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

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The latest:

All Ontarians vaccinated against COVID-19 can now download their enhanced certificates, which include a QR code.

The provincial government has said the scannable documents will allow for faster entry into settings that require proof of vaccination.

The enhanced system officially takes effect on Friday, but Ontarians can get their new vaccine certificates before then, and businesses can start using a new app to verify those codes.

Residents whose birthdays fall between January and April were able to download the enhanced vaccination certificate through the province’s COVID-19 website on Friday, and further cohorts got access over the weekend.

Under Ontario’s vaccine certificate program, only those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — or have a valid medical exemption from a doctor — can access certain settings.

They include theatres, gyms, nightclubs and restaurant dining rooms.

Ontario on Monday reported 373 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths. According to the province’s health minister, there were 168 people in ICU due to COVID-19. Christine Elliott noted, however, that not all hospitals report data on weekends.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan will be transferring six COVID-19 patients to Ontario over the next 72 hours as the Prairie province deals with immense pressure on its health-care system.

Saskatchewan’s hospitalizations dashboard showed 85 COVID-19 patients in intensive care on Monday, topping previous highs. There are normally 79 ICU beds in the province, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

— From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 5:15 p.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | How COVID-19 vaccine mandates are impacting professional sports: 

The impact of COVID-19 vaccine mandates on professional sports

22 hours ago

Sports journalists Donnovan Bennett and Andi Petrillo talk to Ian Hanomansing about Canadian fans returning to the stands and how professional athletes are reacting to COVID-19 vaccination mandates. 6:11


What’s happening around the world

WATCH | Vaccine inequity still driving up infections in hot spots, WHO official says: 

Vaccine inequity ‘driving up transmissions’ despite declining caseloads, WHO official says

6 hours ago

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 technical lead, tells Power & Politics that despite the weekly decline in cases and deaths around the world, the lack of vaccine equity is still driving up infections in COVID-19 hotspots globally. 9:02

As of late Monday morning, more than 240.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.9 million.

In Europe, the U.K. reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases in three months on Monday with 49,156 new infections.

Italy’s president on Monday strongly criticized the violence that has erupted amid protests over the country’s new coronavirus workplace health pass requirement, saying it appeared aimed at jeopardizing Italy’s economic recovery.

President Sergio Mattarella spoke out as riot police again clashed with protesters at the port in the northern city of Trieste, at times using water canons to push them back.

Italy on Friday became the first major European economy to require all workers — from hairdressers to factory workers — to present proof of vaccination, a negative test within the past 48 hours or proof of having recently recovered from COVID-19 in order to enter workplaces.

Police in Italy used a water cannon and tear gas to disperse people blocking a gate while demonstrating against the country’s workplace vaccination rules in the port of Trieste. (ANSA/AFP/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Russia’s total number of coronavirus infections has topped eight million, more than five per cent of the population, and the daily infection toll topped previous highs with 34,325 new infections over the past day. The national coronavirus task force on Monday also reported 998 new deaths from COVID-19.

In the Americas, the NHL has suspended San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane for 21 games for submitting a fake COVID-19 vaccination card.

WATCH | U.S. police officers fighting COVID-19 vaccine mandates: 

U.S. police officers fighting COVID-19 vaccine mandates

22 hours ago

Some police officers in the U.S. are fighting mandates to report their COVID-19 vaccination status, a move at least one mayor called ‘insubordination.’ 1:46

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s sports fans will be allowed to attend full-capacity events at all stadiums and other sports facilities starting on Sunday, the country’s ministry of sports announced in a statement on Saturday.

In Africa, South Africa’s drugs regulator said on Monday that it was not approving an emergency use application for Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 shot for now, citing concerns about its safety for people at risk of HIV.

Egypt will mandate that public sector employees must either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or take a weekly coronavirus test to be allowed to work in government buildings after Nov. 15, a cabinet statement said on Sunday.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Thailand will stop using the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac when its current stock finishes, a senior official said. Thailand has used the shot extensively in combination with Western-developed vaccines.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that the country’s biggest city, Auckland, will remain in lockdown for another two weeks as it looks to control the spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

— From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:15 p.m. ET

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Canadians, other foreigners will need COVID-19 test a day before flights to U.S. – CBC.ca

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The United States is making it mandatory next week for Canadians and other foreign visitors who arrive by air to get a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of their departure, regardless of their vaccination status, as part of a pandemic battle plan for the winter months.

U.S. President Joe Biden announced his administration’s plan on Thursday during a visit to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

The new travel rule on obtaining a negative COVID-19 test will take effect on Monday at 12:01 a.m. ET, sources briefed on the matter said.

Currently, international air travellers are required to get a test within 72 hours of leaving for the U.S. A senior White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity told CBC News that the new protocol will not apply to those crossing the Canada-U.S. land border.

“We’re pulling out all the stops to get people maximum protection from this pandemic,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a briefing on Thursday in advance of Biden’s afternoon announcement.

Passengers arrive at John F. Kennedy International Airport In New York City on Nov. 8. By early next week, Canadians and all other foreign visitors who travel to the U.S. by air will need to get a COVID-19 test no later than 24 hours before their departure. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

“Our view and belief, and the belief of our medical team, is that we have the tools to keep people safe. We’re executing on a robust plan that builds off of all the actions we’ve taken to date — we are not starting from scratch here.”

Fully vaccinated travellers entering the U.S. by land from Canada currently do not need to present a negative COVID-19 test, as long as they show proof of vaccination or attest to their vaccination status upon request by a border agent. That rule has been in place since the land border reopened to non-essential travel on Nov. 8.

In Canada, all those entering the country must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result, taken within 72 hours of arrival by land or air.

However, since Nov. 30, the rule has been adjusted for Canadians who depart and re-enter Canada within 72 hours, meaning those taking trips of that duration or shorter no longer need proof of a negative COVID-19 test to return home.

WATCH | Travel Insurance, trip planning and the omicron variant: 

Travel Insurance, trip planning and the omicron variant

Travel insurance consultant Martin Firestone lays out what travellers should know about the latest travel restrictions. 4:48

Under the U.S. plan to combat the spread of COVID-19 over the winter months, the Transportation Security Administration is extending its mask mandates on transit through March 18. Passengers on domestic flights, trains and public transportation will be required to continue wearing face masks.

Other components of the 10-point U.S. strategy include:

  • A plan to expand access to booster shots, with a comprehensive outreach effort to convince nearly 100 million eligible Americans to get one.
  • New family vaccination clinics to provide a one-stop vaccination stop for entire households.
  • Accelerating the effort to safely vaccinate children under the age of five.
  • Expanding the availability of at-home test kits.
  • Rapid response teams to help with widespread omicron outbreaks.
  • Another 200 million COVID-19 vaccine doses donated internationally within the next 100 days.

Biden’s speech outlining the plan comes a day after the U.S. confirmed its first case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in a traveller who arrived in San Francisco from South Africa on Nov. 22.

The new variant is “cause for concern but not panic,” Biden said.

More omicron cases reported

U.S. health officials confirmed a second case of the variant on Thursday in Minnesota. It involved a vaccinated man who had attended an anime convention just before Thanksgiving in New York City that drew an estimated 50,000 people. That would suggest the variant has begun to spread within the U.S.

In addition to the convention attendee, health officials in New York said tests showed five other people in the city recently infected with COVID-19 had the variant.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the geographic spread of the positive tests suggested the variant was undergoing “community spread” in the city and wasn’t linked to any one event.

Another U.S. case of the variant was reported Thursday in a Colorado woman who had recently travelled to southern Africa.

COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. have dropped by about half since the delta variant peak in August and September, but at about 86,000 new infections per day, the numbers are still worrisomely high — especially heading into the holidays, when people travel and gather with family.

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U.S. to not reimburse private health insurers for covering at-home COVID test costs

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The U.S. government will not reimburse private health insurance companies for covering the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests, a White House official said on Thursday.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act require coverage of diagnostic testing for COVID-19 without any cost-sharing requirements during the public health emergency,” the White House official said.

“The Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury will clarify that coverage of over-the-counter COVID-19 tests is generally subject to those provisions”, the official added.

 

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, writing by Kanishka Singh)

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Oil up on OPEC+ plan to meet ahead of schedule if Omicron dents demand

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Oil prices climbed on Friday, extending gains after OPEC+ said it would review supply additions ahead of its next scheduled meeting if the Omicron variant hits demand, but prices were still on course for a sixth week of declines.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 27 cents, or 0.4%, to $66.77 a barrel at 0122 GMT, adding to a 1.4% gain on Thursday.

Brent crude futures rose 12 cents, or 0.2%, to $69.79 a barrel, after climbing 1.2% in the previous session.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and allies, together called OPEC+, surprised the market on Thursday when it stuck to plans to add 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) supply in January.

However the producers left the door open to changing policy swiftly if demand suffered from measures to contain the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant. They said they could meet again before their next scheduled meeting on Jan. 4, if needed.

That boosted prices with “traders reluctant to bet against the group eventually pausing its production increases,” ANZ Research analysts said in a note.

Wood Mackenzie analyst Ann-Louise Hittle said it made sense for OPEC+ to stick with their policy for now, given it was still unclear whether Omicron could resist existing vaccines.

“The group’s members are in regular contact and are monitoring the market situation closely,” Hittle said in emailed comments.

“As a result, they can react swiftly when we start to get a better sense of the scale of the impact the Omicron variant of COVID-19 could have on the global economy and demand.”

The market has been roiled all week by the emergence of Omicron and speculation that it could spark new lockdowns, dent fuel demand and spur OPEC+ to put its output increases on hold.

Brent was poised to end the week down about 4%, while WTI was on track for a 2% drop on the week, both down for a sixth straight week.

 

(Reporting by Sonali Paul; editing by Richard Pullin)

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