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

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

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday announced an extension of a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and 18 other areas until the end of September, saying health-care systems remain under severe strain, and that the continuing challenges of fighting the virus had led to his decision not to seek another term.

The state of emergency, which was to end on Sunday, was issued first in Okinawa in May and gradually expanded and extended as the country prepared to host the Olympics.

Despite the prolonged emergency, the largely voluntary measures have grown less effective as exhausted Japanese citizens increasingly ignore them. Suga has come under fire for failing to deliver more effective measures and a convincing message to win people’s support.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks during his news conference as officials announced they were extending a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and 18 other areas until the end of September. (Kim Hyung-Hoon/The Associated Press)

Suga said serious COVID-19 cases remain high and are still overwhelming many hospitals. He called on people to continue to work remotely and observe other physical distancing measures “so that we can return to safe and prosperous daily lives.”

The extension will cover a period when Japan’s government is in transition. Suga has announced that he will not run in a Sept. 29 race for his party’s leadership. His successor in that race will almost certainly become the next prime minister.

Suga said he has devoted himself to fighting the coronavirus since taking office a year ago, when little was known about it. “We’ve had trouble securing hospital capacity and that’s my regret,” he said. “It’s still not enough.”

He also noted that time-consuming Japanese procedures to approve vaccines and new treatments or secure medical staff were also obstacles that need to be addressed for better crisis management.

Vaccination rate increasing

The government, meanwhile, is studying a road map for easing restrictions around November when a large majority of the population is expected to be fully vaccinated, Suga said. The easing of restrictions would allow fully vaccinated people to travel, gather for parties or attend mass events.

Currently, about 49 per cent of the people are fully inoculated and the rate is expected to exceed 60 per cent by the end of September, Economy and Fiscal Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said.

Suga said about 90 per cent of elderly people have been fully vaccinated, and that has kept as many as 100,000 people from being infected and saved 8,000 lives, according to a health ministry estimate.

-From The Associated Press, last updated at 3:25 p.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | What qualifies for a COVID-19 vaccine exemption? 

What qualifies for a COVID-19 vaccine exemption?

19 hours ago

As vaccine mandates become more common, doctors are bombarded with questions about medical exemptions. But with few objective criteria most people won’t qualify for an exemption. 5:15

  • Saskatchewan reports 286 new cases Thursday.​​​​​​​
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Alberta’s rising COVID-19 cases due to faulty modelling and government inaction, experts say.
  • Q+A | Hospital protests pushing already exhausted staff to the brink, says Vancouver doctor.​​​​​​​

What’s happening around the world

WATCH | Too much talk, too little action on vaccine equity, WHO chief says: 

Too much talk, too little action on vaccine equity: WHO chief

The World Health Organization’s director general says lower income countries cannot be satisfied with vaccine ‘leftovers’ after richest countries ‘have been taken care of.’ (Themba Hadebe/Associated Press Photo) 2:06

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 222.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood more than 4.6 million.

In Africa, the already thin supply of COVID-19 vaccines has taken another significant hit, with WHO’s Africa director saying Thursday that for various reasons, including the rollout of booster shots, “we will get 25 per cent less doses than we were anticipating by the end of the year.”

Matshidiso Moeti’s comments to reporters came as the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said just over three per cent of people across the African continent have been fully vaccinated. That coverage drops to around 1.7 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa, according to WHO.

African health officials are dismayed by Wednesday’s announcement that the global COVAX effort to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries is again cutting its delivery forecast. That revision, Moeti told reporters, is “in part because of the prioritization of bilateral deals over international solidarity.”

The Africa CDC said 145 million vaccine doses have been procured across the continent of 1.3 billion people, and 111 million of them, or 77 per cent, have been administered. But far more are needed, and the rollout of booster shots by some richer countries, including the United States, has caused alarm.

In the Asia-Pacific region, media reports suggested fully vaccinated residents in Sydney, Australia might be freed from stay-at-home orders by the end of October.

New Zealand is buying an extra 250,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from Spain as it tries to keep a surge in vaccination rates going during an outbreak of the coronavirus in Auckland. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the doses will arrive Friday. 

Health-care workers arrive at an island village on Wednesday during a COVID-19 vaccination outreach program in Kampung Lok Urai, a remote village on Gaya Island, just off Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. (Annice Lyn/Getty Images)

Thailand plans to reopen Bangkok and other key destinations to foreign tourists next month, officials said on Thursday. The country is aiming to revive its battered travel industry after indications the number of new infections may have peaked.

In the Americas, Microsoft told employees Thursday that it has indefinitely delayed their return to U.S. offices until it’s safer to do so.

“Given the uncertainty of COVID-19, we’ve decided against attempting to forecast a new date for a full reopening of our U.S. work sites,” Jared Spataro, a corporate vice-president, wrote in a blog post.

In the Middle East, Iran on Wednesday reported 26,854 new cases of COVID-19 and 538 additional deaths. 

In Europe, Germany is extending its COVID-19 emergency aid for struggling companies by three months until the end of this year, the finance and economy ministries said..

The European Medicines Agency expects to decide on whether four more coronavirus vaccines, including ones made by China and Russia, should be recommended for authorization across Europe by the end of the year.

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

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Billionaire countries: Canada jumps up the list – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Canada added seven billionaires in 2020, increasing its total to 53, tied for 12th-most in the world, up from 14th the previous year, according to a new global report.

The combined wealth of Canadian billionaires also tops US$100 billion, an increase of 4.5 per cent from last year.

In its latest billionaire census, Wealth-X, an ultra-high net worth (UHNW) data company, stated the number of billionaires in the world surpassed 3,000 (up to 3,204) for the first time in 2020, after an additional 670 individuals entered the billionaire class. The combined wealth of this group is now approximately US$10 trillion.

The share of wealth held by billionaires among the UHNW class, which is defined as those with a net worth of US$30 million or more, has also increased to 28 per cent, despite billionaires making up just one per cent of the UHNW population.

Seven of the top 15 billionaires in the world made their fortunes in the technology sector.

These are the top five billionaires by net worth as listed by Wealth-X:

  1. Jeff Bezos, Amazon, US$201.2 billion
  2. Elon Musk, Tesla, US$181.1 billion
  3. Bernard Arnault, Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, US$154.4 billion
  4. Bill Gates, Bill and Melina Gates Foundation, US$142.4 billion
  5. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, US$137.4 billion, Facebook

Here’s a breakdown of the top 15 countries ranked by billionaire population and their combined wealth.

  1. U.S., 927, US$3.709 trillion
  2. China, 410, US$1.303 trillion
  3. Germany, 174, US$515 billion
  4. Russia, 120, US$397 billion
  5. U.K., 119, US$225 billion
  6. Hong Kong, 111, US$282 billion
  7. Switzerland, 107, US$318 billion
  8. India, 104, US$316 billion
  9. Saudia Arabia, 64, US$144 billion
  10.  France, 64, US$238 billion
  11.  Italy, 60, US$169 billion
  12.  Brazil, 53, US$151 billion
  13.  Canada 53, US$100 billion
  14.  United Arab Emirates, 50, US$151 billion
  15.  Singapore, 50, US$86 billion 

Wealth-X lists Hong Kong as a semi-autonomous, special administrative region of China.

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What the rise of the PPC says about Canada in 2021 – CTV News

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TORONTO —
While the People’s Party of Canada did not manage to gain any seats this federal election, its accruing of the popular vote has experts saying the rise of the far-right populist party cannot be ignored.

Maxime Bernier, who failed to win his own riding of Beauce, Que., said Monday that he will remain as party leader despite the defeat, telling CTV News’ Genevieve Beauchemin at his Saskatoon rally that he views the election outcome as “a huge victory.”

The PPC won over 820,000 votes and more than five per cent of the popular vote this time around, a marked increase from the 1.6 per cent of the vote it got in 2019.

POPULISM FINDS A HOME

The party that ran on an anti-immigration, anti-lockdown platform that has been endorsed by white nationalists, Neo-Nazis and other far-right groups has become a home for anti-vaxxers, anti-government protesters and gun rights activists, showing that populism on the left or right may be more about a movement than a traditional political party, said University of Guelph professor of political science Tamara Small.

“I think the only leader who is ecstatic about last night’s results is Bernier,” said Small in a telephone interview with CTVNews.ca after the election. “I don’t think they’re going anywhere… it seems that he’s taken that populism and attached it to far-right politics.”

The idea of Canadian exceptionalism from far-right and populist movements needs to be dispelled, Small said.

“The idea used to be that Canada was immune to sort of far-right populism…this idea that Canadians were sort of going to be free from the populism that we saw in Europe, like Nigel Farage is to the U.K.,” Small said. “But I think lots of people are wondering, if he’s [Bernier] just going to say ‘I’m not here to form government…I’m more here to challenge the system’” as a way of gaining support.

Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University, said it makes sense to call the PPC a populist party, and that the party takes “an extremist position on things like immigration and diversity.”

“They’re extreme in terms of their anti-Trudeau or anti-state positioning. They’re extreme in terms of their anti-lockdown and anti-tax standpoints as well. So, yeah, I think they absolutely might be considered extremists,” Perry said in a telephone interview with CTVNews.ca.

“As is calling them a populist group or populist party, because that’s really what he’s done so effectively is absorbed some of those broad concerns around COVID-19 and freedom and even the more mainstream concerns about economic anxieties, loss of jobs, loss of businesses… and managed to roll them all up.”

Some who support the PPC bristle at the implication that the party is a hotbed of far-right rhetoric or white nationalist supporters, with many online saying they simply support a party that is dedicated to their freedoms.

In an email to CTVNews.ca, PPC candidate for the riding Parkdale-High Park Ont., Wilfried Danzinger, denied that the party is aligned with extremist values, writing that “love was the guiding principle of his campaign,” and that his supporters come from all “different sexual preferences, all ages and religions.”

When CTVNews.ca emailed the PPC for comment on this story, party spokesperson Martin Masse sent back a one-line response: “I don’t respond to requests from leftist activists masquerading as journalists. Get lost.”

COVID-19 WAS A ‘GIFT’ TO THE PPC

The rise of the PPC in the polls can be attributed partially to the “gift” of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.

Balgord said that “the COVID-19 pandemic was a gift to the far-right” in general as it allowed them to infiltrate conspiracy theory spaces and begin attracting new followers.

“The rise of the party kind of fit into this because these people didn’t really have a political party. If they voted for any party, they would vote Conservative,” he said. “But they weren’t particularly happy about voting Conservative either because they’re the most fringe. So when the PCC started as a party in 2019, Bernier, right from day one was using their language, their talking points, and the words of the far-right in several spaces. We saw them actually say ‘Bernier is dog whistling to us.’”

But Small questioned whether the end of the COVID-19 pandemic would stop the drip of followers to the PPC and spell a marked decline in the party.

“My sense is that a lot of this anger and concern is tied up in a particular type of anger about lockdowns and vaccine mandates and overreach of the state,” Small said. “I’m not too sure whether or not once the pandemic is done, to what extent the party still exists.”

It is a sentiment echoed by extremism researcher and assistant professor at Queen’s University, Amarnath Amarasingam.

“In early 2020, with COVID-19, the kind of conspiratorial thinking and angst around the pandemic went through the roof, and a lot of these movements coalesced around similar ideas,” Amarasingam said in a telephone interview with CTVNews.ca, noting that traditionally conspiracy movements generally operate separately from each other.

Amarasingam said the COVID-19 pandemic “gave them all a common cause and they all were playing in the same playground.”

Amarasingam said the question now surrounding the PPC is whether its rise is solely due to the “catch-all” the party provided surrounding anger around lockdowns, quarantine and the pandemic, “or whether it’s a sign of something bubbling beneath the surface that a lot of everyday Canadians actually held secretly anti-immigrant views, anti-refugee groups, all the things that are part of the PPC platform.”

“If that’s the case, I mean, it’s going to be a longer concern of ours,” he continued. “So that’s kind of the big question is whether this is just a blip because of the pandemic or whether it kind of speaks to something else going on that we should be concerned about.”

HATE WAS ON THE BALLOT

Bernier has always denied ties or affiliations to any of the far-right, white supremacist and Neo-Nazi rhetoric he is accused of platforming with his stance on things like reduced immigration and scrapping the Multiculturalism Act.

However, Balgord said known Neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups endorse the party, and that the party is populated with a litany of candidates, insiders and supporters who have been documented by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network as members of far-right groups.

“There’s so many examples,” he said. “This isn’t a few isolated incidents, this is a pattern. This is what the PPC is.”

Balgord referenced more than 10 incidents of PPC candidates or people associated with the party who have engaged in far-right rhetoric or have been exposed by work done by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network as being part of white nationalist groups.

“One of his very first riding executives was a guy [who] ran a USA Neo-Nazi organization and actually did time in the United States for organizing racially motivated assaults,” he said.

Balgord noted that the man charged with throwing gravel at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while he was campaigning as the Liberal leader was a riding director for the PPC, and that his organization had previously exposed him for “posting white power music on social media accounts with lyrics about killing immigrants.”

Another example listed by Balgord was the PPC candidate for the Ontario riding of Vaughn-Woodbridge who was exposed by Press Progress this month for allegedly having touted and created a video game where users can re-enact the 1999 Columbine shooting massacre and partake in their own shooting of caricatures of minorities and LGBTQ2S+ people.

Bernier himself has been featured on what Balgord describes as an “anti-Semitic blog collective,” which endorses a book full of terrorist Nazi ideologies. 

The PPC platform itself is also chock-full of “dog whistles” to the far-right, Balgord, Amarasingam and Perry said, referencing the sections on refugees, immigration and “Canadian identity.”

“I think the Canadian identity is tied to the anti-immigration, anti-refugee stuff,” Amarasingam said. “But I know when someone says Canadian identity, especially with all the other things that are at play in the platform, what that likely means for the PPC, is basically kind of ‘The Great Replacement,’ but around Canadian values.”

The Great Replacement theory is a conspiracy prevalent in white nationalist and far-right groups that posits that a shadowy cabal is behind demographic changes in a country or area, and that “white identity” or “Western values” are in decline because of it.

Balgord said it is known to have spurred terrorist attacks like the Christchurch mosque shooting of 2019.

“When we talk about the PPC, it’s necessary to talk about their ties to white supremacy and white nationalism and how dangerous the thing is, they’re not just another political party, right?” Balgord said. “They’re the white nationalist and the hate movement in Canada. It’s their way of trying to get a foothold into mainstream Canadian politics.”

Perry noted the language Bernier has used in his campaigns, in tweets and even in his speech on election night, in particular his word choices of “government overreach, tyrannies and authoritarian government.”

“Look at some of the language. It’s drawn from groups like three percenters…in particular in the militia movement,” Perry said. “So, yeah, there’s a very direct line. It’s not a dotted line. It’s a direct line.”

But when asked about the PPC and Bernier’s denial of allegations of extremist views, Balgord was unimpressed.

“The PPC is the party of plausible deniability,” he said. “But when you really scratch the surface, you find that it’s a party for white nationalists.”

WHERE DOES CANADA GO FROM HERE?

For the single-issue voters who chose to vote for Bernier’s party because of their views on lockdowns or COVID-19 vaccine mandates, the end of lockdowns and pandemic restrictions may tempt them away from the party, but Amarasingam says they cannot deny that their vote is still an endorsement of what the PPC represents.

“I think if you’re a single-issue voter on the vaccine, and you can find common cause with the PPC that doesn’t necessarily make you far-right, that just means that you’re unfortunately willing to sell a whole host of Canadian communities down the river to hold up this one value,” he said.

Amarasingam said that education on extremism may be what people need to make informed choices moving forward.

“I think everyone basically has to become an extremism watcher now that it’s no longer just some of us who live in these bizarre online communities paying attention to things, because as things become mainstream, people need to understand extremism and how these dynamics work and how these movements work,” he said.

As for the PPC’s presence in mainstream politics, Perry and Small said it’s a fine line to walk between exposing and identifying extremist views and providing too much of a platform for them to gain more followers.

“I think people feel very differently. I think there’s a lot of people who would say you should just ignore these people and never give them any platform,” Small said. “But I’m of the belief that not being aware in some ways is like throwing a match into a forest and then just not worrying about it.”

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

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The latest:

Alaska, which led most U.S. states in coronavirus vaccinations months ago, took the drastic step on Wednesday of imposing crisis-care standards for its entire hospital system, declaring that a crushing surge in COVID-19 patients has forced rationing of strained medical resources.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy and health officials announced the move as the tally of newly confirmed cases statewide reached another single-day record of 1,224 patients amid a wave of infections driven by the spread of the highly contagious delta variant among the unvaccinated.

The delta variant is “crippling our health-care system. It’s impacting everything from heart attacks to strokes to our children if they get in a bike accident,” Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said at a news conference with Dunleavy.

Alaska’s health and social services commissioner, Adam Crum, announced that he signed an emergency addendum extending to the whole state standards of crisis care announced last week at the state’s largest hospital, Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. The new document limits liability faced by providers for crisis-level medical care in all Alaska hospitals.

Moreover, it acknowledges the realities of rationed care statewide, with scarce medical supplies and staff prioritized in a way that denies normal levels of care to some patients for the sake of others, depending on how sick they are and their chances for recovery.

To cope with the COVID-19 influx, Alaska has signed an $87 million US contract to enlist hundreds of health-care workers from out of state, officials said.

About one-fifth of Alaska hospital patients are infected with COVID-19, according to state data. But that figure understates the burden placed on the system as a whole as it “squeezes out” capacity to treat victims of car accidents, strokes, heart attacks and other ailments, Dunleavy said.

Paradoxically, back in April, Alaska had ranked among the top states getting COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of residents, helped in large part by efforts of the state’s pandemic-conscious Indigenous population.

Alaska has since slipped below the national average, with just 58 per cent of residents aged 12 and older fully vaccinated, according to the state database. The vaccination slump coincided with significant political resistance to public health requirements.

-From Reuters, last updated at 6:45 a.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Record number of COVID-19 cases further strain Saskatchewan’s hospitals: 

Growing calls for lockdown as COVID-19 strains Sask. hospitals

13 hours ago

There are growing calls for tighter restrictions in Saskatchewan, including a lockdown, as the record number of COVID-19 cases further strain the province’s hospitals. 2:20

Saskatchewan’s only children’s hospital is opening its pediatric intensive care unit to younger adults with COVID-19.

Those under the age of 40 are getting admitted to the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon. The Saskatchewan Health Authority said Wednesday that so far two adults are in the pediatrics ICU, and space is being made for more.

Dr. Susan Shaw, the health authority’s chief medical officer, said critical care capacity is under strain.

The province has recently been reporting record numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations — mostly unvaccinated patients.

-From The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:40 a.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a private school in Quito, Ecuador, earlier this month. (Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Thursday morning, more than 230.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s case tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.

In the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization has warned that countries in the region could continue to face localized COVID-19 outbreaks well into 2022, even while deaths have fallen from their peak in January.

In the Middle East, Syria is facing a new surge in infections in both government-held areas and territory outside state control that could overwhelm the war-ravaged country’s fragile health system.

In Africa, Uganda’s president has eased restrictions, allowing the resumption of education for universities and other post-secondary institutions, citing a decline in infections.

Police patrol along St. Kilda Beach in Melbourne on Thursday. The city has seen recent protests from construction workers and others against COVID-19 regulations. (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

In the Asia-Pacific region, police in the Australian city of Melbourne prepared for a fourth day of anti-lockdown protests on Thursday while a vaccination hub closed after protesters abused staff, the operator said, while COVID-19 cases across the state of Victoria hit a daily record. Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets in the city of five million since officials this week ordered a two-week closure of building sites and made vaccines mandatory for construction workers to limit the spread of the virus.

Japan plans to give other countries 60 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, doubling the target from the previous pledge of 30 million doses.

Thailand pushed back plans to reopen Bangkok and some other major cities to foreign arrivals until November.

In Europe, Italy plans to give other countries 45 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines before the end of the year, three times its original pledge, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said.

-From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 6:35 a.m. ET


Have questions about this story? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments. 

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