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

The U.S. government will spend $470 million US to learn more about long COVID-19, its causes and potential treatments.

Researchers in the U.S. receive grants to study so-called 'long COVID' and potential treatments

A five-year-old girl suffering from long-term side effects of COVID-19 sits in a treatment room of a children's hospital in Germany. The U.S. government announced Wednesday it will support studies into so-called 'long COVID' and possible treatments. (Thilo Schmuelgen/Reuters)

The latest

The U.S. government will spend $470 million US to learn more about long COVID-19, its causes and potential treatments.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the plans Wednesday with a grant awarded to New York University and a goal of enrolling up to 40,000 adults and children nationwide. The effort, dubbed "Recover," will involve researchers at more than 30 U.S. institutions.

"This is being taken with the greatest seriousness. at a scale that has not really been attempted with something like this," said NIH director Dr. Francis Collins at a briefing Wednesday.

Collins said it's estimated 10 to 30 per cent of people infected with COVID-19 may develop persistent, new or recurring symptoms that can last months or perhaps years.

Long COVID is an umbrella term for symptoms that linger, recur and show up for the first time four weeks or more after an initial infection. It also includes heart inflammation and multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a rare but serious condition that can occur in children after a COVID-19 infection.

Pain, headaches, fatigue, brain fog, shortness of breath, anxiety, depression, chronic coughs and sleep problems are among the reported symptoms of long COVID. Possible causes include the virus lingering in tissues and organs or overstimulating the immune system.

The announcement came as the World Health Organization said there were about four million coronavirus cases reported globally last week, marking the first major drop in new infections in more than two months. In recent weeks, there have been about 4.4 million new COVID-19 cases.

In its weekly update released on Tuesday, the UN health agency said every region in the world saw a drop in COVID-19 cases compared to the previous week.

Houston Fire Department paramedics transport a man suffering from breathing difficulties to a hospital on Tuesday. Harris County in Texas continues to see a large number of COVID-19 hospitalizations due to the delta variant surge in the state. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Although the worldwide number of deaths decreased to about 62,000, with the sharpest decline in Southeast Asia, there was a seven per cent increase in deaths in Africa. According to the weekly report from WHO, the highest numbers of cases were seen in:

  • The United States, with 1,034,836 new cases — a decrease of roughly 20 per cent from a week earlier.
  • The United Kingdom, with 256,051 new cases — a five per cent increase.
  • India, with 248 248 new cases — a 15 per cent decrease. 
  • Iran, with 172 030 new cases —  a 17 per cent decrease.
  • Turkey, with 158 236 new cases — a six per cent increase.

According to the weekly update, the delta variant had been identified in 180 countries as of Tuesday.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 3:30 p.m. ET


What's happening across Canada

WATCH | New Brunswick's chief medical officer expresses frustration over stalled vaccination rates: 

New Brunswick's top doctor frustrated over stalled vaccination rates

12 days ago
2:43
New Brunsick's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, makes a direct appeal to the public to protect the more vulnerable, children and the health care system and encourage others to get vaccinated. Sounding frustrated, Russell said the vast majority of people in the province sick with COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated. 2:43

What's happening around the world

A medical worker collects a swab from a resident during mass testing amid new cases of COVID-19 in Putian, in China's Fujian province. (cnsphoto/Reuters)

As of Wednesday evening, more than 226.3 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the coronavirus tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.6 million.

In the Asia-Pacific region, China is imposing lockdowns and ordering mass testing in cities along its east coast amid the latest surge in COVID-19 cases. Checks have been set up in toll stations around the city of Putian in Fujian province, with a dozen of them closed entirely. The nearby cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou have also restricted travel as the delta variant spreads through the region.

Cambodia will launch a campaign Friday to begin giving COVID-19 vaccinations to children aged six to 11. Prime Minister Hun Sen is also considering having children aged 3 to 5 be vaccinated soon. Cambodia began vaccinating 12- to 17-year-olds at the start of August. 

Nearly 72 per cent of Cambodia's almost 17 million people have received at least one COVID-19 shot since vaccinations began in February, the majority being China's Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines.

In the Americas, Mexico will send vaccines to Nicaragua in September, the country's foreign minister said on Tuesday, in a rare sign of international engagement with the administration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.

In Africa, after uncertainty about whether the coronavirus pandemic would force South Africa to postpone local government elections, the courts have ruled the vote should move ahead. South Africa's courts ruled this month the Independent Electoral Commission should hold the polls on Nov. 1, despite concerns about political rallies spreading the disease.

South Africa has recorded 2,640 new infections and 125 deaths in the last 24 hours. The nation accounts for more than 35 per cent of coronavirus infections in Africa, with 2.8 million confirmed cases and 85,002 confirmed deaths.

In Europe, the Dutch government is easing restrictions and will introduce a "corona" pass showing proof of vaccination to go to bars, restaurants, clubs or cultural events.

Meanwhile, health-care workers in France face suspension from their jobs starting Wednesday if they haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19. With about 300,000 workers still not vaccinated, some hospitals fear staff shortages will add to their strain.

In the Middle East, Iran on Tuesday reported 22,329 new cases of COVID-19 and 408 additional deaths.

-From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

With files from Reuters and CBC News

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