India, Pakistan flights suspended and a baby's huge tumour: In The News for April 23

·7 min read

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of April 23 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

OTTAWA — The federal government is suspending incoming passenger flights from India and Pakistan for the next month as cases of COVID-19 surge in both countries.

"Effective 11:30 p.m. Eastern time tonight, I am suspending all commercial and private passenger flights arriving in Canada from India and Pakistan for 30 days," Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Thursday.

"Cargo flights will be allowed to ensure the continued supply of vaccines, PPE and other essential goods. This is a temporary measure while we assess the evolving situation and determine appropriate measures going forward."

To discourage people from getting around the flight ban by booking flights through other countries, Canada will require passengers transiting through a third nation to go through customs in that country and remain there until they obtain another negative COVID-19 test. Only then can they board their flight to Canada. They will be required to quarantine in Canada as well.

The rules apply to Canadian citizens and foreign nationals.

All passengers arriving in Canada by land or air from any country have to show a negative COVID-19 test and quarantine for two weeks, with some exceptions for essential workers. Air passengers must quarantine for the first three days at an approved hotel awaiting a COVID-19 test result, and must test again 10 days after arriving.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said half of the people who are testing positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Canada on an airplane came from India, even though Indian flights accounted for only one-fifth of air traffic.

She said passengers coming from Pakistan are also testing positive at higher rates than average.

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Also this ...

TORONTO — The City of Toronto will mark the third anniversary of the van attack today with remarks from the mayor.

The city says John Tory will deliver a commemoration this morning via livestream due to the pandemic.

Around 1:30 p.m. on an unusually warm, bright day three years ago, a 25-year-old man deliberately drove a rental van down the sidewalk of Yonge Street in the city's north end.

Alek Minassian killed 10 people that day, including eight women, and injured 16 others, many of them catastrophically.

A judge found Minassian guilty of 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

He argued he should be held not criminally responsible for his actions due to his autism spectrum disorder, but the judge disagreed.

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What we are watching in the U.S. ...

Moments after former officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in George Floyd’s death, copies of the original Minneapolis police statement began recirculating on social media.

It attributed Floyd’s death to "medical distress" and made no mention of Floyd being pinned to the ground at the neck by Chauvin or crying out that he couldn’t breathe.

Many people posted the release to highlight the distance between the initial police narrative and the evidence that led to Tuesday's conviction.

For their part, police officials say they give the most accurate information they can during fast-moving and complicated investigations.

But advocates say the frequency of misleading information cannot be ignored.

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What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

NEW DELHI — A fire killed 13 COVID-19 patients in a hospital in western India today as an extreme surge in coronavirus infections leaves the nation short of medical care and oxygen.

India reported another global record in daily infections for a second straight day Friday, adding 332,730 new cases. The surge already has driven its fragile health systems to the breaking point with understaffed hospitals overflowing with patients and critically short of supplies.

The situation is getting worse by the passing day with hospitals taking to social media pleading with the government to replenish their oxygen supplies and threatening to stop fresh admissions of patients.

The Press Trust of India news agency reported 25 COVID-19 patients died at New Delhi's Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the past 24 hours and the lives of another 60 such patients were are at risk amid a serious oxygen supply crisis. It quoted unnamed officials as saying “low pressure oxygen” could be the likely cause for their deaths.

However, Ajoy Sehgal, a hospital spokesperson, said he will not comment on whether the 25 patients died from a lack of oxygen.

He said an oxygen tanker had just entered the hospital complex and hoped it would temporarily relieve the hospital’s fast depleting oxygen supply.

The New Delhi Television channel later cited the hospital chairman as saying these deaths cannot be ascribed to a lack of oxygen.

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On this day in 2004 ...

Paul Martin became the first Canadian prime minister to meet with the Dalai Lama, at a reception and interfaith prayer event in Ottawa. The Tibetan exiled political and spiritual leader arrived in Vancouver on April 17 for a 19-day visit.

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In entertainment ...

TORONTO — With the new sci-fi film "Stowaway," Toronto-raised star Shamier Anderson says he's checked a major role off his acting bucket list: astronaut.

So, what other career goals does he have?

"Marvel or DC, one of the two," Anderson, brother of fellow acclaimed actor Stephan James, said in an interview.

"Me and my brother have this ongoing joke, like, 'Man, the next movie has to be in tights,' because every superhero wears tights. It's like we're in tights season now. Simu Liu, he's wearing tights in 'Shang-Chi' at Marvel, he's a superstar.... But Marvel or DC (Comics), that's next on the bucket list. That'd be incredible."

Liu is among several Canadians enjoying "tights season" with major roles in upcoming superhero projects at Marvel. Others include Tatiana Maslany with "She-Hulk" and Iman Vellani in "Captain Marvel 2."

Anderson and Liu are also a part of the new Seek More campaign from the organization Made/Nous, which encourages Canadians to discover more diverse content and creators.

"Stowaway," which hit Amazon Prime Video Canada on Thursday, is a good example of the kind of programming the campaign wants viewers to look for, said Anderson.

The 29-year-old plays Michael, a space launch support engineer and unintended stowaway on a mission to Mars.

Anna Kendrick, Toni Collette and Daniel Dae Kim play the other astronauts on board the spaceship, who have to make hard decisions after discovering Michael and realizing there's only enough oxygen for three people.

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ICYMI ...

Hope dwindled for Julie and Paul Devigne as a treatment-resistant tumour in their baby's belly swelled so large it restricted his ability to eat, sleep and breathe.

Then, in a surgical feat, doctors at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children gave little Félix another shot at life, say the Winnipeg parents.

During a more than six-hour-long procedure, the 1.3-kilogram mass — nearly three pounds — was removed from the infant's body, defying some experts' opinions that the tumour was inoperable.

At around four months old, Félix became crankier than usual, said Julie Devigne. He wasn't sleeping well, and eventually, wouldn't let his parents put him down. She took him to the emergency room at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre to see if he had a urinary tract infection.

After a battery of tests, doctors told her Félix had a tumour in his abdomen. He was later diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of soft tissue cancer that mostly affects children.

Félix spent months in hospital undergoing chemotherapy, but the tumour continued to grow until it filled most of his abdominal cavity. The Winnipeg oncologists started reaching out to medical facilities with the expertise needed to remove the tumour.

When Félix's file found its way to Dr. Blayne Amir Sayed at Torontos' SickKids, the surgeon was taken aback to see such a large tumour in such a small child.

It was roughly 15 per cent of Félix's body weight and would take painstaking precision to remove it without damaging any organs or veins, said Sayed.

But Sayed said he feels optimistic about the long-term prognosis.

"For the amount of surgery that he went through, he did terrific," said Sayed, adding that doctors will have monitor for potential signs of recurrence.

Now back home in Winnipeg, Paul Devigne said he's adjusting to a slower pace of life after spending so many months in "survival mode."

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2021.

The Canadian Press