New variant of COVID incites travel crackdown
The evening slip for tonight is brought to you by The Walrus. What’s the next step in Canada’s life sciences strategy? At the Walrus Leadership Forum on Life Sciences, panelists will discuss strategies that can improve the healthcare system and examine the economic benefits of investing in life sciences. Find out more here.
Good evening to you.
There was more disheartening pandemic news today with word that the World Health Organization had designated a new strain of coronavirus detected in South Africa as a worrying variant. Known as the Omicron, the variant has a large number of mutations. “Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of re-infection with this variant, compared to other” variants of concern, the WHO said in a press release.
This has prompted countries around the world to restrict travel from southern Africa over fears of a potential spread. Canada was among them. Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos announced that the federal government is taking five new measures to prevent the spread of the new variant. The government is banning the entry of foreign nationals who have traveled in the past 14 days through South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini. Global Affairs Canada advises Canadians not to travel to the region.
Travelers who arrived in Canada from southern Africa in the past two weeks must self-quarantine and remain isolated until they receive a negative COVID test. Canadians and permanent residents returning home from the region, and who have the right to return, will be tested at the border and will be required to self-quarantine. They will be retested on Day 8 of their quarantine period as well, Canadians returning from the region must be tested in their last country of transit and must adhere to all measures announced today. They will also need to stay in a government-approved quarantine facility until they test negative for COVID, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said. Report Rachel Emmanuel.
Hong Kong has confirmed two cases of the new variant, one of which involves someone who traveled from Canada. They were quarantined in a hotel room next to a traveler from South Africa with the virus, who used a mask with a valve that does not filter exhaled air. As Reuters reports, health officials said today that this person may have transmitted the virus when the door to his hotel room was opened.
This Albertan doctor is calling for restrictions on interprovincial travel to prevent the spread of the new variant.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited British Columbia today to assess the damage caused by the devastating floods and landslides, which were the work of a powerful atmospheric river. Meanwhile, residents are preparing for the second of three atmospheric rivers expected in the coming days. As Global News reports, government officials today warned that these storms could also lead to flooding, power outages and landslides. “For the people of British Columbia, the time to prepare is now,” said Transportation Minister Rob Fleming.
Peter Xotta, president of planning and operations at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, said the extreme flooding that has caused major disruption in supply chains has been a wake-up call, given the destruction of bridges , roads and railways. Earlier this week, CP and CN railways partially resumed rail service at the Port of Vancouver, which relies on trains to carry heavy goods like coal and potash.
It will likely take up to six weeks before operations return to normal at the port, Xotta told iPolitics today, adding that service is less than half of what it normally is and “several routes “are affected. “This event was unprecedented. We need to consider events of this magnitude and how we respond to them (in the future). Jeff Labine has more.
Across the country, where heavy rains have left Port-aux-Basques in southwestern Newfoundland cut off from the rest of the province, Trudeau said in a Twitter post today that he approved a request to send the army to help with logistical support and transport assistance.
There are few things that climate change does not impact. As the Arctic continues to warm at a rate almost twice the global average, the Canadian Coast Guard is stepping up its patrols on the waterways that have opened up as a result. Three years ago, the Coast Guard established its headquarters in Yellowknife, as well as several satellite operations in the northern territories. It also began working with Indigenous peoples and provided boats to approximately 18 northern communities to assist with maritime patrols.
“In all likelihood, we will be heading to permanent search and rescue and environmental response stations (which respond to marine pollution in strategic locations in the Arctic,” said Chris Henderson, deputy commissioner of operations of the Arctic. Coast Guard spoke to iPolitics about the Halifax International Security Forum, where security and defense officials met last weekend Janet Silver has that story.
Following a five-day public hearing, Canada’s telecommunications watchdog is unlikely to vote on the proposed Rogers-Shaw deal before the new year. Since Monday, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has heard criticism and supporters of the proposed purchase of Shaw Communications by Rogers Communications. In addition to raising prices for customers, critics say the deal will reduce access to local news and hamper competition in Canada. Today, Rogers and Shaw said the deal would be in the best interests of Canadians. “With Shaw and Rogers joining forces, Canadian consumers will benefit from more choice,” Ted Woodhead, senior vice-president of Rogers, told the CRTC. “The competition will be stronger against Bell and Telus and the global digital media giants. Jeff Labine also has this story.
The Rebel to Rabble Review: Challenger “mystery” flights
The Sprout: Cargill meat plant to lock out unionized workers
Net Zero: Canada failing to meet climate targets: report
In other titles:
‘Leave immediately’: Joly urges Canadians to flee Ethiopia (Reuters)
Ontario records highest daily number of COVID-19 cases since early September (CTV)
Wilkinson says aid program to reduce methane emissions will be reconsidered (CP)
Finance says federal deficit hits nearly $ 69 billion in first half of fiscal year (CP)
Possible Huawei ban forces telecoms to ask liberals for taxpayer compensation for new equipment (Postmedia)
Shortly after the new variant of the coronavirus was deemed a highly transmissible virus of concern, the Biden administration joined the EU and Canada in announcing plans to ban inbound travel from Africa from the South and seven other countries. These will come into force on Monday and will impact South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. Dr Anthony Fauci said today that the United States is “rushing” to obtain data on the new variant, and that American and South African scientists will meet today to share information so that officials can test the variant.
For its part, South Africa says the travel bans are unjustified.
Also today, as Russian forces multiply along Ukraine’s border for the second time this year, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia that an invasion would have ramifications. “If Russia uses force against Ukraine, it will have costs, it will have consequences,” he said. “This military build-up is unprovoked and unexplained. This increases tensions and risks miscalculations. Stoltenberg noted that “there is no certainty as to Russia’s intentions”, but that he recognizes “that this is a military reinforcement of a country that has already invaded Ukraine” . NATO members are due to meet next week and will then decide on the next step. This story from the Associated Press.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the build-up is a sign that Russian “representatives” plan to overthrow his government next week.
On a conference call today, Karen Donfried, deputy secretary of state for the State Department for European and Eurasian Affairs, told reporters on a conference call that all options were on the table to respond to Russia’s “large and unusual” troop build-up. “As you can understand… there is a toolkit that includes a whole range of options,” Donfried said.
In other international titles:
Stocks, oil prices drop as world responds to novel variant of omicron coronavirus (NPR)
“Come on, come on,” Lukashenko tells asylum seekers near EU border (Al Jazeera)
WTO postpones major meeting on COVID-19 concerns – sources (Reuters)
Biden launches oil and gas leasing reform, stops before ban (AP)
Channel disaster: Kurdish woman is first identified victim (BBC)
US lawmakers visit Taiwan; China conducts military patrols (Politico)
: New federal agency needed to manage just transition to clean fuel
Finally, we leave you with the appearance of Nova Scotia’s best doc on 22 Minutes this week. It turns out that Dr. Robert Strang can go through a pandemic AND tell a savage joke in Saskatchewan.
Have a good week-end.