Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Thursday
Ontario, Alberta want more people to get vaccinated sooner
- New Ontario modelling suggests delta variant will become dominant form of virus this summer.
- Ontario speeds up 2nd vaccine doses, but only for some residents.
- Movies, bowling, indoor dining back on the menu as Alberta moves to Stage 2 reopening.
- Manitoba announces plans for reopening.
- U.S. legislation seeks to up pressure for Canadian border reopening.
- U.S. pledge of 500M doses 'a small piece of the puzzle' in global vaccination race, expert says.
- Canada still lacks national guidance for fully vaccinated Canadians as travel restrictions ease.
- Have a question about the pandemic? You can send your questions to COVID@cbc.ca.
Ontario and Alberta both moved Thursday to speed up second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, as the more delta variant continues to gain ground.
New modelling suggests Ontario COVID-19 cases, positivity rates and hospitalizations have all dropped sharply in recent months. But it also suggests the delta variant is more transmissible, may be more dangerous and will likely be the dominant form of the virus this summer, with experts saying it is critical to control the spread of the variant.
The province is speeding up its delivery of second COVID-19 vaccine doses for residents of hot spots where the delta variant is spreading. But the acceleration only applies to people who received an mRNA vaccine and does not apply to people who got AstraZenenca-Oxford as their first dose.
WATCH | Health minister defends decision on 2nd doses:
Pediatric infectious diseases specialist Dr. Anna Banerji says the government is making the wrong decision with the AstraZeneca dosage interval, given the risk of exposure right now to the delta variant.
"We need to shorten that period and get people their second dose of AstraZeneca as soon as possible," she said. "There's no reason to wait 12 weeks for the AstraZeneca vaccine."
WATCH | Doctor rejects Ontario's decision on AstraZeneca:
The province reported 590 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths on Thursday. Hospitalizations stood at 516, the province reported, with 450 people in ICU due to COVID-19.
Meantime, Alberta moved to Phase 2 of reopening on Thursday and Premier Jason Kenney announced the acceleration of second doses of vaccines and a final push to get more first doses into arms. Alberta Health Services is also looking into partnering with schools or after-school programs in order to get more young people vaccinated, and even a potential incentive lottery.
- INTERACTVE | Where is the coronavirus pandemic getting better or worse?
- Track how many people have been given the COVID-19 vaccine across Canada and around the world
Anyone in Alberta who had AstraZeneca vaccine as a first dose is advised to wait at least eight weeks between doses, but does not need to wait 12. Individuals can also choose between having a second dose of AstraZeneca or one of the mRNA vaccines.
Alberta reported 178 new COVID-19 cases Thursday and six new deaths, its lowest active case count of COVID-19 since October, with a test positivity rate of 3.3 per cent.
-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 7 p.m. ET
What's happening across Canada
WATCH | New data on vaccinated people testing positive:
As of 8:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had reported 1,398,278 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 19,257 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 25,873. More than 27.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered so far across the country, according to CBC's vaccine tracker.
Manitoba on Thursday unveiled its reopening plan that will see the province loosen public health restrictions as more people get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The government's plan focuses on four reopening categories: gatherings, travel, shopping and dining.
The first immunization target is to have over 70 per cent of Manitobans 12 and older with a first dose and over 25 per cent with a second dose by Canada Day. If that happens, the province says it will loosen some capacity restrictions on businesses and other facilities.
WATCH | Pallister talks about reopening:
There is no information in the plan about how or whether pandemic indicators, such as test positivity rates, case counts, ICU admissions or hospital capacity factor into the reopenings. Manitoba struggled with high ICU admissions during its third wave, leading it to send some patients out of province for treatment.
Manitoba's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brent Roussin was asked what happens if Manitobans meet the targets for vaccinations, but ICUs are still overwhelmed and test positivity rates are still high.
"Public health is looking at all the indicators. We really set these vaccine targets with the idea that knowing … if we start reaching these levels, we're not going to expect to see high test positivity or high demands in our ICUs," he said.
"Our ICUs are not filling with vaccinated Manitobans."
The province reported 251 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and six new deaths. The five-day test positivity rate is 11.1 per cent provincially.
Across the North on Thursday, Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq reported one new case, bringing the number of active cases in Iqaluit to two. Health officials in Northwest Territories reported no new cases, while Yukon had three new cases.
- Ontario-Quebec border reopening still up in the air
- 2 patients die in cancer ward at Sherbrooke hospital following COVID-19 outbreak
- Porcupine health district to stay in lockdown while rest of Ontario enjoys patios, shopping
In Quebec, meanwhile, health officials reported 189 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and two additional deaths.
In Atlantic Canada on Thursday, Newfoundland and Labrador reported five new cases of COVID-19 while New Brunswick reported three new cases.
Health officials in Nova Scotia reported 15 new cases and no additional deaths.
Prince Edward Island had no new cases.
Saskatchewan reported one additional death on Thursday and 77 new cases of COVID-19. The province is changing its rules around rapid antigen tests, and will now allow businesses and the public to purchase and administer them to test for COVID-19 in asymptomatic people.
In British Columbia, health officials on Thursday reported four deaths and 153 new cases of COVID-19. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says B.C. is in a good position to go ahead with Phase 2 reopening next Tuesday. That will see movie theatres reopened and indoor, organized gathering levels increased to 50.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:30 p.m. ET
What's happening around the world
As of early Friday morning, Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 tracking tool was showing a total of more than 174.7 million reported cases worldwide since the pandemic began. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.7 million.
India on Friday reported 91,702 new COVID-19 infections over the past 24 hours, and 3,403 daily deaths from the coronavirus. The South Asian country's total COVID-19 case load now stands at 29.3 million, while total fatalities are at 363,079, according to data from the health ministry.
The Japanese government is considering ending a state of emergency in Tokyo and several other prefectures as scheduled on June 20, but keeping some curbs such as on restaurant hours until the Olympics start in July, local media reported. New coronavirus infections in Olympics host Tokyo have inched down during the last month of emergency restrictions although authorities remain concerned about the spread of variants and the continued strain on medical resources.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says nations of the world must set aside the "beggar my neighbour" attitude that led to squabbling over medicine, protective gear and badly needed COVID-19 vaccines.
Johnson said Thursday that Group of Seven leaders meeting this weekend in England will commit to vaccinating the world by the end of 2022.
WATCH | Vaccine inequity is real — and poses a real threat, experts say:
The British leader wrote in The Times of London that it was time for wealthy countries to "shoulder their responsibilities and to vaccinate the world, because no one can be properly protected until everyone has been protected."
But he faces criticism because the U.K. has yet to send any doses abroad and has cut its international aid budget, citing the economic blow of the pandemic.
U.S. President Joe Biden is announcing Thursday that the U.S. will buy hundreds of millions more doses of the Pfizer vaccine to share with poorer countries over the next year.
The U.S. is now set to be COVAX's largest vaccine donor in addition to its single largest funder with a $4 billion US commitment. The global alliance has thus far distributed just 81 million doses, and parts of the world, particularly in Africa, remain vaccine deserts.
In Africa, about 90 per cent of African countries will miss a September target to vaccinate at least 10 per cent of their populations, a WHO official said.
Tanzania's finance minister said it has begun talks with the International Monetary Fund over a COVID-19 relief loan.
In Europe, Spain's health ministry on Wednesday scrapped a nationwide plan to gradually reopen nightlife just a week after introducing it, following widespread complaints from regional authorities who dismissed it as either too strict or too loose.
Germany is sticking to its opposition to easing patent protection on COVID-19 vaccines as it goes into the Group of Seven summit.
In the Middle East, starting June 15, Abu Dhabi will restrict access to shopping malls, restaurants, cafes and other public places to those who have been vaccinated or who have recently tested negative.
The new rules were announced as the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven emirates, has seen daily cases rise over the past three weeks. The UAE, which does not give a breakdown for each emirate, recorded 2,179 new infections on Wednesday, up from 1,229 on May 17.
If the spread of COVID-19 continues at current rates it will be years before the virus is controlled in the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization said, as it called for countries to share excess vaccine doses.
Brazil's health regulator Anvisa authorized Phase 1 and 2 clinical tests to be carried out on volunteers for the domestically developed Butanvac vaccine.
Moderna Inc. said on Thursday it has filed for U.S. authorization to use its COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents aged 12 to 18, to help expand the inoculation drive in the country.
Moderna's vaccine is already being used in the U.S., the European Union and Canada for anyone over 18. The drugmaker has already submitted applications to European and Canadian health regulators seeking authorization for the vaccine's use in adolescents.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 1:28 a.m. ET
With files from CBC News, The Canadian Press and Reuters