Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reports 535 new COVID-19 cases; B.C. lets kids under 12 register for vaccinations – Toronto Star

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

8:35 p.m.: After stepping into the spotlight for defying COVID-19 protocols, Adam Skelly, owner of Adamson Barbecue, has decided to shut down all three restaurant locations.

Skelly told the Star he sees “no end in sight that doesn’t involve discriminating against a segment of society.”

“So I decided to close down all locations,” he said.

Skelly says he doesn’t want to comply with the province’s mandated vaccine certificate but is also unable to oppose it because of his bail conditions — hence the closure of his Etobicoke restaurant on Queen Elizabeth Blvd., the Leaside location on Wicksteed Ave. and the location in Aurora.

“I would protest them, but I am bound by bail conditions and a court order to obey the Reopening Ontario Act,” he said of the vaccine passport mandates.

Last year in November, when the province mandated stricter measures for businesses as COVID-19 cases continued to soar, Skelly’s Etobicoke location broke these rules by allowing patrons to dine inside after taking to social media to publicly announce his defiance.

Read the full story here from Irelyne Lavery.

7:30 p.m.: Brazil’s president claimed Sunday that COVID-19 protocols at soccer matches had prevented him from attending a game.

Jair Bolsonaro said he had wanted to go to a Brazilian championship match in the city of Santos, but did not because he is not vaccinated.

“Why a vaccine passport? I wanted to watch Santos now and they said I needed to be vaccinated. Why should that be?” Bolsonaro told journalists near Santos.

Bolsonaro is currently under a Senate investigation for his handling of the pandemic. Brazil has surpassed 600,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, according to health ministry data.

Santos said Bolsonaro had not asked to attend the match, which saw Santos beat Gremio 1-0 at the Vila Belmiro Stadium.

7:20 p.m.: The chief public health officer for the Northwest Territories has declared a workplace COVID-19 outbreak at the legislature building in Yellowknife.

A statement on the territory’s website says there are six confirmed and two probable COVID-19 infections in people who were at the legislature building between Monday and Friday last week.

The statement says Yellowknife Public Health is following up with all known contacts.

It asks anyone who was at the legislature building last week who has not heard yet from public health officials to isolate immediately, arrange for testing and contact Yellowknife Public Health for further advice.

There are currently 456 active COVID-19 cases in the Northwest Territories, 282 of which are in Yellowknife.

7:15 p.m.: Despite the COVID-19 pandemic looming in Toronto for a second Thanksgiving, local shelters and charities across the city are still working to provide unhoused and vulnerable people with a special holiday meal.

“There’s no way that I would want anybody to not spend Thanksgiving in a positive way,” said Idil Omar, community program co-ordinator at Salvation Army New Hope Leslieville on Leslie Street.

Not only will a catering company be serving the shelter’s 32 residents a Thanksgiving dinner on Monday, Omar has also ordered additional treats, like pecan pie and black forest cake, to make the holiday a little sweeter for those who live there.

The shelter, including both residents and staff, are 90 per cent vaccinated. Without the pandemic, drop-in guests would also be welcome for a Thanksgiving meal, but the centre has had to halt the initiative this fall.

Read the full story here from Irelyne Lavery.

7 p.m.: People are “twice as likely to die” from having both Covid-19 and influenza, compared with just having the coronavirus, a British health official said.

Jenny Harries, head of the U.K. Health Security Agency, told Sky News the country’s at risk of “multi-strain flu” this year as last winter’s virus levels — when much of the country was locked down or practicing social distancing — were low, meaning lower immunity this year.

“We are likely to see flu first the first time in any real numbers co-circulating with Covid, so the risks of catching both together still remain,” Harries said.

The U.K. last week started its biggest-ever flu shot drive and hopes to give the annual vaccine to 35 million people.

4:15 p.m.: Left-leaning Italian lawmakers and politicians on Sunday called for measures to outlaw pro-fascism groups a day after anti-vaccine protesters, incited by extreme-right leaders, stormed a union office in Rome.

Twelve protesters were either detained or arrested, authorities said Sunday, including Giuliano Castellino, leader of the extreme-right Forza Nuova party. Some 10,000 demonstrators turned out Saturday to express their outrage at a government-imposed requirement that employees have a “Green Pass” to enter their workplaces starting next Friday.

The passes certify that a person has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, recently recovered from the virus or tested negative within two days.

Read the full story here: Calls rise in Italy to ban pro-fascism groups after rampage

3:43 p.m.: Saskatchewan reported 507 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and one new death, raising that total to 747. Active cases declined by 95 to 4,703.

Hospitalizations increased by 1 to 333 and the province reported 5,632 new vaccinations.

3:17 p.m.: New Brunswick reported 73 new cases of COVID-19 Sunday as public health officials battle a devastating fourth wave in the province.

A news release Sunday says there are now 962 active reported COVID-19 infections across the province, and two more people have died from the disease.

Officials say 53 people are in hospital, 22 of whom are in intensive care. Authorities say 42 of the patients in hospital are unvaccinated.

Premier Blaine Higgs reminded residents in Sunday’s release to stick to their households when celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend. Before the fourth wave of COVID-19 hit, the highest number of active cases reported in New Brunswick was 348, on Jan. 25.

3:01 p.m.: B.C. health officials say parents can now register their children aged five to 11 for the COVID-19 vaccine.

In a statement Sunday, spokesman Jeffrey Ferrier says parents can register their kids through the Get Vaccinated portal, although it is unclear when the shot for children will be approved. Ferrier says the province will notify parents when it’s their turn to book an appointment for their children.

Pfizer Canada said last week it is preparing to seek Health Canada’s authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 by mid-October.

Premier John Horgan said officials in B.C. are working on logistics of delivering the vaccines to children if and when that approval comes.

1:20 p.m.: Quebec is reporting 612 new COVID-19 cases, along with three more deaths related to the virus.

In a news release Sunday, health officials say hospitalizations fell by one to 296, while the number of patients in intensive care dropped by four to 80.

The seven-day average of cases is 546.

Of the latest reported infections, 400 were among people who were either unvaccinated or who had only received a first dose within the past two weeks.

The province’s public health institute says about 90 per cent of Quebecers aged 12 and older have received at least one dose, while 85 per cent are considered fully vaccinated with two shots.

12:22 p.m.: Hundreds of Ontario workers in hospitals and long-term care could be off the job in the coming weeks because they did not get vaccinated against COVID-19, further complicating what advocates call a “perfect storm” of staff shortages.

The president of a union representing workers in long-term care, hospitals and retirement homes said the staffing problem, driven by low wages, lack of full-time jobs and poor work conditions, predates the pandemic, and vaccine mandates will likely add to it.

“It’ll have an impact on staffing levels that are already at a critical point,” Sharleen Stewart of SEIU Healthcare said in an interview. “It’s kind of stirred up the perfect storm now.”

A deadline of Nov. 15 has been set for Ontario long-term care staff to get immunized or lose access to their workplaces. It’s up to the homes what happens after that, but many operators had already set dates to place unvaccinated people on leave, citing the devastating impact of COVID-19 and the risk of the highly transmissible Delta variant.

Dr. Kieran Moore, the province’s top doctor, said Ontario is watching closely for the “unintended consequence” of staff shortages related to vaccine mandates but maintained that they are necessary in some jobs to protect the vulnerable.

A spokeswoman for the long-term care minister said the ministry will work with homes to provide supports if necessary.

Read the full story here.

12:17 p.m.: Canadian food banks faced with a second pandemic-era Thanksgiving are counting on COVID-friendly donation events to keep the non-perishables rolling in at a time of year that’s pivotal to their operations.

The pandemic’s fourth wave has put the kibosh on large-scale, in-person food drives typically held at Thanksgiving, which are needed to keep the doors open year-round, said Neil Hetherington, CEO of the Toronto-based Daily Bread Food Bank.

“Demand doesn’t increase over Thanksgiving, but between Thanksgiving and the holiday season is when our supply changes and allows us to plan out for the next year,” Hetherington said. “So we need to get the food in now that we will distribute over the coming quarters.”

To do that, Daily Bread pivoted to a drive-thru model that saw cars and vans line up to drop off canned and boxed food.

Hetherington said he was hopeful the event would bring in the donations his organization needs, but that the joy of their usual Thanksgiving food sorting event is hard to replicate.

Read the full story here.

10:53 a.m.: Ontario is reporting 535 new cases of COVID-19 and two new deaths from the virus on Sunday.

Of the new cases, 388 of the infected people are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 147 of the cases are in fully vaccinated people.

There are 153 people in intensive care units due to COVID-19 and 14 of them are fully vaccinated. The province cautions, however, that not all hospitals report COVID-19 data on weekends.

Provincial data shows 87 per cent of eligible Ontarians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 82 per cent have both doses.

Read the Star’s full story here.

10:37 a.m.: For a brief moment this summer, it seemed like U.S. small businesses might be getting a break from the relentless onslaught of the pandemic. More Americans, many of them vaccinated, flocked to restaurants and stores without needing to mask up or socially distance.

But then came a surge in cases due to the Delta variant, a push for vaccine mandates and a reluctant return to more COVID-19 precautions. Now, small business owners are left trying to strike a balance between staying safe and getting back to being fully open. Navigating ever-changing coronavirus reality comes with a number of risks, from financial hardship to offending customers to straining workers.

New York City ordered a vaccine mandate for customers in August. For Dan Rowe, CEO of Fransmart, which runs the Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, the mandate has been a financial burden, and a headache. Brooklyn Dumpling Shop first opened in May and has six staffers. Its pandemic-friendly format is contactless and automated.

“It was engineered to be a restaurant with less employees,” Rowe said. Glass separates the kitchen and staff from customers, who order food from an app. When the kitchen is finished making the food, it’s placed an automat-style window, so workers don’t come into contact with customers.

“We’ve engineered this great low-labour restaurant, and the government is making us go backward,” he said.

Read the full story here.

7:45 a.m.: This weekend, people all across the country will be gathering with family and friends, many for the first time in ages. But how does one greet others without breaking pandemic protocol?

As Minister Frank McGee and his dog Grundy demonstrated in 1963, when this photo was captured by Star photographer Frank Tesky, touch — whether it be shaking hands or hugging — is how many of us say hi. It’s a hard habit to break. But should handshaking become a thing of the past?

“Hand-to-hand contact isn’t likely to be a major risk [for COVID transmission],” says Colin Furness, infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, “but coming in close to someone long enough to shake their hand is an issue, if the people involved aren’t wearing high-quality masks that are properly fitted.”

Still, Furness admits he’d like to see an end to handshaking. “Objectively,” he says, “hands are gross. Touch may not matter so much for COVID, but it almost certainly does for other serious viruses. The other reason is bacterial contamination. Most bacteria are harmless or beneficial. Our bodies are covered in bacteria, inside and out. But some types, associated with the ‘two Fs’ (food and feces) are very harmful. Between kitchens and bathrooms, our hands can get dangerously dirty.”

Even though people have learned over the past 18 months to wash their hands frequently, Furness says that’s not enough. After conducting extensive research on hand-hygiene behaviour of hospital patients, staff, and visitors, he found that “all three groups had the same rate of hand washing in bathrooms: 30%. That’s low.

“I’m not a germaphobe,” he adds, “but I’m a real fan of hand sanitizer. If we shook hands less, we’d sure need it less. And we’d get sick less.”

Read more on Jessica Dee Humphreys’ “Now that Thanksgiving’s within reach, is it safe to shake hands?”

Sunday 7:44 a.m.: Tea party firebrand Allen West, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor of Texas, said Saturday that he has received monoclonal antibody injections after being diagnosed with COVID-19 pneumonia.

The antibodies are used to treat those in the early stages of a coronavirus infection.

“My chest X-rays do show COVID pneumonia, not serious. I am probably going to be admitted to the hospital,” West wrote. “There’s a concern about my oxygen saturation levels, which are at 89 and they should be at 95.”

He also said his wife, Angela West, also tested positive and has received monoclonal antibodies. According to his Twitter account, Allen West did not get vaccinated against the virus, but his wife did.

Allen West on Thursday said he had attended a “packed house” Mission Generation Annual Gala & Fundraiser in Seabrook, Texas. On Saturday he tweeted that he is “suspending in-person events until receiving an all-clear indication.”

Read Saturday’s coronavirus news.