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Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Aug. 16

The latest:

Some Texas counties and school districts remained defiant Monday and kept in place mandates requiring students and others to wear facial coverings despite rulings a day earlier by the Texas Supreme Court halting mask mandates in two of the largest counties in the United States.

However, other school districts and communities rescinded their mask mandates following Sunday’s court ruling, creating confusion for Texas students returning to in-person classes this week. This comes as the U.S. confronts another coronavirus wave powered by the highly infectious delta variant of the virus.

The order by Texas’s highest court — which is entirely comprised of elected Republican justices — halts mask requirements that Democratic county leaders in Dallas and San Antonio put in place as new infections soar and students begin returning to school.

Dallas school officials said Monday — the first day back in classes — that masks were still required on district property and that visitors weren’t allowed in schools.

Students and parents also gathered outside the governor’s mansion in Austin to urge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to drop his opposition to public school mask mandates.

Meanwhile, all health-care workers in New York state must be vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they have a medical or religious exemption, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a new mandate issued on Monday. They must have received at least one dose of a vaccine by Sept. 27, he said in a statement.

Cuomo previously ordered all patient-facing workers in state hospitals to get vaccinated in a mandate issued in July. About 75 per cent of the state’s roughly 450,000 hospital workers are fully vaccinated, according to the statement.

A woman holds a sign during a protest against mandatory COVID-19 vaccines held outside New York City Hall in Manhattan on Monday. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

And starting Tuesday, New York City will begin requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone wanting to partake in much of public life including dining at an indoor restaurant, working out at a gym or strolling through a museum.

While the new requirement goes into effect Tuesday, enforcement won’t begin until Sept. 13 to give the public more time to get vaccinated. City officials promised training for businesses on how to handle possible confrontations between patrons and staffers, who will be on the front lines of checking vaccination status.

– From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 5 p.m. ET

What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | Canadians react to fall election during COVID-19 pandemic: 

Canadians react to fall election during COVID-19 pandemic

Canadian voters had mixed reactions to news that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s request to trigger an election was approved — particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 2:12

What’s happening around the world

A woman receives a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at the home field of Japanese professional baseball team Yomiuri Giants, which is currently being used as a large-scale vaccination centre in Tokyo. (Issei Kato/Reuters)

As of Monday afternoon, more than 207.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.3 million.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan’s coronavirus state of emergency will continue through Sept. 12 rather than finishing at the end of this month as initially planned, the government announced Monday. With the virus continuing to spread in the country, the state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka, Okinawa and three other regions that began in July will be extended and expanded.

Australia’s most populous state on Monday reported its worst day of the pandemic with 478 new COVID-19 infections and seven deaths. The previous record daily tally in New South Wales was 466 new cases reported on Saturday. Two of the dead had taken a single dose of a two-shot vaccine. The rest were unvaccinated, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

In the Americas, more Mexican adults in their 30s and 40s are ending up in the hospital as the delta variant sweeps through cities, with polls showing vaccine hesitancy is rising in younger age groups.

At the height of the pandemic in January, 10 per cent of people hospitalized for COVID-19 were aged between 18 and 39, according to the Health Ministry. Cases have now surged again to near-record levels and that percentage has tripled.

A young woman takes a selfie while receiving a first dose of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine against COVID-19 in Mexico City last week. (Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images)

In the Middle East, Iran recorded a new high number of deaths from COVID-19 for a second day in a row, with the official IRNA news agency saying Monday that 655 patients died in the previous 24 hours. The report came as the country imposed a five-day lockdown starting Monday. It includes a travel ban on personal cars crossing between provinces.

Israel says that more than one million people over the age of 50 have received a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Israel began offering the boosters to its older population two weeks ago, becoming the first country in the world using a Western vaccine to do so.

In Europe, meanwhile, Serbia will start administering a third, or booster, dose of vaccines this week to people who previously were vaccinated at least six months ago, after infections have surged in recent days.

Germany’s standing committee on vaccination, the Stiko, has given the go-ahead for all young people above the age of 12 to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The country’s disease control agency said Monday the Stiko found that data from the United States, where almost 10 million adolescents have been vaccinated, shows that the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks for children and teenagers.

In Africa, health officials in South Africa on Sunday reported 10,139 new cases of COVID-19 and 272 new deaths.

– From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 5 p.m. ET

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