More Saskatchewan residents need to get vaccinated to decrease strain on health-care system

WATCH: There's been an uptick in COVID-19 vaccinations since the proof of vaccination program was announced in Saskatchewan last week. However, there are still numerous individuals who are either hesitant or against getting the jab. Taz Dhaliwal has more on what the premier and a local infectious disease specialist have to say about combating the ongoing issue.

Vaccination numbers in Saskatchewan are climbing at a slightly faster pace than last week after Thursday’s provincial proof of vaccination program announcement.

Currently, close to 70 per cent of the eligible population has received at least one dose, whereas about 60 per cent are fully vaccinated.

However, a majority of those in hospitals and the ICU with COVID-19 are individuals who are still unvaccinated.

“The way for all of us in this province to support our front-line health care services is, if you’re not yet vaccinated, if you’re part of that 30 per cent that could be part of the (unvaccinated) 80 per cent in our hospitals and in our ICU beds, I would ask you again to revisit your decision,” Premier Scott Moe said on Thursday.

“It is the most effective tool that we’ve had personally and as a society in combatting this virus,” he added.

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More than 1.5 million doses have been administered in Saskatchewan so far, and more than 719,00 people are fully vaccinated.

Over the past week, more than 8,400 people have gone out and gotten their first dose.

However, vaccination numbers in the north still remain low compared to the rest of the province.

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“We do have a challenge in our vaccination rates in the far north and in many of our Indigenous communities in this province and I’ve met with a number of our Indigenous leaders over the course of this campaign about just that,” Moe said.

He goes on to say that he hopes the federal government will help Saskatchewan increase vaccination numbers, not just within Indigenous communities in the province, but all communities.

In terms of the proof of vaccination programs coming into effect on Oct. 1., infectious disease specialist Dr. Alex Wong says that should have been implemented by government officials much sooner in order to have avoided the dire situation that hospitals and ICU are currently in.

Dr. Wong says medical professionals in Saskatchewan have been calling for tougher health-care policies for “weeks and weeks on end,” and have been disappointed to see government officials wait this long to act on proof of vaccination programs.

Wong also says that officials need to go beyond the indoor mask mandate and bring back restrictions on gathering sizes.

“Encouragement and trying to, I guess, exhort everyone to get vaccinated, who hadn’t been vaccinated did nothing,” Wong stated.

There are currently close to 63, 000 people who are COVID positive in the province, and 262 individuals are either hospitalized or in ICU.

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“These types of measures and certificates and mandates have obviously worked in about every jurisdiction across the entire first world and so to somehow believe that wasn’t going to work here in Saskatchewan is — it is what it is,” said Dr. Wong.

“I mean, if we just look at what Manitoba did in terms of being proactive with regards to their mandate program and with regards to their masking and such, and other things, they’re probably, again, in way, way better shape because their policy makers took proactive measures — did them early, did them definitively, to try to keep ahead of all of this rather than basically waiting until it was essentially too late,” he added.

Dr. Wong says that much of his outreach work with those still on the fence about getting the jab involves several one-on-one, lengthy conversations that can be around an hour or even more in some cases of providing information and stats on the efficacy of vaccines.

“It takes a lot of work and effort and energy to move people from the hesitant category to action and at the end of the day, you know it’s not a simple thing,” he said.

Both Moe and Wong say fighting vaccine disinformation is also an ongoing battle for the province.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Magnitude 6.0 earthquake rattles southeast Australia, damaging buildings

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck near Melbourne on Wednesday, Geoscience Australia said, one of the country’s biggest quakes on record, causing damage to buildings in the country’s second largest city and sending tremors throughout neighbouring states.

The quake’s epicentre was near the rural town of Mansfield in the state of Victoria, about 200 km (124 miles) northeast of Melbourne, and was at a depth of 10 km (six miles). An aftershock was rated 4.0.

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Images and video footage circulating on social media showed rubble blocking one of Melbourne’s main streets, while people in northern parts of the city said on social media they had lost power and others said they were evacuated from buildings.

The quake was felt as far away as the city of Adelaide, 800 km (500 miles) to the west in the state of South Australia, and Sydney, 900 km (600 miles) to the north in New South Wales state, although there were no reports of damage outside Melbourne and no reports of injuries.

More than half of Australia’s 25 million population lives in the southeast of the country from Adelaide to Melbourne to Sydney.

“We have had no reports of serious injuries, or worse, and that is very good news and we hope that good news will continue,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Washington.

“It can be a very disturbing event, an earthquake of this nature. They are very rare events in Australia and as a result, I am sure people would have been quite distressed and disturbed.”

Quakes are relatively unusual in Australia’s populated east due to its position in the middle of the Indo-Australian Tectonic Plate, according to Geoscience Australia. The quake on Wednesday measured higher than the country’s deadliest tremor, a 5.6 in Newcastle in 1989, which resulted in 13 deaths.

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The mayor of Mansfield, Mark Holcombe, said he was in his home office on his farm when the quake struck and ran outside for safety.

“I have been in earthquakes overseas before and it seemed to go on longer than I have experienced before,” Holcombe told the ABC. “The other thing that surprised me was how noisy it was. It was a real rumbling like a big truck going past.”

Damaged buildings along Chapel Street are seen following an earthquake on September 22, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia.

Damaged buildings along Chapel Street are seen following an earthquake on September 22, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia.

Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images

He knew of no serious damage near the quake epicentre, although some residents reported problems with telecommunications.

No tsunami threat was issued to the Australian mainland, islands or territories, the country’s Bureau of Meteorology said in a statement.

The quake presented a potential disruption for anti-lockdown protests expected in Melbourne on Wednesday, which would be the third day of unrest that has reached increasing levels of violence and police response.

Reporting by Byron Kaye and Renju Jose in Sydney, Sonali Paul in Melbourne and Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Michael Perry & Shri Navaratnam

© 2021 Reuters

B.C. to return to notifying schools, parents about COVID-19 exposures

VICTORIA – British Columbia is reversing course on notifying parents about COVID-19 exposures at schools after the provincial health officer previously said reporting of single cases caused too much anxiety.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday that parents and teachers from across the province have let it be known they need to be informed about the transmission of the virus and that a new system is expected to be in place by the end of the week.

“We have asked our team to get together right now to make sure that we can notify schools in a timely, less intrusive and more sustainable way and that parents will have access to that information rapidly,” she said.

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Henry said in early September that notifications would go out only for outbreaks or clusters, prompting parents and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation to say that not having an understanding of what’s going on at schools would create more anxiety.

An online “COVID tracker” page created last year by Richmond mother Kathy Marliss includes data based on exposure and case information submitted by teachers, parents and administrators. She has said parents, teachers and students would be better served if the data came directly from the province.

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Henry said parents of students who have been exposed to COVID-19 would be notified but that following up on each case could take longer than expected as public health teams prioritize schools in order to keep youth learning there.

B.C. reported 525 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, moving active cases up to 5,282.

One more person has died, bringing the death toll to 1,900 since the pandemic began.

Henry also encouraged people who are pregnant, planning to get pregnant or breastfeeding to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after 40 pregnant women received intensive care in B.C. in the last few months.

While that group of people wasn’t included in clinical trials, real-life evidence shows vaccination prevents severe illness and hospitalization, Henry added.

Health-care workers, including those who are in their child-bearing years, should get vaccinated to protect themselves, their colleagues and others who may be exposed to the virus, she said.

There’s no increased risk of complications for immunized pregnant women or to their baby, and international data show no difference in the rates of miscarriage, early birth, stillbirth or other adverse effects, Henry said.

“I can unequivocally say these vaccines do not affect fertility in women, or in boys, or in young men. They do not affect fertility. There’s no way they can do that. That is one of the common lies that is out there right now, designed to create fear.”

The Delta variant has shown unvaccinated pregnant women experience higher rates of stillbirth and preterm birth, leading to their priority vaccination in many provinces.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada as well as a national vaccine advisory panel have recommended vaccines for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

There are currently 332 people in hospital and 155 of them are in intensive care.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said as of Sunday night, 138 people receiving intensive care were unvaccinated.

Dix asked people to get immunized, especially in the northern region, where COVID-19 cases have spiked higher per capita than elsewhere in the province and infections have climbed at the Site C dam project on the Peace River and at a long-term care facility, straining resources at hospitals, including in Fort St. John.

“These exceptionally high case rates are translating into hospitalization and putting significant pressure on ICU capacity and health workers in the north to be overstretched by COVID-19 and overstretched by the fact that we are not meeting … our vaccination goals in Northern Health,” he said.

Restrictions, including those on personal gatherings and at events, came into effect in the region on Sept. 7, and Dix announced plans last week to recruit and retain more health-care workers in the region.

He said Tuesday that 12 patients, including nine diagnosed with COVID-19, have been transferred to intensive care beds in other areas of the province, putting health-care workers under increasing pressure.

“We cannot keep asking them to compensate for the devastating consequences created when people make the decision not to get vaccinated.”

Henry said a sense of complacency, as well as disinformation online and from faith and community leaders in parts of the province, have led some people to shun vaccination.


© 2021 The Canadian Press

Blue Bombers' DeAundre Alford chosen CFL's top performer of the week

After four straight victories, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are now enjoying their first bye week, and one player should have a little extra bounce in their step when the team returns to practice next week to prepare for the BC Lions.

Blue Bombers defensive back DeAundre Alford is the CFL’s player of the week. Alford was chosen as the league’s top performer for week number seven for his heroic efforts in the Bombers’ victory over the Edmonton Elks.

The 23-year-old CFL rookie had his first two career interceptions, his first touchdown, and his first forced fumble in the 37-22 triumph.

Alford also recorded a pair of defensive tackles.

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Alford only has seven games of CFL experience and has picked up a ton from his veteran teammates during film study in the first half of the season.

“I feel very comfortable,” said Alford after Saturday’s win. “I got guys in the secondary — Brandon Alexander, Nick Taylor, Mike Jones, and also Deatrick Nichols. We watch film together, we watch extra film, we stay after practice, just talk.

“We got a real good friendship, so they just played a big part in my success so far. I just got to keep getting better.”

“He’s a sponge, right,” head coach Mike O’Shea said after their last game. “He’s learning and he’s humble. He’s making sure that he knows he has to keep learning. And I do think, even in game, that that pick is not an accident.

“It’s him understanding and believing and trusting himself. And believing his eyes and film study.”

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Alford is the fourth member of the Bombers to be awarded top performer of the week this season, joining running back Brady Oliveira, kicker Marc Liegghio and defensive back Brandon Alexander.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats linebacker Simoni Lawrence and the Lions Michael Reilly are the second and third stars of the week, respectively.

The Bombers’ next game is not until Friday, Oct. 1, when they travel to B.C. for the first of their two regular season meetings this year.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Fish die-off in Vancouver's Lost Lagoon under investigation

WATCH: The Stanley Park Ecology Society is investigating after a large number of carp were found floating dead in Lost Lagoon.

The Stanley Park Ecology Society is investigating after a large number of dead fish were found floating in Lost Lagoon.

Dozens of fish carcasses have been spotted while numerous other fish appear to be moving sluggishly.

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The fish are believed to be common carp, a species that was introduced to the lagoon, located in Stanley Park.

The water quality in the lagoon is being tested but it’s thought the die-off is probably a result of the weekend’s heavy rainfall, just when the water in the lagoon is turning over — a natural process that happens every fall.

The Vancouver Park Board said it is investigating, but there does not appear to be a risk to public safety.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Canada to resume flights from India next week with additional COVID-19 measures

WATCH: Canada's border rules ease for fully vaccinated foreign travellers

Canada will begin allowing direct flights from India early next week while requiring additional COVID-19 measures for those travellers, the federal government said Tuesday.

Transport Canada said the ban on all private and commercial passenger flights from the country, which was set to expire Tuesday, will be extended until 11:59 p.m. ET on Sept. 26.

After that, travellers eligible to enter Canada will need to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 18 hours of departure from India. Travellers will also have to upload their vaccination information to the ArriveCAN app prior to boarding.

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The agency said in a statement it will be testing the new system on Wednesday by allowing three flights from India to arrive in Canada “to ensure the new measures are working.”

Anyone coming to Canada from India via an indirect route will still need to obtain a negative COVID-19 test from a third country other than India within 72 hours of departure before continuing on to Canada.

The ban on flights from India was first put in place on April 22 due to the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant in the country.

While the more transmissible and deadly variant has become the dominant form of the virus in Canada and many other countries, COVID-19 cases in India have plateaued amid increased vaccinations.

On Monday, India reported 26,115 new cases and 252 new deaths, continuing a weeks-long decline from the devastating wave seen in the spring.

About 64 per cent of India’s adult population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 22 per cent are fully vaccinated with two doses.

The lifting of the Indian flight ban will come nearly three weeks after fully vaccinated travellers were allowed to enter Canada from all other countries around the world.

The United States, however, continues to restrict travel from Canada, citing the Delta variant’s rise in both countries.

–With files from Global’s Aaron D’Andrea and Reuters

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Police chase ends with car crashing into Saskatoon house

WATCH: A 27-year-old Saskatoon man is in custody following two vehicle thefts and a police chase that resulted in a collision with a house.

A 27-year-old Saskatoon man is in custody following two vehicle thefts and a police chase that resulted in a collision with a house Monday night.

Around 8 p.m. Saskatoon police were alerted that a Ford Escape SUV had been stolen from a business in the 2600 block of Avenue C North.

Officers tracked the vehicle using GPS and say it was being driven erratically through a number of areas including 33rd Street and Confederation Drive before driving through a park.

Police used spike belts twice to partially disable the SUV, but the driver managed to drive back to the business on Avenue C.

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Police say the suspect abandoned the SUV and stole a GMC Cube Van.

They used another spike belt on the van, which then crashed into three police vehicles and finally a house on the 800 block of Avenue S North.

Neighbour Alexis Bennett said the incident happened right outside her home and was upsetting for her and her small children.

“I heard this rumble and I was like what is that noise,” Bennett said Tuesday. “All of a sudden we saw like six cop cars just flying down 29th street.”

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She said the sound of spike belts popping the van’s tires sounded like gunshots.

“We closed the blinds, shut the lights off and ran to the opposite side of the house and we all just sat on the floor,” Bennett said.

When her husband finally looked out the window, he saw that the van had crashed into their neighbour’s house.

While no one was seriously injured, she wants to know how police let the chase get to this point.

“My question is why did it take so long to stop this guy if they had been tracking him with GPS the entire time,” Bennett said. “There’s lots of us in the area including my neighbours who want to know why…. Why did it have to get to this point where it was in a residential area where people could have been injured if not killed?”

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During the man’s subsequent arrest, police found a knife in his possession.

He is now facing charges of possession of stolen property, assault of four police officers, dangerous driving, theft and breach of court conditions.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

'It's super fun': Fundraiser for Easter Seals BC/Yukon drops into Kelowna

A handful of adrenaline junkies looking for a thrill got just that, while at the same time, the chance to raise funds for a good cause, descending Kelowna's Landmark 6 Office Tower to help raise funds for Camp Winfield - our very own Sydney Morton was one of the lucky few to rappel down the 18 storey building.

The only thing better than an adrenaline rush from rappelling down the side of an 18-storey building is knowing it helped raise funds to help change the lives of kids with physical and cognitive disabilities.

The Easter Seals BC/Yukon challenged Kelowna residents to rappel outside the city’s Landmark 6 office tower.

“The funds raised will support all the programs that we do, in particular our camp programs. It costs a lot of money to put on every year,” said Lisa Beck, Easter Seals BC/Yukon president and CEO.

“We run three camps are at the province ….. and altogether the camping program generally costs about $600,000 a year to deliver.”

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This is the first year the Drop Zone annual fundraiser has come to the Okanagan and it won’t be the last, as it helps support Easter Seals BC/Yukon Camp programs around the province like Camp Winfield in Lake Country.

“It’s an amazing, amazing, amazing space for youth with disabilities who get to have that quintessential summer camp experience where they can grow and they can be independent and they can live without their family,” said Michelle Webber, Easter Seals BC/Yukon community engagement manager.

“And also, provide an amazing week of respite for their families.”

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Sixty people made their way down the Landmark 6 Office Tower as part of the sold-out fundraiser.

“It’s super fun, once in a lifetime,” said Kara Price, participant.

“It’s definitely not as scary as I had anticipated,” Michelle McNaughton, participant.

Over the four events, province-wide, it is expected the fundraising goal of $200,000 will be met and donations are still being accepted on their website


© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

‘I do need a new truck’: Million-dollar lottery winner in Saskatchewan

According to Sask Lotteries, there has been some luck in Moose Jaw.

Wayne Gramracy discovered he won $1 million with a lottery ticket bought in the Shoppers Drug Mart at 428 Lillooet St. West.

He returned to the store the day after the Sept. 11 draw to check his Lotto 6-49 ticket and had to recheck a few times.

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“At first, I couldn’t count all the zeroes,” he said in a press release.

“I had to scan the ticket maybe five or six times before I could count them all.”

The winner has a couple of ideas for his newfound wealth.

“I do need a new truck,” he said in a statement.

“I’ll put some of the money into investments for the future. The rest is spending money!”

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Gramracy’s lucky digits that exactly matched the draw number were 24198381-05.

In June, a Moose Jaw local scanned his Lotto Max ticket and won $411,859. David Danchilla purchased his lucky numbers in the 7-Eleven located at 1210 13th Ave. NW.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

COVID-19: Some adults admitted to Saskatoon children's hospital as ICUs fill up

WATCH: ICUs are at capacity, forcing those on the front lines to make difficult choices, including adult patients being sent to a children's hospital ICU.

Saskatchewan’s hospitals are on the brink as the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues, according to some health-care professionals.

Now, ICUs are at capacity with patients, forcing those on the front lines to make difficult choices. The latest surge could be putting some of the province’s most vulnerable patients at risk, one doctor said.

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In Saskatoon, some adult patients are getting care at the Jim Pattison children’s hospital, with the province’s only pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).

The children’s hospital is being used for some adult patients “to support demand in Saskatoon,” according to an email from the Saskatchewan Health Authority to Global News.

“This is part of the work we do provincially to manage capacity and ensure appropriate level of care,” reads the email.

One doctor said that means less resources for children.

“Given where things are at it’s almost inevitable that there’s going to be a small number of kids who are going to need critical care support,” said Dr. Alexander Wong, an infectious disease specialist.

“Whether (support is) going to be there or not is hard to say when we’ve got adults filling those beds right now .”

Wong said hospitals across Saskatchewan are also struggling with enough health-care professionals on the front line, forcing them to make these tough decisions about where patients are treated.

He said he’s worried about where it goes next.

“We’re not going to have enough critical care capacity for everyone and then we’re going to obviously have to start making decisions again about who gets sort of optimal care versus who gets suboptimal care versus who gets care at all,” Wong said.

He added the Saskatchewan government needs to bring in public gathering restrictions, and upping the province’s testing capacity.

Meanwhile, Wong said the simplest way the public can help is by staying home.

“Delta is surging right now; there’s no critical care capacity. Just lay low, don’t do anything that’s going to land you basically in a situation where you’re going to need ICU care,” he said.

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He said the best way to protect those under 12 is to get vaccinated, something echoed by the province.

As of Tuesday there are four children under 11 in hospital with COVID-19, according to the province. None of those kids are in the ICU.

The ministry of health said evidence is showing kids with underlying medical conditions and infants under 12 months old may be at elevated risk for COVID-19 infections.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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