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

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The latest:

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is calling for thousands of volunteers to staff new vaccination centres in shopping areas, stadiums and racecourses as the government accelerates its booster program to combat the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

The drive comes two days after Johnson set a target of giving booster shots to all adults by the end of this year to stem the tide of omicron, the latest variant of concern.

“We need tens of thousands of people to help out — everyone from trained vaccinators to stewards,” Johnson said in a statement. “Many thousands have already given their time — but we need you to come forward again, to work alongside our brilliant GPs, doctors, nurses and pharmacists, to deliver jabs and save lives.”

Johnson faces a large rebellion among his Conservative lawmakers on Tuesday in a parliamentary vote over new restrictions to try to curb the spread of the new variant, which was first reported in southern Africa in November.

The House of Commons is voting on measures that come into force this week, ordering masks to be worn indoors in England, changing rules on self-isolation and — contentiously — requiring proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test to enter nightclubs and large crowded events.

Vaccine passes have become commonplace in many European countries, but Johnson’s government has resisted introducing them in England, though the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which set their own health rules, have done so.

Johnson argues that the highly transmissible omicron strain has changed the argument, and vaccine passes are now a sensible measure. Many Conservative legislators disagree, arguing that vaccine passports are economically damaging and a restriction on individual freedoms.

Long queues formed at vaccine centres in England on Tuesday as hundreds of thousands of people rushed to get COVID-19 booster shots.

Omicron spreading quickly

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Parliament that Britain will remove all 11 countries from its COVID-19 travel red list from Wednesday.

“Now that there is community transmission of omicron in the U.K. and omicron has spread so widely across the world, the travel red list is now less effective in slowing the incursion of omicron from abroad,” he said. “Whilst we will maintain our temporary testing measures for international travel, we will be removing all 11 countries from the travel red list effective from 4 a.m. tomorrow morning.”

Health officials with the World Health Organization — which had previously called for a moratorium on boosters as it worked to increase equitable access to the vaccine worldwide — on Tuesday noted that it’s still critical to get doses to people who have not yet had access to initial shots.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said vaccine booster shots can play a role in curbing the spread of COVID-19 as long as people most in need of protection also get access to jabs.

The update came as Tedros and colleagues urged people not to underestimate the virus even as scientists work to pin down more detail on the omicron variant.

“Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril. Even if omicron does cause less severe  disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm unprepared health systems,” he said, noting in his briefing that omicron was “spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant.”

Tedros said 77 countries had reported cases of the omicron variant — and noted that it was likely that it had spread to other countries that had not yet detected it. 

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 12:45 p.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | COVID-19: How can Canada fight omicron? 

COVID-19: How can Canada fight omicron?

16 hours ago

Duration 1:53

Dr. Peter Juni, scientific director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, discusses the steps needed to fight the expected wave of omicron and whether more lockdowns could be looming. 1:53


What’s happening around the world

People get vaccinated against COVID-19 at Soweto’s Baragwanath Hospital on Monday. South Africa’s seven-day rolling average of daily new COVID-19 cases has risen from 7.60 new cases per 100,000 people on Nov. 28 to 32.71 new cases per 100,000 people on Dec. 12, according to Johns Hopkins University. (Jerome Delay/The Associated Press)

As of early Tuesday morning, more than 270.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a case-tracking tool from U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.3 million.

The African continent might not reach the target of vaccinating 70 per cent of its 1.3 billion population against COVID-19 until the second half of 2024, a target many of the world’s richer countries have already met, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

The warning comes as the world faces a new surge in cases driven by the highly infectious omicron variant. Health officials in South Africa, which first announced the variant, say early data indicates it causes less severe illness and shorter, less-intensive hospital stays. But some richer countries have rushed to allow booster vaccine doses in response, even as less than eight per cent of Africa’s population has received two doses.

Just 20 of Africa’s 54 countries have fully vaccinated at least 10 per cent of their populations against COVID-19. And 10 countries have fully vaccinated less than two per cent of their populations.

The WHO Africa director, Matshidiso Moeti, pushed back against any suggestion that African nations are allowing large numbers of vaccine doses to go to waste amid poor infrastructure and vaccine hesitancy. The African continent has received about 434 million vaccine doses, and some 910,000 of them have expired in 20 countries, Moeti said. The main challenge in Africa, she said, remains access to vaccine supplies.

In Europe, France is contemplating tightening controls for travellers coming from Britain, where the new, more contagious omicron coronavirus variant seems to be rapidly spreading, said French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal.

“Regarding Britain, the current rule is to show a negative test less than 48 hours old in order to enter France,” Attal told France Info radio on Tuesday. “But we are always looking at means to tighten the framework. We are currently working on that and we should, I think, come to a conclusion in the coming days.”

A medical staff member works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for COVID-19 patients at La Timone hospital in Marseille, France, last Friday as the country sees an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. (Eric Gaillard/Reuters)

Meanwhile, the Dutch government on Tuesday said it is considering closing schools a week early for Christmas this year as coronavirus infections remain high and hospitals struggle with a wave of COVID-19 patients.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore is considering requiring its residents to get a booster shot to qualify as fully vaccinated against COVID-19, its health minister said.

In the Middle East, Oman reported two cases of the omicron variant. Health ministry officials said the cases involved travel abroad, according to local media reports.

In the Americas, the omicron variant was estimated to be 2.9 per cent of the COVID-19 variants circulating in the United States as of Dec. 11, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For the week ending Dec. 4, the omicron variant constituted 0.4 per cent of all the variants in the country, based on the specimens sequenced.

The agency also estimated that the fast-spreading variant was 13.1 per cent of circulating coronavirus variants in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands for the week ending Dec. 11.

-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 10:25 a.m. ET

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COVID-19 blamed for greatest drop in life expectancy in Canada since 1921 – CBC.ca

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Statistics Canada says the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to an average seven-month decline in national life expectancy, the largest decrease recorded since 1921 when the vital statistics registration system was introduced.

The federal agency released preliminary data Monday showing national life expectancy, which is estimated on an annual basis, was 81.7 years for those born in 2020 — down from 82.3 the year before.

The drop was greater for men, at more than eight months, than for women, at nearly five months. The largest declines in the country were observed in Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

There were 307,205 deaths in Canada in 2020, representing a 7.7 per cent increase from 2019. Of those, 16,151 deaths were attributed to COVID-19 during the first year of the pandemic, representing 5.3 per cent of the country’s 2020 deaths.

That made COVID-19 the third leading cause of death in Canada in 2020, though Statistics Canada added that the pandemic may have also contributed indirectly to a number of other deaths across the country.

A nurse attends to a COVID-19 patient in Humber River Hospital in Toronto on Jan. 13. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Cancer was the leading cause of death at 26.4 per cent while heart disease was second at 17.5 per cent.

Statistics Canada found that mortality rates for cancer, heart disease and COVID-19 were higher in lower-income neighbourhoods.

Unintentional injuries were the fourth leading cause of death at five per cent, with stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases, diabetes mellitus, influenza and pneumonia, Alzheimer’s disease and chronic liver disease and cirrhosis rounding out the top 10.

Greater impact in U.S.

Though Canada’s life expectancy fell in 2020, it was still among the highest in the world over that year, Statistics Canada said.

Some countries, including Spain, Italy and the United States saw greater impact on life expectancy from the pandemic, with declines up to 1.5 years. Others, including Norway, Denmark and Finland, saw life expectancy remain stable or even increase in 2020, despite the pandemic.

Statistics Canada said life expectancy for those born in 2020 is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels as the impacts of the health crisis diminish.

The data released Monday is preliminary, Statistics Canada said, and does not include information on deaths in Yukon.

The rate of influenza and pneumonia deaths in 2020 was 12.9 deaths per 100,000 population, a decline from the 15.6 deaths per 100,000 seen in 2019. That marked the lowest death rate attributed to flu and pneumonia in more than 20 years.

People aged 65 years and older accounted for 94.1 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths in Canada in 2020, with more than half — 54.6 per cent — occurring in people older than 84.

Canadians younger than age 40 were largely unaffected by the direct effects of the pandemic, Statistics Canada said, with approximately 50 COVID-19 deaths recorded among that age group in 2020. But the agency added that in younger age groups, increases in deaths attributed to other causes, including substance-related harms, were observed.

Canada recorded 4,604 deaths due to accidental poisonings, including overdoses. That figure was up from 3,705 deaths reported in 2019 but comparable to the 4,501 deaths reported in 2018 and the 4,830 deaths reported in 2017 at the height of the pre-pandemic opioids crisis.

Statistics Canada also said there were “notable increases” in alcohol-induced deaths in 2020, particularly in those younger than 65. In people under 45, alcohol-induced deaths rose to 542 in 2020, from around 360 in each of 2017, 2018 and 2019.

The agency said alcohol-induced deaths include fatalities from diseases and conditions related to chronic use of alcohol but exclude unintentional deaths such as traffic accidents where alcohol is believed to be a contributing factor.

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Monday – CBC News

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The latest:

Proof of vaccination against COVID-19 is now required to access big-box and other large-scale retail stores across Quebec.

Premier François Legault previously announced that Quebecers will have to show their vaccination passport starting today if they wish to enter stores with floor surfaces of 1,500 square metres or more.

The measure comes as Legault continues to focus measures on unvaccinated residents in an effort to curb COVID-19-related hospitalizations, which soared in recent weeks but have declined for the past four days in a row.

Proof-of-vaccination requirements do not apply to stores that primarily sell pharmacy or grocery products.

Quebec expanded its vaccination passport system last week to cannabis and liquor stores.

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

The province’s COVID-19 update posted Monday showed 3,299 hospitalizations — an increase of 16 from a day earlier. The number of people in intensive care units stood at 263 — down by 10 from a day earlier. 

Health officials in Quebec also reported 52 additional deaths and 2,807 additional lab-confirmed cases. Because of limits on PCR testing, officials in the province have cautioned that the number of new cases is likely significantly higher.

Junior Health Minister Lionel Carmant is set to announce a plan for unvaccinated Quebecers later this afternoon alongside Daniel Paré, the head of the province’s immunization campaign.

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 11:15 a.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | COVID-19: Children’s vaccinations and hospitalizations: 

COVID-19: Children’s vaccinations and hospitalizations

14 hours ago

Duration 8:11

Dr. Earl Rubin, Dr. Katrina Hurley and Dr. Natalie Bridge answer questions about children’s COVID-19 vaccination rates across the country, hospitalizations and Omicron symptoms in kids. 8:11

With lab-based testing capacity deeply strained and increasingly restricted, experts say true case counts are likely far higher than reported. Hospitalization data at the regional level is also evolving, with several provinces saying they will report figures that separate the number of people in hospital because of COVID-19 from those in hospital for another medical issue who also test positive for COVID-19.

For more information on what is happening in your community — including details on outbreaks, testing capacity and local restrictions — click through to the regional coverage below.

You can also read more from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which provides a detailed look at every region — including seven-day average test positivity rates — in its daily epidemiological updates.

In Central Canada, Ontario on Monday reported 3,861 hospitalizations, an increase of 64 from the previous day. According to the provincial COVID-19 dashboard, there were 615 people in the province’s intensive care units, up by 11 from a day earlier.

 The province also reported 37 additional deaths and 4,790 lab-confirmed cases.

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick health officials on Sunday reported two additional COVID-19-related deaths and 545 additional lab-confirmed cases. The province said a total of 126 people were in hospital, including 10 in intensive care units.

Prince Edward Island saw two additional COVID-19 related deaths over the weekend, bringing the number of deaths recorded on the island to six. The latest data from the province showed nine people in hospital with COVID-19.

Nova Scotia on Sunday said there were 85 people in hospital who were admitted due to COVID-19 and were receiving specialized care. Eleven people were in intensive care units, the province said in a statement, which noted that more than 200 others were in hospital with COVID-19, including those who had contracted the virus after they were admitted to hospital.

The province also reported an additional 503 lab-confirmed cases.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, 19 people were in hospital with COVID-19, health officials said in a tweet on Sunday. The province, which is set to send students back to classrooms later this week, also reported 361 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

WATCH | 3 teenagers who stepped up to help others during pandemic: 

3 teenagers who stepped up to help others during pandemic

14 hours ago

Duration 6:05

These three teenagers have stepped up to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering food, helping seniors with technology and providing homemade air filters. 6:05

In the Prairie provinces, Saskatchewan on Sunday said 252 people were in hospital, up from 244 a day earlier, the province’s COVID-19 dashboard showed. Of those, 26 patients were in intensive care units across the province. Health officials also reported 1,629 additional lab-confirmed cases.

Manitoba and Alberta are expected to provide updated information covering the weekend later on Monday.

Across the North, Nunavut on Sunday reported 26 additional cases of COVID-19. Health officials in Yukon and the Northwest Territories are expected to provide updated information about the state of the pandemic later Monday.

British Columbia health officials don’t report COVID-19 data over the weekend. An update covering the three-day period since Friday is expected later Monday.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 11:15 a.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

WATCH | ‘Dangerous’ to assume Omicron last variant, says WHO: 

‘Dangerous’ to assume Omicron last variant, says WHO

5 hours ago

Duration 1:14

A much higher global vaccination rate is needed to thwart coronavirus variants and end the acute phase of the pandemic, says World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 1:14

As of early Monday morning, more than 351.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.5 million.

The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is warning that conditions remain ideal for more coronavirus variants to emerge, saying it’s dangerous to assume Omicron is the last one or that “we are in the endgame.” Tedros also said the acute phase of the pandemic could end this year — if some key targets are met, including WHO’s target to vaccinate 70 per cent of the population of every country by the middle of this year.

“It’s true that we will be living with COVID for the foreseeable future and that we will need to learn to manage it through a sustained and integrated system for acute respiratory diseases” to help prepare for future pandemics, he said. “But learning to live with COVID cannot mean that we give this virus a free ride. It cannot mean that we accept almost 50,000 deaths a week from a preventable and treatable disease.”

WATCH | What can Canadian athletes expect in Beijing? 

Spirit of 2022 Olympics will lift athletes, says Le May Doan

1 hour ago

Duration 2:32

Canada’s athletes will enjoy the celebratory mood at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, says Catriona Le May Doan, the Chef de Mission. 2:32

In the Asia-Pacific region, Beijing’s city government introduced new measures to contain a recent outbreak of COVID-19, as China’s capital continued to report new local cases of the virus less than two weeks before it hosts the Winter Olympic Games.

India reported over 300,000 new COVID-19 infections for the fourth straight day, even though the caseload over the last 24 hours was slightly lower than a day before, data released by the government on Sunday showed.

In Europe, tens of thousands of people protested in Brussels, Belgium, against COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday, some clashing with police who fired water cannon and tear gas to disperse them near the European Commission’s headquarters.

A police officer walks by a damaged building in the European Union quarter during a demonstration against COVID-19 measures in Brussels on Sunday. Demonstrators gathered in the Belgian capital to protest what they regard as overly extreme measures by the government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. (Geert Vanden Wijngaert/The Associated Press)

Russia on Monday reported a new record number of COVID-19 cases confirmed in the past 24 hours as the Omicron variant of the virus spread across the country, the government coronavirus task force said. Daily new cases jumped to 65,109, from 63,205 a day earlier. The task force also reported 655 deaths.

In Africa, health officials in South Africa on Sunday reported 1,931 new cases of COVID-19 and 114 additional deaths. 

In the Middle East, health officials in Iran on Monday said 21 people had died from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. The country also reported 7,691 additional cases.

In the Americas, the United States — the World Health Organization’s top donor — is resisting proposals to make the agency more independent, four officials involved in the talks said, raising doubts on the Biden administration’s long-term support.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who recently recovered from his second infection, reassured Mexicans he was in good health following an overnight hospital stay.

-From Reuters, CBC News and The Associated Press, last updated at 10:55 a.m. ET

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Nanos survey: Canadians show support for fining unvaccinated – CTV News

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The majority of Canadians either support or somewhat support a new health contribution or fine applied to those who remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, according to a new survey by Nanos Research.

Results of the survey commissioned by CTV News show that 40 per cent of respondents support the idea and another 20 per cent somewhat support it. Meanwhile, 29 per cent oppose it, eight per cent somewhat oppose it and four per cent remain unsure.

Support for the policy that would give provincial governments the power to fine unvaccinated citizens is stronger among those aged 55 and older.

“This is critical from a political perspective. Only 50 per cent of Canadians that are under 35 years of age support this or somewhat support this, while it jumps up to 72 per cent or more than seven out of every 10 for seniors,” Nanos Research’s Nik Nanos told CTV News Channel’s Power Play on Monday.

“Older Canadians tend to vote more than younger Canadians, which means that for those individuals that are more likely to vote, they’re probably more likely to support this.”

Regionally, Ontario reports the highest level of support, followed by Quebec, Atlantic Canada, B.C., and the Prairies.

On Jan. 11, Quebec Premier François Legault announced that a new health contribution would be applied to the unvaccinated in the province in response to rising COVID-19 cases and the resulting strain on the health-care system.

The exact amount of the financial penalty is yet to be determined but Legault had indicated that $50 or $100 “is not significant” enough for him. It will not apply to those with a medical exemption.

The announcement has prompted mixed reviews from politicians and health-care providers, with some arguing that the policy is an effective incentive to get the vaccine, while others say it’s a violation of individual liberties.

METHODOLOGY

Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,049 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between January 21 and 23, 2022 as part of an omnibus survey. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online. The sample included both land-and-cell lines across Canada. The results were statistically checked and weighted by age and gender using the latest Census information and the sample is geographically stratified to be representative of Canada.

Individuals were randomly called using random digit dialing with a maximum of five call backs.

The margin of error for this survey is ±3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The study was commissioned by CTV News and the research was conducted by Nanos Research.

Note: Charts may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

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