Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Thursday
Ontario postpones March Break, N.L. reports 100 new cases as election delayed for much of province
- Los Angeles temporarily closing 5 mass vaccination sites due to lack of supply.
- Fauci says herd immunity could be achieved in U.S. by late summer.
- Ontario postpones March Break to mid-April, as modelling warns of 3rd wave of pandemic if variants aren't controlled.
- N.L. reports 100 new cases, election delayed for nearly half the province.
- Pfizer to ramp up vaccine deliveries but questions remain about Trudeau's targets.
- What are the coronavirus variants and how should we respond to them? Your COVID-19 questions answered.
- Manitoba makes deal to buy Canadian-made COVID-19 vaccine that just started human clinical trials.
- Have a question about the coronavirus pandemic? Send your question to COVID@cbc.ca
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top U.S. medical advisor, predicted it would be "open season" for vaccinations in the United States by April, as a supply increase will allow most people to get shots to protect them against COVID-19.
The rate of vaccinations will greatly accelerate in the coming months, Fauci, U.S. President Joe Biden's top medical adviser on COVID-19, told NBC's Today Show. He credited forthcoming deliveries of the two approved vaccines, the potential approval of a third and moves taken by the Biden administration to increase the nation's delivery capacity.
"By the time we get to April," it will be "open season, namely virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated."
It will take "several more months" to logistically deliver injections to adult Americans, but he predicted herd immunity could be achieved by late summer.
Two-dose vaccines from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. have been authorized for emergency use in the U.S. Johnson & Johnson applied for a U.S. authorization of its single-dose shot last week.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had administered 46,390,270 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Thursday morning and delivered 68,285,575 doses.
L.A. closing 5 mass vaccination sites
In California, Los Angeles is temporarily closing five mass vaccination sites including Dodger Stadium for lack of supply as the state faces continuing criticism over the vaccine rollout.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city will exhaust its supply of Moderna first doses — two are required for full immunization — forcing it to close drive-through and walk-up vaccination sites Friday and Saturday.
They may not reopen until the city gets more supplies, perhaps next Tuesday or Wednesday. Smaller mobile vaccination clinics will continue operating.
Garcetti said Los Angeles uses about 13,000 doses in a typical day but received only 16,000 this week.
"This is not where I want to be," Garcetti said. "It's not where we deserve to be."
California has now recorded the most confirmed deaths of all U.S. states from the coronavirus with 45,496, edging past New York's toll of 45,312, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Other coronavirus numbers are improving in the state, however.
The seven-day test positivity rate has fallen to 4.8 per cent, and the most recent daily number of confirmed positive cases was 8,390, down from 53,000 in December.
- From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 5:30 p.m. ET
What's happening in Canada
WATCH | Trudeau promises boost to vaccine shipments in coming weeks:
As of 6:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had reported 817,164 cases of COVID-19 — with 37,744 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 21,088.
Ontario reported 945 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, though health officials noted that case counts from Toronto had been underreported due to an ongoing data migration. The province reported 18 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 6,614.
Ontario is reporting 945 cases of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19</a> and over 68,800 tests completed. Locally, there are 258 new cases in Peel, 116 in York Region and 112 in Toronto. <br> <br>As of 8:00 p.m. yesterday, 426,836 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.—@celliottability
Hospitalizations in Ontario stood at 883, with 299 people listed as being in the province's intensive care units.
The province announced in an afternoon briefing that it is delaying March Break until April 12. The school break had been scheduled for the week of March 15.
In Quebec, health officials reported 1,121 new cases of COVID-19 and 37 additional deaths on Thursday. Hospitalizations stood at 874, with 143 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, according to an update posted to a provincial site.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported 100 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, another record after it reported 53 new cases and 32 presumptive cases on Wednesday. The province was set to head to the polls on Saturday for a provincial election, but voters in 18 districts will face a delay amid concerns over COVID-19.
Officials announced new restrictions on Wednesday in a bid to get the spread of the virus under control, including a move to online learning for all schools in the St. John's area for two weeks, as well as the suspension of all group and team sports across the province.
WATCH | How variants impact COVID-19 in New Brunswick:
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick health officials reported two new cases of COVID-19 and one new death on Thursday as health experts took questions about COVID-19 variants. Nova Scotia also reported two new cases on Thursday.
There were no new cases reported in Prince Edward Island on Wednesday.
Manitoba on Thursday announced it had made a deal to buy two million doses of a Canadian-made vaccine, pending approval by Health Canada. The province reported 90 new cases and three new deaths.
WATCH | Manitoba buys made-in-Canada vaccine:
Saskatchewan reported 114 new cases on Thursday, bringing its seven-day average to 182, its lowest level since Jan. 3. It also reported no new deaths, the first time that has happened since Jan. 14.
Alberta reported 351 new cases and 16 additional deaths on Thursday. While case numbers have declined recently, more contagious variants of the coronavirus continue to spread in the province. As of Thursday, there are now 149 cases of the variant first identified in the U.K. and seven of the variant first identified in South Africa.
The 36 new variant cases was the largest 24-hour increase the province has seen, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health.
Meanwhile, British Columbia reported 449 new cases and nine more deaths. Also Thursday, Northern Health declared an outbreak at the Brucejack Gold Mine, located 65 kilometres north of Stewart, B.C., with a total of 14 cases detected.
Across the North, Nunavut reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, while Yukon reported no new cases. No new cases were reported in the Northwest Territories on Wednesday.
Here's a look at what else is happening across the country:
- Raptors to keep calling Tampa home for rest of season due to pandemic
- Quebec promises more screening for coronavirus variants, some experts say it isn't enough
- Sask. Medical Association says province should prioritize health-care workers for vaccines
- St. Stephen's 1st confirmed COVID case at high school puts N.B. border town on edge, says mayor
- Some 2nd COVID-19 vaccines will need to be rescheduled, say N.W.T. officials
- Close to a third of Alberta's active COVID-19 cases have no identified source
- From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:30 p.m. ET
WATCH | Yukon enjoys COVID-free moment:
What's happening around the world
As of Thursday afternoon, more than 107.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 60.1 million of those cases listed as recovered or resolved in a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.3 million.
In the Americas, Argentina surpassed two million COVID-19 infections on Wednesday, health officials said, as the country scrambles to ramp up a vaccination program ahead of the fast-approaching southern hemisphere autumn.
In Mexico, enough active ingredient to produce two million doses of the CanSino COVID-19 vaccine arrived early Thursday, the first new vaccine to arrive in weeks.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard thanked the Chinese government and CanSino for the rapid shipment just one day after Mexican regulators approved its emergency use. The vaccine will be bottled and distributed from a facility in the central state of Queretaro.
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director said African countries that have not found cases of the coronavirus variant dominant in South Africa should go ahead and use the AstraZeneca vaccine.
John Nkengasong spoke to reporters a day after South Africa announced major changes to its vaccination rollout plan, citing a small study that suggested it was poor at preventing mild to moderate disease caused by the variant.
Nkengasong said just seven countries on the 54-nation African continent have reported the variant and none besides South Africa is being "overwhelmed" by the variant. None has expressed concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine except for South Africa. Africa has had more than 96,000 confirmed deaths.
Pfizer, meanwhile, said it could deliver its vaccine, which requires ultra-cold temperatures for storage and distribution, directly to points of vaccination in South Africa.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Thailand announced plans to inoculate 1 million of its most vulnerable people by May and start mass vaccinations in June, with the aim of administering 10 million doses a month.
The Philippines is set to receive 600,000 doses this month of Sinovac Biotech's vaccine donated by China, a portion of which will be used to inoculate military personnel, a senior government official said.
South Korea has reported 504 new coronavirus cases for the latest 24-hour period. It is the highest daily jump in about two weeks and raising worries about a potential surge as the country begins the Lunar New Year's holidays.
Health officials said Thursday the newly reported cases took the country's total for the pandemic to 82,434, with 1,496 deaths related to COVID-19. In recent weeks, South Korea's caseload has displayed a gradual downward trajectory largely thanks to stringent distancing rules such as a ban on social gatherings of five or more people.
Officials have urged the public to maintain vigilance and stay at home during the four-day Lunar New Year's holidays that began Thursday. Millions of people were expected to travel across the country to visit hometowns and return home during the holidays.
WATCH | Suppression important to stop mutations, says WHO Europe director:
In the Middle East, Turkey has started administering the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac company to health-care workers across the country. Also Thursday, people above 70 qualified to receive their first dose of the vaccine as Turkey expanded its vaccination campaign.
Israel began reopening its education system on Thursday after a more than six-week closure due to the country's worrying surge in coronavirus infections. Kindergartens and Grades 1 to 4 opened in cities with low infection rates, with around one-fifth of the country's pupils returning to classrooms. Middle schools and high schools remained closed.
In Europe, the World Health Organization's chief for Europe said it's launching with the European Union a $61.6 million Cdn program to help deploy COVID-19 vaccines in six countries that were once Soviet republics. Those countries are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.
Dr. Hans Kluge, who also highlighted a drop in coronavirus cases in recent weeks while warning case counts remain too high, said the program complements work through an existing EU program and the WHO-backed COVAX Facility that aims to deploy vaccines for people in all countries in need whether rich or poor.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country didn't act quickly enough last fall to prevent a second surge in coronavirus infections.
"We didn't shut down public life early enough or systematically enough amid signs of a second wave and warnings from various scientists," she told lawmakers Thursday.
Merkel and the governors of Germany's 16 states agreed late Wednesday to extend the current lockdown, which was due to expire Sunday, until at least March 7. Schools and hairdressers will be able to open earlier, albeit with strict hygiene measures.
The lower house of the Czech parliament has rejected a requested extension of a state of emergency, posing a serious obstacle for the government's pandemic response in the hard-hit country. The opposition says the current lockdown isn't working and accuses the minority government of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of not doing enough for those hurt by the restrictions.
As a result, the state of emergency will end this week. Bars, restaurants and cafés can reopen Monday, and a nighttime curfew and ban on more than two people gathering in public will be cancelled. The government can use other legislation to reimpose some but not all measures.
- From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 5:30 p.m. ET
With files from Reuters, CBC News and The Canadian Press