The UK Has Already Approved The Pfizer Vaccine – Full COVID19 Update

Drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech say the UK has granted permission for the emergency use of their COVID19 vaccine. This morning’s announcement sets up Britain to be one of the first countries to kick-start its vaccination efforts as COVID19 case counts spike during the second wave. Still, other countries aren’t far behind, with the United States and the European Union also are vetting the Pfizer shot — as well as other candidates.

Trudeau Doubles Down on Cheap Debt and Increased Borrowing:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is taking on billions of dollars in more debt to protect Canadians from having to do the same thing. Trudeau says the average credit card interest rate is more than 19 per cent, and that it makes more sense for Ottawa to shoulder more of the burden through the COVID19 pandemic and economic downturn because it can borrow at rates now close to zero. The prime minister also says his government has no intention to start cutting spending at this time, saying now is not the time for austerity. The fall economic update released Monday proposed $25 billion in new spending to help Canadian businesses and workers make it through a COVID19 winter promised tens of billions more to help the country recover once the pandemic passes.

Here is the Prime Minister’s news conference from yesterday:

Procurement Minister Says There is Misinformation Out There But Refuses to Give the Correct Information:

Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada was one of the first countries to sign a deal to get doses of COVID19 vaccine from Moderna. She says it was also the fourth to sign a deal with Pfizer, and the first country without the ability to mass produce the vaccine domestically to sign with AstraZeneca. Anand says there has been “significant misinformation” about the doses procured and when they will arrive. However, Anand refused to say when doses will arrive or in what quantity. Premiers across Canada have been asking for this information and say they are not getting answers from the federal Liberals.

Dr Tam Confirms COVID is Harder on Older People:

Canada’s Chief public health officer says when looking at people experiencing the most severe illness, older Canadians are more at risk than younger ones who get COVID19. Dr. Theresa Tam says after the initial round of vaccines goes to people in high-risk living or work situations, like long-term care centres and hospital staff, the next round of immunizations should be done by age. She says the oldest Canadians should be at the front of the line.

Airline Refund Delays:

The head of Canada’s transport regulator says thousands of complaints filed to the Canadian Transportation Agency since the onset of the COVID19 pandemic will not start to be processed until early next year. Most of the 11,000 complaints since March concern refunds. Many Canadian airlines have refused to give customers refunds after cancelling hundreds of thousands of flights due to pandemic travel restrictions, opting instead for flight vouchers or credit.

Recording History:

While many Canadians may want to forget 2020, for various reasons, archives and museums across the country are working hard to build a formal record of the COVID19 pandemic. The Canadian History Museum’s Dean Oliver says their work includes a record of current and common parlance and collecting artifacts that tell the story of the time. Researchers say one challenge is representing a diversity of voices, especially since some of the people most affected also aren’t using common forms of connection, like social media.

Ontario Numbers:

The province reported 1,707 new cases of COVID19 on Tuesday morning. Health Minister Christine Elliott said 727 new cases were in Toronto, 373 in Peel Region and 168 cases in York Region. In total, 645 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID19. That includes 185 in intensive care. The province also reported another 7 deaths yesterday. Most of them were long-term care residents. That brings the death total to 3,663. The test positivity rate climbed to 5.1 per cent yesterday. There are now 14,524 active cases in the Region.

New Calls to Reopen Business:

A coalition of about 50 retailers is calling on the Ontario government to lift COVID19 restrictions for non-essential stores it claims is making things worse. In an open letter to Premier Doug Ford, the retailers argue that shutting down Toronto and Peel Region to restrict the virus’s spread hasn’t reduced the number of shoppers. Instead, consumers are funnelled into fewer, crowded stores and adjacent communities, which potentially creates greater health risk. Alexandra Hilkene, a spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott, says the government must limit opportunities for individuals to have close contact with others to help stop the spread of the virus.

More Ontario Made PPE:

Two Ontario companies will receive funding from the provincial government to produce masks for adults and children. Viva Healthcare Packaging is to receive $450-thousand dollars to begin making three-ply disposable surgical masks at a Toronto facility. The government says Ckdpack Packaging will use $100,000 dollars to expand its production of surgical masks and gowns in Straffordville, Ontario.

B.C. Cases:

British Columbia is reporting 656 new cases of COVID19 with 8,796 active cases across the province. There have been 16 additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 457 since the pandemic began. In a joint statement, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix say 336 people are being treated in hospital for COVID19, and 76 of them are in intensive care. Another 10,123 people are being monitored after they were exposed to a known case of the novel coronavirus.

Nova Scotia Cases:

Nova Scotia reported 10 new cases of COVID19 yesterday. Public health officials say all of the new cases were found in the central zone, bringing the province’s total active case count to 142. Rapid testing was administered at pop-up sites Monday in both Wolfville and Halifax and no cases were found at either site. A total of 4,138 COVID19 tests were administered in the province Monday.

New Brunswick Update:

Public health officials in New Brunswick reported seven new cases of COVID19 in the province Tuesday. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says there are four new cases in the Saint John zone and three new cases in the Fredericton zone. There are currently 116 active cases in the province, and there have been 508 cases in New Brunswick since the pandemic began. There have been seven deaths and no one is in hospital.

Manitoba Sets a New Record for Daily Deaths:

Manitoba confirmed 282 new COVID19 cases and a record 16 deaths yesterday. The test positivity rate remains high at 13 per cent, and Premier Brian Pallister says restrictions on business openings and public gatherings may have to remain in place for some time.

Saskatchewan Holiday Planning:

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe hopes to be able to loosen some COVID19 gathering restrictions in time for the holidays. No more than five people are allowed to gather inside a home and Moe says his government will review the rules in the next few weeks. Moe says the recommendations around holiday gatherings will come from the province’s chief medical health officer.

Over 1000 New Cases and 28 More Deaths in Quebec:

Quebec announced 1,177 new cases of COVID19 yesterday and 28 additional deaths associated with the novel coronavirus. According to public health authorities, three of those deaths took place during the 24 hour period and the rest occurred earlier. The Health Department says 719 people are currently in hospital, an increase of 26 from the previous day. Of those, 98 people are in intensive care, an increase of four from the previous day. Quebec has reported 143,548 confirmed cases of COVID19 since the beginning of the pandemic and 7,084 deaths associated with the virus.

Quebec May Change Their Initial Gathering Guidance for Christmas:

Quebec Premier Francois Legault says his government will decide in 10 days whether the province’s COVID19 situation will allow for multi-household gatherings at Christmas. He says an increase in hospitalizations is straining the health-care network, and some hospitals are nearing the limit of how many COVID19 patients they can treat. The premier says the situation in hospitals and the toll on health-care workers will be the most important factors in determining the plan for Christmas, adding that things are not headed in the right direction. Legault had announced last month that gatherings of up to 10 people would be allowed between Dec. 24 and 27.

Dr Fauci Says No Sports for a While Yet:

Dr. Anthony Fauci says sports fans should not expect to return to games en masse until the final months of 2021 due to the challenges of rolling out COVID19 vaccines.  Fauci, who has consistently cautioned against spectators attending games, told Yahoo! Sports on Monday that unrestricted crowds at sporting events will be among the last things Americans will see as the country recovers from the pandemic.  “We’re gonna be vaccinating the highest-priority people [from] the end of December through January, February, March,” Fauci said.  “By the time you get to the general public, the people who’ll be going to the basketball games, who don’t have any underlying conditions, that’s gonna be starting the end of April, May, June.  So it probably will be well into the end of the summer before you can really feel comfortable [with full sports stadiums] – if a lot of people get vaccinated. I don’t think we’re going to be that normal in July. I think it probably would be by the end of the summer.”

U.S. Numbers:

The United States has added almost 158,000 new COVID19 cases and is nearing 100,000 hospital admissions, according to new data yesterday.  According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, there were 157,900 new cases and almost 2,200 coronavirus deaths on Monday. The seven-day average is 160,000, a decline of about 7%, according to health news website Stat.

Waterloo Region / WDG Numbers:

There were 77 new COVID19 cases reported yesterday by Public Health of Waterloo Region. The number of active cases climbed to 561. That is another new record. Currently there are 27 people in hospital. Nine of those are in intensive care.

In the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit, 12 new cases were confirmed yesterday and the number of hospitalizations increased sharply. There are now 6-people hospitalized with 145 active cases.

Waterloo Region Infections:

  • Two Cambridge firefighters have been confirmed COVID19 positive. They are now self isolating and contact tracing is underway.
  • Another student at Eastwood Collegiate in Kitchener has tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • A student at Williamsburg Public School in Kitchener has tested positive.
  • A staff member at Franklin Public School in Kitchener has tested positive.

Waterloo Region Inspections:

A team of provincial offences officers did an inspection blitz last week on 159 businesses across Waterloo Region. Their results: more than 85 per cent were meeting provincial standards for COVID19 safety compliance. 23 weren’t quite meeting provincial standards. (18 of those were in the retail industry, 2 were in personal care services, 2 restaurants, and 1 fitness centre.)

The Flu is Circulating:

The public health unit in Southwestern Ontario is warning residents that influenza is circulating in the community. Lambton Public Health says one person in their 60s is currently hospitalized with Influenza B. The health unit says influenza cases appear lower across the province this year, likely due to public health measures in place to reduce COVID19 infections. However, a news release says people should take precautions against influenza because reducing hospitalizations is “vitally important” as the pandemic strains hospitals.

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: Pfizer UK

 

Posted in COVID19, News
Scott Fox and Kat Callaghan