February 29, 2024

Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Monday

The latest: International air travellers touching down in Ontario will have to take a COVID-19 test…

Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Monday

The latest:

International air travellers touching down in Ontario will have to take a COVID-19 test upon arrival in Toronto starting Monday.

Premier Doug Ford announced the plan on Friday, saying it was the latest effort to stop new, more contagious variants of the virus from further infiltrating the province. The initial airport testing program will eventually be expanded to land-border entries.

Health officials in Ontario reported 1,969 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and 36 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 6,224. Hospitalizations in Ontario stood at 1,158, according to a provincial dashboard, with 354 COVID-19 patients listed as being in intensive care units.

The federal government recently announced its own travel rules, saying last week that airlines were suspending flights to major sun destinations until the end of April. 

Ottawa’s measures will also include mandatory PCR testing for travellers returning to Canada, and a hotel quarantine of up to three days to be paid for by the traveller. 

Speaking to CBC’s Rosemary Barton over the weekend, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said people should be prepared for the new measures to be in place “as soon as Feb. 4.”

“I can’t tell you if that’s exactly when it’s going to start, but I would ask people to be ready for it as soon as possible,” he said on Sunday.

The federal government, in a statement released Friday with initial details of the new rules, said the testing and hotel quarantine rules would apply to “all air travellers arriving in Canada, with very limited exceptions.”

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 10:40 a.m. ET

What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | New travel rules could kick in as soon as Feb. 4, transport minister says:

COVID-19 testing requirements upon arrival in Canada and hotel quarantine rules could be put in place as soon as Feb. 4, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live. 10:43

In Quebec, health officials reported 890 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the lowest single-day figure reported by the province since November. The province reported 32 additional deaths, bringing its death toll to 9,826.

Hospitalizations in Quebec stood at 1,144, according to provincial data, with 183 COVID-19 patients in intensive care.

Radio-Canada reported over the weekend that Premier François Legault is considering easing some restrictions on businesses later this month amid a slowing in new COVID-19 cases.

New Brunswick reported eight new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, down from 26 new cases on Sunday.

The updates from Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick come after Canada passed another grim milestone over the weekend as the national COVID-19 death toll surpassed 20,000.

As of 12:45 p.m. ET, Canada had reported 781,839 cases of COVID-19, with 52,495 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 20,100.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam noted in a tweet on the weekend that two weeks of “falling case counts across most jurisdictions tells us strong community-wide public health measures are working,” but she noted that in areas with “renewed activity” measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus must be strong and sustained.

In British Columbia, one man was arrested and dozens were fined, with police alleging a man was using a penthouse as a makeshift nightclub. 

In Saskatchewan, health officials reported 238 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths on Sunday, bringing the provincial death toll to 304. Nearly half of the deaths recorded in the province have happened in the last month.

Here’s what else is happening across Canada:

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 12:45 p.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

Kindergarteners wear masks while sitting at modified desks to ensure physical distancing at the Thai Niyom Songkhrao School in Bangkok on Monday. (Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

As of early Monday morning, more than 103 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide with more than 57.1 million of those cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.2 million.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan is expected to extend a state of emergency to fight the spread of COVID-19 this week for Tokyo and other areas as hospitals remain under pressure despite a decline in cases from their peaks.

South Korea will extend its physical distancing curbs by two weeks until the end of the Lunar New Year holidays as new COVID-19 infection clusters emerge in the country.

China reported the lowest daily increase in new COVID-19 cases in more than three weeks on Monday, reversing a sharp uptick a day earlier.

Western Australia state reported no new local COVID-19 cases on Monday, a day after it recorded its first case in 10 months that prompted authorities to enforce a five-day lockdown in the capital city of Perth.

In the Americas, Mexico City’s international airport will set up facilities to perform COVID-19 tests to help passengers who need to show they are free of the virus to enter other countries.

Peru began what was supposed to be a severe lockdown Sunday to combat surging COVID-19, but the order was widely ignored in the nation’s capital.

President Francisco Sagasti went on television urging Peruvians “to make an extra effort to contain the growing wave of infections and deaths.” His government told people in the capital and nine other regions to limit trips outside the home to 60 minutes and closed churches, gymnasiums, museums, libraries and other institutions.

But marketplaces were crowded. Even some bus drivers ignored mandatory face mask rules. Seventy per cent of Peruvians have no income if they stay home. The government says it will give $165 each to four million families — but only after the two-week quarantine. Hundreds of people crowded bus stations in Lima to head for less-restricted rural regions before terminals close later this week. Flights from Brazil and Europe have been cancelled.

Buyers put oxygen tanks to be refilled in a truck in Lima. Due to the increase in demand, oxygen is in short supply. (Raul Sifuentes/Getty Images)

In the U.S., White House coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt says the government awarded a $231-million US contract to scale up production of a COVID-19 home test recently authorized by U.S. regulators.

For months, health experts have stressed the need for fast, widespread home testing so that people can screen themselves and avoid contact with others if they have an infection. But the vast majority of tests still require a nasal swab performed by a health worker that must be processed at high-tech laboratories.

The test kit from Australian manufacturer Ellume allows users to swab themselves at home and check their status in about 20 minutes. It’s one of only three tests that consumers can use themselves, and the only one available without a doctor’s prescription. Ellume said Monday it would use the contract to construct a U.S. manufacturing plant and deliver 8.5 million tests for federal use. It did not specify a timeframe for delivery.

In Africa, South Africa has acquired 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine that are expected to arrive in the second quarter of the year, the government has confirmed.

The purchase is a significant boost to the government’s efforts to acquire vaccines to reach its goal of inoculating 40 million people, representing 67 per cent of the country’s population, this year.

The cost of the Pfizer vaccines will be announced at a later date by Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize, said Lwazi Manzi, spokesperson for the health ministry.

Ghana, meanwhile, said it plans to procure 17.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June with the first doses arriving in March.

In Europe, much of Italy is gingerly reopening from pre-Christmas coronavirus closures, with the Vatican Museums welcoming a trickle of visitors to the Sistine Chapel and locals ordering their cappuccinos at outdoor tables.

While many European countries remain in hard lockdowns amid surging COVID-19 infections and variants, most Italian regions graduated to the coveted “yellow” category of risk starting Monday. That has allowed museums to reopen, sit-down restaurant and bar service to resume and many high-schoolers to return to class.

In Rome, that meant that the Vatican Museums reopened for the first time in 88 days — it’s longest closure ever. Museum director Barbara Jatta said staff took advantage of the weeks-long closure to rearrange some exhibit halls and do maintenance work that would otherwise be difficult to complete with the nearly seven million visitors who normally flock to see Michelangelo’s Last Judgment and Raphael masterpieces each year.

People visit Rome’s landmark Colosseum on Monday after its reopening amid an easing of restrictions against the spread of COVID-19. (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)

Italy, the onetime European epicentre of the outbreak, is averaging around 12,000-15,000 new confirmed cases and 300-600 COVID-19 deaths each day. But it appears to have avoided the severe post-Christmas surges in Britain and elsewhere thanks to tightened restrictions on travel and socializing over the holiday.

The European Union, meanwhile, said vaccine maker AstraZeneca has agreed to supply nine million additional doses to the 27-nation bloc during the first quarter. The new target of 40 million doses by the end of March is still only half what the company had originally aimed for, triggering a spat between AstraZeneca and the EU last week.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said late Sunday that the British-Swedish pharmaceutical maker will also begin deliveries one week sooner than scheduled and expand its manufacturing capacity in Europe.

The EU is far behind Britain and the United States in getting its population of 450 million vaccinated against the virus. The slow rollout has been blamed on a range of national problems as well as slower authorization of the vaccines and an initial shortage of supply.

WATCH | U.K.’s COVID-19 response criticized as deaths top 100,000:

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership of the country’s COVID-19 response has faced harsh criticism by other politicians, health officials and the public as deaths from the virus topped 100,000. 8:31

In the Middle East, Israel said it has shipped the first batch of the Moderna vaccine to the Palestinians.

The unit for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, or COGAT, said Monday that it co-ordinated a first shipment of 2,000 doses out of 5,000 doses for use by medical teams under the Palestinian Authority.

The transfer at Beituniya Crossing took place a day after Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz’s office announced the vaccinations had been approved for Palestinians. Israel is leading one of the world’s most successful vaccination campaigns after securing millions of doses from major drug makers Pfizer and Moderna.

International human rights groups and UN experts have urged Israel to assist with the vaccination of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel says under the Oslo peace accords, the Palestinians have responsibility for the vaccination effort.  The Palestinians have not publicly requested vaccines from Israel.

The World Health Organization, meanwhile, said the Palestinian Authority will begin receiving tens of thousands of coronavirus vaccines later this month pending agreements with manufacturers and regulatory approval.

The WHO said Monday that the PA would receive 37,440 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from mid-February “subject to approvals of supply agreements with manufacturers.” Those would go to frontline medical workers. It said the PA would receive another 240,000 to 405,600 AstraZeneca vaccine doses from mid- to late-February subject to WHO emergency use approval.

The vaccines are being provided through COVAX, a WHO program to help poor countries acquire vaccines.

Saudi Arabia’s health minister, meanwhile,said complacency around coronavirus restrictions had led to a notable increase in daily cases in the kingdom.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last update at 12:50 p.m. ET