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Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Friday


The latest:

The next phase of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination plan will see shots administered based on risk factors, including age, neighbourhood, existing health conditions and inability to work from home.

Officials presented the updated vaccination timeline today, noting that it does not factor in the newly approved Johnson & Johnson shot and additional doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The single-dose product from Johnson & Johnson that has already been approved in the U.S. on Friday became the latest vaccine to be approved for use in Canada.

Canada has a deal to procure 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and an option for 28 million more.

In Ontario, shots will go to seniors 75 and older starting in April, with a goal of offering first shots to everyone 60 and older by the end of May. Doses will also be offered starting in April to people with specific health conditions and some caregivers, including those in congregate settings.

Thirteen public health units, including Toronto, Windsor, York and Peel, will receive additional doses for hot spot neighbourhoods between April and June.

Essential workers who can’t work from home will be offered doses at the end of Phase 2, while adults 59 and younger are expected to receive the shot in July, though the timeline is subject to change.

Meanwhile, Manitoba announced that all eligible adults in the province could have at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by mid-May, or the end of June at the latest. The move comes a day after a similar announcement by the premier of Nova Scotia.

In New Brunswick, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Friday that with the expected arrival of the province’s first shipment of the two-dose AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine later this month, the province is pledging to provide one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to every New Brunswicker before the end of June.

Alberta has also revised its estimates around vaccines, with Health Minister Tyler Shandro saying on Thursday that the province expects “to have offered every single adult in the province at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine” by June 30.

WATCH | Ontario to accelerate inoculations as vaccine supply ramps up:

Retired general Rick Hillier, head of Ontario’s Vaccine Distribution Task Force, says the addition of two newly approved COVID-19 vaccines will allow the province to ‘crush those timelines’ and get one dose of vaccine into every willing Ontarian who is eligible by June 20. 1:17

What’s happening in Canada

As of 4:35 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 880,721 cases of COVID-19, with 29,955 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,186.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will get 1.5 million more doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine delivered this month, and another two million doses that were set to arrive in the summer will now come in April and May.

“We are expecting far more doses by September than there are Canadians, even given that we’re only talking about doses from four different approved companies right now,” Trudeau said Friday.

“We have reasons to be optimistic.”

The Liberal government had originally set a target of the end of September for every Canadian “who wants one” to get a vaccine. Despite the new vaccines coming on line and accelerated timelines, the government has not yet formally moved up that schedule, having been burned by production and delivery delays last month.

WATCH | How language and cultural classes have adapted to the pandemic:

Language and cultural classes across Canada have had to reduce class sizes or move online to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, while still remaining open. 1:59

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Friday while New Brunswick reported four new casesPrince Edward Island reported one new COVID-19 case on Friday.

Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 on Friday and announced that four testing centres will be accepting appointments for asymptomatic people to get tested. According to a news release from Eastern Help, asymptomatic testing is voluntary and will be offered at testing centres in Mount Pearl, St. John’s, Burin, Harbour Grace and Clarenville.

Ontario, which reported 1,250 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 22 additional deaths, announced that Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region will see restrictions loosen next week as the province lifts a strict stay-at-home order imposed earlier this year.

The two regions, along with North Bay-Parry Sound, were the last ones still under the order, while most of the province transitioned back to the government’s colour-coded pandemic response framework last month.

Toronto and Peel will be placed in the strictest “grey lockdown” category of the framework starting Monday, as was recommended by public health officials in the two areas. North Bay, meanwhile, will be placed in the red zone, the second-most restrictive level of pandemic measures.

Quebec reported 798 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 10 additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 617, with 111 COVID-19 patients in the province’s intensive care units, according to a provincial dashboard.

Manitoba reported 54 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, along with one related death.

Saskatchewan reported 207 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, along with two related deaths.

Across the North, Nunavut reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, all of them in the hamlet of Arviat. Premier Joe Savikataaq said in a statement that people shouldn’t make “assumptions or hurtful comments” about COVID-19 in the community, which is currently dealing with 17 active cases.

“More than ever, we need to practise compassion, support and fostering positivity,” the premier said. “The work the community has done over the last 112 days has been nothing short of incredible.”

Health officials in Yukon and the Northwest Territories had not yet reported updated figures on Friday.

What’s happening around the world

As of Friday afternoon, more than 115.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, with more than 65.5 million of the cases listed on the Johns Hopkins University tracking site as resolved. The global death toll stood at more than 2.5 million.

Australia is seeking assurances from the European Union’s executive arm that future shipments of vaccines will not be blocked, after Italy banned a large export of AstraZeneca-Oxford coronavirus shots.

WATCH | Australian PM discusses vaccine nationalism:

While discussing the EU and Italy’s decision to block an AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine shipment to Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlined his position on vaccine nationalism. 0:44

The shipment to Australia of more than a quarter-million doses was blocked from leaving the 27-nation bloc — the first use of an export control system instituted by the EU to make sure big pharmaceutical companies respect their EU contracts. The ban was requested by Italian authorities and approved by the EU in a move that frustrated the Australian government.

According to Australian media, Health Minister Greg Hunt has asked the European Commission to review the Italian decision.The shipment ban was the latest development in the dispute between the EU and AstraZeneca over delays in deliveries.

When asked about the situation with Australia, Trudeau said the government is following the issue closely, adding that conversations with European officials confirmed to him that “the flow of vaccines to Canada should not be interrupted.”

“Particularly given the fact that the vaccines we receive from Europe at this time are Moderna and Pfizer.”

He said Canada is not expected to receive AstraZeneca doses from Europe for “a number more months.” Initial shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India arrived this week.

WATCH | WHO says patents should be waived to get more vaccine made in more countries:

There isn’t enough COVID-19 vaccine getting to countries through the COVAX system, says the World Health Organization, so it’s recommending an emergency waiver of medical patents to ramp up vaccine production in developing countries. 0:53

In the Americas, after two straight days of record COVID-19 deaths in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday told Brazilians to stop “whining” and move on, in his latest remarks attacking distancing measures and downplaying the gravity of the pandemic.

Brazil has the world’s second-highest death toll over the past year, after the United States. While the U.S. outbreak is ebbing, Brazil is facing its worst phase of the epidemic yet, pushing its hospital system to the brink of collapse.

“Enough fussing and whining. How much longer will the crying go on?” Bolsonaro told a crowd at an event. “How much longer will you stay at home and close everything? No one can stand it anymore. We regret the deaths, again, but we need a solution.”

The country’s Health Ministry registered 75,102 additional cases of coronavirus on Thursday, the most in a single day since July and the second-highest on record. Brazil also recorded 1,699 more fatalities from the respiratory illness, down slightly from the previous two days of record deaths.

A medical worker receives a dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Tokyo Metropolitan Cancer and Infectious Diseases Center Komagome Hospital on Friday. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/The Associated Press)

Brazil’s surging second wave has triggered new restrictions in its capital, Brasilia, and its largest city, Sao Paulo. Tourist mecca Rio de Janeiro on Thursday announced a city-wide curfew and early closing time for restaurants.

Cuba has begun late-stage trials of its most advanced experimental COVID-19 vaccine, edging closer to a potential home-grown inoculation.

In Europe, France will extend COVID-19 weekend lockdowns to the region around the Channel coast town of Calais, following similar lockdowns around Nice and Dunkirk.

In the Middle East, Kuwait will impose a 5 p.m to 5 a.m. curfew and close parks from Sunday until April 8 in a bid to contain the coronavirus, the government’s spokesperson said on state TV.

In Africa, Kenya began vaccinating people on Friday against COVID-19 with hopes that AstraZeneca shots will help to revive the battered tourism-dependent economy of East Africa’s richest nation.

“This may mark the beginning of the end of the pandemic,” said Susan Mochache, a senior official at the Health Ministry.

Nairobi received more than a million AstraZeneca doses on Wednesday, the first of 3.56 million shots via the global, vaccine-sharing COVAX Facility. Top of the list are 400,000 health staff and other essential workers.

Kenya plans to vaccinate 1.25 million people by June and another 9.6 million in the next phase, with more vaccines expected within weeks.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan’s regulators were asked on Friday to approve use of the COVID-19 vaccine of Moderna Inc., the third such vaccine in the nation that began its inoculation effort last month.

The filing was announced by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., which is handling domestic approval and imports of about 50 million doses of the Moderna shot. Takeda has previously said approval could be given in May.

www.cbc.ca 2021-03-05 19:32:01

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