The World Health Organization said Sunday that a UN-backed program shipping coronavirus vaccines to many low-income countries has now delivered one billion doses, but that milestone “is only a reminder of the work that remains” after hoarding and stockpiling in rich countries.
A shipment of 1.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Rwanda on Saturday included the billionth dose supplied via the COVAX program, the United Nations health agency said.
WHO has long criticized unequal distribution of vaccines and called for manufacturers and other countries to prioritize COVAX. It said that as of Thursday, 36 of its 194 member countries had vaccinated less than 10 per cent of their population and 88 had vaccinated less than 40 per cent.
The program has made deliveries to 144 countries so far, “but the work that has gone into this milestone is only a reminder of the work that remains,” WHO said in a statement.
“COVAX’s ambition was compromised by hoarding/stockpiling in rich countries, catastrophic outbreaks leading to borders and supply being locked. And a lack of sharing of licences, technology and know-how by pharmaceutical companies meant manufacturing capacity went unused.”
At the end of December, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged everyone to make a “New Year’s resolution” to get behind a campaign to vaccinate 70 per cent of countries’ populations by the beginning of July.
In a newspaper interview published Sunday, Germany’s new international development minister, Svenja Schulze, said she wants to use her country’s presidency this year of the Group of Seven industrial nations to ensure that COVAX gets the resources it needs in 2022.
Germany urges other countries to catch up
“Unfortunately, there are still too few countries participating in the financing of the global vaccination campaign,” Schulze was quoted as telling the Funke newspaper group. “Alongside Sweden, Norway, Canada and the U.S., we are the ones who are giving most. The other industrial countries have significant ground to catch up.”
Germany has said it donated 103 million doses to poorer countries last year and plans to donate another 75 million in 2022.
What’s happening across Canada
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 British Columbia, the 2022 B.C. Winter Games have been cancelled over COVID-19 concerns.
In the Prairies, students in Manitoba are preparing to go back to in-person schooling on Monday. The two largest universities in Alberta are delaying a return to in-person classes until late February. In Saskatchewan, an epidemiologist is countering a claim made by the province’s premier that restrictions don’t curb the spread of Omicron.
In Ontario, there were 579 people in hospital ICUs as a result of COVID-19 on Sunday, up by 21 people from the previous day, health officials said.
In Quebec, health officials said there were 282 people undergoing treatment for COVID-19 in hospital ICUs on Sunday, up by seven from Saturday.
Students in the province are returning to classes on Monday after an extended winter break. The Quebec government has said carbon dioxide readers will be coming to classrooms this coming week to better assess the ventilation needs of schools.
In the Atlantic provinces, Nova Scotia on Sunday reported that 68 people are in hospital because of COVID-19, including 10 in intensive care. Admissions grew by 10 patients, while the ICU number remained unchanged from Saturday.
Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed the province’s 25th death related to the virus on Saturday; New Brunswick entered Level 3 of its lockdown measures — the province’s most restrictive level — on Saturday; and in Prince Edward Island, where the pandemic only made limited inroads in previous waves, officials recorded 309 new cases on Saturday.
In the North, Nunavut reported five new cases on Saturday, plus one presumptive case in the village of Naujaat, while the Yukon government is imposing stronger public health measures starting on Tuesday.
What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday, roughly 326.6 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 Asia, state media are reporting the Chinese city of Xi’an has gradually begun lifting restrictions after more than three weeks of lockdown as authorities sought to stamp out a local outbreak.
They report that lockdown measures have been either partially or completely lifted in some communities designated as lower risk, allowing people to leave their homes for a limited time to purchase daily necessities.
The partial lifting of measures comes after the city went into strict lockdown on Dec. 22, following a local COVID-19 outbreak that officials attributed to the Delta variant.
In Europe, Austria’s government proposed on Sunday setting the minimum age for mandatory vaccinations against COVID-19 at 18 and rolling out the program in stages from Feb. 1, seeking to build broad consensus for the disputed step.
The conservative-led government had said last month it intended the mandate to apply to all people aged 14 and up, which would make it the first European Union country to make vaccinations compulsory for the general population.
Denmark has lifted a number of COVID-19 restrictions and allowed the reopening of certain venues despite the spread of the Omicron variant in the country.
Cinemas, zoos, museums and theatres were among the places that could open their doors on Sunday. Limited numbers of spectators were allowed to attend indoor and outdoor sports events.
Visitors are required to wear masks at most of these places and provide proof that they have been vaccinated or have recovered or recently tested negative for COVID-19. The government is planning to relax coronavirus restrictions further in Denmark on Jan. 31.
In the Middle East, cases of COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia remain high after the kingdom recorded its highest daily number of infections last week, Health Ministry data showed, breaking through 5,000 cases. An additional 5,281 new infections were reported on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases to 609,953 since 2020.
The latest on the French-language Conservative leadership debate in Laval
LAVAL, Que. — Conservative leadership hopefuls are squaring off — in French — in the second official debate of the race, which is being held in Laval, Que.
Here are the latest developments. All times eastern:
Conservative leadership candidates Patrick Brown and Leslyn Lewis took turns attacking rival Pierre Poilievre for his embrace of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin as a solution to inflation.
Lewis, who is often reading from her notes during the French-language debate in Laval, Que., said Poilievre’s position was wrong.
At one point, Brown said Poilievre’s position on Bitcoin was similar to that of the leadership in El Salvador, which adopted Bitcoin as legal tender.
The International Monetary Fund urged the Central American country to drop Bitcoin as its official currency earlier this year, citing its volatility.
Former Quebec premier Jean Charest says Canada must renegotiate the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States.
He says that is how he would deal with “illegal immigration,” such as migrants entering the country through the unofficial border crossing at Roxham Road south of Montreal.
Candidates were asked about immigration as the first question in the debate.
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown used the question to say he was trying to build an inclusive party and attacked Ottawa-area MP Pierre Poilievre for not publicly condemning the “white replacement” conspiracy theory espoused by Pat King, a leader of the Ottawa convoy protest.
Poilievre responded by saying he has in fact condemned King’s remarks and that people couldn’t believe anything Brown says.
While answering a question about public safety, Poilievre said the country needs to better deal with guns illegally brought into Canada.
Charest said Poilievre has no businesses talking about law and order when he supported the Ottawa convoy, which he called an illegal blockade.
The room then erupted into a mix of cheers and boos.
Candidates took to the stage and began by outlining one by one what legacy they wanted to leave behind as leaders.
Pierre Poilievre says he wants his legacy to be making Canada the freest country in the world, including by making sure people don’t feel forced to get vaccinated and that young people are able to afford a home.
Patrick Brown says he can win in urban areas, which the party needs, and has what it takes to build a party that can succeed in a general election.
Roman Baber, an Independent member of the Ontario legislature, introduced himself to the crowd.
He says he knows Canada is bilingual and has taken lessons, but still asked those watching to forgive his French.
The Conservative party’s leadership organizing committee announced before the debate began that it will announce the results of the leadership race at a downtown Ottawa convention centre on Sept. 10.
The party’s president, Robert Batherson, says it will be the first time since 2018 that members will gather together at a national event.
The party held a convention in Halifax in 2018.
House music issued from amplifiers as Conservatives of all ages began to take their seats ahead of tonight’s leadership debate.
Several hundred attendees, who were not wearing masks, crowded the ballroom of the Chateau Royal venue north of Montreal, seated between television cameras and the stage.
The six contenders are slated to appear at their podiums at 8 p.m.
Conservative leadership candidates filed in for the race’s only French-language debate, being held at a reception hall north of Montreal.
The suburban venue in Laval, Que., saw scores of federal Tories and onlookers mingling in the foyer before the six contenders take the stage.
Former Quebec premier Jean Charest greeted a handful of supporters with kisses, while Ontario MP Scott Aitchison chatted with party members amid sign-up booths for each candidate.
Bookending the stage beneath ballroom chandeliers were a bank of speakers and 14 flags — six with the Fleur-de-lis, eight with the Maple Leaf.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022
The Canadian Press
Monkeypox: Cases in Canada climb to 16, PHAC says – CTV News
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says it has now confirmed a total of 16 cases of monkeypox in the country, all in Quebec.
The latest update on the spread of the viral disease came in a statement issued Wednesday evening.
The statement says Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory continues to receive samples from multiple jurisdictions for confirmation testing.
“At this time, cases of monkeypox are being identified and treated by local health clinics,” the statement said.
“There is ongoing planning with provinces and territories to provide access to approved vaccines in Canada that, if required, can be used in managing monkeypox in their jurisdiction.”
In April, Public Services and Procurement Canada submitted a tender to purchase 500,000 doses of the Imvamune vaccine between 2023 and 2028.
There is currently no need for mass immunizations, the PHAC says.
“I know Canadians are concerned,” Duclos said in a statement Tuesday. “The Government of Canada is prepared to respond to emerging public health events and takes precautions to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases.”
The national laboratory received its first samples during the week of May 16, before announcing the first two cases of monkeypox identified in Quebec on May 19. That number rose to five cases the following day.
Since then, other possible cases of monkeypox have emerged in Canada. On Wednesday, Toronto public health authorities said they identified two new suspected cases in the city, along with one probable case currently under investigation.
Monkeypox is a rare disease that was first discovered among colonies of monkeys used for research. Historically, it has also been transmitted from animals to humans, with the first human case recorded in 1970. The virus can spread through close contact with an infected animal, human, or contaminated material.
The federal government is prepared to help provinces and territories develop their own means of testing for the disease in order to monitor it more easily, Duclos said.
“Our surveillance system is working, as is our testing system, though we will continue to refine both, including supporting provinces and territories in building their own testing capacities so cases can be identified and traced even more efficiently,” Duclos’ statement read.
The government will also provide updated guidance on preventing infection, as well as procedures around isolation and case management. Canadians can expect the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to provide additional guidance in the coming weeks as well.
In his statement, Duclos emphasized that the emergence of monkeypox is not the same as COVID-19, which quickly spiralled into a worldwide pandemic.
“I want to re-iterate to Canadians that this is a different situation than we saw ourselves in with the emergence of COVID-19,” Duclos’ statement read. “While global understanding of the monkeypox virus is still evolving, we do have a supply of vaccines, which we will be sure to maintain, and we are working hand-in-hand with our provincial and territorial counterparts to roll out our response plan as quickly as possible.”
In an effort to avoid contracting the disease, Canadians are advised to physically distance from those around them, frequently wash their hands and wear masks in crowded environments.
With files from CTV News and The Canadian Press
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Peter Nygard sexual assault case to return to Montreal courtroom in July
MONTREAL — Canadian fashion mogul Peter Nygard’s sexual assault and forcible confinement case in Quebec will return to a Montreal courtroom July 8.
Nygard remains detained in Toronto and did not appear during the brief hearing before a judge at the Montreal courthouse.
Laurence Juillet, a lawyer for Nygard, asked for the delay while her client’s other pending sex crime cases move through the courts.
Nygard faces one count of sexual assault and one count of forcible confinement in Quebec. The crimes, which involve the same person, allegedly took place between Nov. 1, 1997, and Nov. 15, 1998.
He is also facing six counts of sexual assault and three counts of forcible confinement in Toronto in connection with alleged incidents dating back to the late 1980s and mid-2000s.
Authorities in the United States have asked for him to be extradited to face sex-related charges in that country.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2022.
The Canadian Press
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