Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario to provide modelling update today; Holiday vacations coincide with rise in COVID-19 travel-related cases; Vietnam’s first outbreak in 2 months grows

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Thursday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available. 5:15 a.m. Travellers returning to New Zealand will face stricter rules at quarantine hotels as health authorities investigate how up to three people got infected with the coronavirus while isolating at Auckland’s Pullman Hotel.The people were released before testing positive and were potentially contagious, but so far testing has shown no evidence the virus has spread in the community. Health authorities believe they caught the virus from another quarantined traveller. New Zealand has managed to stamp out community transmission of the virus.5:10 a.m. Vietnam reported 82 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, hours after confirming the first two infections in nearly two months.Seventy-two of the cases came from an electronic company in Hai Duong province, where a 34-year-old female employee tested positive after her colleague was found to carry the virus from Osaka, Japan, several days earlier, the Health Ministry said.It said the woman who was tested in Japan carried the U.K. variant, which could spread faster.The company with over 2,200 workers was closed for disinfection and the provincial authority locked down surrounding communities to curb the outbreak.The ministry said over 3,000 people in the area will be tested.Meanwhile, in neighbouring Quang Ninh province, 10 people tested positive after a man working at Van Don International Airport was confirmed to be infected.5:05 a.m. Sri Lanka’s president on Thursday welcomed the first 500,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine from India, which has donated the shots to eight countries in the region.The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.Sri Lanka said 150,000 health workers and 115,000 selected military and police troops will be the first to be inoculated at six hospitals in Colombo and its suburbs.One of the hospitals is reserved for COVID-19 patients while the others have separate wards for the coronavirus.The Health Ministry plans to expand the vaccination campaign to 4,000 hospitals and health centres in other parts of the country next week.India’s donation covers 250,000 people and Sri Lanka is making efforts to obtain more vaccines, either through donation or by purchasing them.The country has ordered 2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine and is planning to order 3 million more from India. It also expects some from the U.N. COVAX Facility to be able to vaccine 20% of the population.5:01 a.m. A World Health Organization team emerged from quarantine in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Thursday to start field work in a fact-finding mission on the origins of the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic.The researchers, who were required to complete 14 days in quarantine after arriving in China, left their quarantine hotel and boarded a bus in the midafternoon.The mission has become politically charged, as China seeks to avoid blame for alleged missteps in its early response to the outbreak. A major question is where the Chinese side will allow the researchers to go and whom they will be able to talk to.Yellow barriers blocked the entrance to the hotel, keeping the media at a distance. Before the researchers boarded, workers in full protective gear could be seen loading their luggage onto the bus, including two musical instruments, a dumbbell and four yoga mattresses.4:55 a.m. Ontario will provide an update on COVID-19 modelling projections today.The province says Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, the co-chairman of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, will present the update this afternoon.The new data comes two weeks after the province invoked a stay-at-home order in a bid to halt surging case spread.The province’s chief medical officer of health says a provincewide lockdown, which started in late December, has contributed to a reduction in daily cases.The last modelling update provided by the province earlier this month warned that rising virus case rates threatened to overwhelm the health care system.4:44 a.m. The impact of COVID-19 on intensive care units remains “alarming” despite a recent steadying of the number of patients treated there, says a group representing Ontario’s hospitals.Anthony Dale, president of the Ontario Hospital Association, said there are, on average, 25 new COVID-19 patients being admitted to ICUs every day.“This apparent stabilization masks the fact that capacity is actually being freed up as patients either leave ICU as they get better, or pass away from COVID-19 or another very serious condition,” Dale said.Over the last week, up to 416 patients with COVID-19 have been treated in ICUs, according to data provided by the Ontario Hospital Association.On Jan. 15, Ontario recorded an all-time high of 420 patients with COVID-19 in ICUs — about a quarter of all intensive care patients.“The rate of transmission appears to be decelerating, but we canno

Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario to provide modelling update today; Holiday vacations coincide with rise in COVID-19 travel-related cases; Vietnam’s first outbreak in 2 months grows

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Thursday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

5:15 a.m. Travellers returning to New Zealand will face stricter rules at quarantine hotels as health authorities investigate how up to three people got infected with the coronavirus while isolating at Auckland’s Pullman Hotel.

The people were released before testing positive and were potentially contagious, but so far testing has shown no evidence the virus has spread in the community. Health authorities believe they caught the virus from another quarantined traveller. New Zealand has managed to stamp out community transmission of the virus.

5:10 a.m. Vietnam reported 82 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, hours after confirming the first two infections in nearly two months.

Seventy-two of the cases came from an electronic company in Hai Duong province, where a 34-year-old female employee tested positive after her colleague was found to carry the virus from Osaka, Japan, several days earlier, the Health Ministry said.

It said the woman who was tested in Japan carried the U.K. variant, which could spread faster.

The company with over 2,200 workers was closed for disinfection and the provincial authority locked down surrounding communities to curb the outbreak.

The ministry said over 3,000 people in the area will be tested.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Quang Ninh province, 10 people tested positive after a man working at Van Don International Airport was confirmed to be infected.

5:05 a.m. Sri Lanka’s president on Thursday welcomed the first 500,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine from India, which has donated the shots to eight countries in the region.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.

Sri Lanka said 150,000 health workers and 115,000 selected military and police troops will be the first to be inoculated at six hospitals in Colombo and its suburbs.

One of the hospitals is reserved for COVID-19 patients while the others have separate wards for the coronavirus.

The Health Ministry plans to expand the vaccination campaign to 4,000 hospitals and health centres in other parts of the country next week.

India’s donation covers 250,000 people and Sri Lanka is making efforts to obtain more vaccines, either through donation or by purchasing them.

The country has ordered 2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine and is planning to order 3 million more from India. It also expects some from the U.N. COVAX Facility to be able to vaccine 20% of the population.

5:01 a.m. A World Health Organization team emerged from quarantine in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Thursday to start field work in a fact-finding mission on the origins of the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers, who were required to complete 14 days in quarantine after arriving in China, left their quarantine hotel and boarded a bus in the midafternoon.

The mission has become politically charged, as China seeks to avoid blame for alleged missteps in its early response to the outbreak. A major question is where the Chinese side will allow the researchers to go and whom they will be able to talk to.

Yellow barriers blocked the entrance to the hotel, keeping the media at a distance. Before the researchers boarded, workers in full protective gear could be seen loading their luggage onto the bus, including two musical instruments, a dumbbell and four yoga mattresses.

4:55 a.m. Ontario will provide an update on COVID-19 modelling projections today.

The province says Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, the co-chairman of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, will present the update this afternoon.

The new data comes two weeks after the province invoked a stay-at-home order in a bid to halt surging case spread.

The province’s chief medical officer of health says a provincewide lockdown, which started in late December, has contributed to a reduction in daily cases.

The last modelling update provided by the province earlier this month warned that rising virus case rates threatened to overwhelm the health care system.

4:44 a.m. The impact of COVID-19 on intensive care units remains “alarming” despite a recent steadying of the number of patients treated there, says a group representing Ontario’s hospitals.

Anthony Dale, president of the Ontario Hospital Association, said there are, on average, 25 new COVID-19 patients being admitted to ICUs every day.

“This apparent stabilization masks the fact that capacity is actually being freed up as patients either leave ICU as they get better, or pass away from COVID-19 or another very serious condition,” Dale said.

Over the last week, up to 416 patients with COVID-19 have been treated in ICUs, according to data provided by the Ontario Hospital Association.

On Jan. 15, Ontario recorded an all-time high of 420 patients with COVID-19 in ICUs — about a quarter of all intensive care patients.

“The rate of transmission appears to be decelerating, but we cannot declare victory,” Dale said. “We must remain extremely cautious and keep up the fight against community spread to keep up our progress and prevent a third wave, especially when we see the new variant’s impacts in the United Kingdom.”

The province warned at the outset of the most recent lockdown that ICUs were on the verge of being overrun with COVID-19 patients, at which point physicians would be in the difficult position to choose who received critical care and who did not.

4 a.m. As the federal government prepares to slap new restrictions on international travel, Health Canada data suggest a worrying uptick of infections directly connected to foreign arrivals.

While travel exposures account for less than two per cent of all Canada’s COVID-19 cases, the number of cases in recent travellers, and people they came into close contact with after arriving, shows continual growth in recent months.

In December, 486 cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in recent travellers, the most since March and up from 312 in November and 204 in October. Despite mandatory two-week quarantines for international travellers, there were 1,258 COVID-19 cases confirmed in people who had close contact with a recent traveller in December, up from 744 in November and 704 in October.

In the first three weeks of January, 384 travel cases and 607 traveller-contact cases were confirmed.

The figures also correspond with a recent rise in the number of people travelling, at least by air. Land-border arrivals are typically fewer in the winter because of the weather in much of the country, but more people arrived from the U.S. by air in December than any month since March. Arrivals from other international locations were higher in December than any month except August.

Wednesday 8:45 p.m.: Most people in British Columbia are doing their best to follow public health guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, but some are acting badly, Premier John Horgan said Wednesday.

Horgan also highlighted the case of a B.C. couple who travelled to Yukon, where they’re alleged to have jumped the queue to get an early COVID-19 vaccine shot.

“I believe there’s nothing more un-Canadian than going to another jurisdiction to jump the line because you have the means to do so,” Horgan said at a news conference. “Those are the types of examples we want to put in our rear-view mirror.”

Horgan said it’s disconcerting that some people are holding large gatherings in Vancouver penthouses and others are looking for parties in Whistler despite health restrictions.

He expressed his concern as well over incidents of racist behaviour towards Indigenous people who are fighting COVID-19 outbreaks in their communities.

Read the full story here: B.C. premier says jumping COVID-19 vaccine line ‘un-Canadian,’ no penthouse parties

Click here to read more of Wednesday’s COVID-19 coverage.

Source : Toronto Star More