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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world Wednesday –



The latest:

Russia has recorded another high for daily COVID-19 deaths as authorities across the country moved to keep most people off work in line with a Kremlin order aimed at stemming the spread.

Russia’s coronavirus task force on Wednesday registered 1,123 deaths in 24 hours, the largest daily toll since the pandemic’s start.

Moving to curb contagion, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a non-working period from Oct. 30 to Nov. 7 when most state organizations and private businesses are to suspend operations.

Russian authorities expect the off-work time will help limit the spread of contagion by keeping people out of offices and public transportation, but many Russians sought to use the period for a seaside vacation ahead of the long winter season.

Russia isn’t the only country dealing with an uptick in cases. According to a weekly report on the pandemic from the World Health Organization, more than 2.9 million new cases of COVID-19 were reported worldwide in the week of Oct. 18-24, up about four per cent from a week prior.

WHO’s weekly summary said the highest numbers of new cases last week were reported in:

  • The United States, which saw 512,956 new cases —  a 12 per cent decrease from a week earlier.
  • The United Kingdom, which saw 330,465 new cases — a 16 per cent increase.
  • Russia, which saw 248,956 new cases — a 15 per cent increase.
  • Turkey, which saw 196,850 new cases — a decrease of eight per cent.
  • Ukraine, which saw 134,235 new cases — a 43 per cent increase.

A medical specialist treats a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit of the City Clinical Hospital Number 3 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Stanislav Kozliuk/Reuters)

The number of deaths reported globally last week was more than 49,000, the report said, up about five per cent from the previous week.

-From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 10:50 a.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

B.C. will broadly expand eligibility for COVID-19 booster shots in 2022 — a first in Canada: 

B.C. to offer COVID-19 booster shots to everyone by May

15 hours ago

B.C. is the first province to announce a plan for COVID-19 booster shots, with all residents being eligible in May, or six to eight months after their first dose. 1:53

Toronto respirologist Dr. Samir Gupta, however, says he’d prefer to see a co-ordinated national approach to booster doses: 

Canada should pursue national strategy on booster vaccines, says specialist

5 hours ago

An agreed national strategy on providing COVID-19 boosters is preferable to the staggered responses of each province, says Toronto respirologist Dr. Samir Gupta. (Credit: Ben Nelms/CBC) 3:00

What’s happening around the world

A health-care worker gives a student a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination campaign for 16 and 17-year-olds at the Primero de Mayo School in La Paz, Bolivia on Tuesday. (Juan Karita/The Associated Press)

As of late Wednesday morning, more than 244.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.9 million.

In the Americas, an expert panel voted overwhelmingly to recommend the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorize the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine for children ages five to 11, saying the benefits of inoculation outweigh the risks.

In Europe, Slovenia’s health minister on Wednesday warned the country could face a nightmare scenario if it does not contain the virus outbreak raging in the small Alpine nation and other low-vaccination countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Health Minister Janez Poklukar said hospital beds have been filling up as the country logged the highest number of daily cases since January. With more than 3,000 confirmed infections in the past 24 hours, Poklukar said a lockdown is looming.

“While we watched with fear at neighbouring Italy at the start of the epidemic, we are now at a turning point because of low vaccination rates and we could easily have a Bergamo scenario,” Poklukar said, mentioning the Italian city that was hit hard earlier in the pandemic.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the health ministry in Vietnam has approved vaccinations for children age 12 to 17, with older teens in more populated cities getting the first doses. There are about 14 million Vietnamese children in that age range.

China has reported nearly 250 locally transmitted cases of COVID-19 since the start of the current outbreak 10 days ago, with many infections in remote towns along porous international borders in the country’s northwest. The country had 50 new local cases for Oct. 26, the highest daily count since Sept. 16, official data showed on Wednesday.

In South Africa — the hardest-hit country in Africa — the Health Ministry on Tuesday reported 331 new cases of COVID-19 and 53 additional deaths. According to the Johns Hopkins tracker, nearly 20 per cent of the country’s population is fully vaccinated.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry on Tuesday reported 65 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths. With slightly more than 62 per cent of the population fully vaccinated, health officials again urged people to take both doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

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

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U.S. to revoke terrorist designation for Colombia’s FARC, add breakaway groups



The United States will revoke its designation of the Colombian group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia as a foreign terrorist organization on Tuesday while designating two breakaway groups as such, a senior State Department official said on Friday.

A review of the terrorist listing – required every five years under U.S. law – found that the leftist organization known by the Spanish acronym FARC should no longer be listed, The official said.

But the two dissident groups that have formed out of FARC, La Segunda Marquetalia and FARC-EP, or People’s Army, would be designated as foreign terrorist organizations, the official said.

“It’s a realignment to address these current threats,” the official said. “The FARC that existed five years ago no longer exists.”

Founded in 1964, FARC was responsible for summary executions and kidnappings of thousands of people, including Americans.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the United States was preparing to remove FARC from the list five years after the group signed a peace agreement with Bogota.

The State Department notified the U.S. Congress on Tuesday of its planned delisting of FARC. The Colombian government was formally notified on Wednesday.

The government of Colombia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The decision will allow U.S. government agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development to work on peace implementation in parts of Colombia where demobilized FARC soldiers are located, the official said.

“This is a priority for the Colombian government in the implementation of the peace agreement,” the official said.


(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Simon Lewis in Washington; Additional reporting by Oliver Griffin in Bogota; Editing by Mark Porter and Leslie Adler)

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Tunisian police say they shot, wounded extremist trying to attack them



Tunisian police on Friday shot and wounded an extremist who sought to attack them with a knife and cleaver in the capital, authorities said.

The 31-year-old man, whose identity was not disclosed, shouted, “God is great. You are infidels,” as he ran toward police officers near the interior ministry, the ministry said in a statement.

Witnesses and local media said police shot the man in the leg and arrested him. The man, who was previously labelled an extremist by the government, was taken to hospital and is being investigated by an anti-terrorism unit, officials said.

Tunisian security forces have thwarted most militant plots in recent years and they have become more efficient at responding to those attacks that do occur, Western diplomats say.

The last major attacks in Tunisia took place in 2015 when militants killed scores of people in two separate assaults at a museum in Tunis and a beach resort in Sousse.

(Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Frances Kerry and Cynthia Osterman)

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At least 19 killed in bus crash in central Mexico



At least 19 people were killed and 20 more injured on Friday when a passenger bus traveling on a highway in central Mexico crashed into a house, authorities said.

The brakes on the bus, which was heading to a local religious shrine in the state of Mexico, failed, according to local media reports. State authorities did not disclose the possible causes of the accident.

Assistant state interior secretary Ricardo de la Cruz Musalem said that the injured had been transferred to hospitals, including some by air.

The state Red Cross said 10 ambulances had rushed to the area.


(Reporting by Sharay Angulo; writing by Laura Gottesdiener)

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