Today’s Coronavirus News: Northern Ontario Schools Reopen to Classroom Learning; WHO experts arriving in China to begin investigating the origins of the virus; England warns of pandemic heading into worst weeks

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

6 h 15 Since COVID-19 first arrived in Ontario and began to spread in long-term care homes, it has brought to light an area of ​​the health care system that has been crumbling for decades. In 2003, The Star spent a year investigating flaws in the long-term care system and, for years, has kept an eye out for issues of neglect, understaffing, poor wages and more. We asked residents’ family members, healthcare workers, lobbyists and opinion leaders what they would like to see happen in order to make changes in long-term care.

Read the full story of Star’s Angelyn Francis here.

5 h 53 The England chief medical officer warned on Monday that the coming weeks would be the worst of the pandemic for the National Health Service, as he called on the public to strictly follow guidelines designed to prevent the spread of the disease.

Chris Whitty said political leaders consider tightening the rules as a new, more communicable variant of COVID-19 makes an already difficult situation worse. Hospitals are overflowing and exhausted medical personnel are strained.

“I think everyone agrees that this is the most dangerous time we have really had in terms of numbers in the NHS,” Whitty told the BBC.

The warning comes as hospitals across England struggle to cope with an increase in coronavirus infections which has seen the number of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients rise steadily for more than a month. English hospitals are now treating 55% more COVID-19 cases than during the first peak of the pandemic in April.

5 h 16 Japan’s health ministry has found a variant of the coronavirus in people arriving from Brazil that is different from those from Britain and South Africa.

The variant was found in four people tested at the airport, the ministry said on Sunday. Japan was working with other countries, the World Health Organization and other medical experts to analyze the variant.

The previously identified variants from Britain and South Africa are more contagious, but the behavior of this variant and the disease it causes is not yet known.

5 h 12 Authorities in northern France on Monday launched a week-long mass testing program to assess the rate of coronavirus infections and the spread of a more contagious variant that first appeared in southern England in November.

In the city of Roubaix, health officials said they expected to test 10% of the population by Saturday. This represents 10,000 people.

Sequencing will be performed on positive samples to detect if the variant is present.

France has been criticized for its slow vaccination program, having vaccinated only a fraction of some of its neighbors.

5 h 10 The president of South Korea has said he will offer COVID-19 vaccines to his entire population for free in stages.

President Moon Jae-in made the comments in his New Years address on Monday. He maintained an earlier government announcement that inoculation would begin from February.

South Korean officials said they would have vaccines for 56 million people, an amount apparently sufficient for the country’s 52 million people.

Who will get the vaccine first has not yet been determined, but these are likely people living in long-term care facilities, nurses and doctors.

After weeks of resurgence, the number of virus cases in South Korea has gradually slowed amid strict distancing rules that include a ban on social gatherings of five or more people. Earlier Monday, South Korea reported 451 new cases of the virus, the first time its daily tally has dropped below 500 in 41 days. The country’s total stands at 69,114 with 1,140 deaths.

5 h 05 More than 80% of people in Japan who have been polled in two polls in the past few days say the Tokyo Olympics should be canceled or postponed, or say they think the Olympics will not be held.

The polls were conducted by the Japanese news agency Kyodo and TBS – the Tokyo Broadcasting System.

The results are bad news for Tokyo organizers and the International Olympic Committee who continue to say the postponed Olympics will open on July 23.

Tokyo is grappling with a surge in COVID-19 cases that prompted the national government last week to call a state of emergency. In declaring the emergency, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he was convinced the Olympics would take place.

5 h 02 Experts from the World Health Organization are due to arrive in China this week for a long-awaited investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, the government said on Monday.

Experts will arrive on Thursday and meet with their Chinese counterparts, the National Health Commission said in a one-sentence statement that gave no further details.

It was not immediately clear whether experts would travel to the city of Wuhan in central China, where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019.

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Negotiations for the visit have been going on for a long time. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed disappointment last week at the delays, saying members of the international science team departing from their home countries had already started their journey as part of the ‘an agreement between the WHO and the Chinese government.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China approved the visit following consultations between the parties and called it an opportunity “to exchange views with Chinese scientists and medical experts on scientific cooperation on tracing the origin of the novel coronavirus ”.

4 h 54 The kids in Alberta are returning to full-time face-to-face classes this week, but the back-to-school story is a bit more complicated in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced last week that lockdown restrictions imposed last month would continue until January 21, but schools were the exception and would reopen on Monday.

A full return to classes in Manitoba, however, will not happen until January 18, although in-person learning is available as an option for K-6 children as well as older children with special needs. specials.

The return of students to class in Saskatchewan depends on the schedule of each school division.

Regina Public Schools made it possible for elementary and high school students to learn at home last week with the plan to resume in-person learning today.

Catholic schools in Greater Saskatoon, meanwhile, have already welcomed students last week.

Monday 4 a.m. Elementary school students across Northern Ontario can resume classroom learning this morning.

The northern part of the province is allowed to return to school buildings because the positivity rates for COVID-19 are relatively low.

The provincial government announced Thursday that schools in southern Ontario, meanwhile, will not resume in-person classes today as scheduled.

Instead, students in southern Ontario will continue to take distance education until at least January 25.

To accommodate the change, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced on Saturday that the list of essential workers eligible for emergency child care would be expanded.

It now includes RCMP officers, prison and office education workers, and postal staff.

Sunday 9:30 p.m .: Now that COVID-19 vaccines have started arriving in Canada, where is the national campaign to educate the public on their safety and effectiveness?

That’s a question public health experts are asking as vaccinations have begun for high-risk populations, with access for the general public likely to begin in the spring.

“You always want to start this work as early as possible,” said Dr Nitin Mohan, medical epidemiologist and partner at ETIO Public Health Consultants, of the need for a public awareness campaign.

Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada told The Star that a “mass campaign” is slated for spring, although a budget estimate has not been finalized.

In the meantime, a campaign for winter 2021 budgeted at $ 4.5 million “will include regular updates on vaccine distribution and administration, as well as advertising, outreach and marketing on vaccine delivery and administration. social networks to provide Canadians with information about vaccines, including facts and expert answers, and misinformation, ”the agencies said in a written statement.

Read the full story here.

Click here for more on Sunday’s COVID-19 coverage.

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