Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Feb. 3

The latest:

More than one million doses of vaccines for COVID-19 have been administered across Canada, according to a CBC News tally.

CBC’s vaccine tracker indicates nearly 1.1 million doses have been administered to date. Provincially, Ontario has delivered the most shots to residents — 348,331. 

The news the same day Ontario announced that the remaining public school students still learning online will return to class by Feb. 16.

Quebec follows Ontario with 241,546 shots administered. British Columbia rounds out the top three with 142,146.

Nationally, nearly 130,000 people have received both doses of the vaccine. The highest number of double doses is in Ontario (74,994), followed by Alberta (18,970) and Manitoba (10,466).

The milestone comes as the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is warning provinces that there will be yet more disruptions to the supply of the Moderna vaccine later this month, according to a document obtained by CBC News.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau maintains the federal government expects to have six million doses of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines on hand by the end of March.

From The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:30 p.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

As of 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had reported 789,652 cases of COVID-19 — with 48,222 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 20,355.

In Ontario, teachers, students and parents in several boards in the south of the province got word from the provincial government that students would be back in class by Feb. 8 in most parts of the province and by Feb. 16 in Toronto, Peel Region and York Region. 

WATCH | Ontario education minister talks about reopening schools:

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that schools in Toronto, Peel Region and York Region will return to in-person learning on Feb. 16. Schools in all other regions which haven’t yet returned to in-person learning will do so on Feb. 8. 2:19

The province reported 1,172 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 67 additional deaths. The update came a day after the Ontario reported just 745 cases, though Health Minister Christine Elliott noted in a tweet on Tuesday that a data migration had impacted the daily count and the province anticipated “fluctuations in case numbers over the next few days.”

Hospitalizations in Ontario decreased to 1,066, according to a provincial dashboard updated Wednesday morning, with 336 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.

In Quebec, health officials reported 1,053 new cases of COVID-19 and 37 additional deaths on Wednesday, a day after Premier François Legault announced that restrictions would be eased in some areas of the province. Hospitalizations in Quebec stood at 1,106, with 177 people in intensive care, according to a provincial database.

WATCH | Quebec moves toward gradual reopening:

With COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations declining, Quebec has announced cautious plans to loosen some provincial restrictions, but major centres like Montreal won’t see much change for now. 4:05

British Columbia announced 414 new cases of COVID-19 and 16 more deaths on Wednesday. Health officials said one person at a secondary school in Maple Ridge had been infected with a more transmissible form of the virus first found in the United Kingdom. The person has since recovered and the virus does not appear to have spread, officials said.

Here’s a look at what is happening across the country:

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 5:00 p.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

As of Wednesday evening, more than 104.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 57.7 million of those listed as recovered or resolved, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.2 million.

A United Nations-backed program to deploy COVID-19 vaccines to the neediest people worldwide has announced plans for an initial distribution of more than 100 million doses by the end of the first quarter.

The COVAX Facility says it aims for nearly 200 million doses by the end of June. Most of the vaccines in the first phase will be from AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India.

Another 1.2 million doses of a vaccine from Pfizer are expected to be shared by 18 countries in the first quarter.

WATCH | Whether the AstraZeneca vaccine can limit transmission of COVID-19:

Professor Adrian Hill, the director of the Jenner Institute at Oxford University says the vaccine he helped discover has shown early signs it could limit the transmission of the virus. Hill also says that as more trial results come in, it would clear up confusion over its vaccine effectiveness amongst older adults. 2:11

The AstraZeneca vaccine rollout needs “emergency use” approval by the World Health Organization, which is expected in mid- to late February. The rollouts are contingent on regulatory approvals and the readiness of nations to receive the vaccines, which recently have been in short supply worldwide.

In the United States, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that schools can safely reopen even if teachers are not vaccinated for the coronavirus.

As some teachers’ unions in the U.S. balk at resuming in-person instruction before teachers are vaccinated, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that “vaccination of teachers is not a prerequisite for safe reopening of schools.” Walensky cited CDC data showing that physical distancing and wearing a mask significantly reduce the spread of the virus in school settings.

White House COVID-19 co-ordinator Jeff Zients called on Congress to pass additional funding to ensure schools have the resources necessary to support reopening.

U.S. President Joe Biden has pledged to ensure that nearly all K-8 schools will reopen for in-person instruction in the first 100 days of his administration.Teachers are prioritized as “essential workers” under the CDC’s vaccination plans, though many have yet to receive doses as the country continues to face a supply shortage of the vaccines.

The U.S. has seen more than 26.5 million cases of COVID-19 and has reported more than 449,000 deaths during the pandemic, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University in Maryland.

San Francisco is suing its own school district to try to force classrooms to reopen. 

“Not a single San Francisco public school student has set foot in their classroom in 347 days,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said at a news conference, calling it shameful and also unlawful.

“More than 54,000 San Francisco schoolchildren are suffering. They are being turned into Zoom-bies by online school. Enough is enough.”

In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korean health officials said they have detected the first local transmissions of what are feared to be more contagious forms of the coronavirus first identified in Britain and South Africa.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said Wednesday it found four local cases of the variant first detected in the U.K.and one local case of the variant first detected in South Africa.

Since October, health workers have found 39 cases of new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, also including a form that was first identified in Brazil. The previous cases were found in people arriving from abroad.

WATCH | A WHO team visits China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology:

A special team from the World Health Organization has visited China’s Wuhan Institute of Virology, a key site in their search for the origins of the coronavirus. The team did not speak to waiting journalists after the visit. 1:25

In all five of the locally transmitted cases, the virus carriers had been infected from relatives who recently arrived from abroad, the agency said.

The KDCA said it is expanding contact tracing to determine whether the new variants could have circulated further. It also called for administrative officials to strengthen monitoring of passengers arriving from abroad so that they minimize their contact with other people during their two-week quarantine period, which in most cases can be done at home.

New Zealand’s medical regulator has approved its first coronavirus vaccine, and officials hope to begin giving shots to border workers by the end of March. Regulators granted provisional approval for the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for people aged 16 and over.

New Zealand has no community transmission of the virus, and border workers are considered the most vulnerable to catching and spreading the disease because they deal with arriving travellers, some of whom are infected.

In Africa, South Africa will get two million doses of vaccines by March from the COVAX vaccine distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organization.

A woman in Havana carries a cat in her bag as she walks on Wednesday amid concerns about the spread of COVID-19. (Reuters)

Uganda has ordered 18 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.

In Europe, EU lawmakers questioned chief executive Ursula von der Leyen for hours on Tuesday over the slow rollout and shortage of COVID-19 vaccines as she took responsibility for an export control plan that angered Britain and Ireland.

A German military medical team is heading to Portugal to help that country deal with a spike in coronavirus cases.

The team of 26 doctors and nurses was flying to Portugal on Wednesday from Wunstorf, in northern Germany. Dr. Ulrich Baumgaertner, head of the military’s medical service, said the team will help at a civilian hospital in Lisbon.

The COVID-19 situation in France remains fragile, but a new national lockdown is not necessarily inevitable, French government spokesperson Gabriel Attal told reporters on Wednesday.

The Ukrainian government is ready to cancel a nationwide lockdown and allow health authorities to ease lockdown measures in regions where COVID-19 cases are lower, Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Wednesday. The decision may be made in the coming days, he told a televised cabinet meeting.

WATCH | Capt. Sir Tom Moore dies at 100 after positive COVID-19 test:

Capt. Sir Tom Moore, the 100-year-old Second World War veteran who raised millions to fight the pandemic by walking in his garden, died in hospital where he was being treated after a positive COVID-19 test. 2:02

In the Americas, Colombia reported the highest incidence of cases, followed by Brazil, where the city of Manaus is still seeing exponential increases in both cases and deaths, Pan American Health Organization director Dr. Carissa Etienne said. Three new variants have been detected in 20 countries of the Americas, though their frequency is still limited, she said in a briefing.

Colombia’s president, Iván Duque, also warned Wednesday that the government’s plan to vaccinate more than 35 million people this year could face delays. The country said last week it had secured 61.5 million vaccine doses from a raft of pharmaceutical companies and via the World Health Organization-backed COVAX scheme.

A health worker receives a dose of the Chinese-made Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre in Karachi, Pakistan, on Wednesday. (Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)

But in a mid-week media briefing, Duque recognized that the process could face delays, including potential export limits placed on vaccines by other countries and a low uptake of shots amid circulating disinformation.

“Are there risks [to the roll-out]? Yes, without doubt risks exist,” Duque said.

Venezuela will send further shipments of oxygen to help neighbouring Brazil treat COVID-19 patients, President Nicolas Maduro said, after sending a convoy of oxygen-filled trucks to the Amazonian city of Manaus last month.

In the Middle East, Dubai will start vaccinating people with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the state media office has said, after receiving its first shipment from India.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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