British Columbia’s top doctor is again calling on people to follow the current guidelines and not gather inside, pointing to the increased transmissibility of the B117 variant and saying it is “much easier to spread it with even minimal contact in indoor settings.”
As of Monday evening, a tracking site maintained by federal officials showed 1,240 reported cases of the B117 variant in B.C. alone. Across the country, there have been 5,117 reported cases of the variant, which was first reported in the U.K.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said indoor gatherings of “any size” remain a risk and urged people to follow public health guidelines and only gather in small groups of up to 10 outside.
“The areas where we know it spreads most quickly and most dangerously are the same as they were last year — but now there’s even less a margin for error,” Henry said Monday as she provided updated COVID-19 figures for the weekend.
“This is a time where we need to take those little sacrifices — all of us — so that we can continue to keep those important workplaces open, we can continue to support our children to be in school, and we can continue to support our immunization programs so that we can all be safe very soon.”
Under the current restrictions in place in B.C., social gatherings of any size aren’t allowed inside homes with “anyone other than your household or, if you live alone, your core bubble.”
Henry said that while more people are getting their shots every day, it’s important for people to understand that the risk “for all of us remains high.”
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said Monday on Twitter that Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec are reporting the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases involving more transmissible variants.
Variants of concern are “moving quickly,” Henry said. “To counter that, we continue to be slow and steady and to find our balance, our path to get to those brighter days — which are not that far away now.”
As of Monday, COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province stood at 303, including 80 in critical care, Henry said.
An average of 595 cases of <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> over the last three days in B.C., as the province’s trendline continues to curve upward. <br><br>Active cases now highest since January 10, hospitalizations now over 300 for the first time since January 27. <br><br>15 new deaths. <br><br>Today’s chart. <a href=”https://t.co/CHDv3cdrlg”>pic.twitter.com/CHDv3cdrlg</a>
Adrian Dix, the province’s health minister, reiterated Henry’s call and said indoor gatherings remain a “major problem” in B.C.
“If you are thinking of going out for a birthday celebration or someone invites you to a wedding celebration somewhere — do not go right now.”
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7 a.m. ET.
What’s happening across Canada
WATCH | 3rd COVID-19 wave hitting young Canadians harder:
As of 10:35 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had reported 940,270 cases of COVID-19, with 36,110 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,725.
Ontario on Tuesday reported 1,546 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths. According to provincial data, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 868, with 324 in intensive care units.
People aged 75 years and older in Ontario on Monday began booking their vaccine appointments through a provincial online portal and a call centre, while pharmacies in three public health units started administering the AstraZeneca shots to those aged 60 and older.
In Atlantic Canada, health officials reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday — eight in New Brunswick and two in both Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. No new cases were reported in Prince Edward Island.
In Quebec, health officials reported 712 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 additional deaths on Monday. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 513, with 114 COVID-19 patients in intensive care.
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 66 new cases and one additional death on Monday.
WATCH | Should Canadians be wearing N95-style masks?
Meanwhile, in Saskatchewan, health officials reported 205 new cases of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus and no additional deaths. Concerns about a growing number of the more infectious COVID-19 cases in the Regina area have prompted some school divisions to restart online learning.
In Alberta, health officials on Monday reported 456 new cases and five additional deaths. The update came as Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced the province would not be moving into the next phase of its reopening, saying that will happen only when hospitalizations are under 300 and on a “clear downward trajectory.”
“Today, while hospitalizations are indeed below 300, they’ve risen in recent days,” he said Monday. “The decline that we saw in January and early February has stopped. Alberta now sits at 280 COVID hospitalizations, which is a rise of 16 from a week ago.”
Across the North, there were no new cases reported on Monday in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories or Yukon.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 10:20 a.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of early Tuesday morning, more than 123.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.7 million.
In Europe, a leading European Union official has lashed out at the AstraZeneca vaccine company for its massive shortfall in producing doses for the 27-nation bloc, and threatened that any shots produced by them in the EU could be forced to stay there.
Sandra Galina, the chief of the European Commission’s health division, told legislators on Tuesday that while vaccine producers like Pfizer and Moderna have largely met their commitments, “the problem has been AstraZeneca. So it’s one contract which we have a serious problem.”
The European Union has been criticized at home and abroad for its slow rollout of its vaccine drive to citizens, standing at about a third of jabs given to their citizens compared to nations like the United States and United Kingdom.
Galina said the overwhelming responsibility lies with the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was supposed to be the workhorse of the drive, because it is cheaper and easier to transport and was supposed to be delivered in huge amounts in the first half of the year.
“We are not even receiving a quarter of such deliveries as regards this issue,” Galina said, noting that AstraZeneca could expect a response from the EU. “We intend, of course, to take action because, you know, this is the issue that cannot be left unattended.”
The EU already closed an advance purchasing agreement with the Anglo-Swedish company in August last year for up to 400 million doses.
Meanwhile, Germany is extending its lockdown until April 18 and calling on citizens to stay at home over the Easter holidays to try to break a third wave of the pandemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel said, as the country races to vaccinate its population.
In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korean President Moon Jae-in has received his first shot of AstraZeneca’s vaccine as he plans to attend June’s Group of Seven meetings in Britain.
Moon on Tuesday received his shot at a public health office in downtown Seoul along with his wife and other presidential officials who plan to accompany him during the June 11-13 meetings.
Moon’s office said he was feeling “comfortable” after receiving the shot and complimented the skills of a nurse who he said injected him without causing pain. The office said Moon will likely receive his second dose sometime around mid-May.
South Korea launched its mass immunization program in February and plans to deliver the first doses to 12 million people through the first half of the year, including elders, front-line health workers and people in long-term care settings.
Officials aim to vaccinate more than 70 per cent of the country’s 51 million population by November, which they hope would meaningfully slow the virus and reduce risks of economic and social activity.
In the Americas, Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning that a surge of coronavirus cases in Europe could foreshadow a similar surge in the United States. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, is urging Americans to remain cautious while the nation races to vaccinate its citizens.
In an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America, Fauci said he is “optimistic” of the vaccines’ effectiveness and expressed hope that AstraZeneca’s vaccine could join the arsenal of inoculations.
He deemed it an “unforced error” that the company may have used outdated data in a clinical trial, perhaps casting doubt on its effectiveness. But he says Americans should take comfort knowing the FDA would conduct an independent review before it was approved for use in the United States.
Uruguay confirmed that it had detected the presence of two coronavirus variants that originated in neighbouring Brazil as the tiny South American nation faces a spike in cases and deaths.
In Africa, Nigeria suspended the airline Emirates from flying into or out of its territory last week after the carrier imposed additional COVID-19 test requirements on passengers from the country, the aviation minister said.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 10:10 a.m. ET
Canada employment regains pre-pandemic levels in September – Canada Immigration News
Canada’s economy gained 157,000 jobs last month, bringing the employment rate to within a percentage point of pre-pandemic levels.
Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey captured the Canadian labour market for the week of September 12 to 18. That week, several provinces had introduced proof-of-vaccination requirements to enter certain non-essential venues like gyms and restaurants.
The employment rate is the number of employed people as a percentage of the population age 15 and over. In September, Canada’s employment rate was 60.9 per cent, still 0.9 per cent under the February 2020 rate as a result of population growth.
The unemployment rate declined for the fourth consecutive month in September, falling to 6.9 per cent, the lowest rate since the onset of the pandemic.
Employment continues to increase for very recent immigrants
The employment rate among very recent immigrants continued on an upward trend, reaching 71 per cent last month.
Although the overall population of newcomers has not grown over the course of the pandemic, the number of very recent immigrants working in some industries has grown. Namely, in professional, scientific, and technical services, as well as finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing. These two industries have had sustained employment growth throughout the pandemic.
Immigrants who have been in Canada for more than five years saw an employment rate of nearly 59 per cent, which is down about one percentage point from September 2019. People born in Canada had an employment rate of about 61 per cent, down two percentage points in the same time frame.
White collar sectors ahead while blue collar lags behind
The services-producing sector surpassed its pre-COVID employment level for the first time. The increases were led by public administration, information, culture and recreation, and professional, scientific and technical services.
By contrast, some industries such as accommodation and food services has yet to return to the employment levels seen in February 2020. This is partially due to the industry being heavily affected by public health measures. This September employment in food services fell for the first time in five months. Employment in retail also declined.
The goods-producing sector saw little change overall, which has been the case since it lost 94,000 jobs between April and June. Manufacturing and natural resources were the exceptions, both industries saw some employment growth in September.
© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit CanadaVisa.com to discover your Canadian immigration options.
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday – CBC.ca
- Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email: Covid@cbc.ca
In Europe, protests erupted in Italy on Friday as one of the most stringent anti-coronavirus measures in Europe went into effect, requiring all workers, from magistrates to maids, to show a health pass to get into their place of employment.
Police were out in force, some schools ended classes early and embassies issued warnings of possible violence amid concerns that the anti-vaccination demonstrations could turn into riots, as they did in Rome last weekend.
But by day’s end, the protests appeared to have been largely peaceful, including one at Rome’s central Circus Maximus where some protesters gave police officers flowers in a sign they meant no harm.
The green pass shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past six months. Italy already required the pass to access all sorts of indoor environments, including restaurants, museums, theaters, and long-distance trains.
But the addition of the workplace requirement has sparked heated debate and opposition in a country that was a coronavirus epicentre early in the pandemic but has kept the latest resurgence in check through continued mask mandates and one of the highest vaccination rates in Europe.
The new rule in a country that imposed the first COVID-19 lockdown and production shutdown in the West imposes a burden on worker and employer alike. Electronic scanners that can read cellphone QR codes with the green pass were set up at bigger places of employment, such as the office of Italian Premier Mario Draghi and the headquarters of state railway company Trenitalia.
Sanctions for employers who fail to check employees range from 400 to 1,000 euros ($575 to $1,437 Cdn). A worker who fails to show a valid pass is considered absent without justification and could face fines from 600 to 1,500 euros ($862 to $2,155 Cdn).
The aim of the requirement is to encourage vaccination rates to rise beyond the current 81 per cent of the population over age 12 who are fully inoculated. And if recent days are any indication, it was working: The number of first shots administered Thursday rose 34 per cent compared to the beginning of the week, Italy’s virus czar reported Friday.
But for those people who can’t or won’t get their shots, the expanded pass requirement imposes a burden of getting tested every 48 hours just to be able to go to work. People with a proven medical condition that prevents them being vaccinated are exempt.
Some employers are offering free tests at work, but the government has refused calls to make testing free across the board. Currently rapid tests run from eight euros ($11.50 Cdn) for children to 15 euros ($21.55 Cdn) for adults.
For some opponents, the requirement is disproportionate to the current need: Italy has kept the latest delta variant-fuelled resurgence largely under control through continued mask use and physical distancing, reporting around 67 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the past two weeks.
But proponents say the requirement will keep workplaces safe and allow Italy’s economy, which shrank 8.9 per cent last year, to further rebound.
What’s happening in Canada
- P.E.I. logs 3 new cases, including a child under 12 years of age.
- N.S. reports 18 new cases, bringing province’s active caseload to 199.
What’s happening around the world
As of Friday, more than 239.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.8 million.
In the Americas, hundreds of white flags were put up in front of Brazil’s Congress on Friday, to protest more than 600,000 COVID-19 deaths in the country — the second highest toll in the world behind the U.S.
In Asia, South Korean officials will partially ease virus restrictions in the hard-hit capital region starting next week to address a battered economy and pandemic fatigue.
In Africa, South Africa will start vaccinating children between the ages of 12 and 17 next week using the Pfizer vaccine, the health minister said.
Elsewhere in Europe, COVID-19 tests in France are no longer free for unvaccinated adults unless they are prescribed by a doctor.
U.S. to lift curbs from Nov. 8 for vaccinated foreign travelers – White House
The White House on Friday said it will lift COVID-19 travel restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign nationals effective Nov. 8, ending historic restrictions that barred much of the world from the United States.
Restrictions on non-U.S. citizens were first imposed on air travelers from China in January 2020 by then-President Donald Trump and then extended to dozens of other countries, without any clear metrics for how and when to lift them.
Curbs on non-essential travelers at land borders with Mexico and Canada have been in place since March 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reuters first reported Friday’s announcement of the Nov. 8 starting date earlier in the day.
U.S. airline, hotel and cruise industry stocks rose on the news, including American Airlines, up 1.9%; Marriott International Inc, up 2.2%; and Carnival Corp, up 1.3%.
The United States had lagged many other countries in lifting such restrictions, and allies welcomed the move. The U.S. restrictions have barred travelers from most of the world, including tens of thousands of foreign nationals with relatives or business links in the United States.
The White House on Tuesday announced it would lift restrictions at its land borders and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico for fully vaccinated foreign nationals in early November. They are similar but not identical to requirements announced last month for international air travelers.
Unvaccinated visitors will still be barred from entering the United States from Canada or Mexico at land borders.
Canada on Aug. 9 began allowing fully vaccinated U.S. visitors for non-essential travel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told Reuters last week the United States will accept the use by international visitors of COVID-19 vaccines authorized by U.S. regulators or the World Health Organization.
The White House, which held a meeting late Thursday to finalize the Nov. 8 date, still faces some remaining questions, including how and what exemptions the Biden administration will grant to the vaccine requirements. Children under 18, for example, are largely expected to be exempt from the requirements, an official said.
U.S. Travel Association Chief Executive Roger Dow said in a statement that the Nov. 8 date “is critically important for planning – for airlines, for travel-supported businesses, and for millions of travelers worldwide who will now advance plans to visit the United States once again.”
The White House announced on Sept. 20 that the United States would lift restrictions on air travelers from 33 countries in early November. It did not specify the date at the time.
Starting Nov. 8, the United States will admit fully vaccinated foreign air travelers from the 26 so-called Schengen countries in Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Greece, as well as Britain, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran and Brazil. The unprecedented U.S. restrictions have barred non-U.S. citizens who were in those countries within the past 14 days.
The United States has allowed foreign air travelers from more than 150 countries throughout the pandemic, a policy that critics said made little sense because some countries with high COVID-19 rates were not on the restricted list, while some on the list had the pandemic more under control.
The White House said last month it would apply vaccine requirements to foreign nationals traveling from all other countries.
Non-U.S. air travelers will need to show proof of vaccination before boarding a flight, and will need to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test. Foreign visitors crossing a land border will not need to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test.
The new rules do not require foreign visitors or Americans entering the country to go into quarantine.
Americans traveling overseas must still show proof of a recent negative COVID-19, and unvaccinated Americans will face stricter COVID-19 testing requirements. They will also be subject to restrictions in the countries they plan to visit, which may include quarantines.
The CDC plans to soon issue new rules on contact tracing for international air travelers.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by John Stonestreet, Nick Zieminski and Jonathan Oatis)
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