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

Canada is getting millions of doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine ahead of schedule, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday, in a boost to the country's inoculation campaign as some provinces prepare for a wider reopening.

Canada to get millions of Moderna doses early; Alberta set to lift almost all restrictions by July

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The latest:

Canada is getting millions of doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine ahead of schedule, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday, in a boost to the country's inoculation campaign as some provinces prepare for a wider reopening.

Speaking from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Trudeau said millions of doses will arrive this month that were supposed to show up over the summer.

The country is expected to top vaccine delivery targets again this quarter, according to the prime minister. By the end of June, more than 50 million vaccine doses will have arrived in total, and by the end of July, the total will reach 68 million doses.

Trudeau also said more help is on the way for Kashechewan First Nation, which is currently dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.

Olympic medallist Clara Hughes receives a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine at the Stoney Nakoda First Nation health services centre in Morley, Alta., on Thursday. Stoney Health Services enlisted the help of Hughes and fellow Olympian Beckie Scott to help encourage residents to get the shot. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Canadian Rangers, nurses and paramedics have already been sent to the First Nation in northern Ontario, where roughly 200 people are infected with COVID-19. Officials have said more than half of those infected are under the age of 12.

"Alongside the community, they've worked very hard to keep people safe, but even so, cases remain far too high," Trudeau said. "That's why we're approving additional support from the Canadian Armed Forces for Kashechewan First Nation."

The army will remain there "until at least the end of the month," Trudeau said.

Meanwhile in Alberta, almost all COVID-19 public health restrictions will be lifted on Canada Day, Premier Jason Kenney announced Friday, as the province prepares to enter the final stage of its COVID-19 reopening plan.

The vaccine threshold required for the final stage of the province's three-step reopening plan was met on Thursday, when more than 70 per cent of eligible Albertans had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

"We finally have the upper hand on this virus and can safely open up our province," Kenney said. "This is amazing progress and this is a testament to the vaccines ... and the efforts of millions of Albertans."

The province reported 124 new cases and three related deaths on Friday.

- From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 5:50 p.m. ET

What's happening across Canada

As of 6:20 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 1,407,269 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 12,797 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 26,023. More than 31.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country, according to CBC's vaccine tracker.

Ontario on Friday passed a key vaccination benchmark for reopening as it recorded 345 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death.

The province reported that 210,638 shots were administered on Thursday, the most-ever on a single day. More than 20 per cent of adults have now had two shots — one of the primary criteria laid out by the province for advancing into the next phase of reopening.

Premier Doug Ford, meanwhile, is bringing back a minister who resigned last year after violating pandemic travel guidelines.

Rod Phillips, who left his role as finance minister after travelling to St. Barts for a Caribbean vacation in December, is back in cabinet as the new minister of long-term care. Phillips will replace Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, who will become minister of children, community and social services.

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In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported 11 new cases on Friday, while New Brunswick reported three new cases and Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases. Prince Edward Island had yet to provide updated figures.

In the North, Nunavut is reporting no new cases on Friday. Yukon and the Northwest Territories had yet to provide updated figures.

Quebec on Friday reported 127 new cases and two new deaths.

Manitoba on Friday reported 189 new COVID-19 cases and four related deaths, as some doctors in the province urged Premier Brian Pallister's government to back off plans to reopen the economy on July 1 until COVID-19 numbers drop much further.

A group of 11 physicians wrote to the Progressive Conservative government to say the province is not taking into account the delta variant. Dr. Dan Roberts, who specializes in critical care, said it is "completely irrational" to ease restrictions with the province's current daily case counts and test positivity rates.

Saskatchewan reported 98 new cases and one related death on Friday. The province is set to move to Step 2 of its reopening strategy on Sunday, which means retail and personal care service businesses will no longer have capacity thresholds, though staff and customers must remain two metres apart.

British Columbia reported 109 new cases and one related death on Friday.

- From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:20 p.m. ET

What's happening around the world

As of Friday evening, a database of COVID-19 cases showed more than 177.5 million cases reported worldwide. The Johns Hopkins University tracker put the reported global death toll at more than 3.8 million.

In the Americas, U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris urged Americans to get COVID-19 shots on Friday, as the country looks likely to miss the White House's goals for vaccination next month.

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"Act now, act now," Biden said in remarks at the White House, urging the unvaccinated to talk to their family and friends who have had shots.

Deaths and hospitalizations are going "drastically down in places where people are getting vaccinated," but not other areas, Biden said. "They're actually going up in some places."

At the current pace, the U.S. seems unlikely to hit Biden's goal of 70 per cent of adults receiving at least one dose of a vaccine by July 4, the Independence Day holiday. As of Friday, around 65.1 per cent had gotten at least one shot, and that mark has increased by less than one percentage point over the past two weeks.

That pace would have to more than double over the next two weeks for the U.S. to hit the target.

Top World Health Organization officials warned Friday about rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Africa, saying a "huge number" of countries have been forced to suspend second doses of coronavirus vaccines because of short supplies.

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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cited a 52 per cent rise in coronavirus cases and a 32 per cent rise in deaths in Africa related to the pandemic in the last week, "and we expect things only to get worse."

A growing number of wealthy countries have pledged to share billions of doses, but WHO officials say time is of the essence.

In the Asia-Pacific region, more than 350 doctors and medical workers have caught COVID-19 in Indonesia despite being vaccinated with Sinovac and dozens have been hospitalized, officials said, as concerns grow about the efficacy of some vaccines against more infectious variants such as the delta variant first discovered in India.

Most of the workers were asymptomatic and self-isolating at home, said Badai Ismoyo, head of the health office in the district of Kudus in central Java, but dozens were in hospital with high fevers and falling oxygen-saturation levels.

In India, doctors protested outside hospitals on Friday as the Indian Medical Association decried incidents of assault against health professionals and called for ramping up of health infrastructure.

The protests come about a month after a doctor was attacked by relatives of a coronavirus patient who died in northeastern Assam state.

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In the Middle East, the Palestinian Authority called off an agreement whereby Israel would transfer one million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to it in exchange for a similar number later this year, hours after the deal was announced on Friday.

The Palestinians said the doses, which Israel began shipping to the occupied West Bank, are too close to expiring and do not meet their standards. In announcing the agreement, Israel had said the vaccines "will expire soon" without specifying the date.

There was no immediate comment from Israel, which had largely shut down for the weekly Sabbath.

In Europe, confirmed COVID-19 cases in Moscow hit a daily record Friday with 9,056 new cases reported, increasing nearly 30 per cent from the day before. In all of Russia, 17,262 new infections were registered Friday, the highest daily tally since early February.

Germany's health minister says the country has given a first coronavirus vaccine shot to more than half of the population. But authorities are urging people to remain cautious because of the prospect of the more contagious delta variant spreading.

- From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 5:50 p.m. ET

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

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