COVID, pandemics

Anything related to the COVID or other pandemics.

Chinese virus data missing

The World Health Organization says Chinese officials have withheld and possibly deleted research data they say could link the pandemic to wild animals sold at a wet market in Wuhan. Before the data disappeared, international virus expects had downloaded them in January for analysis which they said supported the Wuhan theory. However, the data were removed after the experts offered to collaborate with their Chinese counterparts. [node:read-more:link]

Feds return-to-work protocols

A month before federal government employees return-to-office mandates take effect, several departments are dropping requirements to wear masks and practise physical distancing. Despite union resistance, many employees must attend their workplace at least two days a week or 40 per cent of their pre-pandemic presence. [node:read-more:link]

EU shelving Chinese virus tests

European Union states have agreed to phase out by the end of February their requirement that Chinese visitors have a pre-departure coronavirus test. When China eased its policies January 8, the EU initially failed to agree on a unified response. [node:read-more:link]

WHO thinking “inside the box”

The World Health Organization has generally encouraged “out-of-the-box” thinking on vaccine production and supplies but a 2005 WHO policy evidently trapped it “inside the box.” The result was that it prohibited a Quebec company’s coronavirus vaccine because it involved material produced by a tobacco company. “The WHO has gone totally off the rails,” says University of Ottawa law professor and anti-tobacco advocate David Sweanor. “If the World Health Organization is standing in the way of vaccines to treat an epidemic, what does that do to their long-term credibility?” [node:read-more:link]

CRA clawback stance “disconcerting”

Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux, a former senior Canada Revenue Agency official, says it’s “disconcerting” to hear CRA Commissioner Bob Hamilton’s recent statement that “it wouldn’t be worth the effort” to review and try to recover every dollar of $15.5 billion in Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy overpayments when the government’s facing a deficit. [node:read-more:link]

Federally-funded plant shutting down

A Japanese-owned Montreal pharmaceutical plant is being shut down after receiving $173 million in federal funding for coronavirus vaccine development. Innovation, Science & Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said February 3 that while Ottawa has legal recourse to recover the investment, the “main focus” is finding partners to preserve Medicago’s intellectual property, technology and workforce. [node:read-more:link]

Government workers fired for fraud

A parliamentary committee was told February 2 that staff in at least two federal departments have been fired for claiming the Canada Emergency Response Benefit while they were employed during the pandemic. Forty-nine were at Employment and Social Development Canada, which managed the CERB program. While the Canada Revenue Agency Comissioner acknowledged some cases in that department, there “not very many.” [node:read-more:link]

Pandemic quarantine bills pile up

The federal government spent nearly $400 million on contracts for quarantine hotels during the pandemic, including some $77.2 million in the current fiscal year after many public health restrictions had been eased or lifted. A Health Canada spokesperson pointed out that “designated quarantine facilities met public health guidelines for the purposes of accommodating travellers to quarantine as required by emergency orders under the Quarantine Act.” [node:read-more:link]

No EI for vaccine refuser

Federal Court of Canada has ruled that a Toronto-area Ontario man is not entitled to employment insurance benefits after he was fired from his healthcare job for refusing to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Anthony Cecchetto was placed on unpaid leave in September 2021 and then dismissed. His EI application was denied in October 2021 because he had lost his job due to “misconduct.” [node:read-more:link]

Ottawa paid huge hotel bill

The federal government spent $6.8 million to quarantine just 15 travellers for 14 days at a Calgary hotel in the current fiscal year during the pandemic. The hotel’s designation as a quarantine facility ended in October 2022 and when details were provided to Alberta Conservative MP Rempel Garner, she said January 31 that the Prime Minister “doesn’t have the capacity or willingness to get things under control.” [node:read-more:link]

Pandemic protections woefully lacking

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says all countries ae “dangerously unprepared” for future pandemics in an evolving era of climate-related disasters. In a January 30 World Disasters Report, it urges countries to update preparedness plans by the end of this year. “The next pandemic could be just around the corner,” says its Nepali Secretary General Jagan Chapagain. “If the experience of COVID-19 won’t quicken our steps toward preparedness, what will?” [node:read-more:link]

U.S. shifting coronavirus focus

U.S. President Joe Biden said today that his administration will end early three years of emergency coronavirus pandemic measures on May 11. The Democrat administration is responding to pressure by Republican members of Congress to terminate the measure immediately. The delay effectively enables health authorities to transition to handling the situation endemically. [node:read-more:link]

Coronavirus here to stay?

The World Health Organization said today that the coronavirus remain a global emergency even though an expert panel says higher levels of immunity can virus-related deaths. “There is no doubt that we're in a far better situation” than a year ago, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urging vulnerable group to be fully vaccinated and ignore “misinformation” about masking and social distancing. [node:read-more:link]

Vaccine misinformation fatal and costly

The Council of Canadian Academies says coronavirus misinformation fostered vaccine hesitancy and contributed to more than 2,800 Canadian deaths as well at least $300 million in hospital and intensive care costs. It reports that 2.35 million people postponed or refused vaccination between between March and November 2021, effectively setting themselves up for infection. [node:read-more:link]


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