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Coronavirus: What's happening around the world on Tuesday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

The chief executive of BioNTech says the German pharmaceutical company is confident that its coronavirus vaccine works against the U.K. variant, but further studies are needed to be completely sure.

Ugur Sahin said Tuesday that “we don’t know at the moment if our vaccine is also able to provide protection against this new variant,” but because the proteins on the variant are 99 per cent the same as the prevailing strains, BioNTech has “scientific confidence” in the vaccine.

Sahin said BioNTech is conducting further studies and hopes to have certainty within the coming weeks. BioNTech’s vaccine, developed together with U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer, is authorized for use in more than 45 countries.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, more than 77.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 43.8 million cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a database maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.7 million.


What’s happening in Canada

As of 3:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at  520,045, with 76,584 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 14,402.

At a briefing on the COVID-19 situation in Canada on Tuesday, federal health officials said they had not yet seen a sign of the mutated COVID-19 variant that first emerged in Britain, which experts believe is more readily transmissible.

“What we can say is at this point in time, we have not detected this mutation,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said.

Experts will continue to monitor the situation, she said, “but we will of course inform people as this goes along.”

Tam said more testing and sequencing would be done in the days ahead.

Quebec reported 2,183 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, a single-day record, and 28 deaths. Hospitalizations increased to 1,055 in the hard-hit province, with 137 people in intensive care units.

The province also reported that a total of 437 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered on Monday, for a total of 5,273 doses administered since vaccinations began on Dec. 14.

In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford said that he knows a sweeping shutdown set to begin across the province on Dec. 26 will be difficult, but that it is necessary as COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalizations rise.

At a news conference Tuesday, Ford also called on the federal government to implement pre-departure testing for travellers to Canada in light of a rapidly spreading variant of the virus in the United Kingdom.

“It’s a massive threat that we can’t take lightly,” he said. “Everyday we delay it, thousands of people are landing.”

WATCH | Ontario premier wants Ottawa to test for COVID-19 at airports:

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says residents of Ontario are at great risk because the federal government is not doing enough to protect them from threats that come from outside Canada’s borders. 1:03

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott on Tuesday reported 2,202 cases of COVID-19 and said more than 45,300 tests were completed. Hospitalizations also increased, according to the province, rising to 1,005 with 273 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units. Figures published by a Toronto critical care doctor and attributed to Critical Care Services Ontario (CCSO) put the ICU figure at 285. 

The figures reported by the province daily can vary from the CCSO reports due to differences in how the numbers are compiled.

Manitoba reported 155 new cases on Tuesday, continuing a downward trend after reporting 167 new cases on Monday, which was the first time since Nov. 3 that the province’s daily count of new cases had been below 200.

However, the province also reported 18 new deaths, just one shy of Manitoba’s record of 19 in a single day. Seven of the new deaths are related to the outbreak at Oakview Place care home in Winnipeg.

Across Manitoba, there are 380 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 44 in intensive care.

As of Monday night, 1,192 front-line health workers in the province have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

WATCH | Manitoba premier urges residents to stay vigilant despite vaccine rollout:

Despite the COVID-19 vaccine starting to be distributed, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister warns residents that they cannot get complacent when it comes to following public health guidelines 1:12

Saskatchewan reported 181 new COVID-19 cases and three new deaths related to COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The province is also reporting 124 hospitalizations due to COVID-19, including 21 in intensive care.

Saskatchewan reported that as of Dec. 21, 1,519 people have received their first dose of vaccine as part of the Regina pilot vaccination phase.

In Alberta, a Calgary judge on Monday rejected an emergency application seeking a stay of the province’s COVID-19 public health restrictions, including bans on gatherings and mandatory masks.

A Calgary law firm and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms appeared in court Monday morning to make an application for an emergency injunction staying the restrictions, alleging they violate constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Alberta reported 1,240 new COVID-19 cases and nine more COVID-19 deaths on Monday.

Health officials in British Columbia said restrictions appear to be working to slow the spread of the virus, as they announced 1,667 new cases and 41 new deaths over a three-day period on Monday. 

However, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the province’s curve is levelling at too high a plateau, with significant growth of new cases in the Interior and the north of B.C.

“With restrictions in place, the number of people that have had close contact has decreased, but it is still a substantial number,” she said.

In the North, no new cases were reported in any of the territories on Tuesday. Yukon, which reported two recoveries, now has no active cases of COVID-19.

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported seven cases on Tuesday, while Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case and New Brunswick reported two new cases, both in the Moncton region.

Prince Edward Island reported no new cases on Tuesday. The province expects to have 1,500 people vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of the day.


What’s happening in the U.S.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar before receiving his first dose of the new Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday. (Patrick Semansky/Reuters)

The top infectious disease expert in the United States has received the initial dose of the newest COVID-19 vaccine alongside other federal health leaders who helped oversee its development. Dr. Anthony Fauci received his first shot of the two-dose regimen with National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Each received the vaccine co-developed by NIH and Massachusetts drugmaker Moderna.

The vaccinations on Tuesday at the NIH campus outside Washington, D.C., are part of a broader government effort to bolster public confidence in the safety of two COVID-19 vaccines recently cleared by U.S. regulators. Six health-care workers from the NIH’s research hospital also received vaccination shots at the event.

The U.S. Congress, meanwhile, has passed a $900 billion US pandemic relief package that would finally deliver long-sought cash to businesses and individuals and resources to vaccinate a nation confronting a frightening surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Lawmakers tacked on a $1.4 trillion catch-all spending bill and thousands of pages of other end-of-session business in a massive bundle of bipartisan legislation as Capitol Hill prepared to close the books on the year. The bill approved Monday night went to President Donald Trump for his signature, which was expected in the coming days.

The bill combines coronavirus-fighting funds with financial relief for individuals and businesses. It would establish a temporary $300-a-week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses, restaurants and theatres, as well as money for schools, health-care providers and renters facing eviction.

The U.S. has seen more than 18 million COVID-19 cases and more than 319,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.

Volunteers help build a mobile field hospital at UCI Medical Center on Monday in Orange, Calif. The state’s overwhelmed hospitals are setting up makeshift beds for coronavirus patients, and some facilities in hard-hit Los Angeles County are drawing up emergency plans in case they have to limit how many people receive life-saving care. (Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press)

Californians, meanwhile, were being warned it is too risky to celebrate the winter holidays normally, and if they don’t change plans, a deadly explosion of coronavirus cases could follow. The state has recorded a half-million coronavirus cases in the last two weeks, and Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that a projection model shows California could be facing nearly 100,000 hospitalizations within a month.

“Another spike in cases in the winter holidays will be disastrous for our hospital system and ultimately will mean many more people simply won’t be with us in 2021,” Los Angeles County Public Health director Barbara Ferrer said bluntly during a briefing.

The current surge is overwhelming emergency rooms in both urban centres and rural areas, including along the Mexican border, where a small hospital system warns it is quickly running out of patient beds.

Conditions at El Centro Regional Medical Center in the southeast corner of the state are desperate — even worse than during a summer surge that caught the attention of the governor, hospital officials said.

“We don’t have space for anybody. We’ve been holding patients for days because we can’t get them transferred, can’t get beds for them,” said Dr. Alexis Lenz, an emergency room physician at the medical centre in Imperial County, home to 180,000 people.


What’s happening around the world

In the Asia-Pacific region, Taiwan has reported a locally transmitted case of COVID-19 — the first in 253 days.

The country’s Central Epidemic Command Center said on Tuesday that the patient is a 30-year old female. She was found to be a close contact of a foreign pilot who was previously confirmed as having contracted the coronavirus.

Health officials are in touch with 167 contacts of both individuals and have asked 13 of them to quarantine at home. An official said the pilot, who did not mention the woman as a close contact, may be found in violation of Taiwan’s epidemic prevention laws and could be fined.

Taiwan has largely shielded itself during the pandemic, recording just seven deaths and 770 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

A medical staff member wearing protective gear takes a swab from a visitor to test for COVID-19 at a temporary testing station outside Seoul railway station in South Korea on Tuesday. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images)

South Korea will prohibit private social gatherings of five or more people and shut down ski resorts and major tourist spots nationwide starting on Christmas Eve as it contends with a surge in coronavirus infections.

The restrictions announced Tuesday extend to a national level similar rules set earlier by authorities in the Seoul metropolitan area. It is the most serious step the government has taken to reinstate physical distancing after months of easing.

India recorded 19,556 new cases of the coronavirus, according to Health Ministry data on Tuesday, its lowest daily increase since July 3.

In Europe, Ireland’s prime minister said coronavirus restrictions will be tightened in the country amid concerns that the new variant of the virus identified in southeast England has spread across the Irish Sea.

In an address to the country, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said the government was acting “quickly and aggressively” in response to rising infection rates and that it was proceeding on the assumption that the new variant, which is said to be more virulent than existing strains, was already in Ireland.

He said that in the last week, the country had seen “extraordinary growth in the spread of the virus.” Figures, he said, suggest the virus is growing by about 10 per cent a day.

Among the new restrictions to be imposed over the coming days and to last until Jan. 12, Martin said restaurants and pubs selling food will have to close at 3 p.m. on Dec. 24. “Wet pubs” — those that don’t sell food — are already closed. Shops and schools can stay open, he said.

Germany has expanded its ban on passenger flights from the U.K. to forbid passenger transport by rail, bus and ship. Health Minister Jens Spahn said the measure took effect at midnight, a day after flights were halted. A similar measure applies to South Africa, where a new variant of the coronavirus has also been detected.

Tessa Boulton, left, takes a swab test from triathlete Michael Kruse, dressed as Santa Claus, at a testing centre at the Helios Clinic in Schwerin, Germany on Monday. Kruse traditionally hands out Christmas presents at the clinic’s children’s ward at Christmas and therefore has to be tested in advance. (Jens Buettner/dpa/The Associated Press)

The measures apply through Jan. 6. There are exceptions for freight and mail transport, as well as for medical and humanitarian flights. A string of European and other countries halted air travel from Britain because of a new and seemingly more contagious strain of the coronavirus in England.

A leading German virologist who was initially skeptical about reports that the strain was much more contagious voiced concern after seeing more data. Christian Drosten, a professor of virology at Berlin’s Charite hospital, tweeted that “unfortunately it doesn’t look good.” But Drosten added that the mutation has so far increased only in areas where there was a high or rising rate of infection, meaning that reducing contacts works against its spread.

In Africa, Sudan will ban travellers from Britain, the Netherlands and South Africa beginning Dec. 23.

In the Middle East, Oman said on Monday it’s temporarily suspending all entry to the country by foreigners and halting international passenger flights over worries about a fast-spreading new strain of the coronavirus.

Oman said the one-week closure of all official ports of entry would begin on Tuesday “to protect community members from the severity of infection and the speed of spread.”

In the Americas, Brazil trailed only the U.S. in total coronavirus cases, with more than 7.2 million cases reported and more than 187,000 deaths. Brazilian health regulator Anvisa said it had certified the production standards of CoronaVac, China’s Sinovac-produced coronavirus vaccine candidate.

Colombia’s president said that Venezuelan migrants who are living in the country without residence permits won’t be given free COVID-19 vaccines when the doses arrive — possibly leaving hundreds of thousands unvaccinated.

Guatemala and Panama will restrict entry to travellers who have recently visited Britain or South Africa.

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Canada’s cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 700K – Global News

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Cases of COVID-19 in Canada have now surpassed 700,000, according to a Global News tally updated with the latest data from health officials.

The milestone came after Ontario reported another 3,056 cases Saturday. To date, a total of 701,466 infections have been detected in Canada, with both Ontario and Quebec recording the highest amount.

Read more:
Canada on track for 10K COVID-19 cases a day, measures must be ‘further intensified’: feds

A total of 17,850 deaths attributed to COVID-19 have been recorded in Canada as well, though over 607,900 patients have since recovered and at least 20,353,00 tests have been administered.

Cases of the virus continue to surge in communities across the country, with officials attributing the large number of social contacts Canadians had during the holidays.

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Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor says COVID-19 measures must be ‘further intensified’ to help stop spread'



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Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor says COVID-19 measures must be ‘further intensified’ to help stop spread


Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor says COVID-19 measures must be ‘further intensified’ to help stop spread

The most recent modelling of the virus’ spread — presented by public health authorities Friday — showed that Canada was on its way to surpassing 10,000 new cases of the virus per day by February.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

According to Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, current measures would have to be “further intensified” in order to slow down the spread of the virus.

Read more:
Canada records over 6,800 new COVID-19 cases as officials announce vaccine delay

“If we ease measures too soon the epidemic will resurge even more strongly,” Tam said in a press conference Friday.

The modelling also found cases of the virus could potentially surge past 30,000 per day if Canadians increase their contact with each other by February.

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Federal officials also revealed on Friday that shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to the country would be delayed for four weeks due to production issues.


Click to play video 'How will I know it’s my turn to get the vaccine? Your COVID-19 questions answered'



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How will I know it’s my turn to get the vaccine? Your COVID-19 questions answered


How will I know it’s my turn to get the vaccine? Your COVID-19 questions answered

According to Procurement Minister Anita Anand, only half of Pfizer’s promised vaccine doses would arrive in the next month because of the delay.

“This expansion work means that Pfizer is temporarily reducing deliveries to all countries receiving vaccine manufactured at its European facility — and that includes Canada,” Anand said.

Both Anand and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also reassured Canadians would not impact the country’s long term vaccination plan, and that they would still have enough vaccines available by September for any Canadian who wanted to be inoculated.


Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Trudeau says Pfizer delay won’t impact September COVID-19 vaccination goal'



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Coronavirus: Trudeau says Pfizer delay won’t impact September COVID-19 vaccination goal


Coronavirus: Trudeau says Pfizer delay won’t impact September COVID-19 vaccination goal

As of Jan.14, at least 765,100 doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed across Canada.

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More to come…

— With files from Global News’ Katie Dangerfield and Rachel Gilmore.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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More than 7 in 10 Canadians support barring unvaccinated people from businesses: Nanos survey – CTV News

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TORONTO —
More than seven in 10 Canadians support or somewhat support barring those who don’t have proof of vaccination from businesses where people are in close contact, according to a new Nanos survey.

The survey, conducted by Nanos Research in December 2020 and commissioned by CTV News, asked more than 1,000 Canadians 18 years of age and older if they would support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or oppose businesses (like airlines or movie theatres, where people are in close contact) having the right to bar a customer who does not have proof of vaccination.

In the results, 45 per cent of Canadians surveyed said they support the idea, 27 per cent said they somewhat support it, eight per cent said they somewhat oppose the idea, 16 per cent said they oppose it, and four per cent said they were unsure.

Support for the idea of barring individuals from businesses who don’t have proof of vaccination was most popular in Ontario, at 49 per cent and least popular in the Prairies, which had the highest percentage of those opposed to the idea at 21 per cent.

Canadians over the age of 55 were most likely to support the idea of barring people from businesses who don’t have proof of vaccination, with 57 per cent supportive, compared to those aged 18 to 34 who were 34 per cent supportive.

The survey also asked Canadians if they agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or disagree that with vaccines now being distributed in Canada, their lives will get back to normal by the end of 2021.

In the results, 22 per cent of Canadians survey agreed their lives would be back to normal by the end of 2021 due to the vaccines being distributed, 50 per cent somewhat agreed, 14 per cent somewhat disagreed, eight per cent disagreed and five per cent were unsure.

Quebec had the highest rate of people surveyed that agree, with 28 per cent, and the Prairies had the highest percentage of people who disagreed, at 11 per cent.

“Around 45 per cent of Canadians cite [the pandemic] as the top national issue of concern – unprompted,” Nik Nanos said on CTV News Channel Saturday, adding that sentiments can change on a dime as it’s “almost day-to-day, week-to-week” for provinces in the fight against the virus.

Aligning with those concerns, Nanos conducted another survey, commissioned by CTV News to assess whether or not Canadians supported the continued closure of the border between Canada and the United States.

The survey found more than nine in 10 Canadians support or somewhat support keeping the land border closed to non-essential travel until the number of cases in the U.S. significantly drops – even if that takes several months or longer.

In the breakdown of results, 80 per cent of Canadians surveyed supported the idea of keeping the Canada-U.S. border closed, 11 per cent somewhat support the idea, four per cent somewhat opposed it, four per cent opposed it and less than one per cent were unsure.

Support for keeping the Canada- U.S. border closed was highest in the Atlantic provinces, with 88 per cent in support of the idea – with the Prairies least in support of the idea with 71 per cent. The Prairies also had the largest percentage – seven per cent – of people who opposed the idea.

Canadians 55 plus represented the age group most supportive of keeping the border closed, with 85 per cent, compared to those 18 to 34 years of age with 74 per cent.

Currently, the Canada-U.S. land border closure has been extended to at least Feb. 21, 2021.

Methodology

For both surveys cited above, Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,048 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between December 27 and 30, 2020 as part of an omnibus survey. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online. The sample included both land- and cell-lines across Canada. The results were statistically checked and weighted by age and gender using the latest Census information and the sample is geographically stratified to be representative of Canada.

Individuals were randomly called using random digit dialling with a maximum of five call backs. The margin of error for this survey is ±3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

This study was commissioned by CTV News and the research was conducted by Nanos Research.

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

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The latest:

  • India begins ambitious COVID-19 vaccination drive.
  • Trudeau says delayed Pfizer vaccine deliveries will ramp up again in February.
  • New modelling shows roughly 2,000 more Canadians could die from COVID-19 over next 10 days.
  • Alberta’s Phase 1 vaccination rollout slowed over Pfizer supply issues.
  • Why playing arena hockey can be risky during the pandemic.
  • Do you have a tip or question about the pandemic? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca.

India began its mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19 on Saturday, with plans to inoculate about 300,000 people on the first day of the drive.

The first recipients are to include doctors, nurses and other front-line workers. They are to be followed by people who are either over 50 years old or have illnesses that make them vulnerable to the respiratory illness.

The first dose was administered to a sanitation worker at the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences in the capital of New Delhi, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off the campaign with a nationally televised speech.

“We are launching the world’s biggest vaccination drive and it shows the world our capability,” Modi said. He implored citizens to keep their guard up and not to believe any “rumours about the safety of the vaccines.”

People will not be able to choose between the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine and a government-backed vaccine developed by India’s Bharat Biotech whose efficacy is not entirely known because it’s still undergoing Phase 3 trials. Both vaccines are being produced locally.

Canada’s vaccine supply, meanwhile, has hit a stumbling block. Pfizer is upgrading and expanding its European production line, so its vaccine deliveries to Canada and other countries will be temporarily disrupted, Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand said on Friday.

Canada’s allotment of the vaccine will be reduced by half for four weeks, said Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the development will not thwart plans to have enough vaccine doses by September for every Canadian who wants to be inoculated and that deliveries will ramp up again in February.

The news came as the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) released federal projections that suggested the pandemic’s impact may soon exceed levels seen in the first wave, rising to 19,630 cumulative deaths and 10,000 daily infections over the next 10 days.

WATCH | Pfizer delays will slow vaccine program, says Ontario’s task force leader:

Retired general Rick Hillier says Pfizer’s shipment delay means there will be adjustments to the vaccine program in Ontario. 2:23

PHAC said the modelling data showed that roughly 2,000 more people are expected to die from COVID-19 by Jan. 24, while as many as 100,000 more people could contract the novel coronavirus.

What’s happening across Canada

As of 9 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had reported 698,763 cases of COVID-19, with 75,860 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 17,780.

In British Columbia, where all available vaccine doses are being deployed as they arrive, Health Minister Adrian Dix said Pfizer’s delay in deliveries will have “some significant effect” on when priority groups get their shot.

The delay could also affect the wait time between each shot of the two-dose regime, he said.

Although Pfizer-BioNTech suggests a second dose 21 days after the first, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that could be extended to 35 days.

A spokesperson for Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said the temporary slowdown in deliveries reinforced the province’s decision to wait up to 90 days to administer the vaccine’s second dose.

WATCH | Businesses plan when remote employees return to the office:

Businesses are beginning to prepare for what happens when employees return to the office after working from home since the start of the pandemic. 2:03

“The strategy remains the same: We must give a boost now and vaccinate as many vulnerable people and health workers as possible, as quickly as possible,” Marjaurie Côté-Boileau said.

Alberta decided earlier this week to push back its second shots to 42 days. The province’s health minister, Tyler Shandro, said Friday that he had hoped to soon announce all seniors over 75 and Indigenous people over 65 would be eligible for the vaccine, but the delay makes that out of the question.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the province was evaluating the impact of the delay and “will adjust as necessary.”

On Saturday, Ford’s government announced that it’s extending for another 30 days legislation that gives it broad authority over emergency orders. The Reopening Ontario Act 2020 came into effect last July.

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick recorded 25 new cases on Friday, continuing a recent surge in cases that has seen provincial officials warning of new restrictions.

Nova Scotia reported two new cases and two new recoveries on Friday, leaving its number of active cases at 32. In Truro, a mobile health unit has been set up in response to an increase in the number of potential exposures in the area during the last week.

Newfoundland and Labrador added one new case on Friday. Prince Edward Island saw one new case on Thursday.

WATCH | Ontario schools for special-needs students stay open despite lockdown:  

Schools for special needs students aren’t closing despite Ontario’s new lockdown measures — and that’s a worry for teachers and staff who work in them. 2:06

Quebec announced 1,918 new cases and 62 deaths on Friday. There are 1,496 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, including 231 in intensive care.

Ontario reported 3,056 new cases and 51 more deaths from the illness on Saturday. The province saw 2,998 new cases and a record 100 deaths on Friday and reported 1,647 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, including 387 in intensive care.

WATCH | COVID-19 treatment Bamlanivimab goes unused:

COVID-19 vaccines have come fast but treatments for the disease are still limited. When a Canadian company developed Bamlanivimab, a new monoclonal antibody drug, Ottawa spent millions on doses. But after the rush to buy them they’ve sat on shelves for months, unused. 2:04

Manitoba reported 191 new COVID-19 cases and five more deaths on Friday. The update comes a week before provincewide restrictions that ban most gatherings and the sale of non-essential goods expire. The provincial government is now considering reducing some of those restrictions and is asking for input from the public in an online survey.

Saskatchewan reported 382 new cases of COVID-19 and four deaths on Friday. Intensive care units in the province are at 95 per cent capacity, stretched by emergencies, including COVID-19 cases, the head of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Scott Livingstone, said on Thursday.

Alberta reported 785 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 additional deaths on Friday, while British Columbia health officials reported 509 new cases and nine more deaths.

In Yukon, a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for physicians and high-risk hospital staff has inoculated about 300 people.

Northwest Territories chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola announced that one person in Yellowknife had tested positive for COVID-19. Kandola said the person has not travelled, and there is no known source of infection at this time.

In Nunavut, more than 600 people are estimated to have received a first dose of the Moderna vaccine so far, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said.


What’s happening around the world

As of Saturday morning, more than 93.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 51.8 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 case tracking tool. The global death toll stood at just over two million.

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine has been granted approval for emergency use in Pakistan, Faisal Sultan, the country’s health minister said on Saturday.

Pakistan is in the process of speaking to a number of vaccine makers, but this is the first COVID-19 vaccine to be given the green light in the South Asian country.

In Europe, Spain on Saturday ruled out a new national lockdown despite the record number of COVID-19 cases recorded on Friday. The country registered 40,197 new cases on Friday, while the incidence of the disease measured over the past 14 days hit a new high of 575 cases per 100,000 people.

Unlike other European countries such as Britain and the Netherlands, which have extended national lockdowns, Spanish officials have repeatedly said a return to home confinement should not be necessary.

A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine inside Lichfield Cathedral, which has been turned into an emergency vaccination centre, in Lichfield, north of Birmingham, England, on Friday. (Carl Recine/Reuters)

Prince William is encouraging everyone in Britain to follow the example of Queen Elizabeth, his grandmother, in being inoculated against COVID-19 as authorities battle unsubstantiated fears about vaccine safety.

The second in line to the throne spoke about the Queen and her spouse, Prince Philip, during a video call with National Health Service staff and volunteers that was released late Saturday. The medics told William some members of the public are reluctant to get any of the coronavirus vaccines authorized by regulators.

“My grandparents have had the vaccine and I am very proud of them for doing that,” William said. “It is really important that everyone gets the vaccine when they are told to.”

The Queen, 94, last week disclosed that she and Philip, 99, had received the first dose of vaccine. The disclosure was meant to boost confidence in the shots as the NHS seeks to give the first dose of vaccine to everyone over 70 by the middle of February.

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