Tag Archives: Friday

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

The latest:

British Columbia’s provincial health officer is now allowing up to 10 people to meet outdoors after nearly four months of restrictions that barred in-person gatherings between people from different households.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday restrictions on indoor gatherings and rules for restaurants, bars, retail stores and other venues remain in place.

“This means your children can have a playdate with their friends over the March break, but with their same group of friends,” she said.

“You can meet friends outside and have a coffee, have a chat, have a connection, have a picnic in a park with your grandparents.”

It’s still important to practise physical distancing outside, she added.

“We can spend time with a maximum of 10 people, the same people, outside, but smaller continues to be better.”

While the COVID-19 infection curve is trending down on Vancouver Island and in the Interior and Northern health regions, said Henry, the illness is still circulating in communities, particularly in the Lower Mainland.

The province’s seven-day rolling average number of cases has increased in recent weeks, she said, though hospitalizations have levelled off and the number of deaths being linked to the illness has decreased significantly.

Henry presented modelling data on Thursday showing the number of contacts people have right now are 50 to 60 per cent of what’s normal.

“In the past, when we know we can get it down to 40, 45, 50 per cent, we can bend that curve back down,” she told a news briefing.

B.C. has not seen a rapid increase in cases of COVID-19 variants of concern, Henry said, but a small cluster of the variant associated with Brazil was recently detected in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. Health officials have not seen additional transmission outside that group, she said.

There was a “slight increase” in B.C.’s mortality rate last year, Henry said, though B.C. has seen fewer “extra deaths” due to COVID-19 than other jurisdictions, including Ontario, Quebec and the United States.

The uptick is a result of both the novel coronavirus and the overdose crisis, said Henry, adding COVID-19 was the eighth most common cause of death in B.C. in 2020 and illicit drug toxicity was the fifth top cause.

“COVID-19 has had a profound impact on older people in our communities and the overdose deaths have had a profound effect on younger people.”

B.C. reported 569 new cases Thursday and three more deaths, pushing the death toll to 1,397. There are 4,912 active COVID-19 cases in the province, including 244 people who are hospitalized with the illness.

Thursday also marked one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

“I certainly recognize and acknowledge that we’ve all experienced losses this past year, some of them an accumulation of tiny losses of those joys, those things that we had in our lives. And for some people, it’s the tragic loss of a loved one, whether from COVID, or whether from other things in this uncertain time.”

-From The Canadian Press, last updated at 7 a.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | CBC’s chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton breaks down the biggest criticisms toward how the federal government handled the COVID-19 pandemic and what the next challenges will be:

CBC’s chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton breaks down the biggest criticisms towards how the federal government handled the COVID-19 pandemic and what the next challenges will be. 2:18

As of early Friday morning, Canada had reported 899,762 cases of COVID-19, with 30,666 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,371.

In Atlantic Canada, there were a total of three new cases of COVID-19 reported on Thursday — two in New Brunswick and one in Newfoundland and Labrador.  No new cases were reported in Nova Scotia or Prince Edward Island, where health officials are now allowing people between 18 and 29 who work in food service and delivery to schedule their vaccination.

In Quebec, health officials reported 738 new cases of COVID-19 and 15 additional deaths on Thursday. Hospitalizations ticked down to 563, with 111 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units. Premier François Legault on Thursday praised essential workers for their efforts and urged people to remember the lives lost in the pandemic — more than 10,500 in Quebec alone. 

“We lost grandmothers, grandfathers, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, and today Quebec remembers these people that left us too soon,” he said at an event marking the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization’s declaration of a global pandemic.

Ontario health officials, meanwhile, reported 1,092 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional deaths on Thursday. Hospitalizations stood at 680, with 277 people with COVID-19 in the province’s intensive care units.

A new dashboard put out by the province’s Science Advisory Table on Thursday tracks information about variants of concern in the province — including information about new cases linked back to variants of concern and the reproduction number.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 91 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths on Thursday. Saskatchewan, meanwhile, reported 165 new cases and no additional deaths. In neighbouring Alberta, health officials reported 364 new cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths. Hospitalizations in Alberta stood at 259, with 38 COVID-19 patients in intensive care.

Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories or Yukon. Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq said in a tweet that Thursday was the fourth day in a row for the territory having no new cases of COVID-19.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7 a.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

WATCH | Benefits outweigh risks with AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, experts say:

Despite some European countries temporarily halting use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine after 30 cases of blood clots, experts maintain it is still safe to use in Canada. 2:01

A World Health Organization expert advisory committee is currently looking at the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine after some countries paused distribution of it, but there is no reason not to use it, a spokesperson for the committee said on Friday.

Health authorities in several countries, including Denmark, Norway and Iceland, have suspended the use of the vaccine following reports of the formation of blood clots in some people who have been vaccinated.

Margaret Harris told a briefing that it was an “excellent vaccine” and that no causal relationship had been established between the shot and the health problems reported, calling the pause in use “a precautionary measure.”

“It’s very important to understand that, yes, we should continue to be using the AstraZeneca vaccine,” she said.

The WHO’s global advisory committee on vaccine safety is currently reviewing the reports and will report on its findings, as it does with any safety issues, she said, .

“It is very important we are hearing safety signals because if we were not hearing about safety signals, that would suggest there is not enough review and vigilance,” Harris said.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is the main shot in the early phase of a WHO-led global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX that aims to distribute two billion doses this year, ensuring access for poorer countries.

Health Canada said on Thursday that it is aware of the reports out of Europe and “would like to reassure Canadians that the benefits of the vaccine continue to outweigh its risks.”

“At this time, there is no indication that the vaccine caused these events,” Health Canada said. “To date, no adverse events related to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, or the version manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, have been reported to Health Canada or the Public Health Agency of Canada.”

WHO data shows that more than 268 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from various developers have been administered worldwide, and no deaths have been found to have been caused by them, Harris said.

A nurse in Guatemala speaks with health workers that remain in observation after receiving a dose of the Covishield vaccine in Guatemala City earlier this week. (Johan Ordonez/AFP/Getty Images)

The Geneva-based body has given emergency use listing for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and versions of the AstraZeneca vaccines — a step that broadens access to those shots considerably.

Asked about the timing of emergency listings for China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech vaccines, Harris said reviews were now underway and approval would “probably” be given this month.

“We would expect by the end of March,” she said.

As of early Friday morning, more than 118.6 million people around the world had reported having COVID-19, according to a tracking tool maintained by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. Of those, more than 67.1 million were listed as recovered. The global death toll stood at more than 2.6 million.

In Europe, Germany’s health minister said the country should prepare for “several very challenging weeks” amid a rise in coronavirus cases. Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters in Berlin on Friday that “the situation remains tense,” as the country’s disease control centre reported 12,834 newly confirmed cases in the past day, and 252 new COVID-related deaths.

The head of the agency, Lothar Wieler, said Germany is “at the beginning of the third wave” of infections following surges in cases last spring and in the fall.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn, left, speaks with Dr. Andreas Carganico in Berlin on Thursday, ahead of the country’s plan to offer the COVID-19 vaccine in doctors’ offices, starting next month. (Hannibal Hanschke/The Associated Press)

Spahn noted there has been a drop in serious illnesses and deaths among the elderly, as most people over 80 in Germany have now received a virus vaccine. He said Germany has managed to administer more than 200,000 first shots daily this week. As more supplies arrive, shots will be administered not just in special vaccine centres but, from mid-April, also in doctors’ practices, said Spahn.

In Africa, South Africa’s health minister has said the country’s rollout goals for vaccinations may need to be changed because of supply issues. The country had aimed to have 65 per cent of people vaccinated by the end of the year, the Mail & Guardian reported. The mass rollout effort is still set to begin in April, Dr. Zweli Mkhize said — though he did not offer a firm date.

Mozambique, meanwhile, expects to receive 1.7 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccines by May from various bilateral sources.

In the Asia-Pacific region, India has registered its worst single-day jump in coronavirus cases since late December with 23,285. The sharp spike is being attributed to the western state of Maharashtra.

India has so far reported more than 11.3 million cases, the world’s second-highest after the United States. Infections have been falling steadily since a peak in late September, but experts say increased public gatherings and laxity is leading to the latest surge.

The increase is being reported in six states, including Maharashtra where authorities have announced a weeklong lockdown in the densely populated Nagpur city next week. The vaccinations there will continue.

India is in its second phase of its COVID-19 inoculation campaign and plans to vaccine 300 million people by August. The vaccination drive that began in January is still running way below capacity.

More than 26 million people have gotten a shot, though only 4.72 million are fully vaccinated with both doses.

WATCH | COVID-19 cases rise in India amid religious festival and vaccine hesitancy:

One of the world’s largest religious festivals is taking place in India and public health officials are worried. Not only is the country a COVID-19 hotspot, but vaccine hesitancy is high and experts say many people falsely believe the country has attained herd immunity. 2:17

Mayors have decided to reimpose a seven-hour night curfew in the Philippine capital region of more than 12 million people amid a spike in coronavirus infections, which forced dozens of villages to be placed back under police-enforced lockdowns.

Authorities would enforce the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for two weeks starting Monday in Metropolitan Manila, where most cases in a new surge of infections have been reported this week, said Benhur Abalos, who heads the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.

The Philippines has reported the highest number of confirmed infections at more than 600,000 and more than 12,500 deaths among 24 pandemic-hit countries in the Western Pacific region, the World Health Organization said.

President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he did not know how he could considerably ease quarantine restrictions when cases continue to surge. He said he may be able to further reopen the economy when millions of Filipinos have been vaccinated. But the government’s vaccination campaign has faced supply problems and public reluctance.

“We cannot forever be in the strict protocols because we have to open the economy. People are hungry … they have to work, to eat, to survive,” Duterte said. “I am, I said, in a quandary of what to do.”

In the Americas, Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera has announced a raft of new measures aimed at helping middle class families stay afloat amid a new wave of coronavirus contagions that has sent swaths of the country back into lockdown.

A worker drives a car with flowers and the coffin of a person who died from COVID-19 at the Campo da Esperanca cemetery in Brasilia, Brazil, on Thursday. (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters)

Hospitals in Brazil’s main cities are reaching capacity, health officials warned, triggering tighter restrictions on Thursday in its most populous state.

In the Middle East, Iran remained the hardest-hit country, with more than 1.7 million recorded cases of the virus and a death toll of more than 61,000.

From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 8:45 a.m. ET

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CBC | Health News

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

The latest:

Australia is seeking assurances from the European Union’s executive arm that future shipments of vaccines will not be blocked, after Italy banned a large export of the AstraZeneca coronavirus shots.

The shipment to Australia of more than a quarter-million doses was blocked from leaving the 27-nation bloc — the first use of an export control system instituted by the EU to make sure big pharmaceutical companies respect their EU contracts.

The ban was requested by Italian authorities and approved by the EU in a move that frustrated the Australian government.

“The world is in uncharted territory at present; it’s unsurprising that some countries would tear up the rule book,” Finance Minister Simon Birmingham told Sky News Australia on Friday. Birmingham acknowledged, however, that Australia received 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week, and “that will see our current distribution plan work.”

Australia’s immunization program began last month and the government expects the vaccine will be made available to anyone who wants it by October. The country has secured 53.8 million doses of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, 50 million of which will be made in Australia in a partnership with Melbourne-based biopharmaceutical company CSL.

“We are obviously disappointed and frustrated by this decision,” Birmingham said. “It is very much a reminder of the desperation that exists in other parts of the world, compared with the very good position we found ourselves in here in Australia.”

According to Australian media, Health Minister Greg Hunt has asked the European Commission to review the Italian decision.

The shipment ban was the latest development in the dispute between the EU and AstraZeneca over delays in deliveries.

Faced with shortages of doses during the early stages of the vaccine campaign that started in late December in the bloc, the EU issued an export control system for COVID-19 vaccines in late January, forcing companies to respect their contractual obligations to the bloc before commercial exports can be approved.

The EU has been specifically angry with AstraZeneca because it is delivering far fewer doses to the bloc than it had promised. Of the initial order for 80 million doses to the EU in the first quarter, the company will be struggling to deliver half that quantity.

The EU thought it had made excellent preparations for the rollout of vaccines. With its 450 million people, the EU has signed deals for six different vaccines. In total, it has ordered up to 400 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and sealed agreements with other companies for more than two billion shots.

But only 33 million doses have been given so far, and only 11 million Europeans have been fully vaccinated. Despite the current difficulties, the EU’s goal remains to vaccinate 70 per cent of the adult population in the bloc by the end of summer.

Europe’s vaccine solidarity got a boost on Friday after France said it could emulate Italy’s move to block coronavirus vaccine exports outside the European Union if that’s what is needed to enforce the bloc’s own contracts with drugs manufacturers.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran said he “understood” the Italian’s government decision and indicated France “could do the same.”

“Believe me, the more doses I have, the happier I am as health minister,” Veran said in an interview with BFMTV channel, adding that France and its European partners are determined to have their contracts with drug makers enforced.

Highlighting the EU’s role in the vaccine research, development and production, the German government also justified the export restriction.

“In general, vaccine exports aren’t stopped as long as the contracts with the EU are abided by,” German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said. “A lot of vaccines go from the EU to third countries, while nothing or almost nothing is exported from the United States and Great Britain.”

Earlier, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said that it in general terms, it was right for the EU to ensure that vaccine makers followed through on promised deliveries. But he also said  it was important for EU-wide co-ordination on export restrictions.

-From The Associated Press, last updated at 11:40 a.m. ET

What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | What is different about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine?:

As a single dose COVID-19 vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson product will be especially helpful for people who sometimes have difficulty accessing health care, says Dr. Lisa Bryski, a retired ER doctor in Winnipeg. 1:23

As of 12:15 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 880,454 cases of COVID-19, with 29,888 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,183.

single-dose product from Johnson & Johnson that has already been approved in the U.S. on Friday became the latest product to be approved in Canada.

Canada has a deal to procure 10 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and an option for 28 million more.

The update came as officials in Manitoba announced that all eligible adults in the province could have at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by mid-May, or the end of June at the latest. The move comes a day after a similar announcement by the premier of Nova Scotia.

Alberta has also revised its estimates around vaccines, with Health Minister Tyler Shandro saying on Thursday that the province expects “to have offered every single adult in the province at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine” by June 30.

Across the North, Nunavut reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, all of them in the hamlet of Arviat. Premier Joe Savikataaq said in a statement that people shouldn’t make “assumptions or hurtful comments” about COVID-19 in the community, which is currently dealing with 17 active cases.

“More than ever, we need to practise compassion, support and fostering positivity,” the premier said. “The work the community has done over the last 112 days has been nothing short of incredible.”

Health officials in Yukon and the Northwest Territories had not yet reported updated figures on Friday.

Ontario, meanwhile, reported 1,250 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 22 additional deaths. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 643, with 280 people in intensive care.

The province will decide Friday what level of restrictions to place on three COVID-19 hot spots still under strict stay-at-home orders. The government extended those orders for Toronto, Peel Region and North Bay two weeks ago due to high virus case numbers..

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Friday while New Brunswick reported four new cases.

Health officials in the other Atlantic provinces had not yet provided updates for the day, but on Thursday, Newfoundland and Labrador reported five new cases of COVID-19. In Prince Edward Island, health officials reported one additional case of COVID-19 on Thursday.

Quebec reported 798 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 10 additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 617, with 111 COVID-19 patients in the province’s intensive care units, according to a provincial dashboard.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 51 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths on Thursday. In neighbouring Saskatchewan, health officials reported 169 new cases of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, and two additional deaths.

In Alberta, health officials reported 331 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and nine additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 245, the province said, with 47 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units.

British Columbia reported 564 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths on Thursday. The province had 248 COVID-19 patients in hospital. with 63 in intensive care units.

WATCH | How language and cultural classes have adapted to the pandemic:

Language and cultural classes across Canada have had to reduce class sizes or move online to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, while still remaining open. 1:59

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 12:15 p.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

A medical worker receives a dose of a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Tokyo Metropolitan Cancer and Infectious Diseases Center Komagome Hospital on Friday. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/The Associated Press)

As of late Friday morning, more than 115.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, with more than 65.4 million of the cases listed on the Johns Hopkins University tracking site as resolved. The global death toll stood at more than 2.5 million.

In the Americas, after two straight days of record COVID-19 deaths in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday told Brazilians to stop “whining” and move on, in his latest remarks attacking distancing measures and downplaying the gravity of the pandemic.

Brazil has the world’s second-highest death toll over the past year, after the United States. While the U.S. outbreak is ebbing, Brazil is facing its worst phase of the epidemic yet, pushing its hospital system to the brink of collapse.

COVID-19 patients lie on beds at a field hospital set inside a sports coliseum in Santo Andre, on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, Brazil on Thursday. (Andre Penner/The Associated Press)

“Enough fussing and whining. How much longer will the crying go on?” Bolsonaro told a crowd at an event. “How much longer will you stay at home and close everything? No one can stand it anymore. We regret the deaths, again, but we need a solution.”

The country’s health ministry registered 75,102 additional cases of coronavirus on Thursday, the most in a single day since July and the second-highest on record. Brazil also recorded 1,699 more fatalities from the respiratory illness, down slightly from the previous two days of record deaths.

Brazil’s surging second wave has triggered new restrictions in its capital, Brasilia, and its largest city, Sao Paulo. Tourist mecca Rio de Janeiro on Thursday announced a city-wide curfew and early closing time for restaurants.

Cuba has begun late-stage trials of its most advanced experimental COVID-19 vaccine, edging closer to a potential home-grown inoculation.

In Europe, France will extend COVID-19 weekend lockdowns to the region around the Channel coast town of Calais, following similar lockdowns around Nice and Dunkirk.

In the Middle East, Kuwait will impose a 5 p.m to 5 a.m. curfew and close parks from Sunday until April 8 in a bid to contain the coronavirus, the government’s spokesperson said on state TV.

In Africa, Kenya began vaccinating people on Friday against COVID-19 with AstraZeneca shots hoped to help revive the battered tourism-dependent economy of East Africa’s richest nation.

“This may mark the beginning of the end of the pandemic,” said Susan Mochache, a senior official at the health ministry.

Nairobi received over a million AstraZeneca doses on Wednesday, the first of 3.56 million shots via the global, vaccine-sharing COVAX facility. Top of the list are 400,000 health staff and other essential workers.

Kenya plans to vaccinate 1.25 million people by June and another 9.6 million in the next phase, with more vaccines expected within weeks.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan’s regulators were asked on Friday to approve use of the COVID-19 vaccine of Moderna Inc., the third such vaccine in the nation that began its inoculation effort last month.

The filing was announced by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., which is handling domestic approval and imports of about 50 million doses of the Moderna shot. Takeda has previously said approval could be given in May.

-From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 7:15 a.m. ET

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CBC | World News

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

The latest:

  • ‘Our plan is working,’ Trudeau says amid new vaccine delays.
  • Ottawa uncertain if Moderna shortage will impact Indigenous vaccine rollout.
  • B.C. extending its pandemic restrictions indefinitely.
  • Ontario reports 1,670 new cases of COVID-19 as test positivity rate dips to lowest in months.
  • U.S. Senate passes budget plan to advance Biden’s $ 1.9-trillion US COVID aid package.
  • Israel plans to begin slowly easing its latest coronavirus lockdown on Sunday.
  • Have a question about the coronavirus pandemic? Send your question to COVID@cbc.ca.

President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress forged ahead with their $ 1.9 trillion US COVID-19 relief package on Friday as lawmakers approved a budget outline that will allow them to muscle Biden’s plan through in the coming weeks without Republican support.

By a party-line vote of 219-209, the House of Representatives passed the budget plan, after the Senate approved it in a pre-dawn vote. Vice-President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate for the first time.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted the final COVID-19 relief legislation could pass Congress before March 15, when special unemployment benefits that were added during the pandemic expire.

Meeting at the White House, Biden and top Democrats said they wanted to enact the massive aid package as quickly as possible to beat back a pandemic that has killed more than 450,000 Americans and left millions of jobless.

Biden said he was open to compromise with Republicans as long as they did not slow things down.

“If I have to choose between getting help right now to Americans who are hurting so badly and getting bogged down in a lengthy negotiation … that’s an easy choice,” he said. “I’m going to help the American people hurting now.”

U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate to approve a measure that would let Democrats muscle the relief plan through the chamber without Republican support. (Greg Nash/Pool/Reuters)

Continued weakness in the job market, underscored by data released on Friday, proved the need for aggressive action, Biden said.

Republicans have floated a $ 600 billion US aid package, less than a third the size of the Democratic plan. Even some Democrats, such as Larry Summers, an economic adviser to former President Barack Obama, have warned that Biden might be spending too much.

Republican Representative Michael Burgess said Congress should wait until all of the previous $ 4 trillion US in pandemic relief has been spent. He said $ 1 trillion US has yet to go out the door.

“Why is it suddenly so urgent that we pass another $ 2 trillion bill?” Burgess demanded.

The budget resolution enables Democrats to pass Biden’s plan by a simple majority in the Senate instead of the 60 votes required for most legislation. That means Democrats, who control 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber, might not need Republican votes. Democrats have a 10-seat majority in the House.

In its overnight session, the Senate voted to oppose an immediate increase of the federal minimum wage from $ 7.25 per hour to $ 15 per hour. Senators also backed a motion calling for direct payments of up to $ 1,400 to be tailored to low-income earners. The White House says it is open to that idea.

The House vote Friday incorporated the Senate’s changes.

The approved amendments do not carry the force of law in a budget blueprint, but can serve as guidelines for developing the actual coronavirus aid bill in coming weeks.

New signs of weakening economy

The push for stimulus comes amid new signs of a weakening U.S. economy. Employers added just 49,000 jobs in January, after cutting 227,000 jobs in December, the Labour Department said Friday. Restaurants, retailers, manufacturers and even the health-care sector shed workers last month, meaning that private employers accounted for a meagre gain of 6,000 jobs last month.

“At that rate, it’s going to take 10 years until we hit full employment,” Biden said at the meeting with House Democrats. “That’s not hyperbole. That’s a fact.”

In this August 2020 file photo, a pedestrian is shown in front of a business that is closing amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

The unemployment rate fell to 6.3 per cent from 6.7 per cent, but there was a decline in the number of people who were either working or looking for a job in a sign that some people are dropping out of the labour force. The U.S. economy is 9.9 million jobs shy of its pre-pandemic level.

Biden, who has been meeting with lawmakers in recent days to discuss the package, welcomed the leaders of House committees who will be assembling the bill under the budget process known as “reconciliation.”

Biden also plans to make remarks Friday on the economy as he keeps up the pressure on Congress to “act big” on his relief package.

Concerns over Super Bowl

Coronavirus deaths in the United States surpassed 450,000 on Thursday, and daily deaths remain stubbornly high at more than 3,000 a day, despite falling infections and as the country races to vaccinate more people.

Infectious disease specialists expect deaths to start dropping soon, after new cases hit a peak right around the beginning of the year. New COVID-19 deaths could ebb as early as next week, said the new director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

San Diego International Airport workers hold a rally on Thursday to demand being put on the COVID-19 vaccine priority list. The biggest driver to the U.S. death toll over the past month has been California, which has averaged more than 500 deaths per day in recent weeks. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

But there’s also the risk that improving trends in infections and hospitalizations could be offset by people relaxing and coming together — including this Sunday, to watch football, she added.

“I’m worried about Super Bowl Sunday, quite honestly,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Thursday in an interview with The Associated Press.

Public health experts are watching Florida closely this week, because the Super Bowl will be played in Tampa. City leaders and the NFL are trying to physical social distancing by capping attendance at a third of the stadium’s capacity — 22,000 people.

– From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 3:00 p.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

As of 7:00 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 797,757 cases of COVID-19 — with 46,418 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 20,609.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that he understands why there is a “tremendous amount of anxiety” among Canadians with the constant flow of bad news about the inoculation campaign, but he doubled down on his promise to deliver six million shots by the end of March.

“We are very much on track,” he said.

Trudeau asked Canadians to tune out the “noise” from some circles about the sorry state of the country’s vaccine efforts, saying the temporary “ups and downs” in the rollout may be frustrating to “some people,” but they’re just that — temporary.  

WATCH | Physical distance key to preventing transmission of variants, York’s chief medical officer says:

There is obvious community transmission of COVID-19 variants, according to York Region Medical Officer of Health Dr. Karim Kurji, who says the virus needs to be contained as it has the capacity to increase case numbers exponentially. 7:51

British Columbia is extending its pandemic restrictions indefinitely, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced Friday. The province’s current orders were set to expire at midnight.

“Right now, we need to stay the path,” Henry said. “We need to protect the progress we have made and not squander our progress.”

Recent days have seen a slow downward trend in the number of new daily cases in B.C., and the number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 is now at its lowest level since Nov. 21.

Ontario logged its lowest test positivity rate in months as it reported another 1,670 cases of COVID-19 and 45 additional deaths on Friday.

Labs completed 62,710 tests for the coronavirus and reported a provincewide positivity rate of 2.5 per cent — the lowest it has been since Oct. 22, 2020.

WATCH | Quick detection key to stopping spread of variants, immunologist says:

In order to limit the spread of COVID-19 variants, cases must be detected quickly to ensure isolation occurs, says microbiologist and immunologist Craig Jenne. 3:21

In Quebec, officials have also announced more details on the province’s plan for a gradual return to class for CEGEPs, colleges and universities.

Starting next week, students in red zones can head back several times a month, ideally once a week, Quebec’s Higher Education Minister Danielle McCann said Thursday. Classroom capacity is being capped at 50 per cent for theory classes, and everyone must maintain a 1.5-metre distance and wear a mask.

Quebec reported 1,101 new cases and 33 new deaths on Friday, as the province’s public health director said the government is increasing its capacity to analyze COVID-19 cases for the presence of coronavirus variants.

Dr. Horacia Arruda said eight cases of the more infectious variant discovered in the United Kingdom have been identified so far in the province.

Nova Scotia announced Friday that public health restrictions will be eased as of Monday, Feb. 8, to allow for some gatherings. Retail shops and fitness facilities may operate at 75 per cent capacity, and some outdoor events may proceed with 150 people or less. The province announced no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the active number of cases to eight. Two patients are in hospital, including one in the ICU.

In other provincial and territorial updates, Alberta reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 variants from the United Kingdom and South Africa. That brings the variant total in the province to 78. In all, the government says there are 396 new infections and nine additional deaths. There are 475 people in hospital with the virus; 89 of those are in intensive care.

New Brunswick reported seven new cases, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island reported one new case each. Nunavut reported no new cases. Manitoba reported 110 new cases Friday, as well as one death.

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

– From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:00 p.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

As of Friday afternoon, more than 105 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 58.4 million of those 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 Americas, the White House said the Pentagon will deploy more than 1,100 troops to help vaccinate people in the United States against COVID-19. Biden has called for setting up 100 mass vaccination centres around the country within a month. Two of the five new military teams will go to vaccination centres opening in California. Three additional centres are expected to be announced soon.

A nurse changes the diaper of a newborn baby lying in an incubator who is infected with COVID-19 at the coronavirus neo-natal unit of the Monica Pretelini Saenz Maternal Perinatal Hospital in Toluca, Mexico on Thursday. (Luis Cortes/Reuters)

In Africa, Burundi has become at least the second African country to say it doesn’t need COVID-19 vaccines, even as doses finally begin to arrive on the continent that’s seeing a deadly resurgence in cases.

The health minister of the East African nation, Thaddee Ndikumana, told reporters on Thursday evening that prevention is more important, and “since more than 95 per cent of patients are recovering, we estimate that the vaccines are not yet necessary.”

The minister spoke while announcing new measures against the pandemic. The country closed its land and water borders last month. It now has well over 1,600 confirmed coronavirus cases.

In the Middle East, Israel plans to begin slowly easing its latest coronavirus lockdown on Sunday, hoping that its rapid vaccination campaign helps to contain an outbreak accelerated by new variants.

Israelis get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Clalit Health Services, in a gymnasium in the central Israeli city of Hod Hasharon on Thursday. (Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images)

A government statement released early Friday details the lifting of restrictions. People will no longer have to remain within 1,000 metres of home, national parks will reopen, and restaurants can offer takeout. Workplaces not open to the public can also reopen.

Yemen expects a first batch of 2.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by March through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility, and Saudi Arabia could separately finance shots for about half of the population, agencies involved have said.

Six years of war in Yemen have left what little remains of its health system relying on foreign aid. The health ministry for Yemen’s internationally recognized government on Friday said it had applied to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) for it to finance vaccines for 50 per cent of the population.

KSRelief could not immediately be reached for comment. Saudi’s finance minister last month said his country was talking to manufacturers to provide COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries including Yemen.

In the Asia-Pacific region, all 507 Australian Open players and staff who stayed at a quarantine hotel where a worker contracted COVID-19 have tested negative and been cleared to participate in the Grand Slam, tournament director Craig Tiley said on Friday.

Health officials said on Wednesday that a worker at the Grand Hyatt hotel had contracted the virus, prompting the testing and quarantining of 160 players, as well as coaches and Australian Open officials. Warm-up matches at Melbourne Park were called off on Thursday but resumed on Friday.

A person wearing a face mask enters a drugstore in Berlin on Thursday. Most shops in Germany are still closed to avoid the spreading of the coronavirus, but essential stores are allowed to open. (Markus Schreiber/The Associated Press)

In Europe, Germany’s health minister says first batches of the newly authorized Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be delivered to the country’s 16 states Friday.

Jens Spahn said the addition of a third vaccine would “make a real difference” to Germany’s immunization campaign, which has so far been sluggish compared to the United States or Britain. But Spahn said that, for now, the AstraZeneca shot will only be given to people aged 18-64, due to lack of data on older age groups.

Spain has reported its first case of the COVID-19 variant first detected in Brazil in a passenger arriving at Madrid airport The Madrid regional health department said Friday the 44-year-old man arrived from Brazil on Jan. 29 and had a negative PCR document but tested positive in an antibody test at the airport. He was taken to a city hospital, which later confirmed the variant.

On Friday, Spain reported 28,565 new coronavirus cases, resuming a downward trend. Spain has registered 2.9 million cases and a confirmed death toll of 61,386. The country this week began tightening restrictions on flights from Brazil and South Africa owing to variants detected in those countries. It already has similar restrictions with Britain.

British officials say everyone arriving in the country from coronavirus hot spots will have to spend 10 days in hotel quarantine starting Feb. 15 in a bid to stop new variants of the virus reaching the U.K.

Arrivals from high-risk countries will have to quarantine in approved hotels patrolled by security guards and will be billed for their stay. The government is facing criticism for the delay in implementing the policy, which it first announced in late January.

Poland’s prime minister says hotel, theatres, ski lifts, swimming pools and other facilities will be allowed to reopen with conditions such as limited capacity, social distancing and mask use starting next week.

Prime Minster Mateusz Morawiecki said Friday that the country’s existing pandemic restrictions have led to a “fragile stabilization” in the number of new COVID-19 cases but the number of deaths, around 400 daily, remains “very disturbing.”

– From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

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

The latest:

  • California issuing waivers allowing hospitals to temporarily bypass the nation’s only strict nurse-to-patient ratios as COVID-19 cases surge.
  • EU makes a deal for 300 million additional doses of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
  • U.K. regulators approve Moderna vaccine, the 3rd to be OK’d for use in the country.

Elementary students in southern Ontario will be learning at home for at least another two weeks, the province’s top doctor said Thursday, after health officials reported 3,519 new cases of COVID-19, another single-day high.

Health officials in Ontario also reported 89 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 4,856.

The province said that elementary students in 27 southern Ontario regions will continue with online learning until Jan. 25. In northern Ontario, elementary students will return to class as scheduled on Jan. 11, but the broader shutdown in the sprawling region will be extended another two weeks to align with the rest of the province.

Canada’s most populous province has seen rising case numbers in several communities and the strain on the health-care system is mounting. As of Thursday, 1,472 COVID-19 patients were in hospital, with 363 in the province’s intensive care units.

Premier Doug Ford is expected to speak at 10 a.m ET, alongside his education and health ministers.

Hospitals in hard-hit regions are being told to prepare to transfer patients within their region and even outside it, CBC’s Mike Crawley reports.

In a memo dated Thursday obtained by CBC News, Ontario Health president and CEO Matthew Anderson said all hospitals, “must be ready to accept patient transfers when directed by their regional COVID-19 response structure.”

Neighbouring Quebec, which recently updated its restrictions and announced a four-week curfew, is also facing a strained health system. As of Thursday, the province was reporting 1,380 COVID-19 hospitalizations, with 202 people in intensive care units.

Quebec, which reported 2,519 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 74 deaths, is opening elementary schools as planned on Jan. 11, with high schools to open a week later.

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick officials expressed concern after reporting 24 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday, a slight decrease from Wednesday’s single-day record of 31.

“The current situation is the worst we have seen so far during this pandemic,” said New Brunswick’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell.

New Brunswick — like the other Atlantic provinces — has seen far fewer cases than Central and Western Canada, with just 717 total cases reported since the pandemic began. But with numbers rising, health officials urged people to follow the rules, be honest with contact tracers, and support people who are in isolation because of a positive test or a contact.

Premier Blaine Higgs said Friday that if people follow the rules, the province should be able to avoid even tighter restrictions.

“This thing could get away from us and that is exactly what’s happening in other provinces,” he told Information Morning Fredericton.

In Nova Scotia, health officials reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, while Prince Edward Island reported one new case. There were no new cases reported in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Health officials in Manitoba, reported 201 additional COVID-19 cases on Thursday, with 12 additional deaths. Restrictions on gatherings and business openings are set to expire Friday, however Premier Brian Pallister said earlier this week that he didn’t expect any significant change.

“We still have a high number of cases in acute care. We still have surgeries and diagnostics being deferred,” Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba’s acting deputy chief of provincial public health, said during a conference call Thursday.

Saskatchewan, meanwhile, reported 334 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths on Thursday.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said restrictions in place since mid-December banning private gatherings will remain until at least Jan. 21. Classrooms, however, will reopen as planned on Monday.

In central Alberta, the Red Deer hospital is feeling the strain of rising COVID-19 caseloads.

“Our intensive care has now overflowed into coronary care, which means patients in coronary care are now being managed in other areas of the hospital,” said Dr. Kym Jim, an internal medicine specialist at Red Deer Regional Hospital.

Across the North, there were three new cases reported in Yukon on Thursday, with no new cases in the Northwest Territories. In Nunavut, Agnico Eagle said in a news release Thursday that a worker had tested positive for COVID-19 in late December and been flown to their home province and instructed to follow local public health rules.

British Columbia‘s top doctor, meanwhile, said COVID-19 restrictions that were set to expire Friday have been extended to Feb. 5.

Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the extension while reporting eight more deaths and 761 new cases of COVID-19, saying the spike is partly related to changes in streamlining its reporting. However, the curve of the second wave in B.C. is trending up again, Henry said Thursday.

“If we see positive trends in our cases and our hospitalizations … we will monitor that as well,” said Henry. “Right now, we need to hold the line.”

As of early Friday morning, Canada had reported 635,143 cases of COVID-19, with 80,289 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 16,579.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, updated at 6:55 a.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

A nurse dons personal protective equipment to attend to a patient in a COVID-19 intensive care unit at Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Community Hospital on Wednesday in the Willowbrook neighbourhood of Los Angeles. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Friday morning, more than 88.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 49.1 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 case tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 1.9 million.

In the Americas, the U.S. alone has seen more than 21.5 million cases of COVID-19 and 365,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins. More than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths were reported on Thursday alone, according to the U.S.-based university. The New York Times, which has also been tracking COVID cases and deaths in the U.S, put the number of deaths reported Thursday even higher, at 4,111.

Facing a massive surge in coronavirus cases, California has been issuing waivers allowing hospitals to temporarily bypass the nation’s only strict nurse-to-patient ratios.

Nurses say that being forced to take on more patients is pushing them to the brink of burnout and affecting patient care.

At least 250 of about 400 hospitals in California have been granted 60-day waivers. They allow ICU nurses to care for three instead of two people and emergency room nurses to oversee six patients instead of three.

Nurses in other states have demanded law-mandated ratios like those in California but so far have failed to get them.

Brazil, which has seen more than 7.9 million cases of COVID-19, passed a grim milestone as its death toll surpassed 200,0000. The health ministry said Thursday that the country had 1,524 deaths in the previous 24 hours, rising to a total of 200,498 for the pandemic.

Mexico, meanwhile, continues to see record increases in coronavirus cases, with a 24-hour caseload of 13,734 confirmed infections setting a new high for the second consecutive day.

In Europe, the executive branch of the European Union has secured 300 million extra doses of the coronavirus Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Speaking during a news conference in Brussels on Friday, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the agreement will double the number of doses ordered by the 27-nation bloc. The EU commission later said in a statement that the commission has proposed to member states to purchase an additional 200 million doses of the vaccine, with the option to acquire another 100 million doses.

“This would enable the EU to purchase up to 600 million doses of this vaccine, which is already being used across the EU. The additional doses will be delivered starting in the second quarter of 2021,” the EU said.

Combined with the contract finalized with Moderna — the second vaccine authorized so far in the region — Von der Leyen said the EU now has the capacity to vaccinate 380 million people, more than 80 per cent of the EU population.

The news from the EU comes as Britain authorized a coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna, the third to be licensed for use in the country.

The Department of Health said Friday that the vaccine meets the regulator’s “strict standards of safety, efficacy and quality.”

Britain has ordered 10 million doses of the vaccine, though it is not expected to be delivered to the U.K. until spring.

So far Britain has inoculated 1.5 million people with two other vaccines.

“Vaccines are the key to releasing us all from the grip of this pandemic, and today’s news is yet another important step towards ending lockdown and returning to normal life,” Business Secretary Alok Sharma said.

Germany, meanwhile, reported a record 1,188 daily COVID-19 deaths on Friday, only days after further tightening a national lockdown.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan is considering extending a state of emergency from the Tokyo metropolitan area to other regions as cases increase, a move that could heighten the risk of a double-dip recession for the world’s third-largest economy.

A police officer asks people to refrain from going out after 8 p.m. in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo on Friday during the first day under a state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

Beijing shut places of worship and authorities restricted access to a highway to the city of Shijiazhuang, which is battling a new cluster of infections.

Travellers to Australia will have to show a negative COVID-19 test before they can board their plane, as Brisbane went into lockdown after the discovery of a case of a virulent new variant.

The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, meanwhile, reported its first COVID-19 death 10 months after initially detecting the virus and managing to keep the disease under control by largely sealing off the country.

In the Middle East, Israel tightened a national lockdown in a bid to curb a sharp rise in new cases, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promising that all Israeli adults could be vaccinated by the end of March.

South Africa, the hardest-hit nation in Africa, said this week it will import 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to inoculate the country’s health workers.

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

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

The latest:

British health officials warned Friday that hospitals around the country face a perilous few weeks amid surging new coronavirus infections that have been blamed on a new variant of the virus.

The United Kingdom recorded a further 53,285 cases of COVID-19 and 613 deaths on Friday, the fourth day running that it has topped 50,000 cases, official data showed. The rise in cases compares with the 55,892 that were reported on Thursday, while the death tally marks a fall from the 964 reported the day before.

Concerns are mounting about the impact on the overstretched National Health Service. Field hospitals constructed in the early days of the pandemic but that were subsequently mothballed are being reactivated.

The Royal College of Nursing’s England director, Mike Adams, told Sky News that the U.K. was in the “eye of the storm” and that it was “infuriating” to see people not following physical distancing guidance or wearing masks.

A leading physician also warned of burnout among health workers on the front line of the outbreak in hospitals, while also urging people to follow the rules.

Medics transport a patient from an ambulance to the Royal London Hospital as the spread of COVID-19 continues in London, sparking concern about the state of the health-care system. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

“I am worried,” Adrian Boyle, vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, told the BBC. “We are very much at battle stations.”

New infections have more than doubled in recent weeks after a new variant that health experts have said appears to be significantly more contagious was found to be behind a big spike in cases around London and the southeast of England.

Given the lags between new cases and hospitalizations and subsequent deaths, there are huge concerns about the path of the pandemic over the coming month or two in a country that has Europe’s second-highest virus-related death toll at nearly 74,000.

As a result of the spike, which has spread around the country and seen lockdown restrictions tightened, the strategy around the rollout of vaccines has been changed to get more people an initial jab as soon as possible, with a scheduled second one delayed.

In a joint statement Thursday, the chief medical officers for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, said the first vaccine dose offers “substantial” protection.

Currently, two vaccines have been approved for use in the U.K.

Just under 1 million people have received the first dose of the vaccine developed by American pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech, with a small minority also getting the second dose as planned after 21 days.

Alongside the approval earlier this week of the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, a new dosing regimen was outlined, aimed at providing a speedier rollout. This means the second dose of both vaccines now will be within 12 weeks of the first.

The four medical officers said they were “confident” the first dose of both vaccines would provide “substantial” protection.

“In the short term, the additional increase of vaccine efficacy from the second dose is likely to be modest; the great majority of the initial protection from clinical disease is after the first dose of vaccine,” they said.

The new plan has faced widespread criticism, with the U.K.’s main union for doctors warning that delaying the second dose causes huge problems for thousands of partially vaccinated elderly and vulnerable people.

“It is grossly and patently unfair to tens of thousands of our most at-risk patients to now try to reschedule their appointments,” said Richard Vautrey from the British Medical Association.

From The Associated Press and REutesr, last updated at 10:55 a.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Mandatory COVID-19 tests add turbulence between airlines, Ottawa:

The federal government has set Jan. 7 as the date when airline passengers will require a negative COVID-19 test before entering Canada. The decision has added turbulence to the already fraught relationship between Ottawa and the airlines. 1:56

Quebec, the hardest-hit province in Canada, exceeded 200,000 COVID-19 infections on Thursday after reporting a record 2,819 new cases — a record single-day high.

Health officials in the province also reported 62 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, bringing the provincial death toll to 8,226. Hospitalizations stood at 1,175 with 165 people in intensive care units.

Quebec also said Thursday that it’s changing its COVID-19 vaccine strategy in order to vaccinate as many people as possible instead of holding doses back for booster shots — a practice already in place in several other provinces.

As of Thursday, the province had received 87,000 doses of vaccine and has administered 29,250 injections.

Quebec wasn’t the only province to shatter its single-day COVID-19 case record on Thursday — Ontario reported 3,328 cases of COVID-19, becoming the first province to report more than 3,000 cases in a single day.

As of early Friday morning, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 580,195, with 74,777 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 15,605.

British Columbia’s provincial health officer on Thursday urged people to start 2021 by following COVID-19 precautions to prevent a surge in cases similar to those in other jurisdictions.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said persistence under adversity during 2020 has helped save lives, but some sacrifices must continue before more people can be vaccinated. She said 17,510 people in every region of the province have had their first dose of a vaccine, mostly the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Here’s a look at what’s happening with COVID-19 across the country:

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 7 a.m. ET

What’s happening in the U.S.

Hundreds of people waited in line at Lakes Park Regional Library to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Fort Myers, Fla., earlier this week. (Andrew West/The News-Press/USA Today Network/Reuters)

Florida health authorities late Thursday reported finding evidence of the latest U.S. case of the new and apparently more contagious coronavirus strain first seen in England, saying it was detected in a man with no recent travel history.

The case, disclosed in a Florida Health Department statement tweeted on its HealthyFla site, comes after reports in recent days of two individual cases of the new strain of COVID-19 discovered in Colorado and California.

Florida’s health statement said the new virus variant was detected in a man in his 20s in Martin County, which abuts the Atlantic Coast above densely populated South Florida. The health department did not give further details, such as releasing the man’s medical condition or how the strain was detected.

California on Wednesday announced the nation’s second confirmed case of the new virus strain. The announcement came 24 hours after word of the first reported variant infection in the U.S., which emerged in Colorado — in a National Guardsman who had been sent to help out at a nursing home struggling with an outbreak.

Scientists in the U.K. believe the variant is more contagious than previously identified strains. The cases have triggered questions about how the version circulating in England arrived in the U.S. and whether it is too late to stop it now, with top experts saying it is probably already spreading elsewhere in the United States.

Medical staff member Diana Isabel Escalante talks to a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit on New Year’s Eve at the United Memorial Medical Center on in Houston, Texas. (Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

The U.S. has been dealing with rising case numbers and a vaccination effort that hasn’t moved forward as quickly as officials hoped. More than 19.9 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the U.S. and the country has seen more than 345,000 deaths.

In Wisconsin, authorities arrested a suburban Milwaukee pharmacist Thursday suspected of deliberately ruining hundreds of doses of coronavirus vaccine by removing them from refrigeration. Police in Grafton, about 32 kilometres north of Milwaukee, said the Advocate Aurora Health pharmacist was arrested on suspicion of reckless endangerment, adulterating a prescription drug and criminal damage to property, all felonies.

The pharmacist has been fired and police said in a news release that he was in jail. Police did not identify the pharmacist, saying he has not yet been formally charged. His motive remains unclear. Police said that detectives believe he knew the spoiled doses would be useless and people who received them would mistakenly think they’d been vaccinated when they hadn’t.

-From The Associated Press, last updated at 7:20 a.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

A sign that reads ‘Happy Year 2021’ is seen inside an intensive care unit where patients with COVID-19 are treated at Hospital General on New Year’s Eve in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. (Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters)

As of early Friday morning, more than 83.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide with more than 47.1 million cases considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 1.8 million.

The World Health Organization says it has cleared the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for emergency use, meaning poorer countries may soon get access to the shot already available in Europe and North America.

Every country that has a drug regulatory agency will have to issue its own approval for any COVID-19 vaccine, but countries with weak systems usually rely on WHO to vet the shots.

The global body said late Thursday that the decision to issue its first emergency use validation for a COVID-19 vaccine “opens the door for countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes to import and administer the vaccine.”

The UN health agency said its review found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has already received clearance in the United States, Britain, Canada, the European Union and a dozen other countries, “met the must-have criteria for safety and efficacy set out by WHO.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has to be stored at ultra-frozen temperatures, a big hurdle for developing countries where the required freezers and reliable electricity supply may not be available.

“This requirement makes the vaccine more challenging to deploy in settings where ultra-cold chain equipment may not be available or reliably accessible,” WHO said, adding that it was “working to support countries in assessing their delivery plans and preparing for use where possible.”

In Europe, France’s nationwide overnight curfew to limit coronavirus infections is being extended by two extra hours in 15 regions in the east of the country where cases have been surging.All travellers entering Norway will have to take a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of arrival from Jan. 2, the country’s justice ministry said.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines will prohibit the entry of foreign travelers from the United States effective Jan. 3, President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson said on Friday, after the more infectious new variant of the coronavirus was detected in Florida.

The travel ban, until Jan. 15, covers those who have been to the United States within 14 days preceding arrival in the Philippines, spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement. The measure expands the travel restriction that Manila announced on Tuesday, which initially covered passengers from 19 countries and territories — including Canada — and took effect as of midnight on Dec. 29.

Two major airports in northeastern China are requiring departing passengers to show a negative coronavirus test taken over the previous 72 hours before they can board their planes.

The requirements by the Shenyang and Dalian come amid a small but persistent growth in cases in the two cities located in Liaoning province just north of the capital Beijing. Four new cases were announced Friday in Liaoning, along with another five cases in Beijing, where emergency testing was ordered for more than a million people following the detection of a small cluster in the northeastern suburbs.

Wary of another wave of infections, China is urging tens of millions of migrant workers to stay put during next month’s annual Lunar New Year holiday.

A woman checks her temperature as she visits a popular entertainment street to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Bangkok during the coronavirus pandemic in Thailand. (Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters)

The Thai capital is shutting down venues including schools and entertainment parks as coronavirus cases continue to spread. Thailand reported 279 new cases on Friday including two deaths.

In the Americas, Brazil reported more than 1,000 deaths from the coronavirus for a third day in a row. Brazil has seen more than 7.6 million cases of COVID-19 and nearly 195,000 deaths.

In Africa, Chad has locked down its capital N’djamena for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic and has declared a dusk to dawn curfew due to a rise in infections.

In the Middle East, Israel said it has vaccinated 1 million people against COVID-19, more than a tenth of its population, as it rolls out one of the world’s earliest and most rapid inoculation campaigns.

Iranian media said Thursday the country is negotiating the purchase of coronavirus vaccines from China. The semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s chief of staff Mahmoud Vaezi as saying: “We are reaching agreement with China for buying 4 million doses.”

Vaezi said the process would take around two months. Iran has already discussed buying vaccines from both Russia and India. China on Thursday authorized the Sinopharm vaccine for general use, after it had already approved its use earlier to health-care professionals and essential workers under emergency-use guidelines. Vaezi said Iran will also buy 16.5 vaccines from COVAX, the global vaccine consortium.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 10:45 a.m. ET

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EU trade talks with Britain at ‘difficult’ point, expected to resume later Friday

British and EU trade talks are expected to resume later on Friday after negotiators took a break, a British government source said, following reports they had broken up for the day.

Earlier Friday, Britain’s business minister said the talks are at a “difficult” point, as British officials poured cold water on hopes of an imminent breakthrough — and France said it could veto any agreement it didn’t like.

U.K. Business Secretary Alok Sharma said Britain was “committed to reaching an agreement.”

“But, of course, time is short and we are in a difficult phase. There’s no denying that,” he told the BBC. “There are a number of tricky issues that still have to be resolved.”

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, his British counterpart David Frost and their teams remained locked in talks in a London conference centre Friday after a week of late-night sessions fuelled by deliveries of sandwiches and pizza. 

U.K. officials sought to dampen hopes of an imminent deal, briefing media outlets that the EU had set back negotiations by making last-minute demands — an allegation the bloc denies.

Seeking deal for new year

The U.K. left the EU early this year, but remains part of the 27-nation bloc’s economic embrace during an 11-month transition as the two sides try to negotiate a new free-trade deal to take effect Jan. 1. Any deal must be approved by lawmakers in Britain and the EU before year’s end.

An electronic billboard in London displays a British government information message on Friday advising businesses to prepare for Brexit. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Talks have dragged on as one deadline after another has slipped by. First, the goal was a deal by October, then by mid-November. On Sunday, Britain said the negotiations were in their final week.

European Council President Charles Michel noted that it wasn’t the first time that deadlines had slipped.

“We will see what will happen in the next days,” he said in Brussels. “But the end of December is the end of December and we know that after the 31st of December we have the 1st of January, and we know that we need to have clarity as soon as possible.”

A trade deal will allow goods to move between Britain and the EU without tariffs or quotas after the end of this year, though there would still be new costs and red tape for businesses on both sides of the English Channel.

If there is no deal, New Year’s Day will bring huge disruption, with the overnight imposition of tariffs and other barriers to U.K.-EU trade. That will hurt both sides, but the burden will fall most heavily on Britain, which does almost half its trade with the EU.

Months of tense negotiations have produced agreement on a swath of issues, but serious differences remain over the “level playing field” — the standards the U.K. must meet to export into the bloc — and how future disputes are resolved. That’s key for the EU, which fears Britain will slash social and environmental standards and pump state money into U.K. industries, becoming a low-regulation economic rival on the bloc’s doorstep.

Fish factor

But the U.K. government, which sees Brexit as all about “taking back control” from Brussels, is resisting curbs on its freedom to set future economic policies.

Another sticking point is fish, a small part of the economy with an outsized symbolic importance for Europe’s maritime nations. EU countries want their boats to be able to keep fishing in British waters, while the U.K. insists it must control access and quotas.

Fishing is especially important to France, which is seen by many on the U.K. side as the EU nation most resistant to compromise.

“If there was to be an agreement and it was not good … we would oppose it,” Clement Beaune, France’s junior minister in charge of European Affairs, told Europe 1 radio. “France, like all its (EU) partners, has a veto right.”

If there is no weekend breakthrough, next week will bring more complications. On Monday, Britain’s House of Commons will vote on a bill that gives Britain the power to breach parts of the legally binding withdrawal agreement it struck with the EU last year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government acknowledges that the Internal Market Bill breaches international law, and the legislation has been condemned by the EU, U.S. president-elect Joe Biden and scores of British lawmakers, including many from Johnson’s own Conservative Party.

The House of Lords, Parliament’s upper chamber, removed the law-breaking clauses from the legislation last month, but Johnson’s government says it will ask lawmakers to reinsert them.

That would further sour the talks, demolishing any goodwill that remains between the two sides.

German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert stressed that EU nations wanted a deal, “but not at any cost.”

“And of course we must also prepare for all scenarios, including for the possibility that there won’t be an agreement,” he said.

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CBC | World News

Feds to meet Indigenous leaders Friday to discuss racism in health system

The federal government is ready to use its financial leverage over the health system to fight anti-Indigenous racism in health care, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says.

He says that includes promoting Indigenous health workers and calling out racism wherever it’s seen.

“The federal power to spend with conditions, it’s clear, it is a constitutional right. It exists within health,” he said Thursday. “The question then is how best to do it.”

Miller said the treatment of Joyce Echaquan, who used her phone to livestream hospital staff using racist slurs against her as she lay dying in a Quebec hospital, is more evidence of the ways the system has failed Indigenous people for generations.

Miller said he doesn’t think it’s helpful to try to punish provinces for inadequate action on racism, especially in the middle of a pandemic, but the federal government has a moral duty to set and maintain standards.

The provinces are seeking billions more dollars in health transfers from the federal government, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promising a first-ministers conference on the subject soon.

“Putting more money into a system which is beset by systemic issues with prospective systemic racism can’t be the only solution nor the only reply,” Miller said.

Major meeting set for Friday

Miller said he and Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett are holding an emergency meeting on the problem Friday with as many as 200 participants, including Indigenous leaders.

The goal is to hear from Indigenous people, including health professionals, who have lived through racist treatment in the health system while politicians like Miller and Bennett listen.Rebecca Kudloo, the president of Pauktuutit Women of Canada, said in a statement Thursday she will participate in the meeting to highlight how the Canada Health Act is failing Inuit women and girls.

“The bottom line is that racism experienced before an Inuit woman even seeks health care impacts her socioeconomic status which, in turn, negatively impacts the quality of health care she receives and her health outcomes,” said Kudloo.

WATCH | Federal ministers, Indigenous leaders to discuss racism in health care:

Canada’s Indigenous services minister says the federal government will meet with Indigenous leaders to talk about racism in the health-care system after an Indigenous woman recorded nurses insulting her before her death in a Quebec hospital last month. 2:05

Kudloo said she will table recommendations to address racism experienced by Inuit women and children in the health-care system. These recommendations include increased funding, ensuring anti-racism education, culturally aware training and hiring Inuit staff at all levels.

The meeting will be focused foremost on the lived experiences of professionals in the health care system including Indigenous professionals, Miller said.

He said the task will be to sketch out a plan to address racism based on the views of Indigenous professionals who are living racism every day.

“This is not an artificial situation. This is an opportunity for people to share their experiences,” he said.

The meeting aims to make sure that medical professional organizations are respecting cultural sensitivities and recruiting more Indigenous people, Miller says. It also aims to explore ways to guarantee better education on racism and accountability from those hurting Indigenous people.

The participants will be able to reflect on the issues after the meeting.

“We can have a clear pathway, for example in January, to come back to the table with goals,” he said.

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CBC | Health News

Coronavirus: What’s happening around the world on Friday

The latest:

  • Ottawa says COVID-19 tracing app now in beta testing.
  • Trump warming up to masks but political battles continue over their use.
  • India becomes the 7th country to see over 30,000 COVID-19 deaths.
  • Britain’s indoor mask rules go into effect. 
  • South Korea to begin allowing fans at pro sports stadiums, slowly.

The White House touted a coronavirus briefing on Thursday by Donald Trump as a discussion of a strategy to reopen U.S. schools, but some education experts were left underwhelmed.

Trump insisted that every school should be “actively making preparations to open.” Students need to be in school buildings to prevent learning setbacks, he said, and to access meal programs and mental health services.

Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos made opening schools a key priority to restart the economy. Students need to return to the classroom so their parents can return to work, the president has said.

DeVos has echoed those sentiments and she erroneously told a conservative radio show last week that “kids are actually stoppers of the virus.”

Trump’s push has at times put him at odds with his own health officials. Earlier this month, he said school guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were too tough, prompting the agency to promise updated guidance.

“He’s provided no plan and no funding and has ignored the health experts,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, one of the nation’s largest education unions. “Teachers won’t let him get away with it.”

The CDC on Thursday added new information to its website on opening schools, but it did not appear to remove any of its earlier suggestions. Much of the new material emphasized the importance of reopening schools.

Florida teachers, whose unions are against their members returning to school, hold a car parade protest in front of the Pasco County School District office in Land O’ Lakes, Fla., on July 21. (Octavio Jones/Reuters)

The CDC updated guidance laid out a range of measures depending on the level of spread. If there’s minimal or moderate spread, it recommends physical distancing, masks and increased sanitation.

The agency allowed that in areas with substantive and uncontrolled spread, school closure is an “important consideration.”

“Plans for virtual learning should be in place in the event of a school closure,” the CDC said.

The Los Angeles and San Diego districts have already announced a plan to keep classes online this fall, while New York City’s schools plan to offer a mix of online and in-person instruction.

Many states said they urgently need funding to implement safety measures. A group of state education chiefs said in the spring U.S. schools would need more than $ 200 billion US to prepare for a fall reopening.

Trump on Thursday said he’s asking Congress to provide $ 105 billion in education funding as part of the next virus relief bill. It’s meant to help schools reduce class sizes, hire teachers, rearrange spaces and provide masks, he said.

Meanwhile, Trump has made his most unequivocal pitch for Americans to wear masks to slow the spread of the virus this week, but political battles over the face coverings are still taking place in the U.S.

WATCH | Can kids wear masks all day, and other school questions:

Doctors answer questions about reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic including whether it’s safe and what precautions are needed to mitigate spread of the virus. 5:29

Republican attorney general Derek Schmidt of Kansas said he believes both counties and local school districts can exempt themselves from the governor’s order requiring schools to have staff and students wear masks because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly replied in a scathing statement, accusing him of creating “more hurdles and uncertainty” during the pandemic. Kelly issued her masks-in-schools order Monday, imposing rules that are stricter than guidelines set by the state board of education.

As well, a Georgia judge on Thursday ordered Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to enter mediation over the governor’s lawsuit aimed at stopping the city from enforcing its requirement that people wear masks in public.

The Republican governor’s office filed a lawsuit on July 16 against Bottoms and the Atlanta city council, arguing that local officials lack the legal authority to override Kemp’s orders. Should mediation fail, an emergency hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

WATCH | B.C. man hoarse, underweight but alive after ordeal:

A British Columbia man nearly died multiple times during the 105 days he spent in the hospital battling COVID-19. He survived, but some of the damage remains. 2:17

What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 7:30 a.m. ET on Friday, Canada has seen 112,671 confirmed coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 98,519 of those as recovered or resolved and a total of 5,244 still active. A CBC News tally based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting indicates that 8,908 Canadians have died.

The federal government says a smartphone app meant to warn users if they’ve been in close contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus is now in beta testing.

(CBC News)

The app was supposed to be tried out in Ontario starting early this month, but the trial to look for bugs and other problems was delayed.

Now, the Canadian Digital Service — an agency that puts federal services online — is asking people to sign up for the app and try it out.

What’s happening in the rest of the world

Britain is requiring citizens to wear face coverings in shops effective Friday, joining a long list of countries that have made masks mandatory under some circumstances in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

After weeks of prevarication and days of confused messaging, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government laid down the mask edict on July 13 due to “growing evidence that wearing a face covering in an enclosed space helps protect individuals and those around them from coronavirus.”

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the Tollgate Medical Centre in Beckton, London. Mandatory mask wearing in Britain is expanded, effective today. (Jeremy Selwyn/Reuters)

Many European nations, including Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece, already required masks to be worn in enclosed spaces, but Britain had only made masks obligatory on public transit.

Those who flout the law can be fined up to 100 pounds ($ 170 Cdn) by police under public health laws.

Meanwhile, Johnson said Friday he thought the country would be through the coronavirus crisis by mid-2021.

“Whether it came from … a bat, a pangolin or however it emerged, it was a very, very nasty thing for the human race. And I think by the middle of next year we will be well on the way past it,” he told reporters.

France is reporting a sharp uptick in coronavirus cases, with more than 1,000 new infections on Thursday.

Health authorities say cases on the French mainland have surged by 66 per cent in the past three weeks, with a 26 per cent increase in the last week alone. Concerns about rising cases had already prompted the government to make mask-wearing mandatory in all indoor public spaces this week.

In their daily update on France’s outbreak that has already killed 30,182 people, health authorities said people aren’t taking as much care to physically distance and that “our recent habits have favoured the spread of the virus for several weeks now.”

There’s new hope this week in the quest for a COVID-19 vaccine. Trials for two vaccines, one at Oxford University and another being worked on here in Canada, are showing some promising results. And they’re just two possible frontrunners from scores of vaccines being tested around the globe. Today, Emily Chung, the creator of CBC’s vaccine tracker, tells us where we are on the path to approving vaccines, and what bumps may lie in the road ahead. 19:38

India has surpassed 30,000 deaths and its COVID-19 fatalities are now sixth in the world.

The Health Ministry on Friday added 740 deaths due to COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, increasing the toll to 30,601. The total now exceeds France’s toll, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.

India also registered a record 49,310 new cases. As cases surge, the Home Ministry advised all government offices, states and officials to avoid congregations for Aug. 15 Independence Day celebrations.

Commuters wearing face masks jostle for a ride on a bus while discarding physical distancing guidelines in Kolkata, India earlier this week. India has passed France on the grim list of coronavirus deaths per country. (Bikas Das/The Associated Press)

Major League Baseball held its Opening Day in the U.S. on Thursday for an abbreviated season, but fans were not present for precautionary reasons. In South Korea, baseball fans are to return to the stands beginning Sunday as health authorities outlined a phased process to bring back spectators in professional sports amid the pandemic.

Senior Health Ministry official Yoon Tae-ho during a virus briefing on Friday also said fans will be allowed at professional soccer games starting on Aug. 1. However, professional golf tournaments will continue without galleries at least until late August, he said.

Infielder Kim Yong-Eui of LG Twins throws the ball to first base in a July 11 game at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. South Korean officials laid out plans to begin allowing some fans into most professional baseball and soccer stadiums in South Korea. (Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images)

Both baseball and soccer teams will be initially allowed to sell only 10 per cent of the seats for each game to begin. Fans will also be screened for fevers and required to sit apart in the seats. They will be required to wear masks, banned from eating food and drinking beer, and discouraged from excessive shouting, singing and cheering during the game.

Stadium officials will also register fans with smartphone QR codes so that they could be easily located when needed.

Bolivia announced Thursday it was postponing its election for over a month to Oct. 18. The announcement comes as police and funeral homes have reported dealing with a surge of deaths in recent days, most likely owing to COVID-19.

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CBC | World News

Coronavirus: What’s happening around the world on Friday

The latest:

  • Florida reports 9,488 new confirmed cases, a day after setting new daily record.
  • Atlantic bubble opens, allowing travellers from within the four provinces to cross borders.
  • U.K. scraps quarantine for some visitors as pubs set to reopen. 
  • Brazil surpasses 1.5 million coronavirus cases, with over 63,000 deaths.
  • Australian authorities consider locking down more Melbourne suburbs.
  • Officials in Beijing say 10 million people have been tested for coronavirus.

Florida has reported 9,488 new confirmed cases and 67 deaths, a day after setting a new daily record with more than 10,000 cases.

The state’s health department’s tally of hospitalizations was higher Friday at 341 new admissions, one of the biggest daily increases since the pandemic began. Statewide, about 20 percent of ICU beds are currently available, though some hospitals have additional capacity that can be turned into ICU units.

Ten Democratic legislators urged Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday to require Floridians to wear masks. They want the governor to make masks mandatory in public spaces, indoors and outdoors, when physical distancing isn’t possible. The Republican governor has resisted those calls.

“This is not a partisan issue; this is an issue of life and death,” the legislators said in a letter to DeSantis. “This small but important gesture will have big consequences for the greater good.”

Citing staffing shortages at local hospitals, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez issued a curfew that begins Friday night and will be in place indefinitely. The order closes casinos, movie theatres and other entertainment venues.

“This curfew is meant to stop people from venturing out and hanging out with friends in groups, which has shown to be spreading the virus rapidly,” Gimenez said in a statement.

The Cuban-born Republican had previously announced beaches would be closed over the July 4 weekend.

The U.S. is heading into the holiday weekend with many parades and fireworks displays cancelled, beaches and bars closed and health authorities warning that this will be a crucial test of Americans’ self-control that could determine the trajectory of the surging coronavirus outbreak.

With confirmed cases climbing in 40 states, governors and local officials have ordered the wearing of masks in public, and families were urged to celebrate their independence at home. Even then, they were told to keep their backyard cookouts small.

WATCH | U.S. records biggest daily increase in COVID-19 cases:

The U.S. has recorded its biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, and there are fears the July 4 weekend will make things worse. 2:01

“We’re not going to be arresting people for having gatherings, but we’re certainly going to discourage it,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, public health director for Seattle and King County.

The warnings were sounded after a Memorial Day weekend that saw many people emerge from stay-at-home orders to go to the beach, restaurants and family gatherings. Since then, confirmed infections per day in the U.S. have rocketed to an all-time high, more than doubling.

The U.S. set another record on Friday with 52,300 newly reported COVID-19 cases, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, bringing the total number in the U.S. to nearly 2.8 million. Nearly 130,000 people have died. 

Arizona, California, Florida and Texas have been hit especially hard.

Arizona has reached new peaks in hospitalizations and emergency room visits, indicating the state is intensifying as a coronavirus hot spot. State health officials say the capacity of intensive care units is at an all-time high of 91 per cent. The state reported Friday 4,433 confirmed cases and 31 deaths. The total stands at 91,858 cases and 1,788 deaths.

A patient is transferred to another room outside of the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have spiked since Texas reopened, pushing intensive-care wards to full capacity. (Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump planned to travel to South Dakota on Friday for a fireworks show at Mount Rushmore before returning to the nation’s capital for military flyovers Saturday as well as a mile-long pyrotechnics display show on the National Mall. Up to 300,000 face masks will be given away, but not required.

The big party will go on over objections from Washington’s mayor.

“Ask yourself, do you need to be there? Ask yourself, can you anticipate or know who all is going to be around you? If you go downtown, do you know if you’re going to be able to socially distance?” Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

Beaches that had been open for the traditional start of summer over Memorial Day weekend will be off-limits in many places this time, including South Florida, Southern California and the Texas Gulf Coast.

What’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada

As of 7:15 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 105,091 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 68,693 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,712. 

The Atlantic bubble starts Friday, allowing travellers from within the four provinces to cross borders without having to self-isolate for 14 days. Each province has its own set of rules for visitors.

Travellers within the Atlantic provinces will not be required to self-isolate after crossing the borders. However, public health and proof of residency screening — showing a driver’s licence or health card — will be maintained at points of entry.

Visitors from other Canadian provinces and territories must adhere to the local entry requirements in place in each of the four jurisdictions. Other Canadian visitors to the Maritime provinces who have self-isolated for 14 days may travel within the region, but not to Newfoundland and Labrador, said P.E.I. Premier Dennis King.

As of Friday, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are the only Atlantic provinces with active cases, both currently having three, with N.S. recording two new cases this week.

Here’s what’s happening around the world

Neither Canada nor the United States is on a newly released U.K. government list of countries whose residents won’t have to self-isolate for 14 days when they arrive in Britain.

The U.K. government unveiled the list on Friday. It includes almost 60 countries deemed “lower risk” for the coronavirus, including France, Spain, Germany and Italy.

Travellers won’t have to go into isolation if they didn’t visit any other country or territory in the preceding two weeks before they arrive in Britain.The quarantine exemptions will start on July 10.

WATCH | Prince William visits pub as U.K. prepares to ease COVID-19 measures:

Pub staff chatted about physical distancing and other measures being taken to protect patrons moving forward. 1:30

While Canada is not on the list, the U.K. said that beginning July 4, Canada will be exempt from its Foreign Office advice against all non-essential international travel. This is based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks, the U.K. government said on its travel advisory website.

News of the travel exemptions came as Britain takes its biggest step yet out of lockdown with the reopening in England of restaurants, pubs and hairdressers, along with secular and sacred venues, including cinemas and churches.

Brazil registered 42,223 additional coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Friday, bringing the total tally to 1,539,081, the second-worst outbreak in the world behind the United States.

The number of coronavirus deaths rose by 1,290 to 63,174, according to the ministry.

The virus continues to ravage Latin America’s largest country even as cities reopen bars, restaurants and gyms sparking fears infections will keep rising.

In Rio de Janeiro, crowds gathered to drink on the sidewalk of an upscale beach-side neighbourhood on Thursday night, the first evening bars in the city were allowed to reopen.

Pictures of the revelry in Leblon, where few were wearing face masks and people were huddled close together, went viral on social media drawing condemnation and concern.

Workers handle a coffin at the Rio Pax funeral company storage in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday. Brazil surpassed 1.5 million coronavirus cases on Friday, with over 63,000 deaths. (Pilar Olivares/Reuters)

South Africa on Friday confirmed another record high number of daily virus cases with 8,728 as anxiety grows in Johannesburg, the country’s latest hot spot.

The city has more than 22,000 cases and Gauteng province, which also includes the capital, Pretoria, now has nearly 30 per cent of the country’s cases.

South Africa has Africa’s most confirmed cases with more than 168,000.

The country has the most developed health-care system in sub-Saharan Africa and in places it’s already pushed near the limit, with more than 2,000 health-care workers infected and beds in Gauteng’s public hospitals filling up.

Australian authorities are considering locking down more suburbs in Melbourne, where 66 new coronavirus cases were reported.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said suburbs with more than five cases and a high infection rate could be added to the 36 suburbs that have been locked down since Wednesday.

Members of the Australian Defence Force take a swab sample at a drive-thru coronavirus testing station in the Melbourne suburb of Fawkner on Thursday. (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

Sydney, Australia’s largest city, said a man who recently tested positive had been working in a Balmain supermarket.

Around 50 supermarket staff have gone into isolation. Health authorities have urged people who have visited the supermarket and show symptoms to be tested.

South Korea has reported 63 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 as health authorities scramble to mobilize public health tools to the southwestern city of Gwangju, where more than 50 people were found sickened over the past week.

The figures announced by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday brought the national caseload to 12,967 infections, including 282 deaths.

Thirty-one of the new cases were reported from the Seoul metropolitan area, which has been at the centre of a virus resurgence since late May.

Six of the new cases came from Gwangju, where officials have raised concern over possible shortages in hospital capacities, while 13 of them came from the southeastern city of Daegu, which had been the epicentre of a major outbreak in February and March.

The municipal government of Gwangju, which had one of the smallest caseloads among major South Korean cities before this week, has shut hundreds of schools and banned gatherings at wedding halls, banquet facilities and senior welfare centres to stem the transmissions.

Buddhists attend a ceremony celebrating the anniversary of the birth of Buddha at a Jogye temple amid the pandemic outbreak in Seoul, South Korea. (Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un urged officials to maintain alertness against the coronavirus, warning that complacency risked “unimaginable and irretrievable crisis,” state media said Friday.

Despite the warning, Kim reaffirmed North Korea’s claim to not have had a single case of COVID-19, telling a ruling party meeting Thursday that the country has “thoroughly prevented the inroad of the malignant virus” despite the worldwide health crisis.

A student wearing a face mask undergoes a temperature check as he arrives for a lecture at the Pyongyang University of Medicine in Pyongyang, North Korea. The insular nation claims to not have had a single case of COVID-19. (Kim Won Jin/AFP/Getty Images)

Outsiders widely doubt North Korea escaped the pandemic entirely.

Describing its anti-virus efforts as a “matter of national existence,” North Korea earlier this year shut down nearly all cross-border traffic, banned tourists and mobilized health workers to quarantine anyone with symptoms. Experts say the country’s self-imposed quarantine is hurting an economy already battered by stringent U.S.-led sanctions over its nuclear weapons and missile program.

India reported another single-day record high of new virus cases Friday while its monuments like the Taj Mahal will reopen for tourists next week.

The 20,903 new cases took the national total to 625,544. The Health Ministry also reported another 379 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking fatalities up to 18,213.

With the current rate of infections, India is expected to surpass Russia’s 660,000 cases in the coming days and become the third worst-hit country after the U.S. and Brazil. It has the eighth-most fatalities in the world, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, but both numbers are thought to be far higher than has been confirmed.

A Kashmiri Muslim woman wearing a face mask prays outside a shrine in Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, on Friday. Congregational and individual prayers in mosques and shrines remained suspended in the Kashmir valley due to the COVID-19 lockdown, leading to devotees crowding outside shrines. (Mukhtar Khan/The Associated Press)

After a strict two-month lockdown, India has eased its restrictions in most of the country except for the highest-risk areas.

Officials in China’s capital city say 10 million people have been tested for the coronavirus.

Samples had been collected from 10.4 million people, about half the city’s population, through Thursday and tests had been completed on nearly 10.1 million, according to Zhang Qiang, a Communist Party official,

Starting Saturday, officials say Beijing will lift a requirement that anyone leaving the city must have a negative coronavirus test result within the past seven days. Authorities imposed the testing requirement and restricted outbound travel after an outbreak emerged three weeks ago.

Beijing officials reported two new cases in the previous 24-hour period, raising the total confirmed in the three-week outbreak to 331.

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CBC | Health News

Coronavirus: What’s happening around the world on Friday

The latest:

  • Daily confirmed coranvirus cases hit an all-time high of 40,000 in the United States.
  • 1.4 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, though the numbers are declining.
  • Canadian charities are asking for more government aid due to economic crisis and ‘massive disruption.’
  • British Health Secretary warns the government may close beaches following mass gatherings.
  • India nears half a million confirmed cases after its biggest 24-hour increase on Friday
  • Trump administration seeks to invalidate the Affordable Care Act.
  • Provincial governments have ‘failed supporting seniors‘ during the pandemic, says Trudeau.

The number of confirmed new coronavirus cases in a single day in the United States hit an all-time high of 40,000 Friday — eclipsing the mark set during one of the deadliest stretches in late April — in a resurgence that has led some governors to backtrack or at least pause the reopening of their states.

While the increase is believed to reflect, in part, greatly expanded testing, experts say there is ample evidence the virus is making a comeback, including rising deaths and hospitalizations in parts of the country, especially in the South and West. Arizona, Texas and Florida are among the states that have been hit hard.

The number of confirmed infections soared past the previous high set on April 24 of 36,400, according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University.

Deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. are down to around 600 per day, compared with about 2,200 in mid-April. Some experts have expressed doubt that deaths will return to that level, in part because of advances in treatment and prevention, but also because a large share of the new infections are in younger adults, who are more likely than older ones to survive.

WATCH | Infectious disease specialist on global response to COVID-19:

Dr. Michael Gardam says U.S. figures suggesting the coronavirus is 10 times more widespread than official statistics indicate could very well be accurate. 6:42

The virus is blamed for 124,000 deaths in the U.S. and 2.4 million confirmed infections nationwide, by Johns Hopkins’ count. But the true numbers are probably much higher because of limited testing and other factors. Officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, relying on blood tests, estimated Thursday that 20 million Americans have been infected. That is about six per cent of the population and nearly 10 times higher than the official count. 

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced the state is postponing further efforts to reopen following his decision to lift stay-home restrictions. The state saw 3,056 additional infections Thursday, the fourth day in a week with an increase over 3,000. Twenty-three per cent of tests conducted in the state over the past seven days have been positive, nearly triple the national average, and a record 415 patients were on ventilators. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also temporarily halted the state’s reopening on Thursday, after the state saw one of the biggest jumps in new cases, reporting more than 6,000 in a single day on Monday.

What’s happening with COVID-19 in Canada

As of 9:30 a.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 102,622 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 65,425 of the cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 8,552.

In Europe, the official in charge of Spain‘s response to COVID-19 says imported infections are a growing source of concern as the continent readies to welcome more visitors.

Epidemiologist Fernando Simon said Thursday that 54 people who had contracted the disease in the past week have been linked to recently arrived visitors in Spain. He suggested that controls should be strict and that regional and local governments should be ready to apply localized isolation to avoid spreading the disease. 

King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain greet spectators as they take a walk on the promenade of Platja de s’Arenal in Palma de Mallorca. (Clara Margais/Getty Images)

In Britain, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the government has the power to close beaches and other public spaces amid growing concerns over the public’s adherence to physical distancing rules. 

Huge crowds on English beaches Thursday prompted the concern. Trash bins overflowed, extra police were called and the rural roads gridlocked by beachgoers now have signs stating the area is full. 

Hancock told TalkRadio that he was “reluctant” to close public spaces as “people have had a pretty tough lockdown.” However, he said, “we will take action” if there is a spike in the number of coronavirus cases.

Watch | Massive crowds ignoring physical distancing rules flock to U.K. beaches:

Some parts of the U.S. are bracing for the impact on hospitals as cases of COVID-19 surge amid a lack of political will to respond. 2:01

Meanwhile, Sweden‘s chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, lashed out at the World Health Organization on Friday, calling it “a total mistake” to put his nation on a list of countries where “accelerated transmission” could overwhelm health systems. “This is unfortunately a total misjudgment of the Swedish data,” Tegnell told Swedish radio. 

The report by the WHO’s Europe office on Thursday named 11 countries, including Sweden, Armenia, Albania, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. Sweden has seen a steep rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, but this has been attributed to an increase in testing. 

State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell of the Swedish Public Health Agency speaks during a press conference in Stockholm. (Magnus Andersson/TT News Agency/AFP/Getty Images)

In Asia, the virus has seen a comeback. In China, where the pandemic originated in December, authorities have mobilized resources for mass testing and locked down parts of Beijing this month due to an outbreak that has infected 260 people. The 11 new cases reported in the capital Friday continued a downward trend, which suggests transmissions have been largely brought under control.

In Japan, officials recorded more than 100 new infections on Friday. It is the first time the country has seen numbers that high since May 9.

Meanwhile, India neared half a million confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday following its biggest 24-hour spike of 17,296 new infections, prompting a delay in resumption of regular train services of more than a month.

A security guard waits to check the body temperature of customers outside a shop in New Delhi. (Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images)

The new cases took India’s total to 490,401. The Health Ministry also reported 407 more deaths in the previous 24 hours, taking its total fatalities to 15,301.

At the same time, other countries with large populations like Indonesia, Pakistan and Mexico grappled with large caseloads and strained health-care systems. The world’s fourth-most populous country, Indonesia, passed 50,000 cases on Thursday, with at least 2,620 deaths, the highest number of cases and fatalities in Southeast Asia. That’s up from just two positive cases in early March. 

Pedestrians wearing face masks walk through a market in central Seoul, South Korea. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images)

A comeback of the virus is also erasing hard-won gains in South Korea, which reported 39 newly confirmed cases on Friday, mostly from the densely populated capital area that had escaped the worst of the country’s outbreak in February and March. There’s criticism that authorities, concerned about a fragile economy, were too quick to ease physical distancing guidelines and reopen schools in May.

In Africa, an outbreak of diarrhea has killed nine people out of more than 1,500 cases in the past month in Zimbabwe‘s second-largest city, highlighting the problems for a weak public health system already struggling with rising cases of COVID-19.

At the same time, South Africa — which accounts for about half of the infections on the continent with 118,375 — reported a record 6,579 new cases, as transmissions increase after it loosened what had been one of the world’s strictest lockdowns earlier this month. 

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