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

Ontario’s soon-to-be top doctor says he’s hopeful the COVID-19 pandemic will move to "an endemic state, where we can try to get back to normal,” this fall.

About 76% of Ontario adults have at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, 29% have both shots

Ontario's incoming chief medical officer of health, Dr. Kieran Moore, attends a news briefing at the legislature in Toronto on Thursday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

The latest:

Ontario's soon-to-be top doctor says he's hopeful the COVID-19 pandemic will move to "an endemic state, where we can try to get back to normal," this fall.

Dr. Kieran Moore said Thursday the government is planning to restore basic public health functions that were cast aside during the pandemic, while continuing to trace contacts of new cases of the virus, identify emerging variants and respond to outbreaks in schools, jails, long-term care homes and other congregate settings. 

"It's very important that all Canadians realize it's only 10 per cent of the globe that's going to have access to vaccines as we speak," said the province's incoming chief medical officer of health.

"We're so fortunate in Ontario and Canada to be leaders in being immunized. But 90 per cent of the globe is not immunized, and that's where the virus continues to circulate, where mutations will develop, and any returning traveller could bring the virus back into Canada at any given time."

Dr. David Williams, Ontario's outgoing chief medical officer of health, collects his bag following his last press briefing in Toronto on Thursday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Moore answered questions alongside Dr. David Williams, who will pass him the chief medical officer of health torch Saturday

The pair celebrated Ontario's vaccination rate while cautioning that people shouldn't let their guard down too quickly. More than 76 per cent of adults have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and about 29 per cent have both doses, they said.

Those rates are higher than the thresholds the government said Ontario would need to meet to move into Stage 3 of its reopening plan. But the province will start with Stage 2 on June 30, just two days earlier than planned.

"We'd rather be taking slow strides forward than trip going out the door," Williams said.

Ontario officials reported six deaths and 296 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.

-From CBC News, last updated at 7:25 p.m. ET


What's happening across Canada

WATCH | Cross-Canada push for vaccines: 

Eased COVID-19 restrictions across Canada drive push for vaccines

3 months ago
1:58
Manitoba has started easing another round of COVID-19 restrictions as Ontario plans to move to the next stage earlier than planned, but keeping case counts down across the country will depend on vaccination rates going up. 1:58

As of 8:25 p.m.Thursday, Canada had reported 1,411,652 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 9,349 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 26,192. More than 34 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country, according to CBC's vaccine tracker.

Nova Scotia reported five new cases Thursday, as New Brunswick reported two new cases, while no new cases were reported in Newfoundland and Labrador. P.E.I. did not report any cases as of late Thursday.

Nova Scotia's top doctor on Thursday also defended his decision to keep the border with New Brunswick closed, one that prompted protesters to blockade the main border crossing for almost 24 hours. Dr. Robert Strang said New Brunswick is taking a risk by opening to travellers from the rest of Canada, one that he isn't willing to take in Nova Scotia.

Protesters block the road during a demonstration on Highway 104 in Cumberland County, N.S., on Wednesday. (Riley Smith/The Canadian Press)

In Quebec, where a coroner's inquest into COVID-19 deaths in long-term care is ongoing, health officials reported 96 new cases Thursday and four more deaths, though they said none of the deaths happened in the previous 24 hours.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported two deaths and 106 new cases Thursday. 

Saskatchewan reported 52 new cases Thursday, as it opened second dose eligibility to anyone who got a first dose at least 28 days ago.

In Alberta, health officials reported 73 new cases and one additional death, as British Columbia reported 75 new COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths.

Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Nunavut or the Northwest Territories, as Yukon reported 18 new cases on Thursday.

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 9:05 p.m. ET


What's happening around the world

A health worker administers the Covishield vaccine to a woman during a special vaccination drive against COVID-19 at a vegetable market in Hyderabad, India, on Thursday. (Mahesh Kumar A./The Associated Press)

As of late afternoon Thursday, more than 179.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to data published on the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.8 million.

In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the continent is "on thin ice" in its battle against COVID-19, as EU leaders agreed that vaccinations should be sped up to fight the highly contagious delta variant.

Also Thursday, Britain added 17 countries and territories, including Malta, the Balearic Islands and Madeira, to its "green" list of safe travel destinations amid pressure from airlines and travel companies to relax restrictions. People traveling to those destinations will no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days upon return.

Disinfectant is sprayed inside a Moscow railway station on Thursday, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters)

Coronavirus infections continue to soar in Russia, with authorities reporting 20,182 new cases Thursday and 568 further deaths. Both tallies are the highest since late January.

Danish health officials are urging soccer fans who attended the Euro 2020 game between Denmark and Belgium in Copenhagen on June 17 to be tested after they found at least three people who afterward tested positive with the delta variant. 

In Africa, officials said Thursday that the continent was facing a devastating resurgence of COVID-19 infections whose peak will surpass that of earlier waves.

"The third wave is picking up speed, spreading faster, hitting harder," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.

The delta variant "may have played a very significant role" in the third wave in at least 20 countries across Africa, said the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong.

More and more health centres are saying they are overwhelmed, and African countries urgently need vaccines to help battle the disease, he said.

In the Middle East, Israel's government has postponed the planned reopening of the country to vaccinated tourists over concerns about the spread of the infectious delta variant of the coronavirus. Israel was set to reopen its borders to vaccinated visitors on July 1, after having largely closed the country during the pandemic. But after a rise in infections, the government will be pushing that date until Aug. 1. 

In the Americas, Mexico will donate over 400,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses on Thursday to the so-called Northern Triangle Central American nations of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the Mexican foreign ministry said.

Officials offered new promises Thursday that Haiti would soon receive its first vaccine doses, as the country of more than 11 million people reels from a spike in coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths that have saturated hospitals.

Cleaners wipe down a tram in Sydney, Australia, on Thursday. A steady increase in COVID-19 cases in Sydney prompted the government to impose greater restrictions including a mandatory mask mandate indoors and limits on gatherings and movement. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia's most-populous state, New South Wales, reported a double-digit rise in new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 for the third straight day as officials fight to contain an outbreak of the highly contagious delta variant.

Indonesia recorded its biggest daily increase in cases Thursday with 20,574 new infections.

-From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 9:05 p.m. ET

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

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