The coronavirus in Canada and Parliament resumes; In The News for Jan. 27

People wear masks as a precaution due to the coronavirus outbreak as they wait for the arrivals at the International terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Saturday, January 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

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 Jan. 27.

What we are watching in Canada ...

TORONTO — Officials anticipate the lone Canadian patient diagnosed with the new coronavirus won't be the last, but they also note the risk of infection in this country remains low.

Public health officials made the comment at a news conference yesterday, when they announced that the man in his 50s had been showing mild symptoms on his flight from Guangzhou, China, to Toronto.

They've since been reaching out to those aboard the China Southern Airlines flight who sat within two metres of the man.

Canada's chief public health officer says she believes there will be more cases "imported into Canada" because of global flight patterns, but she notes there's little risk of becoming infected here.

Dr. Theresa Tam also says she expects to receive official confirmation today from Winnipeg's National Microbiology Lab that the man's illness is indeed the new coronavirus.

The diagnosis is "presumptive" until that lab finds the same positive results as the tests conducted in Toronto.

The patient is in stable condition at Sunnybrook Hospital, where he's being held in a negative-pressure room used to contain airborne illnesses.

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Also this ...

OTTAWA — The work begins in earnest today for the Liberal minority government as the House of Commons opens for business after a lengthy winter break.

The first piece of major legislation is expected to be a bill to ratify the new North American free trade deal, as Canada is the now the only hold out on the trilateral pact.

The Liberals have asked the Opposition parties to help get it passed quickly, but the NDP and Bloc Quebecois are making no such guarantees, while the Conservatives say they're hoping for further study of its implications.

The government is also sure to face a grilling over major issues that have developed in recent weeks.

Among them are relations with Iran and the status of an investigation into what killed at least 57 Canadians on a flight leaving Tehran earlier this month.

Looking ahead, the Liberal government is also expected to introduce legislation to ban military-style assault rifles and make what's sure to be a controversial decision on whether to allow a new oilsands project in Alberta to proceed.

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ICYMI (in case you missed it) ...

TORONTO — The survival of preterm babies jumped by 25 per cent after new practices were introduced in neonatal units across Canada, according to a study of nearly 51,000 infants between 2004 to 2017.

Changes introduced in 2003 included increased use of steroids for mothers 48 hours before delivery to help babies whose lungs would not be fully developed; raising infants' body temperature upon birth and reducing the use of invasive ventilation to help them breathe.

The study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal says babies born at less than 33 weeks' gestation had an increase in survival from 56.6 per cent to 70.9 per cent, without major health problems.

It says the improved practices were initiated by the Canadian Neonatal Network, which includes researchers and health-care professional such as physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists all neonatal in every province.

Dr. Prakesh Shah, director of the network and a senior author of the study that originated from Sinai Health in Toronto, said the measures also hiked survival by five per cent for babies born at 23 to 25 weeks' gestation.

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

LOS ANGELES — The helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant and eight others that crashed into a rugged hillside outside Los Angeles was flying in foggy conditions considered dangerous enough that local police agencies grounded their choppers.

The helicopter plunged into a steep hillside at about 9:45 a.m. Sunday with an impact that scattered debris over an area the size of a football field and killed all aboard.

The accident unleashed an outpouring of grief from admirers around the world who mourned the sudden loss of the all-time basketball great who spent his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 41-year-old Bryant, who perished with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was one of the game’s most popular players and the face of the 16-time NBA champion Lakers.

The cause of the crash was unknown, but conditions at the time were such that the Los Angeles Police Department and the county sheriff's department grounded their helicopters.

The Los Angeles County medical examiner, Dr. Jonathan Lucas, said the rugged terrain complicated efforts to recover the remains. He estimated it would take at least a couple of days to complete that task before identifications can be made.

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

BEIJING — China on Monday expanded sweeping efforts to contain a viral disease by extending the Lunar New Year holiday to keep the public at home and avoid spreading infection as the death toll rose to 80.

Hong Kong announced it would bar entry to visitors from the province at the centre of the outbreak following a warning the virus’s ability to spread was growing. Travel agencies were ordered to cancel group tours nationwide, adding to the rising economic cost.

Increasingly drastic anti-disease efforts began with the Jan. 22 suspension of plane, train and bus links to Wuhan, a city of 11 million people in central China where the virus was first detected last month. That lockdown has expanded to a total of 17 cities with more than 50 million people in the most far-reaching disease-control measures ever imposed.

The end of the Lunar New Year holiday, China’s busiest travel season, was pushed back to Sunday from Thursday to “reduce mass gatherings” and “block the spread of the epidemic,” a Cabinet statement said.

The National Health Commission said 2,744 cases were confirmed by midnight Sunday.

President Xi Jinping has called the outbreak a grave situation and said the government was rushing medical staff and supplies to Wuhan.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Jan. 27, 2020.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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