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The Daily Dose: Disparities between official COVID-19 deaths and coronor reports plague Canada.

Canada is reckoning with disconcerting disparities between official death count in long-term care facilities and actual coroner reports. According to the Globe and Mail, “COVID-19 has laid bare weaknesses in how deaths are reviewed in nursing homes, also known as long-term care homes. Canada had the worst record for COVID-19 fatalities in these homes among other wealthy countries during the first wave of the pandemic. Even so, no province, with the notable exception of Quebec, has ordered public hearings into the disproportionate toll the coronavirus took on residents. Investigations by provincial coroners and medical examiners have been rare, leaving allegations of neglect inside some homes largely unexamined.” This is yet another example of how covid-19 has had profoundly damaging effects even outside of the public health sector.

China is continuing to struggle with it’s most serious outbreak since early in the pandemic. According to the Associated Press, “The delta variant is challenging China’s costly strategy of isolating cities, prompting warnings that Chinese leaders who were confident they could keep the coronavirus out of the country need a less disruptive approach… Zhang Wenhong, a Shanghai doctor who became prominent during the Wuhan outbreak, suggested in a social media post that China’s strategy could change. “We will definitely learn more” from the ongoing outbreak, he said, calling it a stress test for the nation.” with the Winter Olympics just a few months away, there must be quite a bit of hand-wringing in Beijing.

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Southeast Asia is now the epicenter of the covid-19 pandemic. For over a year Cambodia has managed to keep the virus at Bay. But that’s no longer true. An article in Al-Jazeera takes a look at Cambodia and the unique origins of its outbreak. “The largest outbreak – what has become known as the ‘February 20 Incident’ – appears to have been triggered by the cross-border transportation of sex workers for wealthy clients. Contract tracing revealed 32 people contracted the virus at the N8 nightclub in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital. Here, they had come into contact with four Chinese nationals who tested positive on arrival in Cambodia, but were captured on security camera bribing their way out of a quarantine hotel to meet for what the government-affiliated Khmer Times called “pre-arranged trysts”. It is unclear exactly how many locations the women visited after absconding, but the Ministry of Health identified a string of linked sites, mostly upscale serviced apartments, hotels, KTVs (karaoke bars that typically double as brothels), massage parlours and private international schools.”

In stark contrast to his predecessor, the current president of the United States eager to make inroads in the climate change crisis. According to Reuters, “U.S. President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Thursday setting a target to make half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 zero-emissions vehicles and propose new vehicle emissions rules to cut pollution through 2026, the White House said. Biden’s goal, which is not legally binding, won the support of major U.S. and foreign automakers who warned it would require billions of dollars in government funding.” non electric cars are things of the past. The luddites need to move on.

Runaway wildfires continue to spread across the Eastern Mediterranean region. In addition to Turkey and Greece, Italy has its own problems. And some of them have Sinister Origins. According to Deutsche Welle, “Fires have been raging throughout Italy for weeks. Several central and southern regions have lost tens of thousands of hectares of forest. In Sardinia, botanists are alarmed at the decimation of the local biodiversity and the number of secular olive groves that have been destroyed. In Sicily, wildfires reached Catania, where about 150 people were evacuated by sea, and the airport was closed for several hours. Since June 15, firefighters have been called out more than 37,000 times — including 1,500 times on Sunday alone. The reason why Italy is struggling to cope with the problem is a combination of political responsibilities, forest protection bureaucracy and alleged criminal activity.” According to Coldiretti, the largest farmers association in Italy, at least 60% of the wildfires in Italy were started by arson.

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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