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

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The latest:

Ontario announced a provincewide “shutdown” to combat a spike in coronavirus cases on Thursday, as federal health officials reported that nearly 15 per cent of Canadian adults have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Citing the need for drastic action, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the change will take effect Saturday and continue for at least four weeks.

The government is asking Ontarians to limit trips outside the home to necessities such as food, medication and other essential services, but stopped short of imposing a stay-at-home order like it did in January.

Retail stores will see limits on capacity while restaurants will be restricted to takeout, delivery and drive-thru service, the premier said.

Nurses from Humber River Hospital’s mobile vaccine clinic administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Toronto and Region Islamic Congregation Centre as part of the coronavirus vaccination campaign in Toronto on Thursday. (Carlos Osorio/Reuters)

The government has said schools will also remain open because they are crucial to the mental health of students.

“The decision was not made lightly,” Ford said. “I know the toll these restrictions continue to take on people’s mental health and well-being.”

The announcement comes hours after the province’s science advisers said stay-at-home orders are needed to control the third wave driven by more contagious and deadly COVID-19 variants.

The move came a day after Quebec Premier François Legault announced tighter rules in three cities he said are facing a “critical” situation in his own province.

Legault announced on Wednesday that people in Quebec City, Gatineau and Lévis should “remain at home unless they absolutely have to go to work.” The new measures, which begin Thursday evening, will last 10 days. Schools in the three communities will close, Legault said, as will non-essential businesses. The curfew in those areas will move up to 8 p.m. ET.

Montreal is not among the communities affected by the stepped-up restrictions, but the premier didn’t rule out further action.

WATCH | Quebec response to spike in cases:

The Quebec government has implemented an emergency shutdown in three regions, Levis, Gatineau and Quebec City, after a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases over the last week. 2:01

“The third wave is here,” said Legault, who noted during his briefing that hospitalizations are expected to increase in the coming weeks. “I ask you not to gather in homes and please get vaccinated as soon as you can.”

Quebec on Thursday reported 1,271 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 487, with 119 people in the province’s intensive care units (ICUs), according to a provincial dashboard.

Health officials in Ontario reported 2,557 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 23 additional deaths. According to data released by the province to the public, hospitalizations stood at 1,116, with 433 people listed as being in ICUs.

Figures from Critical Care Services Ontario posted on Twitter by the president of the Ontario Hospital Association Thursday morning put the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care at 430. (Provincial officials have previously said the data published to the dashboard doesn’t include cases in which patients are no longer testing positive for COVID-19.)

WATCH | Ontario ICUs under pressure:

Critical care specialist Dr. Jamie Spiegelman says Ontario’s intensive care units are under pressure as COVID-19 cases spike. ‘We’re definitely seeing a younger population coming into the ICU,’ he says. 5:45

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 4:15 p.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

A pedestrian walks past signs on a construction site fence in Ottawa Thursday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

As of 1:10 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had reported 985,954 cases of COVID-19, with 49,106 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,991.

Health officials in Nova Scotia reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. Premier Iain Rankin announced that people aged 70 and older can now book for the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials reported one new travel-related case of COVID-19 on Thursday.

A pedestrian walks past a mural featuring a masked health-care worker on Ottawa’s Rideau Street on Thursday. (CBC / Radio-Canada)

In New Brunswick, health officials reported 10 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, while Prince Edward Island reported a single new case.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 59 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and two additional deaths.

In neighbouring Saskatchewan, health officials reported 199 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and no additional deaths.

In Alberta, health officials reported 871 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths on Wednesday. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 301, with 63 patients reported to be in intensive care.

WATCH | Alberta doctor says tighter measures needed: 

Alberta needs more strict measures to curb a ‘beast’ of a coronavirus variant that is making young people much sicker, says Dr. Darren Markland, an intensive care physician in Edmonton. 6:09

In British Columbia, health officials reported three additional deaths Wednesday and 1,013 daily COVID-19 cases — breaching the 100,000 mark of total cases since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 304, with 80 in intensive care.

Across the North, there was one new case of COVID-19 reported in a Yukon resident (though the individual was out of the province at the time.) There were no new cases reported in Nunavut or the Northwest Territories.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 3:35 p.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

Medical workers put on personal protective gear before entering the room of a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit of the Andre-Gregoire intercommunal hospital on the outskirts of Paris on Thursday, as the country adopted new measures to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Thursday afternoon, more than 129 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a coronavirus tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.8 million.

The COVAX facility, which is a key part of the effort to get COVID-19 vaccines to lower-income countries, faces a “serious challenge” to meet demand, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference on Thursday.

“Last week, I made an urgent request to countries, with doses of COVID-19 vaccines that have WHO Emergency Use Listing, to share 10 million doses immediately with COVAX,” he said.

“I requested manufacturers to help ensure that the countries that step up can rapidly donate those doses. This challenge has been heard but we’re yet to receive commitments for these doses. I’m still hopeful that some forward looking and enlightened leaders will step up,” he said.

Tedros’s remarks came after Pfizer said its vaccine continues to show efficacy against COVID-19 up to six months later. The drug company and its German partner, BioNTech, announced updated results Thursday from their ongoing late-stage study of more than 44,000 volunteers.

The companies said the vaccine showed efficacy of 91 per cent against symptomatic disease and was even more effective in preventing severe disease. Of 927 confirmed COVID-19 cases detected through March 13, 77 were among people who received the vaccine and 850 were among people who got dummy shots.

There were no serious safety concerns and the vaccine also appeared to work against a variant first detected in South Africa, the companies said.

This week, the companies said the vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12, based on a study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers.

In Africa, Nigeria hopes to receive up to 70 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this year through the African Union, its primary health-care chief told Reuters, amid concerns about delayed deliveries of AstraZeneca shots.

Egypt received 854,400 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine as part of the global COVAX agreement, the health ministry said.

In Europe, a senior WHO official said Thursday that immunization campaigns against COVID-19 in European nations had been “unacceptably slow” to date and risk prolonging the pandemic.

Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said vaccines “present our best way out of this pandemic,” but noted that to date, only 10 per cent of Europe’s population has received one dose and only four per cent have been fully protected with two doses.

People paint hearts along a wall beside a hospital in London, England, on Thursday as a memorial to all those who have died of COVID-19 so far in the U.K. during the pandemic. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

“As long as coverage remains low, we need to apply the same public health and social measures as we have in the past, to compensate for delayed schedules,” Kluge said.

In Germany, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca shot, a signal of confidence in the vaccine after the country restricted its use in people under 60. The presidential office said the 65-year-old Steinmeier received his first shot at a hospital in Berlin on Thursday.

In Belgium, police used tear gas and water cannons on Thursday to disperse thousands of young people who gathered in a Brussels park for a party in defiance of the country’s COVID-19 lockdown, an event that began as an April Fool’s joke on Facebook.

Belgium entered a third COVID-19 lockdown last weekend, with groups limited to four people meeting outside, but this week’s sunny weather had already brought thousands out to the park.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong will resume administering the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech on Monday following a 12-day suspension over packaging defects detected in one batch, officials said.

A man throws a bottle towards police during protests in Brussels on Thursday. Belgian police have clashed with a large crowd in one of the city’s biggest parks. Thousands of revelers had gathered for an unauthorized event despite coronavirus restrictions. (Fran Seco/The Associated Press)

India opened up its coronavirus inoculation program to people above 45 as infections surge, in a move that will delay vaccine exports from the world’s biggest vaccine maker.

South Korea is reviewing whether to approve rapid coronavirus tests that can be taken at home and produce near-immediate results as another tool to fight the pandemic.

People receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre set up for people over 75 years old in Seoul. (Chung Sung-Jun/AFP/Getty Images)

Kwon Jun-wook, director of South Korea’s National Health Institute, said Thursday there’s a need to provide convenient and accessible tests that people can use regularly because the virus is often transmitted by people with no or mild symptoms.

Health officials in China say six more people have become ill with COVID-19 in a southwestern Chinese city on the border with Myanmar. That brings the confirmed total in the Yunnan province city of Ruili over the past two days to 12, including three Myanmar citizens.

In the Middle East, Israel plans to administer the Pfizer vaccine to adolescents upon FDA approval, the health minister said.

A health worker prepares a Sinovac’s CoronaVac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine for senior citizens, at the Museu do Amanha in the port of Rio de Janeiro on Thursday. (Pilar Olivares/Reuters)

In the Americas, Brazil health regulator Anvisa said it approved emergency use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while it rejected a request from the government to import doses of Covaxin, citing a lack of safety data and documentation.

Also Thursday, WHO epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove told a briefing that a number of states in Brazil are in critical condition and hospitals are overwhelmed, with many intensive care units more than 90 per cent full.

Chile closed its borders and tightened an already strict lockdown further Thursday to slow the spread of the coronavirus and stop the influx of contagious new variants as cases climbed past one million despite one of the world’s fastest vaccination rates.

The dramatic move came as hospitals warned they were close to saturation with victims of the disease who are middle-aged and younger as cases have spiked in recent weeks following the Southern Hemisphere summer holidays.

A Chilean police officer checks people’s transit permits amid the coronavirus pandemic outside a market where shoppers wait to buy fish for Holy Week in Santiago, Chile, on Thursday. (Esteban Felix/The Associated Press)

Chile struck early deals with vaccine makers Pfizer and Sinovac and has already vaccinated more than 35 per cent of its population, ranking it third in the world for inoculations per capita, according to a Reuters tally.

But a second wave hit before the country could reach a goal of herd immunity by July.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

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‘Getting dangerous’: Calls grow for federal action amid Canada’s nurse shortage – Global News

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Two decades into a career she once loved, Toronto emergency room nurse Nancy Halupa says she is almost ready to throw in the towel.

“I don’t think I can do a fourth wave with this kind of staffing,” she told Global News.

“It’s not good for my mental health. It’s not good for my family. It’s not a workable situation anymore.”


Nancy Halupa, ER nurse.

Across the country, hospital staff are leaving their jobs at an alarming rate. And that’s prompting experts and health-care workers to call for more action from the federal government.

Nearly one in five job vacancies in Canada is in health care and social assistance, according to Statistics Canada. In early 2021, those sectors experienced the largest losses year-over-year compared to all other sectors.

Weekly overtime increased, too, 78 per cent on average from May 2019 to May 2020, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) said, using data from StatCan.

According to the CFNU, that number jumps to 137 per cent in Quebec and Ontario.


Click to play video: 'Facing COVID-19 staffing crunch, hospitals offer cash bonuses to new nurses'



2:04
Facing COVID-19 staffing crunch, hospitals offer cash bonuses to new nurses


Facing COVID-19 staffing crunch, hospitals offer cash bonuses to new nurses – Jun 16, 2021

In Canada’s largest province of Ontario alone, the president of the CFNU told Global News it estimates there are more than 16,000 vacancies.

For those, like Halupa, who haven’t quit, the workload, she said, is crushing.

“Things need to change. It is getting dangerous out there,” said Halupa.

“I’ve never gone to work with this much anxiety or fear on what I’m going to see or what we’re going to have to deal with or how short-staffed we are.”


Nancy Halupa in PPE.

Read more:
Health care job vacancies in Canada are soaring despite COVID-19 demand. Here’s why

Halupa said not all the blame can be put on COVID-19. Recruitment, retirements and pay, she said, have also played a role in pushing people out of the profession.

At a recent rally in Toronto, medical professionals condemned the Doug Ford government for Bill 124.

The legislation was introduced pre-pandemic in 2019 and caps certain public sector wages, such as nurses’, at a one per cent annual increase.

For registered nurse Leah Waxman, that meant 47 cents more per hour for her last raise, a number that doesn’t make her want to stay in her role.

“Something acute needs to happen to make a drastic change and prevent our health-care (system) from collapsing … because it is,” she said.

Richard Mullin, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Treasury Board, told Global News in a statement that “it is inaccurate to suggest that Bill 124 caps wages at one per cent annually.”

Read more:
Health-care workers protest Ontario’s 1% wage increase cap on public employees

“Ontario’s public sector employees will still be able to receive salary increases for seniority, performance, or increased qualifications as they do currently,” Mullin explained.

Labour expert Rafael Gomez called the legislation “suppressive.”

“Health-care spending now is the largest ticket item of any government. So I understand the macro priorities,” said Gomez, the director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources. “But health-care is a micro event. When you’re in a hospital and you need help and you want a nurse to be there, that’s affecting you personally. And if there are policies that are hampering that, I think the government is sort of short-sighted.”


A Canadian problem

In July, Alberta Health Services confirmed it had only about 18 treatment beds available at one of its busiest hospitals, the Royal Alexandra, “due to short-term staffing coverage issues.”

Alberta Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said bed closures due to staffing pressures aren’t isolated.

“This has led to bed closures and cancelled surgeries and repeated emergency room closures in the communities of Edson, St. Paul, Boyle, Elk Point, Galahad, Westlock, Fairview, Rocky Mountain House, Cold Lake, Lac La Biche, High Prairie, Slave Lake, Wainwright, Rimbey and Lacombe.”

Since then, the United Nurses of Alberta has said the province has been hiring contract nurses to address severe staffing shortages in hospitals there.

Meantime, in Kamloops, B.C., the shortages have become deadly. There, a 70-year-old woman died in an emergency department waiting room while seeking treatment last week.

Read more:
Facing COVID-19 staffing crunch, some Ontario hospitals offer cash bonuses to new nurses

“The government has let the situation at the hospital’s emergency department become dire — we’ve heard reports that some shifts have only three nurses trying to keep up with a workload usually handled by 13 people,” Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone said Monday.

Cheryl Cusack of the Association of Regulated Nurses of Manitoba said there, nurses are struggling with depression and other mental health issues, including trauma, as a result of their efforts to save coronavirus patients.

And in Nova Scotia, what was once a seven per cent vacancy rate has climbed to 20 per cent, according to the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

“We’ve had 34 people leave the Halifax Infirmary emergency department in the past two-and-a-half to three months,” said the province’s General Employees’ Union president Jason MacLean. “Six of them didn’t even have other jobs. So what we need to do is find out why they are leaving, which I believe we are getting to, but also people need to be incentivized to stay there.”


Experts call for federal leadership

The president of CFNU, Linda Silas, told Global News Ottawa needs to “show leadership.”

“We need commitment from the federal government to create a health-care workforce agency,” Silas said. “The federal government will have an agency to look at how many nurses we need in five years. What do we need to do today to keep what we have and plan better with the provinces and territories?”

When asked if it would consider any of these measures, in an email to Global News, Health Canada spokesperson Mark Johnson wrote: “the responsibility for matters related to the administration and delivery of health services, including health workforce planning and management, falls within provinces and territories jurisdiction.”

It’s not the first time health-care experts have asked for the Canadian government to create national standards or regulations for nurses.

Over the last year, seniors’ advocates have been pleading for national standards in nursing homes. And while Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made the promise last fall, his government still hasn’t put anything into action.

Colleen MacPherson, a critical care nurse in Toronto, is upset the provinces and the federal government haven’t made significant steps to fix the growing problem.

“Look what happened in long-term care. The nurses were working without protection. They were understaffed,” she told Global News.

And, she said, hospitals aren’t immune.

“People are at risk. We have no staff. Nurses didn’t get any vacation this year. Wages are stuck.”

Now, MacPherson and others worry an election has created more uncertainty and set back any plans for a solution.


Party plans

During the 2021 federal election campaign, Trudeau has promised that a re-elected Liberal government will give $10 billion to help provinces clear their backlogs and pandemic wait-lists. It plans to help provinces hire 7,500 nurses, nurse practitioners and family doctors.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, have vowed to meet with premiers to make a new health-care agreement and boost the annual growth rate of the Canada Health Transfer by six per cent if elected. That plan would add nearly $60 billion to the system over a decade.

Erin O’Toole did fall short of promising to hire more front-line workers.

Jagmeet Singh and the NDP announced $250 million to address the health-care worker shortage, a fund to help hire 2,000 nurses across the country.

The Green Party, meanwhile, promised to develop national health-care guidelines.

Toronto emergency room doctor Chris Keefer said in the meantime, patients are the ones really suffering.

“If nurses aren’t available to get orders done, to get procedures done and treatments done, patients wait and wait and wait. And people are already quite frustrated with that. But it’s getting worse and worse and it’s getting critical,” Keefer said.

Halupa agrees.

“It’s impossible to run a department shorthanded,” she said, worried the time to save the health-care system is running out.

“There’s not a lot of veteran nurses left,” she said. “if you want to keep health care somewhat safe, then you need to retain the people you have. You need the veterans. You need to retain who you have now.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Where Canadians can travel abroad during COVID-19 – CTV News

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TORONTO —
While Canada continues to advise against all non-essential travel outside the country, there are plenty of countries accepting Canadian travellers with limited COVID-19 restrictions.

Most countries have COVID-19 restrictions in place for foreign travellers, Mexico and Colombia are two exceptions to this. Both of those countries require a travel form to be filled out prior to arrival but have no other COVID-19 restrictions in place for Canadian travellers.

Canada is currently restricting all travel to 16 countries. Nations on that list include Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Myanmar and Somalia; more details can be found here.

EUROPE

European Union member nations began accepting Canadian travellers in July. Travellers headed to most European countries will require a negative PCR test and proof of vaccination to avoid mandatory quarantine. Non-vaccinated travellers will need a negative PCR test and to quarantine for 10 to 14 days depending on the country being visited. France, the U.K., Sweden, Germany, and Austria require negative tests but are not asking Canadians to quarantine upon arrival regardless of vaccination status.

Many European countries welcoming Canadian travellers are accepting those who had mixed-and-matched vaccines as long as the vaccines were approved for use by the EU health authority or the World Health Organization (WHO). What’s considered fully vaccinated can depend on the country, so it is always best to check government websites for most up-to-date information, but currently most EU countries are accepting mixing of AstraZeneca and mRNA doses, as well as a mixing of mRNA doses.

UNITED STATES

Currently, the United States doesn’t have any vaccine requirements for travel. The land border is currently closed to non-essential travel from Canadians, but they are able to fly into the country. Canadians travelling to the U.S. from abroad must be aware of additional restrictions in place. Canadians will not be allowed to travel to the U.S. if they have travelled to India, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, or most European countries in the 14 days prior.

The land border restrictions for Canadians travelling to the U.S. are in place until Sept. 21 and may be extended. American travellers have been able to use the land border to enter Canada since Aug. 9 with proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival.

LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES

Most Latin and Caribbean countries are also accepting Canadians, but travel requirements vary. Some countries will need a completed negative COVID-19 test before arrival while others will do testing upon arrival. Other countries require vaccination, and some offer COVID-19 certified accommodations to control spread.

Turks and Caicos Islands requires full vaccination and a negative test for travel to the country. They accept mix-and-match doses between mRNA and adenovector vaccines, and between mRNA doses.

Canadians travelling to Jamaica will need to provide a negative test. Travellers will need to fill out an online application within seven days prior to travel and wait for approval before entering the country.

Similarly, Saint Lucia doesn’t require vaccination for entry, but travellers must have a negative PCR test at least five days prior to visiting the country. Saint Lucia has set up special accommodations to help keep COVID-19 from spreading on the island by keeping tourists in one area during their quarantine period. For those who are fully vaccinated, they can come and go from these accommodations as they please; for partially or non-vaccinated travellers, there are restrictions of where they can travel and which excursions they can participate in at certified resorts.

Bermuda will require a negative test, and unvaccinated travellers will need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

On Aug. 10, Martinique entered a lockdown and is currently not accepting tourists.

It is important to check your destination’s restrictions before setting off as they are regularly updated.

CRUISES

As with other destinations, it is important to keep track of changing requirements on cruise ships. Currently, there are no cruises operating out of Canada, but Canadians can hop on board in other countries.

What is considered fully vaccinated can vary significantly by port and country, so it is important to be aware of vaccination policies while travelling.

Celebrity Cruises departing from most ports in Greece accept mixed mRNA doses, but those leaving from Athens accept mixed doses of AstraZenca and an mRNA vaccine.

Norwegian Cruise Line requires passengers to be fully vaccinated with a single brand of vaccine.

All cruises departing U.S. ports require that passengers be vaccinated by the CDC’s definition, which does not include mixing and matching AstraZeneca and an mRNA dose.

WHO CAN TRAVEL TO CANADA

Canada has currently suspended flights from India and Morocco. Otherwise, travellers entering the country must provide a negative molecular test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival, and provide proof of vaccination authorized for use in Canada to avoid a 14 day stay in quarantine.

Travellers are required to use the ArriveCAN app to upload their proof of vaccination.

There is no guarantee that travellers to Canada will be accepted at the border.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Travel insurance is always beneficial in the event travellers need medical assistance abroad, and insurance companies are now providing COVID-19 specific travel insurance.

Manulife has a pandemic travel plan and WestJet is offering complimentary COVID-19 travel insurance to travellers using their services.

Since Canada is currently advising against all non-essential travel abroad, it is best to check insurance policies to see if they will cover any COVID-19 related issues that may happen while travelling. Some insurance companies, such as TD Insurance, have coverage exemptions in place where Canadians have been advised to avoid travel.

Travel insurance coverage can also be dependent on the vaccination status of the traveller, one of Manulife’s travel insurance plans does not cover any COVID-19 related expenses for unvaccinated travellers.  

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

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The latest

The U.S. government will spend $470 million US to learn more about long COVID-19, its causes and potential treatments.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the plans Wednesday with a grant awarded to New York University and a goal of enrolling up to 40,000 adults and children nationwide. The effort, dubbed “Recover,” will involve researchers at more than 30 U.S. institutions.

“This is being taken with the greatest seriousness. at a scale that has not really been attempted with something like this,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins at a briefing Wednesday.

Collins said it’s estimated 10 to 30 per cent of people infected with COVID-19 may develop persistent, new or recurring symptoms that can last months or perhaps years.

Long COVID is an umbrella term for symptoms that linger, recur and show up for the first time four weeks or more after an initial infection. It also includes heart inflammation and multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a rare but serious condition that can occur in children after a COVID-19 infection.

Pain, headaches, fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, chronic coughs and sleep problems are among the reported symptoms of long COVID. Possible causes include the virus lingering in tissues and organs or overstimulating the immune system.

The announcement came as the World Health Organization said there were about four million coronavirus cases reported globally last week, marking the first major drop in new infections in more than two months. In recent weeks, there have been about 4.4 million new COVID-19 cases.

In its weekly update released on Tuesday, the UN health agency said every region in the world saw a drop in COVID-19 cases compared to the previous week.

Houston Fire Department paramedics transport a man suffering from breathing difficulties to a hospital on Tuesday. Harris County in Texas continues to see a large number of COVID-19 hospitalizations due to the delta variant surge in the state. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Although the worldwide number of deaths decreased to about 62,000, with the sharpest decline in Southeast Asia, there was a seven per cent increase in deaths in Africa. According to the weekly report from WHO, the highest numbers of cases were seen in:

  • The United States, with 1,034,836 new cases — a decrease of roughly 20 per cent from a week earlier.
  • The United Kingdom, with 256,051 new cases — a five per cent increase.
  • India, with 248 248 new cases — a 15 per cent decrease. 
  • Iran, with 172 030 new cases —  a 17 per cent decrease.
  • Turkey, with 158 236 new cases — a six per cent increase.

According to the weekly update, the delta variant had been identified in 180 countries as of Tuesday.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 3:30 p.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | New Brunswick’s chief medical officer expresses frustration over stalled vaccination rates: 

New Brunswick’s top doctor frustrated over stalled vaccination rates

4 hours ago

New Brunsick’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, makes a direct appeal to the public to protect the more vulnerable, children and the health care system and encourage others to get vaccinated. Sounding frustrated, Russell said the vast majority of people in the province sick with COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated. 2:43


What’s happening around the world

A medical worker collects a swab from a resident during mass testing amid new cases of COVID-19 in Putian, in China’s Fujian province. (cnsphoto/Reuters)

As of early Wednesday evening, more than 226.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the coronavirus tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.6 million.

In the Asia-Pacific region, China is imposing lockdowns and ordering mass testing in cities along its east coast amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. Checks have been set up in toll stations around the city of Putian in Fujian province, with a dozen of them closed entirely. The nearby cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou have also restricted travel as the delta variant spreads through the region.

Cambodia will launch a campaign Friday to begin giving COVID-19 vaccinations to children aged six to 11. Prime Minister Hun Sen is also considering having children aged 3 to 5 be vaccinated soon. Cambodia began vaccinating 12- to 17-year-olds at the start of August. 

Nearly 72 per cent of Cambodia’s almost 17 million people have received at least one COVID-19 shot since vaccinations began in February, the majority being China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines.

In the Americas, Mexico will send vaccines to Nicaragua in September, the country’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, in a rare sign of international engagement with the administration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

In Africa, after uncertainty about whether the coronavirus pandemic would force South Africa to postpone local government elections, the courts have ruled the vote should move ahead. South Africa’s courts ruled this month the Independent Electoral Commission should hold the polls on Nov. 1, despite concerns about political rallies spreading the disease.

South Africa has recorded 2,640 new infections and 125 deaths in the last 24 hours. The nation accounts for more than 35 per cent of coronavirus infections in Africa, with 2.8 million confirmed cases and 85,002 confirmed deaths.

In Europe, the Dutch government is easing restrictions and will introduce a “corona” pass showing proof of vaccination to go to bars, restaurants, clubs or cultural events.

Meanwhile, health-care workers in France face suspension from their jobs starting Wednesday if they haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19. With about 300,000 workers still not vaccinated, some hospitals fear staff shortages will add to their strain.

In the Middle East, Iran on Tuesday reported 22,329 new cases of COVID-19 and 408 additional deaths.

-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

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