Manitoba will allow more people to gather outdoors but is largely sticking with existing red level restrictions, the province’s chief public health officer said Tuesday, citing a need to be cautious as the province sees a “slow increase” in case numbers and an increasing proportion of variant cases.
The Manitoba government is increasing the number of people allowed to gather outdoors to 25 from 10. It’s one of a small number of COVID-19 restrictions being eased starting Friday.
The limit on people allowed to attend weddings and funerals will also rise to 25 people from 10. For retail outlets, operators will be allowed to go to either 50 per cent capacity or a maximum of 500 people — whichever is lower.
Premier Brian Pallister said the changes were “cautious” and designed to protect the well-being of people in the province.
Manitoba on Tuesday reported one COVID-19 death and 98 new cases. However, five cases were removed due to data correction, for a net increase of 93.
Dr. Brent Roussin, echoing comments made by Canada’s chief public health officer and many of his provincial colleagues, expressed concern about increasing variant of concern cases.
“We know these variants spread much more readily, and so we need to continue to do what we can to limit that transmission,” Roussin said on Tuesday. “There continues to be reasons to be optimistic, but we need to be cautious in the meantime.”
Roussin said the province doesn’t have “nearly the amount” of vaccine coverage to change the province’s public health measures, but he said “we can be optimistic that more and more vaccine is on its way over time.”
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In neighbouring Saskatchewan, Regina is heading back to some of the toughest public health restrictions seen during the pandemic because of a concerning spread of COVID-19 variants.
“The rise of the variant cases means we have to continue to be extremely cautious,” Premier Scott Moe said Tuesday.
Moe said that for most of the province the number of COVID-19 cases is stable or declining. In Regina, however, “we are seeing case numbers continue to rise, and that is largely due to the high concentration of variant cases.”
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
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As of 10:20 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had reported 943,896 cases of COVID-19, with 36,340 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,745.
In Ontario, where the provincial government will unveil a budget later Wednesday, health officials reported 1,571 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional deaths. According to provincial figures updated Wednesday, COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 893, with 333 people in intensive care units.
In Atlantic Canada, health officials reported a total of 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday — seven in New Brunswick, two in Prince Edward Island and one in Nova Scotia. There were no new cases reported in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In Quebec, health officials reported 656 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths on Tuesday. Hospitalizations stood at 519, with 113 people in intensive care.
In Alberta, health officials reported 465 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths on Tuesday. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 290, with 52 COVID-19 patients in intensive care.
British Columbia, meanwhile, reported 682 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death. Hospitalizations stood at 314, the province reported, with 83 COVID-19 patients in intensive care.
Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon.
According to a list updated by federal health officials every evening at 7 p.m. ET, as of Tuesday Canada had seen more than 6,200 reported cases of variants of concern, including:
- 5,812 cases of the B117 variant first reported in the U.K.
- 247 cases of the B1351 variant first reported in South Africa.
- 152 cases of the P1 variant linked to Brazil.
(Read more from CBC’s Robson Fletcher about how provinces are working to track variant cases and the challenges of interprovincial comparisons.)
–From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7:05 a.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of early Wednesday morning, more than 124.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a tracking tool maintained by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.7 million.
In Europe, the European Union is moving toward stricter export controls to ensure that there are more COVID-19 shot supplies for the bloc, which should boost its flagging vaccine drive at a time of another surge of the coronavirus pandemic on the continent.
The EU’s executive body said Wednesday on the eve of a summit of the 27 leaders that it has a plan ready to guarantee that more vaccines produced in the bloc are available for its own citizens before they can be shipped for exports.
EU nations have been specifically stung by the United Kingdom, which has received some 10 million doses from EU plants while they say nothing came back from Britain. The EU now insists on reciprocity as it sees vaccination rates in Britain racing upwards, while the bloc proceeds at a crawl.
“We have secured more than enough doses for the entire population. But we have to ensure timely and sufficient vaccine deliveries to EU citizens,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “Every day counts.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, has dropped plans for a five-day shutdown in Germany over Easter, which had prompted confusion and criticism. She called the idea a mistake and apologized to Germans. Merkel announced the decision after calling a hastily arranged video conference with Germany’s 16 state governors, who are responsible for imposing and lifting restrictions.
The same group had come up with the unexpected plan for deeper restrictions over Easter, which was announced early Tuesday. The plan was to make Thursday, the day before Good Friday, a “rest day,” with all shops closed, and only allow supermarkets to open on Easter Saturday.
France’s culture minister has been hospitalized for COVID-19, the latest senior official to be infected as the nation faces a third surge of infections. Roselyne Bachelot announced last weekend that she had tested positive and her hospitalization was made public Wednesday. The latest surge has been likely propelled by the highly contagious virus variant first seen in Britain.
ICUs in the Paris region as well as in northern and southeastern France are filling up. French President Emmanuel Macron, who was infected months ago but never hospitalized, announced on Tuesday an acceleration of the country’s vaccination campaign. Now all people over 70 are eligible to get a shot.
Poland will likely have to toughen restrictions again after reporting what early figures suggest will be a record number of new infections.
Spain’s coronavirus infection rate edged up, highlighting concern that a long decline is in danger of reversing.
In the Americas, Brazil suffered a record 3,251 COVID-19 deaths, as pot-banging protests erupted across the country during an address by President Jair Bolsonaro in which he defended his pandemic response and pledged to ramp up vaccinations.
Colombia will impose new restrictions on movement and enact nightly curfews in municipalities with high occupancy levels in intensive care units as it tries to avoid a severe third wave of COVID-19.
In Africa, the first 165,000 of up to seven million COVID-19 vaccine doses that MTN Group is donating to African countries have arrived in Ghana.
In the Middle East Lebanon reported 42 additional deaths and more than 3,850 cases of COVID-19, health officials reported on Tuesday. The country, which is also in the midst of economic and political turmoil, is awaiting delivery of doses of both the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines, local media reported.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Pakistan’s top health official said Wednesday his country will purchase one million doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine and 60,000 doses of the vaccine made by Chinese company CanSino Biologics.
Faisal Sultan, a special assistant to the prime minister, said on Twitter that an order has been placed for the purchase of Chinese-made vaccines, which will be delivered to Pakistan within days. The purchases will be in addition to 1.5 million doses of vaccine that China is donating to Pakistan in phases. Without giving more details, Sultan said Pakistan will also receive several million doses of vaccines in April.
Pakistan is currently facing a third wave of coronavirus infections.
Also on Wednesday, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said the government is ordering the closure of schools in the capital, Islamabad, and in several other high-risk cities until April 11.
Hong Kong authorities halted the use of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech citing defective packaging, triggering scenes of confusion at inoculation centres across the city.
–From Reuters, CBC News and The Associated Press, last updated at 10:20 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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