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Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba easing more COVID-19 restrictions; South Korea reports 17 new cases, the first time its daily jump came down to the teens in nearly a month – Toronto Star



The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

5:15 a.m.: Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are all easing more of the restrictions they implemented to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quebec, which accounts for just over half of Canada’s COVID-19 cases, is reopening several sectors today, impacting the Montreal area in particular.

Restaurants can open again in the greater Montreal and Joliette areas while indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from three households are now permitted in these regions, as they have been elsewhere in Quebec since last week.

Day camps, along with gyms, arenas, cinemas, concert venues and places of worship can reopen across the province with a maximum capacity of 50 people for indoor gatherings.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan moves to Phase 4.1 of its reopening strategy today, which allows camping in national parks to resume, but by reservation only.

Youth camps can reopen, but for day use only, and with guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including the constant disinfection of play structures and monitoring of children for coronavirus symptoms.

5:08 a.m.: China reported 18 new cases of the coronavirus, including nine in Beijing and two in neighbouring Hebei province. It was the first time in more than a week that the number fell to single digits in an outbreak in the Chinese capital.

Previously, the city had reported more than 20 cases every day for eight straight days. The total number of cases since the first one was confirmed on June 11 rose to 236.

3 a.m.: South Korea has reported 17 new cases of COVID-19, the first time its daily jump came down to the teens in nearly a month. Its 40 to 50 cases per day increases over the past two weeks have occurred as people increased their public activities amid eased attitudes on social distancing.

2:10 a.m.: The coronavirus is spreading in Pakistan at one of the fastest rates in the world, and overwhelmed hospitals are turning away patients. But the government is pushing ahead with opening up the country, trying to salvage a near-collapsed economy where millions have already slid into poverty from pandemic restrictions.

Further complicating the dilemma, as the government pins its main hope for stemming the virus’ rampage on social distancing and masks, many in the public ignore calls to use them.

Millions crowd markets and mosques. Hard-line clerics tell followers to trust that faith will protect them. Many call the virus a hoax. Even some government officials dismiss warnings, saying traffic accidents kill more people.

Pakistan is a prime example of fragile developing countries that say they’ll just have to live with rising infections and deaths because their economies cannot withstand an open-ended strict lockdown.

But the rapid acceleration in infections in Pakistan this month could be an indicator of what faces other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The rate of new cases in Pakistan leaped from around 2,000-3,000 a day in late May to as high as 6,800 a day in mid-June. Deaths are nearing 150 a day. So far, more than 180,000 people have been infected in this country of 220 million, and the government on Sunday said that the number could total 1.2 million people in August. Authorities have reported 3,590 deaths.

9:12 p.m.: An email from baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to union head Tony Clark led to a balk in the drawn-out talks to start the pandemic-delayed season.

The executive committee of the players’ association was set to vote and reject Major League Baseball’s latest offer for a 60-game season on Sunday.

Players want 70 games and $275 million (U.S.) more than teams are offering. They are worried that if a resurgence of COVID-19 causes the 2020 season to be cut short, the deal being negotiated would lock in innovations for 2021 and lessen the union’s bargaining power.

Among the items in the proposed deal for 2020 and 2021 are expanded playoffs, use of the designated hitter in games involving National League teams and allowing advertisements on uniforms. The 2020 only items include starting extra innings with runner on second and a discussion of whether to allow tie games after a specified total of innings plus player re-entry in extra innings.

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8:01 p.m.: Iran’s health minister said on Sunday that the coronavirus outbreak in the country would last until 2022, the Isna news agency reported.

Health Minister Saeed Namaki said that according to official estimates, Iranians would “have to live with the coronavirus for another two years,” the report said.

After the number of new infections eased in May, Iranian authorities started to lift coronavirus-related restrictions. However, the fact that people have been taking hygiene and social distancing measures less seriously has led to a new rise in infections, authorities say.

More than 200,000 people have had or currently have the virus in Iran, with more than 9,500 having died as a result.

Click here to read more of Sunday’s coverage.

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India reimposes lockdowns as Covid-19 cases near a million – latest updates – TRT World



Coronavirus has infected more than 13.4 million people, of whom over 7.8 million have recovered and some 580,000 have died. Here are the updates for July 15:

A woman holds a small bottle labelled “Vaccine Covid-19” and a syringe in this illustration.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020 

Russian military says virus vaccine is tested and safe

The Russian Defence Ministry said it has developed a “safe” vaccine following clinical trials on a group of volunteers.

The ministry said 18 people had participated in the research and were discharged without “serious adverse events, health complaints, complications or side effects.”

The results of the trials “allow us to speak with confidence about the safety and good tolerability of the vaccine,” it said in a statement.

The Defence Ministry did not say whether the vaccine was in fact effective but a doctor working on the trials said the volunteers were now protected against the pandemic.

Maldives reopens for tourists

The Maldives reopened its tourist resorts and welcomed its first international flight in more than three months even as the Indian Ocean holiday hot spot records a steady rise in infections.

Tourism is a major earner for the Maldives, a tropical island paradise popular with honeymooners and celebrities.

Disneyland Paris reopens, but no hugs for Donald

Disneyland Paris, Europe’s biggest private tourist attraction, reopened its gates after four months of lockdown, albeit with limited access and a ban on hugging the famous characters.

As festive music played, Mickey, Pluto and other Disney characters greeted the first visitors –– all sporting face masks and some the trademark Mickey Mouse ears –– while keeping a safe distance from the guests.

Despite the merry mood, things at Disneyland are not quite back to normal as the pandemic was again showing a slight uptick in the country where it has claimed more than 30,000 lives.

Philippines confirms 11 more deaths

Philippines Health Ministry reported 11 deaths and 1,392 additional infections.

The ministry said total deaths had risen to 1,614, while confirmed infections reached 58,850.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is due to decide whether or not to maintain partial restrictions in the capital, set to expire on Wednesday, to slow the spread of the virus as some hospitals reach critical care capacity. 

Indonesia sees biggest single-day jump in deaths

Indonesia reported 87 deaths, its biggest daily jump, bringing the total number of fatalities to 3,797, its Health Ministry said.

Indonesia also reported 1,522 infections, taking the overall tally to 80,094 cases, ministry official Achmad Yurianto told a televised news briefing.

Russia registers 6,422 cases, pushing the total into 746,369

Russia reported 6,422 cases, pushing its confirmed national tally to 746,369, the fourth highest in the world.

Officials said 156 people had died of the virus in the last 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 11,770. 

India reimposes lockdown as cases near 1 million

India’s caseload is approaching 1 million with a surge of 29,429 new confirmed infections during the past 24 hours, prompting authorities to reimpose lockdowns in high-risk areas in nearly a dozen states.

The new confirmed cases took the national total to 936,181. The Health Ministry also reported another 582 deaths for a total to 24,309.

A two-week lockdown was imposed in eastern Bihar state, where nearly 2.5 million migrant workers have returned home after losing jobs in other parts of the country and further spread the virus.

Australia’s death toll rises to 111

Australia’s most populous states will impose harsher restrictions on movement if a Covid-19 outbreak is not quickly brought under control, state premiers said.

Victoria state reported another 238 cases in the past 24 hours, even after reimposing a lockdown last week on about five million people in Melbourne, Australia’s second-biggest city.

Nationally, Australia has now recorded about 10,500 cases, while the death toll rose to 111 after a woman in her 90s died from the virus.

Tokyo on top alert level after new cases

Tokyo is on its highest coronavirus alert level after a spike in new cases, the city’s governor warned, as experts said the rising infections were a clear “red flag.”

Daily coronavirus cases exceeded 200 in four of the last six days, touching an all-time high of 243 cases last Friday as testing among workers in the metropolis’s red-light districts turned up infections among young people in their 20s and 30s.

As of Wednesday, there were only seven people requiring intensive care for coronavirus and authorities have insisted that the medical system is in better shape than at the height of the previous wave in April.

And despite the latest outbreak, the situation in Japan remains considerably less serious than in many other comparable countries in terms of population.

Japan has had just over 22,500 cases and close to 1,000 deaths since the disease was first detected in the country. No one has died of coronavirus in Tokyo for three weeks.

Germany’s cases rise by 351 to 199,726

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 351 to 199,726, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed.

The reported death toll rose by three to 9,071, the tally showed. 

Moderna vaccine enters final stage trial this month

An experimental Covid-19 vaccine that is being developed by US biotech firm Moderna induced antibody responses against the coronavirus in all 45 participants of a human trial, according to a new paper.

Moderna had previously published “interim results” from its Phase 1 in the form of a press release on its website in May, which revealed the vaccine had generated immune responses in eight patients.

Though these were called “encouraging” by Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious diseases official, the full study had been eagerly awaited by the scientific community.

The company has since moved to the next stage of its trial, involving 600 people.

The new paper was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

Moderna said the phase 3 trial on July 27 will recruit 30,000 participants in the US, with half to receive the vaccine at 100 microgram dose levels, and the other half to receive a placebo.

Thousands in Bolivia anti-government protest

Thousands of demonstrators have defied quarantine restrictions and marched on the Bolivian capital La Paz to protest against the government of interim President Jeanine Anez.

“The people are expressing their needs, they are expressing their voice in protest,” said Juan Carlos Huarachi, leader of the country’s biggest trade union, Central Obrera Boliviana, on Tuesday.

The demonstration, held over worker grievances about health and education policies and massive layoffs, was the biggest since the coronavirus pandemic reached the South American country in March.  

“There are many layoffs,” said Huarachi, “because of the fall in the economy.”

South Korea unemployment rate inches down

South Korea’s unemployment rate fell marginally in June but remained high in historical terms as the coronavirus pandemic continued to weigh on businesses and labour markets.

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate slid to 4.3 percent in June, notches below a decade-high of 4.5 percent in May, data from Statistics Korea showed on Wednesday.

Data also showed the number of employed was around 27.1 million in June, 352,000 fewer than a year earlier. This marked the fourth month of year-on-year decline, the longest losing streak in more than 10 years. 

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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COVID-19 in B.C.: Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix on the Canada–U.S. border, air travel, and case number increases –



The good news is that the number of new cases today (July 14) dropped from the levels reported over the past few days.

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix responded to questions about whether the recent numbers of cases over the past few days are cause for concern, and about the U.S.–Canada border and travel.

At today’s briefing, Dr. Henry announced there are 13 new cases, which brings the cumulative provincial total to 3,128 cases  over the duration of the pandemic. That includes 1,015 Vancouver Coastal Health; 1,649 in Fraser Health; 135 in Island Health, 212 in Interior Health; 65 in Northern Health; and 52 cases among people who live outside Canada.

At the moment, there are 209 active cases. There are 14 people in hospital (including five patients in intensive care units) and Dix stated that nine of those people are in Fraser Health with the remaining five in Vancouver Coastal Health.

There aren’t any new healthcare outbreaks. Accordingly, there remain three active outbreaks in healthcare: two in longterm care facilities and one in an acute care unit.

However, there were three new cases in healthcare, bringing the totals to 399 residents and 252 staff who have tested positive.

There aren’t any new community outbreaks.

However, more details were revealed about the exposure events in Kelowna from June 25 to July 6.

While the number of individuals involved were reported as increasing from eight to 13 people, Dr. Henry said that the number is now at 17 people from the regions of Interior Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, and Fraser Health.

She said what they understand so far from the investigation, which remains ongoing, is that a group of people who knew each other from Interior B.C., the Lower Mainland, and Alberta met in Kelowna. Dix had previously said that the individuals are in their 20s and 30s.

Although there is an outbreak at the Krazy Cherry Fruit Co. farm (as previously announced on July 13) in Oliver, B.C., Dr. Henry stated that there isn’t evidence that the virus is spread by food and that there isn’t any risk from cherries from the Krazy Cherry Fruit farm. 

However, she reminded people to still wash all food carefully before eating it.   

Dr. Henry reminded those who may have been exposed to not only monitor their symptoms for 14 days but to also limit their social contacts during that period. Anyone who has symptoms should call 811.

Thankfully, there aren’t any new deaths, leaving the total fatalities at 189 deaths.

There are a total of 2,730 people who have recovered.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry
Province of British Columbia

Although B.C. had a series of consecutive days with new cases numbering 20 or more since July 8, Dr. Henry said that around 20 remains a small number “given our population”.

While she did express some nervousness about the situation, she said it would be more “worrisome” if the new cases weren’t linked and they didn’t know where the infections were coming from.

“It was distressing for me to see, especially 25 one day—that’s way above my comfort zone—but it is not unexpected and we do know where those cases are,” she said. “That is the other piece that we’re trying to balance here—is us increasing our travel, increasing our contacts in a measured way, but us in public health being able to respond when we have clusters, where we have cases, making sure can find those links and find people who are exposed so that they can stay away from others and we stop those transmission chains.”

She said “a good portion” of the new cases are related to the ongoing outbreak in Holy Family Hospital longterm care home in Vancouver.

“We have very few people who are not linked to a known cluster or case yet,” she said.

However, Dr. Henry reiterated that we know that transmission increases as people move around more during phases of reopening, and that the recent cases, which aren’t unexpected, reflect that.

However, she said we need to ensure that contact tracing can be conducted quickly and efficiently to contain the spread of the virus.

When she was asked about what actions should be taken in the wake of several public exposure events taking place, she said she would try to avoid returning to closures.

“I don’t believe that it’s good to shut things down because that just drives things underground,” she said.

She said it’s better for public health to work with people and industries to figure out how things can be done in the safest possible way.

In addition, she said while they are seeing some young adults in 20 to 40 years old infected, B.C. is not experiencing the same spikes among this demographic group yet like parts of the U.S. and other parts of Canada, including Alberta and Ontario, are.

In addition, both she and Dix repeated the importance of continuing on with health measures to protect all involved.

“We learned that indecision is the acquaintance of COVID-19, inconsistency is its friend, and bad decisions are its closest ally,” Dix said.

Video of Most of Canada’s new COVID-19 cases in people under 40

The current extension of the closure of the Canada–U.S. border to nonessential travel, which was first introduced in March and since been repeatedly extended, was slated to expire on July 21.

However, Canadian and American officials have agreed to extend the border closure until August 21.

Dix said it’s “positive and necessary news” and he said it’s important that there are restrictions not only on Americans visiting Canada but also Canadians visiting the U.S., as he has previously explained it’s important to prevent the virus from being brought back with returning Canadians.

The decision was made despite an open letter dated July 3 from 29 U.S. Congress members asking the Canadian government for a phased reopening of the border.

However, a spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland told CTV that the health of Canadians remain a priority and that decisions about the border are made by Canadians for Canadians.

Meanwhile, as both domestic and international flights continue in and out of the province, several flights arriving at or departing from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) over the past month have been confirmed with COVID-19 cases aboard.

Dr. Henry said that travellers arriving with symptoms cause her “great consternation”.

She said it extremely important for airlines to collect and provide appropriate contact information and so that public health teams are able to identify people within specific rows near someone who develops symptoms after a flight.

For example, none of the four recent flights with COVID-19 cases that arrived at YVR in recent days had affected rows or seats listed.

“One of the most challenging things we do is trying to get flight manifests a couple of days later when we recognize somebody who might be ill and the type of information that’s on those flight manifests is not very helpful in trying to followup people, which is also one of the reasons why we post things publicly,” she said.


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U.S. COVID-19 vaccine program to start manufacturing by late summer, says U.S. official – Reuters



(Reuters) – Drugmakers partnered with the U.S. government are on track to begin actively manufacturing a vaccine for COVID-19 by the end of the summer, a senior administration official said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A small bottle labeled with a “Vaccine” sticker is held near a medical syringe in front of displayed “Coronavirus COVID-19” words in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

“If you say exactly when will literally the vaccine materials be in production and manufacturing, it is probably four to six weeks away, but we will be actively manufacturing by the end of summer,” the official, who declined to be identified by name, said.

He added that the administration is already working with companies to equip and outfit manufacturing facilities and acquire raw materials.

The Trump administration has helped finance the development of four COVID-19 vaccines so far though its Operation Warp Speed Program, which aims to produce 300 million vaccine doses by the end of 2021.

The U.S. government has given grants ranging from several hundred million dollars to over $1 billion to Johnson & Johnson, Moderna Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Novovax Inc.

It also signed a $450 million contract earlier this month with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc to help it supply therapies for patients who are sick with the virus.

Clinical trials for therapeutics can produce results in a matter of weeks, making it possible to produce hundereds of thousands of doses by fall, the senior administration official said.

“While we think is fair to say that vaccine progress is occurring at warp speed pace, faster than any vaccines have been developed in history, therapeutics are even faster,” the official said.

The “slate is not closed” for additional funding agreements and the administration plans to announce more in the future, the official said.

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 3 million people in the United States and killed more than 130,000.

Reporting by Carl O’Donnell in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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