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

The U.S. government said Wednesday it will deliver nearly 837,000 Pfizer vaccines to Caribbean nations as the region with limited resources struggles with a spike in COVID-19 cases amid violent anti-vaccine protests.

U.S. to deliver nearly 837,000 Pfizer shots to Caribbean nations as region struggles with COVID-19 surge

A health worker inoculates a woman with her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at the Saint Damien Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on July 19. The Caribbean region has reported more than 1.29 million cases and more than 16,000 deaths. (Ricardo Arduengo/Reuters)

The latest:

The U.S. government said Wednesday it will deliver nearly 837,000 Pfizer vaccines to Caribbean nations as the region with limited resources struggles with a spike in COVID-19 cases amid violent anti-vaccine protests.

The Bahamas will receive 397,000 doses, followed by more than 305,000 doses for Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados will receive 70,200 doses, with 35,100 slated for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 17,550 for Antigua and 11,700 for St. Kitts and Nevis.

"The Biden-Harris administration's highest priority in the Americas today is managing and ending the COVID pandemic and contributing to equitable recovery," said Juan Gonzalez, the National Security Council's senior director for the Western Hemisphere.

Thousands of specialized syringes required for the Pfizer vaccine also were donated, with officials noting that the donations involved "significant legal and logistic complexity."

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which has provided more than $28 million US to help 14 Caribbean nations fight COVID-19, said it expects to announce additional funding soon, according to a White House official. 

The Caribbean region has reported more than 1.29 million cases and more than 16,000 deaths, with some 10.7 million people vaccinated so far, according to the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency.

A passenger at Piarco International Airport in Trinidad and Tobago checks in on July 17 for the first commercial flight to depart since borders were closed last year. Trinidad and Tobago is among several Caribbean islands struggling with COVID-19 cases. (Andrea De Silva/Reuters)

Among the hardest-hit Caribbean nations is Haiti, which on July 14 received its first vaccine shipment since the pandemic began — 500,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine donated by the U.S. via the United Nations' COVAX program for low-income countries.

A National Security Council spokesperson told media that the U.S. "will send a significant amount of additional doses to Haiti soon," but further details were not immediately available.

The U.S. announcement comes amid recent anti-vaccine protests in Guyana, Antigua and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, whose prime minister was briefly hospitalized last week after being hit in the head with a rock.

What's happening in Canada

WATCH | COVID vaccine passports can help protect kids, says respirologist:

Vaccine passports can help protect kids, says respirologist

1 year ago
Duration 3:42
Children are among the many vulnerable groups that can be protected by COVID-19 vaccine passports, especially in a school setting, says Dr. Samir Gupta, a respirologist in Toronto. (Jean-Claude Taliana/CBC/Radio-Canada)

What's happening around the world

A near-empty Sydney Opera House forecourt is seen in Sydney, Australia, on Wednesday. Greater Sydney is in lockdown through Aug. 28 to contain the highly contagious delta variant. (Brook Mitchell/Getty Images)

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 204.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to the coronavirus tracker maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.3 million.

The World Health Organization says it will soon test three drugs used for other diseases to see if they might help treat coronavirus patients.

In a statement Wednesday, the UN health agency says the drugs would be adopted into the next phase of its ongoing global research into identifying potential treatments for COVID-19. They include artesunate, a malaria drug, the cancer drug imatinib, and infliximab, currently used in people with diseases of the immune system.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia's second-biggest city Melbourne will stay locked down for a second week after Victoria state reported 20 new COVID-19 cases as it struggles to stamp out infections caused by the highly infectious delta variant.

In Sydney, which is in Week 7 of its own lockdown, New South Wales state Premier Gladys Berejiklian reported another 344 new infections in the past 24 hours. He told reporters the surge in cases is "expected to continue."

New Zealand's government is warning its citizens to be prepared for a strict lockdown at the first sign of an outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the government's response is likely to be "swift and severe." Hipkins said the problems that Sydney currently faces in trying to contact trace a growing outbreak showed the delta variant was extremely hard to manage and that New Zealand's tolerance for risk was now very low.

South Korea's daily increase in coronavirus infections has exceeded 2,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic, continuing an alarming spread despite the enforcement of strict virus restrictions in large population centres.

A medical worker takes a sample from a visitor at a coronavirus testing site in Seoul on Wednesday. South Korean officials reported 2,223 new cases in the last 24 hours, more than 1,400 of which are in the Seoul metropolitan region. (Im Hwa-young/Yonhap/The Associated Press)

Authorities in Myanmar currently have no plans to include minority Rohingya Muslims living in densely packed camps as they begin vaccinating priority groups in western Rakhine State, the junta-appointed local administrator said.

In the Middle East, Dubai International Airport, the world's busiest airport for international travel, handled some 40 per cent less passenger traffic in the first half of 2021, compared to the same period last year, its chief executive said Wednesday.

The decline came as more contagious coronavirus variants cut off the hub's biggest source markets and continued to clobber the global aviation industry. However, CEO Paul Griffiths remains optimistic for "a satisfactory end to the year" as authorities gradually re-open Dubai's key routes to the Indian subcontinent and Britain.

In Europe, France reported 30,920 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the first time daily new infections have been above 30,000 since April. Vaccination centres there have been hit by vandalism and daubed with Nazi-themed tags as the government steps up its vaccination drive.

The Spanish Medicines Agency has given the go-ahead for the first clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine developed in Spain.

The agency, which regulates the country's health products sector, said Wednesday it has approved the PHH-1V vaccine developed by Spanish company Hipra for testing on humans.

In the Americas, California will become the first U.S. state to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns about the highly contagious delta variant.

A teacher instructs her second graders at Carl B. Munck Elementary School, Aug. 11, 2021, in Oakland, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California will require its 320,000 teachers and school employees to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus or submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. (Santiago Mejia/San Francisco Chronicle via The Associated Press)

Mississippi will open a 50-bed field hospital and the federal government will send medical professionals to help treat patients as COVID-19 cases continue surging in a state with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S.

Cuba is bringing back hundreds of doctors working abroad and converting hotels into isolation centres and hospitals.

Chile has started giving booster shots of a COVID-19 vaccine to people over 55 years old who had already received two vaccine doses.

In Africa, Senegal has received more than a half-million COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX initiative, but demand is outstripping supply in the country of 16 million people, leaving many still waiting for their second doses.

During the first year of the pandemic, Senegal was frequently cited as a success story in Africa: After quickly closing the country's airport and land borders, President Macky Sall mandated masks and temporarily halted inter-regional travel. However, the delta variant has changed all that. Hospital beds, too, are in short supply, leaving COVID-19 patients to languish at home while they wait for a spot or until their condition further deteriorates.

With files from The Associated Press and CBC News

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