COVID-19: Canada and World

‘Lit a match’: Prosecutor says pastor’s fiery speech at Coutts blockade was criminal

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Friday, Feb. 3, 2023

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - A Crown prosecutor told court that a Calgary pastor accused of encouraging truckers to keep blocking a Canada-U.S. border crossing meant to fan the flames with his visit.

Steven Johnston presented closing arguments Friday in the trial of Artur Pawlowski.

Johnston said Pawlowski knew exactly what he was doing when he spent a day with the truckers involved in the blockade at Coutts, Alta.

The blockade began in late January 2022 to protest COVID-19 health restrictions. It paralyzed Alberta's main U.S. border crossing for more than two weeks.

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COVID critic had illness but died of drug overdose, B.C. coroner says

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Preview

COVID critic had illness but died of drug overdose, B.C. coroner says

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Yesterday at 1:44 PM CST

VICTORIA - A report from British Columbia's coroner says a prominent anti-vaccine and COVID critic died in 2021 of a drug overdose, although he also tested positive for the illness post-mortem.

The report says Mak Parhar was found by a family member unresponsive in the bathroom of his New Westminster home on Nov. 4, 2021.

Coroner Damian Balam's report into the death says Parhar was found lying on the floor with drug paraphernalia including a syringe, a glass pipe and a burnt spoon nearby.

Balam's report says Parhar had ethanol, cocaine and fentanyl in his system at the time of death, ruling it accidental due to "mixed illicit drug toxicity."

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Yesterday at 1:44 PM CST

A report from British Columbia's coroner says a prominent anti-vaccine and COVID critic died in 2021 of a drug overdose, although he also tested positive for the illness post-mortem. The trauma bay is seen at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto on Tuesday, August 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

COVID contempt case dismissed against N.B. pastor

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Preview

COVID contempt case dismissed against N.B. pastor

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Yesterday at 3:17 PM CST

FREDERICTON - A New Brunswick judge has dismissed a contempt of court case against a pastor accused of ignoring COVID-19 public health rules in 2021.

Chief Justice Tracey DeWare of the Court of King's Bench says in a Feb. 2 decision she was unable to conclude that a tent erected by Philip James Hutchings, pastor of His Tabernacle Family Church in Saint John, was "clearly and unequivocally" an enclosed space as defined by a provincial health order.

Defence lawyer Jonathan Martin says his clients are happy with the decision.

"This is a win for due process and also a win for government accountability against the drafting of vague regulations that provide limitless prosecutorial discretion," he said in an email.

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Yesterday at 3:17 PM CST

Philip Hutchings, centre, of His Tabernacle Family Church, greets supporters as he makes his way to the Saint John Law courts in Saint John, N.B. on Friday October 15, 2021. A judge has dismissed contempt of court allegations against the New Brunswick pastor who breached COVID-19 public health rules two years ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Hawkins

Sask. underestimated need for rapid tests: emails

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Preview

Sask. underestimated need for rapid tests: emails

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press 5 minute read 3:02 AM CST

SASKATOON - Saskatchewan underestimated how many rapid antigen tests were needed during the height of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also touting the tests as a key part of its plan to halt transmission of the virus, internal emails indicate.

Documents obtained under freedom of information laws show the province emailing Health Canada in September and October 2021 asking for millions more tests than were originally requested.

“Our warehouse has just confirmed that they have shipped over half of the 500,000 tests that were received last week, and orders for test kits are coming in faster than anticipated from all corners of the province,” said an email from the province on Sept. 20.

The 120 pages of emails that are partially redacted show correspondence between Health Canada staff and Saskatchewan government and health authority employees regarding COVID-19 assistance in late 2021 as the province faced surging infections, hospitalizations and pressures on intensive care units. All names of provincial employees have been redacted.

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3:02 AM CST

Saskatchewan underestimated how many rapid antigen tests were needed during the height of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, while also touting the tests as a key part of its plan to halt transmission of the virus, internal emails indicate. Positive, left, and negative COVID-19 antigen rapid tests are picture in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Vaccine litigation lingers after lifting of military mandate

Kevin Mcgill, The Associated Press 4 minute read Preview

Vaccine litigation lingers after lifting of military mandate

Kevin Mcgill, The Associated Press 4 minute read Monday, Feb. 6, 2023

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Federal appeals court judges closely questioned a Biden administration attorney Monday on the consequences military personnel might face for refusing COVID-19 vaccinations, even though Biden's vaccine mandate for military personnel has been rescinded.

Lawyers for a group of Navy SEALS and other Navy personnel who refuse to be vaccinated for religious reasons told a 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel that federal court injunctions against the mandate are still needed, in part because decisions on deployments and assignments can still be made based on vaccination status.

“Is there any assurance on the record, that there will be no deployment decisions based on vaccination?” Judge James Ho, one of three judges hearing the case asked Department of Justice lawyer Casen Ross.

Ross said such questions were speculative and not at issue in the case before the court. Ho and Judge Kyle Duncan noted that the administration had only reluctantly ended the military mandate after December congressional action, but Ross assured the panel that there are no plans to bring back the requirement.

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Monday, Feb. 6, 2023

FILE - A healthcare worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Jackson Memorial Hospital on Oct. 5, 2021, in Miami. Lawyers for a group of Navy SEALS and other Navy personnel who oppose a COVID-19 vaccination requirement on religious grounds want a federal appeals court to keep alive their legal fight against the Biden administration, even though the requirement has been lifted. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

California won’t require COVID vaccine to attend schools

Adam Beam, The Associated Press 2 minute read Preview

California won’t require COVID vaccine to attend schools

Adam Beam, The Associated Press 2 minute read Friday, Feb. 3, 2023

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California won't make children get the coronavirus vaccine to attend schools, state public health officials said Friday, reversing a state policy first announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2021.

The nation's most populous state plans to formally end its coronavirus emergency order on Feb. 28, ending some of Newsom's authority to quickly alter or change laws.

As the state prepares to end that order, it has also backed away from plans to issue emergency regulations adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required school vaccinations, the California Department of Public Health said in a statement. Any effort to do so would need to go through the Legislature, the statement said.

The department “is not currently exploring emergency rulemaking to add COVID-19 vaccinations to the list of required school vaccinations, but we continue to strongly recommend COVID-19 immunization for students and staff to keep everyone safer in the classroom," the statement said.

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Friday, Feb. 3, 2023

FILE - Johnny Thai, 11, receives the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a pediatric vaccine clinic for children ages 5 to 11 set up at Willard Intermediate School in Santa Ana, Calif., Nov. 9, 2021. On Friday, Feb. 3, 2023, the California Department of Public Health said it was no longer exploring emergency rules to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required school vaccinations. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong,File)

Governments seek buyer as Quebec COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer Medicago set to close

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Preview

Governments seek buyer as Quebec COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer Medicago set to close

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Friday, Feb. 3, 2023

MONTREAL - The Quebec government says it's looking to find a buyer for Medicago Inc., the Quebec-based COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer that will be shut down by parent company Mitsubishi Chemical.

Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said Friday the province has had preliminary talks with potential buyers in the pharmaceutical sector to keep Medicago's expertise and skilled workforce in Quebec. He said both the Quebec and federal governments would be willing to put in money to secure a deal.

"We can't operate it ourselves; the government will not be the main shareholder," Fitzgibbon said. "But if there is a pharmaceutical company that considers it's worth continuing, we're ready to help."

Mitsubishi Chemical said Thursday it would stop marketing the Medicago-produced Covifenz vaccine, which is plant-based and was approved by Health Canada one year ago for adults aged 18 to 64.

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Friday, Feb. 3, 2023

Retired nurse Donna Lessard takes part in the Medicago COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials with project co-ordinator Raphael Brochu Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, in Mirabel, Que. The parent company of Medicago Inc. has announced it will shut down the Quebec-based biopharmaceutical company which had developed a vaccine against COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

COVID-19 tests will be mandatory for travellers from China for another two months

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Preview

COVID-19 tests will be mandatory for travellers from China for another two months

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023

OTTAWA - People arriving on flights to Canada from China, Hong Kong and Macao will have to do a COVID-19 test before they board for another two months, after Canada announced it would renew border restrictions on air travel from those areas Thursday.

The government mandated pre-boarding tests for people coming from those places last month after China removed long-standing public health restrictions, causing a countrywide outbreak of the virus.

The test requirement is now expected to remain in place until April 5, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced in a statement Thursday.

The government says it is concerned about reports of a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in China, and a lack of data available from China about potential variants that could be spreading through the country.

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Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023

Visitors and tourists to Parliament Hill stand around the Centennial flame on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Quebec says only people at risk who haven’t had COVID-19 should get booster dose

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Preview

Quebec says only people at risk who haven’t had COVID-19 should get booster dose

The Canadian Press 2 minute read Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023

MONTREAL - Only people who are considered at risk for severe COVID-19 — and who haven't already been infected — need to get a booster dose, Quebec's public health director said Thursday.

The vast majority of Quebecers have hybrid immunity — protection through vaccination and through a SARS-CoV-2 infection — making regular boosters unnecessary, at least for this winter and spring, Dr. Luc Boileau told reporters.

"People with hybrid immunity … have a very good protection against a severe form of the illness," Boileau said. "And this immunity lasts for a long enough time that we can propose changes."

Those who have been vaccinated but haven't contracted the virus are also protected against severe COVID-19, he said, but their immunity "has a tendency to drop with time."

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Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023

Quebec public health director Dr. Luc Boileau speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, in Quebec City. Quebec's Health Department says only residents who are considered at-risk for severe COVID-19 – and who haven't already been infected – should get a booster dose.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Republican-led committee targets COVID relief aid for review

Kevin Freking, The Associated Press 5 minute read Preview

Republican-led committee targets COVID relief aid for review

Kevin Freking, The Associated Press 5 minute read Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans on Wednesday began their promised aggressive oversight of the Biden administration, focusing on what watchdogs described as “indications of widespread fraud” in federal coronavirus aid programs initiated under President Donald Trump.

GOP lawmakers complained that too little attention was paid to the problems when Democrats controlled Congress. Democrats blamed the Trump administration for much of the mess.

More than 1,000 people have pleaded guilty or have been convicted on federal charges of defrauding the myriad COVID-19 relief programs that Congress established in the early days of the pandemic. More than 600 other people and entities face federal fraud charges.

But that's just the start, according to investigators who testified as the House Oversight and Accountability Committee held its first hearing in the new Congress on fraud and waste in federal pandemic spending. Congress approved about $4.6 trillion in spending from six coronavirus relief laws, beginning in March 2020, when Trump was in the White House and including the $1.9 trillion package that Democrats passed in the first months of the Biden presidency.

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Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023

FILE - House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., leads an organizational meeting for the 118th Congress, at the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 31, 2023. The committee will hold its first hearing on fraud and waste in federal pandemic spending on Feb. 1.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Feds caught off guard by Saskatchewan ‘unforeseen’ request for COVID-19 help

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Preview

Feds caught off guard by Saskatchewan ‘unforeseen’ request for COVID-19 help

Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023

SASKATOON - Public Safety Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces were caught off guard by a request for help from Saskatchewan during the height of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Documents obtained under freedom of information laws show employees in the federal departments were surprised when Saskatchewan Health Minister Paul Merriman sent a letter in October 2021 to then-federal health minister Patty Hajdu requesting help.

“Unforeseen (request for assistance) for (Saskatchewan) came into Ottawa through (Minister) Hajdu,” said an email from Maj.-Gen. Paul Prevost, who runs the military centre called the Strategic Joint Staff on Oct. 18.

“(Government of Canada), as us, are surprised by this,” said another email from Lt.-Col Dave Morency.

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Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023

Paul Merriman, Saskatchewan's health minister, speaks to media after the throne speech at the Legislative Building in Regina on Wednesday Oct. 27, 2021. Documents show employees in the federal departments were surprised when Merriman sent a letter in October 2021 requesting help during the height of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michael Bell

How will life change once the COVID-19 emergency ends?

Amanda Seitz, The Associated Press 6 minute read Preview

How will life change once the COVID-19 emergency ends?

Amanda Seitz, The Associated Press 6 minute read Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023

WASHINGTON (AP) — The declaration of a COVID-19 public health emergency three years ago changed the lives of millions of Americans by offering increased health care coverage, beefed-up food assistance and universal access to coronavirus vaccines and tests.

Much of that is now coming to an end, with President Joe Biden's administration saying it plans to end the emergency declarations on May 11.

Here's a look at what will stay and what will go once the emergency order is lifted:

COVID-19 TESTS, TREATMENTS AND VACCINES

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Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023

FILE - Pre-loaded syringes with COVID-19 vaccine are ready as medical staff vaccinate students at KIPP Believe Charter School in New Orleans, Jan. 25, 2022. The declaration of a COVID-19 public health emergency three years ago changed the lives of millions of Americans by offering increased health care coverage, beefed up food assistance and universal access to coronavirus vaccines and tests. Much of that is now coming to an end, with President Joe Biden's administration saying it plans to end the emergencies declared around the pandemic on May 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Ted Jackson, File)

WHO: COVID still an emergency but nearing ‘inflection’ point

The Associated Press 2 minute read Preview

WHO: COVID still an emergency but nearing ‘inflection’ point

The Associated Press 2 minute read Monday, Jan. 30, 2023

GENEVA (AP) — The coronavirus remains a global health emergency, the World Health Organization chief said Monday, after a key advisory panel found the pandemic may be nearing an “inflexion point” where higher levels of immunity can lower virus-related deaths.

Speaking at the opening of WHO’s annual executive board meeting, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “there is no doubt that we're in a far better situation now” than a year ago — when the highly transmissible Omicron variant was at its peak.

But Tedros warned that in the last eight weeks, at least 170,000 people have died around the world in connection with the coronavirus. He called for at-risk groups to be fully vaccinated, an increase in testing and early use of antivirals, an expansion of lab networks, and a fight against “misinformation” about the pandemic.

"We remain hopeful that in the coming year, the world will transition to a new phase in which we reduce hospitalizations and deaths to the lowest possible level,” he said.

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Monday, Jan. 30, 2023

GENEVA (AP) — The coronavirus remains a global health emergency, the World Health Organization chief said Monday, after a key advisory panel found the pandemic may be nearing an “inflexion point” where higher levels of immunity can lower virus-related deaths.

Speaking at the opening of WHO’s annual executive board meeting, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “there is no doubt that we're in a far better situation now” than a year ago — when the highly transmissible Omicron variant was at its peak.

But Tedros warned that in the last eight weeks, at least 170,000 people have died around the world in connection with the coronavirus. He called for at-risk groups to be fully vaccinated, an increase in testing and early use of antivirals, an expansion of lab networks, and a fight against “misinformation” about the pandemic.

"We remain hopeful that in the coming year, the world will transition to a new phase in which we reduce hospitalizations and deaths to the lowest possible level,” he said.

WHO decided the COVID-19 global emergency isn’t over. What happens next?

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press 6 minute read Preview

WHO decided the COVID-19 global emergency isn’t over. What happens next?

Laura Osman, The Canadian Press 6 minute read Monday, Jan. 30, 2023

OTTAWA - The World Health Organization decided Monday not to end to the COVID-19 global public health emergency it declared three years ago, even though the pandemic has reached what the international body calls an "inflection point."

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the WHO, said Monday "there is no doubt that we're in a far better situation now" than a year ago, when the highly transmissible Omicron variant was at its peak.

But Tedros warned that in the last eight weeks, at least 170,000 people have died around the world in connection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. He called for at-risk groups to be fully vaccinated, an increase in testing and early use of antivirals, an expansion of lab networks, and a fight against "misinformation" about the pandemic.

"We remain hopeful that in the coming year, the world will transition to a new phase in which we reduce hospitalizations and deaths to the lowest possible level," he said.

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Monday, Jan. 30, 2023

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), talks to the media at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday, Dec. 20, 2021. Monday could mark a major milestone in the history of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the World Health Organization stands poised to decide whether or not to declare an end to the global public health emergency. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Keystone via AP-Salvatore Di Nolfi

Russian embassy says North Korea lifted lockdown in capital

Kim Tong-hyung, The Associated Press 4 minute read Preview

Russian embassy says North Korea lifted lockdown in capital

Kim Tong-hyung, The Associated Press 4 minute read Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Russia’s embassy in North Korea says the country has eased stringent epidemic controls in capital Pyongyang that were placed during the past five days to slow the spread of respiratory illnesses.

North Korea has not officially acknowledged a lockdown in Pyongyang or a re-emergence of COVID-19 after leader Kim Jong Un declared a widely disputed victory over the coronavirus in August, but the Russian embassy’s Facebook posts have provided rare glimpses into the secretive country’s infectious disease controls.

The embassy posted a notice Monday issued by North Korea’s Foreign Ministry informing foreign diplomats that the “special anti-epidemic period” imposed in Pyongyang since Wednesday was lifted as of Monday.

Last week, the embassy said that North Korean health authorities required diplomatic missions to keep their employees indoors and also measure their temperatures four times a day and report the results to a hospital in Pyongyang. It said the North Korean measures were in response to an increase in “flu and other respiratory diseases,” but it didn’t mention the spread of COVID-19 or restrictions imposed on regular citizens.

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Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023

FILE - In this photo published on June 28, 2022 by the North Korean government, North Korean employees disinfect a facility at an underground store in Pyongyang, North Korea. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

China announces resumption of visas for Japanese

Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press 2 minute read Preview

China announces resumption of visas for Japanese

Mari Yamaguchi, The Associated Press 2 minute read Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023

TOKYO (AP) — China announced it was resuming issuing visas for Japanese travelers beginning Sunday, ending its nearly three-week suspension in an apparent protest of Tokyo's tougher COVID-19 entry requirements for tourists from China.

The decision was announced in a statement posted on the Chinese Embassy's website.

China stopped issuing new visas in Japan on Jan. 10 in apparent retaliation for Tokyo's requirement of additional tests for Chinese tourists in late December, ahead of Lunar New Year holidays. Japan cited soaring infections in China after it abruptly eased coronavirus restrictions as well as scarce COVID-19 data from Beijing.

Japan reopened its borders for individual tourists in October, allowing travelers with proof of vaccination instead of testing at airports unless they show symptoms. Burt on Dec. 30, Japan required all travelers from China to show pre-departure negative tests and take an additional test upon arrival.

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Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023

FILE - The Chinese Embassy is pictured in Tokyo on Jan. 11, 2023. China announced it was resuming issuing visas for Japanese travelers beginning Sunday, Jan. 29, ending its nearly three-week suspension in an apparent protest of Tokyo's tougher COVID-19 entry requirements for tourists from China that began ahead of the Lunar New Year. (Kazushi Kurihara/Kyodo News via AP, File)

Delaware Gov. John Carney tests positive for COVID-19

The Associated Press 1 minute read Preview

Delaware Gov. John Carney tests positive for COVID-19

The Associated Press 1 minute read Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Delaware Gov. John Carney has tested positive for COVID-19, the governor's office announced on Saturday.

Carney tested positive late Friday using an at-home antigen test after experiencing mild symptoms, according to a news release.

Carney, 66, said he's “feeling fine” and is isolating himself — following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines — and will work from home.

This marks Carney's second publicly announced bout with coronavirus in the past several months. He tested positive last May.

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Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Delaware Gov. John Carney has tested positive for COVID-19, the governor's office announced on Saturday.

Carney tested positive late Friday using an at-home antigen test after experiencing mild symptoms, according to a news release.

Carney, 66, said he's “feeling fine” and is isolating himself — following U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines — and will work from home.

This marks Carney's second publicly announced bout with coronavirus in the past several months. He tested positive last May.

Alberta Justice spokespeople deliver duelling statements on prosecutor email review

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Preview

Alberta Justice spokespeople deliver duelling statements on prosecutor email review

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

EDMONTON - An email probe into whether Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s office interfered with Crown prosecutors took a confusing turn Friday after two government spokespeople delivered duelling statements that raised questions over how far back the search went.

The review was ordered by Smith a week ago to respond to allegations in a CBC story that reported a staffer in the premier's office emailed prosecutors last fall to question decisions and direction on cases stemming from a blockade at the Canada-U. S. border crossing at Coutts, Alta.

The Justice Department said Monday it had done a four-month search of ingoing, outgoing and deleted emails and found no evidence of contact.

Two days later, Alberta Justice communications director Charles Mainville said in a statement that deleted emails are wiped from the system after 30 days, meaning the search for deleted emails may not have covered the entire time period in question.

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Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

A government email review of whether Premier Danielle Smith’s office interfered with Crown prosecutors has taken a confusing turn, with duelling statements from two Alberta Justice spokespeople on what was investigated. Smith gives an update in Calgary, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

WHO decision on COVID-19 emergency won’t effect Canada’s response: Tam

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Preview

WHO decision on COVID-19 emergency won’t effect Canada’s response: Tam

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press 5 minute read Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

OTTAWA - On Monday, exactly three years from the day he declared COVID-19 to be a global public health emergency, World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will decide whether to call it off.

But declaring an end to the "public health emergency of international concern" would not mean COVID-19 is no longer a threat. It will also not do much to change Canada's approach.

"In Canada, we're already doing what we need to do," chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said in her most recent COVID-19 update.

She said the WHO discussion is important but COVID-19 monitoring and public health responses are not going to end. That includes continued surveillance of cases, particularly severe illness and death, and vaccination campaigns.

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Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

The World Health Organization's emergency committee, will vote today on whether to maintain the emergency designation. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, gestures as he speaks to journalists during a press conference at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Martial Trezzini-Keystone via AP

South Korea extends restrictions on travelers from China

Kim Tong-hyung, The Associated Press 2 minute read Preview

South Korea extends restrictions on travelers from China

Kim Tong-hyung, The Associated Press 2 minute read Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea says it will continue to restrict the entry of short-term travelers from China through the end of February over concerns that the spread of COVID-19 in that country may worsen following the Lunar New Year’s holidays.

South Korea in early January stopped issuing most short-term visas at its consulates in China, citing concerns about a virus surge in the country that abruptly eased coronavirus restrictions in December and the potential for new mutations.

South Korea has also required all passengers from China, Hong Kong and Macao to submit proofs of negative tests taken with 48 hours before their arrival and put them through tests again once they arrive.

The steps, which originally were imposed for the month of January, prompted China to retaliate by suspending South Korean short-term visa applications, raising concerns about disrupted business activities in a country that heavily depends on exports to China.

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Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023

Passengers coming from China arrive at the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, on Jan. 14, 2023. South Korea says it will continue to restrict the entry of short-term travelers from China through the end of February over concerns that the spread of COVID-19 in that country may worsen following the Lunar New Year’s holidays. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

NDP says Alberta premier’s prosecutor review flawed, calls for outside investigation

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Preview

NDP says Alberta premier’s prosecutor review flawed, calls for outside investigation

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023

EDMONTON - Alberta’s Opposition leader says Premier Danielle Smith's assurance of a thorough investigation into allegations of interference with Crown prosecutors is "an empty talking point" given new details on the search itself.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley said that while the Smith-directed email search covered the four-month period in question, any deleted message was erased from the system after just a month, meaning the relevant time period for those emails was likely missed.

"It is outrageous that Danielle Smith is really naive enough to think that Albertans would trust an internal investigation that has not been transparently conducted, that has been conducted by people who answer to her, and that only considered deleted emails that go back 30 days,” Notley said Thursday in Calgary.

“This is an empty talking point and nothing else,” she added, renewing a call for an independent, judge-led inquiry into whether Smith and her office interfered in the administration of justice.

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Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023

Alberta’s Opposition NDP Leader says Premier Danielle Smith’s assurance of a thorough investigation into allegations of interference with Crown prosecutors is “an empty talking point” given new details on the search itself. Smith gives an update in Calgary, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

COVID-19 misinformation contributed to 2,800 Canadian deaths, report suggests

Nicole Ireland, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Preview

COVID-19 misinformation contributed to 2,800 Canadian deaths, report suggests

Nicole Ireland, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023

A new report says misinformation about COVID-19 contributed to more than 2,800 Canadian deaths and at least $300 million in hospital and ICU visits.

The Council of Canadian Academies says misinformation led to people not believing COVID-19 was real or was exaggerated, fostering vaccine hesitancy.

The study suggests the false beliefs that COVID-19 was a "hoax or exaggerated," led to at least 2.3 million people delaying or refusing to get the vaccine between March and November of 2021.

The report authors estimated that if those vaccinations had happened, there would have been approximately 198,000 fewer cases, 13,000 fewer hospitalizations, and 2,800 fewer deaths from COVID-19 in Canada.

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Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023

A health-care worker pushes a patient across a connecting bridge at a hospital in Montreal, Thursday, July 14, 2022. A new report says misinformation about COVID-19 contributed to more than 2,800 Canadian deaths and at least $300 million in hospital and ICU visits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Manning COVID review to cover off work of long-promised Alberta public health panel

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Preview

Manning COVID review to cover off work of long-promised Alberta public health panel

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023

EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Danielle Smith’s promise to assemble a panel of medical experts to deliver ongoing advice on public health and COVID-19 will be covered off by former Reform Party Leader Preston Manning’s pandemic review, her office said Wednesday.

“The central role of the (Manning) panel will be to review legislation and recommend amendments to better enable the province to respond to future health emergencies,” Smith’s spokesman Taylor Hides said in a statement, responding to questions on when the science panel would be announced.

“The panel’s full membership is being finalized but will be announced as soon as possible.”

Hides did not respond to followup questions to explain how the Manning review fulfils the previously stated, divergent mandate of Smith’s promised ongoing public health science advisory panel.

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Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith gives an Alberta government update in Calgary on Jan. 10, 2023. Smith’s long-promised public health science advisory panel, which has been beset by slipped deadlines and confusing messaging, has the NDP Opposition questioning whether it exists or ever will. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Alberta NDP says it would scrap COVID-19 review panel if party wins election

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Preview

Alberta NDP says it would scrap COVID-19 review panel if party wins election

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press 4 minute read Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023

EDMONTON - Alberta Opposition Leader Rachel Notley says if her NDP was to win the spring election, it would scrap a COVID-19 review panel led by former Reform Party leader Preston Manning.

Notley says Premier Danielle Smith should be focused on helping Alberta families struggling with inflation rather than paying Manning $253,000.

“We will not continue that panel and we will do everything we can to negate what is an outrageously unjustified level of compensation (to Manning),” Notley told reporters Tuesday.

“(Manning) brings no objectivity (and) no scientific expertise to the job of assessing and evaluating this issue,” she added.

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Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith gives a government update in Calgary, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

US proposes once-a-year COVID shots for most Americans

Matthew Perrone, The Associated Press 3 minute read Preview

US proposes once-a-year COVID shots for most Americans

Matthew Perrone, The Associated Press 3 minute read Monday, Jan. 23, 2023

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials want to make COVID-19 vaccinations more like the annual flu shot.

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday proposed a simplified approach for future vaccination efforts, allowing most adults and children to get a once-a-year shot to protect against the mutating virus.

This means Americans would no longer have to keep track of how many shots they’ve received or how many months it’s been since their last booster.

The proposal comes as boosters have become a hard sell. While more than 80% of the U.S. population has had at least one vaccine dose, only 16% of those eligible have received the latest boosters authorized in August.

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Monday, Jan. 23, 2023

FILE - A nurse prepares a syringe of a COVID-19 vaccine at an inoculation station in Jackson, Miss., July 19, 2022. U.S. health officials are proposing a simplified approach to COVID-19 vaccinations, which would allow most adults and children to get a once-a-year shot to protect against the mutating virus. The new system unveiled Monday, Jan. 23, 2023 would make COVID-19 inoculations more like the annual flu shot. Americans would no longer have to keep track of how many shots they’ve received or how many months it’s been since their last booster. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

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