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

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The latest:

Ontario crossed the 300,000 mark for total number of COVID-19 cases on Sunday and remains the province with the highest tally.

Its overall count rose to 300,816 after health officials counted 1,062 new infections.

The province has been logging roughly 1,000 new cases per day in recent weeks. Ontario is also approaching 7,000 deaths linked to the virus since the start of the pandemic, with 6,980 in total recorded as of Sunday.

Ontario is taking a regional approach to its pandemic response and is set to push two public health units back into lockdown on Monday: Simcoe-Muskoka and Thunder Bay.

Restrictions will loosen on Monday in Niagara Region; Chatham-Kent; Middlesex-London; Southwestern; Haldimand-Norfolk; Huron Perth; and Grey Bruce public health regions.

To the east, Prince Edward Island is bringing in some new circuit breaker restrictions, starting Sunday, because of a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Most of the province’s previous cases have been linked to travel, but many of its 12 new COVID-19 cases in the past few days have no such connection.

The restrictions will be in effect until at least March 14, Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief public health officer, said in a COVID-19 briefing on Saturday.

They include no in-restaurant dining, no sports games or tournaments, a limit on gym capacity and restricting personal gatherings to household members plus 10 “consistent” people.


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What’s happening across Canada

As of 11:15 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 866,000 cases of COVID-19, with 30,718 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 21,989.

In British Columbia, Fraser Health reported that an outbreak had been declared at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, where five patients in a medicine unit have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

Alberta Health Services CEO Dr. Verna Yiu is apologizing for the “frustration and worry” caused by the problematic launch of its online COVID-19 vaccine appointment booking system. The site repeatedly crashed, and the 811 phone line jammed as Albertans tried for hours to book appointments.

Alberta registered 415 new cases and six additional deaths on Saturday.

Saskatchewan reported 162 new cases and five deaths.

First Nations in the province have continued to be hit hard by COVID-19 in the first two months of 2021, with Indigenous Services Canada saying there were 2,779 new cases on reserves in Saskatchewan so far this year — more than any other province in Canada.

Manitoba confirmed 90 new COVID-19 cases and four more deaths.

With numbers continuing to decline, the provincial government is considering a broad swath of relaxed COVID-19 rules that could increase outdoor gathering sizes, let families form a “bubble” with another household and see almost all establishments allowed to reopen, including in the retail and indoor recreation sectors.

WATCH | Manitoba government considers relaxing COVID-19 rules:

Provincial officials give update on COVID-19 outbreak: Thursday, February 25, 2021. 28:23

Ontario reported 1,062 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 additional deaths on Sunday, after counting 1,185 new cases and 16 new deaths the previous day.

The province also announced Friday it is activating an “emergency brake” in Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka, sending the regions back into lockdown to “immediately interrupt transmission and contain community spread. “The two regions will move into the grey lockdown level of Ontario’s COVID-19 restriction plan effective 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday, March 1.

Quebec marked one year on Saturday since detecting its first case of COVID-19. It has Canada’s second-highest count for coronavirus infections among the provinces and territories.

In that time, Quebec has registered 287,740 cases of the virus, including 737 that were announced Sunday. A total of 10,393 deaths in the province have been attributed to the respiratory infection, including nine new deaths on Sunday.

The province is working to accelerate its mass vaccination campaign, with the goal of administering 12 million doses by the beginning of September. Montreal is expanding its vaccination program to include members of the general public aged 80 and over. The city’s campaign is set to get underway on Monday.

People walk in a Montreal cinema on Saturday as Quebec allowed the reopening of movie theatres, but not the selling of food and drinks, which includes popcorn. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

New Brunswick reported one new death attributed to COVID-19 on Sunday but no new cases.

Residents of the province can now go between regions for non-essential trips. Under revised orange phase guidelines, those living in other regions can be part of a household’s steady 10 contacts, and hospital visits are permitted with public health measures in place.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new cases and one additional death, bringing its total death toll to six.

Nova Scotia announced four new cases on Saturday as tighter restrictions came into force to stem a recent spike.

Restaurants and bars in the Halifax area must now stop serving food and drinks by 9 p.m. and must close by 10 p.m. Restrictions are also being placed on sports, arts and culture events.

WATCH | How the pandemic has affected young adults:

Online learning. Stunted careers. Relationships that never had a chance to blossom, and opportunities that might never materialize. CBC News spoke to six young adults about how the first year of the pandemic has affected their lives. 5:12

Prince Edward Island reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. The new cases — five men and one woman — are all in their 20s. Five are close contacts of previous cases.

Nunavut added six recoveries on Saturday. Active cases in the territory now stand at 20.

In the Northwest Territories, a Gahcho Kué mine worker who contracted COVID-19 is in critical condition, health authorities confirmed Friday. The territory has seen a total of four people hospitalized for complications related to COVID-19, with three connected to the Gahcho Kué mine. All but one have recovered.

What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 113.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with 64.3 million of them listed as recovered on a tracking site maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.5 million, according to the U.S.-based university. 

The Philippines received its first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday, among the last in Southeast Asia to secure the critical doses despite having the second-highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the hard-hit region.

In this photo provided by the Presidential Communications Operations Office – Office of the Global Media Public Affairs, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, centre, looks at a vial containing the Sinovac vaccine from China as it arrives at the Villamor Air Base in Manila on Sunday. (Philippines government via The Associated Press)

A Chinese military transport aircraft carrying 600,000 doses of vaccine donated by China arrived at an air base in the capital. Initial vaccinations of health workers were scheduled to start in six Metropolitan Manila hospitals on Monday.

Aside from the donated vaccine from Sinovac Biotech, the government has separately ordered 25 million doses from the China-based company. An initial 525,600 doses of COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca were also scheduled to arrive on Monday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

The initial deliveries are a small fraction of at least 148 million doses the government has been negotiating to secure from Western and Asian companies to vaccinate about 70 million Filipinos for free in a massive campaign largely funded with foreign and domestic loans. The bulk of the vaccine shipments are expected to arrive later this year.

The United States is getting a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19, as the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose.

Health experts are anxiously awaiting a one-and-done option to help speed vaccinations, as they race against a virus that has already killed more than 510,000 people in the U.S.

The FDA said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85 per cent protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents — protection that remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading.

Johnson & Johnson is initially providing a few million doses, and shipments to states could begin as early as Monday. By the end of March, the company has said it expects to deliver 20 million doses to the U.S. and 100 million by summer.


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Iran indicts 10 over Ukraine plane crash, prosecutor says; Canada demands justice

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DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran has indicted 10 officials over the shooting-down of a Ukrainian passenger plane in January 2020 that killed all 176 people on board, a military prosecutor said on Tuesday.

In a report published last month, Iran’s civil aviation body blamed the crash on a misaligned radar and an error by an air defence operator. Ukraine and Canada, home to many of those who died, criticised the report as insufficient.

“Indictments have been issued for 10 officials involved in the crash of the Ukrainian plane…and necessary decisions will be taken in court,” Gholam Abbas Torki, the outgoing military prosecutor for Tehran province, was quoted as saying by the semi-official news agency ISNA. He did not elaborate.

In Ottawa, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “tremendously concerned about the lack of accountability” from Iran about the disaster.

Canada, along with its partners, will continue to press Tehran to deliver justice and compensation for families of the victims, he told a briefing when asked about the indictments.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards shot down the Ukraine International Airlines flight on Jan. 8, 2020, shortly after it took off from Tehran Airport.

The Iranian government later said the shooting-down was a “disastrous mistake” by its forces at a time when they were on high alert in a regional confrontation with the United States.

Iran was on edge about possible attacks after it fired missiles at Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the killing days before of its most powerful military commander, Qassem Soleimani, in a U.S. missile strike at Baghdad airport.

 

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Gareth Jones and Mark Heinrich)

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Canadian oil producers CNRL, Cenovus plan new emissions targets, no pivot to renewables

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CNRL

By Rod Nickel and Nia Williams

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) -Canadian Natural Resources Ltd (CNRL) and Cenovus Energy Inc, two of Canada‘s biggest oil producers, said on Tuesday they would set new goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but not pivot away from their core businesses.

Oil sands producers, which extract some of the world’s most carbon-intense crude, face investor pressure to reduce their environmental impact. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to raise Canada‘s carbon price steeply over time to position the country for carbon-neutral status by 2050.

CNRL’s corporate emissions-cutting goal will be announced in the second quarter, President Tim McKay said at the Scotiabank CAPP Energy Symposium, which is being held remotely.

The company cut carbon intensity per barrel by 18% between 2016 and 2020 and sees carbon capture as a way to further reduce its environmental toll, McKay said.

It does not plan major investments in renewable energy as European oil majors have done.

“The preference is to stick with what we know and what we’re good at,” McKay said. “There’s going to be a need for oil long-term.”

Cenovus is also planning new emissions-cutting targets and might invest in renewable power partnerships.

“Where we’re likely to remain is focused on oil and gas production,” Cenovus Chief Executive Officer Alex Pourbaix told the symposium. “But don’t look for us to become a late-entrant renewable-power developer.”

Suncor Energy Inc is on track to achieve its goal of cutting the emissions intensity of production by 30% versus 2014 levels by 2030, said Chief Financial Officer Alister Cowan, and is now talking about updating its target beyond 2030.

Imperial Oil Ltd could adopt technologies of parent company Exxon Mobil Corp like carbon capture and biofuel blending, Senior Vice President of Finance Dan Lyons said.

“When it comes to wind farms and solar farms, that’s not really in our wheelhouse.”

Sticking to fossil fuels will jeopardize the businesses long-term, said Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada.

“They will go the way of Blockbuster Video once Netflix arrived,” Stewart said.

Canada‘s transition to a low-carbon economy could displace up to 450,000 oil and gas workers over the next three decades, TD Economics said.

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg and Nia Williams in Calgary; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Peter Cooney)

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Saskatchewan sees bigger, C$2.6-billion deficit to fight pandemic

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By Rod Nickel

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – The Canadian province of Saskatchewan forecast on Tuesday a C$2.6-billion ($2.07 billion)deficit in the current 2021-22 fiscal year, up from last year’s C$1.9 billion, as the pandemic drives up costs.

The province, whose economy relies on farming, oil production and mining, is running a larger deficit so it can effectively respond to the COVID-19 crisis, Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said.

Canadian provincial governments, like the national government, have run bigger deficits since the pandemic began, trying to slow its spread and buttress economies that lockdowns have hit hard.

With government debt rising, credit rating agencies are watching closely for provincial strategies to tame deficits, TD Economics said in a report last month.

Saskatchewan expects to continue running deficits until balancing the books in 2026-27, the provincial government said while introducing its new budget.

The Saskatchewan Party government, led by Premier Scott Moe, forecast spending to increase by 7% to C$17.1 billion from last year, including costs such as vaccinations, tests for infection and purchases of protective equipment.

It forecast provincial revenues for the 2021-22 fiscal year at C$14.5 billion, up nearly 3% from last year.

Saskatchewan’s real gross domestic product looks to grow 3.4% in 2021 after contracting 4.2% last year, the government said.

The budget assumes an average North American oil futures price of $54.33 per barrel during its fiscal year, generating C$505.1 million in royalties.

Neighboring Alberta estimated in February that its 2021-22 budget deficit would shrink to C$18.2 billion, as its economy starts to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

 

 

(Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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