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Canada plan to suspend passenger flights from India, Pakistan

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By David Ljunggren and Allison Lampert

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada‘s government said it would temporarily bar passenger flights from India and Pakistan for 30 days starting on Thursday as part of stricter measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The center-left Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acted after prominent right-leaning politicians complained Ottawa had not done enough to combat a third wave of infections ripping through Canada.

The ban, which takes effect at 11.30 p.m. (0330 GMT Friday), does not affect cargo flights.

India on Thursday recorded the world’s highest daily tally of 314,835 COVID-19 infections amid fears about the ability of crumbling health services to cope.

Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu said that while Indian citizens accounted for 20% of all international arrivals, they represented over 50% of the positive tests conducted by Canadian airport officials.

“By eliminating direct travel from these countries, public health experts will have the time to evaluate the ongoing epidemiology of that region and to reassess the situation,” she told a news conference.

The conservative premiers of Ontario and Quebec – the most populous of Canada‘s 10 provinces – wrote to Trudeau earlier on Thursday urging him to crack down on international travel.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Canada would not hesitate to bar flights from other nations if needed.

Britain said earlier that India would be added to its “red-list” of locations from which most travel is banned due to a high number of COVID-19 cases.

In addition, France is imposing a 10-day quarantine for travelers from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, South Africa and India, while the United Arab Emirates has suspended all flights from India.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren and Allison Lampert; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Bill Berkrot and Peter Cooney)

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Germany’s confirmed coronavirus cases rise by 12,656

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Germany

BERLIN (Reuters) – The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 12,656 to 3,520,329, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday.

The reported death toll rose by 127 to 84,775, the tally showed.

 

(Reporting by Berlin Newsroom; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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Canada ready to discuss COVID-19 vaccine IP waiver, ‘not interfering or blocking’ -Trudeau

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By David Ljunggren and Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada is ready to discuss an intellectual property rights (IP) waiver for COVID-19 vaccines and will not block one even though it stresses the importance of protecting patents, officials said on Friday.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday threw his support behind waiving IP rights for COVID-19 vaccines. Any such waiver would have to be negotiated through the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“We’ve been working with partners at the WTO to find a consensus-based solution and are ready to discuss proposals, in particular for COVID-19 vaccines,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters.

Biden’s proposal angered pharmaceutical companies. Firms working on vaccines have reported sharp revenue and profit gains during the crisis.

Canadian International Trade Minister Mary Ng earlier said that Ottawa firmly believed in the importance of protecting IP.

“I can assure you Canada is not interfering or blocking. Canada is very much working to find a solution,” said Trudeau, who did not give details of the Canadian negotiating stance.

Ng said Ottawa recognized how much the pharmaceutical industry had done to innovate COVID-19 vaccines, adding that many barriers to access were unrelated to IP, such as supply-chain constraints.

Canada is trying to quell a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic that is pushing some healthcare systems to breaking points, particularly in the western provinces of Alberta and Manitoba.

Manitoba officials said they were postponing some non-urgent surgeries to open space for COVID-19 patients and planned to announce tougher public health restrictions as daily cases soared to a near-record high.

The U.S. state of Montana will offer vaccines to around 2,000 Alberta truckers who regularly cross the border, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said.

Truckers will get vaccinated at a post being set up just south of the border, using Montana’s surplus Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The scheme mirrors an agreement that Saskatchewan and Manitoba reached with North Dakota.

 

(Additional reporting by Nia Williams in Calgary and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by David Goodman/Mark Heinrich, Grant McCool and Marguerita Choy)

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Moderna says waiving IP rights won’t help increase vaccine supply

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Moderna Inc said on Thursday that waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines will not help boost supply in 2021 or 2022, a day after U.S. President Joe Biden backed a proposed waiver that is aimed at giving poorer companies access.

 

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