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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada for Tuesday, March 9 – Times Colonist

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The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there’s still no firm date for when Johnson & Johnson will send its COVID-19 vaccine to Canada.

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Health Canada approved the vaccine for use last week but the company has reported production delays could threaten delivery dates in the European Union.

Trudeau says he is aware of those issues and as soon as Canada’s dates are confirmed, the government will share that information.

11:55 a.m.

Prince Edward Island is reporting no new cases of COVID-19 today.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says a travel-related case from last week has been confirmed to involve the more contagious B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom.

Morrison says officials have identified four cases of the B.1.1.7 mutation on the Island.

There are now 28 active reported cases of COVID-19 in P.E.I.

11:45 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam are marking Thursday’s one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the spread of the novel coronavirus a pandemic.

Tam says it is time for remembering the lives lost, but it is also clear the work is not done.

She says Canadians must commit to sustaining their efforts until the crisis of COVID-19 is behind us.

Trudeau is calling on all Canadians to use the newly created day of remembrance for those who died during the pandemic to remember and salute all who have sacrificed so much during the last year.

Over 22,000 Canadians have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began and there has been a total of nearly 895,000 cases in Canada.

11 a.m.

Quebec is reporting 650 new cases of COVID-19 today and 12 more deaths, including four within the past 24 hours.

Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by 14, to 576, and 110 people were in intensive care, a rise of two.

Officials say 16,357 doses of vaccine were administered Monday for a total of 581,028.

Quebec has reported 293,860 COVID-19 infections and 10,493 deaths linked to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.

The province has 6,765 active reported cases of COVID-19.

10:40 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 1,185 new cases of COVID-19 in the province and six more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 343 of those new cases are in Toronto, 235 are in Peel Region, and 105 are in York Region.

More than 31,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered in Ontario since Monday’s report.

10:35 a.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting five new cases of COVID-19 today involving contacts of previously reported infections.

Health officials say three new cases were identified in the health region including Halifax and the other two were reported in the western health region.

Officials are also reporting five new cases of novel coronavirus mutations, three of which involve the variant that first emerged in the United Kingdom and two involving the mutation first detected in South Africa.

They say there is no sign of community spread involving variants in the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 9, 2021.

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Factbox: Countries respond to heart inflammation risk from mRNA shots

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Some countries have halted altogether or are giving only one dose of COVID shots based on so-called mRNA technology to teens following reports of possible rare cardiovascular side effects.

Europe’s drug regulator said in July it had found a possible link between a very rare inflammatory heart condition and COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

However, the benefits of mRNA shots in preventing COVID-19 continue to outweigh the risks, European and U.S. regulators and the World Health Organization have said.

Here are some of the steps some countries are taking:

CANADA

The Public Health Agency of Canada said data suggested that reported cases of rare heart inflammation were higher after Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine compared with the Pfizer/BioNTech shots.

DENMARK

The Danish Health Agency said on Friday that it was continuing to offer Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to under-18s, and that a statement on Wednesday suggesting a suspension had in fact been a miscommunication.

FINLAND

Finland paused the use of Moderna’s vaccines for younger people and instead would give Pfizer’s vaccine to men born in 1991 and later. It offers shots to those aged 12 and over.

HONG KONG

A panel of health experts advising the Hong Kong government has recommended in September children aged 12-17 should get only one dose of BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine after reports of heart inflammation as a side effect.

NORWAY

Norway will hold off giving children aged 12-15 a second dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 until it has gathered more research. On Oct. 22 the health ministry said there was no urgency given that children have a low risk of falling seriously ill from COVID-19.

On Sep. 2 Norway decided on giving one dose of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to children aged 12-15.

SWEDEN

Sweden has extended the pause of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine beyond the original Dec. 1 deadline for people aged 30 and younger due to rare heart-related side-effects, the public health agency said on Oct. 21.

The agency said earlier in October that data pointed to an increase of myocarditis and pericarditis among youths and young adults vaccinated with Moderna vaccine Spikevax, and paused the use for all born 1991 or later.

SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa will start vaccinating children between 12 and 17 using the Pfizer vaccine, the health minister said, as the country looks to ratchet up inoculations ahead of final year examinations.

On the advice of its vaccine advisory committee the government would only give teenagers a single shot of Pfizer’s normal two-shot regime due to concerns that it may affect the heart.

UNITED KINGDOM

Britain has been offering all 12-15-year-olds a first a shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Second doses would not be offered to the age group until at least spring when there may be more data from around the world.

 

(Compiled by Antonis Triantafyllou; Editing by Joanna Jonczyk-Gwizdala and Tomasz Janowski)

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Hong Kong’s zero-COVID policy undermining financial hub status – industry group

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A financial industry group warned on Monday that Hong Kong‘s zero-COVID policy and strict quarantine requirements for international travellers threatens to undermine the city’s status as a financial hub.

The Asia Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (ASIFMA) said a survey of members, including some of the world’s largest banks and asset managers, showed 48% were contemplating moving staff or functions away from Hong Kong due to operational challenges, which included uncertainty regarding when and how travel and quarantine restrictions will be lifted.

Hong Kong has some of the most stringent travel restrictions in the world and is virtually COVID-19 free, however unlike regional rival Singapore, which is slowly re-opening its borders, the Chinese-ruled city has no public plan for opening up to international travellers.

Local leaders say their focus is removing restrictions on travel from Hong Kong to mainland China, which also has strict entry restrictions. At present travellers from Hong Kong to the mainland must still undergo quarantine.

“Hong Kong’s status as an (international financial centre) is increasingly at risk along with its long-term economic recovery and competitiveness as a premier place to do business,” Mark Austen chief executive of Asifma wrote in open letter to Hong Kong’s financial secretary Paul Chan.

The letter made a series of recommendations including publishing “a roadmap for exiting Hong Kong’s ‘zero-case’ based COVID-19 strategy beyond solely the immediate goal of opening borders with China”, as well as prioritising vaccinations.

Hong Kong has reported just over 12,300 cases since the start of the pandemic, mostly imported, and 213 deaths.

Regional rival Singapore is expanding quarantine-free travel to nearly a dozen countries, but authorities are grappling with how to do so while averting a surge of Covid-19 cases among older people and those with weak immune systems.

 

(Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Michael Perry)

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Red Cross urges action for Papua New Guinea as COVID-19 overwhelms health system

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Concerted international action is needed to support Papua New Guinea as a surge in COVID-19 cases overwhelms the Pacific country’s health system, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said on Monday.

Coronavirus cases in the island nation of 9 million have been surging in recent weeks, with 385 new cases recorded on Thursday, according to latest available government data.

There have been 26,731 officially confirmed cases and 329 deaths in the country 150 km (90 miles) north of Australia.

Less than 1% of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data figures, although the government anticipated months ago that it would have enough shots by now for everyone who wanted to be vaccinated.

Misinformation, public apprehension, and logistical challenges with the rollout have slowed down vaccinations, the Red Cross said.

“Urgent efforts and further support are needed in healthcare to prevent a massive loss of life in the coming days and weeks,” Uvenama Rova, PNG Red Cross secretary general, said in a statement.

According to the PNG National Control Centre for COVID-19, all major hospitals have been hit with rising cases.

“We’re at the moment barely managing with the existing load,” Gary Nou, team leader for Emergency Medical Team at the National Centre, was quoted as saying last week in a statement on the centre’s website.

A medical team from Australia arrived in Port Moresby this month, and Britain was also to send a team.

While some other nations in the Pacific region, such as the Solomon Islands and Kiribati, have also had sluggish vaccine rollouts, the tiny nation of Palau had 99% of its population over 12 vaccinated by mid-October, while Fiji had 96% of eligible people with one dose, the Red Cross said this month.

 

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by William Mallard)

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