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

Supporters of a Calgary mayoral candidate who is in custody on charges of violating public health orders and threatening Alberta Health Services staff accosted Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro and his family at a Canada Day event in Calgary Thursday. 

Alberta health minister, family accosted at Canada Day event by supporters of controversial mayoral candidate

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro comforts his family after protesters cornered them at a Canada Day event in Calgary Thursday. (Helen Pike/CBC)

The latest:

Supporters of a Calgary mayoral candidate who is in custody on charges of violating public health orders and threatening Alberta Health Services staff accosted Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro and his family at a Canada Day event in the city on Thursday. 

The protesters, carrying posters supporting Kevin J. Johnston, yelled "arrest Shandro" and followed the minister, his two sons and his wife as they tried to enter the event.

One protester told Shandro's son, "Sorry buddy, but your father is a war criminal."

Eventually, the family was forced to lift their upset children over a chain link fence into the field where the event was taking place. Shandro and his visibly shaken wife then tried to walk away from the protesters before being forced back through the crowd to enter the event. 

Johnston is facing criminal charges in three provinces: an assault charge in British Columbia, hate crime charges in Ontario and, most recently, a charge of causing a disturbance in Alberta.

Shandro spoke briefly to reporters after the incident.

"I think it's an unfortunate way for people to be expressing their opinions today. This is a day for happiness and celebration, a day for family, so it's an unfortunate way for them to be expressing that," he said.

The incident comes as Alberta lifted almost all COVID-19 restrictions Thursday in the third and final stage of its reopening plan.

Shandro and Premier Jason Kenney unveil a sign promoting the province's Open for Summer plan, in Edmonton, on June 18. Alberta lifted almost all COVID-19 restrictions Thursday in the third and final stage of its reopening plan. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Two weeks ago, the province hit its threshold for reopening — 70 per cent of the eligible population receiving first vaccine doses. That number is now up to almost 72 per cent, while more than 38 per cent have received the recommended two shots.

Large events like the Calgary Stampede have the green light to go ahead, and there are no more caps on indoor or outdoor gatherings in restaurants, stores and places of worship.

Edmonton's mask rule lifts Thursday, in lockstep with the repeal of the provincial mandate, but Calgary's will continue until July 5.

Masks will still be required while on public transit, in taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber, as well as in continuing care and acute care facilities. While shoppers in the capital don't have to wear masks, many store managers have said staff will keep them on for now. 

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Premier Jason Kenney's office released a statement Thursday reminding Albertans that confirmed cases of COVID-19 are still required to isolate for 10 days, as well as close contacts of those cases.

Alberta reported two additional deaths and 76 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday.


What's happening across Canada

As of 4:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had reported 1,415,403 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 7,067 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 26,299. More than 37.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country, according to CBC's vaccine tracker.

Many provinces did not report numbers Thursday due to the holiday.

British Columbia has entered the next phase of its reopening plan due to a growing COVID-19 vaccination rate and a dramatic drop in cases, lifting the state of emergency in place since March 2020.

Starting Thursday, residents can dine indoors and outdoors with no limit on numbers, and attend fairs and festivals with a communicable disease plan. The province is also allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 5,000 people.

Masks will no longer be mandatory before further restrictions are removed in September, though Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has encouraged people to continue wearing them indoors.

Ian Tostenson, president of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said those still in the industry are worried about a "significant" labour shortage, resulting in restaurants potentially having to reduce hours or shorten menus.

About 30 per cent of restaurants in B.C. closed their doors in the last 16 months, he said. The industry employed about 190,000 people before the pandemic began, but he said "straw polls" showed about 40,000 left.

British Columbia reported 44 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths on Wednesday.

Newfoundland and Labrador on Thursday reopened to non-essential travellers from outside Atlantic Canada who fill in an entry form.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says the form is available online and must be filled out by anyone coming to the province within three days before their travel. Anyone who is partially vaccinated must upload a negative pre-arrival COVID-19 test. 

The province reported one new case of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

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New Brunswick reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday after three new cases were confirmed the previous day.

Nova Scotia reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.

P.E.I. did not report any new cases on Thursday.

In Manitoba, health officials reported 70 new cases on Wednesday and two additional deaths.

Saskatchewan reported 31 new cases on Wednesday.

Ontario on Wednesday reported 14 additional deaths and 184 new cases of COVID-19

In Quebec on Wednesday, health officials reported 126 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths. Quebec public health refused a request by the Montreal Canadiens to allow more fans at the Bell Centre for the Stanley Cup final Friday, but increased the number of people who can attend outdoor events to 5,000.

Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Nunavut or the Northwest Territories on Wednesday. Health officials in Yukon updated their Wednesday count overnight and said the territory had 15 new cases.


What's happening around the world

As of early evening Thursday ET, more than 182.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to data published by Johns Hopkins University in the United States. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.9 million.

As Europe's summer vacation season hit its stride Thursday with a new EU-wide travel pass in place, the bloc's medical office issued reassuring messages on travelling, despite the threat of the surging delta variant, which is considered more contagious.

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The digital COVID-19 travel certificate officially came into effect Thursday, though many member states had started introducing it over the past month, seeking to boost their summer season by making movement as seamless as possible. 

Dr. Marco Cavaleri, head of vaccines strategy for the European Medicines Agency, said Thursday that the four approved vaccines in the EU are all "protective against all strains that are circulating in Europe, including the delta variant."

In Russia, health authorities on Thursday launched booster coronavirus vaccinations for people immunized more than six months ago, as the country faces a surge of new infections and deaths.

Health authorities in Moscow and other regions on Thursday started offering booster shots of the domestically produced, two-shot Sputnik V vaccine and its one-shot Sputnik Light version. 

Vaccine promises for Africa fail

In Africa, the African Union special envoy tasked with leading efforts to procure COVID-19 vaccines for the continent is blasting Europe as Africa struggles amid a crushing third wave of infections.

Strive Masiyiwa on Thursday said that "not one dose, not one vial, has left a European factory for Africa."

Masiyiwa also took aim at the global COVAX effort to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries, accusing COVAX of withholding crucial information including that key donors had not met funding pledges. He did not name the donors.

The African continent of 1.3 billion people is now in the grip of a third wave of infections the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls "extremely aggressive."

Masiyiwa said COVAX had promised to deliver 700 million vaccine doses to Africa by December. But at mid-year, Africa has received just 65 million doses overall. Less than 50 million doses have arrived via COVAX.

Hotel drivers wait for passengers at the airport in Phuket on July 1 as the Thai resort island lifts quarantine rules for overseas tourists who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. (Jorge Silva/Reuters)

In the Asia-Pacific region, hundreds of vaccinated foreign tourists arrived on Thailand's resort island of Phuket on Thursday, the first visitors under a pilot program designed to revive a tourism industry devastated by the pandemic.

Under the "Phuket sandbox" plan, foreign tourists fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will not have to spend any time in quarantine and can move around the island freely.

With files from The Canadian Press, Reuters and The Associated Press

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