Today’s coronavirus news: SHN temporarily closes Centennial Arena and Centenary hospital vaccine sites due to vaccine shortage; UHN may need to close Toronto Western vaccine clinic

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Tuesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.12:00 a.m.: The Scarborough Health Network told the Star late Tuesday night that it has temporarily closed the mass vaccination clinics at Centennial College and Centenary Hospital due to a lack of vaccines. A SHN spokesperson said the closure would affect approximately 2,000 vaccine appointments a day.SHN plans to reopen both sites on April 19, when it receives its next vaccine shipment.In a statement released late Tuesday night, SHN chair Maureen Adamson said that “Scarborough continues to struggle with the incomprehensible disparity in vaccine distribution for Canada’s most diverse community and one of Ontario’s most severe hot spots.”SHN has vaccinated more than 90,000 residents so far.Earlier Tuesday, Ontario said that two shipments of the Moderna vaccine scheduled to arrive in April have each been delayed by a week.10:30 p.m.: Food giant Cargill Limited says it has temporarily closed its London, Ont., poultry processing plant due to a COVID-19 outbreak among some of its workers. The company says there is an active case count of 82 and that 900 people work at the facility.Read the story here.10:00 p.m.: It’s a critical move to slow the spread of COVID-19: vaccinating residents of hotspot neighbourhoods, including essential workers.But in at-risk communities, there is still little clarity or consensus on who exactly those workers are.Read the full story from the Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh.9:30 p.m.: Quebec City has done what Toronto says is not yet possible — opened an overnight clinic to get more residents vaccinated.Read the full story from the Star’s Olivia Bowden.9:00 p.m.: Over 20,000 adults under 50 in Toronto COVID-19 hot spots have signed up on a vaccine registry, but they won’t be able to actually get shots unless University Health Network gets more vaccines, says its president.UHN CEO Kevin Smith told the Star the hospital network has about 4,000 doses left, all scheduled to be given to people with appointments. Based on current vaccine delivery schedules, UHN may need to close the Toronto Western Hospital clinic by next Monday, and take its MaRS clinic site down to 25 per cent capacity.Read the full story from the Star’s May Warren.8:30 p.m.: Ontario’s test positivity rate has hit an all-time high of 10.3 per cent. In Toronto, however, some neighbourhoods have trended far beyond that at many points in the pandemic.The high rates of positivity in these neighbourhoods reflect historical data showing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 in the city’s northwest corner and some parts of Scarborough. In the neighbourhood of Humbermede, near Weston Road and Highway 400, test positivity is at 17.6 per cent. In neighbouring Downsview and Maple Leaf, positivity is at 15.7 per cent in both areas. Read the full story from the Star’s Jenna Moon.8:30 p.m. Further COVID-19 restrictions may be on the way for British Columbia, with the premier suggesting changes could come as early as Thursday.Premier John Horgan said Tuesday he expected the provincial cabinet will consider travel restrictions and those talks will also likely examine the status of visitor bookings for hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites.The premier said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry will provide any update of possible new restrictions Thursday during a briefing where the province’s latest COVID-19 modelling data will be presented.“We are in a new phase of the COVID crisis and our approach has been always to be nimble, to be focused on what we can do to keep people safe,” Horgan said at a news conference where he announced youth job supports.B.C. reported 873 new cases on Tuesday and two more deaths. There are 377 people in hospital and 116 of those are in intensive care units.8:00 p.m.: With Ontario in the midst of a third COVID-19 wave and seeing record numbers in the province’s intensive care units, Mackenzie Health confirmed Tueseday that it sent out a memo asking its physicians to volunteer to help out in the health region’s ICUs. According to the note from Dr. Steven Jackson, vice-president of medical planning and chief of staff, “many physicians will be asked to help out even if this is in an area with which they have little recent experience,” calling the current situation “a crisis in the system.”Ontario has a theoretical 2,300 ICU beds, but does not have the staff to maintain each bed. Health Minister Christine Elliott on Monday vowed to increase the province’s capacity by 350 beds by the end of the week.Read the full story from the Star’s Breanna Xavier-Carter here.7:30 p.m.: Ontario’s child-care workers aren’t slated for vaccinations until mid-May despite calls for them to get shots sooner as daycare centres stay open while schools close to in-class learning during the COVID-19 surge.“When the supply comes, we’ll get to them,” Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday

Today’s coronavirus news: SHN temporarily closes Centennial Arena and Centenary hospital vaccine sites due to vaccine shortage; UHN may need to close Toronto Western vaccine clinic

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

12:00 a.m.: The Scarborough Health Network told the Star late Tuesday night that it has temporarily closed the mass vaccination clinics at Centennial College and Centenary Hospital due to a lack of vaccines. A SHN spokesperson said the closure would affect approximately 2,000 vaccine appointments a day.

SHN plans to reopen both sites on April 19, when it receives its next vaccine shipment.

In a statement released late Tuesday night, SHN chair Maureen Adamson said that “Scarborough continues to struggle with the incomprehensible disparity in vaccine distribution for Canada’s most diverse community and one of Ontario’s most severe hot spots.”

SHN has vaccinated more than 90,000 residents so far.

Earlier Tuesday, Ontario said that two shipments of the Moderna vaccine scheduled to arrive in April have each been delayed by a week.

10:30 p.m.: Food giant Cargill Limited says it has temporarily closed its London, Ont., poultry processing plant due to a COVID-19 outbreak among some of its workers. The company says there is an active case count of 82 and that 900 people work at the facility.

Read the story here.

10:00 p.m.: It’s a critical move to slow the spread of COVID-19: vaccinating residents of hotspot neighbourhoods, including essential workers.

But in at-risk communities, there is still little clarity or consensus on who exactly those workers are.

Read the full story from the Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh.

9:30 p.m.: Quebec City has done what Toronto says is not yet possible — opened an overnight clinic to get more residents vaccinated.

Read the full story from the Star’s Olivia Bowden.

9:00 p.m.: Over 20,000 adults under 50 in Toronto COVID-19 hot spots have signed up on a vaccine registry, but they won’t be able to actually get shots unless University Health Network gets more vaccines, says its president.

UHN CEO Kevin Smith told the Star the hospital network has about 4,000 doses left, all scheduled to be given to people with appointments. Based on current vaccine delivery schedules, UHN may need to close the Toronto Western Hospital clinic by next Monday, and take its MaRS clinic site down to 25 per cent capacity.

Read the full story from the Star’s May Warren.

8:30 p.m.: Ontario’s test positivity rate has hit an all-time high of 10.3 per cent. In Toronto, however, some neighbourhoods have trended far beyond that at many points in the pandemic.

The high rates of positivity in these neighbourhoods reflect historical data showing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 in the city’s northwest corner and some parts of Scarborough. In the neighbourhood of Humbermede, near Weston Road and Highway 400, test positivity is at 17.6 per cent. In neighbouring Downsview and Maple Leaf, positivity is at 15.7 per cent in both areas.

Read the full story from the Star’s Jenna Moon.

8:30 p.m. Further COVID-19 restrictions may be on the way for British Columbia, with the premier suggesting changes could come as early as Thursday.

Premier John Horgan said Tuesday he expected the provincial cabinet will consider travel restrictions and those talks will also likely examine the status of visitor bookings for hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites.

The premier said provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry will provide any update of possible new restrictions Thursday during a briefing where the province’s latest COVID-19 modelling data will be presented.

“We are in a new phase of the COVID crisis and our approach has been always to be nimble, to be focused on what we can do to keep people safe,” Horgan said at a news conference where he announced youth job supports.

B.C. reported 873 new cases on Tuesday and two more deaths. There are 377 people in hospital and 116 of those are in intensive care units.

8:00 p.m.: With Ontario in the midst of a third COVID-19 wave and seeing record numbers in the province’s intensive care units, Mackenzie Health confirmed Tueseday that it sent out a memo asking its physicians to volunteer to help out in the health region’s ICUs. According to the note from Dr. Steven Jackson, vice-president of medical planning and chief of staff, “many physicians will be asked to help out even if this is in an area with which they have little recent experience,” calling the current situation “a crisis in the system.”

Ontario has a theoretical 2,300 ICU beds, but does not have the staff to maintain each bed. Health Minister Christine Elliott on Monday vowed to increase the province’s capacity by 350 beds by the end of the week.

Read the full story from the Star’s Breanna Xavier-Carter here.

7:30 p.m.: Ontario’s child-care workers aren’t slated for vaccinations until mid-May despite calls for them to get shots sooner as daycare centres stay open while schools close to in-class learning during the COVID-19 surge.

“When the supply comes, we’ll get to them,” Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday when pressed on the issue amid concerns that rising case levels fuelled by highly contagious COVID-19 variants could force some daycares to close.

Read the story from the Star’s Rob Ferguson and Kristin Rushowy.

5:30 p.m.: Ontario set another record Tuesday for patients with the virus in intensive care units – 626 – and reported 1,822 people in hospital because of COVID-19.

It also reported 3,670 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 15 more deaths linked to the virus.

Ontario also said Tuesday that two shipments of the Moderna vaccine scheduled to arrive in April have each been delayed by a week.

5:30 p.m.: Saskatchewan is tightening restrictions on group sizes and limiting how many people can attend worship services as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to surge.

Health Minister Paul Merriman said the level of transmission remains too high in many parts of the province. The updated public-health orders limit people to associating within their immediate household bubbles effective immediately. It also restricts church gatherings to no more than 30 people as of Friday.

There were 288 new cases of COVID-19 reported Tuesday and two more deaths. Both people were from the Regina area, which has become a hot spot for variants of concern.

4:00 p.m.: The COVID-19 lockdown order across three Quebec regions will be extended for an additional week, Premier Francois Legault said Tuesday, adding that Quebeckers shouldn’t expect a return to normal before the end of June.

Schools and non-essential businesses will remain closed and the nighttime curfew will be at 8 p.m. until at least April 25 in Quebec City; the Chaudiere-Appalaches region, south of the provincial capital; and in Outaouais, in western Quebec.

The restrictions, which had previously applied only in parts of Chaudiere-Appalaches and Outaouais, will be expanded to cover the entirety of those two regions starting Wednesday, the premier added.

“The situation is serious and could continue to worsen,” Legault told reporters in Quebec City. “The situation is fragile everywhere in Quebec. With the variant, no region is immune.”

Quebec reported 1,490 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 12 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including three in the previous 24 hours.

Quebec City reported the highest number of new cases, with 341, followed by Montreal with 300.

4:00 p.m.: Next week’s scheduled reopening of the Atlantic bubble was cast in serious doubt Tuesday as Nova Scotia announced it was reimposing restrictions for travellers from New Brunswick.

Premier Iain Rankin told reporters he was reversing a decision made March 19: all visitors to Nova Scotia from New Brunswick will have to self-isolate for 14 days as of 8 a.m. on Thursday.

He said his province is concerned about the potential spread of variant cases of the virus in New Brunswick following a recent outbreak in the Edmundston, N.B., area.

“Now we are seeing some variant cases in Saint John and more worrying, we are seeing some cases under investigation in the Moncton area,” Rankin said.

The premier said the move is necessary to prevent an outbreak of a more contagious mutation of the novel coronavirus in his province, adding that it was looking “unlikely” the Atlantic travel bubble would be reopened as planned next Monday.

“Right now we are looking at pushing back the opening until sometime in May,” he said.

3:30 p.m.: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says businesses affected by COVID-19 shutdowns will soon be able to apply for more aid.

Kenney says they will be able this month to apply for another payment of up to $10,000 from the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant program.

That is on top of the maximum $20,000 made available under previous phases of the program.

The money will also be available to businesses that began operating since March 2020, as well as to hotels, taxis and ride-sharing services.

The program offers financial assistance to businesses, co-ops and non-profits with fewer than 500 employees that have faced restrictions or closures due to COVID-19.

Kenney says the money can be used to keep a business running, help expand its online presence or to cover costs for items that help prevent the spread of the virus.

Last week, the province reduced retail store customer capacity to 15 per cent and closed restaurants to dine-in service to help halt a surge in novel coronavirus cases, although patios remain open.

1:57 p.m. (updated) A Quebec woman is the first in Canada to develop a blood clot after being vaccinated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The news came as Health Canada said it was investigating reports of clots linked to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States. The Quebec health ministry and Public Health Agency of Canada reported the event connected to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine Tuesday.

Quebec says the female patient, whose age was not revealed, received the appropriate care and is recovering at home.

The woman received the vaccine produced at the Serum Institute of India, known as Covishield.

Read the full story here on the Star.

1:12 p.m. Ontario has released more details on its plan to vaccinate adults living in certain COVID-19 hot spots.

It says community groups will help organize vaccine clinics for residents aged 18 and older in “high risk” settings within hot-spot postal codes.

The province says those groups include faith-based organizations, employers and other community organizations.

Mobile teams and pop-up clinics will be used in those places and the government says individuals can contact their local health units for details.

The hot-spot plan will first take effect in certain postal codes in Toronto and Peel Region.

Ontario also says education workers who work or live in hot-spot postal codes in Toronto and Peel will be provided with an eligibility letter from their local school board to access a shot.

12:57 p.m. Manitoba enforcement officers issued 100 warnings and 13 tickets last week for suspected violations of COVID-19 public health orders.

Five tickets were for failing to wear a mask in an indoor public place Three tickets were for exceeding gathering limits.

12:55 p.m. Ontario says community groups will help organize COVID-19 vaccine clinics for residents aged 18 and older in “high risk” settings within virus hot spots.

The province says those groups include faith-based organizations, employers and other community organizations.

Mobile teams and pop-up clinics will be used to vaccinate residents in those places and the government says individuals can contact their local health units for details.

Read the full story here on the Star.

10:44 a.m. Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine has hit a stumbling block in the United States as regulators begin investigating reports of blood clots, weeks before the first shipment of the jabs are expected to arrive in Canada.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday they were investigating clots in six women that occurred in the days after vaccination. The agencies are recommending pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson jab in the country.

It’s the second COVID vaccine to be investigated for a possible link to blood clotting after several European countries temporarily halted use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for the same reason last month.

Read the full story here on the Star.

10:15 a.m. Ontario is reporting 3,670 COVID-19 cases Tuesday with 15 deaths. The seven-day average is a record 3,868 cases daily or 186 weekly per 100,000, and up to 17.7 deaths per day. Labs report 42,167 completed tests and 10.3 per cent positivity, a new record high. The seven-day average of 7.6 per cent is also a record.

Locally, there are 1,016 new cases in Toronto, 613 in Peel, 519 in York Region, 214 in Ottawa and 196 in Durham.

As of 8 p.m. Monday, 3,310,157 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.

9:55 a.m. 615 patients now in adult critical care in Ontario with 64 new admissions Monday. Eight patients (adult and children) are also in pediatric ICU beds for a total of 623.

8:55 a.m. Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday her government wants clear rules that include nighttime curfews imposed in all regions with high numbers of COVID-19 infections, ending the patchwork of measures that have characterized the pandemic response across Germany’s 16 states.

“The uniform, nationwide emergency brake is overdue because even though it’s difficult to hear this again, the situation is serious,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin after her Cabinet approved the plan.

Many Germans have expressed frustration and confusion in recent months as governors interpreted rules agreed with the federal government in different ways, despite having similar infection rates.

Merkel warned that Germany remains “firmly in the grip of the third wave” of infections, citing figures from the country’s disease control agency that showed 10,810 newly confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, and 294 deaths.

Since the start of the pandemic, Germany has registered more than 3 million infections and 78,746 deaths from COVID-19.

“If we were to wait until all the intensive care beds were occupied, then it would be too late,” Merkel said, adding that governments and citizens need to help doctors and nurses tackle the surge in cases.

The emergency brake, proposed in a bill that will be submitted to Parliament, will apply in regions with more than 100 new weekly cases per 100,000 inhabitants. It entails the closure of stores, cultural and sports facilities, limits on personal contacts and nighttime curfews.

States would be free to set more flexible rules in regions with fewer than 100 new cases each week per 100,000 inhabitants.

Merkel said she hoped Parliament would swiftly debate and pass the bill.

8 a.m. It seems having the “vaccine talk” can sometimes be more uncomfortable than the sex one.

Especially if you’re the one initiating the conversation ... with your parents.

As Ontario COVID-19 case counts hit record highs and vaccine clinics expand bookings to include more people, children of aging parents and grandparents everywhere are tasked with booking vaccine appointments online and accompanying them to get the jab.

But they have to get them there first.

Concerning amounts of misinformation spread across widely-used social media platforms has left Gen-Z and millennial children struggling with the task of explaining the public-health stance on the importance of vaccination.

Read the full story from the Star’s Ann Marie Elpa

7:45 a.m. The Hospital for Sick Children is preparing to accept up to 50 pediatric in-patients from most Greater Toronto hospitals — some from as far away as Newmarket and Oshawa — to make space for the ever-rising numbers of severely ill COVID-19 patients needing care.

The directive requires 14 hospitals in the GTA to transfer pediatric in-patients to SickKids, with few exceptions. By late Monday, hours after the directive came into effect, SickKids had already admitted about 10 patients, with plans for more to arrive in the coming days.

The transfer of dozens of ill children solely for capacity reasons is yet another marker of the crisis GTA hospitals are facing in the third wave as the province on Monday reported a record COVID-19 patients in ICUs.

“The number of patients with COVID-19 in Ontario’s critical care system is the highest it’s ever been, and the number of new patients we’re admitting is the highest it’s ever been,” said Dr. Kali Barrett, a critical care physician at University Health Network.

Read the full story from the Star’s Megan Ogilvie

7:37 a.m. Second-ranked Daniil Medvedev withdrew from the Monte Carlo Masters on Tuesday following a positive COVID-19 test.

The ATP said Medvedev has been placed in isolation. His condition is being assessed by the tournament doctor and the ATP medical team.

“It’s a big disappointment not to play in Monte Carlo,” Medvedev said. “My focus is now on recovery and I look forward to getting back out on Tour as soon and as safely as possible.”

The clay-court tournament is back on the calendar with no fans attending after it was cancelled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The ATP said Medvedev was replaced in the main draw and withdrawn from doubles competition.

7:21 a.m. (updated) The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.

In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said they were investigating clots in six women that occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination. The clots were observed in the sinuses of the brain along with reduced platelet counts — making the usual treatment for blood clots, the blood thinner heparin, potentially “dangerous.”

More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S., the vast majority with no or mild side effects.

U.S. federal distribution channels, including mass vaccination sites, will pause the use of the J&J shot, and states and other providers are expected to follow. The other two authorized vaccines, from Moderna and Pfizer, make up the vast share of COVID-19 shots administered in the U.S. and are not affected by the pause.

CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will meet Wednesday to discuss the cases and the FDA has also launched an investigation into the cause of the clots and low platelet counts.

“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, and Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a joint statement.

They are recommending that people who were given the J&J vaccine who are experiencing severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after receiving the shot contact their health care provider.

Officials say they also want to educate vaccine providers and health professionals about the “unique treatment” required for this type of clot.

Johnson & Johnson said it was aware of the reports of “thromboembolic events,” or blood clots, but that no link to its vaccine had been established.

“We are aware that thromboembolic events including those with thrombocytopenia have been reported with Covid-19 vaccines,” said Johnson & Johnson in a statement. “At present, no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events and the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine.”

The J&J vaccine received emergency use authorization from the FDA in late February with great fanfare, with hopes that its single-dose and relatively simple storage requirements would speed vaccinations across the country. Yet the shot only makes up a small fraction of the doses administered in the U.S. as J&J has been plagued by production delays and manufacturing errors at the Baltimore plant of a contractor.

Last week the drugmaker took over the facility to scale up production in hopes of meeting its commitment to the U.S. government of providing about 100 million doses by the end of May.

Only about 9 million of the company’s doses have been delivered to states and are awaiting administration, according to CDC data.

7 a.m. A 10-day curfew in areas controlled by U.S.-backed fighters in northeast Syria went into effect Tuesday in an attempt to try limit the spread of coronavirus in the region that borders Turkey and Iraq.

Northeast Syria witnessed a sharp increase of coronavirus cases in recent weeks overwhelming hospitals and clinics leading to the lockdown.

Residents in northeast Syria contacted by telephone said most people were abiding by the lockdown with few people on the streets amid patrols and checkpoints enforcing the curfew.

In addition to the curfew, all crossing points between areas held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces with areas held by government forces and those with insurgent groups in northwest Syria will be closed as well.

The curfew went into effect as Muslims in Syria marked the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan during which many people abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. Shop selling food products will be allowed to open between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m..

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria said sectors not included in the curfew are bakeries, pharmacies, gas stations while restaurants will only be allowed to do takeaway.

“The speed in which the virus is spreading is huge,” said Jwan Mustafa who head the health department in northeast Syria. “The region has reached a very critical period and we cannot stop the spread.”

The region that is home to some 5 million people has registered 201 new cases and six deaths on Monday alone, bringing the total of cases to 12,437 including 428 deaths.

Mustafa added that the real numbers are believed to be much higher. Clinics that were set up to deal with coronavirus cases are all full.

6:50 a.m. How did things in the picturesque mountain community of Whistler — one of North America’s premiere ski destinations — get so bad?

On Monday, facing the highest recorded rate of COVID-19 in British Columbia, the community began a push to vaccinate all residents and workers 18 and older.

The two-week effort to stamp out the latest, variant-fuelled outbreak there underscores what has been a struggle throughout the pandemic to keep the coronavirus at bay.

“Overall, the takeaway from Whistler is that resorts are great places for outbreaks and for distributing variants across the province and beyond,” says Jens von Bergmann, a data analyst and consultant in Vancouver.

Von Bergmann drew a comparison between Whistler and Ischgl, a ski resort in Austria cited for helping to spread the original COVID-19 strain across Europe.

Read the full story from the Star’s Douglas Quan

6:45 a.m. While COVID-19 has spread fastest among unvaccinated people under 30 years of age during Ontario’s third wave, that growth has taken attention away from another, more deadly trend: the pandemic is still hitting Ontario seniors the hardest.

Despite a vaccination program initially targeting people in their 60s, 70s and 80s, these older demographics continue to suffer the worst outcomes more often.

Since March 1, the majority of new COVID-19 cases have been in those in their 30s or younger, but people in this age group are far less likely to die of the virus than older demographics. The younger cohort has accounted for nearly 60 per cent of new infections in the past six weeks, but less than two per cent of deaths. Conversely, people 60 and over have made up about 15 per cent of new cases in the past six weeks, but those cases are responsible for nearly 90 per cent of deaths.

“Any death is horrible, but the fact is there has been a lot of attention around a few young people dying when at the same time, on a daily basis, there are at least a dozen older people dying. But for some reason, they have not been making the news,” said Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at the Sinai Health System and the University Health Network.

“The majority of people who are ending up in hospital are older adults and older adults still remain the ones who are most at risk of getting sick and dying of COVID.”

Read the full story from the Star’s Kenyon Wallace and Ed Tubb

6:38 a.m. Despite Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s hope that the COVID-19 vaccine will allow summer events like the Calgary Stampede to go ahead, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival has been cancelled

The festival says in a statement that without full vaccination, people won’t be entirely safe from the spread of COVID-19.

It says that with virus variants and an uncertain vaccine rollout, the impossibility of social distancing at the outdoor festival could lead to community spread.

Kenney has said that two-thirds of the population should have a vaccine shot by the end of June and things should begin to feel back-to-normal.

He says the Stampede, which is held in early July, along with sporting events and other festivals will be possible.

The Edmonton Folk Music Festival says it will continue to offer online content and, if small gatherings are permitted, it hopes to add some community engagement.

“With so many variables at play, the complexity of planning and delivering a festival of our size makes it impossible to move forward in our usual manner,” the statement said Monday.

“As profoundly disappointing as this news is, we believe this is the only safe way forward. The safety of our patrons, volunteers, and artists was of paramount importance in coming to this conclusion.”

The annual four-day festival in the city’s Gallagher Park usually attracts thousands of music fans and boasts approximately 2,700 volunteers.

6 a.m. Around one in 10 Canadians said they don’t plan on getting the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a new survey by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, raising questions about how health-care providers could best communicate the importance of getting the jab to skeptical patients.

Experts say the results are mostly encouraging, as they show a majority of Canadians are willing to get inoculated. But they raise the persistent issue of vaccine doubt and how hospitals, including CAMH, can best respond.

“Most patients and their families have been agreeable, in fact, enthusiastic” about the vaccine, said Dr. David Gratzer, a psychiatrist at CAMH. But he added the hospital, like other places offering the vaccine, has encountered some hesitancy.

Since Ontario’s vaccine rollout began, CAMH has been offering inoculations to staff and long-term patients. Gratzer said it’s now giving vaccines to short-term-stay patients as well, and has opened vaccinations to the public in line with eligibility criteria set out by the province.

Read the full story from the Star’s Nadine Yousif

5:54 a.m. With COVID-19, space exploration and climate change high on many minds, a “do tank” in Geneva bankrolled by Switzerland’s government is gearing up to develop long-term projects like a global court for scientific disputes and a Manhattan Project-style effort to rid excess carbon from the atmosphere.

Backers of the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator want to bridge the Swiss city’s image as a hub for conflict resolution with visionary scientific ambitions on big-picture issues, including the future of humanity.

First created in late 2019, GESDA presented its first activity report Tuesday and announced plans for a summit in October bringing together hundreds of United Nations officials, Nobel laureates, academics, diplomats, advocacy group representatives and members of the public. .

The initiative’s backers include the heads of top Swiss universities and of the world’s largest atom smasher, located at European nuclear research organization CERN. They say the coronavirus pandemic has given science a platform unseen for several decades and want to leverage the attention from a public health crisis that has taken nearly 3 million lives and quashed economies to encourage thinking about the interplay among science, politics and society.

Peter Brabeck, a former chairman and CEO of Nestle who was tapped by the Swiss government to lead GESDA, used COVID-19 as an example of how advance planning could help head off future health crises, noting that the mRNA vaccine technology being used now to fight the pandemic has been around a decade.

“We could have perhaps been more prepared for the pandemic than we were today,” Brabeck said from GEDSA headquarters at Geneva’s Campus Biotech. “Only a scientific breakthrough is not enough. It has to be embedded in a diplomatic framework so that it can be implemented” by governments and companies.

“Technology is advancing at an incredible speed. But the framework around it — diplomacy — is slower than ever, so we have to find a way that we can accelerate the diplomacy also,” he said.

The pandemic has featured vaccine nationalism, political squabbles and mutual recriminations between China — where the coronavirus first emerged — and the United States, which is experiencing the world’s most deadly outbreak. The reputation of the World Health Organization also has suffered.

“I would not pretend that GESDA could avoid such a confrontation as it happened in the World Health Organization,” Brabeck said. “What GESDA can do is basically to call attention before this thing escalates...(and) if diplomacy would come in before the fact, a lot of these conflicts might be resolved.”

5:49 a.m. Austria’s health minister announced his resignation on Tuesday, saying that he couldn’t continue in the grueling job of helping lead the country’s coronavirus response because of persistent personal health problems caused by overwork.

Rudolf Anschober, 60, had been health minister since January last year, when his Green party became the junior partner in a governing coalition under conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

The soft-spoken minister has been one of the main faces of Austria’s coronavirus response, which has gathered mixed reviews.

Anschober, who suffered a burnout nine years ago, said he had suffered two episodes of sudden fatigue in the past month, as well as high blood pressure and tinnitus.

He said he had “clearly overworked” and hadn’t felt “completely fit” for several weeks. This wasn’t a burnout, he added, but doctors advised him to take a break.

“In the most serious health crisis for decades, the republic needs a health minister who is 100% fit,” Anschober said. “I am not at the moment, and I won’t be in the coming weeks if I don’t pull the emergency brake.”

“This pandemic takes no breaks and so a health minister can’t take a break either,” he added.

Austria was one of the first countries in western Europe to mandate the use of masks last year and was able to ease its first lockdown quickly.

5:42 a.m. Ontario schools are to remain closed until further notice following this week’s spring break, with students learning online until the province’s medical officer of health deems COVID levels safe enough for them to return, Premier Doug Ford announced Monday.

The news came just one day after Education Minister Stephen Lecce issued an open letter to all of the province’s parents, saying schools would reopen come April 19 unless local public health units decided otherwise.

While the widespread move to virtual learning was lauded by educators who have been wary about returning to school April 19 given surging COVID cases, they and critics accused the government of making bad decisions that led to this point.

Read the full story from the Star’s Kristin Rushowy

Tuesday 5:40 a.m. After months of negotiating, Ottawa and Air Canada have settled on an aid package that will provide as much as $5.9 billion to the airline to help it recover from the economic damage brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In exchange for the money, Air Canada has agreed to several requirements from the federal government, including customer refunds, reinstated service to regional communities, new environmental disclosures and job security for the tens of thousands of workers that the company temporarily laid off since the pandemic began.

At a news conference Monday evening, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Air Canada will be required to repay all the financial aid offered to the company.

The aid includes $4 billion in general repayable loans, as well as a $500-million equity investment that will give the government an unspecified stake in the company. Air Canada will also have access to a $1.4-billion loan that it will draw from to repay customers who bought non-refundable fares but did not travel due to the pandemic. The aid is offered through the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility program, Freeland and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said.

Read the full story from the Star’s Jacob Lorinc

Monday 10:36 p.m.: The Hospital for Sick Children is preparing to accept up to 50 pediatric in-patients from most Greater Toronto hospitals — some from as far away as Newmarket and Oshawa — to make space for the ever-rising numbers of severely ill COVID-19 patients needing care.

The directive requires 14 hospitals in the GTA to transfer pediatric in-patients to SickKids, with few exceptions. By late Monday, hours after the directive came into effect, SickKids had already admitted about 10 patients, with plans for more to arrive in the coming days.

The transfer of dozens of ill children solely for capacity reasons is yet another marker of the crisis GTA hospitals are facing in the third wave as the province on Monday reported a record COVID-19 patients in ICUs.

“The number of patients with COVID-19 in Ontario’s critical care system is the highest it’s ever been, and the number of new patients we’re admitting is the highest it’s ever been,” said Dr. Kali Barrett, a critical care physician at University Health Network.

“With this rate of acceleration of growth, we will reach a breaking point very soon.”

Read more of Megan Ogilvie’s full piece: Up to 50 children in GTA hospitals to transfer to SickKids to free up beds for COVID-19 patients.

Monday 9 p.m.: Ontario will add 350 new ICU beds by the end of this week, according to Health Minister Christine Elliott. The pledge comes as Ontario reached a record 619 patients in the province’s ICU beds.

Read the full story by Rob Ferguson: Ontario promises 350 new ICU beds this week as COVID-19 cases surge

Source : Toronto Star More