THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The coronavirus has interrupted the process of forming a new Dutch government, with one of the two “scouts” mapping out possible coalitions testing positive for COVID-19.
The government information service says that talks scheduled Thursday have been cancelled following the positive test recorded by Kajsa Ollongren, who is also caretaker interior minister and deputy prime minister in the outgoing coalition.
Ollongren is the second member of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s Cabinet to test positive this week, following state secretary for economic affairs and climate Mona Keijzer.
The coalition talks are expected to take weeks or months following last week’s general election. Rutte’s conservative VVD party won the most seats in the lower house of parliament but will likely need to enlist other parties to gain a majority in the 150-seat legislature.
The two coalition “scouts” had been scheduled to meet Rutte and Sigrid Kaag, leader of the centrist D66 party that finished second in the election.
The government information service says officials are looking into “how and when the talks can resume.”
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Bolsonaro under fire as Brazil hits 300,000 virus deaths
— AstraZeneca confirms strong vaccine protection after US rift
— Hong Kong vaccination drive struggles to gain public trust
— More than three months into the U.S. vaccination drive, many of the numbers paint an increasingly encouraging picture
— Mexican officials remain unsure about whether the supposed Russian coronavirus vaccines seized last week are real or fake
— The government of war-torn Syria says it will send emergency oxygen supplies to neighbouring Lebanon, which is experiencing shortages
— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s president said he hoped his country will soon overcome the coronavirus pandemic but asked people to continue adhering to social distancing rules.
President Arif Alvi made his comments in a televised speech Thursday after witnessing a military parade in the capital, Islamabad.
Authorities provided face masks to all those who witnessed the military parade.
His comments came shortly after Pakistan reported 3,946 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, one of the highest increases in recent months.
On Thursday, Pakistan also reported 63 additional deaths from coronavirus, increasing the country’s total fatalities to 14,028 among 640,988 cases since last year.
Alvi’s remarks came a day after Pakistan’s top health official Faisal Sultan said his country will purchase 1 million doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine and 60,000 doses of the vaccine made by Chinese company CanSino Biologics.
A day ago, Pakistan government ordered the closure of schools in the capital, Islamabad and in several high-risk cities until April 11.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has decided to purchase 7 million doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
The government says it will pay $69.65 million for the shots.
Sri Lanka aims to inoculate 14 million people out of the population of 22 million. So far, over 850,000 people have received their shots using the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Sri Lanka has received 1.2 million AstraZeneca doses out of at least 10 million it plans to purchase for $52.5 million. It has also approved China’s Sinopharm shots.
Of the 1.2 million doses, Sri Lanka got 500,000 as a donation from India and bought another 500,000. The other 264,000 came through the COVAX facility.
Sri Lanka has reported 91,017 confirmed cases including 554 fatalities.
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine president has ordered at least nine city and town mayors investigated for possible charges after they reportedly jumped ahead of a priority list led by 1.7 million health workers and got injected with COVID-19 vaccine amid a shortage in supply.
President Rodrigo Duterte said in a televised meeting Wednesday night with key Cabinet members that aside from the mayors, the son of an actress also got immunized. He expressed fears that the Philippines may lose the chance to get more donated vaccines arranged by the World Health Organization if its conditions would continue to be violated.
“We were told by the WHO country representative, ‘If you do not follow the list of priority, you might lose the assistance of the WHO,’’’ Duterte said. “It wasn’t followed because I heard even the son of an actress got it. It’s always the favoured few.”
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III reported to Duterte that just slightly more than 508,000 of a total 1.7 million doctors, nurses and other health workers have been immunized and added that only 1.5 million vaccine doses, all donated by China and the WHO, have arrived in the country so far.
The government program to inoculate about 70 million adult Filipinos has faced delays, supply problems, public hesitancy and widespread criticism. After health workers, the next in line of priority include elderly Filipinos and people with non-COVID-19 illnesses like diabetes and the poor.
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s mask mandate will end April 10 after the Republican governor signed a bill that lays out a new timeline for lifting some of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Masks orders will remain in place for schools and gatherings of more than 50 people. Businesses can also choose to require them.
Gov. Spencer Cox signed the measure on Wednesday, the same day that vaccinations opened to all people aged 16 and older.
New coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Utah have been on a downward trend since January. According to state data, more than 438,000 of the state’s 3.2 million residents have been fully vaccinated.
The U.S. has surpassed 30 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.
Coronavirus cases nationwide reached 30,001,245 on Wednesday, nearly three months after the country hit 20 million.
COVID-19 related deaths now total more than 545,000.
The new milestone comes as public health experts show cautious optimism three months into the U.S. vaccination rollout. It is believed that 70% of Americans 65 and older have received at least one dose of the vaccine and COVID-19 deaths are below 1,000 a day on average for the first time since November.
The federal government is dramatically ramping up vaccine production and several states have already expanded vaccination eligibility to people age 16 and up.
More than 124 million cases have been confirmed worldwide.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has signed legislation rewriting state laws for managing the coronavirus pandemic and future emergencies even though she believes it could hinder disaster response efforts.
The measure Kelly signed Wednesday extends the state of emergency for the pandemic until May 28 instead of letting it expire March 31. Kelly cited the extension in announcing her action.
The measure also leaves counties in charge of mask mandates and other restrictions. But in the state’s second most populous county of Sedgwick County, the county commission ended its remaining COVID-19 restrictions. Commissioners had said the measure signed by Kelly makes it more likely it would lose lawsuits over such restrictions.
The measure says anyone aggrieved by local restrictions during a pandemic or other emergency can file a lawsuit challenging them and the case must be heard within 72 hours.
TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas says it will be receiving only a fraction of the 100,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine for COVID-19 that it had expected next week.
The state Department of Health and Environment said Wednesday that it will receive 16,500 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine when it had expected 100,000 doses.
The department said production issues mean that the promised doses might not be ready to ship to Kansas until the second or third week of April.
Gov. Laura Kelly had cited the expected arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines last week in announcing that Kansas would make eligible for inoculations all residents from 16 through 64 who have medical conditions that would put them at risk of serious complications or death from COVID-19. The state had been limiting shots to people 65 and older, along with essential workers, as part of a second phase of its vaccine distribution.
SAO PAULO, Brazil — Brazil has reached 300,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths and become the second nation to top that figure. The United States hit the same milestone on Dec. 14, but it has a larger population.
Wednesday’s coronavirus figures from the Brazilian health ministry added another 2,009 deaths to the country’s tally, which local media say is an undercount.
On Tuesday, Brazil hit a single-day record of 3,251 COVID-19 deaths and authorities fear that April could be as grim as March in the country’s overwhelmed hospitals.
Brazil added 100,000 deaths to its tally in only 75 days, a spike health experts have blamed on a lack of political co-ordination, new variants that spread more easily and a disregard for health protocols in many parts of the country.
The Associated Press
Canada signs deal with Pfizer for millions of pediatric COVID-19 vaccine doses- PM Trudeau
Canada has signed a deal with Pfizer Inc to receive 2.9 million doses of their pediatric COVID-19 vaccine shortly after it is approved for use by Health Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.
“We will be receiving enough doses in Canada to ensure that all children in Canada, aged five to 11, can receive the vaccine,” said Trudeau. The vaccine is currently being reviewed by Health Canada.
(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa, Editing by Franklin Paul)
Canada government, provinces agree COVID-19 vaccine travel passport – officials
Canada’s federal government and the 10 provinces have agreed on a standard COVID-19 electronic vaccination passport allowing domestic and foreign travel, government officials told reporters on Thursday.
The deal prevents possible confusion that could be caused if each of the provinces – which have primary responsibility for health care – issued their own unique certificates. The officials spoke on the condition they not be identified.
The document will have a federal Canadian identifying mark and meets major international smart health card standards.
“Many (countries) have said they want to see a digital … verifiable proof of vaccination, which is what we’re delivering,” said one official.
In addition, federal officials are talking to nations that are popular with Canadian travelers to brief them about the document.
The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced earlier this month that from Oct 30, people wishing to travel domestically by plane, train or ship would have to show proof of full vaccination.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Alistair Bell)
The Ottawa area's weekly COVID-19 vaccination checkup: Oct. 21 – CBC.ca
- Updates to Ontario and Quebec’s proof-of-vaccination systems.
- More details on the reopening of the U.S. land border.
- Another step toward approval of a vaccine for children age five to 11.
- Ottawa hits some major vaccination milestones.
Every Thursday, CBC Ottawa brings you this roundup of COVID-19 vaccination developments throughout the region. You can find more information through links at the bottom of the page.
There have been more than 3.5 million doses administered in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region, which has about 2.3 million residents.
That’s about 25,000 doses in the last week, slightly fewer than the previous weekly count.
Ontario’s proof-of-vaccination QR codes can be used starting Friday. People can still give paper or PDF proof, but the QR codes and provincial app used to check them are meant to be more efficient.
Quebec has a new vaccination record specifically designed for use out of the province.
Proof of vaccination is now required for visitors to many health-care facilities in Quebec. While its unvaccinated health-care workers aren’t yet suspended without pay, they are losing their pandemic bonuses.
Ninety per cent of eligible Quebec residents have had at least one dose and 86 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Eighty-eight per cent of Ontario residents age 12 and up have at least one vaccine dose, while about 83 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Quebec is allowing bars and restaurants to reach full capacity under its vaccine passport and halving the two-metre distance rule as of Nov. 1.
WATCH | The upcoming U.S. border rules:
After submitting its trial data, Pfizer has officially asked Health Canada to approve its vaccine for children age five to 11.
Ontario’s health minister says the province will be ready to go when the first such vaccine is available.
WATCH | What expanded eligibility may look like:
The capital still has regular and pop-up clinics for anyone eligible to get a first, second or third dose, has neighbourhood vaccine hubs, and is bringing mobile vaccine clinics to those who request it.
There are pop-ups Friday afternoon at the Banff-Ledbury Pavilion and Saturday at Communauté Catholique Congolaise Bondeko d’Ottawa-Gatineau in Vanier.
More than 1.6 million doses have now been given to Ottawa residents.
Of the city’s total population of just over one million, 78 per cent of residents have had at least one dose, including 90 per cent of residents born in 2009 or earlier.
Seventy-five per cent of the total population is fully vaccinated, as are 86 per cent of eligible residents.
An infectious disease specialist said this high level of vaccination will begin to reflect in a declining number of new cases — even among people who don’t have the vaccine.
CISSSO continues to list recurring, mobile and pop-up clinics online.
The Outaouais has distributed more than 596,000 doses — combined first, second and third — among a population of about 386,000.
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Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington
It’s managing smaller clinics and mobile clinics to better reach areas with lower vaccination rates, with options shared regularly online and on its social feeds.
A mobile clinic is coming to the Addington Highlands Community Centre in Denbigh Thursday afternoon.
The region, with a population of about 213,000, has had more than 328,000 vaccine doses — combined first, second and third — given to residents.
The health unit has now given a first dose to about 89 per cent of its population 12 and older, and about 85 per cent of eligible people have been fully vaccinated.
WATCH | What it means when a health unit is around 90% vaccinated:
Eastern Ontario Health Unit
About 324,000 vaccine doses have been administered among a population of about 209,000. About 90 per cent of residents 12 and older are partially vaccinated, and about 86 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Details for its regular and pop-up vaccine clinics are regularly shared on its website and social media. There are clinics Thursday at Cornwall’s Benson Centre and Friday at Rockland’s Jean-Marc Lalonde Arena.
Leeds, Grenville and Lanark.
The health unit has given nearly 296,000 doses to residents, seeing 97 per cent of its eligible population with at least one dose and about 94 per cent of those residents have at least two doses.
It’s making sure people saw the updated guidance they don’t have to space out flu and COVID-19 shots.
WATCH | Hospital workers in Ottawa area mostly vaccinated against COVID-19:
Hastings Prince Edward
There are regular clinics in Bancroft, Belleville and Picton. It lists community clinics on its website.
About 256,000 doses have been administered to this area’s residents. Another 5,200 or so doses have been given at CFB Trenton.
Eighty-nine per cent of the local population 12 and older has now had a first dose. Eighty-two per cent are fully vaccinated.
When ready, the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte say their clinic for kids age five to 11 will operate out of the Mohawk Community Centre.
The health unit regularly shares pop-up and walk-in clinic information online. There are clinics in Arnprior and Deep River Thursday.
With a population of about 109,000, Renfrew County has distributed about 154,000 doses as of its last update Oct. 12.
About 87 per cent of its eligible population, including military at Garrison Petawawa, have at least a first dose and about 83 per cent are fully vaccinated.
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