do operationally to make sure we’re moving just as fast as possible,” Cook said.

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Shares of the Cupertino, California-based company, which had risen nearly 15% this year, slumped 5% in extended trading on Thursday.

Cook said the company expects year-over-growth for its quarter ending in December. Analysts expect growth of 7.4% to $119.7 billion.

“We’re projecting very solid demand growth year over year. But we are also predicting that we’re going to be short of demand by larger than $6 billion,” Cook said.

Apple’s results were mixed in a fiscal fourth quarter seen as a lull before the high-sales holiday end of year.

Apple said revenues and profits for the fiscal fourth quarter were $83.4 billion and $1.24 per share, compared with analyst estimates of $84.8 billion and $1.24 per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

The results were a rocky end to a fiscal year of above-expectations sales led by its iPhone 12 models and strong sales of Mac computers and iPads for working and learning from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Apple told investors in July that chip constraints would start to hit its iPhone and iPad lineups for the first time in the fourth quarter.

Apple posted its results shortly after retailer Amazon.com forecast holiday-quarter sales well below Wall Street expectations, citing labor supply shortages and global supply chain issues in part.

Misses

Apple missed expectations in two key categories. Apple said fourth-quarter iPhone sales were $38.9 billion, short of estimates of $41.5 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

Cook said that chips made with older technology remain the key supply constraint. He said that Apple remains unsure whether the shortages will ease after the holiday shopping season.

“Most of what we design are leading-edge (chip manufacturing) nodes, but all of the products have some legacy node components in them as well. And so that (shortage) continues into (fiscal) Q1, and we’ll see what it looks like beyond that. It’s very difficult to call,” Cook told Reuters.

The company’s accessories segment, which contains fast-growing categories like its AirPods wireless headphones, came in at $8.8 billion, half a billion dollars lower than analyst expectations of $9.3 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

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Other segments fared better. Sales for iPads and Macs were $8.3 billion and $9.2 billion, compared with analyst estimates of $7.2 billion and $9.2 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

The company’s services segment – which contains its App Store business – had sales of $18.3 billion in revenue, up 26%, compared with analyst expectations of $17.6 billion. Cook told Reuters that Apple now has 745 million paid subscribers to its platform, up from the 700 million it disclosed a quarter ago.

Another bright spot in the company’s results were its sales in China, which were up 83% to $14.6 billion.

The company said it returned $24 billion to shareholders during the quarter.

© 2021 Reuters

New South Niagara hospital takes a step foward

A long-awaited new hospital to serve residents of South Niagara has taken a step forward.

Infrastructure Ontario and Niagara Health have issued a request for proposals to design, build, finance and maintain the new South Niagara hospital.

Once built, the new hospital is expected to have 469 beds, which totals 156 more beds than the aging facilities it is scheduled to replace in Niagara Falls, Port Colborne and Fort Erie.

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The new hospital will also consolidate and expand acute care services, as well as emergency, critical care and surgical services.

The provincial government adds that the new South Niagara Hospital will also feature centres of excellence specializing in stroke, complex care, geriatrics and geriatric psychiatry and wellness in aging.

“The release of the RFP is a significant milestone,” says Lynn Guerriero, president and chief executive officer of Niagara Health.

She adds that it brings the system one-step closer “to delivering a state-of-the-art hospital as part of its vision to create a world-class, high-quality health-care experience for the residents of Niagara.”

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“With this new build, and the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital rebuild” in Grimsby, adds Niagara West MPP Sam Oosterhoff, “the Niagara Region will have a significant number of brand-new health care facilities, which will ensure patients and their families receive the best possible care.”

Niagara Health will continue operating existing hospitals in St. Catharines and Welland.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Winnipeg football hero Reaves throws hat into provincial byelection

A local sports hero is throwing his helmet into the ring as a candidate in an upcoming Winnipeg byelection.

Willard Reaves — who helped the Winnipeg Blue Bombers win the Grey Cup in 1984 and spent parts of five seasons with the club — has been tapped by the Manitoba Liberals to run as a candidate for provincial office in the Fort Whyte byelection.

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The byelection, expected to be called sometime after Manitoba’s new premier is decided by the Progressive Conservative party Saturday, is to replace Brian Pallister, who stepped down from his role as Fort Whyte MLA Oct. 4, shortly after resigning as premier.

The party said Reaves will be formally nominated as a candidate on Nov. 5.

According to provincial election laws, the byelection must be called within six months of Pallister’s resignation.

“I am excited to be putting my name forward for this important by-election to give voice to all people that feel like they haven’t been heard for decades,” Reaves said in a statement Thursday.

“I’ve decided it’s time to step off the sidelines and get in the game, because we need people in government prepared to deliver action – not talk. This is an opportunity to deliver change to the Manitoba Legislature.”

The Arizona-born Reaves has lived in Manitoba for nearly four decades, returning to Winnipeg after a short stint in the NFL with Miami and Washington.

His sons, Winnipeg-born Ryan and Jordan Reaves, are also professional athletes — Ryan for the New York Rangers of the NHL and Jordan for the Bombers’ rival Saskatchewan Roughriders.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Edmonton Elks to face each other for first time ever Friday night

For the first time ever, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will play a game against the Edmonton Elks when the two teams collide Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium.

The two teams have played each other 97 times in the past, but this is the first time they will clash on the field since Edmonton (2-7) adopted the Elks name.

CHML’s coverage of Friday’s game begins with the pregame show at 9 p.m., kickoff is at 9:45 p.m. After the game, catch The 5th Quarter on CHML, 900chml.com and on CHML’s Facebook page.

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The Tiger-Cats (5-5) have won their last five games against Edmonton dating back to 2018, including a 36-16 victory in their last meeting, the 2019 Eastern Final at Tim Hortons Field.

Hamilton will not have receiver Bralon Addison (hamstring) or cornerback/kick returner Frankie Williams (head) on the field after neither was a participant at practice this week.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Addison has again landed on the club’s six-game injured list after injuring his leg in the first half of last week’s 32-3 victory over Ottawa.

Williams remains week-to-week since getting hurt in a game against Montreal on Oct. 2.

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The struggling Elks traded quarterback Trevor Harris to the Alouettes in mid-October and earlier this week acquired QB Nick Arbuckle in a deal with the Toronto Argonauts just before the CFL‘s trade deadline.

Arbuckle will not play in Friday’s game as he continues to absorb the team’s playbook.

Rookie Taylor Cornelius is currently Edmonton’s starting quarterback with Dakota Prukop as the backup.

Edmonton Elks

Edmonton Elks

Edmonton Elks

Edmonton is 0-5 at home this season and has never lost six straight home contests to start a season. Their current six-game home losing skid, dating back to the 2019 season, is tied for the longest in franchise history.

Hamilton is 2-3 on the road in 2021 and will be counting on the hot hand of QB Jeremiah Masoli, who has thrown five touchdowns and no interceptions in his last three outings.

Masoli has not thrown an interception over his last 94 pass attempts and is 3-0 all-time against Edmonton, while the Elks have recorded four picks in their last five games including three by defensive back Trumaine Washington.

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In case you are wondering, Edmonton leads the all-time series against Hamilton 59-37-1, not including their two meetings in the Grey Cup final.

Edmonton trounced the Ticats 48-10 in the 1980 final at CNE Stadium in Toronto for the third title during the team’s unprecedented run of five consecutive championships.

Hamilton returned the favour six years later when the Cats crushed heavily favoured Edmonton 39-15 at BC Place Stadium.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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