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

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The latest:

Manitoba reported 16 additional deaths on Tuesday, a new daily high in a province that has been struggling with growing COVID-19 case numbers.

“This is a tragedy for all Manitobans,” Dr. Brent Roussin said Tuesday after reading a list with the ages and communities of those who died.

“We know that these are much more than numbers. These are people who are missed right now.”

Manitoba, which has seen a total of 328 deaths, reported 283 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday — the first time in more than a week that the new case number in the province dropped below 300.

Roussin said that while numbers aren’t “climbing rapidly,” they still aren’t where the province needs them to be.

“These numbers are still too high for us to sustain.”

The province’s health-care capacity is “being pushed” he said, noting that hospitals are reaching capacity and health-care workers are overwhelmed.

As of Tuesday, there were 338 people hospitalized, with 48 in intensive care.


What’s happening across Canada

As of 10:20 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 385,191, with 66,371 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 12,246.

British Columbia also reported 16 additional deaths on Tuesday, bringing the provincial death toll to 457. Health officials in the province reported 656 new cases of COVID-19 and said there were 336 people in hospital, including 76 in intensive care.

Faced with rising case numbers, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix reiterated their plea for people to follow rules put in place to try and slow the spread of the virus.

“Without exception, follow the provincial health officer’s orders in place,” the pair said in a statement. “Remember that events, which refer to anything that gathers people together — whether on a one-time, regular or irregular basis — are not allowed for now.”

WATCH | COVID-19 returns to B.C. nursing homes, death toll rises:

British Columbia has seen more COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks than the preceding two months because the virus has found its way back into nursing homes. And with long-term care workers exhausted and families frustrated, it’s not clear what can be done. 1:54

In Alberta, health officials announced 10 additional deaths and 1,307 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Hospitalizations stood at 479, with 97 people in intensive care. 

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said a decision around what sort of restrictions will be in place over the holidays is expected later in the month.

“However, in the past we have seen holiday gatherings lead to increases in cases and outbreaks as one case spreads to many,” Hinshaw said, pointing to the ongoing impact of Thanksgiving gatherings. 

“This is not going to be the year for in-person office parties,” she said. “This is not going to be the year for open houses, or large dinners with friends and extended family.”

In Saskatchewan, health officials reported 181 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 51.

The province’s minister of corrections said she doesn’t know how COVID-19 arrived in the Saskatoon Correctional Centre, which is dealing with a growing outbreak that has led to well over 100 cases among inmates, as well as several infections among staff.

Ontario on Wednesday reported 1,723 new cases of COVID-19, with 500 cases in Peel Region and 410 in Toronto. Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a tweet that 44,200 tests had been completed.

Health officials also reported 35 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 3,698.

Hospitalization data had not yet been updated, but as of Tuesday the province had reported having 645 COVID-19 patients in hospital, with 185 people in intensive care units.

Quebec Premier François Legault warned Tuesday that the province’s plan to allow gatherings for four days around Christmas is at risk as the number of hospitalizations in the province reached their highest level since June.

“We’re not going in the right direction,” Legault said at a press conference in Quebec City. “If hospitalizations continue to increase, it will be difficult to take that risk.”

WATCH | What doctors are learning about COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’:

Researchers are learning more about why some people who get a mild case COVID-19 end up experiencing other symptoms for months. Doctors say these so-called known as long-haulers often have symptoms that resemble a common blood circulation disorder known as POTS. 4:10

According to public health authorities in Quebec, 719 people were in hospital due to the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, an increase of 26 from the previous day. Of those, 98 people were in intensive care, an increase of four.

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, New Brunswick reported seven cases and Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case. There were no new cases in Prince Edward Island. 

Across the North, there was one new case of COVID-19 reported in Nunavut, which is at the end of a two-week lockdown period that covered the entire territory.

There were no new cases reported in Yukon or the Northwest Territories.


What’s happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 9:55 a.m. ET

WATCH | COVID-19 vaccine rollout — What the experts say:

As of early Wednesday morning, there were nearly 64 million reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide with more than 41.1 million of those listed as recovered or resolved, according to a tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.4 million.

In Europe, British regulators insisted that “no corners have been cut” during the assessment of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, which was cleared for emergency use on Wednesday.

In a briefing after the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency became the first regulator worldwide to approve the vaccine, its chair, Dr. June Raine, said the public can be “absolutely confident” that its standards are equivalent to those anywhere around the world.

Regulators also revealed the order by which the vaccine will be rolled out across the country over the coming weeks and months, beginning next week. The U.K. has ordered around 40 million doses of the vaccine, which can potentially immunize 20 million people as two doses are required.

Residents in nursing homes and their care givers will be offered the vaccine first, followed by those 80 and over and front-line health- and social- care workers. From there, the priority plan largely follows age groups.

According to Munir Pirmohamed, chair of a medicines panel, immunity begins seven days after the second dose.

British lawmakers approved new coronavirus restrictions in England that take effect Wednesday but many Conservative lawmakers are unhappy about the economic consequences.

Russia and Germany both reported record numbers of daily coronavirus deaths, with 580 deaths reported in Russia and 487 in Germany.

With more than 2.3 million infections, Russia has the fourth-largest number of COVID-19 cases in the world behind the United States, India and Brazil. 

President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian authorities on Wednesday to begin mass voluntary vaccinations against COVID-19 next week as Russia recorded 589 new daily deaths from the coronavirus. Russia will have produced two million vaccine doses within the next few days, Putin said.

In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korean officials are urging people to remain at home if possible and cancel gatherings large and small as around half a million students prepared for a crucial national college exam.

Vice Education Minister Park Baeg-beom says the 490,000 applicants so far include 35 virus carriers who will take exams Thursday at hospitals or treatment shelters. Education authorities have also prepared separate venues for some 400 applicants currently under self-quarantine.

Applicants will be required to wear masks and maintain distance from each other. They will be screened for fever and take exams separately if they have symptoms.

Workers clean plastic sheeting placed on a desk in a classroom on Tuesday to prevent the spread of COVID-19, ahead of the college scholastic ability test at a YoungSang high school on Tuesday in Seoul, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Pakistan reported 75 new COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, one of the highest fatalities from coronavirus in recent months, prompting government to launch a week-long campaign beginning Saturday to urge people to wear masks.

The government, however, has ruled out re-imposing a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the virus, which has killed 8,166 people and infected 403,311 in Pakistan.

Pakistan flattened the curve in August but currently it is facing a lethal new surge of infections.

In the Americas, U.S. health officials are pleading with Americans to follow their recommendations.

In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis joined the nation’s top infectious disease expert Tuesday and urged people to wear masks and physically distance to help prevent stay-at-home orders and overwhelmed hospitals as cases of the coronavirus surge during the holidays.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, warned during a virtual news conference that Colorado is not alone in seeing a spike in cases and pleaded with people not to travel or gather in large groups.

“If you look across the United States, we are really in a public health crisis right now because we are having a surge the likes of which is worse than the surges that we all saw in the late winter, early spring,” Fauci said.

He noted that “we are likely going to see a surge upon a surge” of cases, based on the number of people who travelled and gathered for Thanksgiving and on those who are expected to shop and attend holiday parties before celebrating Christmas and New Year’s in large groups.

Colorado has been hit with a substantial spike in COVID-19 cases, with one in 41 residents believed to be contagious.

Indigenous people, health workers and those aged 75 years and older will be at the front of the line to be vaccinated, Brazil’s Health Ministry said as it unveiled a four-stage preliminary plan for national immunization.

In Mexico, the government was expected to sign a contract on Wednesday with pharmaceutical company Pfizer for the delivery of its vaccine.

A nurse takes a blood sample from a person to perform a COVID-19 serological test in Escobedo, state of Nuevo Leon, Mexico on Tuesday. (Julio Cesar Aguilar/AFP/Getty Images)

In Africa, South Africa’s reported COVID-19 case numbers stood at more than 792,000 on Wednesday. The country, which has seen more reported cases than any other nation in Africa, has seen more than 21,000 deaths.

Iran, the hardest-hit nation in the Middle East, was approaching 990,000 cases of COVID-19 and 49,000 deaths.

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Calgary Stampede to proceed with limited events

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The Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo, exhibition and festival that is also Canada‘s biggest and booziest party, will go ahead this year after being pulled in 2020 due to the pandemic, though it will not look and feel the same, an event organizer told CBC Radio.

“It won’t be your typical Stampede … it’s not the experience that you had in years past,” Kristina Barnes, communications manager with the Calgary Stampede, told a CBC Radio programme on Friday.

She said organizers were still deciding whether to include rodeo or the grandstand show in this year’s version.

Known as “the greatest outdoor show on earth,” the Stampede draws tourists from around the world for its rodeo and chuckwagon races, but much of the action happens away from official venues at parties hosted by oil and gas companies.

“The Safest and Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth is what we’re going to call it this year,” Barnes said, adding the organizers are working directly with Alberta Health to ensure Stampede experiences stay “within the guidelines” that may be in effect in July.

The event is scheduled to take place between July 9-18, according to the Calgary Stampede website.

Last month, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney told reporters the Calgary Stampede can probably go ahead this year as Alberta’s coronavirus vaccination campaign accelerates.

Barnes and the office of the Alberta premier were not available for immediate comment.

The cancellation of the event last year was a crushing disappointment for Canada‘s oil capital.

The news comes as Alberta has been dealing with a punishing third wave of the pandemic, with the province having among the highest rate per capita of COVID-19 cases in the country. Data released on Friday showed the province had 1,433 new cases, compared with the seven-day average of 1,644.

 

(Reporting by Denny Thomas; Editing by Chris Reese)

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U.S. trade chief pressured to lift duties on Canadian lumber

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 As U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai prepares to meet her Canadian and Mexican counterparts on Monday to review progress in the new North American trade agreement, she is under pressure from home builders and lawmakers to cut U.S. tariffs on Canadian lumber.

Shortages of softwood lumber amid soaring U.S. housing demand and mill production curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic have caused prices to triple in the past year, adding $36,000 to the average cost of a new single-family home, according to estimates by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Republican lawmakers have taken up the builders’ cause, asking Tai during hearings in Congress last week to eliminate the 9% tariff on Canadian softwood lumber imports. Senator John Thune told Tai that high lumber costs were “having a tremendous impact on the ground” in his home state of South Dakota and putting homes out of reach for some working families.

The Trump administration initially imposed 20% duties in 2018 after the collapse of talks on a new quota arrangement, but reduced the level in December 2020.

“The Biden administration must address these unprecedented lumber and steel costs and broader supply-chain woes or risk undermining the economic recovery,” said Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America. “Without tariff relief and other measures, vital construction projects will fall behind schedule or be canceled.”

On Friday, White House economic adviser Cecilia Rouse said the Biden administration was weighing concerns about commodity shortages and inflation as it reviews trade policy.

The tariffs are allowed under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade, which permits duties to combat price dumping and unfair subsidies.

The U.S. Commerce Department has ruled that lumber from most Canadian provinces is unfairly subsidized because it is largely grown on public lands with cheap harvesting fees set by Ottawa. U.S. timber is mainly harvested from privately-owned land.

Tai said she would bring up the lumber issue with Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng at the first meeting of the USMCA Free Trade Council, a minister-level body that oversees the trade deal.

WILLING PARTNER

But Tai told U.S. senators that despite higher prices, the fundamental dispute remains and there have been no talks on a new lumber quota arrangement.

“In order to have an agreement and in order to have a negotiation, you need to have a partner. And thus far, the Canadians have not expressed interest in engaging,” Tai said.

Youmy Han, a spokeswoman for Canada‘s trade ministry, said the U.S. duties were “unjustified,” and that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has raised the issue with U.S. President Joe Biden.

“Our government believes a negotiated agreement is possible and in the best interests of both countries,” Han said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

But builders are growing frustrated with a lack of high-level engagement with high-level Biden administration officials on the issue as they watch lumber prices rise.

“They are clearly still gathering facts, which is even more frustrating given that this issue has been going on since before the election, before the inaugural,” said James Tobin, a vice president and top lobbyist at the NAHB.

 

(Reporting by David Lawder and Jarrett Renshaw in Washington and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Writing by David Lawder; Editing by Paul Simao)

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Centerra to fight Kyrgyzstan takeover of its gold mine

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Centerra Gold said on Sunday it has initiated binding arbitration against Kyrgyzstan government, after the parliament passed a law allowing the state to temporarily take over the country’s biggest industrial enterprise, the Kumtor gold mine operated by Centerra.

Recently, a Kyrgyzstan court also imposed $3.1 billion fine on Kumtor Gold Company (KGC), which operates the gold mine, after ruling that the firm had violated environmental laws.

The gold miner said that it intends to hold the government accountable in the arbitration for “any and all losses and damage” due to its recent actions against KGC and the Kumtor mine if no resolution is reached.

“The Government’s actions have left Centerra no choice but to exercise our legal rights, through the pursuit of arbitration and otherwise, to protect the interests of KGC, Centerra and our shareholders,” Centerra’s Chief Executive Officer Scott Perry said in a press release.

Kyrgyzstan has a long history of disputes with Centerra Gold over how to share profits from the former Soviet republic’s biggest industrial enterprise.

 

(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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