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

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The latest:

  • Health Canada says extra doses from Pfizer’s vaccine vials can be used.
  • Negative COVID-19 test will soon be required at land border, Trudeau says.
  • Ontario reports 1,022 new COVID-19 cases, the fewest since early November.
  • U.S. joins WHO program aimed at boosting COVID-19 fight.
  • WHO says coronavirus unlikely to have leaked from Chinese lab.
  • Travellers arriving in England will face fines, even prison for breaking hotel quarantine rules.
  • Canadians with pandemic benefit debt to get one year of interest relief from Ottawa, says source.
  • Have a question about the coronavirus pandemic? Send your question to COVID@cbc.ca

A U.S. official told a World Health Organization meeting on Tuesday that Washington would participate in a program to boost COVID-19 testing, diagnostics and vaccines as it joins global efforts to respond to the pandemic.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the announcement, which follows confirmation last month that Washington under President Joe Biden will remain in the Geneva-based agency. Former president Donald Trump criticized the agency and halted funding.

“We want to underscore the commitment of the United States to multilateralism and our common cause to respond to this pandemic and improve global public health,” Colin L. McIff, acting director at the Office of Global Affairs in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said at a WHO virtual meeting.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is continuing to express concerns about vaccine inequity, noting that 75 per cent of doses have been deployed to just 10 countries. (Fabrice Coffrini/Pool/AFP/Getty Images)

The meeting in Geneva aims to help fill a $27-billion US funding gap for the WHO-backed program, called the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator Facilitation Council, that is aimed at broadening global access to COVID-19 fighting tools.

The United States had previously been an observer to ACT.

The United States, the top donor to the WHO, has pledged $4 billion. WHO’s special envoy for the ACT Accelerator, Andrew Witty, a former GlaxoSmithKline CEO, said discussions on further support from the United States were ongoing.

In the same meeting Tedros expressed fresh concerns about vaccine inequity, noting that 90 per cent of countries rolling out COVID-19 vaccines are wealthy and that 75 per cent of doses have been deployed to just 10 countries.

South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize who co-chairs the meeting, called these “alarming and disappointing numbers which we need to change.”

– From Reuters, last updated at 10:30 a.m. ET


What’s happening in Canada

As of noon ET on Tuesday, Canada had reported 809,970 cases of COVID-19 — with 39,296 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 20,884.

Ontario is reporting 1,022 new cases and 17 new deaths on Tuesday, a day after the province announced a gradual lifting of stay-at-home orders.

The new cases are the fewest for the province on a single day, without data problems, since early November. The seven-day average of new daily cases rose slightly to 1,367.

There are now about 13,948 confirmed, active cases provincewide. The number of active cases has steadily declined since its peak at more than 30,500 in mid-January.

Three public health units will be the first to see the stay-at-home order, which was declared four weeks ago, lifted on Wednesday.

Other regions are staying in the grey lockdown phase for now, but the province is making some changes to the restrictions they face. Chief among them is that non-essential retailers will be allowed to open their doors with a 25 per cent capacity limit.

In Quebec, Premier François Legault is expected to provide an update at 1 p.m. ET today, following the reopening of non-essential businesses such as stores, museums and hairdressers on Monday. You can watch it live here.

Customers shop for shoes as a slight easing of COVID-19 restrictions allowed non-essential stores to reopen Monday in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The province reported 826 new cases and 32 more deaths on Tuesday. Along with new cases, hospitalizations are also trending downward, with 940 people currently in hospital, including 145 in intensive care.

In Atlantic Canada, P.E.I. is reporting one new case, a person who was diagnosed while out of the province and will remain off-Island while recovering. Nova Scotia also reported one new case.

Here’s a look at what’s happening across the country:

– From CBC News, last updated at 12 p.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

As of Tuesday morning, more than 106.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 59.4 million of those cases listed as recovered or resolved by Johns Hopkins University, which maintains a case tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 2.3 million.

In the Asia-Pacific region, a World Health Organization team has concluded that the coronavirus is unlikely to have leaked from a Chinese lab and is more likely to have jumped to humans from an animal.

WHO food safety and animal diseases expert Peter Ben Embarek announced that assessment Tuesday at the end of a visit by a WHO team that is investigating the possible origins of the coronavirus in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

On the vaccine front, India’s government has ordered 10 million more doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Sputnik-V has become the third COVID-19 vaccine to be approved by Pakistan for emergency use, the country’s health minister said.

In the Middle East, dozens of asylum seekers and foreign workers in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv lined up to receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday as part of an initiative to inoculate the city’s foreign nationals.

French nuns living in Israel register as they wait to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at a Tel Aviv medical centre on Tuesday during a campaign to vaccinate foreign workers and refugees against the coronavirus. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran has launched a vaccination drive, focusing initially on hospital intensive care personnel, as the hardest-hit country in the region awaits enough vaccines for its general population.

In Africa, Ethiopia has secured nine million doses of COVID-19 vaccines up until April and hopes to inoculate at least a fifth of its 110 million people by the end of the year, the health minister said.

In the Americas, U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris “virtually toured” a federally supported mass-vaccination site Monday in Glendale, Ariz. The drive-thru 24-hour facility at the State Farm Stadium is giving one COVID-19 shot about every 10 seconds.

Biden and Harris have promised to open 100 similar sites across the country in the coming weeks and have called on Congress to provide funding for even more. Biden has ramped up federal support for the facilities through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Pentagon.

The president said he is ahead of pace to deliver on his promise of providing 100 million injections in the first 100 days of his presidency, saying, “I think we’ll exceed that considerably.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that more than 22 million doses have been given since Biden’s inauguration less than three weeks ago.

A Florida resident gets vaccinated at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando on Monday. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/The Associated Press)

In Europe, Germany is planning to spend nearly 9 billion euros ($13 billion Cdn) this year to buy up to 635.1 million COVID-19 vaccines as part of the European Union’s procurement scheme and national deals.

Hungary will start vaccinating people suffering no chronic diseases with Russia’s Sputnik vaccine soon, the surgeon general said, becoming the first European Union country to use it.

Meanwhile, some countries are also ramping up measures to curb COVID infections. Travellers arriving in England face fines and even prison if they flout rules as part of a hotel quarantine policy designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants from the most at-risk countries, British health minister Matt Hancock said on Tuesday.

“We will be putting in place tough fines for people who don’t comply. This includes a 1,000-pound ($1,775 Cdn) penalty for any international arrival who fails to take a mandatory test,” Hancock told Parliament.

“Anyone who lies on the passenger locator form and tries to conceal that they’ve been in a country on the red list in the 10 days before arrival here, will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.”

Sweden plans to restrict the number of passengers on long-distance trains and buses in an effort to prevent a pick-up in new COVID-19 cases and the spread of mutations of the virus that could be more infectious, the government said on Tuesday.

– From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 10:30 a.m. ET

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Canada receives largest COVID-19 vaccine shipment to date | News – Daily Hive

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Canada has received its largest number of COVID-19 vaccine doses to date as February draws to a close.

At a press briefing on February 25, Major-General Dany Fortin said that 643,000 doses of Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines have been distributed across the country this week alone.

Fortin said that a total of 440,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine would be delivered each week in March, which will round out the company’s first-quarter commitment of 4 million doses.

Moderna, which sends vaccines to Canada every three weeks, is expected to deliver 466,000 doses the week of March 8, and another 846,000 doses the week of March 22.

These next two deliveries will complete the company’s first-quarter commitment of 2 million doses.

“This is all good news for Canadians who are hoping to get vaccinated,” he said. “As we head into spring, we are collectively gearing up for what we call the ramp-up phase.”

Fortin revealed that Pfizer has begun to finalize weekly shipment numbers for the second quarter of the year.

The company is expected to send approximately 769,000 vaccine doses each week for the first two weeks of April.

While numbers for subsequent weeks are still being confirmed, Fortin said a total of 10.8 million Pfizer doses should arrive in Canada between April and June.

The country is still working with Moderna to finalize the company’s shipment dates and dosage numbers for the second quarter.

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said that 2.9% of the country has now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 1.1% have been given two doses.

“We are on track to have [a] significant increase into the spring, and again into the summer,” Fortin said.

“The projection is that we have seen 88 million vaccines, of both approved products, in-country by September.

To date, 1,682,106 doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Canada.

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'Good to go': Canadian pharmacies ready for next phase of vaccine rollout – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canada’s pharmacies say they’re primed and ready to start administering COVID-19 vaccines at their facilities across the country, as government officials prepare for the next phase of vaccine rollout.

Shoppers Drug Mart President Jeff Leger says he’s informed all levels of government that once given the green light, the company’s more than 1,300 locations and an additional 500 Loblaw pharmacies, would need just 48 to 72 hours to get their sites prepped for mass inoculations.

“Our stores have already been thinking about it, we’ve got the processes in place. We can move very quickly and we can move large volumes of people through our network,” Leger said in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca on Tuesday.

He said a smooth rollout is contingent on provinces using a framework similar to that used during flu season.

“As long as we’re adhering to the same principles that we’ve done for flu vaccination…we’re good to go,” said Leger. “At the height of flu season we did as many as half a million in one week, we think we could do much more than that – really the constraint was supply.”

He added that this network of pharmacies can manage the finicky ultra-cold storage requirements of the Pfizer vaccine. Leger says he’s also confident the company’s large roster of pharmacists will be able to draw the now-approved sixth dose from vaccine vials using low dead space syringes – though he said they’re still waiting on the shipments of those syringes from provincial governments.

“The supply of those syringes, our understanding [is that] they’ll be coming from the federal supplies and provincial supplies so as long as the supply of those low dead space syringes hold up then there shouldn’t be a problem for that,” he said.

This comes as Health Canada announced its highly-anticipated approval of AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate on Friday, now the third vaccine given a formal stamp of approval in Canada. The federal government has secured 20 million doses of this vaccine, set to arrive between April and September, plus an additional 1.9 million doses before the end of June from the global vaccine sharing network COVAX.

The federal government also maintains the country is still on track to meet is six million dose target of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

While the details of how and when pharmacies will be incorporated into vaccine rollout plans differ by province, Joelle Walker, vice-president of public affairs at the Canadian Pharmacists Association, said all have signaled use of the facilities at some point to reach the broader public.

“Pharmacies are very conveniently located. Most Canadians live within five kilometres of a pharmacy which makes them very accessible to people who can’t travel to major centres to get vaccinated,” she said during a phone interview with CTVNews.ca on Friday. “Most Canadians see their pharmacists more than any other provider and so it just makes them an obvious choice.”

Some provinces, including Alberta, have already laid out plans detailing how pharmacies will assist in administering vaccines. Forty-one Shoppers Drug Mart stores and Real Canadian Superstore locations in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer will be offering in-store shots to Albertans 75 and older as early as next week.

“This is a step that just makes sense. As anyone who has gotten a flu shot knows, pharmacists have a lot of experience in delivering vaccines. They have played an important role in our seasonal flu program for many, many years and they have the skills, they have the experience and they have the infrastructure in place to be an important part of our immunization program,” said Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro on Wednesday.

Many other provinces list pharmacies as designated vaccination sites in phase two, which for most is expected to begin in April.

Walker said she’s encouraged the federal government to work more closely with provinces to establish some level of national consistency on pharmacy involvement.

“It [would] make it easier for pharmacists to communicate that information to patients. Many people are saying ‘oh you know, in Alberta it’s over 75’ and not necessarily knowing that will be different in other provinces,” said Walker.

“That kind of consistency of information would really help bring that confidence to Canadians that there’s a process in place.”

As for tracking the second dose of any of the three approved vaccines, Walker said pharmacies are particularly well-equipped with this function as they remind Canadians daily to refill their prescriptions.

“The refill system in pharmacies is designed to do exactly that, to make sure their patients come back when they’re supposed to to pick up their refills.”

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Canadian firm develops biodegradable mask that's ready for production – CTV News

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TORONTO —
A private non-profit Canadian organization and its partners have created an eco-friendly biodegradable mask that is ready for manufacturing and public use, an innovation it says is the first of its kind in the world.

FPInnovations, a research and development centre that supports the Canadian forestry sector, said in a press release on Friday that the masks, which took only a few months to develop from research to market, are fully biodegradable, from the mask filtering materials, to the elastic ear loops and nose pieces.

“The development of a biodegradable mask clearly shows that stimulating the bioeconomy can contribute to a cleaner environment in Canada,” Stephane Renou, president and chief executive of FPInnovations said in a statement.

The project was highlighted by both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Natural Resources, Seamus O’Regan.

“We need to keep wearing our masks to keep each other safe. And now you can wear one without worrying about damaging the environment … This is Team Canada at its best,” O’Regan said in a video posted on Twitter.

A key element that makes this mask appealing is that its components can be easily assembled and produced on existing commercial mask-converting machines, the group behind the $3.3 million project said.

Third party labs have assessed the masks, it added, saying it “would set the standard” for non-medical grade masks for its filtration capabilities, breathability and biodegradability.

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