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Ford addresses ‘disturbing’ anti-maskers at his home; Alberta sees lack of cooperation with contact tracers

On Tuesday, Oct. 13, Justin Trudeau announced that Canada has secured 28.4 million rapid COVID-19 tests, which can deliver results in less than 20 minutes.

The chief medical officer of health, Dr. Theresa Tam, said the tests will be deployed possibly by the end of the week or early next week to provinces and territories.

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford asked people to support take-out initiatives at restaurants in the province’s three hotspots where new restrictions are in place. In addition, he pleaded with Uber Eats to reduce the commission rates it’s charging, in order to help restaurants amid the pandemic.

To finish his press conference, Ford called out those who are spreading disinformation about COVID-19, especially the “anti-maskers” who have been showing up at his house.

As COVID-19 continues to spread nationwide, Quebec announced more restrictions for three regions, Saskatchewan limited gathering sizes at households, and British Columbia health officials pleaded with citizens to get their flu shot amid influenza season. In Alberta, health officials said they’re seeing an increasing number of people who are refusing to share information with contact tracers.

For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.

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‘There’s no hidden agenda’: Doug Ford shares frustration over those discrediting the COVID-19 pandemic

As the second wave of COVID-19 makes its mark on Ontario, Premier Doug Ford addressed those who are trying to discredit the reality of the virus, such as by calling it fake. 

“There’s no hidden agenda … it’s sheer facts,” said Ford. “What I get from the chief medical officer, I will put it right on the table good, bad or ugly. …

“I’m going to repeat this again, there is no agenda. I’m the last guy in the world that would put up with that. I just, it just wouldn’t happen under my watch. I’m here to protect the people of Ontario, keep them safe.”

Ford credits the media, who he called “phenomenal,” for helping deliver the government’s message on protocols throughout the pandemic. 

It’s a contrast compared to what the premier describes has been occurring in front of his home. 

“We have the anti-maskers showing up to my house again,” said Ford.

“You know, flying the flag upside down. That’s disturbing to say the least. You don’t like our country, want to disrespect the people of this country and the flag; go on, take off, leave, find another place you can fly your flag upside down.”

Ford announcements funding for Ontario businesses impacted by latest restrictions, calls out Uber Eats

Ford announced $300 million to provide relief for local restaurants and other businesses that have been impacted by the province’s latest health measures. 

The news comes after Ford announced on Friday that indoor dining will have to close for restaurants and bars in the province’s three hotspots of Ontario, Peel and Ottawa. These venues will still be able to offer take-out options, but the restrictions also impact places such as gyms, gaming establishments and performance venues.

The $300 million will help offset fixed costs, including property taxes, natural gas and hydro bills. More information on how the province will distribute the relief is expected soon, said the premier while making the announcement at Mamma Martino’s Restaurant in Etobicoke.

In the meantime, Ford is asking all Ontarians to do their part to help small businesses by ordering take-out food in the upcoming weeks. But he’s also asking big third party food delivery services to be flexible. 

“I have a message … Uber Eats, it’s time for you to do your part,” said Ford. “We need you to help out these mom and pop shops right now. Please consider reducing the commission rates you charge the restaurants impacted by these new health measures. “

Ford said there are restaurants paying as much as 30 per cent commission to have their food delivered, and in some cases that’s on top of the service and delivery fees that are paid by consumers. 

“I understand that some of the companies are already reducing the commissions they charged the restaurant, so I thank you for that,” said Ford. “So please, do the right thing in these difficult times.”

Alberta seeing an increasing number of people refusing to share information with contact tracers

With a concerning rise in cases over the past few weeks in Alberta, contact tracers have been kept busy. 

Despite the extra work, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw notes that contact tracers are coming across “an increasing number of people who are reluctant to share information about where they may have been exposed to the virus, where they have been while infectious and who they have been in contact with.”

Hinshaw sympathizes with Albertans who are tired and angry of how COVID-19 has disrupted their lives, but said that choosing not to work with contact tracers won’t help the situation. Instead, “it makes it worse.”

Hinshaw said that contact tracers are doing their best to limit further transmission of the virus, making it critical that everyone shows compassion to them and the importance of their work.

New testing approach on the way for Albertans

Alberta will be making “a strategic shift” in its testing approach, in which it will move to an appointment only system. 

Drop-in options will be discontinued starting tomorrow. 

Hinshaw that at the moment 93 per cent of the tests are already being booked by appointment. The point of the shift is to make testing quicker and more efficient, since it will reduce crowding in lines, which can pose a safety issue. 

“For most people, this will have no impact on your testing experience,” said Hinshaw.

Alberta’s top doctor also reminded people to cancel their appointments at an assessment centre if they’re not able to attend. It’s already posed a significant problem, with Calgary seeing a 14 per cent no show rate over the weekend.

More Quebec regions to become ‘red zones’ as virus ‘seems to be stabilizing’

Quebec Premier François Legault announced on Tuesday additional regions that will become “red zones.” 

It marks the highest level on its COVID-19 alert colour-scale, which indicates the severity of the virus in regions around the province and dictates what restrictions should be put in place. The recently added red zones include Montérégie and central Quebec. Charlevoix will also be moved to “red,” joining the rest of the Quebec City region. 

In addition, the region of Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean is also being moved to Orange. 

“We need to remain prudent before celebrating, but the spread of the virus seems to be stabilizing,” said Legault in French. 

The premier said that efforts they’ve taken a couple weeks ago seem to be paying off, with the number of daily cases decreasing over the past four days. However, the virus is still circulating in more regions than just in its hotspots.

Legault said that the province is imposing these further restrictions for three reasons: Save lives, keep children in school and to save their health-care system. He urges all Quebecers to continue to limit their indoor gatherings. 

The latest red zones will start to face additional restrictions as of Friday. Restaurants and bars will only be able to offer takeout options. Dining rooms and most entertainment venues will have to close, as well as gyms. High schools in red regions will have to apply additional hygiene rules, such as full-time mask use, while extracurricular activities will be suspended. 

In red zones, people are not allowed to have visitors from other households, except under unique circumstances, such for those who live alone. Private gatherings are prohibited, except for places of worship and funerals, where there can be a maximum of 25 people. 

Please reference this map to see which regions are also currently red zones.

Dr. Henry stresses importance of getting your flu shot this influenza season

British Columbia’s provincial health officer stressed the importance of getting your flu shot this influenza season amid the second wave of COVID-19. 

“It’s important for us to be aware of influenza, this year more than ever,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, who notes that it’s “effective and safe”.

Even though we may feel we’re not at risk, we can pass it on to others who are, such as children and the elderly. The virus can spread rapidly, and each year it leads to hospitalizations. 

Henry said that it’s important to keep influenza as low as possible in our communities so that we’re protecting our healthcare system. In addition, it will help health-care officials to be able to tell the difference between COVID-19 and influenza.

“We can manage both of these epidemics at the same time,” said Henry. “We know that influenza will be coming, and we know that we can take measures to protect ourselves and our families, by being immunized.”

Rapid testing coming to provinces and territories

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted that Canada has secured 28.4 million rapid tests from medical device company Abbott Laboratories.

The two rapid tests, Panbio and ID Now, have been proven to deliver results in less than 20 minutes. Both were recently approved by Health Canada. 

“These new testing technologies are quick and reliable, so we’re getting them out to the frontlines as soon as possible,” said Trudeau. 

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said that the ID Now tests will be deployed possibly by the end of the week or early next week. It’ll be up to the provinces and territories on how they use these tests. 

Tam said that they can be used in places such as long-term care homes to get a more rapid idea of the extent of an outbreak. They can also be used in high-risk workplace settings, such as meatpacking plants. 

“We know that rapid testing is a key part of the path forward,” said Trudeau. 

“But it is not in and of itself a panacea. It is going to be important that it be deployed properly to maximize the impact, to maximize the effectiveness of a strategy that has rapid testing, traditional testing, contact tracing, an effective app and many measures for control the spread of this virus.”

‘Unacceptable’: Trudeau condemns islamophobia in Toronto

Trudeau took time at the start of his press conference on Tuesday to condemn the violent threats that a mosque in Toronto has recently received. 

“Islamophobia and right wing extremism have no place in our country or our communities. We must always stand united against hate or intolerance of any kind,” said Trudeau, who called the threats “unacceptable”

Trudeau was asked to comment on Quebec Premier Francois Legault, who continues to deny that “systemic racism” exists in his respective province. The prime minister said he won’t comment on a specific premier, but said that all leaders need to come together to recognize our reality. 

“The federal government has known for a long time that recognizing systemic racism is the first necessary step toward reconciliation, to removing real barriers and the violence that’s been brought more often against Indigenous people and other visible minorities,” said Trudeau in French. 

Trudeau responds to Conservatives on WE Charity scandal

On Tuesday, Trudeau made it clear that his focus is on helping Canadians instead of spending more time on the WE Charity scandal, which the Conservatives continue to aggressively pursue. 

A day earlier, the Conservatives said that they want MPs to create an anti-corruption committee to investigate the WE Charity issue. Trudeau has come under fire for his family’s ties to the charity, since the Liberals chose it to administer a multimillion-dollar Canada Student Service Grant program.

“The Conservatives continue to want to focus on WE Charity, so be it,” said Trudeau. “We’ve been open and transparent on these questions, but the Conservatives continue to focus on that a lot. They certainly can. We will stay focused on Canadians, while we let committees do their work independently.”

On Tuesday, Trudeau also said that while Conservatives were in office, there were “massive cuts to science and the marginalization of scientific voices,” which has impacted the current government’s ability to respond to the pandemic. 

“There was a putting aside of experts, in an attempt to cut the budget cut the deficit at all costs on the backs of Canadians.”

On the other hand, Trudeau said his government had made “historic investments in science” to restore many of the cuts from the previous 10 years. 

Saskatchewan limits gathering sizes amid increase in cases

Saskatchewan’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, announced that the province will restrict its gathering limits in a home to 15 people.

The new rule will come into effect on Friday, replacing the previous limit of 30 people.

The additional restriction comes after more than 160 cases were reported over the long weekend in Saskatchewan, with many linked to gatherings, said Shahab. It’s made it harder for contact investigators to track down the source of transmission.

The new restriction won’t apply to public places, such as bars, reautrants, religious gatherings, banquet halls and weddings, because these settings have “not resulted in large transmission events.” Instead, many are linked to either public or private gatherings.

“Everyone was very diligent (in) April, May. I think there was a bit of relaxation in the summer, but that was fine because our case numbers were low. We could be outdoors more,” said Shahab. “Now is the time to kind of really pay attention again.”

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