Personal Health and Safety

Flying commercial? Wear a mask

Even though a Florida judge ruled that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not justified mandatory coronavirus masking on all forms of mass transportation, Canada has no immediate plans to drop its requirement for air and train passengers. “Masks are proven to provide additional layers of protection and we will continue to follow the advice of our public health experts,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said April 19. “I take no joy in these regulations except to know they are done to protect everyone's health and safety.” [node:read-more:link]

Coronavirus outlook worrisome

Several provinces are rebuilding their coronavirus defences amidst growing indications of another wave. Quebec and Prince Edward Island extended their mask mandates and Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia are expanding access to fourth vaccinations. [node:read-more:link]

Governments’ pandemic response faulted

A University of Toronto infectious diseases epidemiologist says that by relaxing coronavirus restrictions, governments have “opened the door to a new variant” and that “there’s no doubt that a new is being driven by the highly transmissible BA.2 subvariant. He says politicians have lifted restrictions at “a really inappropriate time” and with a “healthy dose of denial” of the risk to public health. [node:read-more:link]

New travel rules in effect

As of today, all travellers entering Canada are no longer be required to provide a pre-entry coronavirus test as long as they are “fully vaccinated. That means two doses of an accepted vaccine or at least one of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least 14 days prior to arrival. All arriving travellers must complete a questionnaire on the ArriveCAN app or on the government's website within 72 hours of their arrival, but anyone exhibiting symptoms will not be permitted entry. [node:read-more:link]

Ottawa tackling healthcare backlog

The federal government will transfer $2 billion to provinces and territories in a bid to address the backlog of mostly elective surgeries created by the coronavirus pandemic. ears-long pandemic crisis. Describing the Canada Health Transfer top-up as “a huge relief’ for thousands of families, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos also signalled a willingness to permanently increase transfer payments. [node:read-more:link]

Provinces react to Liberal-NDP agenda

Quebec Premier François Legault says health care elements of this week’s alliance between the Liberals and the NDP is an intrusion into provincial affairs. “There will be a close confrontation with . . . all the provinces,” Legault predicted March 23. “The federal government has no expertise to direct how much money we should be spending on long-term care, how much we should spend on mental health, how much we should devote toward hiring more nurses.” [node:read-more:link]

Liberals form pact with NDP

A “supply and confidence” agreement with the New Democratic Party is designed to ensure the Liberals’ hold on governance until 2025 in return for commitments to cooperate on key policy areas. Those include climate change, health care spending, indigenous reconciliation, economic growth and efforts to make life more affordable. However, the deal confirmed March 22 does not give the NDP a seat at the cabinet table. [node:read-more:link]

Cross-Canada masking snapshot

As Ontario prepares to lift its requirement that masks be worn in most public places March 21, it follows the lead of several other provinces in winding down their coronavirus responses. Here’s a look at the current situation across the country today. [node:read-more:link]

Potentially “divisive” approach to unmasking

As the provinces and territories shift to “living” with the coronavirus and begin lifting mandatory mask requirement, their varied approaches effectively leave it to individual Canadians to decide what’s appropriate. On a federal level, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, says agencies overseeing mask mandates for sectors such as domestic air travel could result in “policy adjustments as needed in the coming days and weeks.” [node:read-more:link]

New coronavirus threat looming?

Even as many provinces are easing pandemic restrictions, a highly contagious Omicron coronavirus sub-variant known as BA.2 is gaining a foothold in Canada. New data indicate that it could be 1.4 times as contagious as BA.1 and as it becomes dominant in the coming weeks, it could undo progress to date, as evidently has been the case in Denmark, which lifted all pandemic restrictions in January. [node:read-more:link]

Ottawa updates coronavirus rules

The federal government plans to do away with pre-arrival coronavirus PCR tests for fully vaccinated travellers at the end of the month. Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said Feb. 15 that travellers may opt for a rapid antigen test approved by their country of origin 24 hours before their scheduled flight or arrival in Canada. The government also is downgrading its advisory that Canadians avoid non-essential travel for the time being. [node:read-more:link]

Ontario to ease pandemic restrictions

Although Ontario plans to end its coronavirus “passport” program March 1 and capacity limits on indoor public settings will be eliminated, current mask requirement would remain in effect. The government said today that it would “lift proof of vaccination requirements for all settings (but) businesses and other settings may choose to continue to require proof of vaccination." [node:read-more:link]

Coronavirus: learn to live with it

Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, says the COVID-19 virus pandemic response is shifting to a stage where it could be handled like other seasonal illness such as influenza. “What we need to do . . . is recognize this virus is not going to disappear,” she said Feb. 5. “We do need to get back to some normalcy” which means “learning to live with the virus.” [node:read-more:link]

Grim triage reality of coronavirus

A Boston hospital has removed a 31-year-old patient from its heart transplant list at least in part because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. His father says his son "doesn't believe in it.” The hospital says that “given the shortage of available organs, we do everything we can to ensure that a patient who receives a transplanted organ has the greatest chance of survival.” [node:read-more:link]

Tam agrees coronavirus may become endemic

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam has told a parliamentary committee that the coronavirus may become endemic. “Many experts believe that so-called herd immunity may not be achievable with this virus because it undergoes constant evolution,” Dr. Tam said Jan. 18. “So what you’re looking at is this endemic state where people will get reinfected over time as immunity wanes.” [node:read-more:link]


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