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COVID-19 News for Toronto, Ontario on January 15

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

8am: Concerned but not giving up, President Joe Biden eagerly urges people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after Supreme Court halts administration’s sweeping vaccination or testing plan for large employers .

At a time when hospitals are overwhelmed and record numbers of people are infected with the Omicron variant, the administration hopes states and companies will order their own vaccination or testing requirements. And if the presidential “bullying chair” still counts for persuasion, Biden intends to use it.

While some in the business community cheered the defeat of the term, Biden insisted the administration’s effort was not wasted. Thursday’s High Court ruling “does not preclude me from using my voice as president to call on employers to do what is necessary to protect the health and economy of Americans,” he said. declared.

The court’s conservative majority all but rejected the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s requirement that employers with 100 or more employees require their workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus or tested weekly. However, it left in place a vaccination requirement for healthcare workers.

Meanwhile, the White House announced Friday that the federal website where Americans can request their own free COVID-19 tests will begin accepting orders next Wednesday. Those tests could motivate some people to get vaccinated, and the administration is looking to address nationwide shortages. Supplies will be limited to just four free tests per household.

8am: China said the Omicron variant of Covid-19 had been confirmed in infections in Shanghai and Guangdong province, adding further pressure on authorities to contain the highly contagious strain ahead of the Winter Olympics.

Two patients were in Zhongshan and Zhuhai in south China’s Guangdong Province, National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng said at a press briefing in Beijing. A case in Shanghai reported on Thursday was also confirmed to have been infected with Omicron, he said, without giving details.

Beijing confirmed a case of Covid-19 on Saturday evening, CCTV reported, citing the local health authority. The report did not specify the strain. The Winter Olympics begin February 4 in Beijing.

8am: Novak Djokovic was back in immigration detention on Saturday after his legal challenge to avoid being deported from Australia for not being vaccinated against COVID-19 was referred to a higher court.

A Federal Court hearing is scheduled for Sunday, a day before the No.1-ranked men’s tennis player and nine-time Australian Open champion was due to begin his title defense at the inaugural Grand Slam tennis tournament. the year.

Djokovic and his lawyers had an early morning meeting with immigration officials and by mid-afternoon Australian media reported that the tennis star had been taken into custody. Television footage showed the 34-year-old Serb wearing a face mask as he sat in a vehicle near a migrant detention hotel.

He spent four nights confined to a hotel near Melbourne city center before being released last Monday when he won a legal challenge on procedural grounds against his first visa cancellation.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on Friday blocked the visa, which was initially revoked when it landed at a Melbourne airport on January 5.

Deportation from Australia can result in a three-year ban on returning to the country, although it can be lifted, depending on the circumstances.

Djokovic admitted that his travel declaration was incorrect as it did not state that he had visited multiple countries in the two weeks prior to his arrival in Australia.

8am: The abrupt departure of Quebec’s director of public health last week was further evidence of the difficult road taken by the country’s chief medical officers as the Omicron wave pushes the fight against the pandemic into a third year.

Quebec’s Dr Horacio Arruda, who has served as director of public health since 2012, criticized the government’s handling of the latest wave as he abruptly resigned on Monday after 22 months overseeing the province’s pandemic response.

“Recent comments about the credibility of our opinions and our scientific rigor are undoubtedly causing some erosion of public support,” Arruda wrote in a letter offering his resignation.

That was a far cry from March 2020, when Arruda was among the top group of provincial health workers on duty when the pandemic hit. Arruda and the others, including Dr. Bonnie Henry from British Columbia, Dr. Deena Hinshaw from Alberta and Dr. Robert Strang from Nova Scotia, rose to prominence almost overnight, offering voices reassuring in times of crisis.

“In the beginning, when we didn’t know what we didn’t know, and there was a lot of uncertainty, the chief medical officer played an incredibly helpful role, as they are supposed to – being the public face of government and explain what’s going on,” said Patrick Fafard, a professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa who has studied the role of military doctors in the country.

“Their status in terms of media or public opinion has declined – some of that is inevitable, but it’s also because of the tensions and contradictions in the role.”

Fafard said while medical officers of health play an advisory role, each province views the role differently. In a protracted pandemic, when scientific evidence is rapidly changing, they have had to reconcile differing viewpoints and governments that don’t make decisions based on science alone. They are often left to explain the policies, even though the decisions ultimately rest with the politicians.

Most of those who were in office in 2020 remain in place, except for Arruda and Ontario’s Dr David Williams, who faced criticism before retiring last year.