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Ontario logs 2,453 new cases of COVID-19, highest single-day total in over 2 months – CBC.ca

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Ontario reported 2,453 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the highest single-day total in more than two months.

The province also reported 16 more deaths.

New daily cases include 814 in Toronto, 411 in Peel Region, 263 in York Region, 156 in Hamilton, 139 in Durham and 115 in Ottawa, according to Health Minister Christine Elliott.

Saturday’s daily case count comes before the province moves two regions into more restricted areas of its colour-coded reopening framework on Monday. As well, five regions in the province’s grey lockdown zone will see some restrictions loosen on Monday and later in April. 

Meanwhile, the daily case count is the highest since 2,662 cases of COVID-19 were recorded on Jan. 22. 

Saturday’s total marks the third straight day that the daily case count has topped 2,000.

The new cases come as the province’s network of labs completed 61,005  tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and registered a test positivity of 4.5 per cent, an increase from 3.8 per cent on Friday. 

The seven-day rolling average of daily cases across the province rose to 1,944, an increase from 1,855 on Friday. The average has increased every day for the last 12 days.

The health ministry reported 985 people in hospitals across the province with the virus. This total marks the highest number of hospitalizations since Feb 6., when the province reported 1,021 people in hospital. 

Public health units recorded another 16 new deaths on Saturday, bringing Ontario’s cumulative total of virus-related deaths since the pandemic began to 7,308. 

Ontario reported that 77,740 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since the last daily update. A total of 1,916,332 vaccines have been given in the province so far.

The province says 308,301 people have been fully vaccinated. 

Hospital CEO calls for new measures as case numbers rise

One hospital president is speaking out about the rise in numbers on Saturday.

Eric Vandewall, president and CEO of Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, said on Saturday that critical care occupancy will hit the highest ever number this weekend as the variants of concern become the majority.

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, the province’s associate medical officer of health, said variants of concern are driving up case counts and admissions to hospitals and critical care.

“Daily cases are increasing, hospitalizations are increasing and ICU admissions are increasing,” Yaffe told reporters on Thursday. “As [variants] take over to be the predominant strains, the concern is that the infection rate will increase.”

According to Saturday’s numbers, Ontario is reporting another 931 cases that have screened positive for a mutation that indicates the presence of a variant of concern. A total of 17,611 cases have now screened positive for the mutation.

A genetic sequencing process is required to pinpoint which variant of concern is present in a sample. 

Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table says variants of concern currently account for about 55 per cent of all new infections in the province. 

One government agency that tracks hospitalizations and admissions to intensive care units is also flagging that the province’s ICU capacity is reaching a critical level. 

The Ontario Hospital Association said the number of severely ill patients is approaching a previous peak. On Friday, it said 401 people with COVID-19 were in intensive care units across Ontario and the number may yet surpass an earlier record of 420 people.

Rules tighten in some areas, loosen in others on Monday

Starting on Monday at 12:01 a.m., Hamilton will move into the grey-lockdown zone, while the Eastern Ontario Health Unit will move into the red-control zone. 

The province announced the tightening of restrictions for these two regions on Friday, citing “concerning trends in key health indicators” in some regions, according to Elliott. 

Also on Monday, the province will allow outdoor fitness classes, outdoor training for team and individual sports and outdoor personal training in grey-lockdown zones, but these activities will be limited to a maximum of 10 patrons with physical distancing and screening measures in place.

As of April 12, personal care services in grey-lockdown zones, including hair and nail salons, barber shops and body art establishments, will be allowed to open at limited capacity by appointment only. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

And as of April 12, some personal care services in grey-lockdown zones will be allowed to open at limited capacity by appointment only. These services include hair and nail salons, barber shops and body art establishments.

Regions currently in grey-lockdown include Toronto, Peel Region, Lambton, Sudbury and District, and Thunder Bay District.

Starting on Monday in all levels of its framework, the province will adjust capacity limits for services such as weddings and funerals to ensure more people can gather so long as they can maintain two metres of physical distance. The province did not specify what those capacity limits will be.

Toronto residents aged 70+ can book COVID-19 vaccines

Toronto residents aged 70 and older can start booking COVID-19 vaccinations at city clinics on Saturday.

Mayor John Tory announced on Friday that the city was expanding the eligibility to the age group, urging people to get the vaccine.

Tory said the number of elderly residents signing up for the shot has been decreasing since March 22, when bookings opened to those aged 75 and older.

He said the city has almost 30,000 appointments available over the coming week.

Starting on Saturday, individuals born in 1951 and earlier can schedule their shots through the province’s booking portal.

On Saturday morning, Tory tweeted that over 4,300 people had booked a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at a city clinic in the first hour that registration was open to the 70-plus age group. 

The city said appointments will be available at three of Toronto’s mass immunization clinics on Saturday and at two additional clinics as of Monday

To date, Toronto Public Health says 453,932 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the city.

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Factbox-Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus

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(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 https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news.

EUROPE

* 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.

AMERICAS

* 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.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* 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.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

* 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.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

* 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.

ECONOMIC IMPACT

* 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

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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

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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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