As COVID-19 case levels rise across Canada, prompting new shutdowns in several provinces and causing doctors to ring alarm bells over ICU capacity, one question is front of mind: what will it take for Canada to rise out of this third wave?
Experts are split on which strategy is best, but a common thread is the feeling that governments need to be doing more than they currently are, both in planning and communicating with the public.
“We’ve got two to three months of hard work,” Dr. Michael Warner, an ICU physician at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto told CTV News Channel this week.
“That means public health measures, supporting people, protecting people, making (sure?) that people at the highest risk for exposure get the vaccines that are available.”
These are some of the things experts have said we could do as we move forward in the battle against the third wave.
RECOGNIZE VACCINES ARE ONLY PART OF THE SOLUTION
Three vaccines are currently being distributed in Canada and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is coming at the end of April. But the vaccines on their own do not herald the swift end to the virus that many had hoped for.
“We’re not going to be able to vaccinate ourselves out of this because of supply issues, distribution issues — we simply don’t have enough,” Warner said.
Claire Cupples, a microbiologist and professor at Simon Fraser University, pointed out that countries with robust vaccine distribution haven’t seen the type of third wave that Canada has, but that supply is a problem here.
“We don’t have, or haven’t had anyway, a really good pipeline for vaccines coming into the country because they’re all made outside the country,” she told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview.
A shipment of five million doses of the Pfizer vaccine was moved up to arrive in Canada in June, according to an announcement this week, meaning there will be nine million Pfizer doses arriving in that month — welcome news, Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist, told CTV News Channel this week.
“Nine million doses is a good third of the population that can get vaccinated by June, which is exceptional to get us out of here,” he said.
“I don’t think we’ve reached the point where the vaccines are going to slow down growth over the next month or so, and we really do have to talk about how to do that from a systemic standpoint to buy time. But I think there is hope.”
When it comes to the race of vaccines versus variants, “the variants have won,” Warner said.
“Especially in the hot zone regions. Every single one of my patients has [a] variant. Almost all their family members have it too. This is a different pandemic with the variant.”
CONSIDER VACCINATING WHERE THE SPREAD IS
Dr. Brian Conway, medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Disease Centre, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview Wednesday that in order to tackle this third wave, we “need to deploy vaccines differently.
“Most of the vaccine plans that were put into place, maybe as recently as six weeks ago, did not take into account the variants, the fact that they were going to spread more rapidly within a specific demographic and that they were going to cause more severe disease,” he said. “So we need to redeploy vaccines to aim them at populations that are responsible for most of the transmissions.”
Most of the vaccine rollouts across provinces and territories have focused solely on age as the first indicator of who gets the vaccine next, outside of high risk groups that were prioritized first, such as long-term care, health-care workers and remote communities.
But younger people seem to be contracting the virus in higher numbers now, driving spread.
Warner said he has patients “in their 30s, in their 40s, who are right now, in my ICU on their bellies, prone, breathing through a machine, paralyzed, barely holding on right now. This can take down younger people for sure.
“And the people who are being infected right now are people who would not meet the criteria for being vaccinated right now in our province, because either they’re not old enough, or they’re not in the right category.”
In Ontario, daily case numbers have been above 2,000 for more than a week. Chagla pointed out that while Ontario has seen high daily case numbers in other waves, the first and second wave contained a high proportion of cases from long-term care.
But with most long-term care residents having been vaccinated, the transmission now is predominantly “in the community.
“There’s nine patients in long-term care in Ontario currently with COVID-19, meaning those 2,000 patients are 2,000 patients in the community,” he said.
STOP PLAYING THE BLAME GAME AND PROTECT AT-RISK POPULATIONS
With case counts growing among those in their 20s, 30s and 40s, it hasn’t been unusual to hear officials imply that young people are simply being careless and not following the rules.
B.C. Premier John Horgan angered many on Monday when he told “the cohort from 20 to 39” to “not blow this for the rest of us.”
But ICU doctors like Warner say this perception does not reflect the reality of who is getting sick.
“These are people who drive for ride share companies, work at checkout counters at stores, work in factories and warehouses — these are not people partying, these are people who can’t be protected from COVID-19 because their exposure risk is simply too high based on the nature of the work they do,” Warner said.
Dr. Kali Barrett, a critical care physician for the University Health Network, echoed these sentiments on CTV News Channel on Thursday.
“It is the people who don’t have the privilege of being able to stay at home or work from home who are getting sick and ending up in our hospitals,” she said. “And so these measures need to be there to protect those people.”
One of the measures advocates have been pushing for is paid sick leave for more people, so that those who do feel symptoms or are concerned they might have been exposed can take time off of work without fearing financial losses — something particularly important considering that those who cannot work from home tend to be in lower income brackets.
Warner said that ICU doctors have been seeing “racialized, marginalized people getting nailed by this.
“We saw it in wave one, we saw it in wave two, we’re seeing it in wave three. We’re the ones who see the essential workers who don’t have benefits getting infected and dying.”
Conway said that while paid sick leave is a difficult thing to implement quickly, it’s something that people have been calling for for a while.
“It has been mentioned for months and months now that people need to feel that if they’re sick, they can stay home and there’ll be no consequences financially or otherwise,” Conway said. “And I think in that context, that’s a broader question that needs to be addressed carefully going forward.”
UTILIZE TESTING STRATEGICALLY
Another way to help those at risk is to find where hotspots are by using more strategic testing.
“It really is more testing that will help us to identify and interrupt transmission networks,” Conway said. “We need to introduce rapid testing more broadly, where we can protect certain environments, such as schools and workplaces.
“In places where we think there’s going to be more risk of transmission, having more frequent, targeted testing in asymptomatic individuals is probably a great idea.”
He pointed out that aggressive testing has kept things like the National Hockey League functioning.
“If it’s important enough to us to protect professional hockey, I think it needs to be important enough to us to protect our young people in there and allow them to work on a daily basis and prevent the operations from shutting down due to COVID.”
MAKE LOCKDOWNS REAL LOCKDOWNS
On Thursday, Ontario announced a new provincewide “emergency brake.” But while it introduces restrictions for the entire province, people quickly noticed that it made very few changes to hotspots such as Toronto and Peel Region, where there is exponential growth in COVID-19 cases.
“It’s really disappointing,” Barrett said, speaking of the announcement. “While I appreciate that the Premier is changing measures in other regions of the province, unfortunately, he’s relying on measures that are not working [in Toronto].”
Dr. Nathan Stall, a researcher and geriatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital and a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, told CTV News Channel on Wednesday ahead of Ontario’s announcement that when officials delay shutdowns, it just makes things worse.
“I think it was incompetent to wait this long, and I frankly don’t know why, when […] we’ve done this twice already, we needed to be in this situation where people are dying, surgeries and other people’s procedures are going to be cancelled, in-class learning is at jeopardy, businesses are going to be closed again — this wasn’t necessary had we acted earlier,” he said.
“We’ve pushed our health-care system not just to the brink, but over the brink in many instances.”
B.C. is also undergoing a circuit-breaker lockdown right now in an attempt to curb cases in the province. But according to Cupples, it is “a fairly lightweight lockdown in [that] the things that are affected are fairly minor.”
The restrictions introduced include new rules regarding indoor dining, group fitness and worship services. Cupples said these types of restrictions have been seen before and may not go far enough.
“We bring in these measures every now and then, they’re pretty lightweight,” she said. “Based on some other countries like Australia and New Zealand, Taiwan, China, […] if we had done a really heavy duty lockdown a year ago, we might be in a different situation, but now I think we’re all just tired of it. People aren’t really paying that much attention anymore. And the lightweight lockdowns are probably more of an irritant than anything else.”
Barrett said one of the problems is that government officials are often trying to balance warring interests and concerns, such as economic worries.
“I think the really important thing is we can recover from economic downturn, businesses can recover, but when you’re dead, you’re dead,” Barrett said.
BUT BE CLEARER WITH WHAT IS ALLOWED
One of the things that make people feel downtrodden with various announcements on restrictions is that governments rarely specify what the public actually can do during shutdowns, Conway pointed out.
He said he spent the winter trying to make it clear that skiing was largely safe, in order to give people an outlet. As weather warms up, governments should be emphasizing activities that people can do outside in order to have some aspect of their social lives back.
“Let’s give people a very long list of things that they’re allowed to do and encourage them to do them, so that the rules that we really need to have followed to limit disease, transmission, are perhaps followed more rigorously,” Conway said.
Stall said that the outdoors could be a crucial part of how we handle the current wave of COVID-19.
“We need to be embracing the outdoors in a way I would argue we didn’t last summer when we did silly things like […] closing parks and restricting outdoor activities,” he said. “I think that’s one of the ways we can change how we restrict our high risk contacts.”
UNDERSTAND PEOPLE ARE TIRED
“There’s no doubt that people are fatigued, worn out, have had enough of this,” Stall said.
“Doctors, scientists, nobody wants to be in a lockdown. The problem is, what are we supposed to do at this point?”
“People are now more tired than they were a year ago,” Conway said, adding that this is one reason why seeing the same type of lockdowns that didn’t work before is frustrating for the public.
BUT MAKE IT CLEAR THIS IS SERIOUS
“A week ago I’d say that I had one patient in my ICU with COVID-19 on a ventilator. And today we have ten,” Warner said.
“In the Greater Toronto Area, which is the area hardest hit by COVID-19, most hospitals are approaching capacity. When I say capacity, I mean staffed beds in the ICU. There might be physical beds, but there aren’t people to take care of them.”
“We have been talking about this looming third wave for weeks now,” Barrett said. “The writing was on the wall on January 20th when we identified the VOCs in the province of Ontario.”
With variants driving transmission, patients are getting sicker, and they’re getting sicker faster.
“These are twice as transmissible, and we’re now understanding that they are causing more severe disease,” Conway said. With a more transmissible virus circulating, even mild transgressions of the public health rules that may have been safe before could be driving transmission now.
“That’s what the variant has done, it has made somewhat safe behaviours more unsafe, and it has led to more widespread community-based transmission.”
Conway said he wanted “to emphasize the fact that there will be an end.”
“In Canada, we have the fundamentals pretty much, right. We have the tools available to us to get us out of this,” Conway said. “It’s just not happening today or tomorrow. And if it deteriorates over the next week, we need to adapt our behaviour to the circumstances of that day. Trusting that at some point in the future, by the fall or something, things will be better.”
‘Getting dangerous’: Calls grow for federal action amid Canada’s nurse shortage – Global News
Two decades into a career she once loved, Toronto emergency room nurse Nancy Halupa says she is almost ready to throw in the towel.
“I don’t think I can do a fourth wave with this kind of staffing,” she told Global News.
“It’s not good for my mental health. It’s not good for my family. It’s not a workable situation anymore.”
Across the country, hospital staff are leaving their jobs at an alarming rate. And that’s prompting experts and health-care workers to call for more action from the federal government.
Nearly one in five job vacancies in Canada is in health care and social assistance, according to Statistics Canada. In early 2021, those sectors experienced the largest losses year-over-year compared to all other sectors.
Weekly overtime increased, too, 78 per cent on average from May 2019 to May 2020, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) said, using data from StatCan.
According to the CFNU, that number jumps to 137 per cent in Quebec and Ontario.
Facing COVID-19 staffing crunch, hospitals offer cash bonuses to new nurses
In Canada’s largest province of Ontario alone, the president of the CFNU told Global News it estimates there are more than 16,000 vacancies.
For those, like Halupa, who haven’t quit, the workload, she said, is crushing.
“Things need to change. It is getting dangerous out there,” said Halupa.
“I’ve never gone to work with this much anxiety or fear on what I’m going to see or what we’re going to have to deal with or how short-staffed we are.”
Halupa said not all the blame can be put on COVID-19. Recruitment, retirements and pay, she said, have also played a role in pushing people out of the profession.
At a recent rally in Toronto, medical professionals condemned the Doug Ford government for Bill 124.
The legislation was introduced pre-pandemic in 2019 and caps certain public sector wages, such as nurses’, at a one per cent annual increase.
For registered nurse Leah Waxman, that meant 47 cents more per hour for her last raise, a number that doesn’t make her want to stay in her role.
“Something acute needs to happen to make a drastic change and prevent our health-care (system) from collapsing … because it is,” she said.
Richard Mullin, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Treasury Board, told Global News in a statement that “it is inaccurate to suggest that Bill 124 caps wages at one per cent annually.”
“Ontario’s public sector employees will still be able to receive salary increases for seniority, performance, or increased qualifications as they do currently,” Mullin explained.
Labour expert Rafael Gomez called the legislation “suppressive.”
“Health-care spending now is the largest ticket item of any government. So I understand the macro priorities,” said Gomez, the director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources. “But health-care is a micro event. When you’re in a hospital and you need help and you want a nurse to be there, that’s affecting you personally. And if there are policies that are hampering that, I think the government is sort of short-sighted.”
A Canadian problem
In July, Alberta Health Services confirmed it had only about 18 treatment beds available at one of its busiest hospitals, the Royal Alexandra, “due to short-term staffing coverage issues.”
Alberta Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said bed closures due to staffing pressures aren’t isolated.
“This has led to bed closures and cancelled surgeries and repeated emergency room closures in the communities of Edson, St. Paul, Boyle, Elk Point, Galahad, Westlock, Fairview, Rocky Mountain House, Cold Lake, Lac La Biche, High Prairie, Slave Lake, Wainwright, Rimbey and Lacombe.”
Since then, the United Nurses of Alberta has said the province has been hiring contract nurses to address severe staffing shortages in hospitals there.
Meantime, in Kamloops, B.C., the shortages have become deadly. There, a 70-year-old woman died in an emergency department waiting room while seeking treatment last week.
“The government has let the situation at the hospital’s emergency department become dire — we’ve heard reports that some shifts have only three nurses trying to keep up with a workload usually handled by 13 people,” Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone said Monday.
Cheryl Cusack of the Association of Regulated Nurses of Manitoba said there, nurses are struggling with depression and other mental health issues, including trauma, as a result of their efforts to save coronavirus patients.
And in Nova Scotia, what was once a seven per cent vacancy rate has climbed to 20 per cent, according to the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
“We’ve had 34 people leave the Halifax Infirmary emergency department in the past two-and-a-half to three months,” said the province’s General Employees’ Union president Jason MacLean. “Six of them didn’t even have other jobs. So what we need to do is find out why they are leaving, which I believe we are getting to, but also people need to be incentivized to stay there.”
Experts call for federal leadership
The president of CFNU, Linda Silas, told Global News Ottawa needs to “show leadership.”
“We need commitment from the federal government to create a health-care workforce agency,” Silas said. “The federal government will have an agency to look at how many nurses we need in five years. What do we need to do today to keep what we have and plan better with the provinces and territories?”
When asked if it would consider any of these measures, in an email to Global News, Health Canada spokesperson Mark Johnson wrote: “the responsibility for matters related to the administration and delivery of health services, including health workforce planning and management, falls within provinces and territories jurisdiction.”
It’s not the first time health-care experts have asked for the Canadian government to create national standards or regulations for nurses.
Over the last year, seniors’ advocates have been pleading for national standards in nursing homes. And while Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made the promise last fall, his government still hasn’t put anything into action.
Colleen MacPherson, a critical care nurse in Toronto, is upset the provinces and the federal government haven’t made significant steps to fix the growing problem.
“Look what happened in long-term care. The nurses were working without protection. They were understaffed,” she told Global News.
And, she said, hospitals aren’t immune.
“People are at risk. We have no staff. Nurses didn’t get any vacation this year. Wages are stuck.”
Now, MacPherson and others worry an election has created more uncertainty and set back any plans for a solution.
During the 2021 federal election campaign, Trudeau has promised that a re-elected Liberal government will give $10 billion to help provinces clear their backlogs and pandemic wait-lists. It plans to help provinces hire 7,500 nurses, nurse practitioners and family doctors.
The Conservatives, meanwhile, have vowed to meet with premiers to make a new health-care agreement and boost the annual growth rate of the Canada Health Transfer by six per cent if elected. That plan would add nearly $60 billion to the system over a decade.
Erin O’Toole did fall short of promising to hire more front-line workers.
Jagmeet Singh and the NDP announced $250 million to address the health-care worker shortage, a fund to help hire 2,000 nurses across the country.
The Green Party, meanwhile, promised to develop national health-care guidelines.
Toronto emergency room doctor Chris Keefer said in the meantime, patients are the ones really suffering.
“If nurses aren’t available to get orders done, to get procedures done and treatments done, patients wait and wait and wait. And people are already quite frustrated with that. But it’s getting worse and worse and it’s getting critical,” Keefer said.
“It’s impossible to run a department shorthanded,” she said, worried the time to save the health-care system is running out.
“There’s not a lot of veteran nurses left,” she said. “if you want to keep health care somewhat safe, then you need to retain the people you have. You need the veterans. You need to retain who you have now.”
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Where Canadians can travel abroad during COVID-19 – CTV News
While Canada continues to advise against all non-essential travel outside the country, there are plenty of countries accepting Canadian travellers with limited COVID-19 restrictions.
Most countries have COVID-19 restrictions in place for foreign travellers, Mexico and Colombia are two exceptions to this. Both of those countries require a travel form to be filled out prior to arrival but have no other COVID-19 restrictions in place for Canadian travellers.
Canada is currently restricting all travel to 16 countries. Nations on that list include Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Myanmar and Somalia; more details can be found here.
European Union member nations began accepting Canadian travellers in July. Travellers headed to most European countries will require a negative PCR test and proof of vaccination to avoid mandatory quarantine. Non-vaccinated travellers will need a negative PCR test and to quarantine for 10 to 14 days depending on the country being visited. France, the U.K., Sweden, Germany, and Austria require negative tests but are not asking Canadians to quarantine upon arrival regardless of vaccination status.
Many European countries welcoming Canadian travellers are accepting those who had mixed-and-matched vaccines as long as the vaccines were approved for use by the EU health authority or the World Health Organization (WHO). What’s considered fully vaccinated can depend on the country, so it is always best to check government websites for most up-to-date information, but currently most EU countries are accepting mixing of AstraZeneca and mRNA doses, as well as a mixing of mRNA doses.
Currently, the United States doesn’t have any vaccine requirements for travel. The land border is currently closed to non-essential travel from Canadians, but they are able to fly into the country. Canadians travelling to the U.S. from abroad must be aware of additional restrictions in place. Canadians will not be allowed to travel to the U.S. if they have travelled to India, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, or most European countries in the 14 days prior.
The land border restrictions for Canadians travelling to the U.S. are in place until Sept. 21 and may be extended. American travellers have been able to use the land border to enter Canada since Aug. 9 with proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival.
LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES
Most Latin and Caribbean countries are also accepting Canadians, but travel requirements vary. Some countries will need a completed negative COVID-19 test before arrival while others will do testing upon arrival. Other countries require vaccination, and some offer COVID-19 certified accommodations to control spread.
Turks and Caicos Islands requires full vaccination and a negative test for travel to the country. They accept mix-and-match doses between mRNA and adenovector vaccines, and between mRNA doses.
Canadians travelling to Jamaica will need to provide a negative test. Travellers will need to fill out an online application within seven days prior to travel and wait for approval before entering the country.
Similarly, Saint Lucia doesn’t require vaccination for entry, but travellers must have a negative PCR test at least five days prior to visiting the country. Saint Lucia has set up special accommodations to help keep COVID-19 from spreading on the island by keeping tourists in one area during their quarantine period. For those who are fully vaccinated, they can come and go from these accommodations as they please; for partially or non-vaccinated travellers, there are restrictions of where they can travel and which excursions they can participate in at certified resorts.
Bermuda will require a negative test, and unvaccinated travellers will need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
On Aug. 10, Martinique entered a lockdown and is currently not accepting tourists.
It is important to check your destination’s restrictions before setting off as they are regularly updated.
As with other destinations, it is important to keep track of changing requirements on cruise ships. Currently, there are no cruises operating out of Canada, but Canadians can hop on board in other countries.
What is considered fully vaccinated can vary significantly by port and country, so it is important to be aware of vaccination policies while travelling.
Celebrity Cruises departing from most ports in Greece accept mixed mRNA doses, but those leaving from Athens accept mixed doses of AstraZenca and an mRNA vaccine.
Norwegian Cruise Line requires passengers to be fully vaccinated with a single brand of vaccine.
All cruises departing U.S. ports require that passengers be vaccinated by the CDC’s definition, which does not include mixing and matching AstraZeneca and an mRNA dose.
WHO CAN TRAVEL TO CANADA
Canada has currently suspended flights from India and Morocco. Otherwise, travellers entering the country must provide a negative molecular test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival, and provide proof of vaccination authorized for use in Canada to avoid a 14 day stay in quarantine.
Travellers are required to use the ArriveCAN app to upload their proof of vaccination.
There is no guarantee that travellers to Canada will be accepted at the border.
Travel insurance is always beneficial in the event travellers need medical assistance abroad, and insurance companies are now providing COVID-19 specific travel insurance.
Manulife has a pandemic travel plan and WestJet is offering complimentary COVID-19 travel insurance to travellers using their services.
Since Canada is currently advising against all non-essential travel abroad, it is best to check insurance policies to see if they will cover any COVID-19 related issues that may happen while travelling. Some insurance companies, such as TD Insurance, have coverage exemptions in place where Canadians have been advised to avoid travel.
Travel insurance coverage can also be dependent on the vaccination status of the traveller, one of Manulife’s travel insurance plans does not cover any COVID-19 related expenses for unvaccinated travellers.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday – CBC.ca
The U.S. government will spend $470 million US to learn more about long COVID-19, its causes and potential treatments.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the plans Wednesday with a grant awarded to New York University and a goal of enrolling up to 40,000 adults and children nationwide. The effort, dubbed “Recover,” will involve researchers at more than 30 U.S. institutions.
“This is being taken with the greatest seriousness. at a scale that has not really been attempted with something like this,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins at a briefing Wednesday.
Collins said it’s estimated 10 to 30 per cent of people infected with COVID-19 may develop persistent, new or recurring symptoms that can last months or perhaps years.
Long COVID is an umbrella term for symptoms that linger, recur and show up for the first time four weeks or more after an initial infection. It also includes heart inflammation and multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a rare but serious condition that can occur in children after a COVID-19 infection.
Pain, headaches, fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, chronic coughs and sleep problems are among the reported symptoms of long COVID. Possible causes include the virus lingering in tissues and organs or overstimulating the immune system.
The announcement came as the World Health Organization said there were about four million coronavirus cases reported globally last week, marking the first major drop in new infections in more than two months. In recent weeks, there have been about 4.4 million new COVID-19 cases.
In its weekly update released on Tuesday, the UN health agency said every region in the world saw a drop in COVID-19 cases compared to the previous week.
Although the worldwide number of deaths decreased to about 62,000, with the sharpest decline in Southeast Asia, there was a seven per cent increase in deaths in Africa. According to the weekly report from WHO, the highest numbers of cases were seen in:
- The United States, with 1,034,836 new cases — a decrease of roughly 20 per cent from a week earlier.
- The United Kingdom, with 256,051 new cases — a five per cent increase.
- India, with 248 248 new cases — a 15 per cent decrease.
- Iran, with 172 030 new cases — a 17 per cent decrease.
- Turkey, with 158 236 new cases — a six per cent increase.
According to the weekly update, the delta variant had been identified in 180 countries as of Tuesday.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 3:30 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
What’s happening around the world
As of early Wednesday evening, more than 226.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the coronavirus tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.6 million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, China is imposing lockdowns and ordering mass testing in cities along its east coast amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. Checks have been set up in toll stations around the city of Putian in Fujian province, with a dozen of them closed entirely. The nearby cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou have also restricted travel as the delta variant spreads through the region.
Cambodia will launch a campaign Friday to begin giving COVID-19 vaccinations to children aged six to 11. Prime Minister Hun Sen is also considering having children aged 3 to 5 be vaccinated soon. Cambodia began vaccinating 12- to 17-year-olds at the start of August.
Nearly 72 per cent of Cambodia’s almost 17 million people have received at least one COVID-19 shot since vaccinations began in February, the majority being China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines.
In the Americas, Mexico will send vaccines to Nicaragua in September, the country’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, in a rare sign of international engagement with the administration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
In Africa, after uncertainty about whether the coronavirus pandemic would force South Africa to postpone local government elections, the courts have ruled the vote should move ahead. South Africa’s courts ruled this month the Independent Electoral Commission should hold the polls on Nov. 1, despite concerns about political rallies spreading the disease.
South Africa has recorded 2,640 new infections and 125 deaths in the last 24 hours. The nation accounts for more than 35 per cent of coronavirus infections in Africa, with 2.8 million confirmed cases and 85,002 confirmed deaths.
In Europe, the Dutch government is easing restrictions and will introduce a “corona” pass showing proof of vaccination to go to bars, restaurants, clubs or cultural events.
Meanwhile, health-care workers in France face suspension from their jobs starting Wednesday if they haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19. With about 300,000 workers still not vaccinated, some hospitals fear staff shortages will add to their strain.
In the Middle East, Iran on Tuesday reported 22,329 new cases of COVID-19 and 408 additional deaths.
-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 2:30 p.m. ET
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