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'Don't lose patience,' says Canada's top doctor as Ontario reports 1,299 new COVID-19 cases, 15 new deaths –



Ontario reported 1,299 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 15 new deaths on Sunday, according to Health Minister Christine Elliott.

Toronto is reporting 329 new cases, Peel Region is reporting 192 new cases and York Region is reporting 116 new cases.

The province’s cumulative total of confirmed COVID-19 cases has now reached 308,296, with 7,067 cumulative deaths.

Both the daily case count and number of deaths reported on Sunday are an increase from provincial numbers reported on Saturday, when the province logged 990 new cases and six new deaths.

The latest figures come one day before Toronto and Peel Region are set to lift stay-at-home orders that have been in place for four months.

On Monday, both regions will move into the grey zone, which will allow for non-essential stores to open at 25 per cent capacity.

Grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies will operate at 50 per cent capacity. Individuals will still need to wear a mask and practice physical distancing.

Dr. Barry Pakes, program director for Public Health and Preventative Medicine at the University of Toronto, told CBC News on Sunday that the transition feels like “a reasonable thing to do right now.”

“The changes are really marginal,” he said, “and we do have to go really slow.”

Medical officers of health in both regions have stressed the need for a slow transition and Pakes says he approves of that approach.

Ontario delivers over 890,600 shots of vaccine

As of 8 p.m. on Saturday, Ontario has administered 890,604 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Toronto accounts for at least 197,155 of those doses. The city has vaccinated nearly 125,000 people as of Friday.

Ontario recently announced plans for an accelerated vaccine rollout, which should see all adults 60 and older given a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by early June. That’s a full month sooner than initially planned.

However, that plan is contingent upon supply.

“We know how to run mass vaccination campaigns and engage our partners to get all adults vaccinated by June. It’s doable as long as the vaccine arrives,” Pakes said. 

Pakes added that the challenge has really been the “whiplash back-and-forth” on availability.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist at Toronto General Hospital and a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine task force, echoed Pakes’ caution.

“I think that it’s doable,” Bogoch told CBC News of the June timeline, “but it’s hard to talk in concrete terms with this because the timelines keep changing.”

That change is mostly a good news story, Bogoch said, since the timeline is moving up with increased access to vaccines and a plan to space out dosing so more Canadians can have a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine sooner.

Still, Canada’s top doctor Dr. Theresa Tam said “don’t lose patience” and urged the public to continue to exercise vigilance while speaking on the Rosemary Barton Live show on Sunday.

“It’s a pretty tremendous thing that we have several, not just one, but several pretty great vaccines,” she said. 

“We’re buoyed by that sense of optimism,” she added noting that “with that sense of optimism comes the need to just hang on in there for a bit longer.”

Tam said once Canadians are vaccinated, the country will be able to break through the “crisis phase of this pandemic.” 

However, until then, she said people need to continue to rely on the years’ worth of good habits. That includes avoiding crowded areas, wearing a mask, washing your hands, and practising social distancing.

COVID-19 variants remain a concern

“We’re working hand-in-glove with provinces and territories,” Federal Health Minister Patty Hadju told the Rosemary Barton Live show. “There is a light at the end of the tunnel, we do have effective vaccines.”

Still, Tam said COVID-19 variants continue to be a concern.

“The virus constantly mutates, particularly in areas where there’s a lot of infection,” she said, which requires an increase in testing and screening.

“The good thing is that these variants, even though they can spread more readily, more quickly, can be controlled by the public health measures that we have,” Tam said.

WATCH | What still worries Dr. Theresa Tam one year into the pandemic:

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live that the government is closely monitoring the new coronavirus variants and how vaccines respond to them. She says public health measures need to be in place to bring cases down. 9:33

Tam’s caution around variants echoes comments made earlier this week by top doctors in Toronto and Peel Region.

In both areas, the doctors recommended the lifting of stay-at-home orders which takes effect on Monday, but warned people against complacency.

As Dr. Lawrence Loh said during a press conference earlier in the week: “Chasing normal too quickly could mean losing the progress that we’ve made to this point.”

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Factbox-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus



(Reuters) -A recent surge in COVID-19 cases could see major parts of Japan slide back into states of emergency with authorities in Tokyo and Osaka looking at renewed curbs, while quarantine-free travel started between Australia and New Zealand for the first time in more than a year.

DEATHS AND INFECTIONS * Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals for a case tracker and summary of news.


* The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units in France edged up on Sunday, amid a nationwide lockdown to try to stem a third wave of infections.

* British scientists launched a trial which will deliberately expose participants who have already had COVID-19 to the coronavirus again to examine immune responses and see if people get reinfected.

* Italy will ease curbs in many areas from April 26, warning caution was still needed to avoid any reversals in the reopening of many long-shuttered activities.


* Just more than half of U.S. adults have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed on Sunday, with nearly 130 million people aged 18 years or more having received their first shot.

* Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday predicted that U.S. health regulators will end the temporary pause on distributing Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, adding he expects a decision could come as soon as Friday.

* Canada will present a budget with billions of dollars for pandemic recovery measures as COVID-19 infections skyrocket, C$2 billion ($1.6 billion) toward national childcare, and new taxes on luxury goods.

* The Canadian province of Ontario will begin offering AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday to people turning 40 or older this year.

* Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday the government has made a second payment to the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative to access around 11 million COVID-19 vaccines.


* India’s capital New Delhi recorded 25,500 coronavirus cases in a 24-hour period, with about one in three people tested returning a positive result, its chief minister said, urging the federal government to provide more hospital beds to tackle the crisis.

* Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has agreed to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s request to supply additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the vaccine minister of Japan said on Sunday.


* The coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa can break through the protection provided by Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to some extent, a real-world data study in Israel found.

* Vaccination against COVID-19 is a requirement to perform the Umra pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi state TV said on Sunday, citing a government official.

* Tunisia on Saturday announced the closure of all schools until April 30, as well as restrictions on movement, to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.


* China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine was 67% effective in preventing symptomatic infection, data from a huge real-world study in Chile has shown, a potential boost for the jab which has come under scrutiny over its level of protection against the virus.


* Asian shares hovered near 1-1/2 week highs on Monday, helped by expectations monetary policy will remain accommodative the world over, while COVID-19 vaccine rollouts help ease fears of another dangerous wave of coronavirus infections. [MKTS/GLOB]

(Compiled by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Devika Syamnath and Milla Nissi; Edited by William Maclean, Anil D’Silva and Subhranshu Sahu)

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New Zealand says ‘uncomfortable’ with expanding Five Eyes



new zealand

SYDNEY (Reuters) – New Zealand said it is “uncomfortable” with expanding the role of the Five Eyes, a post-war intelligence grouping which also includes the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada, recently criticised by China.

China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner, and Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said in a speech that New Zealand sought a predictable diplomatic relationship.

New Zealand will find it necessary to speak out on issues where it does not agree with China, including developments in Hong Kong and the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, she said in a speech on Monday to the government-funded New Zealand China Council.

In later comments to media reported by New Zealand’s Newshub, Mahuta said New Zealand didn’t favour invoking the Five Eyes for “messaging out on a range of issues that really exist out of the remit of the Five Eyes”.

“We are uncomfortable with expanding the remit of the Five Eyes,” she said.

China’s foreign ministry has repeatedly criticised the Five Eyes, after all members issued a joint statement about the treatment of Hong Kong pro-democracy legislators in November.

Last month, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said “the Five Eyes have taken coordinated steps to gang up on China”, after Australia and New Zealand issued a joint statement on Xinjiang.

Last year, the Five Eyes discussed cooperation beyond intelligence sharing, including on critical technology, Hong Kong, supply chains and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement by Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne in 2020.

Mahuta’s office told Reuters it couldn’t provide a copy of her comments on the Five Eyes.

Payne will travel to New Zealand on Wednesday for meetings with Mahuta and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the first diplomatic visit between the neighbouring countries since borders reopened both ways.

Canberra has recently endured a rockier relationship with Beijing than Wellington, with Australia’s trade minister unable to secure a call with his Chinese counterpart as exporters were hit with multiple trade sanctions from China.

A diplomatic dispute between China and Australia worsened in 2020 after Canberra lobbied for an international inquiry into the source of the coronavirus pandemic.

China and New Zealand upgraded a free trade agreement in January, when, Mahuta said, trade ministers had held a “constructive” call.


(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Michael Perry)

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Australia to hold inquiry to examine military suicides



By Colin Packham

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia will hold a Royal Commission to examine suicides among serving and former military personnel, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday, bowing to public pressure to find ways to stem a mounting toll.

More than 500 have died from suicide since 2001, government data shows, a statistic that has fuelled public anger, including among the prime minister’s own Liberal party.

“I think and I hope it will be a healing process,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra, as he announced his call for a commission to be set up.

“I hope it will be a process by which veterans and families can find some comfort, but it obviously can’t replace the loss.”

The issue became prominent in Australia following a high-profile campaign by Julie-Ann Finney, whose son David, a former naval petty officer, committed suicide in 2019 after he had earlier been deployed to Iraq, East Timor and Bougainville.

Australian troops have been involved in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and deployed for humanitarian missions in the Pacific.

The United States, Britain and Canada are also exploring ways to reduce suicide rates among serving and former military personnel.

Morrison said he hopes the Royal Commission will begin hearings later this year. Final recommendations are expected in 2023, he said. A permanent national commissioner will be tasked with ensuring the recommendations are enforced.


(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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