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

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The latest:

Prince Edward Island has announced its first fatalities related to COVID-19. Two people, one between the ages of 60 and 79 and the other over 79, have died on the island, P.E.I.’s Chief Public Health Office said in a news release Friday afternoon.

“This is an extremely sad time for their family, friends, and loved ones,” Dr. Heather Morrison said in the release.

“I want to extend my sincere condolences to all those who are grieving the loss of these two individuals.”

Eight people were being treated for COVID-19 in P.E.I. hospitals Friday, with one in intensive care. The figures were the same as the day before.

‘When we open we want to … stay open’

Students on the island will also be learning at home until at least Jan. 24, officials said Thursday, citing increasing spread of COVID-19 on the island.

“When we open we want to do everything we can to stay open,” Premier Dennis King said at a COVID-19 briefing Thursday. “Because we know the starts and stops are even more challenging and troubling.” 

Students in Newfoundland and Labrador will be learning at home for at least another week, officials said Thursday, as New Brunswick moved to tighten restrictions even more in the face of serious strain on its hospital systems.

In N.L., officials said they are aiming to have students back in class as of Jan. 24 after beginning the new year with remote education.

“While I know it’s not perfect, it has allowed us to minimize learning loss during these difficult times,” said Education Minister Tom Osborne.

The province reported one COVID-19-related death Friday and said eight people were in hospital with the virus. Three were in ICUs.

Students in Nova Scotia will be back in classrooms as of Monday. Education Minister Becky Druhan said the province has a plan in place to deal with potential staffing shortages, including calling in administrators and educators who aren’t in classrooms. The president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union expressed concern that the measures could lead to unplanned school closures. The union has previously said schools should stick with remote learning until there’s a substantial decrease in cases.

In Nova Scotia, there were 57 people in hospital with the virus Friday, down by two from the day before, and 10 people in ICUs, an increase of three from Thursday.

WATCH | Rapid test shipment delays increase anxiety around return to school: 

Rapid test shipment delays increase anxiety around return to school

22 hours ago

Duration 2:02

Provinces across Canada have made rapid tests a key part of their in-class learning strategies, but shipment delays are adding to the anxiety for students and parents. 2:02

Meanwhile, in New Brunswick, the premier announced a return to strict COVID-19 restrictions as the province struggles with severe strain on hospital systems.

The province said Friday there were 103 people with COVID-19 in hospitals, one fewer than the day before, and 11 people in ICUs, up by two from the previous day.

Modelling has shown that the number of people hospitalized could double by the end of the month if current levels of transmission continue. The chief medical officer of health said this could force doctors to make life-or-death decisions about their patients, “and that’s what we don’t want to see happen.”

-From CBC News with files from The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:49 p.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Cross-border truckers must be vaccinated, Ottawa says

Cross-border truckers must be vaccinated, Ottawa says

21 hours ago

Duration 2:00

The federal government says all truck drivers crossing into Canada must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, regardless of nationality, effective Saturday. Trucking associations on both sides of the border say that policy could hurt already strained supply chains, by taking even more drivers out of circulation. 2:00

With lab-based testing capacity deeply strained and increasingly restricted, experts say true case counts are likely far higher than reported. Hospitalization data at the regional level is also evolving, with several provinces saying they will report figures that separate the number of people in hospital because of COVID-19 from those in hospital for another medical issue who also test positive for COVID-19.

For more information on what is happening in your community — including details on outbreaks, testing capacity and local restrictions — click through to the regional coverage below.

You can also read more from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which provides a detailed look at every region — including seven-day average test positivity rates — in its daily epidemiological updates.

In Central Canada, Ontario on Friday reported a total of 3,814 people in hospital with COVID-19, an increase of 184 from a day earlier. The number of people in ICU stood at 527, the province’s health officials said.

The province’s dashboard also showed an additional 42 deaths and 10,964 additional lab-confirmed cases.

In Quebec on Friday, health officials said COVID-19 hospitalizations had increased by 91 to 3,085 — with 275 people in intensive care units across the province.

The province’s health ministry also reported 68 additional deaths and 7,382 additional lab-confirmed cases.

The updates come after Premier François Legault announced that students will return to class on Monday. Legault also announced that the province’s 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will be lifted as of Monday, saying experts have reported that cases have peaked and the “wave of hospitalizations is expected to peak in the coming days.”

In the North, leaders in Nunavut said Thursday that the tight restrictions put in place before the holidays have been so effective that the government can cancel travel restrictions as of Monday. The territory will also allow businesses to reopen and schools will resume in-person learning on Jan. 24. Seven new cases of COVID-19 were reported in the territory Friday.

Yukon reported 67 new cases Friday.

In the Prairie provinces, health officials in Manitoba said there were 18 more people in hospitals with COVID-19 Friday, for a total of 517. Forty-five of those patients were in ICUs. The province also reported five deaths and more than 1,200 new cases Friday.

The update comes as the province said Manitoba schools will no longer notify close contacts of people with COVID-19 infections when students return to class next week.

In Saskatchewan, Premier Scott Moe has tested positive for COVID-19 using a rapid antigen test. A statement from his office says he was not experiencing any symptoms. Moe said on Twitter that he felt fine, was self-isolating and was working from home for the next five days.

The province on Friday reported 131 hospitalizations due to COVID-19, an increase of eight since Thursday, with eight of those patients in ICUs.

Alberta on Friday had 822 patients in hospitals with COVID-19, an increase of 36 over the previous day, with 82 of those in ICUs. The province also reported five deaths and 6,163 cases.

In British Columbia, 646 people were in hospitals with COVID-19 Friday, an increase of 112 since Thursday. Ninety-five of those patients were in ICUs. B.C. also reported six deaths and 2,275 new cases Friday. The province also said that transmission of Omicron is on the decline, but hospitalizations haven’t yet peaked.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7:16 p.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

People light candles to commemorate those who have died from COVID-19 as Poland hit the sad milestone of 100,000 deaths related to the coronavirus, in Warsaw on Tuesday. Thirteen members of the prime minister’s COVID-19 medical advisory group resigned Friday, condemning policies that they said were not influenced by science. (Czarek Sokolowski/The Associated Press)

As of late Friday afternoon, roughly 322.4 million cases had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.5 million.

In Europe, 13 of the 17 members of Poland’s Medical Council advising the prime minister on COVID-19 resigned Friday, condemning what they said was a lack of scientific influence on policy.

Even with one of the world’s highest per capita death rates, Poland has introduced much more limited measures than many European countries to curb spread during the latest wave of infections.

The country has vaccinated 56.4 per cent of the population and vaccine hesitancy is widespread, particularly in the conservative rural areas that form the government’s heartland. Enforcement of the limited restrictions in place, such as wearing masks in enclosed spaces or limits on numbers in bars and restaurants, is very lax.

A bird’s-eye view of new graves is seen in Antoninow, Poland on Tuesday, in this photo taken by drone. (Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

The total number of COVID-19 deaths in Poland surpassed 100,000 this week.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office apologized to Queen Elizabeth after it emerged that staff had partied late into the night at Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, at a time when mixing indoors was banned.

In the Americas, Uruguay has opened its borders to citizens and residents even if they are infected with COVID-19, a rare move amid surging cases worldwide, though passengers would need to travel in private vehicles across the border and be in a family “bubble.” The country’s government said the move was in “solidarity” with Uruguayans and residents who were infected with the virus abroad.

The U.S. Supreme Court blocked Joe Biden’s vaccination-or-testing mandate for large businesses, a policy the conservative justices deemed an improper imposition on the lives and health of Americans, while endorsing a separate federal vaccine requirement for health-care facilities.

In this photo supplied by Tennis Australia, defending champion Novak Djokovic practises in the Rod Laver Arena ahead of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia, on Tuesday. The question of whether the unvaccinated tennis star will be allowed to stay in the country is again before the courts. (Scott Barbour/Tennis Australia/The Associated Press)

In the Asia-Pacific region, unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic asked an Australian court to block his deportation ahead of the Australian Open after the government cancelled his visa for the second time over COVID-19 entry regulations.

Hong Kong will suspend for a month transit flights from around 150 countries and territories considered high risk, deepening the global financial hub’s isolation.

In the Middle East, Israel has administered a fourth vaccine dose to more than 500,000 people, the Health Ministry said Friday. Israel began administering second boosters to the most vulnerable late last month and later began offering them to everyone over 60.

Authorities hope the additional boosters will blunt a wave of infections driven by the Omicron variant. Health Ministry figures show Israel currently has some 250,000 active cases. But only 317 patients are listed as seriously ill, far fewer than during previous waves.

Israel was among the first countries to roll out vaccines a year ago and began widely offering third doses last summer in a bid to contain the Delta variant. Nearly half the population has received at least one booster shot.

The country of nearly 9.5 million has reported 8,298 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began

In Africa, health officials in South Africa on Thursday reported 5,920 new cases and 159 additional deaths.

-From Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 5:27 p.m. ET

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‘Off to Canada’: India’s jobs crisis exasperates its youth

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Srijan Upadhyay supplied fried snacks to small eateries and roadside stalls in the poor eastern Indian state of Bihar before COVID-19 lockdowns forced most of his customers to close down, many without paying what they owed him.

With his business crippled, the 31-year-old IT undergraduate this month travelled to Rajpura town in Punjab state to meet with consultants who promised him a work visa for Canada. He brought along his neighbour who also wants a Canadian visa because his commerce degree has not helped him get a job.

“There are not enough jobs for us here, and whenever government vacancies come up, we hear of cheating, leaking of test papers,” Upadhyay said, waiting in the lounge of Blue Line consultants. “I am sure we will get a job in Canada, whatever it is initially.”

India‘s unemployment is estimated to have exceeded the global rate in five of the last six years, data from Mumbai-based the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) and International Labour Organization show, due to an economic slowdown that was exacerbated by the pandemic.

Having peaked at 23.5% in April 2020, India’s joblessness rate dropped to 7.9% last month, according to CMIE.

The rate in Canada fell to a multi-month-low of 5.9% in December, while the OECD group of mostly rich countries reported a sixth straight month of decline in October, with countries including the United States suffering labour shortages as economic activity picks up.

Graphic: Unemployment Rate- https://graphics.reuters.com/INDIA-UNEMPLOYMENT/INDIA/zjvqknbzxvx/chart.png

What’s worse for India, its economic growth is producing fewer jobs than it used to, and as disheartened jobseekers instead take menial roles or look to move overseas, the country’s already low rate of workforce participation – those aged 15 and above in work or looking for it – is falling.

“The situation is worse than what the unemployment rate shows,” CMIE Managing Director Mahesh Vyas told Reuters. “The unemployment rate only measures the proportion who do not find jobs of those who are actively seeking jobs. The problem is the proportion seeking jobs itself is shrinking.”

Graphic: Labour participation rate (LPR)- https://graphics.reuters.com/INDIA-UNEMPLOYMENT/INDIA-UNEMPLOYMENT/jnvwejnnlvw/chart.png

VOCAL FOR LOCAL

Critics say such hopelessness among India’s youth is one of the biggest failures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who first came to power in 2014 with his as yet unfulfilled promise of creating millions of jobs.

It also risks India wasting its demographic advantage of having more than two-thirds of its 1.35 billion people of working age https://data.oecd.org/pop/working-age-population.htm.

The ministries of labour and finance did not respond to requests for comment. The labour ministry’s career website had more than 13 million active jobseekers as of last month, with only 220,000 vacancies.

The ministry told parliament in December that “employment generation coupled with improving employability is the priority of the government”, highlighting its focus on small businesses.

Modi’s rivals are now trying to tap into the crisis ahead of elections in five states, including Punjab and most populous Uttar Pradesh, in February and March.

“Because of a lack of employment opportunities here, every kid looks at Canada. Parents hope to somehow send their kids to Canada,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose Aam Admi Party is a front-runner in Punjab elections, told a recent public function there.

“I assure you, within five years they will start returning because we will create so many opportunities for them here.”

He did not explain, but party workers said their policies would attract job-creating businesses.

Punjab’s neighbour Haryana, home to local offices of many global IT companies and an automobiles hub, has already ordered that most jobs there be reserved for locals. A political party in Punjab has promised something similar if voted to power.

“To an extent, if a particular sector is doing well, then some arrangements can be made to ensure that local youth get opportunities,” said Amit Basole, head of the Centre for Sustainable Employment in Azim Premji University in Bengaluru.

“But if overall job creation is weak, then such policies do not solve the underlying problem. And they may also make things worse by reducing investment.”

CMIE’s Vyas said India needs more investment in labour-intensive industries and should bring more women into the labour force, like Bangladesh has done through its garments factories.

“NO ONE DELIVERS”

Between 2018 and 2021, India suffered its longest period of slowdown since 1991, with unemployment averaging 7.2%, CMIE data shows. Global unemployment averaged around 5.7% in that period.

The jobs shortage is particularly problematic for a country like India where annually 12 million people reach employment age. The economy has not grown fast enough to absorb so many people, economists say.

Also, the increase in workforce for every percent rise in gross domestic product has shrunk: the economy will have to grow at 10% to raise employment by 1%, said Basole of Azim Premji University.

In the 1970s and 1980s, when GDP growth was 3% to 4%, employment grew around 2%, Basole has found.

Back in Punjab, Blue Line counsellor Lovepreet said business was booming, with his agency handling some 40 clients a day.

“I have been doing this for four years,” said the 27-year-old, who gave only one name. “I am off to Canada myself, this year or next year. Politicians keep promising us government jobs, but no one delivers.”

<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Unemployment Rate https://tmsnrt.rs/3KBgLNn

Labour participation rate (LPR) https://tmsnrt.rs/3KyAVYt

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

 

(Reporting by Krishna N. Das and Aftab Ahmed; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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COVID-19 blamed for greatest drop in life expectancy in Canada since 1921 – CBC.ca

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Statistics Canada says the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to an average seven-month decline in national life expectancy, the largest decrease recorded since 1921 when the vital statistics registration system was introduced.

The federal agency released preliminary data Monday showing national life expectancy, which is estimated on an annual basis, was 81.7 years for those born in 2020 — down from 82.3 the year before.

The drop was greater for men, at more than eight months, than for women, at nearly five months. The largest declines in the country were observed in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

There were 307,205 deaths in Canada in 2020, representing a 7.7 per cent increase from 2019. Of those, 16,151 deaths were attributed to COVID-19 during the first year of the pandemic, representing 5.3 per cent of the country’s 2020 deaths.

That made COVID-19 the third leading cause of death in Canada in 2020, though Statistics Canada added that the pandemic may have also contributed indirectly to a number of other deaths across the country.

A nurse attends to a COVID-19 patient in Humber River Hospital in Toronto on Jan. 13. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Cancer was the leading cause of death at 26.4 per cent while heart disease was second at 17.5 per cent.

Statistics Canada found that mortality rates for cancer, heart disease and COVID-19 were higher in lower-income neighbourhoods.

Unintentional injuries were the fourth leading cause of death at five per cent, with stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, diabetes mellitus, influenza and pneumonia, Alzheimer’s disease and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis rounding out the top 10.

Greater impact in U.S.

Though Canada’s life expectancy fell in 2020, it was still among the highest in the world over that year, Statistics Canada said.

Some countries, including Spain, Italy and the United States saw greater impact on life expectancy from the pandemic, with declines up to 1.5 years. Others, including Norway, Denmark and Finland, saw life expectancy remain stable or even increase in 2020, despite the pandemic.

Statistics Canada said life expectancy for those born in 2020 is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels as the impacts of the health crisis diminish.

The data released Monday is preliminary, Statistics Canada said, and does not include information on deaths in Yukon.

The rate of influenza and pneumonia deaths in 2020 was 12.9 deaths per 100,000 population, a decline from the 15.6 deaths per 100,000 seen in 2019. That marked the lowest death rate attributed to flu and pneumonia in more than 20 years.

People aged 65 years and older accounted for 94.1 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths in Canada in 2020, with more than half — 54.6 per cent — occurring in people older than 84.

Canadians younger than age 40 were largely unaffected by the direct effects of the pandemic, Statistics Canada said, with approximately 50 COVID-19 deaths recorded among that age group in 2020. But the agency added that in younger age groups, increases in deaths attributed to other causes, including substance-related harms, were observed.

Canada recorded 4,604 deaths due to accidental poisonings, including overdoses. That figure was up from 3,705 deaths reported in 2019 but comparable to the 4,501 deaths reported in 2018 and the 4,830 deaths reported in 2017 at the height of the pre-pandemic opioids crisis.

Statistics Canada also said there were “notable increases” in alcohol-induced deaths in 2020, particularly in those younger than 65. In people under 45, alcohol-induced deaths rose to 542 in 2020, from around 360 in each of 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The agency said alcohol-induced deaths include fatalities from diseases and conditions related to chronic use of alcohol but exclude unintentional deaths such as traffic accidents where alcohol is believed to be a contributing factor.

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

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The latest:

Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 is now required to access big-box and other large-scale retail stores across Quebec.

Premier François Legault previously announced that Quebecers will have to show their vaccination passport starting today if they wish to enter stores with floor surfaces of 1,500 square metres or more.

The measure comes as Legault continues to focus measures on unvaccinated residents in an effort to curb COVID-19-related hospitalizations, which soared in recent weeks but have declined for the past four days in a row.

Proof-of-vaccination requirements do not apply to stores that primarily sell pharmacy or grocery products.

Quebec expanded its vaccination passport system last week to cannabis and liquor stores.

  • Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email: ask@cbc.ca

The province’s COVID-19 update posted Monday showed 3,299 hospitalizations — an increase of 16 from a day earlier. The number of people in intensive care units stood at 263 — down by 10 from a day earlier. 

Health officials in Quebec also reported 52 additional deaths and 2,807 additional lab-confirmed cases. Because of limits on PCR testing, officials in the province have cautioned that the number of new cases is likely significantly higher.

Junior Health Minister Lionel Carmant is set to announce a plan for unvaccinated Quebecers later this afternoon alongside Daniel Paré, the head of the province’s immunization campaign.

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


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | COVID-19: Children’s vaccinations and hospitalizations: 

COVID-19: Children’s vaccinations and hospitalizations

14 hours ago

Duration 8:11

Dr. Earl Rubin, Dr. Katrina Hurley and Dr. Natalie Bridge answer questions about children’s COVID-19 vaccination rates across the country, hospitalizations and Omicron symptoms in kids. 8:11

With lab-based testing capacity deeply strained and increasingly restricted, experts say true case counts are likely far higher than reported. Hospitalization data at the regional level is also evolving, with several provinces saying they will report figures that separate the number of people in hospital because of COVID-19 from those in hospital for another medical issue who also test positive for COVID-19.

For more information on what is happening in your community — including details on outbreaks, testing capacity and local restrictions — click through to the regional coverage below.

You can also read more from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which provides a detailed look at every region — including seven-day average test positivity rates — in its daily epidemiological updates.

In Central Canada, Ontario on Monday reported 3,861 hospitalizations, an increase of 64 from the previous day. According to the provincial COVID-19 dashboard, there were 615 people in the province’s intensive care units, up by 11 from a day earlier.

 The province also reported 37 additional deaths and 4,790 lab-confirmed cases.

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick health officials on Sunday reported two additional COVID-19-related deaths and 545 additional lab-confirmed cases. The province said a total of 126 people were in hospital, including 10 in intensive care units.

Prince Edward Island saw two additional COVID-19 related deaths over the weekend, bringing the number of deaths recorded on the island to six. The latest data from the province showed nine people in hospital with COVID-19.

Nova Scotia on Sunday said there were 85 people in hospital who were admitted due to COVID-19 and were receiving specialized care. Eleven people were in intensive care units, the province said in a statement, which noted that more than 200 others were in hospital with COVID-19, including those who had contracted the virus after they were admitted to hospital.

The province also reported an additional 503 lab-confirmed cases.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, 19 people were in hospital with COVID-19, health officials said in a tweet on Sunday. The province, which is set to send students back to classrooms later this week, also reported 361 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

WATCH | 3 teenagers who stepped up to help others during pandemic: 

3 teenagers who stepped up to help others during pandemic

14 hours ago

Duration 6:05

These three teenagers have stepped up to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering food, helping seniors with technology and providing homemade air filters. 6:05

In the Prairie provinces, Saskatchewan on Sunday said 252 people were in hospital, up from 244 a day earlier, the province’s COVID-19 dashboard showed. Of those, 26 patients were in intensive care units across the province. Health officials also reported 1,629 additional lab-confirmed cases.

Manitoba and Alberta are expected to provide updated information covering the weekend later on Monday.

Across the North, Nunavut on Sunday reported 26 additional cases of COVID-19. Health officials in Yukon and the Northwest Territories are expected to provide updated information about the state of the pandemic later Monday.

British Columbia health officials don’t report COVID-19 data over the weekend. An update covering the three-day period since Friday is expected later Monday.

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


What’s happening around the world

WATCH | ‘Dangerous’ to assume Omicron last variant, says WHO: 

‘Dangerous’ to assume Omicron last variant, says WHO

5 hours ago

Duration 1:14

A much higher global vaccination rate is needed to thwart coronavirus variants and end the acute phase of the pandemic, says World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 1:14

As of early Monday morning, more than 351.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.5 million.

The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is warning that conditions remain ideal for more coronavirus variants to emerge, saying it’s dangerous to assume Omicron is the last one or that “we are in the endgame.” Tedros also said the acute phase of the pandemic could end this year — if some key targets are met, including WHO’s target to vaccinate 70 per cent of the population of every country by the middle of this year.

“It’s true that we will be living with COVID for the foreseeable future and that we will need to learn to manage it through a sustained and integrated system for acute respiratory diseases” to help prepare for future pandemics, he said. “But learning to live with COVID cannot mean that we give this virus a free ride. It cannot mean that we accept almost 50,000 deaths a week from a preventable and treatable disease.”

WATCH | What can Canadian athletes expect in Beijing? 

Spirit of 2022 Olympics will lift athletes, says Le May Doan

1 hour ago

Duration 2:32

Canada’s athletes will enjoy the celebratory mood at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, says Catriona Le May Doan, the Chef de Mission. 2:32

In the Asia-Pacific region, Beijing’s city government introduced new measures to contain a recent outbreak of COVID-19, as China’s capital continued to report new local cases of the virus less than two weeks before it hosts the Winter Olympic Games.

India reported over 300,000 new COVID-19 infections for the fourth straight day, even though the caseload over the last 24 hours was slightly lower than a day before, data released by the government on Sunday showed.

In Europe, tens of thousands of people protested in Brussels, Belgium, against COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, some clashing with police who fired water cannon and tear gas to disperse them near the European Commission’s headquarters.

A police officer walks by a damaged building in the European Union quarter during a demonstration against COVID-19 measures in Brussels on Sunday. Demonstrators gathered in the Belgian capital to protest what they regard as overly extreme measures by the government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/The Associated Press)

Russia on Monday reported a new record number of COVID-19 cases confirmed in the past 24 hours as the Omicron variant of the virus spread across the country, the government coronavirus task force said. Daily new cases jumped to 65,109, from 63,205 a day earlier. The task force also reported 655 deaths.

In Africa, health officials in South Africa on Sunday reported 1,931 new cases of COVID-19 and 114 additional deaths. 

In the Middle East, health officials in Iran on Monday said 21 people had died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. The country also reported 7,691 additional cases.

In the Americas, the United States — the World Health Organization’s top donor — is resisting proposals to make the agency more independent, four officials involved in the talks said, raising doubts on the Biden administration’s long-term support.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who recently recovered from his second infection, reassured Mexicans he was in good health following an overnight hospital stay.

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

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