SYDNEY (Reuters) – New Zealand will first administer COVID-19 vaccines to quarantine personnel, front line health workers and airline staff, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said, as the government formally approved its use on Wednesday.
New Zealand’s medicines regulator last week provisionally approved the use of the COVID-19 vaccine jointly developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc and Germany’s BioNTech.
“Now we’ve reached the crucial stage of approval for the first vaccine, we are in a much better position to start having a conversation with New Zealanders about how we plan to proceed,” Hipkins said in a statement.
Authorities expect the Pfizer vaccine to arrive in the country by end-March but they had expressed concerns about export curbs.
Pressure has been mounting on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to start inoculations for the country’s 5 million people soon even though New Zealand has virtually eliminated the virus.
With just under 2,000 confirmed cases and 25 deaths since the pandemic began, New Zealand largely escaped the high number of cases and deaths from the virus compared with many other developed countries thanks to border closures and lockdowns.
But the emergence of highly contagious variants abroad and more overseas residents returning home has raised concerns of the virus spreading in the community again.
Ardern’s critics have said New Zealand has fallen behind the rest of the world after promising in November that it would be first in the queue for COVID-19 vaccines.
“When the first batch of vaccine arrives, we will be ready to go,” Hipkins said, adding information campaigns will begin next week.
New Zealand will get 1.5 million vaccines from Pfizer, which will provide enough doses to vaccinate 750,000 people, while the medicines regulator is in talks with AstraZeneca, Janssen and Novavax regarding the approval of their COVID-19 vaccines.
(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Michael Perry)
March 7 COVID-19 update: Two new cases in Nova Scotia – TheChronicleHerald.ca
Two new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Nova Scotia on Sunday.
Both cases are in the central health zone, with one related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. That person is self-isolating, as required.
The provincial Health Department said the other case is a close contact of a previously reported case.
“Seeing a low number of cases today is encouraging,” Premier Iain Rankin said in a news release. “I want to thank everyone for doing their part to remain vigilant.
“Let’s keep up our efforts and continue to follow the public health measures – wear a mask, wash your hands, keep physical distance, stay home if you are feeling unwell, self-isolate when required and get tested regularly.
Nova Scotia now has 29 active cases of COVID-19. There are two people in hospital, with one of those in intensive care.
On Saturday, Nova Scotia Health Authority labs completed 3,685 tests, bringing the total since Oct. 1 to 247,189 tests. There have been 570 COVID-19 cases and no deaths since that date.
“We know how easily COVID-19 can spread if we let our guard down,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health. “It is up to all of us to follow the public health protocols to make sure we limit the spread of the virus.”
Nova Scotians are strongly encouraged to be tested for COVID-19, particularly if they have a large number of close contacts due to their work or social activities.
Ontario records highest number of new COVID-19 cases in more than three weeks – CTV Toronto
Ontario is reporting the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in more than three weeks.
Health officials reported 1,299 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, which is a sharp increase from the 990 cases reported on Saturday.
It’s the highest number of new infections in a single day since Feb. 13, when 1,300 new cases were logged.
Ontario also reported an increase in the number of COVID-19-related fatalities in the previous 24-hour period, with 15 deaths added.
With 46,586 tests completed in the previous 24-hour period, Ontario’s positivity rate also increased to 3.1 per cent.
Health officials also deemed 1,105 more cases of the disease to be resolved, bringing Ontario’s number of recovered patients up to 290,840
Sunday’s case count brings the total number of lab-confirmed cases in Ontario to 308,296, including deaths and recoveries.
Toronto reported 329 new cases on Sunday, while Peel Region reported 192 new cases and York Region reported 116 new cases.
According to the province, there are at least 606 patients infected with COVID-19 in Ontario hospitals as of Sunday. Of those patients, 273 are in the intensive care unit (ICU) and 179 of those 273 patients are breathing with the assistance of a ventilator.
The increase in cases comes a day before Toronto and Peel Region are set to move into the grey zone of the province’s colour-coded framework, which means all non-essential retail stores can reopen with strict capacity limits.
Variants of concern in Ontario
Health officials confirmed Sunday that two more cases of the U.K. variant, also known as B.1.1.7, have been found in Ontario, bringing the province’s total count to 828.
There is now a total of 31 confirmed cases of the South African variant, known as B.1.351.
Five new cases of the Brazilian variant, known as P.1, were recorded Sunday, pushing the province’s total infection count at eight.
Meanwhile, 890,604 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario thus far, including 30,192 administered in the previous day.
In Ontario, 271,807 total vaccinations have been completed as of Sunday.
The numbers used in this story are found in the Ontario Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any city or region may differ slightly from what is reported by the province, because local units report figures at different times.
Nova Scotia reports two new COVID-19 cases Sunday, 29 active cases remain – CTV News Atlantic
The province of Nova Scotia is announcing there are two new COVID-19 cases Sunday, with 29 active remaining.
Two are in the central zone: one related to travel outside Atlantic Canada, and the other is a close contact of a previous case.
“Seeing a low number of cases today is encouraging,” said Premier Iain Rankin in Sunday’s media release from the province. “I want to thank everyone for doing their part to remain vigilant.”
As of Sunday, 29 active cases remain in the province – the same total as Saturday.
“Let’s keep up our efforts and continue to follow the public health measures- wear a mask, wash your hands, keep physical distance, stay home if you are feeling unwell, self-isolate when required and get tested regularly,” said Rankin.
On Saturday, Nova Scotia Health Authority labs processed 3,685 COVID-19 tests, and 370,367 since the start of the pandemic.
“We know how easily COVID-19 can spread if we let our guard down,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, in Sunday’s media release. “It is up to all of us to follow the public health protocols to make sure we limit the spread of the virus.”
Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,659 cumulative confirmed cases in Nova Scotia, 65 deaths, and 1,565 recoveries.
This is a developing story. It will be updated throughout the day.
March 7 COVID-19 update: Two new cases in Nova Scotia – TheChronicleHerald.ca
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Sunday – CBC.ca
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