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Sex workers say Canada's laws put them in danger — and demand the new government fix them – Global News

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She starts by screening them.

Whenever Mari receives online booking requests from new clients, the dominatrix and sex worker asks them to email her their government identification or a piece of work ID.

She also accepts references clients may have from other sex workers. If a client is known to others as a bad date, she won’t see them.

But Mari, who asked Global News to identify her by first name only, says not all sex workers have the “privilege” of screening clients in this way.

Those who work on the street may not have the ability to screen at all, or have to negotiate services in unsafe environments since aspects of communicating about sex work are criminalized.

“It makes our work less safe,” Mari says.

WATCH BELOW: (April 18, 2018) Backpage shutdown has B.C. sex trade workers concerned






Sex workers and legal experts argue that Canada’s sex work laws are prohibitive and doing the opposite of what they’re supposed to do — instead of protecting “human dignity,” the laws push sex workers into dangerous situations by criminalizing nearly every aspect of their job.

Built into Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA), is a commitment to review the laws by the end of 2019. That time is now, and advocates say nothing has happened.

The Canadian Alliance of Sex Work Law Reform is calling on the Liberals to start that review process and act on decriminalization. The group also wants to see provincial and territorial employment laws regulate the sex industry as a form of labour.

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The organization, which is made up of sex workers’ rights groups from across the country, also says sex workers need to be part of legal reform. They are the ones who know how to best protect their rights, the alliance argues.

READ MORE: Sex worker advocacy group says police violated their privacy

“Despite the stated commitment in 2015 to replace the PCEPA and to reform prostitution laws, the Liberal Party of Canada has yet to take meaningful steps,” the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network recently wrote to the government.

In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada said it is a governmental priority to ensure that “our laws are effective in meeting their objectives, promoting public safety and security, and are consistent with our constitutionally protected rights.”

“With regard to the five-year review, the Act provides that it is Parliament’s responsibility to establish or designate a committee to study the matter,” the spokesperson said.

“As Parliament has just opened, the House is currently in the process of forming Committees. In the interim, we continue to engage with those involved.”

Sex work laws in Canada

Bill C-36 criminalizes the purchasing of sex but decriminalizes its sale. Known as an “end-demand” model, it also forbids negotiating sexual services in certain public places, such as near schools, financially benefitting off the sale of someone’s sexual services or knowingly advertising sexual services.

Bill C-36 came into effect in 2014 under a Conservative government after the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s previous laws in 2013 for being unconstitutional.

The court found the old laws imposed “dangerous conditions on prostitution” and prevented people engaged in a “risky, but legal, activity from taking steps to protect themselves.”

The Conservatives’ solution was PCEPA, which “treats prostitution as a form of sexual exploitation that disproportionately impacts on women and girls.”

In 2014, then-Liberal MP Justin Trudeau voted against Bill C-36, and the Liberals promised to reform sex work laws throughout the 2015 campaign. Despite this, the Liberal government made no changes to the law during Trudeau’s first mandate.

At the 2018 Liberal Party convention, the Young Liberals of Canada called for the decriminalization of consensual sex work. The organization argued the “current prohibition of buying consensual sex work does not address the underlying issues that make sex work dangerous, but rather creates a climate that makes sex workers unlikely to work with the police and be involved with more serious crimes.”

WATCH BELOW: Young people with disabilities aren’t being taught sex-ed







But sex work wasn’t a much-debated topic during the recent 2019 federal election campaign, despite efforts from more than 150 human rights groups that called on the winning party to decriminalize sex work. Sex work law reform was also not a part of the Liberals’ 2019 campaign platform.

Alice, a sex worker who asked Global News to change her name to protect her identity, says Maggie’s, the Toronto-based sex workers’ rights organization, even tried to host a panel with local MPs to raise its concerns.

The event was cancelled by Maggie’s due to poor response from politicians.

The laws essentially criminalize “almost every facet of sex work,” says Sandra Ka Hon Chu, director of research and advocacy at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.

“They make it incredibly difficult for sex workers to organize, to work in safety, to work together, to work with third parties who could promote their safety, and to even communicate with clients,” Chu says.

Some research shows how Canada’s end-demand model is harmful.

READ MORE: Demands grow for Canada to decriminalize sex work after the election

Research presented at the 2018 International AIDS Conference found that going after the men who buy sex does not actually help sex workers. Instead, researchers said it makes it harder for sex workers to negotiate terms of service, including condom use.

“The criminalization of sex work makes the environment of sex workers’ labour criminal by criminalizing relationships with clients and third parties and sex work income and workplaces,” another recent report by Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network found.

“While the PCEPA immunizes some sex workers from criminal prosecution, sex workers continue to experience ongoing human rights abuses perpetuated by both the presence and practice of law enforcement in the course of their work.”

New Zealand decriminalized sex work in 2003, which has lead to improved conditions for sex workers, including safer working environments and better relationships between workers and police, a 2008 study found.

Another 2009 study found New Zealand’s laws also did not lead to an increase in sex workers, as numbers in the industry stayed around the same.

This is not surprising to Mari, who says Canada’s end-demand model ignores the fact there’s always going to be people who purchase sex.

“And that’s why the model is a very bad model to be following; it restricts our movements and our rights.”

Advertising and communicating about sex work is incredibly hard

For sex workers who find clients online, laws around advertising make it very difficult to explicitly outline services. Bill C-36 criminalizes advertising the sale of sexual services, including through print media, on websites or in “locations that offer sexual services for sale,” like strip clubs.

While sex workers are protected from criminal liability for advertising their own sexual services, website administrators can be charged for hosting such ads, which means sites are less likely to host sex workers’ websites. Content in violation of Canada’s laws can be taken down at any time and seized by the authorities.

This results in sex workers having to use more vague and coded terms so their content is not reported.

WATCH BELOW: (November 9, 2017) App could offer some safety to sex trade workers







“Advertising is very important for business and for openly communicating terms of service and determining consent,” says Anne Margaret Deck, vice-chair of the board at Maggie’s.

While prohibitive for all sex workers, those who work on the street may experience even further challenges.

Canada’s laws also make it illegal to communicate “for the purposes of offering or providing sexual services for consideration” near school grounds, playgrounds or daycare centres.

Kerry Porth, a former sex worker and sex work policy consultant at the Vancouver-based Pivot Legal Society, says even though communication laws are directed at clients, they harm sex workers, too.

“Even if you only criminalize one party, that communication becomes criminalized and very difficult,” she says.

What’s more, the fact that a third-party cannot advertise on behalf of a sex worker is also harmful, she says. Porth highlights that some sex workers lack resources or the ability to work independently and prefer to work for an escort agency, for example.

READ MORE: SafeSpace London fears naming johns could increase danger for sex workers

Chu, the lawyer, says that for migrant sex workers, for whom language barriers may be a factor, the laws are especially damaging.

“The most marginalized people who do sex work, they’re probably under the most scrutiny because they don’t have access to some of the things that less marginalized people do,” she says.

Screening clients can be hard

Because it’s illegal to purchase sex, Mari says clients have a lot of fear around divulging their identity.

This makes it difficult for sex workers to screen clients in a comprehensive way, which ultimately jeopardizes their safety.

“If [clients] do not want to divulge their identity, their places of work and their reasons for coming to see us, it creates danger for the worker because you do not have any information about your client,” Mari says.

“In any other workplace or any other business, you have information about your clients.”

Those who work in rural communities may have greater difficulty getting clients to offer their personal information ahead of a meeting, especially in places where sex work is heavily policed.

Porth echoes this and says sex workers who work online — who are generally independent indoor workers — are also concerned they might be communicating with a police officer masked as a client.

WATCH BELOW: Canada’s failure to end violence against women







“There’s been a number of sting operations online and so those concerns are valid,” she says.

Violence and sexual harassment are also a legitimate concern.

According to Statistics Canada, there were 294 homicides of sex workers between 1991 and 2014. A third of those murders were unsolved as of 2016, more than 10 per cent higher than the unsolved rate for murders that do not involve sex workers.

Sex workers who are transgender, Indigenous or people of colour are even more vulnerable to violence.

Predators are aware that police are less inclined to investigate the disappearances of sex workers, the Canadian Alliance of Sex Work Law Reform says, and they also know Indigenous and migrant women often fear police detection and apprehension.

READ MORE: ‘It’s time to stop the moral panic’ — Sex worker sounds off on body politics

“Street-based sex workers or sex workers that don’t have an established business and are working independently might have to compromise their safety in order to simply get business and pay their rent,” Deck says.

“And predatory clients know this; they know what they can get away with.”

Efforts to squash stigma

Outside of legal barriers, the stigma around sex work is one of the biggest issues sex workers face. Industry experts argue the laws paint all sex workers as “victims” that need to be “saved” from sex work.

Human trafficking is also often conflated with sex work, even though they are two different things, Porth explains.

While there are instances in which women are trafficked into sex work, that is not the reality for many sex workers who simply want to be able to work safely and on their own terms.

READ MORE: Regina aims to restrict body rub parlours to industrial areas only

Alice says the stigma affects many aspects of her life, including the ability to secure housing and travel. Landlords don’t like renting to sex workers, and health-care providers may pass judgment, too.

Sex workers deserve the right to work in safe conditions just like any other Canadian worker, Deck says.

“Having these laws in the Criminal Code at all just continues to criminalize the industry, push it underground, further isolate sex workers and contribute to stigma.”

— With a file from Rachel Browne

Laura.Hensley@globalnews.ca

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‘Getting dangerous’: Calls grow for federal action amid Canada’s nurse shortage – Global News

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Two decades into a career she once loved, Toronto emergency room nurse Nancy Halupa says she is almost ready to throw in the towel.

“I don’t think I can do a fourth wave with this kind of staffing,” she told Global News.

“It’s not good for my mental health. It’s not good for my family. It’s not a workable situation anymore.”


Nancy Halupa, ER nurse.

Across the country, hospital staff are leaving their jobs at an alarming rate. And that’s prompting experts and health-care workers to call for more action from the federal government.

Nearly one in five job vacancies in Canada is in health care and social assistance, according to Statistics Canada. In early 2021, those sectors experienced the largest losses year-over-year compared to all other sectors.

Weekly overtime increased, too, 78 per cent on average from May 2019 to May 2020, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) said, using data from StatCan.

According to the CFNU, that number jumps to 137 per cent in Quebec and Ontario.


Click to play video: 'Facing COVID-19 staffing crunch, hospitals offer cash bonuses to new nurses'



2:04
Facing COVID-19 staffing crunch, hospitals offer cash bonuses to new nurses


Facing COVID-19 staffing crunch, hospitals offer cash bonuses to new nurses – Jun 16, 2021

In Canada’s largest province of Ontario alone, the president of the CFNU told Global News it estimates there are more than 16,000 vacancies.

For those, like Halupa, who haven’t quit, the workload, she said, is crushing.

“Things need to change. It is getting dangerous out there,” said Halupa.

“I’ve never gone to work with this much anxiety or fear on what I’m going to see or what we’re going to have to deal with or how short-staffed we are.”


Nancy Halupa in PPE.

Read more:
Health care job vacancies in Canada are soaring despite COVID-19 demand. Here’s why

Halupa said not all the blame can be put on COVID-19. Recruitment, retirements and pay, she said, have also played a role in pushing people out of the profession.

At a recent rally in Toronto, medical professionals condemned the Doug Ford government for Bill 124.

The legislation was introduced pre-pandemic in 2019 and caps certain public sector wages, such as nurses’, at a one per cent annual increase.

For registered nurse Leah Waxman, that meant 47 cents more per hour for her last raise, a number that doesn’t make her want to stay in her role.

“Something acute needs to happen to make a drastic change and prevent our health-care (system) from collapsing … because it is,” she said.

Richard Mullin, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Treasury Board, told Global News in a statement that “it is inaccurate to suggest that Bill 124 caps wages at one per cent annually.”

Read more:
Health-care workers protest Ontario’s 1% wage increase cap on public employees

“Ontario’s public sector employees will still be able to receive salary increases for seniority, performance, or increased qualifications as they do currently,” Mullin explained.

Labour expert Rafael Gomez called the legislation “suppressive.”

“Health-care spending now is the largest ticket item of any government. So I understand the macro priorities,” said Gomez, the director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources. “But health-care is a micro event. When you’re in a hospital and you need help and you want a nurse to be there, that’s affecting you personally. And if there are policies that are hampering that, I think the government is sort of short-sighted.”


A Canadian problem

In July, Alberta Health Services confirmed it had only about 18 treatment beds available at one of its busiest hospitals, the Royal Alexandra, “due to short-term staffing coverage issues.”

Alberta Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said bed closures due to staffing pressures aren’t isolated.

“This has led to bed closures and cancelled surgeries and repeated emergency room closures in the communities of Edson, St. Paul, Boyle, Elk Point, Galahad, Westlock, Fairview, Rocky Mountain House, Cold Lake, Lac La Biche, High Prairie, Slave Lake, Wainwright, Rimbey and Lacombe.”

Since then, the United Nurses of Alberta has said the province has been hiring contract nurses to address severe staffing shortages in hospitals there.

Meantime, in Kamloops, B.C., the shortages have become deadly. There, a 70-year-old woman died in an emergency department waiting room while seeking treatment last week.

Read more:
Facing COVID-19 staffing crunch, some Ontario hospitals offer cash bonuses to new nurses

“The government has let the situation at the hospital’s emergency department become dire — we’ve heard reports that some shifts have only three nurses trying to keep up with a workload usually handled by 13 people,” Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone said Monday.

Cheryl Cusack of the Association of Regulated Nurses of Manitoba said there, nurses are struggling with depression and other mental health issues, including trauma, as a result of their efforts to save coronavirus patients.

And in Nova Scotia, what was once a seven per cent vacancy rate has climbed to 20 per cent, according to the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

“We’ve had 34 people leave the Halifax Infirmary emergency department in the past two-and-a-half to three months,” said the province’s General Employees’ Union president Jason MacLean. “Six of them didn’t even have other jobs. So what we need to do is find out why they are leaving, which I believe we are getting to, but also people need to be incentivized to stay there.”


Experts call for federal leadership

The president of CFNU, Linda Silas, told Global News Ottawa needs to “show leadership.”

“We need commitment from the federal government to create a health-care workforce agency,” Silas said. “The federal government will have an agency to look at how many nurses we need in five years. What do we need to do today to keep what we have and plan better with the provinces and territories?”

When asked if it would consider any of these measures, in an email to Global News, Health Canada spokesperson Mark Johnson wrote: “the responsibility for matters related to the administration and delivery of health services, including health workforce planning and management, falls within provinces and territories jurisdiction.”

It’s not the first time health-care experts have asked for the Canadian government to create national standards or regulations for nurses.

Over the last year, seniors’ advocates have been pleading for national standards in nursing homes. And while Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made the promise last fall, his government still hasn’t put anything into action.

Colleen MacPherson, a critical care nurse in Toronto, is upset the provinces and the federal government haven’t made significant steps to fix the growing problem.

“Look what happened in long-term care. The nurses were working without protection. They were understaffed,” she told Global News.

And, she said, hospitals aren’t immune.

“People are at risk. We have no staff. Nurses didn’t get any vacation this year. Wages are stuck.”

Now, MacPherson and others worry an election has created more uncertainty and set back any plans for a solution.


Party plans

During the 2021 federal election campaign, Trudeau has promised that a re-elected Liberal government will give $10 billion to help provinces clear their backlogs and pandemic wait-lists. It plans to help provinces hire 7,500 nurses, nurse practitioners and family doctors.

The Conservatives, meanwhile, have vowed to meet with premiers to make a new health-care agreement and boost the annual growth rate of the Canada Health Transfer by six per cent if elected. That plan would add nearly $60 billion to the system over a decade.

Erin O’Toole did fall short of promising to hire more front-line workers.

Jagmeet Singh and the NDP announced $250 million to address the health-care worker shortage, a fund to help hire 2,000 nurses across the country.

The Green Party, meanwhile, promised to develop national health-care guidelines.

Toronto emergency room doctor Chris Keefer said in the meantime, patients are the ones really suffering.

“If nurses aren’t available to get orders done, to get procedures done and treatments done, patients wait and wait and wait. And people are already quite frustrated with that. But it’s getting worse and worse and it’s getting critical,” Keefer said.

Halupa agrees.

“It’s impossible to run a department shorthanded,” she said, worried the time to save the health-care system is running out.

“There’s not a lot of veteran nurses left,” she said. “if you want to keep health care somewhat safe, then you need to retain the people you have. You need the veterans. You need to retain who you have now.”

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

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Where Canadians can travel abroad during COVID-19 – CTV News

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TORONTO —
While Canada continues to advise against all non-essential travel outside the country, there are plenty of countries accepting Canadian travellers with limited COVID-19 restrictions.

Most countries have COVID-19 restrictions in place for foreign travellers, Mexico and Colombia are two exceptions to this. Both of those countries require a travel form to be filled out prior to arrival but have no other COVID-19 restrictions in place for Canadian travellers.

Canada is currently restricting all travel to 16 countries. Nations on that list include Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Myanmar and Somalia; more details can be found here.

EUROPE

European Union member nations began accepting Canadian travellers in July. Travellers headed to most European countries will require a negative PCR test and proof of vaccination to avoid mandatory quarantine. Non-vaccinated travellers will need a negative PCR test and to quarantine for 10 to 14 days depending on the country being visited. France, the U.K., Sweden, Germany, and Austria require negative tests but are not asking Canadians to quarantine upon arrival regardless of vaccination status.

Many European countries welcoming Canadian travellers are accepting those who had mixed-and-matched vaccines as long as the vaccines were approved for use by the EU health authority or the World Health Organization (WHO). What’s considered fully vaccinated can depend on the country, so it is always best to check government websites for most up-to-date information, but currently most EU countries are accepting mixing of AstraZeneca and mRNA doses, as well as a mixing of mRNA doses.

UNITED STATES

Currently, the United States doesn’t have any vaccine requirements for travel. The land border is currently closed to non-essential travel from Canadians, but they are able to fly into the country. Canadians travelling to the U.S. from abroad must be aware of additional restrictions in place. Canadians will not be allowed to travel to the U.S. if they have travelled to India, China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, or most European countries in the 14 days prior.

The land border restrictions for Canadians travelling to the U.S. are in place until Sept. 21 and may be extended. American travellers have been able to use the land border to enter Canada since Aug. 9 with proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test within 72 hours of arrival.

LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN COUNTRIES

Most Latin and Caribbean countries are also accepting Canadians, but travel requirements vary. Some countries will need a completed negative COVID-19 test before arrival while others will do testing upon arrival. Other countries require vaccination, and some offer COVID-19 certified accommodations to control spread.

Turks and Caicos Islands requires full vaccination and a negative test for travel to the country. They accept mix-and-match doses between mRNA and adenovector vaccines, and between mRNA doses.

Canadians travelling to Jamaica will need to provide a negative test. Travellers will need to fill out an online application within seven days prior to travel and wait for approval before entering the country.

Similarly, Saint Lucia doesn’t require vaccination for entry, but travellers must have a negative PCR test at least five days prior to visiting the country. Saint Lucia has set up special accommodations to help keep COVID-19 from spreading on the island by keeping tourists in one area during their quarantine period. For those who are fully vaccinated, they can come and go from these accommodations as they please; for partially or non-vaccinated travellers, there are restrictions of where they can travel and which excursions they can participate in at certified resorts.

Bermuda will require a negative test, and unvaccinated travellers will need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

On Aug. 10, Martinique entered a lockdown and is currently not accepting tourists.

It is important to check your destination’s restrictions before setting off as they are regularly updated.

CRUISES

As with other destinations, it is important to keep track of changing requirements on cruise ships. Currently, there are no cruises operating out of Canada, but Canadians can hop on board in other countries.

What is considered fully vaccinated can vary significantly by port and country, so it is important to be aware of vaccination policies while travelling.

Celebrity Cruises departing from most ports in Greece accept mixed mRNA doses, but those leaving from Athens accept mixed doses of AstraZenca and an mRNA vaccine.

Norwegian Cruise Line requires passengers to be fully vaccinated with a single brand of vaccine.

All cruises departing U.S. ports require that passengers be vaccinated by the CDC’s definition, which does not include mixing and matching AstraZeneca and an mRNA dose.

WHO CAN TRAVEL TO CANADA

Canada has currently suspended flights from India and Morocco. Otherwise, travellers entering the country must provide a negative molecular test taken within 72 hours prior to arrival, and provide proof of vaccination authorized for use in Canada to avoid a 14 day stay in quarantine.

Travellers are required to use the ArriveCAN app to upload their proof of vaccination.

There is no guarantee that travellers to Canada will be accepted at the border.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Travel insurance is always beneficial in the event travellers need medical assistance abroad, and insurance companies are now providing COVID-19 specific travel insurance.

Manulife has a pandemic travel plan and WestJet is offering complimentary COVID-19 travel insurance to travellers using their services.

Since Canada is currently advising against all non-essential travel abroad, it is best to check insurance policies to see if they will cover any COVID-19 related issues that may happen while travelling. Some insurance companies, such as TD Insurance, have coverage exemptions in place where Canadians have been advised to avoid travel.

Travel insurance coverage can also be dependent on the vaccination status of the traveller, one of Manulife’s travel insurance plans does not cover any COVID-19 related expenses for unvaccinated travellers.  

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday – CBC.ca

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The latest

The U.S. government will spend $470 million US to learn more about long COVID-19, its causes and potential treatments.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the plans Wednesday with a grant awarded to New York University and a goal of enrolling up to 40,000 adults and children nationwide. The effort, dubbed “Recover,” will involve researchers at more than 30 U.S. institutions.

“This is being taken with the greatest seriousness. at a scale that has not really been attempted with something like this,” said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins at a briefing Wednesday.

Collins said it’s estimated 10 to 30 per cent of people infected with COVID-19 may develop persistent, new or recurring symptoms that can last months or perhaps years.

Long COVID is an umbrella term for symptoms that linger, recur and show up for the first time four weeks or more after an initial infection. It also includes heart inflammation and multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a rare but serious condition that can occur in children after a COVID-19 infection.

Pain, headaches, fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, chronic coughs and sleep problems are among the reported symptoms of long COVID. Possible causes include the virus lingering in tissues and organs or overstimulating the immune system.

The announcement came as the World Health Organization said there were about four million coronavirus cases reported globally last week, marking the first major drop in new infections in more than two months. In recent weeks, there have been about 4.4 million new COVID-19 cases.

In its weekly update released on Tuesday, the UN health agency said every region in the world saw a drop in COVID-19 cases compared to the previous week.

Houston Fire Department paramedics transport a man suffering from breathing difficulties to a hospital on Tuesday. Harris County in Texas continues to see a large number of COVID-19 hospitalizations due to the delta variant surge in the state. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Although the worldwide number of deaths decreased to about 62,000, with the sharpest decline in Southeast Asia, there was a seven per cent increase in deaths in Africa. According to the weekly report from WHO, the highest numbers of cases were seen in:

  • The United States, with 1,034,836 new cases — a decrease of roughly 20 per cent from a week earlier.
  • The United Kingdom, with 256,051 new cases — a five per cent increase.
  • India, with 248 248 new cases — a 15 per cent decrease. 
  • Iran, with 172 030 new cases —  a 17 per cent decrease.
  • Turkey, with 158 236 new cases — a six per cent increase.

According to the weekly update, the delta variant had been identified in 180 countries as of Tuesday.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 3:30 p.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | New Brunswick’s chief medical officer expresses frustration over stalled vaccination rates: 

New Brunswick’s top doctor frustrated over stalled vaccination rates

4 hours ago

New Brunsick’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, makes a direct appeal to the public to protect the more vulnerable, children and the health care system and encourage others to get vaccinated. Sounding frustrated, Russell said the vast majority of people in the province sick with COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated. 2:43


What’s happening around the world

A medical worker collects a swab from a resident during mass testing amid new cases of COVID-19 in Putian, in China’s Fujian province. (cnsphoto/Reuters)

As of early Wednesday evening, more than 226.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the coronavirus tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.6 million.

In the Asia-Pacific region, China is imposing lockdowns and ordering mass testing in cities along its east coast amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. Checks have been set up in toll stations around the city of Putian in Fujian province, with a dozen of them closed entirely. The nearby cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou have also restricted travel as the delta variant spreads through the region.

Cambodia will launch a campaign Friday to begin giving COVID-19 vaccinations to children aged six to 11. Prime Minister Hun Sen is also considering having children aged 3 to 5 be vaccinated soon. Cambodia began vaccinating 12- to 17-year-olds at the start of August. 

Nearly 72 per cent of Cambodia’s almost 17 million people have received at least one COVID-19 shot since vaccinations began in February, the majority being China’s Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines.

In the Americas, Mexico will send vaccines to Nicaragua in September, the country’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, in a rare sign of international engagement with the administration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

In Africa, after uncertainty about whether the coronavirus pandemic would force South Africa to postpone local government elections, the courts have ruled the vote should move ahead. South Africa’s courts ruled this month the Independent Electoral Commission should hold the polls on Nov. 1, despite concerns about political rallies spreading the disease.

South Africa has recorded 2,640 new infections and 125 deaths in the last 24 hours. The nation accounts for more than 35 per cent of coronavirus infections in Africa, with 2.8 million confirmed cases and 85,002 confirmed deaths.

In Europe, the Dutch government is easing restrictions and will introduce a “corona” pass showing proof of vaccination to go to bars, restaurants, clubs or cultural events.

Meanwhile, health-care workers in France face suspension from their jobs starting Wednesday if they haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19. With about 300,000 workers still not vaccinated, some hospitals fear staff shortages will add to their strain.

In the Middle East, Iran on Tuesday reported 22,329 new cases of COVID-19 and 408 additional deaths.

-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

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