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

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The latest:

The African Union on Tuesday accused manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines of denying African countries a fair chance to buy them, and urged manufacturing countries — in particular India — to lift export restrictions on vaccines and their components.

“Those manufacturers know very well that they never gave us proper access,” Strive Masiyiwa, AU special envoy for COVID-19, told a World Health Organization briefing from Geneva.

“We could have handled this very differently.”

Out of 5.7 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines administered around the world so far, only two per cent have been given to people in Africa.

Masiyiwa stressed that, in aiming to vaccinate 60 per cent of its population, the African Union and its partners had expected to buy half the doses needed, while half were expected to come as donations through the COVAX program, backed by the WHO and the GAVI global vaccine alliance.

“We want access to purchase,” he said.

South African rail company Transnet turned a train into a COVID-19 vaccination centre on rails to speed up vaccine rollout in the country’s remote communities, seen here in East Rand on Aug. 30. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters)

GAVI CEO Seth Berkley said his organization had been counting on receiving supplies from India — the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing centre — at the start of the outbreak, but has received no doses from India since March, when India imposed export restrictions in an effort to meet its own domestic needs amid a difficult second wave that saw the country’s death toll soar.

Masiyiwa urged the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to begin working on a standby pandemic readiness fund to help poorer nations buy vaccines in the future, instead of having to rely on a sharing facility like COVAX, which has so far managed to provide only 260 million doses. COVAX is set to fall nearly 30 per cent short of its previous goal of two billion shots this year.

“Vaccine sharing is good, but we shouldn’t have to be relying on vaccine sharing, particularly when we can come to the table with structures in place and say we also want to buy,” he said.

Along with WHO leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Masiyiwa reiterated a demand for patent waivers on vaccines of global importance, saying that Africa wanted to set up its own manufacturing capacity.

Efforts to develop an African base for COVID-19 vaccine production will focus on trying to replicate Moderna’s shot, but a lack of progress in talks with the U.S. company means the project will take time, Martin Friede, co-ordinator of the WHO’s Initiative for Vaccine Research, told Reuters.

-From Reuters, updated at 4:30 p.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

(CBC News)

WATCH | School closures, masking among responses to COVID-19 outbreaks in schools: 

School closures, masking among responses to COVID-19 outbreaks in schools

21 hours ago

Schools across the country are dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks and to try to slow them down, Quebec is instituting rapid testing, New Brunswick is reinstating masks, while P.E.I. and Yellowknife are closing some schools. 2:04


What’s happening around the world

Employees work at a production factory for Russia’s Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine at Hankook Korus Pharm, in Chuncheon, South Korea, earlier this month. (Heo Ran/Reuters)

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 225.5 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 4.6 million.

In Europe, physical distancing will end in the Netherlands on Sept. 25, the same day that the government will begin mandating COVID-19 health passes to get into venues such as bars, restaurants and theatres, caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Tuesday. About 62 per cent of the Dutch population of 17.5 million people has been fully vaccinated, including 77 per cent of adults, according to European Centre for Disease Control figures from Sept. 5.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is self-isolating after members of his entourage fell ill with COVID-19 and will therefore not travel to Tajikistan this week for planned regional security meetings, the Kremlin said on Tuesday. The 68-year-old has taken an array of health precautions throughout the pandemic and has had two doses of the Sputnik V 
COVID-19 vaccine. 

Britain is highly likely to require front-line health- and social-care workers in England to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Tuesday.

WATCH | Javid on U.K.’s vaccination plan, including government’s views on booster doses: 

Britain lays out winter plan for defence against COVID-19

9 hours ago

Booster shots of COVID-19 vaccines for vulnerable Britons and the jab for children 12-15 are part of the British government’s plan to protect people through the winter months, says Health Secretary Sajid Javid. (Matt Dunham/Associated Press Photo) 1:40

In the Asia-Pacific region, new local COVID-19 infections more than doubled in China’s southeastern province of Fujian, health authorities said, prompting officials to quickly roll out measures including travel restrictions to halt the spread of the virus.

Australia’s capital city of Canberra will remain locked down for a second month after the local government reported 22 new coronavirus infections. Sydney’s cases rose at the slowest pace in nearly two weeks on Tuesday, but officials said they needed to see a steady drop in daily cases before deciding whether the infection curve had flattened after 12 weeks in lockdown.

In the Americas, COVID-19 deaths and cases in the U.S. have climbed back to where they were over the winter, wiping out months of progress and potentially bolstering President Joe Biden’s argument for sweeping new vaccination requirements. The cases — driven by the delta variant, combined with resistance among some Americans to getting vaccinated — are concentrated mostly in the South.

Less than 3.5 per cent of people in Africa are vaccinated against COVID-19, far short of its official target of 60 per cent, John Nkengasong, director of Africa’s Centers for Disease Control, said on Tuesday.

World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the same briefing that the continent was being “left behind by the rest of the world” and that this would allow the coronavirus to keep circulating.

In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday reported 617 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths.

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 2:55 p.m. ET


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

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The latest:

Ontario and New Brunswick rolled out vaccine passport systems on Wednesday that require people who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine to show proof of vaccination before entering non-essential indoor spaces. 

The programs require people who are eligible for the vaccines to show proof of vaccination at non-essential businesses where large numbers of people gather, including dine-in restaurants, gyms, sports events and clubs.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, urged people to be patient as workers and businesses adjust to the new requirement. Moore said he hopes the new system will help boost vaccination rates — particularly among 20- to 39-year-olds, who currently have the highest rate of infection in Ontario.

Proof-of-vaccination systems are becoming more common across Canada, as governments work to boost vaccination rates amid increasing COVID-19 numbers. However, the systems are not without controversy — some view them as an infringement on individual rights, others argue that the systems put undue burdens on businesses that have already been hit hard by pandemic closures and ever-changing regulations.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford acknowledged the divisions around vaccine mandates at a news conference on Wednesday, but he said the province can’t afford to shut down again or see another sudden surge in cases.

The vaccine certificate system is a temporary and exceptional measure, Ford said, as he again urged people to be patient as businesses adapt.

WATCH | Ford says vaccine passports will help keep businesses open:

Ontario vaccine certificate ‘temporary and exceptional,’ says premier

10 hours ago

Ontario Premier Doug Ford acknowledged that vaccine certificates are a ‘divisive issue,’ but says they will help keep business open through the fourth wave of COVID-19. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press) 1:01

Ford said the province would not use the program for “one day longer” than needed.

But when asked later at the news conference about what metrics he would use to determine when the vaccine passport requirements would be lifted, he didn’t offer specifics. The premier instead said the decision, when it came, would be made based on advice from the chief medical officer of health and the province’s science table.

Ontario on Wednesday reported 463 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths.

The systems put in place by officials in Ontario and New Brunswick allow for medical exemptions for people with documentation from their health-care provider.

However, experts in New Brunswick tell CBC that medical exemptions are rare because there’s little to no reason people physically can’t get vaccinated.

People wait in line at a mass vaccination and testing clinic for COVID-19 at the Moncton Coliseum in Moncton, N.B., on Wednesday, as new proof of vaccination rules take effect. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

In announcing New Brunswick’s new rules last week, Premier Blaine Higgs said the province’s original target of having 75 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated is no longer enough with the new highly transmissible variants. The goal is now 90 per cent.

Also starting Wednesday, New Brunswickers are once again required to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces.

The province reported 76 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, a new record high for daily cases. It also reported one additional death. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell has said the province is on a trajectory to have 100 new cases confirmed per day, every day.

From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET


What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | Alberta premier shuffles health minister as hospitals near capacity: 

Kenney shuffles health minister as hospitals near capacity

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney named former labour minister Jason Copping the new health minister after shuffling Tyler Shandro out of the role as the province’s hospitals near capacity and Kenney faces growing calls for his own resignation. 2:01


What’s happening around the world

German Health Minister Jens Spahn gives a press statement in Berlin as the country changed its approach to financial support for people who are not vaccinated. (Odd Anderson/AFP/Getty Images)

As of Wednesday evening, more than 229.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.

In Europe, Germany will stop sick pay for unvaccinated people who have to go into quarantine because of COVID-19. Previously, Germans could claim for income lost due to having to go into quarantine after returning from abroad or coming into contact with a positive case.

Health Minister Jens Spahn said the move was a matter of “fairness,” arguing that by the time the new rule comes into force on Nov. 1, everyone who wants a vaccine will have had an opportunity to get one. Those who choose not to “will need to bear responsibility for this then, including the financial costs,” he said.

Germany has fully vaccinated 63.4 per cent of its population. The government has said it wants to achieve a vaccination rate of 75 per cent to prevent a sharp rise in cases during the winter months.

In the Asia-Pacific region, officials in the northeast China city of Harbin say national level health officials have been sent to the city to deal with what may be a coronavirus outbreak. The city of 9.5 million people reported three infection cases on Wednesday, a day after discovering a first case of community transmission.

A medical worker collects a sample to be tested for COVID-19 in Harbin, in China’s northeastern Heilongjiang province, on Wednesday. (AFP/Getty Images)

After the initial finding, authorities started mass testing and closed schools. The city also ordered businesses such as mahjong parlours, cinemas and gyms to shut. City authorities say residents must display a negative virus test to be able to leave for only essential travel. Otherwise, people are being told to stay home.

In the Middle East, as coronavirus infections plummet and vaccinations accelerate in the United Arab Emirates, authorities have loosened a long-standing face mask mandate.

The Gulf Arab sheikhdom said Wednesday that residents no longer need to wear masks while exercising outdoors or visiting beaches and pools in the country. Those who receive medical or beauty treatments may also forgo the mask. However, face masks will still be required in indoor spaces such as shopping malls and public transportation.

WATCH | Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine shows promising results for kids under 12: 

Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine appears promising for kids under 12

Pfizer says its latest clinical trial data for its COVID-19 vaccine shows promising results in children under 12, raising the hopes of many parents with unvaccinated children. 2:01

In the Americas, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, just back from the United Nations, isolated himself at home on Wednesday and cancelled a trip after his health minister tested positive for COVID-19 and had to stay in quarantine in New York. 

Bolsonaro defied UN rules that asked all those attending the assembly be inoculated against the coronavirus and was the only member of his entourage in New York who has not been vaccinated. Before travelling to the United States, he said he believed his antibody count from a bout with COVID-19 protected him better than a vaccine.

Meanwhile, United Airlines officials said 97 per cent of its U.S. employees are fully vaccinated, with less than a week to go before United employees face a deadline to get the shots or get fired. The Chicago-based airline has 67,000 U.S. employees.

In Africa, officials with the World Health Organization’s Africa region said this week that 14 countries on the continent had reached a goal of fully vaccinating 10 per cent of their populations by the end of September. But the same health officials noted that a “crippling vaccine supply shortage” remains a major issue for countries across Africa.

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

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Evolution of Canada as a Modern Payments Leader

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With Silicon Valley taking most of the tech headlines from the North American continent, Japan being regularly publicized for its leaps in robotic technologies, and the UAE constantly investing in the latest tech, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many forget about Canada as a leader in the world.

However, just because Canada doesn’t command international headlines doesn’t mean that the country hasn’t proven to be incredibly tech-savvy, especially in the realms of payments and money. As a developed market, Canada has long boasted one of the highest credit card penetration rates in the world, at 83 percent (17 percent higher than the United States).

This is the start of a trend that will likely see Canada become the example of how payments around the world will take place, especially as it’s reported that the country will likely be the first to banish banknotes. Already, over 80 percent of Canadian bank transactions are made digitally, with there being many solutions available to the population. Yet, there’s more to come from the world-leading market in modern payments.

Rapid adoption of innovative cashless payment services

 

Source: Pixabay

While VISA, MasterCard, and American Express still form the foundations of much of Canada’s payments preferences, eWallet and mobile payment solutions have become incredibly prevalent. Both PayPal and Apple Pay boast a strong customer base across the country, with a 2019 survey indicating that over 20 percent of Canadians had the PayPal app, with over 15 percent installing the Apple Pay app.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that, due to the influx of these once-termed ‘alternative’ payment methods, new industries have quickly embraced them to appeal to Canadians. This isn’t anywhere more apparent than with the online casino industry, with the very best accepting PayPal as well as Skrill, Neteller, Trustly, and the two card providers. By offering these safe and popular methods, players are happy to try out thousands of online games.

PayPal looks to be positioning itself as the leader of a cashless Canada, and yet it’ll be expanding its offering even further soon. In September 2021, PayPal paid US$2.7 billion to acquire Japanese online payments firm Paidy, which specializes in buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) and payments without credit cards. This could further enhance its appeal to the Canadian population.

Growing into an ever-more digital space for money

Source: Unsplash

Despite the rate of adoption of the newer or tech-savvy payment methods among customers, many still experience payment friction. It was found that over half of all Canadians have experienced a vendor not accepting their preferred payment method or there being a limit on the amount that can be transferred with any one purchase. This is why PayPal’s entry into BNPL could enhance its scope in Canada.

The BNPL market is tipped to be worth nearly US$4 trillion by the end of this decade, making it a powerhouse option in eCommerce. It will certainly become popular in less-developed markets, where people want more expensive goods than they can afford outright. However, it also has its place in a market like Canada, which will make all tiers of purchase more accessible to all, particularly if the PayPal rollout gains traction.

Another digital area of finance that Canada is seen to be particularly smitten with is that of cryptocurrencies. The government has created a remarkably crypto-friendly regulatory landscape, helping all kinds of coins to know where they stand, appeal to Canadians, and be used across the country. It’s said that around 1.2 million people (3.2 percent of the population) own cryptocurrencies in Canada already.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that Canada is tipped to become the first cashless nation in the world, particularly with the adoption rate of eWallets and the embrace of even more modern solutions.

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Alberta province replaces health minister

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The premier Alberta province replaced his health minister in a cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, as a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases swamped the healthcare system and the government came under fire for mishandling the pandemic.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney replaced Tyler Shandro with Jason Copping, who previously served as minister of labour and immigration. Shandro took Copping’s former role.

Hospitals in Canada‘s western oil-producing province are buckling under a surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the highly contagious Delta variant. There are a record number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care, and Alberta has cancelled all non-elective surgeries and discussed transferring patients to other provinces.

United Conservative Party (UCP) leader Kenney and Shandro both face criticism for loosening public health measures much faster than other provinces earlier this year and delaying proof of vaccination requirements as cases started to rise.

“This cabinet shuffle is once again Jason Kenney refusing to take responsibility for his actions and his decisions,” independent lawmaker Drew Barnes, a member of the legislative assembly, told Reuters. “The best thing he could do is resign.”

Barnes was thrown out of the UCP caucus in May for publicly calling for Kenney’s resignation.

Alberta is a conservative stronghold but support for the federal party led by Erin O’Toole slipped in Monday’s election, which some Conservatives blamed on dissatisfaction with Kenney.

On Tuesday the province wrote to the federal government formally requesting more critical care staff and for help transporting patients out of Alberta.

 

(Reporting by Nia Williams; editing by Barbara Lewis and Sonya Hepinstall)

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