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In today's Morning Brief, we look at a COVID-19 outbreak linked to a Quebec City gym that became one of Canada's biggest superspreader events.

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How a Quebec City gym outbreak became one of Canada's largest COVID-19 superspreading events

We still don't know exactly how it started — a runner on a treadmill, or perhaps someone lifting weights — but an outbreak at a gym in Quebec City has become one of the largest recorded COVID-19 superspreading events in Canada.

The Méga Fitness Gym became a major source of contagion for the B117 variant first identified in the United Kingdom, which now accounts for 70 per cent of all cases in Quebec City.

The gym was shut down March 31 as the city was once again put under lockdown. To date, there have been 222 people infected at the gym, another 356 related cases involving outbreaks at 49 workplaces and a 40-year-old man has died.

But officials have yet to provide key details on the outbreak that can help inform the public, including whether it was sparked by the more contagious and potentially more deadly variant and whether it was driven by aerosol transmission — or microscopic airborne particles. 

The outbreak is now the subject of an epidemiological investigation but some of the specifics of how the virus spread are being kept confidential, said Mathieu Boivin, a spokesperson for the local health authority.

The health authority says the gym was in violation of at least three public health orders before it was shut down. Gym staff reportedly didn't ask patrons if they were suffering from symptoms of COVID-19, clients weren't kept two metres apart and employees weren't wearing the required personal protective equipment.

The gym's owner, Dan Marino, has not responded to requests for comment. In a Facebook post, he defended his efforts to follow public health regulations. Read more on this story here.

Protests continue in Minnesota

(John Minchillo/The Associated Press)

Demonstrators protesting the death of Daunte Wright, a Black man who was fatally shot by a police officer, take cover from crowd-dispersal munitions fired by police in Brooklyn Center, Minn., late Tuesday. Prosecutors are expected to decide Wednesday whether to charge the former police officer who fatally shot Wright. The officer, Kim Potter, and Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon both resigned yesterday.

In brief

The reopening of the Atlantic bubble has been delayed until May 3, the four Atlantic premiers said in a joint statement Tuesday. They said the decision to delay the opening, originally scheduled for April 19, was based on advice from the region's chief public health officers. "Given the recent surge in cases of COVID-19 in parts of Atlantic Canada and the emergence of more transmissible forms of the virus, the Council of Atlantic Premiers has agreed to delay the reopening of the Atlantic bubble by at least two weeks, to May 3, 2021," the statement said. The premiers will meet during the last week of April to decide if a further delay to May 10 is necessary. When the Atlantic bubble reopens, residents of the Atlantic provinces will be able to travel within the region without the requirement to self-isolate for 14 days. Read more on the delayed opening of the Atlantic bubble.

The first confirmed case of a rare but potentially fatal blood clot has been recorded in Canada in connection with the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine. Quebec's Ministry of Health and Social Services confirmed a person in the province experienced an adverse event known as vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT). The ministry didn't confirm the age or gender of the person, but Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé later identified the individual as a woman. "The good news is, the woman in question was taken care of and she's doing well," he said yesterday. Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization has said that VIPIT occurs at a rate of about one in 100,000 people vaccinated, with a mortality rate of about 40 per cent, although more research is needed and that risk is reduced if treated early enough. Read more on the blood clot case.

WATCH | A doctor's perspective on blood clot risks from COVID-19 vaccines:

A doctor’s perspective on blood clot risks from COVID-19 vaccines

The National

2 months ago

Toronto police didn't check Bruce McArthur's criminal record in 2013 before or after interviewing him — despite possessing evidence connecting the now-convicted serial killer to three missing men whose disappearances officers were then investigating. That's one of many serious investigative flaws former judge Gloria Epstein identified in her independent review of Toronto police's handling of missing-person cases — including the victims of McArthur. "Someone with a connection with all three missing persons who had attacked another member of the LGBTQ2S+ communities and been banned from the Village for a period should have undoubtedly have qualified as a person of interest," Epstein wrote, referring to the gay community's downtown neighbourhood. The 1,100-page report marks the first time some of these details — of what police did and knew when — have come to light. The service has previously refused to "dissect the investigation" despite questions about how they handled it. Read more on this story.

WATCH | Interim Toronto police chief says review into missing persons cases 'difficult to read' and 'humbling':

Interim Toronto police chief says review into missing persons cases ‘difficult to read’ and ‘humbling’

CBC News Toronto

2 months ago

Opposition critics are calling on Canada to follow the lead of countries like the United States and Australia by making work-related purchases of COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) tax-deductible. Conservative revenue critic Philip Lawrence said making PPE tax-deductible would relieve the financial pressure on low-income workers who have to protect themselves on the job. "I think a lot of the people who are working but perhaps being paid minimum wage, who are just trying to scrape by ... they are putting themselves in harm's way by being those front-line workers out there. We should be doing everything we can to make sure they are safe," said Lawrence. He wants a parliamentary committee to study the idea and called on the government to provide an estimate of how much the policy would cost. Read more on the call to make PPE tax-deductible

In the wake of last Friday's volcanic eruption on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, Claire Matlock went from preparing for her final exams as a medical student to helping people devastated by the eruption. Between 16,000 and 20,000 people have been evacuated from the eruption area in the northern region of the island. Over 3,000 of them are staying at more than 80 government shelters. Though covered in ash when she was contacted by CBC News, Matlock was safe, as she lives in the capital of Kingstown in the "green zone down south," which wasn't as heavily impacted as the "red zone" in the north, she said. Recognizing the desperate need of the thousands affected by the eruption, Matlock, 27, of Kitchener, Ont., and fellow medical student Anna Vanhoof, 23, of Bowmanville, Ont., quickly started working to help get food and supplies to them. Read more about the Canadian students helping out in St. Vincent.

With 100 days until the world's biggest sporting event, questions about whether it will actually happen appear resolved. But this summer's Olympic Games in Tokyo, like everything else in the era of COVID-19, will be different from anything we've seen. The Games are scheduled to open July 23, with the Paralympics to begin on Aug. 24. Canadian Olympic Committee CEO David Shoemaker says these Games won't be the "packed jubilant" spectacle often associated with the Olympics. Rather, the Tokyo Games will be all about the health and safety of athletes, who won't be required to quarantine or be vaccinated to compete. Athletes will have to adhere to a lengthy list of safety protocols issued by the International Olympic Committee, such as departing the Games 48 hours after competition and not visiting any non-Olympic sites, including bars and restaurants. Also, no international fans will be allowed to attend. "They'll be a different Olympics, but certainly preferable to them not happening all," long-time Canadian IOC member Richard Pound said. Read more about the buildup to the Tokyo Games

Now for some good news to start your Wednesday: Carly Greene, 8, is committed to acts of kindness — and her willingness to put a little bit of sweat into her efforts to help people in need has paid off in a big way. Through a charity run during her Easter break, Greene has raised more than $1,600 for The Gathering Place in St. John's, a community health centre that helps vulnerable people experiencing homelessness and precarious housing. "I feel bad for the people who are just out in the rain and the cold and the snow," Carly said. She had hoped to raise $100 by running 10 kilometres, but her mother, Thelma Careen, said that was too far for an eight-year-old and suggested a five-kilometre run instead. The family started a GoFundMe fundraising campaign on March 26 called Carly's Kilometres for Kindness, which had raised more than $1,610 as of Sunday. Read more about Carly's fundraising effort.

Front Burner: Intensive care on the brink

Dr. Shelly Dev and Dr. Alex Wong, two physicians in two different provinces, describe the desperate situation unfolding inside Canada's hospitals, where a record number of COVID-19 patients are being admitted into intensive care.

Today in history: April 14

1871: The act to create a uniform Canadian currency is given royal assent. The act established that the denominations of Canadian money would be dollars, cents and mills (a mill equalled one-tenth of a cent).

1912: The ocean liner Titanic strikes an iceberg about 600 kilometres south of Newfoundland's Grand Banks during its maiden voyage from England. The ship sank, and more than 1,500 lives were lost. The wreckage was found on the ocean floor in 1985.

2007: Social activist, journalist, broadcaster and writer June Callwood dies at the age of 82 in Toronto after a long battle with cancer.

2016: The Supreme Court of Canada, in a landmark decision 15 years in the making, unanimously rules that 600,000 Métis and non-status First Nations people across the country are "Indians" under the Constitution and are the federal government's fiduciary responsibility.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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