There were some glimpses of positive news out of British Columbia on Monday, as health officials announced a downward trend in several key COVID-19 markers over the past three days.
The number of new cases of was down over the past three days, as were the numbers of hospitalizations and patients admitted to intensive care units. As of today, there were 415 people in hospital, including 150 in ICU.
There were also no new outbreaks in the health-care system, though a new workplace outbreak was declared at the Sunrise Poultry plant in Surrey. Outbreaks have also been declared at Surrey Memorial Hospital and the Dufferin Care Centre in Coquitlam.
More than two million people in B.C. have received a first dose of a vaccine. “I think that’s a tremendous accomplishment,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in her briefing Monday. On Tuesday, anyone born in 1981 or earlier will be able to book their first shot.
B.C. reported a total of 1,759 new cases over the past three days, along with 20 additional deaths.
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-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 1:45 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
As of 6:15 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada had reported 1,294,194 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 79,829 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 24,682.
Ontario on Monday reported 2,716 new cases of COVID-19 and 19 additional deaths. According to the province, hospitalizations stood at 1,632, with 828 people in ICU as a result of COVID-19. The province’s chief medical officer of health said he would want to see daily cases under 1,000 before even considering lifting the stay-at-home order. Dr. David Williams warned during his Monday briefing: “We didn’t get down the second wave totally before the third wave hit, [and] that has added immense stress to our health-care system. We don’t want to repeat that again.”
Quebec, meanwhile, reported 662 new cases of on Monday and six additional deaths. The province’s economy minister has suggested that proof of vaccination could become the ticket to dining at restaurants or even going to work. Quebec will begin issuing digital proof, in the form of a QR code, to people who have received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine beginning Thursday.
Manitoba is closing classrooms in its two largest cities as the province’s top doctor says more needs to be done to slow community spread of COVID-19 and “break these transmission chains.”
Manitoba on Monday reported 502 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths.
Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, says some people are taking risks by going to work or hanging out with others when they or someone in their household is symptomatic.
Students from kindergarten through to Grade 12 in Winnipeg and Brandon will move to remote learning as of Wednesday — and will stay out of class until May 30. Schools in the rest of the province remain open but face tight protocols aimed at clamping down on COVID-19.
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The measures were taken to try to “shorten the period that we’re going to have to endure this third wave,” Premier Brian Pallister said Monday as he faced questions about the province’s latest decisions, including the timing of the announcement of school closures and support measures for businesses.
“We’re not powerless in this,” the premier said, urging people to follow the rules and get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Alberta, which has implemented a range of new limits — including a shift to online learning, restrictions on retail and most recently closing restaurant patios and personal wellness services — reported 1,597 new cases of COVID-19 Monday, along with seven additional deaths.
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Across the North, Nunavut on Monday reported seven new cases of COVID-19. Premier Joe Savikataaq said as of Monday, there were 70 active cases — all in Iqaluit. Public health officials say the city’s most vulnerable are at highest risk. An elders home in Iqaluit was evacuated on the weekend after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, and case counts in the city’s jails and shelters are rising, according to Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson.
Health officials in the Northwest Territories and Yukon will provide updates on COVID-19 later on Monday.
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported 121 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical health officer, is advising anyone feeling ill to assume they are sick with COVID-19 and to take quarantining precautions while awaiting test results. The province is also going to be making allowances for people who had planned to move to the province during the month of May, after announcing last week that all travel into the province was not allowed.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Authorities say two cases are linked to travel within the country; the third is linked to a previously identified infection. Health officials also reported one new presumptive case linked to an all-grade school in the Codroy Valley, in western Newfoundland.
New Brunswick reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, including five people in the province and six New Brunswickers who are isolating outside the province. Officials also announced that people 40 and over are now eligible to book appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Prince Edward Island reported one new case on Monday.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe said vaccinations and public co-operation with COVID-19 health restrictions mean the province can begin to loosen rules at the end of this month. The province is setting May 30 as the target date for the first step of its COVID-19 “Re-opening Roadmap.” The province reported 147 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with no new deaths for a third day in a row.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 12:50 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of Monday afternoon, more than 158.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracking tool. The reported global death toll was approaching 3.3. million.
The World Health Organization said on Monday that the coronavirus variant first identified in India last year was being classified as a variant of global concern, with some preliminary studies showing that it spreads more easily.
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The B1617 variant is the fourth variant to be designated as being of global concern and requiring heightened tracking and analysis. The others are those first detected in Britain, South Africa and Brazil.
The WHO is also pressing for greater global equity in terms of vaccine distribution. ]
In the Asia-Pacific region, Sri Lanka authorities are converting garment factories and other buildings for facilities to treat COVID-19 patients amid fears existing hospitals may run out of capacity. Armed forces are acquiring buildings in all parts of the country and converting them to hospitals to increase capacity, said army commander Gen. Shavendra Silva, head of the country’s COVID-19 operations centre.
Sri Lanka is experiencing a sharp surge in infections, reporting 2,000 new cases for the first time on Monday.
India will recruit hundreds of former army medics to support its overwhelmed health-care system, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday, as the country grappled with surging COVID-19 infections and deaths amid calls for a complete nationwide lockdown.
In Africa, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has dedicated his weekly letter to the nation to the issue of waiving intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines, saying it’s “necessary at this time” and “in direct response to an emergency.” Ramaphosa’s message reflects his country’s hope that the waiver, first proposed by South Africa and India, may still happen despite opposition from countries such as Germany. The idea is that waiving IP rights could encourage vaccine production by local manufacturers in the developing world.
Ramaphosa writes that the Biden administration’s support for a waiver has given negotiations at the World Trade Organization “added momentum.” He compares the vaccine IP waiver issue to South Africa’s eventually successful fight two decades ago to ease IPs on life-saving antiretroviral drugs during the HIV/AIDS crisis.
“And once again, South Africa is waging a struggle that puts global solidarity to the test,” Ramaphosa wrote.
In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates has announced it will bar airline passengers arriving from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka starting May 12 until further notice, as concern mounts over a virus variant spreading in India.
In Europe, the European Union has not made any new orders for AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines beyond June when its contract ends, European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said, after the EU signed a deal with Pfizer-BioNTech.
In the Americas, U.S. regulators on Monday authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in children as young as 12, widening the country’s inoculation program as vaccination rates have slowed significantly. The vaccine has been available under an emergency-use authorization to people as young as 16 in the U.S. The vaccine makers said they started the process for full approval for those ages last week.
Canada approved the Pfizer vaccine for ages 12 and up on May 5.
–From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 3:30 p.m. ET
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