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Canada COVID cases surge, poll shows support for COVID restrictions: In The News for Jan. 11

16:05  11 january  2022
16:05  11 january  2022 Source:   msn.com

NBA reschedules postponed games, makes other adjustments

  NBA reschedules postponed games, makes other adjustments The NBA has rescheduled all 11 games that were postponed in December for virus-related reasons and either shifted the times or dates of 10 other games to help accommodate those changes. Toronto had six games affected, Chicago had five and Brooklyn had four. In all, 18 of the league’s 30 teams had at least one game date changed by the postponements or future adjustments, all of which were revealed Monday. There are now seven teams that have at least one stint of playing four games in five nights: Chicago, Toronto, Brooklyn, Cleveland, Miami, New Orleans and Denver. The original NBA schedule didn't call for any such stretches, though it was unavoidable with the changes.

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 11 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Justin Trudeau says Ottawa will do all it can to help provinces and territories cope with the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, as infections fuelled by the Omicron variant threaten to overwhelm health systems.

The prime minister spoke with provincial and territorial leaders yesterday, and a statement issued by his office says he assured them that there are enough vaccine doses available for all eligible Canadians to receive third booster shots. 

Provinces announce new measures as Omicron fuels rise in COVID cases, hospitalization

  Provinces announce new measures as Omicron fuels rise in COVID cases, hospitalization Provinces are putting new measures in place to deal with an Omicron-fuelled rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, including delaying in-person schooling in Ontario by two weeks and bringing in the military to help Quebec speed up its third-dose vaccination program. Ontario joined a number of jurisdictions that already announced a postponed return to in-person learning, declaring the delay Monday along with a slew of new restrictions that puts the province back into a "modified Step 2" of pandemic recovery as of Wednesday. Premier Doug Ford said in a news conference that virtual learning will replace in-person classes until Jan. 17.

The federal government has said provinces and territories will receive a combined 140 million rapid tests this month, although the statement did not provide any new details on when the deliveries will be scheduled.

The statement says Trudeau also emphasized the need to promote support programs, such as the federal wage subsidy, to help people and businesses survive the latest lockdowns and public health restrictions.

The call with the First Ministers came as COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations continue to surge throughout Canada.

Quebec reported an all-time high of 2,554 patients, 248 of whom are in intensive care, while Ontario confirmed 2,467 hospitalizations and 438 patients in the ICU. 

The provinces also recorded a combined total of 20,279 new COVID cases, although the true number is likely much higher due to a lack of access to testing.

A look at the latest COVID-19 developments in Canada

  A look at the latest COVID-19 developments in Canada A look at the latest COVID-19 news in Canada: — Calls are growing for the Ontario government to make COVID-19 tests available to children attending the daycares, with parents saying the lack of access is stoking anxiety. Last week, the province said PCR testing for COVID-19 would be limited to high-risk groups amid soaring infections, and memos from Education Ministry officials outlined a decision to stop reporting cases in schools and childcare settings due to "changes to case and contact management.

The rampant spread of the Omicron variant has stoked alarm south of the border, where the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a fresh Level 4 "avoid travel'' advisory for Canada, citing a "very high'' level of COVID-19 in the country. It urged anyone who must go to be fully vaccinated.

That quickly prompted the State Department to revise its travel advisory, which had been at Level 3, "reconsider travel,'' to upgrade its advice to Level 4: "Do not travel to Canada due to COVID-19.''

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Also this ...

A new poll suggests a slim majority of Canadians support the latest round of lockdowns and other government-imposed restrictions as the Omicron variant fuels an explosion of new COVID-19 infections.

Fifty-six per cent of respondents in the poll conducted by Leger and the Association of Canadian Studies agreed governments are making the right decisions to limit the spread of Omicron and keep the health system from being overrun.

Federal COVID update, Ontario tightens health restrictions: In The News for Jan. 5

  Federal COVID update, Ontario tightens health restrictions: In The News for Jan. 5 In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 5 What we are watching in Canada Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam will join Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this morning for the first federal COVID-19 update of the new year. The update follows Trudeau's phone call yesterday with B.C. Premier and Council of the Federation chair John Horgan, where the prime minister said he would hold a call with the premiers next week to discuss how governments are keeping citizens safe.

Another 31 per cent said they did not believe Omicron poses a serious health risk to most of those who are infected, and that governments should leave things open and let Canadians live with the risk.

The remaining 14 per cent said they did not know.

The results suggest there is a growing level of fatigue among Canadians when it comes to lockdowns, including among those who have been fully vaccinated, said Leger executive vice-president Christian Bourque.

“The actual support for vaccination is very high, the perceived efficacy is very high,” Bourque said. “Even among the vaccinated, they're saying: ‘You know what? I'm vaccinated, I've done all I could. Let's just live with it.’”

Several provinces say the Omicron-fuelled wave is threatening to overwhelm their health-care systems, with hospitalizations nearing or reaching record highs in Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick.

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What we are watching in the U.S. ...

Hospitals around the U.S. are increasingly taking the extraordinary step of allowing nurses and other workers infected with the coronavirus to stay on the job if they have mild symptoms or none at all. 

A look at the latest COVID-19 developments in Canada

  A look at the latest COVID-19 developments in Canada A look at the latest COVID-19 news in Canada: — Canada's health minister says he expects the country to reach a time in the COVID-19 pandemic when provinces consider implementing a broader vaccine mandate to counter rising cases. Jean-Yves Duclos told a COVID-19 briefing on Friday that such a measure was not currently being contemplated in Canada, but his personal opinion was that the country would get there at some point. Given how fragile the health-care system is in Canada and its aging population, Duclos said he thinks that type of measure will be considered by provinces over the next weeks and months.

The move is a reaction to the severe hospital staffing shortages and crushing caseloads that the Omicron variant is causing. 

California health authorities say hospital staff members who test positive but are symptom-free can continue working. Some hospitals in Rhode Island and Arizona likewise told employees they can stay on the job if they have no symptoms or just mild ones.

The highly contagious Omicron variant has sent new cases of COVID-19 exploding to over 700,000 a day in the U.S. on average, obliterating the record set a year ago. The number of Americans in the hospital with the virus is running at about 108,000, just short of the peak of 124,000 last January.

Many hospitals are not only swamped with cases but severely shorthanded because of so many employees out with COVID-19.


Video: COVID-19: Province rings in the New Year with record number of cases (Global News)

At the same time, Omicron appears to be causing milder illness than the Delta variant.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that health care workers who have no symptoms can return to work after seven days with a negative test, but that the isolation time can be cut further if there are staffing shortages. France last week announced it is allowing health-care workers with mild or no symptoms to keep treating patients rather than isolate.

A look at the latest COVID-19 news in Canada

  A look at the latest COVID-19 news in Canada A look at the latest COVID-19 news in Canada: — Quebec Premier François Legault says the number of daily COVID-19 cases in Quebec appears to have peaked, allowing him to lift the curfew on Monday that he imposed to protect hospitals from a record surge in infections. Health experts project that COVID-19-related hospitalizations, which were at an unprecedented 2,994 on Thursday, should peak in the coming days, Legault told reporters in Montreal. Legault introduced the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on Dec. 31 — in time to ban people from the streets on New Year's Eve. He had imposed a curfew earlier in 2021 for almost five months, between January and May.

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What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

MOSCOW _ The president of Kazakhstan announced Tuesday that a Russia-led security alliance will start pulling out its troops from the country in two days after completing its mission.

The mostly Russian troops were deployed to Kazakhstan last week by the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a military alliance of six former Soviet states, at the president's request amid the worst public unrest the former Soviet nation has faced since gaining independence 30 years ago.

Protests over soaring fuel prices erupted in the oil and gas-rich Central Asian nation of 19 million on Jan. 2 and quickly spread across the country, with political slogans reflecting wider discontent over the authoritarian government. Over the next few days, the demonstrations turned extremely violent, with dozens of

civilians and law enforcement officers killed.

In Almaty, Kazakhstan's former capital and largest city, protesters set government buildings on fire and briefly seized the airport. By the weekend, the unrest has been largely quelled.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has blamed the unrest on foreign-backed ``terrorists'' and insisted that his request for help to the CSTO was justified.

"When this decision was being made, we could have completely lost control over Almaty, which was being torn apart by terrorists. Had we lost Almaty, we would have lost the capital and the entire country,'' Tokayev told Kazakhstan's parliament Tuesday.

The president said that the CSTO has largely completed its mission in the country and will start withdrawing its troops in two days _ a process that will take no longer than 10 days.

Canada in for ‘intense’ weeks of Omicron infections, hospitalization surges: data

  Canada in for ‘intense’ weeks of Omicron infections, hospitalization surges: data The projections, made by Canadian health officials on Friday, indicate the Omicron wave could peak at 170,000 cases a day this month. Canada is set for several “intense” weeks of COVID-19 activity as Omicron will continue to drive record infections and hospitalizations, new federal data suggests.

Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry on Tuesday reported that a total of 9,900 people were detained in the country over the unrest.

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On this day in 1995 ...

A tentative deal was announced in the 103-day-old NHL players' lockout. Players ratified the contract two days later, after which commissioner Gary Bettman announced a 48-game season would start on Jan. 20.

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In entertainment ...

NEW YORK — Isla Fisher’s character in the new genre-bending series “Wolf Like Me” is a romantic catch. Kind of. 

She speaks four languages, makes cheese and pottery and is good at close-up magic. On the other hand, she can be distant and absolutely beastly. Oh, that reminds us: She has a pretty big personal secret. 

That’s the setup to the new ambitious Peacock six-part series that starts Jan. 13 and mixes slapstick comedy, adult drama and heartbreaking trauma. Audiences are in for quite a ride right from the beginning, signalled by the series being set in the unexpected Australian suburbs and with the casting of Josh Gad and Fisher. 

“Love is scary,” says Gad. “I think that however you slice it, we all have secrets. We all have baggage. And you don’t know what you’re getting until you’re in it. And then once you’re in it, it’s too late.”

“Wolf Like Me” was created, written and directed by Abe Forsythe, who previously wrote and directed the sci-fi horror comedy movie “Little Monsters,” starring Lupita Nyong’o and Gad. Like that film, “Wolf Like Me” mixes genres — this time romantic comedy and horror — to push into the absurd and come back with something sweet and dramatic.

“I was drawn to telling a timeless story in such a unique way,” says Gad. “Abe is such a brilliant caretaker when it comes to challenging his artists to tackle different tones and different genres and do that juggling act that feels so foreign and strange and impossible.”

A look at the latest COVID-19 developments in Canada

  A look at the latest COVID-19 developments in Canada A look at the latest COVID-19 news in Canada: — Ontario will soon begin easing COVID-19 restrictions, starting by boosting the size of social gathering and reopening businesses such as restaurants, gyms and cinemas with capacity limits, with an eye to lifting all constraints by mid-March. Premier Doug Ford says he's announcing a phased reopening plan because public health indicators are starting to show signs of improvement. "We can be confident— Ontario will soon begin easing COVID-19 restrictions, starting by boosting the size of social gathering and reopening businesses such as restaurants, gyms and cinemas with capacity limits, with an eye to lifting all constraints by mid-March.

Gad is mostly known as the cuddly snowman in “Frozen,” while Fisher famously played a comically unhinged love interest in “Wedding Crashers.”

“Casting Josh and Isla was a big step in ultimately articulating one of the main themes of this show, which is don’t judge a book by its cover,” says Forsythe. “This is not the usual way that I’ve seen them, which is what I’m asking the audience to do with the characters.”

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ICYMI ...

In a medical first, doctors transplanted a pig heart into a patient in a last-ditch effort to save his life and a Maryland hospital said Monday that he's doing well three days after the highly experimental surgery.

While it's too soon to know if the operation really will work, it marks a step in the decades-long quest to one day use animal organs for life-saving transplants. Doctors at the University of Maryland Medical Center say the transplant showed that a heart from a genetically modified animal can function in the human body without immediate rejection.

The patient, David Bennett, a 57-year-old Maryland handyman, knew there was no guarantee the experiment would work but he was dying, ineligible for a human heart transplant and had no other option.

"It was either die or do this transplant. I want to live. I know it's a shot in the dark, but it's my last choice,'' Bennett said a day before the surgery, according to a statement provided by the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

On Monday, Bennett was breathing on his own while still connected to a heart-lung machine to help his new heart. The next few weeks will be critical as Bennett recovers from the surgery and doctors carefully monitor how his heart is faring.

There's a huge shortage of human organs donated for transplant, driving scientists to try to figure out how to use animal organs instead. Last year, there were just over 3,800 heart transplants in the U.S., a record number, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the nation's transplant system.

Prior attempts at such transplants _ or xenotransplantation _ have failed, largely because patients' bodies rapidly rejected the animal organ. Notably, in 1984, Baby Fae, a dying infant, lived 21 days with a baboon heart.

The difference this time: The Maryland surgeons used a heart from a pig that had undergone gene-editing to remove a sugar in its cells that's responsible for that hyper-fast organ rejection. Several biotech companies are developing pig organs for human transplant; the one used for Friday's operation came from Revivicor, a subsidiary of United Therapeutics.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 11, 2022

The Canadian Press

A look at the latest COVID-19 developments in Canada .
A look at the latest COVID-19 news in Canada: — Ontario will soon begin easing COVID-19 restrictions, starting by boosting the size of social gathering and reopening businesses such as restaurants, gyms and cinemas with capacity limits, with an eye to lifting all constraints by mid-March. Premier Doug Ford says he's announcing a phased reopening plan because public health indicators are starting to show signs of improvement. "We can be confident— Ontario will soon begin easing COVID-19 restrictions, starting by boosting the size of social gathering and reopening businesses such as restaurants, gyms and cinemas with capacity limits, with an eye to lifting all constraints by mid-March.

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