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Covid-19: More restrictions imposed in Canada

Canada on Wednesday afternoon reported 4,800 new cases of Covid-19. As Covid-19 cases rise due to more transmissible variants spreading across Canada, populous provinces in the country are reinstating public health restrictions to stem the pandemic. Canada on Wednesday afternoon reported 4,800 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the cumulative total to 1,025,693, including 23,170 deaths,…

Canada on Wednesday afternoon reported 4,800 new cases of Covid-19.

As Covid-19 cases rise due to more transmissible variants spreading across Canada, populous provinces in the country are reinstating public health restrictions to stem the pandemic.
Canada on Wednesday afternoon reported 4,800 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the cumulative total to 1,025,693, including 23,170 deaths, according to CTV.
Ontario province declared its third state of emergency Wednesday afternoon since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic last year and is to impose a provincewide stay-at-home order that will go into effect at 12.01 a.m. Thursday and will last 28 days, Xinhua news agency reported.
“I can’t stress this enough. Things are extremely, extremely serious right now. And I’m extremely concerned,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford told a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
“The situation is evolving rapidly, hour by hour. And as things change, as we learn more about these deadly new variants, as we see new problems arise,” Ford said. “We need to adapt. We need to move quickly and decisively. And right now, above all else, our plan is to get needles in the arms and protect our hospitals. That’s why, today, on the advice of the chief medical officer of health I’m declaring a state of emergency.”
Under the order, all non-essential retailers will close to in-person shopping, in-person dining will be prohibited, and gyms and personal care services will be shuttered. Big box stores will be allowed to remain open only to sell essential goods.
In neighbouring Quebec, Premier Francois Legault also announced more restrictions.
Gyms in red zones, which include Montreal, will close Thursday and places of worship will be limited to 25 people at a time. As well, beginning next week, high school students in Secondary 3, 4 and 5 will again attend class on alternating schedules while extracurricular activities will be stopped as some have proven to be the sources of transmission.
Legault said a 9.30 pm curfew currently in place in the Montreal area will not change, but the government may decide to move it back to 8 p.m. if the situation doesn’t improve.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the Vancouver Canucks announced that the ice hockey team’s 21 players and four staff members had tested positive for Covid-19 and that the source infection was a variant.
It’s unclear which Covid-19 variant started the outbreak, but the Canucks said genome sequencing was being performed by the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control.
“An ongoing investigation by Vancouver Coastal Health and club contact tracing staff attributes the source infection to a single individual obtained in a community setting, which has since been identified by public health as a public exposure location,” the team said.
“This is a stark reminder of how quickly the virus can spread and its serious impact, even among healthy, young athletes,” it added.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has announced that customer capacity in retail stores will be lowered to 15 percent, restaurants must close to in-person dining, and low-intensity group fitness activities will once again be banned.
Kenney acknowledged that decisions to shut down indoor dining, curb indoor fitness and reduce retail capacity will meet resistance.
The nationwide data show a seven-day average of 6,328 new cases daily in Canada from March 31 to April 6, according to Statistics Canada on Wednesday.
Sustained high infection rates are also impacting Covid-19 severity indicators, which are increasing, particularly in areas with elevated disease activity. The rise in severe and critical illnesses is placing renewed strain on the health system and healthcare workforce.
An average of 2,423 people with Covid-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day from March 31 to April 6, including 807 being treated in intensive care units.
While Covid-19 continues to impact people of all ages in Canada, infection rates are the highest among those aged 20 to 39 years of age, said Theresa Tam, Canadian chief public health officer, in a statement on Wednesday.
“As of April 6, a total of 16,127 variant of concern cases have been reported across Canada, including 14,790 involving B.1.1.7 variants, 1,000 P.1 variants and 337 B.1.351 variants,” Tam said.
She said that although B.1.1.7 continues to account for the majority of variants of concern in Canada and has likely replaced the original virus in some areas, there has been a concerning rise in P.1 cases in recent weeks.
“Early evidence suggests that the P.1 variant may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, making it even more important to control its spread,” Tam added in the statement.

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Hostage policemen released by TLP religious party after government negotiations

PARIS: France is imposing entry restrictions on travelers from four countries — Argentina, Chile, South Africa and Brazil — in hopes of keeping out especially contagious coronavirus variants, the government has announced. The restrictions include mandatory 10-day quarantines with police checks to ensure people arriving in France observe the requirement.  Travelers from all four countries will…

PARIS: France is imposing entry restrictions on travelers from four countries — Argentina, Chile, South Africa and Brazil — in hopes of keeping out especially contagious coronavirus variants, the government has announced.

The restrictions include mandatory 10-day quarantines with police checks to ensure people arriving in France observe the requirement.  Travelers from all four countries will be restricted to French nationals and their families, EU citizens and others with a permanent home in France.

France previously suspended all flights from Brazil. The suspension will be lifted next Saturday, after 10 days, and the new restrictions “progressively” put in place by then, the government said. 

The flight suspension for Brazil will be lifted followed by “drastic measures” for entering France from all four countries, plus the French territory of Guiana, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.

The four countries “are the most dangerous in terms of the number of variants that exist and in the evolution of the pandemic in these countries,” Le Drian said Saturday on the France 3 television station.

The list of countries subject to tougher border checks could be extended, he said.

Under the new restrictions, travelers must provide an address for where they plan to observe the 10-day confinement period and police will make visits and fine those who are found in violation, the government said.

Along with the mandatory quarantine, France is requiring more stringent testing for the coronavirus. 

Travelers must show proof of a negative PCR test taken less than 36 hours instead of 72 hours before they boarded a flight, or a negative antigen test less than 24 hours

France has reported the deaths of 100,00 people in the COVID-19 pandemic.

A variant first identified in England spread to continental Europe and is now responsible for about 80 percent of the virus cases in France, while the variants first seen in Brazil and South Africa make up less than 4% of French infections, Health Minister Olivier Veran said last week.

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UEFA says will ban clubs who take part in breakaway ‘European Super League’

LONDON: Chelsea ended Manchester City’s quest for a historic quadruple of trophies as Hakim Ziyech’s goal earned a 1-0 win to take the Blues into the FA Cup final on Saturday. A damaging day for City also saw them lose Kevin De Bruyne to an ankle injury just over a week away from the League Cup…

LONDON: Chelsea ended Manchester City’s quest for a historic quadruple of trophies as Hakim Ziyech’s goal earned a 1-0 win to take the Blues into the FA Cup final on Saturday.

A damaging day for City also saw them lose Kevin De Bruyne to an ankle injury just over a week away from the League Cup final, where they face Tottenham, and the first leg of their Champions League semifinal against Paris Saint-Germain.

Chelsea were good value for another impressive win under Thomas Tuchel and will be favorites for the German’s first silverware in English football when they face Leicester or Southampton May 15.

Tuchel could land an even bigger prize in the Champions League just months after replacing the sacked Frank Lampard in January.

His side showed they can get the better of City in what could be a dress rehearsal for the Champions League final should the English clubs see off PSG and Real Madrid in the last four.

The physical demands of City’s bid for a clean sweep of trophies was shown as Pep Guardiola made eight changes from the side that beat Borussia Dortmund in midweek with goalscorers Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez among those rotated.

Tuchel made just three changes and Chelsea looked the far less disjointed side in a bright start.

Timo Werner’s cross was swept home by Ziyech after just six minutes, but the goal was ruled out for offside against the German international.

That proved to be the only shot on target of a cagey first 45 minutes that did little to whet the appetite of a potential reunion in Istanbul for European club football’s greatest prize on May 29.

Despite the number of changes, the ease with which Chelsea were able to spring quick counter-attacks will be of concern to Guardiola with the fearsome duo of PSG’s Kylian Mbappe and Neymar to come.

From one slick break, Chelsea’s wing backs combined but Ben Chilwell could only slice Reece James’s cross wide.

City got to half-time without any damage on the score line, but suffered a potentially huge blow to their hopes of still clinching a treble of trophies early in the second half.

Just 11 days before the first leg of the PSG tie, De Bruyne appeared to roll his ankle in a challenge with N’Golo Kante and was replaced by Foden.

City were still reeling from the loss of the Belgium attacker when they were finally caught out by the Chelsea counterattack.

Guardiola’s decision to retain Zack Steffen in goal for domestic cup competitions backfired as the American was caught in no man’s land when Werner raced in behind and once again squared for Ziyech to roll into an empty net.

Steffen made some measure of amends moments later to deny Ziyech a second when the Moroccan was clean through.

City took until the final 20 minutes to get going, but their best chance of sending the game to extra time came from a corner as Ruben Dias headed over from close range.

Instead, it was Chelsea who found the net again through Christian Pulisic in stoppage time only for the offside flag to again come to City’s rescue.

But there was no saving a bid for history for Guardiola’s men as they cannot now better Manchester United’s treble of Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup from 1998/99.

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Gaza man winning hearts by donating traditional food to the poor

BEIRUT: Controversial Lebanese judge and Mount Lebanon state prosecutor Ghada Aoun carried out a second raid on a money exchange in northern Lebanon on Saturday in defiance of a senior judiciary decision dismissing her from an investigation into possible currency export breaches. Aoun was accompanied by several activists from the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) during…

BEIRUT: Controversial Lebanese judge and Mount Lebanon state prosecutor Ghada Aoun carried out a second raid on a money exchange in northern Lebanon on Saturday in defiance of a senior judiciary decision dismissing her from an investigation into possible currency export breaches.

Aoun was accompanied by several activists from the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) during the raid on the money exchange in the Awkar district in northern Lebanon.

Less than 24 hours earlier she raided the office with members of the security services.

Aoun remained in the money exchange for several hours on Friday in protest at her dismissal by the the discriminatory Public Prosecutor, Judge Ghassan Oweidat, a decision that caused widespread anger among the Lebanese public.

Caretaker Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najm held an emergency meeting on Saturday with Oweidat as well as Supreme Judicial Council head Judge Suhail Abboud and Judicial Inspection Authority head Judge Borkan Saad.

After the meeting Najm voiced her anger at the situation regarding the judiciary, saying that she refuses to be “a false witness to the decay of the judiciary and the fall of the fig leaf in this state.”

Najm said the events involving Aoun are an indication of “the failure of state institutions.”

Lebanon is facing a political and economic crisis amid disputes between state officials, a deadlock that has led to the collapse of the national currency.

However, critics accuse Aoun of a lack of respect for due process.

HIGHLIGHT

Caretaker Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najm held an emergency meeting on Saturday with Oweidat as well as Supreme Judicial Council head Judge Suhail Abboud and Judicial Inspection Authority head Judge Borkan Saad.

There are six criminal cases and 28 complaints against her before the Judicial Inspection Authority — the largest number of cases filed against any judge in the history of the Lebanese judiciary.

Aoun was investigating the Mecattaf money exchange company and Societe Generale Bank for allegedly withdrawing dollars from the market and shipping the funds abroad.

The Supreme Judicial Council dismissed Aoun along with two other judges who had previously been suspended by the Disciplinary Council for Judges.

Judge Oweidat on Friday asked the Director-General of State Security, Maj. Gen. Antoine Saliba, to suspend the officers who accompanied Aoun on the exchange office raid.

People in Lebanon on Friday watched on TV as Aoun requested that the money exchange office be sealed because the owner, Michel Mecattaf, refused to provide her with details of currency transfers on behalf of banks.

Earlier, Mecattaf’s agents informed Aoun that she had been dismissed from the case.

Aoun remained alone for hours inside the office after state security personnel left. A medical team checked on her after her blood pressure rose, and she left the premises soon after. Later she stepped on to the balcony of her home to wave to FPM supporters, who gathered outside to offer support.

After Aoun’s second raid on Saturday, the head of the Mecattaf financial company accused her supporters of “breaking into private property by force.”

Mecattaf described the case as “eminently political,” saying that he is “a witness and not a convict.”

Najm described the events as “unacceptable.”

“I am not in a position to please this political party or that team. We want an effective and independent judiciary. The problem is not the laws — oversight and accountability have been absent for years,” she said.

Najm also said that “the judiciary is incapable of fighting corruption,” and called on judges to “rise up against this reality.”

She added: “There is a lack of confidence in the judiciary, and this is a major insult.”

Retired General Prosecutor Hatem Madi told Arab News: “Judge Oweidat’s decision shows that some judges are working independently, but things must be put to rights. Regardless of whether Oweidat’s decision was right or wrong, the public prosecution offices in Lebanon must be an integrated unit.”

The decision to dismiss Aoun revived a political dispute between the FPM and the Future Movement, the two parties in conflict over the formation of the government.

The FPM, headed by MP Gebran Bassil, said that it will “continue to expose every file related to the fight against corruption,” saluting “every judge who rightfully performs their duties despite the injustice to which they are sometimes exposed.”

The Future Movement said that “mourning for judges after encouraging them to violate laws and asking them to open discretionary files for opponents is a matter that no longer fools any of the Lebanese people.”

 

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