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Climate change is threatening these 10 species in Canada – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Although the global havoc wreaked by the coronavirus appeared to take precedence over all else in 2020, the issue of climate change didn’t just disappear, even if it did take a backseat.

Despite a dip in greenhouse gas emissions due to the pandemic, the Earth is still on course to warm up by more than 3 C by the end of the century, according to the United Nations Environment Programme’s recent annual assessment of emissions levels.  

While that may not seem like a lot, consider that the planet has already experienced more frequent draughts, wildfires, and extreme storms since warming a little more than 1 C since pre-industrial times.

This volatile weather and warming temperatures put the habitats and lifestyles of many species, particularly those in Canada’s North, in a vulnerable position.

Emily Giles, a senior species specialist for World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF), explained that there are direct and indirect impacts of climate change on certain species.

“An example is, say, something like the southern resident killer whales, which are the orcas on the West Coast, they’re impacted because they only eat Chinook salmon and salmon are heavily impacted by climate change. So then, therefore, so are the killer whales,” she told CTVNews.ca during a telephone interview on Dec. 2.

In an effort to draw attention to some of the species in Canada that are already feeling the effects of climate change or that are expected to in the future, CTVNews.ca consulted the WWF and the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), which annually classifies wildlife species at risk of extinction.

Arne Mooers, a biodiversity professor at Simon Fraser University and COSEWIC member, explained why it’s important to pay attention to the species on this list and what happens to them.

“These guys are canaries in the coal mine,” he warned. “We should worry about them, but they’re telling us that we should be worried about us.”

VANCOUVER ISLAND MARMOT

Vancouver Island marmot

Vancouver Island marmots are endemic to the island. (Credit: John D. Reynolds)

As Canada’s most endangered mammal, the Vancouver Island marmot was an obvious candidate for the list, according to COSEWIC.

The Vancouver Island Marmot is a rodent endemic to Vancouver Island, meaning they’re found nowhere else on Earth.

According to estimates, there are only approximately 200 Vancouver Island Marmots left with many of them raised in captivity before being released into the wild. They live in colonies in the mountains on the island, but wolves, cougars and a loss of habitat have caused their numbers to dwindle over the years.

Climate change has resulted in the growth of coniferous trees up the slopes of the mountains the marmots live on, which has caused their habitats to shrink, because too many trees can restrict the rodent’s ability to see predators approaching and changes their food sources. They also require enough snow to burrow in when they hibernate over the winter months, which may be more difficult with warmer temperatures.

According to a 2019 COSEWIC assessment and status report, “under a ‘worst-case’ scenario, up to 97 per cent of the suitable marmot habitat on Vancouver Island may disappear by 2080” as a result of climate change. 

ARCTIC CARIBOU

Arctic caribou

Arctic caribou are seen in this undated photo. (Credit: Chris Johnson)

Two populations of Arctic caribou found in the Canadian Far North, the Peary caribou and the Dolphin and Union herd, are vulnerable to the warming effects of climate change due to their dependence on sea ice for migration.

Emily Giles from WWF said these caribou are known for their “epic” long-distance migrations. The Peary herd, found in the high Arctic Archipelago and Ellesmere Island, depend on the sea ice to travel in search of limited forage between the high Arctic islands.

The Dolphin and Union herd cross between Victoria Island, where they give birth and rear their young, and their wintering habitat on mainland Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

“The absence of sea ice, we’re not there yet, but the absence of sea ice would be disastrous for those groups and completely disrupt their migration,” she explained.

Giles added that, more generally, the disappearance of sea ice has cleared the way for more industrial development, which has been detrimental to the Arctic species living there that are sensitive to this kind of disturbance.

“They’ve evolved over thousands of years to live with ice and so as it changes, they’re not able to adapt quickly enough to the changes that we’re seeing in the Arctic,” she said.

CHINOOK SALMON

Chinook salmon

Chinook salmon are photographed here. (Credit: Bruce Leaman)

While several species of Pacific salmon are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, Giles wanted to highlight the Chinook salmon in particular.

They live in the colder upper reaches of the Pacific Ocean and breed in freshwater rivers and streams in the Pacific Northwest. The Chinook salmon are vital because they enrich terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems with essential marine-based nutrients when they complete their lifecycle. They’re also an important food source for species such as the Steller sea lion and the southern resident killer whale.

“It’s the only kind of salmon that the southern resident killer whale will eat,” Giles said.

According to the WWF, warming water temperatures are greatly impacting the salmon’s ability to migrate to certain areas for spawning and for food.

“They’re right now considered to be living at the upper range of their heat tolerance so even just a shift of one or two degrees and water temperature can have a big impact for them,” she said. “The fish might not migrate from one area to another if the water’s too warm in a certain spot.”

COLLARED PIKA

Collared pikas

Collared pikas are rabbit-like herbivores that live in the mountains. (Credit: Syd Cannings) )

The collared pika, an adorable rabbit-like herbivore that is approximately the weight of a baseball, was mentioned by both the WWF and COSEWIC as a species of special concern due to climate change.

Residing in the rocky mountainous areas of northern British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Alaska, the collared pika is vulnerable because it’s not as adaptable as other species if its habitat changes or is lost.

“Already some populations of collared pika have been extirpated from parts of their historic range, after changes in moisture and weather caused by climate change made conditions inhabitable,” according to the WWF.

Warmer winters resulting in less mountain-top snow, which the pikas use as insulation for their nests, have also put them in danger because they’re left exposed to extreme temperatures.

SPINY SOFTSHELL TURTLE

Spiny softshell turtle

Spiny Softshell turtle hatchlings are seen in this undated photo. (Scott Gillingwater/WWF-Canada))

Giles wanted to include the Spiny Softshell turtle, which is the only type of turtle with a soft shell in Canada, to the list of species threatened by climate change because she suspects many Canadians aren’t aware of it.

“It’s a very unique, bizarre-looking turtle,” she said. “It’s got this pointy snout and this, it kind of looks like a pancake, this flat shell that’s soft.”

The turtle lives in rivers and lakes in Ontario and Quebec, but its habitat has been affected by higher temperatures, droughts, and flooding from extreme weather resulting from climate change.

“We’re just getting a lot of that extreme weather and that is thought to be impacting the turtles as they nest on the banks of rivers,” Giles said. “It’s quite in trouble. It’s considered endangered, which is the last level it can be before it goes extinct.”

NARWHAL

Narwhals

A pod of narwhals surfaces in northern Canada in this August 2005 file photo provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo/Kristin Laidre, NOAA, files))

The narwhal, or as Giles called it “the unicorn of the sea” thanks to its distinct spiralled tusk, is particularly sensitive to the effects of melting ice in the Arctic. That’s because the whale uses the ice to feed and protect itself from potential predators.

“The shrinking Arctic ice is actually opening up new ways for orca whales to come north. Orcas are a new predator for narwhal, they’ve never come into contact with them before so the orcas are taking advantage of this, they’re very smart, and they’re actually able to hunt narwhal.”

According to the WWF, narwhals are moving closer to shorelines where food is scarce because of this new presence of killer whales.

What’s more, Giles said studies have shown that narwhals are the most vulnerable of all Arctic marine mammals to the threats posed by climate change.

PIPING PLOVER

Piping plover

In this May 30, 2019 photo, a piping plover walks on the sand in Glen Haven, Mich. (AP Photo/John Flesher))

The little shorebird known as the piping plover is an endangered species that has felt the effects of climate change on its favoured habitat – sunny, sandy beaches.

Found in the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada, the small bird nests on wide sandy beaches with little vegetation.

“It’s a beautiful little bird, very, very cute, and it just happens to like the same kind of beaches that we love as humans,” Giles said.

According to COSEWIC, an increase in severe storms and rising sea levels from climate change have reduced the amount of available habitat for the birds’ coastal breeding and wintering grounds. In the Prairies, drier conditions and severe storms have threatened the piping plovers’ habitat.

Despite some recent successes in conservation efforts, Giles said the piping plover has a limited distribution in Canada and remains endangered.

ATLANTIC WALRUS

Walrus

Walruses are seen in Kangiqsujuaq, Quebec in this undated photo. (Putulik Jaaka / Pexels))

Warming temperatures and shrinking sea ice has put Atlantic walruses, which are found in the high Arctic and central-low Arctic, in danger.

When the large flippered marine mammal isn’t in the ocean, they live in small groups on sea ice, which are called haul-outs. If there is less sea ice for them to live on, the walruses are forced to haul out on land where the food availability is limited.

They’re also more likely to gather in larger groups on land where they’re at risk of stampedes, such as the heartbreaking one presented in Netflix’s docuseries “Our Planet.”  “With all of these walruses congregating in these haul-outs, when there’s a distant boat or aircraft passing by them, they can actually become disoriented and panic and cause stampedes,” Giles explained.

Giles added that the warming Arctic has also resulted in an increase in industrial development, such as shipping and oil and gas exploration, which disturbs the walruses’ habitat.

“With ice opening and new routes opening up for ships and oil tankers, resulting in noise pollution, and this encroachment is really expected to be to be detrimental for their breeding and feeding,” she said.

BERINGIAN PLANTS – HAIRY BRAYA MUSTARD

Hairy Braya

Hairy Braya is a rare perennial flowering plant in the mustard family and is only found on one peninsula in the Northwest Territories. (Credit: Bruce Bennett) )

According to COSEWIC, there are a couple of northern plant species that are part of the ancient Beringia ecosystem, which wasn’t covered by ice during the last ice age, that are currently threatened by climate change.

One of those plants, the hairy braya, which is a rare perennial flowering plant in the mustard family, is only found on one peninsula in the Northwest Territories and nowhere else in the world.

With rising temperatures, the permafrost the plant lives on is melting away beneath it, putting it at risk.

According to COSEWIC, the hairy braya is listed as endangered due to a loss of habitat from permafrost melting, rapid coastal erosion, and salt spray from storm surges.

“These events appear to be increasing in frequency and severity as a consequence of a significant reduction in sea ice cover on the Beaufort Sea and changes in weather patterns,” according to COSEWIC.

“These indirect impacts of climate change are expected to continue into the foreseeable future.” 

NORTH ATLANTIC RIGHT WHALE

right whale calf

A mother North Atlantic right whale and her calf are seen in this undated handout photo in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, ACCOL/NEAQ and Canadian Whale Institute)

Giles wanted to include the North Atlantic right whale on the list of threatened species because it is critically endangered with only about 400 left in the world.

According to the WWF, the large whales spend summer and fall in Canadian waters along the eastern seaboard and migrate to southern waters off the United States during the winter. Until recently, the whales frequented the same areas, which allowed measures to be put in place to protect them from becoming entangled in fishing gear or struck by vessels.

However, warming ocean temperatures have resulted in the whales’ food source, a tiny invertebrate called a copepod, moving north to colder waters where the North Atlantic right whale has followed them and where there are no protections in place.

“It’s a sad story because the North Atlantic right whale shifted from an area where it was protected to an area where it wasn’t protected,” Giles said.

Similar to the Southern Resident killer whales in the Pacific, Giles said conservationists have been watching populations of the North Atlantic right whale decrease continuously.

“We’re celebrating every single birth as it occurs and tracking every death because when you get a population that’s in trouble like this one and that’s already so small, every single birth and death really matters,” she said.

   

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Commons returns with opposition leaders slamming COVID-19 vaccine program – CBC.ca

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Canada’s opposition leaders attacked the federal Liberal government’s COVID-19 vaccination program today in their first encounter in the House of Commons following the winter break.

Vaccine deliveries will grind to a halt this week as a shutdown at Pfizer’s plant in Belgium disrupts shipments from that company.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said that while the prime minister promised a steady supply of the Pfizer-BioNTech shots in the first three months of 2021, the country’s inoculation efforts are now “in jeopardy” and provinces are scrambling to meet vaccination targets.

The delivery delay is already prompting some provinces — notably Alberta and Ontario — to warn that they will have to curtail vaccination appointments in the weeks ahead as they direct the existing supplies of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine to patients who need their second shots.

“We want to see our government succeed but this prime minister has abandoned us. The Liberal plan for vaccines must be reviewed by all of Parliament. We must work together to improve the Liberal vaccine plan and get Canadians back to work,” O’Toole said.

“We wish we could trust the prime minister but this situation demands Parliament’s urgent attention.”

Canada will receive no doses of the Pfizer product this week, and a dramatically reduced shipment next week, as the company retools its plant to pump out many more shots this year than planned.

O’Toole said the Liberal government should have prepared for delivery disruptions like this one with a contingency plan to prevent the provinces from running dry.

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada, has said Pfizer deliveries will be reduced by roughly 50 per cent over a four-week period — and Canada doesn’t know for certain how many doses will arrive over that time period.

The Health Canada website that tracks vaccines has been scrubbed of all Pfizer delivery forecasts, citing “changes to manufacturing timelines.”

“Unknown means there is no real plan,” O’Toole said. “Canadians are worried. We’re in the second wave of the pandemic, there’s U.K. strains and this week we’re receiving zero Pfizer vaccines.”

Moderna, which delivers shots to Canada every three weeks, is expected to deliver roughly 230,000 doses over the first week of February.

Later in question period, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the “ongoing challenges” with the global supply vaccine chain but said Canada is expecting “hundreds of thousands” of Pfizer doses, some in February. He said Canada expects to have enough doses on hand this year to vaccinate every Canadian who wants a shot by the end of September.

Michelle Rempel Garner, the Conservative health critic, questioned that promise, saying that Canada needs to start getting through tens of thousands of vaccinations each day to reach that target.

With only 100,000 people fully vaccinated so far, Canada would have to administer well over 200,000 shots a day for the next 248 days to fully vaccinate Canadians with the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna products.

O’Toole said the Liberal government never should have partnered with the Chinese firm CanSino Biologics to develop a vaccine — a collaboration that was derailed last summer when China refused to ship vaccine samples to Canada for clinical trial testing.

After that partnership was shelved, O’Toole said, Canada then turned to procuring promising vaccine candidates from U.S. firms like Pfizer and Moderna.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand has disputed this version of events. Speaking to reporters in December, Anand said the CanSino deal fell within former industry minister Navdeep Bains’ portfolio, not her own, and nothing about the project prevented her from negotiating with other companies.

Anand has said she started talks with the companies behind promising vaccine candidates in July — companies that were recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force — before Canada walked away from the ill-fated CanSino partnership in late August. Canada was among the first countries in the world to sign deals with Pfizer and Moderna.

“Engagement and negotiations with COVID-19 vaccine suppliers began in early July 2020, following the receipt of recommendations from the vaccine task force in June,” a spokesperson for the minister told CBC News.

O’Toole said Canada should have sought domestic manufacturing of vaccine candidates to avoid having to depend on other countries for supply. The government did not pursue domestic manufacturing rights for the AstraZeneca product.

Asked what he’d do to jump-start the stalled vaccination campaign, O’Toole said he would encourage Trudeau to obtain doses from the Pfizer manufacturing plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., which is not experiencing the same disruptions as the Belgian facility and is only 220 kilometres away from the Detroit-Windsor border crossing.

“There are vaccines being made not far from us, in Kalamazoo. Did the prime minister ask for the ability to have that plant used, not just rely on the retooled plant in Belgium?” O’Toole said. “There are a lot of options here, but there’s never any leadership from Mr. Trudeau.”

Anand has said the Michigan facility’s product is earmarked for the American market in the first quarter of this year.

While there will be significant delivery disruptions over the next month, Anand has said that Canada still expects to receive 4 million doses of the Pfizer product and 2 million Moderna shots in the first three months of this year. That would be enough to vaccinate 3 million people by the end of March.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pointed out that the prime minister and his office are mired in a scandal of their own making over the abrupt resignation of former governor general Julie Payette amid reports of workplace harassment.

“The focus should be on the pandemic and the struggles that we’re going through. This has become a distraction,” Singh said of the Payette affair. “The focus … should be entirely on making sure people are vaccinated.”

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Canada’s Telus International aims for nearly $7 billion valuation in IPO

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(Reuters) – Telus International (Cda) Inc, a subsidiary of wireless carrier Telus Corp., aims to raise as much as $833 million in its initial public offering (IPO), which would give the Vancouver-based company a valuation of nearly $7 billion.

The flotation would be one of the largest in recent years for a Canadian company. Last year, Canadian waste management firm GFL Environmental Inc raised about $1.4 billion in its IPO, making it one of the largest ever stock market listings in Canada.

Telus International said it planned to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “TIXT”.

The company plans to offer 33.33 million shares in its IPO and has set a price range of between $23 and $25 per share.

Telus International said its revenue for the full year ended Dec. 31 was estimated to be between $1.57 billion and $1.58 billion, compared with $1.02 billion a year earlier, according to regulatory filings from the company. [https://bit.ly/3sXwZYi]

Started in 2005, Telus International provides IT services to global brands and counts Cisco Systems Inc, Salesforce.com Inc and Google Cloud among its customers.

J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley are the lead underwriters of the offering.

 

(Reporting by Sohini Podder in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Monday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is stepping up efforts to track coronavirus mutations and keep vaccines and treatments effective against new variants until collective immunity is reached, the agency’s chief said on Sunday.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky spoke about the rapidly evolving virus during a Fox News Sunday interview as the number of Americans known to be infected surpassed 25 million, with more than 419,000 dead, just over a year after the first U.S. case was documented.

Walensky, who took over as CDC director the day President Joe Biden was sworn in, also said the greatest immediate culprit for sluggish vaccine distribution was a supply crunch worsened by inventory confusion inherited from the Trump administration.

“The fact that we don’t know today, five days into this administration, and weeks into planning, how much vaccine we have just gives you a sense of the challenges we’ve been left with,” she told Fox News Sunday.

Biden’s transition team was largely excluded from the vaccine rollout deliberations for weeks after his election, as then president Donald Trump refused to concede defeat and permit access to information his successor needed to prepare to govern.

Licensed vocational nurse Joselito Florendo, right, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Michael Chesler at a mass vaccination site set up in the parking lot of Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif., last week. Hard-hit California is seeing some progress in its fight against COVID-19. (Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press)

In a separate interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff, said a plan for distributing the vaccine, particularly beyond nursing homes and hospitals, “did not really exist when we came into the White House.”

Walensky said she was confident the government would soon resolve supply questions, and go on to dramatically expand vaccine production and distribution by late March.

Uncertainty over immediate supplies, however, will hinder efforts at the state and local levels to plan ahead for how many vaccination sites, personnel and appointments to set up in the meantime, exacerbating short-term shortages, she said.

Race against variants

Vaccination has become ever more urgent with the recent emergence of several coronavirus variants believed to be more transmissible, and in the case of one strain first detected in Britain, possibly more lethal.

“We are now scaling up both our surveillance of these and our study of these,” Walensky said, noting that the CDC was collaborating with the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and even the Pentagon.

The object, she said, was to monitor “the impact of these variants on vaccines, as well as on our therapeutics,” as the virus continues to mutate while it spreads.

Until vaccines can provide “herd” immunity in the population, mask-wearing and physical distancing remain vital to “decrease the amount of virus that is circulating, and therefore, decrease the amount of variants,” Walensky said.

Although British officials on Friday warned that the variant of the coronavirus first identified in the U.K., already detected in at least 20 U.S. states, was associated with a higher level of mortality, scientists have said existing vaccines still appeared to be effective against it.

They worry, however, that a more contagious South African variant may reduce the efficacy of current vaccines and shows resistance to three antibody treatments developed for patients. Similarities between the South African variant and another identified in Brazil suggest the Brazilian variant may likewise resist antibody treatment.

“We’re in a race against these variants,” said Vivek Murthy, nominated by Biden to become the next U.S. surgeon general, on ABC’s This Week program on Sunday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, said in late December he was optimistic the United States could achieve enough collective immunity to regain “some semblance of normality” by the fall of 2021.

But Murthy said getting to herd immunity before a new school year begins in September was “an ambitious goal.” Nevertheless, Murthy suggested the government may exceed Biden’s objective of 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days of his presidency, telling ABC News, “That’s a floor; it’s not a ceiling.”

Fauci, appearing separately on CBS News’ Face the Nation, said the 100-million goal includes those who may have received both injections of the two-dose vaccines and those who only got the first.

About 21.8 million Americans, or about 6.5 per cent of the population, have received at least one dose of vaccine to date, of the 41.4 million doses shipped, CDC data showed on Sunday.

On Monday, hard-hit California lifted regional stay-at-home orders statewide in response to improving coronavirus conditions. Public health officials said the state will return to a system of county-by-county restrictions intended to stem the spread of the virus. The state is also lifting a 10 p.m.-to-5 a.m. curfew.

The decision comes with improving trends in the rate of infections, hospitalizations and intensive care unit capacity as well as vaccinations. The lifting of the order is based on projections that the state says show improving ICU conditions, although officials have not disclosed the data behind the forecasts.

-From The Associated Press, last updated at 11:45 a.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Where things stand 1 year after Canada’s 1st COVID-19 case:

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Gardam says more aggressive restrictions earlier to stop the spread would have made a ‘huge difference.’ 1:01

Ontario on Monday reported 1,958 new cases of COVID-19, according to a tweet from Health Minister Christine Elliott.  The province also reported 43 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 5,846.

“Locally, there are 727 new cases in Toronto, 365 in Peel and 157 in York Region,” Elliott said in a tweet.

Hospitalizations in Ontario stood at 1,398, with 397 COVID-19 patients in the province’s intensive care units, according to a provincial dashboard.

The updated figures come after schools in seven public health units in the hard-hit province were set to reopen for in-person classes on Monday. Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that means 100,000 students will be returning to the classroom for the first time since before the winter break.

Ontario is implementing more safety measures in areas where schools are reopening, including requiring students in Grades 1 through 3 to wear masks indoors and when physical distancing isn’t possible outside as well. It’s also introducing “targeted asymptomatic testing” and enhanced screening protocols in those regions.

In Quebec on Monday, health officials reported 1,203 new cases of COVID-19. Hospitalizations stood at 1,321, with 217 people in intensive care, according to the province.

As of 11:20 a.m. ET Monday morning, Canada had reported 750,546 cases of COVID-19, with 62,621 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 19,180.

The House of Commons is back in session on Monday, albeit with virtual attendance, after a six-week break. The minority federal government’s handling of the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign is expected to dominate the agenda.

Here’s a look at what’s happening across the country:

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 10:55 a.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

As of early Monday morning, more than 99.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been detected worldwide, with more than 54.8 million of those cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.1 million.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong has formally approved use of the Fosun Pharma-BioNTech vaccine, the city government said on Monday, the first COVID-19 vaccine to be accepted in the Asian financial hub.

The first batch of around one million doses is expected to arrive in the second half of February, the government said in a statement. The move comes with Hong Kong lagging other developed cities in rolling out vaccines and after mainland China started its vaccine program in July last year.

Hong Kong has secured a total of 22.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Fosun Pharma-BioNTech, China’s Sinovac Biotech and Oxford-AstraZeneca, the city’s leader Carrie Lam said in December.

Government workers wearing personal protective equipment clean a street in the locked-down part of the Jordon district on Sunday in Hong Kong. (Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)

Fosun Pharma is German drug manufacturer BioNTech’s partner in Greater China including in special administrative regions Hong Kong and Macau. Fosun is responsible for cold-chain management, storage and distribution. China’s Sinovac vaccine is likely to arrive in Hong Kong after BioNTech’s vaccine in February, with AstraZeneca’s vaccine due by the middle of the year.

Home to 7.5 million residents, Hong Kong has a separate approval process from the mainland for vaccines. The city has recorded nearly 10,000 coronavirus cases and 166 deaths since January 2020. Cases have spiked over the past week after an outbreak in an old residential building located in a busy commercial and residential area.

In China, a vaccination program for emergency use started in July with products from domestic manufacturers Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech. The program was widened in December to focus on additional priority groups including employees in the cold-chain industry, transportation sector and fresh food markets.

Bangladesh has taken delivery of five million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from an Indian producer. Bangladesh has planned to buy 30 million doses of vaccines from the Serum Institute of India in phases. 

Australia has suspended its partial travel bubble with New Zealand after New Zealand reported its first coronavirus case outside of a quarantine facility in two months.

Workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) spray disinfectant at the Samut Sakhon Shrimp Center market that was temporarily shut down due to several vendors testing positive for COVID-19. (Jonathan Klein/AFP/Getty Images)

Thailand on Monday discovered a record 914 new cases of the coronavirus, all in Samut Sakhon province near Bangkok where a major outbreak began in December. The new cases shot the national total past 14,000.

The previous high was on Jan. 4, when 745 cases were reported, mostly in Samut Sakhon among migrant workers from Myanmar. The province is a centre for fishing and industry. The first case reported in the recent surge was detected there in mid-December at a major seafood market, which has been closed. Any new cases in other provinces will be announced in Tuesday.

In Europe, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he was looking at toughening border quarantine rules because of the risk of “vaccine-busting” new coronavirus variants.

Norway will widen the capital region’s lockdown from Monday, increasing the number of affected municipalities to 25, while Sweden said on Sunday it would temporarily stop all foreigners coming in from Norway from midnight.

People, many of them Czechs on their daily commute to their workplace in Germany, wait in line for a rapid COVID test near the Czech-Germany border during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic on Monday. (Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images)

German police said hundreds of cars and pedestrians are lining up at border crossings along the Czech-German border after Germany declared the Czech Republic a high risk area in the pandemic, meaning it requires proof of a negative coronavirus test result before entry.

At the crossings in Waldmuenchen and Fuerth im Wald, authorities said hundreds of cars lined up on the Czech side trying to get into Germany in the early morning hours. Further backup was expected during the day Monday.

In the Americas, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he has tested positive for COVID-19.

In the Middle East, Israel will ban passenger flights in and out of the country from Monday evening for a week.

Oman will extend the close of its land borders for another week until Feb. 1.

President Hassan Rouhani said COVID-19 vaccinations will begin in the coming weeks in Iran, the Middle East’s worst hit country.

In Africa, four Zimbabwean cabinet ministers have died of COVID-19, three within the past two weeks, highlighting a resurgence of the disease that is sweeping through the southern African country.

A nurse at Lancet Clinical Laboratories conducts a PCR COVID-19 test at its drive-thru facility located at St Anne’s Hospital last week in Harare, Zimbabwe. (Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Getty Images)

President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the coronavirus is reaping a “grim harvest” in the country.

“The pandemic has been indiscriminate. There are no spectators, adjudicators, no holier than thou. No supermen or superwomen. We are all exposed,” Mnangagwa said in a nationally televised address.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 10:10 a.m. ET

Have questions about COVID-19 in Canada? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments.

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