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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Sept. 22

Ontario and New Brunswick rolled out vaccine passport systems on Wednesday that require people who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine to show proof of vaccination before entering non-essential indoor spaces. 

Vaccine passport systems rolling out in New Brunswick and Ontario; N.B. reports record 76 new cases

Vaccine mandates start today in Ontario, New Brunswick

1 month ago
2:25
Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore believes that having to show proof of vaccination at restaurants and bars 'will change behaviours' and push a large number of young, unvaccinated residents to get the jab. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC) 2:25

The latest:

Ontario and New Brunswick rolled out vaccine passport systems on Wednesday that require people who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine to show proof of vaccination before entering non-essential indoor spaces. 

The programs require people who are eligible for the vaccines to show proof of vaccination at non-essential businesses where large numbers of people gather, including dine-in restaurants, gyms, sports events and clubs.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, urged people to be patient as workers and businesses adjust to the new requirement. Moore said he hopes the new system will help boost vaccination rates — particularly among 20- to 39-year-olds, who currently have the highest rate of infection in Ontario.

Proof-of-vaccination systems are becoming more common across Canada, as governments work to boost vaccination rates amid increasing COVID-19 numbers. However, the systems are not without controversy — some view them as an infringement on individual rights, others argue that the systems put undue burdens on businesses that have already been hit hard by pandemic closures and ever-changing regulations.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford acknowledged the divisions around vaccine mandates at a news conference on Wednesday, but he said the province can't afford to shut down again or see another sudden surge in cases.

The vaccine certificate system is a temporary and exceptional measure, Ford said, as he again urged people to be patient as businesses adapt.

WATCH | Ford says vaccine passports will help keep businesses open:

Ontario vaccine certificate 'temporary and exceptional,' says premier

1 month ago
1:01
Ontario Premier Doug Ford acknowledged that vaccine certificates are a 'divisive issue,' but says they will help keep business open through the fourth wave of COVID-19. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press) 1:01

Ford said the province would not use the program for "one day longer" than needed.

But when asked later at the news conference about what metrics he would use to determine when the vaccine passport requirements would be lifted, he didn't offer specifics. The premier instead said the decision, when it came, would be made based on advice from the chief medical officer of health and the province's science table.

Ontario on Wednesday reported 463 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths.

The systems put in place by officials in Ontario and New Brunswick allow for medical exemptions for people with documentation from their health-care provider.

However, experts in New Brunswick tell CBC that medical exemptions are rare because there's little to no reason people physically can't get vaccinated.

People wait in line at a mass vaccination and testing clinic for COVID-19 at the Moncton Coliseum in Moncton, N.B., on Wednesday, as new proof of vaccination rules take effect. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press)

In announcing New Brunswick's new rules last week, Premier Blaine Higgs said the province's original target of having 75 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated is no longer enough with the new highly transmissible variants. The goal is now 90 per cent.

Also starting Wednesday, New Brunswickers are once again required to wear a mask in all indoor public spaces.

The province reported 76 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, a new record high for daily cases. It also reported one additional death. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell has said the province is on a trajectory to have 100 new cases confirmed per day, every day.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET


What's happening in Canada

WATCH | Alberta premier shuffles health minister as hospitals near capacity: 

Kenney shuffles health minister as hospitals near capacity

1 month ago
2:01
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney named former labour minister Jason Copping the new health minister after shuffling Tyler Shandro out of the role as the province’s hospitals near capacity and Kenney faces growing calls for his own resignation. 2:01

What's happening around the world

German Health Minister Jens Spahn gives a press statement in Berlin as the country changed its approach to financial support for people who are not vaccinated. (Odd Anderson/AFP/Getty Images)

As of Wednesday evening, more than 229.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.

In Europe, Germany will stop sick pay for unvaccinated people who have to go into quarantine because of COVID-19. Previously, Germans could claim for income lost due to having to go into quarantine after returning from abroad or coming into contact with a positive case.

Health Minister Jens Spahn said the move was a matter of "fairness," arguing that by the time the new rule comes into force on Nov. 1, everyone who wants a vaccine will have had an opportunity to get one. Those who choose not to "will need to bear responsibility for this then, including the financial costs," he said.

Germany has fully vaccinated 63.4 per cent of its population. The government has said it wants to achieve a vaccination rate of 75 per cent to prevent a sharp rise in cases during the winter months.

In the Asia-Pacific region, officials in the northeast China city of Harbin say national level health officials have been sent to the city to deal with what may be a coronavirus outbreak. The city of 9.5 million people reported three infection cases on Wednesday, a day after discovering a first case of community transmission.

A medical worker collects a sample to be tested for COVID-19 in Harbin, in China's northeastern Heilongjiang province, on Wednesday. (AFP/Getty Images)

After the initial finding, authorities started mass testing and closed schools. The city also ordered businesses such as mahjong parlours, cinemas and gyms to shut. City authorities say residents must display a negative virus test to be able to leave for only essential travel. Otherwise, people are being told to stay home.

In the Middle East, as coronavirus infections plummet and vaccinations accelerate in the United Arab Emirates, authorities have loosened a long-standing face mask mandate.

The Gulf Arab sheikhdom said Wednesday that residents no longer need to wear masks while exercising outdoors or visiting beaches and pools in the country. Those who receive medical or beauty treatments may also forgo the mask. However, face masks will still be required in indoor spaces such as shopping malls and public transportation.

WATCH | Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine shows promising results for kids under 12: 

Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine appears promising for kids under 12

1 month ago
2:01
Pfizer says its latest clinical trial data for its COVID-19 vaccine shows promising results in children under 12, raising the hopes of many parents with unvaccinated children. 2:01

In the Americas, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, just back from the United Nations, isolated himself at home on Wednesday and cancelled a trip after his health minister tested positive for COVID-19 and had to stay in quarantine in New York. 

Bolsonaro defied UN rules that asked all those attending the assembly be inoculated against the coronavirus and was the only member of his entourage in New York who has not been vaccinated. Before travelling to the United States, he said he believed his antibody count from a bout with COVID-19 protected him better than a vaccine.

Meanwhile, United Airlines officials said 97 per cent of its U.S. employees are fully vaccinated, with less than a week to go before United employees face a deadline to get the shots or get fired. The Chicago-based airline has 67,000 U.S. employees.

In Africa, officials with the World Health Organization's Africa region said this week that 14 countries on the continent had reached a goal of fully vaccinating 10 per cent of their populations by the end of September. But the same health officials noted that a "crippling vaccine supply shortage" remains a major issue for countries across Africa.

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

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

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