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Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 1,191 people in hospital with COVID, 329 in ICU; Quebec health system grapples with Omicron-fuelled long COVID cases

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

10:22 p.m.: Ontario is reporting 1,191 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.

Of those, 329 people are in ICU with COVID. The province says 79 per cent of patients admitted to the ICU were admitted for COVID-19 and 21 per cent were admitted for other reasons but have tested positive for COVID-19.

There are 2,244 new cases of COVID-19. Counts are considered incomplete because of limited access to PCR testing.

9 a.m. Pat King, one of the leading figures behind an antigovernment protest on Parliament Hill is set to appear in court today to face charges related to his role in the demonstration.

Ottawa police say King, 44, faces charges of mischief, counselling to commit mischief, counselling to commit the offence of disobeying a court order and counselling to obstruct police.

King is among the more than 100 people police say they have arrested as part of a massive police operation to clear demonstrators who have been blockading Parliament Hill for nearly four weeks.

Follow along with the Star’s live coverage here.

8:30 a.m. Montrealer Claudia Hébert says she started to feel extreme fatigue and to get fevers three weeks after returning from Senegal in March 2020, with only a few months left to a complete her Université de Montréal veterinary medicine program.

Some symptoms eventually subsided, but her daily brain fog and painful migraines continued, leaving her no choice but to drop her classes.

“It was my dream as a little girl to become a veterinarian and I was about to realize it,” Hébert, 30, said in a recent interview. “Now, if someone asks me what I ate yesterday, I don’t remember anymore …. I have become disabled.”

Hébert was diagnosed in August 2021 as having long COVID, which refers to COVID-19 symptoms that persist well beyond two weeks — the time by which most people have recovered from the disease. With concerns being raised about the Omicron variant fuelling a spike in long COVID cases, health experts say Quebec does not have the resources to help people like Hébert or the many others who have survived the disease but remain seriously injured.

Read more from The Canadian Press.

8 a.m. The cost of your trip to the grocery store just took its largest yearly leap in more than a decade.

You’ll now pay on average 6.5 per cent more than you did a year ago, according to Statistics Canada’s latest consumer price release Wednesday.

You’ll also have less choice, with rising labour and gas costs, climate change and border blockades leaving some staples conspicuously absent from shelves.

“For consumers on a tight budget, 2022 doesn’t look great,” says Sylvain Charlebois, a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University.

Here’s how the COVID-19 pandemic and a changing climate is impacting our most beloved breakfast foods by the Star’s Rosa Saba and Clarrie Feinsten.

7 a.m. Tebogo Siwela is frank about why he signed up to have an untested vaccine injected into his arm.

Mostly, for the money.

When COVID-19 hit, Siwela, a lanky young musician fond of immaculately pressed shirts and trendy wide brimmed hats, was making a living showing tourists around Johannesburg, South Africa. Then, very quickly, he wasn’t.

“I won’t lie. With the vaccine trial, I heard my friends talking that there’s money being offered,” he says.

Vaccine trials have run at dozens of sites around the world operated under strict ethical guidelines, and organizers were typically not allowed to pay volunteers. But organizers were able to compensate participants for their food and travel. For Siwela, the baby of his family who helps support his parents, the 300 rand per visit — roughly $25 Cdn — became a lifeline.

Read Part 3 of the Star series “Fighting for a Shot,”: Canada has failed to deliver on its COVID-19 promises to the world — and some say they won’t forget it, by Alex Boyd.

5:30 a.m. Hong Kong reported 15 coronavirus deaths and more than 6,000 confirmed cases for a second day in a surge the Chinese territory’s leader says its overwhelming hospitals.

Also Saturday, the government announced plans to have construction crews from mainland China build isolation units with 10,000 beds after crowding at hospitals forced patients to wait outdoors in winter cold.

There were 6,063 confirmed cases in the previous 24 hours, raising the territory’s total to 46,763. That was down slightly from Thursday’s 6,116 but one of Hong Kong’s highest daily totals.

Read more from The Associated Press.

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