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

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The latest:

COVID-19 infections and deaths are mounting with alarming speed in India with no end in sight to the crisis, and a top public health expert is warning of hard weeks ahead.

India’s official count of coronavirus cases surpassed 20 million on Tuesday, nearly doubling in the past three months, while deaths officially have passed 220,000. Staggering as those numbers are, the true figures are believed to be far higher, the undercount an apparent reflection of the troubles in the health-care system.

On Tuesday, the health ministry reported 357,229 new cases in the past 24 hours and 3,449 deaths from COVID-19.

Infections have been increasing in India since February in a disastrous turn blamed on more contagious variants of the virus as well as government decisions to allow massive crowds to gather for Hindu religious festivals and political rallies before state elections.


WATCH | Frantic patients seek care as hospitals in India struggle to keep up with COVID-19 cases:

A ‘monster’ variant of the coronavirus in India is ‘killing patients like anything,’ says Dr. Dhiren Shah, a cardiac surgeon in Ahmedabad, India, while the country remains desperately short of hospital beds, oxygen and medications. 9:26

Dr. Dhiren Shah, a cardiac surgeon at a private hospital in Ahmedabad, India, told CBC’s Heather Hiscox that the situation in hospitals is grim.

“We are in a situation where there are a lot of patients begging for a bed in the hospital,” he said, but there is no way to care for them all.

The overall scenario is “gruesome” right now, he told CBC News Network.

Patients seeking a bed are forced to move from hospital to hospital as they spend hours searching for an open bed, Shah said, with some people dying in ambulances as they try to secure care.

Watch the full interview to hear more about what’s happening on the ground in India.


The challenges are steep in states where elections were held and unmasked crowds likely worsened the spread of the virus. The average number of daily infections in West Bengal state has increased by a multiple of 32 to over 17,000 since the balloting began.

“It’s a terrifying crisis,” said Dr. Punyabrata Goon, convener of the West Bengal Doctors’ Forum.

Goon also said that the state needs to hasten immunizations. But the world’s largest maker of vaccines is short of shots — the result of lagging manufacturing and raw material shortages.

Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health in the United States, said he is concerned that Indian policymakers he has been in contact with believe things will improve in the next few days.

“I’ve been … trying to say to them, ‘If everything goes very well, things will be horrible for the next several weeks. And it may be much longer,’ ” he said.

Jha said the focus needs to be on “classic” public health measures: targeted shutdowns, more testing, universal mask-wearing and avoiding large gatherings.

“That is what’s going to break the back of this surge,” he said.

India’s top health official, Rajesh Bhushan, refused to speculate last month as to why authorities weren’t better prepared.


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Expert discusses latest NACI recommendations and what they might mean for Canada:

Changing guidance on COVID-19 vaccines in Canada could lead some people to regret getting the shot that was available to them at the time, says Dr. David Naylor, co-chair of the national COVID-19 Immunity Task Force. He says all of the vaccines available in Canada are very effective. 10:18

As of 2:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had reported 1,247,304 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 82,935 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 24,385. 

At a briefing on Tuesday, federal officials said three million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna would arrive in Canada by the end of the week. That figure includes one million Moderna doses that were meant to be picked up next week, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said, noting the company is working with the government on a more regular delivery schedule.

Ontario on Tuesday reported 2,791 new cases of COVID-19 and 25 additional deaths. COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 2,167, with 886 patients in intensive care, the province reported.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce also announced that students can opt to take all their classes online when the new school year begins in September. Lecce did not, however, provide details on whether or not students will be heading back to class for the remainder of the current school year.

Quebec reported 797 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 16 additional deaths. Premier François Legault also announced that emergency lockdown measures will end in some parts of the province next week, including the Quebec City area.

Legault said the situation has improved enough in the capital and in two parts of the Outaouais region in western Quebec to allow high school students to return to class, non-essential businesses to open and the nightly curfew to be pushed to 9:30 p.m. from 8 p.m. beginning May 10.

Nova Scotia reported 153 new cases of COVID-19 and two related deaths on Tuesday. The provincial government also announced more than $12 million in additional support for businesses hit by the latest COVID-19 restrictions in the province.

Labi Kousoulis, minister of inclusive economic growth, said the new grant targets businesses directly affected by the provincewide lockdown that went into effect last Wednesday.

Prince Edward Island on Tuesday reported one new case of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases in the province to seven, while New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador each reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.

Across the North, Nunavut on Tuesday reported seven new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active cases in the territory to 85. Yukon and the Northwest Territories had not yet provided updates for the day.

Manitoba reported 291 new COVID-19 cases and one death connected to a more contagious coronavirus variant on Tuesday. The province also declared two outbreaks at Winnipeg schools.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the province can expect an announcement on stricter public health measures Tuesday as COVID-19 case numbers continue to climb.

Kenney told a news conference on Monday — when the province reported 2,012 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths — that he was angered to see that a large group of people gathered over the weekend at a rodeo event in Bowden, Alta., in flagrant violation of the restrictions in place.

WATCH | Questions around NACI advice for Johnson & Johnson vaccine:

Some doctors are concerned about new guidance for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization said it should be limited to those over 30 who don’t want to wait for an mRNA vaccine. Meanwhile, Health Canada continues to advise Canadians to take the first vaccine available to them. 2:12


What’s happening around the world

A handwritten message is seen stuck on the face shield of a medical worker as they prepare to vaccinate people at a school in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP/Getty Images)

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 153.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been recorded around the world, according to a case-tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.2 million.

In the Middle East, Kuwait’s government is barring unvaccinated residents from travelling abroad starting later this month, the latest attempt to tame the spiraling coronavirus outbreak in the Gulf Arab sheikhdom.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Taiwan became the latest place to ban arrivals from India, as it moves to prevent new infections, with more nations reporting cases of a variant first identified in the subcontinent.

In Africa, Tanzania announced new anti-coronavirus measures, saying it wanted to prevent the importation of new variants.

In Europe, the German government says people who are fully immunized or have recovered from a coronavirus infection will be exempt from contact restrictions and curfews.

Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said the two groups will be treated the same as people who have tested negative. This means they can visit certain places, such as the hairdresser, without taking a test. More than eight per cent of the population in Germany have received two shots, while 28.7 per cent have received at least one dose of vaccine.

Medical staff prepare Moderna vaccines in Cologne, Germany. The city started a program to bring COVID-19 vaccination to people living in a neighbourhood with a high incidence of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. (Martin Meissner/The Associated Press)

In the Americas, Trinidad and Tobago said on Monday it was tightening lockdown restrictions for three weeks starting at midnight as the number of new COVID-19 cases hit new highs and the Caribbean twin-island nation faces a potential shortage of hospital beds.

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Citi promotes Gutiérrez-Orrantia to head EMEA banking

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Citigroup has promoted Ignacio Gutiérrez-Orrantia, one of its most senior bankers in Madrid, to lead its banking, capital markets and advisory (BCMA) franchise for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, a memo seen by Reuters shows.

Gutiérrez-Orrantia, 49, has been at Citi for 17 years and will replace Philip Drury, who is moving to San Francisco to lead the bank’s global technology and communications advisory unit.

Gutiérrez-Orrantia will join Citi’s EMEA operating committee and BCMA senior leadership committees globally while also becoming the senior manager responsible for BCMA for the bank’s UK legal entities.

The Bilbao native most recently led BCMA for Iberia, the Netherlands, the Nordic region and Switzerland and was also BCMA chairman for continental Europe.

In his new role he will report to Citi’s co-heads of investment banking, Manolo Falco and Tyler Dickson, as well as EMEA CEO David Livingstone.

 

(Reporting by Pamela Barbaglia; editing by Jason Neely)

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Calgary Stampede to proceed with limited events

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The Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo, exhibition and festival that is also Canada‘s biggest and booziest party, will go ahead this year after being pulled in 2020 due to the pandemic, though it will not look and feel the same, an event organizer told CBC Radio.

“It won’t be your typical Stampede … it’s not the experience that you had in years past,” Kristina Barnes, communications manager with the Calgary Stampede, told a CBC Radio programme on Friday.

She said organizers were still deciding whether to include rodeo or the grandstand show in this year’s version.

Known as “the greatest outdoor show on earth,” the Stampede draws tourists from around the world for its rodeo and chuckwagon races, but much of the action happens away from official venues at parties hosted by oil and gas companies.

“The Safest and Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth is what we’re going to call it this year,” Barnes said, adding the organizers are working directly with Alberta Health to ensure Stampede experiences stay “within the guidelines” that may be in effect in July.

The event is scheduled to take place between July 9-18, according to the Calgary Stampede website.

Last month, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told reporters the Calgary Stampede can probably go ahead this year as Alberta’s coronavirus vaccination campaign accelerates.

Barnes and the office of the Alberta premier were not available for immediate comment.

The cancellation of the event last year was a crushing disappointment for Canada‘s oil capital.

The news comes as Alberta has been dealing with a punishing third wave of the pandemic, with the province having among the highest rate per capita of COVID-19 cases in the country. Data released on Friday showed the province had 1,433 new cases, compared with the seven-day average of 1,644.

 

(Reporting by Denny Thomas; Editing by Chris Reese)

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U.S. trade chief pressured to lift duties on Canadian lumber

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 As U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai prepares to meet her Canadian and Mexican counterparts on Monday to review progress in the new North American trade agreement, she is under pressure from home builders and lawmakers to cut U.S. tariffs on Canadian lumber.

Shortages of softwood lumber amid soaring U.S. housing demand and mill production curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic have caused prices to triple in the past year, adding $36,000 to the average cost of a new single-family home, according to estimates by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Republican lawmakers have taken up the builders’ cause, asking Tai during hearings in Congress last week to eliminate the 9% tariff on Canadian softwood lumber imports. Senator John Thune told Tai that high lumber costs were “having a tremendous impact on the ground” in his home state of South Dakota and putting homes out of reach for some working families.

The Trump administration initially imposed 20% duties in 2018 after the collapse of talks on a new quota arrangement, but reduced the level in December 2020.

“The Biden administration must address these unprecedented lumber and steel costs and broader supply-chain woes or risk undermining the economic recovery,” said Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America. “Without tariff relief and other measures, vital construction projects will fall behind schedule or be canceled.”

On Friday, White House economic adviser Cecilia Rouse said the Biden administration was weighing concerns about commodity shortages and inflation as it reviews trade policy.

The tariffs are allowed under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade, which permits duties to combat price dumping and unfair subsidies.

The U.S. Commerce Department has ruled that lumber from most Canadian provinces is unfairly subsidized because it is largely grown on public lands with cheap harvesting fees set by Ottawa. U.S. timber is mainly harvested from privately-owned land.

Tai said she would bring up the lumber issue with Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng at the first meeting of the USMCA Free Trade Council, a minister-level body that oversees the trade deal.

WILLING PARTNER

But Tai told U.S. senators that despite higher prices, the fundamental dispute remains and there have been no talks on a new lumber quota arrangement.

“In order to have an agreement and in order to have a negotiation, you need to have a partner. And thus far, the Canadians have not expressed interest in engaging,” Tai said.

Youmy Han, a spokeswoman for Canada‘s trade ministry, said the U.S. duties were “unjustified,” and that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has raised the issue with U.S. President Joe Biden.

“Our government believes a negotiated agreement is possible and in the best interests of both countries,” Han said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

But builders are growing frustrated with a lack of high-level engagement with high-level Biden administration officials on the issue as they watch lumber prices rise.

“They are clearly still gathering facts, which is even more frustrating given that this issue has been going on since before the election, before the inaugural,” said James Tobin, a vice president and top lobbyist at the NAHB.

 

(Reporting by David Lawder and Jarrett Renshaw in Washington and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Writing by David Lawder; Editing by Paul Simao)

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