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GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia stocks ease from highs, bonds count on Fed support – Reuters

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* Asian stock markets : tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4

* Asia ex-Japan off record high after Wall St pullback

* Tokyo raises pandemic alert level, Nikkei slips

* Economic restrictions in U.S. suggest more Fed action

SYDNEY, Nov 19 (Reuters) – Asian shares drifted off all-time highs on Thursday as widening COVID-19 restrictions in the United states weighed on Wall Street, while bonds were underpinned by speculation the Federal Reserve would have to respond with yet more easing.

Japan also reported record news cases as Tokyo raised its pandemic alert to the highest level, shoving the Nikkei down 0.8% and away from a 29-year closing top.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.6%, off their historic high. Chinese blue chips added 0.4% as President Xi Jinping vowed to cut tariffs and expand imports of high-quality goods and services.

E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 steadied after Wall Street took a late dip on Wednesday. The Dow ended down 1.16%, while the S&P 500 lost 1.16% and the Nasdaq 0.82%.

Pfizer Inc shares had gained after the drugmaker said its COVID-19 vaccine was 95% effective and it would apply for emergency U.S. authorization within days.

Pfizer’s announcement came on the heels of a similar report from Moderna Inc.

Yet, the U.S. death toll still neared a world record of a quarter million as government officials in dozens of states weighed or implemented shutdown measures.

New York closed its schools on Wednesday, while Minnesota ordered bars and restaurants to cease in-door dining.

“The vaccines news are a positive medium-term impulse for the global economic outlook and investors are trying to weigh that against the prospect of an imminent stalling of the European and U.S. recovery amid the prospect of extensions of current lockdown measures,” said Rodrigo Catril, a senior FX strategist at NAB.

FORCING THE FED

The drag from new U.S. restrictions was only amplified by the total lack of progress on a fiscal stimulus bill, fuelling speculation the Federal Reserve would have to expand its asset-buying campaign at a December policy meeting.

Two top Fed officials on Wednesday held out the option of doing more.

The chance of further easing has helped nudge 10-year Treasury yields down to 0.85% and away from an eight-month top of 0.975% touched last week.

It has also weighed on the dollar, which slipped for five sessions in a row before steadying a little on Thursday. Against a basket of currencies it was last at 92.477, still close to recent lows of 92.129.

The dollar has likewise been in a slow decline against the Japanese yen to reach 103.72 and was approaching the recent eight-month trough at 103.16.

The euro has had pandemic problems of its own as lockdowns spread across the continent, keeping it capped at $1.1844 and short of the recent peak of $1.1919.

Sterling dipped to $1.3230 as Brexit talks dragged on. The Times reported Europe’s leaders would demand the European Commission publish no-deal plans as the deadline neared.

Bitcoin, sometimes regarded as a safe haven or at least a hedge against inflation, rose to more than $18,000 for the first time in nearly three years. It last stood at $17,808.

All the talk of policy easing put a floor under gold prices, leaving the metal steady at $1,868 an ounce.

Oil prices eased as virus restrictions hit fuel demand across Europe and the U.S.

U.S. crude fell 35 cents to $41.47 a barrel, while Brent crude futures lost 23 cents to $44.11.

Additional reporting by Chibuike Oguh in New York; Editing by Sam Holmes

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Toronto launches its own website and hotline for COVID-19 vaccination appointments – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The City of Toronto will begin vaccinating people ages 80 and over at three mass immunization clinics starting next week.

During a news conference on Monday, Mayor John Tory said the three clinics, which are located at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the Scarborough Town Centre, and the Toronto Congress Centre, will open on March 17.

The city is launching an interim system for residents to book appointments while it waits for the Government of Ontario’s provincewide online portal to go live on March 15.

“In order to avoid delaying the launch of city-run clinic operations, we are working with our provincial partners to establish an interim registration and booking process for these three initial clinics,” Matthew Pegg, the general manager of Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management, said on Monday.

“This interim solution will build on our previous proof-of-concept clinic operational plans. Our teams are hard at work now finalizing all of these details.”

The clinics will operate from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and details on how to book appointments will be provided “in the coming days,” Pegg said.

“These openings, two weeks ahead of schedule, are possible thanks to a shipment of 17,500 doses coming directly to Toronto Public Health next week,” Tory said on Monday.

“The opening of these larger vaccination sites will represent an expansion of the network of hospital-based clinics and community and mobile initiatives now underway and will be further expanded to include pharmacies as that pilot project proceeds.”

An additional six city-run clinics will open as vaccine supply ramps up in the coming weeks,” Tory said.

City-run clinics will receive a total of 17,500 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines on the week of March 15, 98,920 doses on the week of March 22, 174,200 doses on March 29, 80,730 doses on the week of April 5, and 80,730 doses on the week of April 12.

Hospitals in Toronto, which receive vaccine allocations directly from the province, are already booking appointments to vaccinate people in the community who are eligible.

To date, a little more than 200,000 Toronto residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The city says it will have the capacity to administer 975,000 doses per month at these mass immunization clinics when vaccine supply allows and the clinics will be able to operate 24-hours a day as needed.

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B.C.’s top doctor hints at gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions in coming weeks – Global News

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B.C.’s top doctor says the province may be easing COVID-19 restrictions in the weeks ahead, but that some measures designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus will be around for some time.

In a press briefing held Monday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said as more people are immunized and the weather gets warmer, her team is looking at how to “safely ease restrictions” designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Henry said any changes to COVID-19 rules would be gradual, akin to “slowly turning up the dial rather than flipping a switch.”


Click to play video 'Seniors over 80 can book vaccines in some B.C. communities this week'



3:30
Seniors over 80 can book vaccines in some B.C. communities this week


Seniors over 80 can book vaccines in some B.C. communities this week

“We’re not going to rush to get things open, but we will take a thoughtful, careful and phased approach over the next few weeks,” Henry said.

Story continues below advertisement

Henry noted measures such as social distancing, and wearing masks will remain important. She also reiterated that “outside is better than inside” as the virus is less transmissible outdoors.

Read more:
B.C. reports 1,462 new COVID-19 cases over three days, 11 deaths

Henry raised the prospect of a return to “activities outside that we can do in groups with precautions in place, small groups that we can do for games and summer camps or spring camps, and safe, small groups with masks and safety precautions in place.”


Click to play video 'Outreach efforts look to overcome language and cultural barriers as B.C. begins mass vaccinations'



1:58
Outreach efforts look to overcome language and cultural barriers as B.C. begins mass vaccinations


Outreach efforts look to overcome language and cultural barriers as B.C. begins mass vaccinations

“As well, we’ll be looking at how we can travel and explore during March break, as a family or a small group together with our household, exploring our own region.”

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

She also said there have been discussions with community faith leaders about a gradual return to in-person services.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more:
No masks, no distancing: U.S. CDC says fully vaccinated people can gather indoors

The US CDC released guidelines that said fully-vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing.

Henry said the CDC guidelines looked “fairly reasonable” and something similar could be implemented in B.C. at some point in the future.

Read more:
No masks, no distancing: U.S. CDC says fully vaccinated people can gather indoors

“Right now, we’re not at that point where we have enough of the people who are at risk immunized that we can have overall guidance,” she said.

“But I think that’s a very good example of what we can look forward to as more people are protected, particularly more of our seniors and elders, in the coming months.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix urged caution, noting that about 15 per cent of B.C.’s eligible residents are expected to be immunized by the end of the month, which is “nothing like herd immunity.”

Read more:
Alberta opens rest of Step 2 relaunch as 278 new COVID-19 cases confirmed

“The future is bright, but we can’t live the future right now. We’ve got to live the now right now.”

Story continues below advertisement

On Monday, Alberta lifted more COVID-19 public health restrictions, including allowing more people to shop in retail stores and malls.

— With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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B.C.’s top doctor hints at gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions in coming weeks – Global News

Published

 on


B.C.’s top doctor says the province may be easing COVID-19 restrictions in the weeks ahead, but that some measures designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus will be around for some time.

In a press briefing held Monday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said as more people are immunized and the weather gets warmer, her team is looking at how to “safely ease restrictions” designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Henry said any changes to COVID-19 rules would be gradual, akin to “slowly turning up the dial rather than flipping a switch.”


Click to play video 'Seniors over 80 can book vaccines in some B.C. communities this week'



3:30
Seniors over 80 can book vaccines in some B.C. communities this week


Seniors over 80 can book vaccines in some B.C. communities this week

“We’re not going to rush to get things open, but we will take a thoughtful, careful and phased approach over the next few weeks,” Henry said.

Story continues below advertisement

Henry noted measures such as social distancing, and wearing masks will remain important. She also reiterated that “outside is better than inside” as the virus is less transmissible outdoors.

Read more:
B.C. reports 1,462 new COVID-19 cases over three days, 11 deaths

Henry raised the prospect of a return to “activities outside that we can do in groups with precautions in place, small groups that we can do for games and summer camps or spring camps, and safe, small groups with masks and safety precautions in place.”


Click to play video 'Outreach efforts look to overcome language and cultural barriers as B.C. begins mass vaccinations'



1:58
Outreach efforts look to overcome language and cultural barriers as B.C. begins mass vaccinations


Outreach efforts look to overcome language and cultural barriers as B.C. begins mass vaccinations

“As well, we’ll be looking at how we can travel and explore during March break, as a family or a small group together with our household, exploring our own region.”

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

She also said there have been discussions with community faith leaders about a gradual return to in-person services.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more:
No masks, no distancing: U.S. CDC says fully vaccinated people can gather indoors

The US CDC released guidelines that said fully-vaccinated Americans can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing.

Henry said the CDC guidelines looked “fairly reasonable” and something similar could be implemented in B.C. at some point in the future.

Read more:
No masks, no distancing: U.S. CDC says fully vaccinated people can gather indoors

“Right now, we’re not at that point where we have enough of the people who are at risk immunized that we can have overall guidance,” she said.

“But I think that’s a very good example of what we can look forward to as more people are protected, particularly more of our seniors and elders, in the coming months.”

Health Minister Adrian Dix urged caution, noting that about 15 per cent of B.C.’s eligible residents are expected to be immunized by the end of the month, which is “nothing like herd immunity.”

Read more:
Alberta opens rest of Step 2 relaunch as 278 new COVID-19 cases confirmed

“The future is bright, but we can’t live the future right now. We’ve got to live the now right now.”

Story continues below advertisement

On Monday, Alberta lifted more COVID-19 public health restrictions, including allowing more people to shop in retail stores and malls.

— With files from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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