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

More provinces and territories on Friday moved ahead with COVID-19 booster shots, with Nova Scotia expanding eligibility to select groups of people by the end of the month and Nunavut now offering them to everyone 12 and older.

Nova Scotia and Nunavut move ahead on booster shots; Ontario expands eligibility to more groups tomorrow

A nurse fills up a syringe with a COVID-19 vaccine.
A nurses fills up syringes for patients as they receive COVID-19 booster shots at a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination clinic in Southfield, Mich., in September. More Canadian provinces and territories have widened eligibility for booster shots. (Emily Elconin/Reuters)

The latest:

More provinces and territories on Friday moved ahead with COVID-19 booster shots, with Nova Scotia expanding eligibility to select groups of people by the end of the month and Nunavut now offering them to everyone 12 and older.

This comes after Canada's vaccine advisory committee released new guidelines last week strongly recommending boosters for those over 80 and leaving the door open to others at risk of lowered vaccine protection. However, a handful of provinces and territories had already laid out their own plans for booster shots.

Nova Scotia, which has already begun offering booster doses to people who are immunocompromised and those living in long-term care, on Friday announced it would begin offering booster shots to several more groups by the end of the month. 

They include people 80 and older, followed by those in their 70s. The shots will also be available for adult front-line health-care workers who were double vaccinated with an interval of fewer than 28 days between their first and second doses, and people who received two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine or with one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

People will not be eligible for a booster until six months have passed since their second dose.

WATCH | Specialist answers your questions about boosters: 

COVID-19: Should everyone be getting a booster shot?

2 years ago
Duration 6:00
Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Zain Chagla answers viewer questions about COVID-19 vaccine booster shots including whether everyone needs one right away.

Meanwhile, Nunavut's chief public health officer said booster shots are available to everyone in the territory aged 12 and older, provided they got their second dose at least six months ago.

"The booster dose will help increase immunity to COVID-19, as recent evidence shows that vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 decreases over time," said Dr. Michael Patterson in a news release.

In Ontario, about 2.75 million more people will become eligible for boosters on Saturday morning, as the province opens them up to the next priority groups.

They include: people aged 70 and older; some health-care workers and designated essential caregivers in congregate settings; people who received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, or those who received one shot of the Janssen vaccine elsewhere; and First Nations, Inuit and Métis people and non-Indigenous members of their households.

The province is already offering third shots to about 250,000 people in some high-risk groups, including long-term care residents and transplant recipients.

— From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 8:30 p.m. ET

What's happening across Canada

WATCH | Helping people with needle phobia get a COVID-19 vaccine: 

Helping people overcome needle phobia for a COVID-19 vaccine

2 years ago
Duration 2:07
An estimated four per cent of Canadians suffer from a severe needle phobia, many of them children, so clinics and experts across Canada are using distraction, patience and conversation to help them get vaccinated against COVID-19.

What's happening around the world

WATCH | WHO asks world leaders: 'How many more people need to die?' 

WHO challenges world leaders to end COVID-19 pandemic

2 years ago
Duration 2:22
After the world passed the 'tragic milestone' of five million deaths from the coronavirus, the World Health Organization warned that the trajectory for the pandemic's path in 2022 is in people's hands but says they must make the right choices.( Fabrice Coffrini/Reuters)

As of Friday evening, more than 249 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than five million.

In the Americas, more than two dozen Republican-led states filed lawsuits Friday challenging U.S. President Joe Biden's vaccine requirement for private companies, setting up a high-stakes legal showdown pitting federal authority against states' rights.

The requirement issued Thursday by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration applies to businesses with more than 100 employees. Their workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or face mask requirements and weekly tests.

The lawsuits ask courts to decide whether the administration's effort to curtail the pandemic represents a federal power grab and usurps the authority of states to set health policy.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesia's economic growth slowed more than expected in the third quarter as restrictions to control COVID-19 weighed on activity, although recent data suggests growth may be getting back on track in the current quarter. 

Australia's Victoria state removed entry restrictions to citizens of neighbouring New South Wales on Friday, allowing almost blanket reciprocal travel between the country's two biggest states ahead of the busy Christmas period.

In Europe, Germany's COVID-19 situation is entering a very difficult period with rising numbers of intensive care patients, health minister Jens Spahn said, as German state leaders warned the country may need a new lockdown unless it takes urgent action.

Head physician Lorenz Nowak treats a coronavirus patient in the ICU of the Asklepios Clinic in Munich on Thursday, as Germany deals with an increasing number of COVID-19 cases. (Peter Kneffel/dpa/The Associated Press)

At a news conference Friday, Spahn said he had agreed with regional health ministers that in the future everyone should be offered a booster shot of COVID-19 vaccine six months after receiving their previous injection.

Germany reported 37,120 new coronavirus cases on Friday, the second day in a row that it marked the highest daily increase since the start of the pandemic last year.

Russia reported 40,735 new COVID-19 cases and 1,192 deaths related to the virus on Friday as authorities fight a surge that has forced them to re-impose a partial lockdown nationwide.

WATCH | Inside a Russian hospital struggling with cases:

Inside a Russian hospital struggling with COVID-19 cases

2 years ago
Duration 4:18
A CBC News crew goes inside one of Russia’s biggest hospitals as it struggles to keep up with COVID-19 cases.

Meanwhile, in Croatia, authorities will limit gatherings and widen the use of COVID-19 passes to curb soaring infections after the numbers of infected people reached new highs again on Friday. The country's crisis team says the new rules for gatherings will apply starting Saturday, while the use of COVID passes will take more time to prepare.

Like much of Central and Eastern Europe, Croatia has seen a huge rise in infections and hospitalizations in the past weeks due to low vaccination rates and relaxed virus rules.

In Romania, where only 43.8 per cent of the adult population has received at least one vaccine dose, nearly a third of the country's total COVID-19 deaths have occurred in just the past few weeks.

In Africa, WHO's regional office says an emergency "surge" team is on the ground in Malawi to support the country's COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Only three per cent of Malawi's population of nearly 20 million are fully vaccinated, according to a tweet from the organization.

— From Reuters, CBC News and The Associated Press, last updated at 9 p.m. ET

With files from The Associated Press and CBC News

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