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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday

U.S. president-elect Joe Biden will use the Defence Production Act to expand the production of the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccination supplies as part of a wide-ranging plan to deliver on his pledge to vaccinate 100 million people in his first 100 days.

Biden unveils plan to speed up U.S. vaccine rollout as global death toll passes 2 million

U.S. president-elect Joe Biden said he would order increased production of syringes and other supplies to ramp up COVID-19 vaccinations and improve upon the Trump administration's rollout. (Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)

The latest:

U.S. president-elect Joe Biden will use the Defence Production Act to expand the production of the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccination supplies as part of a wide-ranging plan to deliver on his pledge to vaccinate 100 million people in his first 100 days.

Biden's first and perhaps biggest challenge in getting there will be addressing vaccine shortages in health systems across the United States. He's long advocated the use of the Defence Production Act, which gives the government authority to direct private companies to meet national defence needs.

Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump had invoked the Defence Production Act to address various aspects of the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Biden's plan also includes proposals to create federally funded community vaccination centres, make the vaccination available in pharmacies and launch mobile clinics to get the shot to underserved communities. And he'll expand the health-care workforce so there are more people qualified to deliver the vaccine to Americans.

"This is a time to set big goals and pursue them with courage and conviction because the health of the nation is literally at stake," Biden said in Wilmington, Del.

Biden's comments came after the global death toll from COVID-19 surpassed two million earlier on Friday, according to a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

While the count is based on figures supplied by government agencies around the world, the real toll is believed to be significantly higher, in part because of inadequate testing and the many fatalities that were inaccurately attributed to other causes, especially early in the outbreak.

The milestone was reached just over a year after the coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan. It took eight months to hit one million dead. It took less than four months after that to reach the next million.

WATCH | WHO chief pleads with weary world to help break COVID-19 transmission:

WHO chief pleads with weary world to help break COVID-19 transmission

World

2 months ago
1:40
As the global death toll from the coronavirus pushed past 2 million, the head of the World Health Organization urged people to use the tools they have to curb the virus and lift the burden on health workers. 1:40

Biden also issued a rebuke of Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks while sheltering in crowded rooms during last week's violent insurrection on the Capitol.

"What the hell's the matter with them?" Biden asked, saying that "it's time to grow up."

Dozens of lawmakers were ushered off the House floor to an undisclosed location as a mob of Trump supporters descended on the Capitol last week to protest Biden's election win.

Democrats said Republicans refused to wear masks, with some even resisting when Delaware Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester tried to pass them out to the crowd.

Five members of Congress announced that they had tested positive for the coronavirus after being taken to a safe space when the riot began.

What's happening across Canada

As of 7:10 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 695,707 cases of COVID-19, with 76,067 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 17,729.

Pfizer will temporarily reduce shipments of its vaccine to Canada as it expands long-term manufacturing capacity, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Friday. 

"This expansion work means that Pfizer is temporarily reducing deliveries to all countries receiving vaccines manufactured at its European facility, and that includes Canada," Anand told reporters at a public health briefing.

Anand stressed that Canada remains on track to have enough approved vaccines for everyone who wishes to be vaccinated by the end of September this year.

In the same briefing, the Public Health Agency of Canada released new modelling that showed roughly 2,000 more people are expected to die from COVID-19 over the next 10 days, while as many as 100,000 more people could contract the virus.

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick recorded 25 new cases on Friday, continuing a recent surge in cases that has seen provincial officials warning of new restrictions.

At a livestreamed update Thursday, Premier Blaine Higgs said that while the vast majority of New Brunswickers are following the rules, "we still don't see the compliance we need to." He said moving back to the red level "is indeed a possibility" if that doesn't change.

Nova Scotia reported two new cases and two new recoveries on Friday, leaving its number of active cases at 32. In Truro, a mobile health unit has been set up in response to an increase in the number of potential exposures in the area during the last week.

Newfoundland and Labrador added one new case on Friday. Prince Edward Island saw one new case on Thursday.

WATCH | Montreal ICU doctor on triage protocol as COVID-19 cases surge:  

Surging COVID-19 cases push some hospitals to face triage for critical care

Montreal

2 months ago
6:52
Dr. François Marquis, an intensive care chief at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital in Montreal, explains how his hospital's triage tool will work. But he said he is also concerned about the need to use it. 6:52

Quebec announced 1,918 new cases and 62 deaths on Friday. There are 1,496 people hospitalized due to COVID-19, including 231 in intensive care.

On Thursday, the province pledged to deliver second vaccine shots within "a maximum" 90 days after the first, after its decision to delay second doses prompted consternation and at least one lawsuit.

Ontario reported 2,998 new cases and a record 100 deaths on Friday, though 46 deaths reported by Middlesex-London Health Unit occurred earlier in the pandemic. There are 1,647 COVID-19 patients in hospitals, including 387 in intensive care.

Meanwhile, Premier Doug Ford has kicked an MPP out of the Progressive Conservative caucus for sending an open letter asking for the province's lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions to end.

In a statement issued Friday morning, Ford called the comments from York Centre MPP Roman Baber's two-page letter "irresponsible," saying Baber will not be allowed to seek re-election as a PC member.

WATCH | Uncertainty around how to enforce Ontario's stay-at-home order:  

Ontario authorities unsure how to enforce stay-at-home order

The National

2 months ago
1:52
The 29 exemptions in Ontario’s provincewide stay-at-home order has many officials and residents confused and authorities with serious questions about how to do their jobs. 1:52

A provincewide stay-at-home order and other new restrictions took effect on Thursday and are slated to remain in place until at least Feb. 11. They come as Ontario deals with surging COVID-19 numbers that threaten more deaths than seen during the first wave.

Manitoba reported 191 new COVID-19 cases and five more deaths on Friday. The update comes a week before provincewide restrictions that ban most gatherings and the sale of non-essential goods expire. The provincial government is now considering reducing some of those restrictions, and is asking for input from the public in an online survey.

Saskatchewan reported 382 new cases of COVID-19 and four deaths on Friday. Dr. Saqib Shahab, the province's chief medical health officer, said Thursday he will recommend new restrictions next week if COVID-19 case numbers don't decline.

"If you continue to see cases as high as this week I will be speaking to the Minister of Health Mr. [Paul] Merriman, about additional measures which may be required next week," Shahab said.

Dr. Ryan Warshawski, president of the Yukon Medical Association, receives a COVID-19 vaccination in Whitehorse on Wednesday. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

Alberta reported 785 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 additional deaths on Friday, while British Columbia health officials reported 509 new cases and nine more deaths.

In Yukon, a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for physicians and high-risk hospital staff has inoculated about 300 people.

Northwest Territories chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola announced that one person in Yellowknife had tested positive for COVID-19. Kandola said the person has not travelled, and there is no known source of infection at this time.

In Nunavut, more than 600 people are estimated to have received a first dose of the Moderna vaccine so far, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said.


What's happening around the world

As of Friday evening, more than 93.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 51.6 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 case tracking tool. The global death toll stood at just over two million.

In the Americas, U.S. health officials say by March, a new and more infectious strain of coronavirus — first found in the United Kingdom — will likely become the dominant strain in the United States.

The variant is currently in 12 states, but has been diagnosed in only 76 of the 23 million U.S. cases reported to date. However, it's likely that version of the virus is more widespread in this country than is currently reported, according to scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While it's considered more infectious than the virus that's been causing the bulk of U.S. cases so far, there's no evidence that it causes more severe illness or is transmitted differently. Therefore, mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing and other prevention strategies can still work, the CDC said.

In Europe, Britain is tightening border controls to block new variants of COVID-19, suspending all "travel corridor" arrangements that had meant arrivals from some countries did not require quarantine.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is grappling to control a third wave of the virus and prevent the health service from collapse while also racing to vaccinate millions each week.

"What we don't want to see is all that hard work undone by the arrival of a new variant that is vaccine-busting," he told a news conference, explaining the end of travel corridors at least until Feb. 15.

The rule changes come into force at 4 a.m. local time on Monday and mean all passengers must have a recent negative coronavirus test and transfer immediately into isolation upon arrival.

Isolation lasts for 10 days unless the passenger tests negative after five.

In Asia, China said it is now treating more than 1,000 people for COVID-19 as numbers of cases continue to surge in the country's north.

The National Health Commission said Friday that 1,001 patients are under care for the disease, 26 of them in serious condition. It said 144 total new cases were recorded in the previous 24 hours.

The province of Hebei, just outside Beijing, accounted for 90 of the new cases, while Heilongjiang province farther north reported 43 new cases.

A medical worker monitors patients after they received the coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination facility in Beijing on Friday. (Mark Schiefelbein/The Associated Press)

Pakistan's education minister said authorities will start reopening schools in phases from Jan. 18 despite a steady increase in deaths and infections from the coronavirus.

Schools were closed in November when data showed that the country's positivity rate had jumped to about seven per cent. The rate has since come down to 5.9 per cent, which is still high, according to experts.

In Africa, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday that millions of coronavirus vaccine doses secured by the African Union (AU) will be allocated according to countries' population size.

Street vendors wearing masks to help protect themselves from the coronavirus sell vegetables in Thokoza, east of Johannesburg, on Thursday. (Themba Hadebe/The Associated Press)

Ramaphosa, who is the current AU chairman, said on Wednesday that vaccines from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca would be available this year, but he did not specify how much each African country would get.

No African countries have begun large-scale coronavirus vaccination campaigns and the AU's 270 million shots, if administered two per person, would still only cover around 10 per cent of the continent's 1.3 billion people.

With files from CBC News, The Canadian Press and Reuters

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