Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday
Nova Scotia's reopening plan to begin next Wednesday; Canada is 'over the peak' of 3rd wave, Tam says
- Canada is 'well and truly over the peak of the third wave,' Tam says.
- Ontario speeding up 2nd dose eligibility for vaccines.
- Researchers claim mystery of rare blood clots tied to vaccines solved, but experts urge caution.
- Alberta hits 60% vaccination target, eyes June 10 move to Stage 2 reopening.
- Your guide to reopenings: What you can do — and when — in each province.
- Japan extends state of emergency with safe Olympics at stake.
- Why the Wuhan lab-leak origin theory of the coronavirus is being taken more seriously.
- British PM Boris Johnson says he doesn't believe COVID-19 escaped from a lab.
- Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email: COVID@cbc.ca.
Nova Scotia's gradual COVID-19 reopening plan is set to begin on June 2 at 8 a.m. AT, with expanded outdoor gatherings and the reopening of restaurants and certain businesses with limitations, officials announced Friday.
In-person learning will also resume in schools across the province next Wednesday — except at most schools in Halifax Regional Municipality and Sydney, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said.
"It needs to be a steady and cautious journey," Strang said.
Travel will no longer be restricted within most of the province as part of Phase 1, but people are still being asked to avoid non-essential travel in and out of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and parts of the Halifax Regional Municipality — the two areas in the province with confirmed community spread.
Premier Iain Rankin said each phase of the plan will last approximately two to four weeks and is based on "data, not dates."
READ | Nova Scotia's phased COVID-19 reopening plan:
Strang suggested that life in Nova Scotia could return to normal — a new normal — as early as September, but only if 75 per cent of Nova Scotians have had two doses of vaccine and there are no outbreaks.
"Then it will be about living with COVID-19 and, hopefully, very limited restrictions and voluntary public health measures, such as masking," he said.
Nova Scotia reported 40 new COVID-19 cases and one related death on Friday.
Rankin and Strang unveiled the plan a day after Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick presented multi-step plans to lift COVID-19 restrictions.
New Brunswick, which reported nine new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, is moving forward with a three-step reopening plan set to begin June 7 — if the province meets its targets around vaccination rates and case numbers.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, said Thursday that the pandemic isn't over, but said the reopening plan does offer hope.
"This is about giving everyone the strength to stay on course for a few more weeks," she said.
Prince Edward Island, which reported two new cases on Friday, is proceeding with a five-step plan, which is tentatively set to begin on June 6. As with New Brunswick, the plan requires certain thresholds to be met around vaccination and case rates before proceeding to the next stage.
"Today is about being thankful for what we've been able to achieve together," Dr. Heather Morrison, the province's chief public health officer, said Thursday. "P.E.I. has the lowest rate of COVID-19 cases in Canada. We have been fortunate, but we've also worked very hard."
Newfoundland and Labrador, meanwhile, reported 14 new cases on Friday.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET
What's happening across Canada
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As of 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 1,374,275 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 39,903 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 25,440. More than 22.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country, according to CBC's vaccine tracker.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said at a briefing on Friday that people's efforts "have got us well and truly over the peak of the third wave nationally."
Canada has seen "strong and steady" declines in disease trends, Tam said, with average case counts at less than half of what they were at the peak of the third wave in mid-April.
Ontario on Friday reported 1,273 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 1,023, with 645 people in ICU due to COVID-related illness, according to the provincial health ministry.
WATCH | Ontario moves up 2nd doses amid steady vaccine supply:
In Quebec, health officials reported 419 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths on Friday as a range of restrictions — including the provincewide curfew — were being lifted
Manitoba on Friday reported 497 new COVID-19 cases and no related deaths. Dr. Jazz Atwal, the province's deputy chief public health officer, pledged help for anyone who needs it in order to isolate and urged people to get tested as soon as possible if they are showing any coronavirus-related symptoms.
Specially equipped <a href="https://twitter.com/RCAF_ARC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@RCAF_ARC</a> Hercules has arrived in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Winnipeg?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Winnipeg</a> to help airlift critical care patients to other provinces to make room in ICUs strained by <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19</a> <br><br>That's a special isolated pod inside capable of carrying 2 patients and medical staff <br><br>Courtesy <a href="https://twitter.com/CanadianForces?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CanadianForces</a> <a href="https://t.co/RAxgQriOw4">pic.twitter.com/RAxgQriOw4</a>—@CamMacIntoshCBC
"We have a lot of resources there to address any issues you have. You need food? We're going to find a way to get you food," Atwal said at a news conference.
"You need someone to help you out with your kids or your extended family in your home? We're going to help you out. If it's easier getting you out of that house, we're going to help you out."
WATCH | Winnipeg mayor wants $100,000 fines for rule-breaking event organizers:
Saskatchewan reported 122 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and two related deaths.
Alberta reported 512 new COVID-19 cases and seven related deaths. The province, meanwhile, could move to Stage 2 of its reopening plan as early as June 10 after it was announced Friday that more than 60 per cent of eligible Albertans had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The provincial government also announced it is providing up to $45 million to help young students whose learning may have been set back by the COVID-19 pandemic. The money will be available for the upcoming fall school year for up to 50,000 students in Grades 1 to 3.
British Columbia health officials reported 317 new cases of COVID-19 and two related deaths on Friday.
Nunavut reported one new case of COVID-19 on Friday, according to Premier Joe Savikataaq.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET
What's happening around the world
As of Friday evening, more than 169.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a database from Johns Hopkins University in the United States. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.5 million.
Member countries of the World Health Organization have approved an "ambitious increase" in the budget for the UN health agency at a meeting, with some noting that WHO's chronic underfunding cripples its ability to protect global health. Delegates at the World Health Assembly on Thursday approved a 16 per cent increase to WHO's proposed budget for the next two years, setting it at about $6.1 billion US.
More than 90 per cent of the WHO's funding is tied to specific health issues, and the agency often struggles to respond to urgent crises. A commissioned review of the WHO in the wake of its global handling of the COVID-19 pandemic suggested the agency could have acted faster and more aggressively to stem the spread of the coronavirus, but also said it lacked power and money.
In the Americas, United States Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the government is taking "a very close look" at the possibility of vaccine passports for travel into and out of the U.S.
WATCH | Lotteries, free tickets offered as vaccine incentives in U.S.:
In the Asia-Pacific region, Malaysia's prime minister said a total coronavirus lockdown will be imposed in the country, with all business and economic activities to be halted for two weeks to contain a worsening outbreak.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the decision to implement the lockdown starting June 1 came after new infections on Friday breached 8,000 for the first time, sparking fears the disease could spiral out of control.
The health ministry also reported another 61 deaths on Friday, pushing the tally to 2,552 — nearly 40 per cent recorded this month alone. Malaysia's total cases and deaths have jumped nearly five-fold compared to all of last year.
In Europe, the European Medicines Agency has recommended that the use of the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech be expanded to children ages 12 to 15.
The recommendation on Friday follows similar decisions by regulators in Canada and the U.S., as rich countries slowly approach their vaccination targets for adults and look to immunize as many people as possible.
In Africa, South Africa is racing to vaccinate as many people as possible amid signs the virus may be surging again with the approach of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, when people spend more time indoors, typically allowing for more spread of disease.
Since January, South Africa has vaccinated nearly 500,000 of its 1.2 million health-care workers and now is adding its older citizens to the campaign.
In the Middle East, the first group of foreign tourists in more than a year touched down in Israel on Thursday after the government began opening its borders.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET
With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters