Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario is reporting 373 COVID-19 cases; Six COVID-19 ICU patients from Saskatchewan being sent to Ontario

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

1 p.m. An internal memo shows Saskatchewan is sending six COVID-19 intensive care patients to Ontario.

Dr. Michael Warner, clinical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, confirmed the move this morning.

He says he received an email around 6 a.m. from Ontario’s Critical Command Centre noting six intensive care COVID-19 patients from Saskatchewan are to be sent to different hospitals in Ontario between today and Wednesday.

Neither the Saskatchewan government nor the Saskatchewan Health Authority has commented on the move, but Premier Scott Moe is addressing the media this morning.

The internal email obtained by The Canadian Press says the Saskatchewan patients are to go to Ottawa General Hospital, North Bay Regional Health Centre, Oak Valley Health System, Mount Sinai Hospital and Kingston General Hospital.

Warner says Saskatchewan is the second province to send ICU patients to Ontario.

He says that earlier this year Ontario accepted about 35 ICU patients from Manitoba during that province’s third wave.

12:35 p.m. One of the world’s last three countries to administer COVID-19 vaccines started giving out doses on Monday as the East African nation of Burundi launched its national campaign.

The vaccinations started in the commercial capital, Bujumbura, though health workers told The Associated Press that barely more than a dozen people had received doses by mid-afternoon. Recipients included the ministers of health and security.

Only North Korea and the Horn of Africa nation of Eritrea have not administered any COVID-19 vaccines, according to the World Health Organization.

Burundi’s previous government under the late President Pierre Nkurunziza had been criticized for taking the pandemic lightly.

The vaccination campaign began after Burundi received a half-million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine.

12:20 p.m. Chicago’s police chief has put into writing a threat that officers could be fired if they don’t comply with the city’s COVID-19 vaccination policy, adding that those who choose to retire rather than adhere to the policy might be putting their retirement benefits at risk.

In a memo sent Sunday night, Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said that those officers who do choose to retire rather than comply “may be denied retirement credentials,” the Chicago Tribune reported.

As it has done throughout this dispute, the Fraternal Order of Police posted instructions on its website about what officers should do if given a direct order to report on the city portal their vaccination status. This time, it posted a letter that officers can sign and present to their superiors.

11:42 p.m. Quebec is reporting 410 new COVID-19 cases Monday, along with five more deaths related to the virus.

In a news release, health officials say hospitalizations remained stable from the previous day at 303, while the number of patients in intensive care climbed by one to 77.

There are 5,108 active COVID-19 cases across the province.

The province says it vaccinated 5,043 people on Sunday, for a total of 13,101,548 doses administered.

The province’s public health institute says 90.2 per cent of Quebecers aged 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 87.2 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated.

Health Minister Christian Dubé on Sunday night defended last week’s decision to delay a vaccine mandate for health-care workers, telling the TV talk show “Tout le monde en parle” that it was a step sideways not backwards and was needed to avoid an interruption of services.

10:55 a.m. (updated) Two Ontario doctors who have gone public with their skepticism about COVID-19 vaccines and pandemic precautions have been ordered to stop issuing medical exemptions for shots, masking and testing.

The regulatory body for physicians said Monday it issued the directives over the weekend against Dr. Mark Trozzi of Harrow, south of Windsor, and Dr. Rochagne Kilian of Owen Sound. Both have been ordered to post the restrictions wherever they treat patients.

On his website, Trozzi calls COVID-19 a “so-called ‘pandemic’,” accuses federal chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam of being a “double agent,” calls vaccines for the coronavirus “experimental” and says the use of masks to prevent spread of the virus is “not unanimously supported by real science.”

Kilian recently spoke at a rally of the “Grey-Bruce Freedom Fighters,” whose Facebook page states “this group believes in medical choice, not medical tyranny.”

Read the full story from the Star’s Rob Ferguson

10:15 a.m. (updated) Ontario is reporting another 373 COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, according to its latest report released Monday morning.

Ontario has administered 12,399 vaccine doses since its last daily update, with 22,243,609 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night.

According to the Star’s vaccine tracker, 11,404,859 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 87.5 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 76.7 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine.

The province says 10,838,750 people have completed their vaccinations, which means they’ve had both doses. That works out to approximately 83.2 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 72.9 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine.

Read the full story from the Star’s Urbi Khan

10:07 a.m. Since the launch of the enhanced vaccine certificate with official QR code on Friday, over 2.2 million Ontarians have downloaded their copy, tweeted Health Minister Christine Elliott.

10 a.m. Italy’s president on Monday strongly criticized the violence that has erupted amid protests over the country’s new coronavirus workplace health pass requirement, saying it appeared aimed at jeopardizing Italy’s economic recovery.

President Sergio Mattarella spoke out as riot police again clashed with protesters at the port in the northern city of Trieste, at times using water canons to push them back. The protesters, who have included right-wing agitators in previous episodes, oppose Italy’s Green Pass requirement.

Italy on Friday became the first major European economy to require all workers — from hairdressers to factory workers — to present proof of vaccination, a negative test within the past 48 hours or proof of having been cured recently of COVID-19 to enter workplaces. The pass had already been required to enter indoor venues like restaurants, museums and theaters, or for long-distance domestic travel.

The government says the measure is necessary to ensure workplaces are safe so that Italy’s economy, which shrank 8.9 per cent last year, can recover. Opponents say the requirement violates their rights and imposes unfair burdens on workers and employers alike.

9:45 a.m. Hamilton public health will rollout a new mobile COVID-19 assessment site next week in an area identified as having high rates of the virus and barriers to testing centres.

The temporary walk-in clinic, located in the parking lot at the Dominic Agostino Riverdale Community Centre on Violet Drive, will operate every Monday beginning Oct. 18 to Nov. 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Public health said in a release the clinic will not provide testing required for travel or to attend a public event.

Residents are asked to bring a piece of ID.

9:30 a.m. Egypt’s government will soon require public servants to have a vaccination certificate or show a weekly negative COVID-19 test before entering their workplaces.

The government announced the new measures late Sunday. It said the requirements will be applied starting November 15. The measures also require public to show proof of vaccination to enter government buildings starting December 1, according to a government statement.

The idea is to encourage people to get vaccinations, as the country of over 100 million people suffers through a fourth wave of the pandemic.

8:45 a.m. Colin Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications, his family said Monday. He was 84.

In 1989 Powell became the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In that role he oversaw the U.S. invasion of Panama and later the U.S. invasion of Kuwait to oust the Iraqi army in 1991.

But his reputation suffered a painful setback when, in 2003, Powell went before the U.N. Security Council and made the case for U.S. war against Iraq. He cited faulty information claiming Saddam Hussein had secretly stashed away weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s claims that it had not represented “a web of lies,” he told the world body.

In an announcement on social media, the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated.

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father and grandfather and a great American,” the family said.

7:40 a.m. Ontario tenants in newly built units are facing a return to unrestricted rent hikes as the government prepares to lift a freeze imposed during the pandemic. As landlords give their 90 days’ notice for the new year, one woman says she’s facing a more than 20 per cent jump in her monthly rent bill.

It’s a return to the system enacted by the Ford government in 2018 — which scrapped rent control for units first occupied after Nov. 15 that year, with the change presented as a way to encourage investors to construct more homes and boost rental supply. The government later froze increases for tenants in those homes, along with rent-controlled units, due to the economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The return to the former rules has left Sarah Forrest — who rents a three-bedroom, newly built home in Oakville for herself and her two kids — facing notice of a double-digit increase to her rent bills.

Read the full story from the Star’s Victoria Gibson

7:20 a.m. Super! You can almost cross the border by car now, if all goes well between Canada and the U.S.

If a good old-fashioned road trip to shop, see the sites or attend games is what you’re looking for, be prepared because the costs are high.

Here’s what’s going on and how to prepare financially

6:10 a.m.: Almost overnight, Japan has become a stunning, and somewhat mysterious, coronavirus success story.

Daily new COVID-19 cases have plummeted from a mid-August peak of nearly 6,000 in Tokyo, with caseloads in the densely populated capital now routinely below 100, an 11-month low.

The bars are packed, the trains are crowded, and the mood is celebratory, despite a general bafflement over what, exactly, is behind the sharp drop.

Japan, unlike other places in Europe and Asia, has never had anything close to a lockdown, just a series of relatively toothless states of emergency.

Some possible factors in Japan’s success include a belated but remarkably rapid vaccination campaign, an emptying out of many nightlife areas as fears spread during the recent surge in cases, a widespread practice, well before the pandemic, of wearing masks and bad weather in late August that kept people home.

6 a.m.: After more than a year and a half of lockdown cycles, all eyes are on the further easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario with the news that a road map for lifting capacity limits on venues like gyms, restaurants and bars is coming this week.

But experts urge caution for this crucial next step, stressing that as much as we might like to be, we’re not totally out of the woods yet.

“The secret now is to realize that even though there is no snow coming yet, we shouldn’t throw away our snowshoes,” said Dr. Peter Jüni, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and scientific director of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

“This next step is a challenge. Why? Because this disease is predominately airborne in transmission.”

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

5:45 a.m.: The European Union’s top official said Monday that the bloc has now exported over 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to the rest of the world.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the vaccines have been sent to over 150 nations, making the 27-member bloc the largest exporter of the vaccines in the world.

The EU has said that ramping up COVID-19 vaccinations around the world is the bloc’s No. 1 priority right now and already last month made a commitment to send 200 million more vaccine doses to Africa and other low-income nations.

Even when rich nations are already contemplating giving a third booster vaccine shot to large swaths of their populations, most of the world’s poorer nations are still waiting to be fully vaccinated, laying bare an acute sense of vaccine inequality.

5:30 a.m.: Unvaccinated teachers at the Toronto Catholic board risk being suspended without pay if they do not participate in mandatory COVID-19 rapid tests and starting Monday non-compliant employees will be barred from board property.

The move comes after the province required school board employees to be vaccinated or do rapid antigen testing twice a week and report negative results before entering any school or board facility.

At the Toronto Catholic District School Board, it’s unclear how many staff have not been doing the testing, which can be done at home with provided kits. But the board has issued letters warning people to comply — or prove they are fully vaccinated — otherwise they will be suspended without pay.

Read the full story from the Star’s Isabel Teotonio.

5 a.m.: All Ontarians vaccinated against COVID-19 can now download their enhanced certificates, which include a QR code.

The provincial government has said the scannable documents will allow for faster entry into settings that require proof of vaccination.

The enhanced system officially takes effect on Friday, but Ontarians can get their new vaccine certificates before then, and businesses can start using a new app to verify those codes.

Residents whose birthdays fall between January and April were able to download the enhanced vaccination certificate through the province’s COVID-19 website on Friday, and further cohorts got access over the weekend.

Under Ontario’s vaccine certificate program, only those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — or have a valid medical exemption from a doctor — can access certain settings.

They include theatres, gyms, nightclubs and restaurant dining rooms.

4:45 a.m.: A COVID-19 outbreak at a Mississauga elementary school has led to seven classrooms being closed, the largest number of classes to be shut down among active outbreaks.

The COVID-19 outbreak at Bishop Scalabrini Elementary School was declared Oct. 12 and involves two confirmed student cases and one staff case, according to a Oct. 15 report from the province.

A report from the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB) showed the outbreak has resulted in seven classroom closures, meaning that those classes have switched to remote learning during the isolation period.

Read more here.

4:30 a.m.: At first, the positive results from Gov. Ralph Northam’s COVID-19 test were the only indication he had been infected. It wasn’t until a couple of days later that the symptoms erupted — like an unrelenting sinus infection that had set the upper part of his throat behind his nose ablaze.

He knew right away he had lost his sense of smell. One morning he stepped into the shower, and noticed his shampoo had no fragrance, even as he lathered it into his hair.

Almost half a year ago, Northam said publicly he had prolonged smell and taste loss following his mild illness. He intended that as a wakeup call for Virginians on the interminable consequences of the coronavirus. Vaccines, which weren’t available when he got sick in September 2020, are the best prevention, he said. But perhaps more surprising was when he recently brought up his symptoms again: Even now, more than a year since his case, he hasn’t regained those senses.

With just three months left in his administration, Northam hopes sharing his experience will persuade some of the vaccine-resistant population to get the shots. He knows many unvaccinated people are young and doubt they could die. In an eleventh-hour push, the nation’s only governor who is a doctor has a parting message.

“I’m 62, and I can deal with this,” he said in an interview with The Virginian-Pilot. “But why take a chance, if you’re 15 or 20 years old or whatever age, of having symptoms that may affect you for the rest of your life? Or, in the worst-case scenario, you get COVID pneumonia and don’t recover and end up losing your life.”

4 a.m.: Australia’s Queensland state announced plans Monday to open up to vaccinated travellers, ending the status it has enjoyed throughout the pandemic of remaining virtually free of COVID-19.

Queensland and Western Australia have been among the states most successful in keeping COVID-19 out, and they also were among the most reluctant to relax their strict border controls after the highly contagious delta variant took hold in New South Wales state in June and spread through Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.

Queensland authorities warned infection rates would rise and remain high for months.

“For almost 600 days for nearly two years we have kept the virus out of Queensland,” Treasurer Cameron Dick said. “Those days will soon come to an end. This will be the end of the zero COVID for Queensland.”

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said fully vaccinated travelers would be allowed into the state without quarantining when 80 per cent of the state’s population aged 16 and older was vaccinated. That benchmark is expected to be achieved by Dec. 17.

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