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

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The latest:

  • Trudeau rolls up his sleeve to get 2nd dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Why Canada is divided over reopening despite controlling COVID-19.
  • Alberta health minister and family swarmed by COVID protesters on Canada Day.
  • Alberta lifts most COVID-19 restrictions but not all Edmonton shops ready to ditch masks.
  • Calgary-area man first to win $1M in Alberta COVID-19 vaccine lottery.
  • Germany recommends combination of AstraZeneca, mRNA vaccines.
  • South Korea’s new COVID-19 infections highest in almost 6 months.
  • India virus death toll tops 400,000 and experts say it’s higher.
  • Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email: COVID@cbc.ca or join us live in the comments now. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received his second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine on Friday.

Trudeau got a shot of the Moderna mRNA vaccine at an Ottawa pharmacy.

His wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, got her second dose on Thursday. The Trudeaus got their first doses in late April and received the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine.

WATCH | COVID-19 limited Canadian immigration and made it more difficult for newcomers:

COVID-19 didn’t just limit the number of newcomers arriving in Canada, it also made their readjustment more difficult. 2:27

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) updated its guidance earlier this month, allowing for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to be used interchangeably, due to the fact that they both use a similar mRNA technology. NACI also said a first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine can be followed by either Moderna or Pfizer.

Trudeau has said vaccinations are a path out of the pandemic and praised Canadians in his Canada Day message for getting their shots to help life return to normal.


What’s happening across Canada

As of 7 a.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 1,415,403 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 7,067 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 26,299. More than 37.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country, according to CBC’s vaccine tracker.

Many provinces did not report numbers Thursday due to the holiday.

British Columbia entered the next phase of its reopening plan on Thursday, lifting the state of emergency in place since March 2020.

The loosening of restrictions means residents can dine indoors and outdoors with no limit on numbers, and attend fairs and festivals with a communicable disease plan. The province is also allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 5,000 people.

Masks will no longer be mandatory before further restrictions are removed in September, though Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has encouraged people to continue wearing them indoors.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney celebrates the lifting of public health restrictions by taking part in Canada Day celebrations in Calgary on Thursday. (Larry MacDougal/The Canadian Press)

Alberta lifted almost all its remaining COVID-19-related restrictions on Thursday, ending capacity limits on restaurants, stores and places of worship, as well as limits on indoor and outdoor social gatherings.

The entire province, with the exception of Calgary, is also lifting its mask mandate.

WATCH | Alberta drops most COVID-19 restrictions, including mask mandate: 

Alberta has reopened for the summer by dropping nearly all of their COVID-19 restrictions, including its provincial mask mandate. 2:02

Newfoundland and Labrador on Thursday reopened to non-essential travellers from outside Atlantic Canada who fill in an entry form.

The province reported one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

New Brunswick reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday after three new cases were confirmed the previous day.

Nova Scotia reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.

P.E.I. did not report any new cases on Thursday.


What’s happening around the world

As of early Friday, more than 182.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to data published by Johns Hopkins University in the United States. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.9 million.

In Europe, Germany is recommending that all people who get a first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine switch to a different type of vaccine for their second shot. The aim is to increase the speed and effectiveness of vaccinations as the more contagious delta variant spreads.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the addition of the mRNA shot provides more protection against the delta variant, which is endemic in Britain and is expected to become so in Germany this month, than would two shots of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the delta variant of the coronavirus is surging, with a major spike in South Korea.

A medical worker in a booth takes a nasal sample from a man at a COVID-19 testing site in Seoul, South Korea, on June 28. (Ahn Young-joon/The Associated Press)

The country reported 826 new cases on Friday, its highest in almost six months. Most of the cases were reported in and around the capital, Seoul.

Health officials have linked the surge to both summertime gatherings and the spread of the more infectious variant.

Japan reported earlier in the week that the delta variant now accounts for nearly a third of all cases in the eastern part of the country, including Tokyo, and that could grow to 50 per cent by mid-July.

On Friday, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike reiterated that a ban on spectators for the Olympic Games, which start on July 23, would be an option if the COVID-19 situation worsened.

The variant, first detected in India in December last year, has spread to about 100 countries, and the World Health Organization warned recently that it could soon become the dominant form of the virus.

India on Friday crossed the grim milestone of more than 400,000 people lost to COVID-19, a number that, though massive, is still thought to be a vast undercount because of a lack of testing and reporting.

A health worker administers a vaccine against COVID-19 in New Delhi, India, on Friday. (Manish Swarup/The Associated Press)

More than half of India’s reported coronavirus deaths — the third-most of any country — have occurred over the past two months as the delta variant of the virus tore through the country and overwhelmed the already strained health system.

New cases are on the decline after exceeding 400,000 a day in May, but authorities are preparing for another possible wave and are trying to ramp up vaccination.

The country’s health ministry said that 853 people died in the past 24 hours, raising total fatalities to 400,312. It also reported 46,617 new cases, taking the country’s pandemic total past 30.4 million.

India, a country of nearly 1.4 billion people, is the third to cross 400,000 deaths, after the United States and Brazil.

WATCH | Delta variant forces shutdowns in Australia and Bangladesh: 

As the delta variant spreads throughout the Southern Hemisphere, there are calls that vaccines be transferred there to treat high-risk people there. 2:00

Experts believe India’s reported deaths and infections are massive undercounts. They say an untold number of people died during the April and May surge outside of hospitals and before they could be tested for the virus.

A model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates there have been more than 1.1 million COVID-19 deaths in India.

India’s federal ministers from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have dismissed reports of undercounting as exaggerated and misleading.


Have questions about this story? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments.


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Canada’s wildfires could cost billions, kill thousands if nothing is done: report – Global News

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Western Canada must urgently address the threats posed by highly destructive wildfires or face deadly and costly consequences, says a group of forest and environmental experts from British Columbia and the United States.

The experts, including Mathieu Bourbonnais, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of B.C. Okanagan, predict devastating wildfires like those currently burning in B.C. will be “commonplace” by 2050.

The group has released a paper predicting billions of dollars spent on suppression and indirect costs from the fires _ as well as hundreds or thousands of premature deaths each year due to smoke exposure _ ifaction isn’t taken to address climate change and the “daunting” scale of fuel, such as fallen trees and dead vegetation, that’s built up.

“If you look at record-breaking seasons, we’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars on fire suppression,” said Bourbonnais, a former wildland firefighter from Alberta.


Click to play video: 'Concerns about the adverse effects of B.C. wildfire smoke pollution'



2:31
Concerns about the adverse effects of B.C. wildfire smoke pollution


Concerns about the adverse effects of B.C. wildfire smoke pollution

“You can think about, if you spread that out over a couple of seasons, how may communities we could be engaged with on protecting watersheds, protecting drinking water sources, the communities themselves, high-value infrastructure, the ecosystems,” he said in an interview. “By doing that, we’re investing in a future that hopefully we don’t need to spend those kind of dollars on fire suppression.”

The group’s paper suggests creating patches of space in the forest that contain less flammable material, a strategy that can also boost the efficacy of fire suppression efforts, said Bourbonnais.

“Rather than crews responding to a fire with nothing but fuel in front of them, there are natural fire breaks, there’s old prescribed burns that help slow the fire down.”

Read more:
B.C. wildfire update: A pause in rapid fire growth but forecast remains hot and dry

Asked about the paper, the director of fire centre operations for the BC Wildfire Service said there was recognition of the work that needed to be done with communities as well as reducing fuel in the forests following historic wildfire seasons in 2017 and 2018.

“I’m part of many different planning tables and discussions within this province and within this ministry on how do we do this better,” Rob Schweitzer told a news conference on Thursday.

“Through prescribed fire, through utilization of Indigenous traditional knowledge in use of fire, as well as amending our forest harvesting practices and the woody debris left behind, are all pieces that we continue to discuss and actually start to change policy and implement new strategies to help reduce that amount of fuel.”


Click to play video: 'South Okanagan couple loses home to Nk’Mip Creek wildfire'



2:25
South Okanagan couple loses home to Nk’Mip Creek wildfire


South Okanagan couple loses home to Nk’Mip Creek wildfire

About 1,250 wildfires have charred 4,560 square kilometres of bush since the start of B.C.’s fire season in April, compared with the 10-year average of 658 fires and about 1,060 square kilometres burned over the same time period, Schweitzer said.

Three dozen of the 245 wildfires that were burning in B.C on Thursday were considered either extremely threatening or highly visible, including a 655-square-kilometre fire north of Kamloops Lake that prompted an evacuation order for nearly 300 properties.

There were 28 states of local emergency and more than 60 evacuation orders covering 3,443 properties on Thursday. Nearly 90 evacuation alerts covered 17,679 properties, where residents were told to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice, said Pader Brach, executive director of regional operations for Emergency Management BC.

The number of daily new fires has subsided this week, Schweitzer said.


Click to play video: 'Concern over long-term impact of Ontario wildfires'



2:31
Concern over long-term impact of Ontario wildfires


Concern over long-term impact of Ontario wildfires

But higher temperatures are expected to contribute to “severe burning conditions” in B.C.’s southern half, he added. The forecast should bring more fresh air to the Interior, he said, fuelling a “short-lived increase in fire growth” but also aiding firefighting efforts by air, which have been hampered by smoky skies.

The service also anticipates some lighting this weekend, Schweitzer said, and crews are standing ready if new fires start.

Environment Canada issued heat warnings stretching across B.C.’s southern Interior, inland sections of the north and central coasts, as well as the south coast and parts of Vancouver Island. The wildfire service warns the combination of high temperatures and low relative humidity will make fires even more intense.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Northern Canada may be a popular destination at the end of the world – CTV News

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TORONTO —
In the event of societal collapse, researchers suggest northern Canada may be “habitable” and could act as a lifeboat, but that other countries are better suited for survival.

The researchers found that Earth is in a “perilous state” due to rapid population growth and an energy consuming society that has altered the Earth’s system and biosphere. They say that societal collapse could happen in various forms, including economic collapse, worsening climate catastrophe, a pandemic worse than COVID-19, or another mass extinction event, which the researchers say is already underway.

The goal of the study, published in the journal Sustainability on July 21, was to create a shortlist of nations that could host survivors in the event of a societal collapse, where civilization could start over. The researchers evaluated the land, how much was available and its quality, how easy or difficult it is to travel to the country, available renewable resources, climate and agriculture, to determine where it would be best to survive the end of the world.

Islands with low population density, particularly those with distinct seasonal changes, fared the best with New Zealand topping the list. Iceland, U.K., Australia (specifically Tasmania) and Ireland made up the rest of the shortlist where it would be best for society to restart after a collapse.

Northern Canada, while not on the shortlist, could act as a “lifeboat” in the event of societal collapse due to climate change and extreme temperatures, but survival would rely on maintaining agriculture and renewable energy sources to keep the population alive.

The researchers showed that the shortlisted countries had strong renewable energy sources, were in temperate climates, and have plenty of agricultural land and space for growth. In the case of Iceland, where suitable land for livestock is not in abundance, this downside is offset by fisheries and the island’s wealth of renewable resources, of which geothermal resources have already been widely developed.

While this may give Canadians living in northern regions a chance to breathe a sigh of relief, there are still zombie fires to contend with as climate change warms the north and shortens winters.

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

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The latest:

Health authorities in Thailand are racing to set up a large field hospital in a cargo building at one of Bangkok’s airports as the country reports record numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths.

Other field hospitals are already in use in the capital after it ran out of hospital facilities for thousands of infected residents. Workers rushed to finish the 1,800-bed hospital at Don Mueang International Airport, where beds made from cardboard box materials are laid out with mattresses and pillows.

The airport has had little use because almost all domestic flights were cancelled two weeks ago. The field hospital is expected to be ready for patients in two weeks.

The quick spread of the delta variant also led neighbouring Cambodia to seal its border with Thailand on Thursday and order a lockdown and movement restrictions in eight provinces.

-From The Associated Press, last updated at 6:30 a.m. ET


What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | Get the latest on Alberta’s plan to ease restrictions: 

Alberta will be pulling back on requirements for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and quarantines, despite rising cases in the province. 2:05


What’s happening around the world

Spain’s head coach David Martin Lozano, left, is interviewed under COVID-19 precautions after a win over Serbia in a preliminary round men’s water polo match at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo on Sunday. (Mark Humphrey/The Associated Press)

As of early Thursday morning, more than 196 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 4.1 million deaths had been reported.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Tokyo reported 3,865 new cases on Thursday, up from 3,177 on Wednesday and double the number it had a week ago. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katunobu Kato told reporters the new cases are soaring not only in the Tokyo area but also across the country. He said Japan has never experienced an expansion of infections of this magnitude.

The World Health Organization’s Africa director says the continent of 1.3 billion people is entering an “encouraging phase after a bleak June” as supplies of COVID-19 vaccines increase. But Matshidiso Moeti told reporters on Thursday that just 10 per cent of the doses needed to vaccinate 30 per cent of Africa’s population by the end of 2021 have arrived. Some 82 million doses have arrived in Africa so far, while 820 million are needed.

A health worker administers a dose of the Janssen Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in Dakar on Wednesday. Senegal is seeing an uptick in cases, sparking worry among health-care workers. (Leo Correa/The Associated Press)

Less than two per cent of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated, and the more infectious delta variant is driving a deadly resurgence of cases.

“There’s a light at the end of the tunnel on vaccine deliveries to Africa but it must not be snuffed out again,” Moeti said. 

In the Americas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday that 66.6 per cent of U.S. counties had transmission rates of COVID-19 high enough to warrant indoor masking and should immediately resume the policy.

COVID-19 continues to inflict a devastating toll on the Americas, with Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador and Paraguay among the countries with the world’s highest weekly death rates, the Pan American Health Organization said.

In the Middle East, Iran on Wednesday reported 33,817 new cases of COVID-19 and 303 additional deaths. The country, which has been hit hard by COVID-19, is experiencing yet another surge in cases.

In Europe, Spain’s prime minister said existing measures to protect the most vulnerable from the pandemic’s economic fallout will be prolonged until the end of October.

Spain, one of the countries that was hardest hit at the beginning of the health emergency, has extended subsidies for the unemployed and furloughs for companies that have gone out of business to try to cushion an economic drop of 11 per cent of its gross domestic product in 2020.

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 11:15 a.m. ET

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