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



The latest:

Some provinces are speeding up plans to get people inoculated against COVID-19, following the approval of a fourth vaccine and increased supplies.

Those adjusting their timetables for vaccine rollouts include Ontario. The head of the province’s COVID-19 task force, retired general Rick Hillier, said on Friday he hopes everyone who wants a vaccine will get one by the start of summer.

He said all adults in Ontario could receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by June 20 now that extra doses are on their way to Canada.

On Friday, federal officials announced expedited shipments of 3.5 million doses of the COVID-19 shot from Pfizer-BioNTech, the same day Health Canada approved Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate, which is not expected to ship before April.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Pfizer doses originally set to arrive in the summer would instead be delivered over the spring. He said Canada should have eight million doses available of several vaccine types by the end of March.

WATCH | Ontario to accelerate inoculations as vaccine supply ramps up:

Retired general Rick Hillier, head of Ontario’s Vaccine Distribution Task Force, says the addition of two newly approved COVID-19 vaccines will allow the province to ‘crush those timelines’ and get one dose of vaccine into every willing Ontarian who is eligible by June 20. 1:17

Meanwhile, Manitoba announced that all eligible adults in the province could have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by mid-May or the end of June at the latest. 

In New Brunswick, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Friday that with the expected arrival of the province’s first shipment of the two-dose AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine later this month, New Brunswick is pledging to provide one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to every New Brunswicker before the end of June.

Alberta has also revised its estimates around vaccines, with Health Minister Tyler Shandro saying on Thursday that the province expects “to have offered every single adult in the province at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine” by June 30.

What’s happening in Canada

As of 10:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had reported 882,756 cases of COVID-19, with 29,978 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,198.

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin called the federal go-ahead for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine a “positive step forward” on Friday, as health officials geared up for the opening of the first of 10 community inoculation clinics across the province next week.

Rankin confirmed that the province would be adopting a 16-week interval between the first and second doses, so all Nova Scotians who want to be vaccinated will get one shot by the end of June.

WATCH | Canadian researchers looking for ways to cut down PPE waste:

Across Canada, research engineers and physicians are developing recycling systems and pushing for more sustainable options to reduce hospital waste. That’s because the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge in use of personal protective equipment, which has meant more plastics ending up in landfills. The federal government estimates 63,000 tonnes of COVID-19 related PPE ended up as waste last year. 2:01 

The province reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, while New Brunswick reported four new casesPrince Edward Island reported one new COVID-19 case on Friday.

Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 on Friday and announced that four testing centres will be accepting appointments for asymptomatic people to get tested.

Ontario, which reported 990 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and six additional deaths, is planning to loosen restrictions next week in Toronto and Peel Region, lifting a strict stay-at-home order imposed earlier this year.

WATCH | Three trans women of colour on dealing with pandemic isolation:

Three Toronto transgender women of colour share how they’re enduring the pain and isolation of pandemic social restrictions and how they’re looking forward to better days. 4:05

The two regions, along with North Bay-Parry Sound, were the last ones still under the order, while most of the province transitioned back to the government’s colour-coded pandemic response framework last month.

Toronto and Peel will be placed in the strictest “grey lockdown” category of the framework starting Monday, as was recommended by public health officials in the two areas. North Bay, meanwhile, will be placed in the red zone, the second-most restrictive level of pandemic measures.

Quebec reported 798 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 10 additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 617, with 111 COVID-19 patients in the province’s intensive care units, according to a provincial dashboard.

Manitoba reported 54 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, along with one related death.

Saskatchewan reported 207 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, along with two related deaths.

Alberta reported 411 new cases of COVID-19 and two related deaths on Friday.

British Columbia reported 634 new cases of COVID-19 and four related deaths on Friday.

Across the North, Nunavut reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, all of them in the hamlet of Arviat. 

What’s happening around the world

As of Saturday morning, more than 116.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, with more than 65.6 million of the cases listed on the Johns Hopkins University tracking site as resolved. The global death toll stood at more than 2.5 million.

Saudi Arabia will end most coronavirus-related restrictions on Sunday, including resuming indoor dining, reopening cinemas and resuming entertainment activities and events, the state news agency SPA said on Saturday.

Some activities will remain banned, including weddings and corporate meetings. Social gatherings will continue to be limited to a maximum of 20 people, SPA said, citing an Interior Ministry source.

In Japan, about 70 anti-Olympics protesters gathered and marched in central Tokyo on Saturday to call for the cancellation of the Olympic Games this summer.

The protest march started from National Stadium where the opening ceremony for the Games is planned, and went through the busy shopping street of Omote Sando.

Protesters who are against holding the Olympics and Paralympics the year in Japan march near the National Stadium, in Tokyo on Saturday. (Hideto Sakai/Reuters)

Protesters held banners and shouted slogans denouncing the Olympics and Paralympics.

“We think it is too reckless to hold Olympics in this situation,” said one protester, Yoko Kataoka, citing the country’s not-contained COVID-19 situation.

The Olympics are scheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8 and the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.

WATCH | WHO says patents should be waived to get more vaccine made in more countries:

There isn’t enough COVID-19 vaccine getting to countries through the COVAX system, says the World Health Organization, so it’s recommending an emergency waiver of medical patents to ramp up vaccine production in developing countries. 0:53

In Germany, supermarket chain Aldi began selling coronavirus home testing kits on Saturday. They are only available directly at the supermarket checkout and are limited to one pack per customer. Each contains five rapid tests and costs about 25 euros ($37 Cdn.)

In some cases, long queues formed in front of many supermarket stores and supplies quickly sold out. Other German supermarket chains, such as Lidl, Rewe and Edeka, also plan to offer rapid tests soon.

So far, seven brands of home testing kits have been granted the special permission.

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Citigroup lawyer says another bank made bigger payment error than Revlon



NEW YORK (Reuters) – A lawyer for Citigroup Inc told a U.S. judge on Friday he was aware of another large bank that recently made a bigger payment error than Citigroup made last August when it sent $894 million of its own money to Revlon Inc lenders.

Neal Katyal, the lawyer, made the disclosure at a hearing in Manhattan federal court, where Citigroup urged U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman to extend a freeze on $504 million that it has been unable to recoup from the Revlon lenders.

Katyal did not identify the bank, the size of the payment error, or whether the error was fixed.

Citigroup is appealing Furman’s Feb. 16 decision that 10 asset managers, whose clients include Revlon lenders, could keep its mistaken payments.

Furman accepted the asset managers’ argument that Citigroup, as Revlon’s loan agent, paid what they were owed, and they had no reason to think a sophisticated bank would blunder so badly.

Citigroup has said the lenders received a “windfall,” and Furman’s decision could steer banks away from doing wire transfers in a “finders, keepers” marketplace.

Katyal is a partner at Hogan Lovells and former Acting U.S. Solicitor General. Citigroup hired him for its appeal.


(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; editing by Diane Craft)

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Canada aims to raise safety along notorious “Highway of Tears” with cell phone service



By Moira Warburton

VANCOUVER (Reuters) – Canadian authorities will help fund mobile phone service to increase safety along a remote stretch of highway in British Columbia known as the “Highway of Tears” for the number of women who have gone missing on the route, most of them indigenous.

Indigenous groups recommended the move in 2006 in a report on disappearances and murders of women along the highway between the cities of Prince Rupert and Prince George, roughly 800 km (500 miles) north of Vancouver.

The recommendation was endorsed by a provincial government-mandated commission several years later.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating 13 cases of murdered women and five who disappeared on or near the Highway of Tears, although no new cases have been added since 2007. Advocates believe the number of homicides and missing is significantly higher.

Lisa Beare, British Columbia’s minister of citizens’ services, called the project “a critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies along this route.”

Cell phone plans in Canada are among the most expensive in the world, according to government data, and the cost and lack of coverage in rural areas was a top issue in the last election.

The provincial and federal governments will contribute C$4.5 million towards the C$11.6 million ($9.24 million) cost for Rogers Communications to install 12 cell phone towers, the British Columbia government said on Wednesday.

Lorraine Whitman, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, applauded the plan but said it was only one step in making the area safer for indigenous women.

“This truly is a blessing for the women,” she said. “But not all women have a phone. These towers are being put up, but it makes no use to the person that has no cell phone.”

($1 = 1.2558 Canadian dollars)


(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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Canadian fertilizer producer Nutrien to cut greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030



By Rod Nickel and Rithika Krishna

(Reuters) –Canada‘s Nutrien Ltd, the world’s largest fertilizer producer by capacity, said on Thursday it aimed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% by 2030, in a plan costing the company up to $700 million.

Agricultural companies, including Mosaic and Corteva, have set carbon emissions targets as climate-conscious investors push firms to become more environmentally friendly.

Nutrien plans to spend $500 million to $700 million to meet the carbon emissions target, which includes cutting emissions from nitrogen production by 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually by the end of 2023.

“We’re in a really unique spot to address two big societal challenges – food security, and in a way that reduces our environmental footprint,” said Mark Thompson, Nutrien’s chief corporate development and strategy officer, in an interview.

Synthetic fertilizers account for 12% of global emissions from agriculture, according to a 2016 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report.

Nutrien’s target includes Scope 1 and 2 emissions, which reflect direct operations and electricity use. Nutrien is addressing Scope 3 emissions – those related to on-farm activity – with a program that encourages growers to adopt sustainable practices that generate monetary credits.

The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan-based company plans to deploy wind and solar energy at four potash plants by the end of 2025, replacing electricity generated by coal and natural gas.

It also plans to expand its sequestration of carbon emissions from nitrogen fertilizer production and to invest in technology to capture nitrous oxide gas from its facilities.

Nutrien estimates that its carbon credit program could directly amount to $10 to $20 per acre for farmers, and it expects to benefit financially itself as well.

“If we can provide agronomic value and the value of the carbon credit over time, we’ll have customer loyalty – we anticipate that we’ll be a preferred supplier,” Thompson said.

(Reporting by Rithika Krishna in Bengaluru and Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Steve Orlofsky)

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