For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.
‘Avoid the 3Cs settings,’ Canada’s top doctor warns
In a written statement released on Thursday, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, urged Canadians that as the weather gets colder to “avoid the 3Cs settings.”
“Larger clusters tell us that closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places where many people gather and close contact situations can amplify spread of the virus,” the statement reads.
Dr. Tam is also recommending that Canadians wear a non-medical mask or face covering “when spending time indoors with people from outside of your immediate household.”
This comes after federal health officials made changes to the type of mask that should be worn, now specifically indicating an appropriate facial covering should be made out of at least three layers.
In conjunction with the new mask guidance, the Public Health Agency of Canada also updated its information on transmission of COVID-19. It now states that the virus “spreads from an infected person to others through respiratory droplets and aerosols created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, shouts, or talks.”
“The droplets vary in size from large droplets that fall to the ground rapidly (within seconds or minutes) near the infected person, to smaller droplets, sometimes called aerosols, which linger in the air under some circumstances,” the guidance reads.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had already updated its language around COVID-19 being spread through aerosols.
“Aerosol transmission can occur in specific settings, particularly in indoor, crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces, where infected person(s) spend long periods of time with others, such as restaurants, choir practices, fitness classes, nightclubs, offices and/or places of worship,” the WHO information reads.
More than 380 shipment of counterfeit, unauthorized COVID-19 related products intercepted
The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Health Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have announced the results of a project to combat unauthorized or counterfeit COVID-19 goods attempting to enter Canada through British Columbia, called “Project Purify.”
Between Mar. 20 and Jun. 30, 380 shipments of unauthorized content or counterfeit COVID-19-related goods were detained at the border. This included 48,000 COVID-19 test kits, 4.5 million units of personal protective equipment, 33,000 prescription tablets and pills, and over 1,500 other “fraudulent and potentially dangerous products.”
“While some importers genuinely did not recognize that certain health products require specific permits and licenses, others tried to take advantage of the circumstances during the height of the pandemic and attempted to import potentially dangerous products into Canada for financial gains,” a statement from Yvette-Monique Gray, director of the pacific region enforcement and intelligence of the CBSA reads.
CBSA seized any mislabelled or improperly declared goods, while others were referred to Health Canada, who then seized or refused entry.
$187 billion pandemic budget in Ontario
The Ontario government announced that it plans to spend $187 billion this year as the province attempts to work through COVID-19. The provincial government plans to spend $45 billion over the next three years to respond to the pandemic.
Ontario is also investing $572 million in hospitals to support additional costs of COVID-19, including testing, assessment centres, laboratory and medical equipment, and personal protective equipment.
“Since day one of the pandemic, protecting people has been our government’s number one priority,” finance minister Rod Phillips said in a statement. “The health risks of COVID-19 remain extremely serious. We are making available every necessary resource to keep people safe, including our loved ones in long-term care and our frontline health care heroes during the second wave and beyond.”
Ontario reported 998 news COVID-19 cases on Thursday, including 350 new cases in Toronto, 269 in Peel and 71 in York Region.
There province also confirmed 13 more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 3,195.
There are currently 381 in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19, with 86 in ICU and 48 on a ventilator. One school has closed due to COVID-19 concerns, Elder’s Mills Public School in Vaughn.
Alberta battles two viruses
As Alberta continues to work to prevent future spread of COVID-19, the province has also detected a variant Influenza A (H1N2)v in the province.
“The virus was detected in mid-October after an Alberta patient sought medical care with influenza-like symptoms,” a statement from Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, and Dr. Keith Lehman, chief provincial veterinarian, reads. “The patient experienced mild symptoms, was tested and then quickly recovered. There is no evidence at this time that the virus has spread further.”
“This currently appears to be one isolated case and there is no increased risk to Albertans at this time.”
The officials stated that Alberta Health services will “proactively offer influenza testing” to residents in parts of central Alberta if they are presenting for COVID-19 testing, on an optional basis.
“We are taking this seriously, but Albertans should know that sporadic cases of variant influenza have been reported over the past decade in North America,” the statement reads. “Variant Influenza A (H1N2) is rare with only 27 cases reported globally since 2005, and no cases in Canada prior to this one.”