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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on July 31

Thousands of people protested France's special virus pass by marching through Paris and other cities on Saturday. Most demonstrations were peaceful, but some protesters in Paris clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas.

Police, protesters clash in Paris during demonstrations against virus pass; Florida reports 21,000 new cases

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In Europe, thousands of people protested France's special virus pass by marching through Paris and other cities on Saturday. Most demonstrations were peaceful, but some protesters in Paris clashed with riot police, who fired tear gas.

Some 3,000 security forces deployed around the French capital for a third weekend of protests against the pass, which will be needed soon to enter restaurants and other places. Police took up posts along the city's Champs-Élysées to guard against an invasion of the famed avenue.

With virus infections spiking and hospitalizations rising, French lawmakers have passed a bill requiring the pass in most places as of Aug. 9. Polls show a majority of French support the pass, but some are adamantly opposed. The pass requires a vaccination or a quick negative test or proof of a recent recovery from COVID-19 and mandates vaccine shots for all health-care workers by mid-September.

Tensions flared in front of the famed Moulin Rouge nightclub in northern Paris during what appeared to be the largest demonstration. Lines of police faced down protesters in up-close confrontations during the march. Police used their fists on several occasions.

Protesters face off with riot police in front of Paris landmark Moulin Rouge nightclub on Saturday. (Geoffroy Van der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images)

As marchers headed eastward and some pelted officers with objects, police fired tear gas into the crowds, plumes of smoke filling the sky. A male protester was seen with a bleeding head, and a police officer was carried away by colleagues. Three officers were injured, the French media quoted police as saying. Police, again responding to rowdy crowds, also turned a water cannon on protesters as the march ended at the Bastille.

A calmer march was led by the former top lieutenant of far-right leader Marine Le Pen who left to form his own small anti-European Union party. But Florian Philippot's new cause, against the virus pass, seems far more popular. His contingent of hundreds marched on Saturday to the Health Ministry.

Among those not present this week was François Asselineau, leader of another tiny anti-EU party, the Popular Republican Union, and an ardent campaigner against the health pass, who came down with COVID-19. In a video on his party's website, Asselineau, who was not hospitalized, called on people to denounce the "absurd, unjust and totally liberty-killing" health pass.

A protester uses a face covering to protect against tear gas as police move their line during a demonstration in Paris on Saturday. (Adrienne Surprenant/The Associated Press)

French authorities are implementing the health pass because the highly contagious delta variant is making strong inroads. More than 24,000 new daily cases were confirmed Friday night — compared with just a few thousand cases a day at the start of the month.

The government announcement that the health pass would take effect on Aug. 9 has driven many unvaccinated French to sign up for inoculations so their social lives won't get shut down during the summer holiday season. Vaccinations are now available at a wide variety of places, including some beaches. More than 52 per cent of the French population has been vaccinated.

About 112,000 people have died of the virus in France since the start of the pandemic.


What's happening in Canada

Workers prepare COVID-19 vaccine shots at a mobile clinic in Montreal on Saturday. (Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada)
  • COVID-19 modelling group sounds alarm over Alberta's case trajectory.
  • The end of an order: A timeline from N.B.'s first COVID case to life in green.

What's happening around the world

As of Saturday, more than 197.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 4.2 million deaths had been reported.

People wearing face masks board a train in Tokyo on Saturday. (Kantaro Komiya/The Associated Press)

In Asia, the number of COVID-19 cases reported in Tokyo reached a daily record 4,058 at the mid-point of the Olympics, according to city hall on Saturday.

In Africa, health officials say cases have risen sharply in Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria and elsewhere in the continent's West amid low vaccination rates and delta variant spread.

In the Americas, the U.S. state of Florida reported 21,683 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the state's highest one-day total since the start of the pandemic, according to federal health data.

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