Connect with us


Japan formally approves its first COVID-19 vaccine – CTV News



Japan on Sunday approved its first coronavirus vaccine, clearing the way for mass inoculations as the nation prepares to host the postponed 2020 Olympics.

“The health minister today gave a special approval to the Pfizer vaccine,” the prime minister’s office said in a tweet.

Japan is now expected to put the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the arms of 10,000 to 20,000 medical workers from as early as Wednesday, before making it and other coronavirus vaccines available for more medical workers and the elderly from April.

The government is yet to outline the exact rollout schedule for the rest of its population of 126 million people.

Olympics officials have insisted that the Tokyo Games will take place even though COVID-19 continues to affect the entire world.

Athletes and other participants will be encouraged, but not obliged, to be vaccinated to take part.

Japan is now trying to secure enough special syringes that can extract the full six doses from each vial of the Pfizer vaccine.

More commonly used syringes can only draw five doses.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Proof of pre-existing illness not required for COVID-19 shot, Ontario health minister says – CTV Toronto



Ontarians won’t be asked to provide proof of their pre-existing health conditions to access a COVID-19 vaccine during the second phase of the province’s immunization effort, the health minister said on Monday.

Christine Elliott said she believes most people will come to clinics when they are permitted and not take advantage of the honour system. Vaccinations in the broader public are expected to ramp up in the coming weeks following the approval of a fourth vaccine and larger shipments coming into the country.

Vaccines will be offered starting in April to people with specific health conditions, like organ transplant recipients, those living with obesity and those receiving treatments that suppress the immune system.

Elliott said local public health units will screen people as they arrive at the clinics and may be able to check with a person’s family physician, but that will not be mandatory.

“We haven’t run into very many of those situations,” she said. “People are following the rules, they are coming in at the appropriate time, they’re being very patient, and they want to make sure that people who are the most at risk are going to be given their vaccinations first.”

A spokeswoman for Elliott later noted that many individuals with pre-existing health conditions may not use the province’s upcoming vaccine booking portal or have appointments at mass vaccination sites.

“Most of these vaccinations will be administered through other channels, such as specialty clinics or through their existing health care providers who already have the individual’s health records on hand,” Alexandra Hilkene said in a statement.

Vaccinations among the highest-priority Ontarians, including long-term care residents and staff, are wrapping up, and some local public health units have already begun offering shots to others in their communities, starting largely with those over age 80.

First vaccine doses were completed as of Monday in 31 fly-in Indigenous communities, in what the province called a “milestone” in its effort to provide protection against the virus in remote areas. Ontario aims to complete second doses in those communities by the end of April.

Meanwhile, Ontario reported 1,631 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, but the government said the case count was higher due to a “data catch-up process” in its system. The province also recorded 10 additional deaths linked to the virus.

Those numbers came as a stay-at-home order lifted in Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay, loosening some pandemic restrictions imposed nearly two months ago.

The three regions were the last to move back to the government’s colour-coded pandemic response framework.

Toronto and Peel entered the strictest “grey lockdown” category, as requested by top public health officials in both regions.

That allowed more retailers to open, with restrictions, but gyms and personal care services remain closed. Restaurants can only offer takeout, drive-thru or delivery.

In Toronto, lines of shoppers were seen outside stores that reopened after being shut for months. Some said they were excited to be able to shop in-person at those retailers again.

North Bay moved Monday to the “red zone,” the second-strictest level of pandemic measures.

Ontario’s top doctor said residents should refrain from non-essential shopping trips even though restrictions have loosened.

“You shouldn’t go unless you really need to go,” Dr. David Williams said.

“I know for some that was as much of a social activity in the past. I’d really discourage that at this time strongly, because you don’t want to risk exposure, especially with the variants of concern, it doesn’t take much to happen.”

Williams said the province is in a “race against time” as it ramps up its vaccination campaign while more contagious variants of COVID-19 continue to spread.

Officials said Monday that a common mutation in all three “variants of concern” circulating in Ontario was found in more than 30 per cent of new cases last week.

Williams said following common public health advice across all levels of the framework — distancing, wearing a mask and staying home where possible — will help prevent a spike in variant cases that could compromise the health-care system.

Toronto’s top doctor also urged continued caution amid rising variant cases, which she said represented nearly 40 per cent of all cases in the city based on the latest data.

“We’ve seen this before. If we give COVID-19 an inch, it will take a mile,” Dr. Eileen de Villa said, asking residents to remain patient as the city vaccinates more people.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2021.

— with files from Shawn Jeffords and John Chidley-Hill.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Toronto, Peel and North Bay exit Ontario's emergency coronavirus stay at home order – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



All non-essential retail stores in Toronto and Peel Region are opening their doors to customers for the first time in months as the two COVID-19 hot spots move to the grey zone of the province’s tiered reopening framework.

With the exception of stores that offer essential goods, customers have been barred from entering shops in both regions since Nov. 23, purchasing items instead through curbside pickup or delivery.

Starting today, those stores can welcome customers inside once again but must only operate at 25 per cent of their regular indoor capacity.

Groceries stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores are permitted to operate at 50 per cent capacity in the grey zone.

The Ford government has also lifted stay-at-home orders in both Toronto and Peel Region and outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people are now permitted.

Mayor John Tory said the city is constantly assessing the situation to see how the virus is spreading in the community.

“We are watching it every day with a view to make sure we open further as soon as we possibly can with an eye always on making sure we avoid a further lockdown later,” Tory told CP24 on Monday.

Other regions of the GTA are in the red zone of the framework, which allows restaurants to reopen indoor dining with up to 10 patrons inside at one time. In the red zone, many other businesses, including gyms, hair salons, and other personal care services, are allowed to reopen.

“The case count numbers did pop up again in Ontario and we’ll see how they are today and tomorrow because we are watching this very carefully,” Tory said.

Ontario saw nearly 1,300 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and more than 1,600 on Monday, the highest daily counts recorded in weeks.

Tory said public health officials are still concerned about how variants of concern are spreading throughout the region.

“Don’t forget a lot of the region did open up into the so-called red zone all around Toronto and many Torontonians we know from the phone data we’re going shopping in those areas so you sort of have to see did that cause any increase in the virus or the variants of concern.”

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who initially advocated for her municipality to enter the red zone this week, says the trends are encouraging in her city.

“We are very close to the red zone here in Mississauga. Our numbers are down, our cases are declining… I’m watching it very closely this week. I see that our numbers have been declining further so my fingers are crossed. I’m very hopeful this week that they will look at Mississauga and perhaps allow us to reopen,” she told CP24 on Monday.

“We are ready. It’s spring. Everybody feels like we are ready for that safe reopening.”

Some Toronto business owners have expressed frustration that more restrictions have been eased in neighbouring regions in the GTA.

Thanh Tran, owner of salon Roots & Tips near Yonge and Dundas streets, says it remains unclear how personal care businesses exactly how many cases of COVID-19 were transmitted through visits to personal care services.

“I think it is a little unfair… We’ve taken every precaution to make sure everybody is safe, taking down contacts,” she told CP24 on Monday.

“We can limit the amount of people we interact with where as big stores, you don’t know… nobody really keeps to social distancing.”

Toronto still in ‘precarious’ situation, de Villa says

Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said Monday that she would like to see the city’s cases per 100,000 and the city’s reproductive rate decline before easing restrictions further.

Other factors to consider, she said, are what proportion of cases involve a variant of concern and how quickly vaccines can roll out to the community.

“These are the many indicators that we need to be looking at in order to assure ourselves that we are in a better place in order to reopen more fulsomely and to really start to restore life more to something like we knew before COVID-19 was around,” she said.

“The idea is to make sure that as we start to emerge, and as hope becomes more of a possibility… that we will be able to see more activity return to our city.”

De Villa said the city is still in a “very precarious situation” but there is the “hope of vaccines on the horizon.”

“My plea to the people of Toronto is to continue to be vigilant around practicing self-protection measures. They remain one of our strongest defences against the spread of COVID-19 and the negative impact that it has on us,” she said.

“Beyond that, as vaccine becomes more available, and as we are able to get more vaccine into arms, taking these two things together… this is what will see us through and towards the place where we all want to be, which is with COVID-19 in the rear view mirror.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading


Ontario reports 1,631 new COVID-19 cases, but official says data issues put count likely closer to 1,300 –



Ontario is reporting 1,631 new COVID-19 cases on the same day stay-at-home orders lift in three regions, including Toronto and Peel — which have consistently seen the province’s highest number of infections throughout the pandemic.

Monday’s cases mark the highest number of new infections in over a month, though Ontario’s Ministry of Health says today’s case count is higher than expected due to a “data catch-up process.”

Asked how much Monday’s figure was inflated by the data delay, Public Health Ontario said it couldn’t provide a specific number “due to the way the data are pulled for the reports.”

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province’s associate chief medical officer of health, said Monday’s case count is probably closer to 1,300.

Of the new cases, 568 were reported in Toronto, 322 were reported in Peel Region and 119 were reported in York Region.

Provincewide, the Ontario government is reporting that some 626 people are in hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 282 are in intensive care, and 184 require a ventilator to breathe.

But according to a report by Critical Care Services Ontario — which provides a more up-to-date look at critical care data — the actual number of patients with COVID-19 in intensive care now sits at 337.

Ontario is also reporting an additional 10 deaths, bringing the death toll to 7,077. None of the deaths reported on Monday were of long-term care home residents.

Toronto, Peel and North Bay were the last regions still under a stay-at-home order, and are transitioning back to the government’s colour-coded pandemic response framework.

North Bay is now in the “red” category, while Toronto and Peel are entering the “grey-lockdown,” something local public health officials asked for in both regions.

Despite the “lockdown” title, moving to the grey category will allow more retailers to open with restrictions. Gyms, personal care services and indoor restaurant dining, however, will stay closed.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says the government is taking a “safe and cautious approach” to ending the provincewide shutdown, which started in January.

This comes as Ontario’s lab network processed 38,063 test samples for the virus — the lowest number completed in a week. The test positivity rate was 3.4 per cent.

According to the ministry, health units across Ontario administered 21,882 doses of vaccines yesterday. A total of 273,676 people in Ontario have now been given both shots of a vaccine.

Ontario’s website for booking COVID-19 vaccination appointments began a “soft launch” in six public health units last week

Ahead of the province’s centralized website for all public health units, Toronto hospitals have launched their own site where you can pre-register to get a vaccine if you’re 80-plus or a high-priority health-care worker. To learn more about how to get a COVID-19 vaccine in the Greater Toronto Area — and whether or not you qualify — click here

The Ministry of Education also reported another 95 school-related cases: 84 students and 11 staff members. Thirty schools are currently closed due to the respiratory illness.

The seven-day average of daily cases now stands at 1,155 — the highest it’s been in three weeks.

The new daily case count brings the total number of cases since the pandemic began in Ontario to 309,927.

Labs also confirmed 51 more cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom, B117, bringing the cumulative total of that variant to 879 (though the actual number is likely higher).

Yaffe, for her part, reported at a news conference later on Monday that the province now has 935 cases involving variants of concern.

In addition to the 879 cases of the B117 variant, there are 39 cases of the B135 variant, first identified in South Africa, and 17 of P1, first identified in Brazil.

Yaffe said the province is also now reporting the number of COVID-19 samples that have screened positive for the N501Y mutation, a mutation all shared by the variants of concern.

As of Friday, more than 26,000 samples have been screened for the N501Y mutation, with a test positivity rate of 16.8 per cent.

“We’re seeing quite a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases that are screening positive for a variant of concern,” she said.

Asked about new guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S., which suggests that fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors, Yaffe said it is too early to say whether that advice could apply to Ontario. She said the U.S. has a higher rate of vaccinations. 

Provincial officials, however, will look at the guidance, she said.

“Certainly, we’re always interested in looking at the data that they’ve used and seeing how we can apply it here, once we get more vaccine into people,” she said.

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases in cases were:

  • Thunder Bay: 91
  • Durham Region: 68
  • Ottawa: 57
  • Halton Region: 51
  • Waterloo Region: 51
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 48
  • Windsor-Essex: 46
  • Niagara: 31
  • Sudbury: 27
  • Hamilton: 22
  • Brant County: 20
  • Lambton: 19
  • Middlesex London: 18
  • Eastern Ontario: 15
  • Northwestern: 11
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 10

What you need to know about retail reopening in ‘grey lockdown’

Under the grey lockdown tier of the framework, non-essential stores can open at 25 per cent capacity while indoor dining, gyms and hair salons remain closed.

Grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies can operate at 50 per cent capacity.

Outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and must comply with physical distancing rules.

Though non-essential stores in Toronto and Peel Region are allowed to open for the first time in more than 100 days, it won’t be business as usual.

To prepare for visitors, major malls in these two hot spots have implemented new safety protocols, including:

  • 25 per cent capacity limit.
  • Live online meters to check mall capacity in real time.
  • Mandatory screening (in-person or online) for all retailers, employees, and shoppers entering the malls.

WATCH | What you need to know about restrictions easing in Toronto and Peel 

Stay-at-home orders are lifting in Toronto and Peel Region on Monday. The areas will remain under Ontario’s grey lockdown level. Here’s what you need to know. 2:15

Masks remain mandatory in the shopping centres and must be properly worn at all times. Shoppers are also strongly encouraged to shop individually or with members of the same household.

At this time, food and beverage consumption is not allowed in malls. In-dining areas are not open to the public but all food court retails are open for takeout.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Source link

Continue Reading