Sunday, November 28, 2021
Home Blog Page 2

No evidence that new COVID-19 variant has been introduced into B.C.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix. Photo: B.C. Government

DR. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, and Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, on Friday said that there is no evidence yet that the new variant of concern (VOC), Omicron, has been introduced into British Columbia.

They also said: “So far, all of the Health Canada-approved vaccines are highly effective and provide strong protection against all variants.”

(The World Health Organization said on Friday that the variant was first reported to it from South Africa on November 24 and has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other variants of concern.)

Henry and Dix in a joint statement said: “We support the measures taken today by the federal government in response to the newly identified variant of concern, Omicron. We do not yet know the impact this new VOC will have on transmission or of severity of illness, but taking this immediate precautionary action is prudent. We will continue to closely monitor developments around the world.

“At this time, there is no evidence that this variant has been introduced into British Columbia. The BC Centre for Disease Control’s public health lab has sequenced over 90,000 virus isolates in B.C. and will continue to use whole genome sequencing to monitor for all variants circulating in B.C., including this new VOC Omicron.

“In addition, public health will be working with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Canada Border Services Agency to identify any people recently returned from the areas of concern to arrange testing and to ensure they remain well.

“In British Columbia, 91% of eligible people have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. So far, all of the Health Canada-approved vaccines are highly effective and provide strong protection against all variants. We will monitor the data on this new VOC to ensure that will continue to be the case. Reducing transmission and having high levels of protection through vaccination continues to be our best defence against all variants of COVID-19.

“We continue to urge all British Columbians to follow any provincial health officer orders or public health orders in place, stay home when sick, wash hands frequently and most importantly, to get fully vaccinated if you haven’t done so already.”

Canada imposes restrictions on travel from southern parts of Africa

Omar Alghabra Photo: Twitter

FEDERAL Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, and federal Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos, on Friday announced new border measures after public health authorities in South Africa confirmed that a new COVID-19 variant of concern (B.1.1.529) had been detected in that country, and over the past 24 hours, this variant – named Omicron by the World Health Organization — had also been detected in other countries.

As a precautionary measure, until January 31, 2022, the Government of Canada is implementing enhanced border measures for all travellers who have been in the Southern Africa region — including South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Namibia— within the last 14 days before arriving in Canada.

Foreign nationals who have travelled in any of these countries within the previous 14 days will not be permitted entry into Canada.

Canadian citizens, permanent residents and people with status under the Indian Act, regardless of their vaccination status or having had a previous history of testing positive for COVID-19, who have been in these countries in the previous 14 days will be subject to enhanced testing, screening, and quarantine measures.

These individuals will be required to obtain, within 72 hours of departure, a valid negative COVID-19 molecular test in a third country before continuing their journey to Canada. Upon arrival to Canada, regardless of their vaccination status or having had a previous history of testing positive for COVID-19, they will subject to immediate arrival testing. All travellers will also be required to complete a test on day 8 after arrival and quarantine for 14 days

All travellers will be referred to Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) officials to ensure they have a suitable quarantine plan. Those arriving by air will be required to stay in a designated quarantine facility while they await their arrival test result. They will not be permitted onward travel until their quarantine plan has been approved and they have received a negative arrival test result.

Those arriving by land may be allowed to proceed directly to their suitable isolation location. If they do not have a suitable plan — where they will not have contact with anyone they haven’t travelled with — or do not have private transportation to their place of quarantine, they will be directed to stay at a designated quarantine facility

There will be increased scrutiny of quarantine plans for travellers from these countries and rigorous monitoring to ensure travellers are complying with quarantine measures. Further, travellers, regardless of their vaccination status or having had a previous history of testing positive for COVID-19, who have entered Canada from these countries in the past 14 days will be contacted and directed to be tested and to quarantine while they wait for the results of those tests. There are no exemptions specifically provided for in these new requirements.

The Government of Canada advises Canadians to avoid travelling to countries in this region and will continue to monitor the situation to inform current or future actions.

Canada continues to maintain pre-entry molecular testing for vaccinated and unvaccinated international travellers arriving from any country to reduce the risk of importation of COVID-19 including variants. PHAC has also been monitoring case data, through mandatory randomized testing upon entry into Canada.

The Government of Canada said it will continue to assess the evolving situation and adjust border measures as required. While the impact of all variants continues to be monitored in Canada, vaccination, in combination with public health and individual measures, is working to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.

Alghabra said: “Our government continues to take unprecedented and decisive action to protect the health and safety of Canadians. Today’s measures, including new requirements for third-country pre-departure testing for travellers coming to Canada from certain southern African countries, are being put in place to prevent new variants of the COVID-19 virus from being introduced and spread in Canada.”

Duclos said: “Canada’s stringent testing and quarantine measures are in place to reduce the risk of importation and spread of COVID-19 and variants. These have proven effective in identifying imported cases of COVID-19 and preventing community spread. These new measures are being put in place out of an abundance of caution. We will continue to do what is necessary to protect the health of Canadians.”



India to allow international flights operations from December 15

New Delhi (IANS): India will allow resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services from December 15, it was announced on Friday.

However, the government said there will be a calibrated resumption of operations from the countries recognised as “at risk” by the Health Ministry. There are over 10 countries in the “at risk” list including some countries in Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana and China.

Passenger air services were suspended in late March 2020 due to the nationwide lockdown to check the spread of COVID-19. While domestic flight services resumed from May 25, 2020, international flight services were only maintained via ‘Bubble Agreements’.

At present, India has air bubble pacts with 28 countries.

In a circular issued on Friday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said: “The matter has been reviewed and the competent authority has decided to resume the scheduled commercial international passenger services to/from India with effect from 15 December, 2021.

“Accordingly, the scheduled international commercial passenger services to/from India shall remain suspended till 2359 hours IST of 14 December, 2021.”

The DGCA circular also said that resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services would imply reversion to bilaterally agreed capacity entitlements and termination of air bubble arrangements.

Nevertheless, due to prevailing COVID-19 situation, the capacity entitlements shall be based on enlistment of countries “at risk” from time to time by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The DGCA circular also said: “The seats under air bubble arrangement which have already been sold by airlines, which are in excess of the capacity entitlements under bilateral ASAs or traffic rights available with the airlines, will be allowed to be operated till December 14, 2021.”

It added: “Such airlines will restrict their operations to capacity entitlements under bilateral ASAs or traffic rights available with the airlines, with effect from December 15, 2021.”

The announcement comes at a time when the ‘B.1.1529’ strain of Covid-19 has been identified in South Africa, and also detected in Hong Kong. Reported to contain up to 30 identified mutations, it is said to be a more transmissible variant of COVID-19.

Man dies after suffering severe burns in portable washroom fire in Abbotsford

ON November 23 at 8:25 p.m., Abbotsford Police patrol officers responded to assist Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service in the 33000-block of South Fraser Way. Officers found a portable washroom fully engulfed in flames.  A short distance away, a 28-year-old man was discovered suffering from severe burns. The man has since passed away in hospital.

The Abbotsford Police Department Major Crime Unit has taken over the investigation and is in the early stages of determining if this incident was an accident or is suspicious.

Anyone who witnessed this man described as wearing a lime green winter jacket with grey sleeves, a red hoody underneath the winter jacket, dark pants, and white running shoes is asked to contact police.

Further, investigators are appealing to anyone who has dashcam or CCTV footage in the area of Khalsa Diwan Temple located at 33094 South Fraser Way between 6 and 9 p.m. on November 23 to contact the Abbotsford Police Department at 604-859-5225.

Vancouver penthouse party host Mohammed Movassaghi back in jail

THE Vancouver man who was in the spotlight for running a makeshift nightclub in his downtown Vancouver penthouse earlier this year has been convicted of new charges.

Vancouver Police first launched an investigation in January, after a witness called police to report a large party inside a penthouse apartment near Richards and Georgia streets. Investigators discovered that Mohammed Movassaghi, 43, was running an illegal booze can and show lounge inside his 1,100-square-foot penthouse, packing it with hundreds of people, and violating COVID-19 health orders.

He was arrested on January 31, after the VPD executed a search warrant and seized large quantities of cash, liquor, and credit card machines. He was charged and convicted of numerous offences, and ordered to obey numerous court orders.

Vancouver Police said that Movassaghi began violating those court orders in August by hosting more for-profit penthouse parties, which prompted a second VPD investigation and his arrest on Wednesday night. He has since plead guilty to two counts of failure to comply with an order of the health officer and one count of selling liquor.

Movassaghi has been sentenced to 29 days in custody, 12 months of probation, and a $10,000 fine.

Human remains in two separate investigations identified: Surrey RCMP

Criminality is not believed to be a factor in the deaths

SURREY RCMP announced on Friday that the skeletal remains and partial human remains that were located in two separate cases in different areas of the city have now been identified.

On September 20, partial human remains were located in a wooded area near the 8000-block of 148A Street (initial release). An investigation into the found remains identified them as a man reported missing in February 2020.

On October 12, Surrey RCMP began an investigation into skeletal remains found in Newton near 152 Street and 64 Avenue (initial release). The remains have been identified as a man who was reported missing in January 2021. The man was 32 years old at the time of his disappearance.

The two investigations are not connected and criminality is not believed to be a factor in either death. Both investigations have been turned over to BC Coroners Service. The families of the deceased men have been notified.

Conservatives want government to prevent spread of new COVID-19 variant

Erin O'Toole Photo: Facebook

CONSERVATIVE Party Leader Erin O’Toole on Friday asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take steps to prevent the spread of a new COVID-19 variant.

(The World Health Organization has designated it a “variant of concern,” and assigned it the Greek letter Omicron. The variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on November 24 and has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant, as compared to other variants of concern, WHO said on Friday.)

O’Toole said: “With reports of the spread of a new COVID-19 variant, we have a small window of opportunity to act, and we must move now.”

He told Trudeau to secure Canada’s borders and immediately implement the following temporary measures:

  • Update the existing Government of Canada travel advisory for affected countries to South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho and Eswatini, and put in place a ban on non-essential travel to and from these countries of concern;
  • Mandatory screening at all international airports from affected countries, regardless of vaccination status; and
  • Mandatory quarantining for travellers for those countries, regardless of vaccination status.

O’Toole said: “Lessons learned from earlier in the pandemic need to inform our actions today. Temporary measures to immediately secure our borders will keep Canadians safe and protect our economy.”

Over 2,000 kg of khat, an illegal stimulant, seized by CBSA Metro Vancouver Marine Operations

Photos: CBSA

ON October 4, Canada Border Services Agency’s Pacific Region Intelligence Section, with assistance from the Agency’s National Targeting Centre, identified a container of interest and referred it for examination. The marine container, imported from Kenya, was declared to contain bags of tea leaves.

CBSA officers from the Metro Vancouver Marine Operations examined the container using a wide range of detection tools and technology, and upon physical inspection, noted discrepancies in the packaging and the substance within the bags.

The officers found that 125 bags contained a dried leafy substance which was sent for analysis and identification. The analysis confirmed the substance as khat (Catha Edulis), a stimulant drug derived from a shrub and indigenous to East Africa and Southern Arabia.

Khat and its derivatives are listed under Schedule IV of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The active ingredients contained in khat are cathine and cathinone, which produce a stimulant effect similar to amphetamine when the green parts of the plant are ingested. Khat is a stimulant that since 2005 has been considered by the World Health Organization as an addictive drug of abuse. There are no accepted medical uses for khat.

A total of 2,061 kg of khat was seized. The CBSA has seized 2,296 kg of khat in the first quarter of 2021-2022.

“This substantial seizure of khat was the result of a collaborative effort involving officers from the Metro Vancouver Marine Operations, the Pacific Region Intelligence Section, and the National Targeting Centre. It illustrates how thorough inspections of marine containers help to keep illicit and dangerous products out of our communities, which is a responsibility that we take very seriously,” said Joseph Chayeski, Director, Metro Vancouver Operations Division, Pacific Region, CBSA, on Friday.

Quick Facts

* The CBSA’s Intelligence Section plays a key role in the identification of border-related threats and in protecting the safety and security of Canadians. Intelligence activities are conducted to identify individuals and entities that are of interest to the CBSA in connection to organized crime, drug smuggling, and other violations of the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

* Border services officers are highly trained in examination techniques to intercept prohibited goods and illicit drugs from entering Canada. Officers look for indicators of deception and use intelligence as well as a risk management approach in determining which goods may warrant a closer look.

* If you have information about suspicious cross-border activity, contact the CBSA Border Watch Toll-Free Line at 1-888-502-9060.

Fraudster convicted of 15 charges: Surrey RCMP

Clayton Brooks Hayden

CLAYTON Brooks Hayden has been convicted of 15 charges related to frauds, Surrey RCMP announced on Friday.

In April, Surrey RCMP requested the public’s assistance with locating Clayton Brooks Hayden who was wanted in connection with multiple frauds. The frauds occurred at various financial institutions. In each occurrence, victims were approached by a man who claimed to be in dire need of money and requested their help. Victims would be asked to deposit a cheque into their account through an ATM, and to withdraw funds for the man. Days later, the victims would learn that the cheques were fraudulent.

The Surrey RCMP Financial Crime Unit took conduct of multiple investigations, which included frauds in Surrey, Richmond and Burnaby. Investigators worked in partnership with Richmond RCMP and Burnaby RCMP to gather crucial evidence, which supported charges being laid.

Hayden plead guilty to 15 fraud-related charges and was sentenced on November 16. He received a sentence of 15 months’ jail time, two years’ probation and was ordered to pay restitution to all 15 victims on the offences he plead guilty to.

“This individual preyed on people’s emotions and willingness to help someone they thought was less fortunate,” said Media Relations Officer Cpl. Vanessa Munn.

Surrey RCMP are reminding the public to be cautious and never to cash a cheque for someone they don’t know.

Visit the  Scams & Frauds section of the Surrey RCMP website for further information on how to avoid being scammed. The website also provides a link to the Canadian Anti-Fraud website which includes a list of current frauds.

Trudeau to visit Abbotsford on Friday

Justin Trudeau Photo: Twitter

PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau will be in Abbotsford on Friday.

He will meet with Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun, Sumas First Nation Chief Dalton Silver, Matsqui First Nation Chief Alice McKay, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, first responders, and volunteers, and visit areas affected by the flooding.

Trudeau will then travel to Victoria to meet with Premier John Horgan at 4:30 p.m. The two leaders will hold a joint media availability an hour later.

- Advertisement -