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World University Games in China postponed until 2022

Summer Sports

The World University Games that were due to open in China in just over four months have been postponed until next year, the governing body the FISU said on Friday.

Decision prompted by pandemic, travel restrictions

The World University Games, which features about 8,000 athletes, was to have opened in Chengdu in western China on Aug. 18, just days after the closing of the Tokyo Olympics. (Feng Li/Getty Images/file)

The World University Games that were due to open in China in just over four months have been postponed until next year, the governing body the FISU said on Friday.

The Switzerland-based FISU said COVID-19 and travel restrictions prompted the postponement, adding the decision was made jointly with officials in China.

The multi-sport event, which features about 8,000 athletes, was to have opened in Chengdu in western China on Aug. 18, just days after the closing of the Tokyo Olympics. A rescheduled date has not been announced.

The country has two other large multi-sport events coming up. The Winter Olympics open on Feb. 4, 2022 in Beijing, and the Asian Games, which feature more sports than the Olympics, are set for Hangzhou from Sept. 10, 2022.

China has become the go-to nation for many of these mega-events because it pays the costs, builds venues quickly, and does not need voter approval, which is common in many European countries.

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CBC | Sports News

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

The latest:

Ontario announced a provincewide “shutdown” to combat a spike in coronavirus cases on Thursday, as federal health officials reported that nearly 15 per cent of Canadian adults have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Citing the need for drastic action, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the change will take effect Saturday and continue for at least four weeks.

The government is asking Ontarians to limit trips outside the home to necessities such as food, medication and other essential services, but stopped short of imposing a stay-at-home order like it did in January.

Retail stores will see limits on capacity while restaurants will be restricted to takeout, delivery and drive-thru service, the premier said.


Nurses from Humber River Hospital’s mobile vaccine clinic administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Toronto and Region Islamic Congregation Centre as part of the coronavirus vaccination campaign in Toronto on Thursday. (Carlos Osorio/Reuters)

The government has said schools will also remain open because they are crucial to the mental health of students.

“The decision was not made lightly,” Ford said. “I know the toll these restrictions continue to take on people’s mental health and well-being.”


The announcement comes hours after the province’s science advisers said stay-at-home orders are needed to control the third wave driven by more contagious and deadly COVID-19 variants.

The move came a day after Quebec Premier François Legault announced tighter rules in three cities he said are facing a “critical” situation in his own province.

Legault announced on Wednesday that people in Quebec City, Gatineau and Lévis should “remain at home unless they absolutely have to go to work.” The new measures, which begin Thursday evening, will last 10 days. Schools in the three communities will close, Legault said, as will non-essential businesses. The curfew in those areas will move up to 8 p.m. ET.

Montreal is not among the communities affected by the stepped-up restrictions, but the premier didn’t rule out further action.

WATCH | Quebec response to spike in cases:

The Quebec government has implemented an emergency shutdown in three regions, Levis, Gatineau and Quebec City, after a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases over the last week. 2:01

“The third wave is here,” said Legault, who noted during his briefing that hospitalizations are expected to increase in the coming weeks. “I ask you not to gather in homes and please get vaccinated as soon as you can.”

Quebec on Thursday reported 1,271 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 487, with 119 people in the province’s intensive care units (ICUs), according to a provincial dashboard.

Health officials in Ontario reported 2,557 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 23 additional deaths. According to data released by the province to the public, hospitalizations stood at 1,116, with 433 people listed as being in ICUs.

Figures from Critical Care Services Ontario posted on Twitter by the president of the Ontario Hospital Association Thursday morning put the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care at 430. (Provincial officials have previously said the data published to the dashboard doesn’t include cases in which patients are no longer testing positive for COVID-19.)

WATCH | Ontario ICUs under pressure:

Critical care specialist Dr. Jamie Spiegelman says Ontario’s intensive care units are under pressure as COVID-19 cases spike. ‘We’re definitely seeing a younger population coming into the ICU,’ he says. 5:45

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 4:15 p.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada


A pedestrian walks past signs on a construction site fence in Ottawa Thursday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

As of 1:10 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had reported 985,954 cases of COVID-19, with 49,106 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,991.

Health officials in Nova Scotia reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. Premier Iain Rankin announced that people aged 70 and older can now book for the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials reported one new travel-related case of COVID-19 on Thursday.


A pedestrian walks past a mural featuring a masked health-care worker on Ottawa’s Rideau Street on Thursday. (CBC / Radio-Canada)

In New Brunswick, health officials reported 10 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, while Prince Edward Island reported a single new case.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 59 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and two additional deaths.

In neighbouring Saskatchewan, health officials reported 199 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and no additional deaths.

In Alberta, health officials reported 871 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths on Wednesday. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 301, with 63 patients reported to be in intensive care.

WATCH | Alberta doctor says tighter measures needed: 

Alberta needs more strict measures to curb a ‘beast’ of a coronavirus variant that is making young people much sicker, says Dr. Darren Markland, an intensive care physician in Edmonton. 6:09

In British Columbia, health officials reported three additional deaths Wednesday and 1,013 daily COVID-19 cases — breaching the 100,000 mark of total cases since the pandemic began. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 304, with 80 in intensive care.

Across the North, there was one new case of COVID-19 reported in a Yukon resident (though the individual was out of the province at the time.) There were no new cases reported in Nunavut or the Northwest Territories.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 3:35 p.m. ET


What’s happening around the world


Medical workers put on personal protective gear before entering the room of a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit of the Andre-Gregoire intercommunal hospital on the outskirts of Paris on Thursday, as the country adopted new measures to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus. (Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Thursday afternoon, more than 129 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a coronavirus tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.8 million.

The COVAX facility, which is a key part of the effort to get COVID-19 vaccines to lower-income countries, faces a “serious challenge” to meet demand, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference on Thursday.

“Last week, I made an urgent request to countries, with doses of COVID-19 vaccines that have WHO Emergency Use Listing, to share 10 million doses immediately with COVAX,” he said.

“I requested manufacturers to help ensure that the countries that step up can rapidly donate those doses. This challenge has been heard but we’re yet to receive commitments for these doses. I’m still hopeful that some forward looking and enlightened leaders will step up,” he said.

Tedros’s remarks came after Pfizer said its vaccine continues to show efficacy against COVID-19 up to six months later. The drug company and its German partner, BioNTech, announced updated results Thursday from their ongoing late-stage study of more than 44,000 volunteers.

The companies said the vaccine showed efficacy of 91 per cent against symptomatic disease and was even more effective in preventing severe disease. Of 927 confirmed COVID-19 cases detected through March 13, 77 were among people who received the vaccine and 850 were among people who got dummy shots.

There were no serious safety concerns and the vaccine also appeared to work against a variant first detected in South Africa, the companies said.

This week, the companies said the vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12, based on a study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers.

In Africa, Nigeria hopes to receive up to 70 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this year through the African Union, its primary health-care chief told Reuters, amid concerns about delayed deliveries of AstraZeneca shots.

Egypt received 854,400 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine as part of the global COVAX agreement, the health ministry said.

In Europe, a senior WHO official said Thursday that immunization campaigns against COVID-19 in European nations had been “unacceptably slow” to date and risk prolonging the pandemic.

Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, said vaccines “present our best way out of this pandemic,” but noted that to date, only 10 per cent of Europe’s population has received one dose and only four per cent have been fully protected with two doses.


People paint hearts along a wall beside a hospital in London, England, on Thursday as a memorial to all those who have died of COVID-19 so far in the U.K. during the pandemic. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

“As long as coverage remains low, we need to apply the same public health and social measures as we have in the past, to compensate for delayed schedules,” Kluge said.

In Germany, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca shot, a signal of confidence in the vaccine after the country restricted its use in people under 60. The presidential office said the 65-year-old Steinmeier received his first shot at a hospital in Berlin on Thursday.

In Belgium, police used tear gas and water cannons on Thursday to disperse thousands of young people who gathered in a Brussels park for a party in defiance of the country’s COVID-19 lockdown, an event that began as an April Fool’s joke on Facebook.

Belgium entered a third COVID-19 lockdown last weekend, with groups limited to four people meeting outside, but this week’s sunny weather had already brought thousands out to the park.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong will resume administering the coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech on Monday following a 12-day suspension over packaging defects detected in one batch, officials said.


A man throws a bottle towards police during protests in Brussels on Thursday. Belgian police have clashed with a large crowd in one of the city’s biggest parks. Thousands of revelers had gathered for an unauthorized event despite coronavirus restrictions. (Fran Seco/The Associated Press)

India opened up its coronavirus inoculation program to people above 45 as infections surge, in a move that will delay vaccine exports from the world’s biggest vaccine maker.

South Korea is reviewing whether to approve rapid coronavirus tests that can be taken at home and produce near-immediate results as another tool to fight the pandemic.


People receive their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre set up for people over 75 years old in Seoul. (Chung Sung-Jun/AFP/Getty Images)

Kwon Jun-wook, director of South Korea’s National Health Institute, said Thursday there’s a need to provide convenient and accessible tests that people can use regularly because the virus is often transmitted by people with no or mild symptoms.

Health officials in China say six more people have become ill with COVID-19 in a southwestern Chinese city on the border with Myanmar. That brings the confirmed total in the Yunnan province city of Ruili over the past two days to 12, including three Myanmar citizens.

In the Middle East, Israel plans to administer the Pfizer vaccine to adolescents upon FDA approval, the health minister said.


A health worker prepares a Sinovac’s CoronaVac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine for senior citizens, at the Museu do Amanha in the port of Rio de Janeiro on Thursday. (Pilar Olivares/Reuters)

In the Americas, Brazil health regulator Anvisa said it approved emergency use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while it rejected a request from the government to import doses of Covaxin, citing a lack of safety data and documentation.

Also Thursday, WHO epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove told a briefing that a number of states in Brazil are in critical condition and hospitals are overwhelmed, with many intensive care units more than 90 per cent full.

Chile closed its borders and tightened an already strict lockdown further Thursday to slow the spread of the coronavirus and stop the influx of contagious new variants as cases climbed past one million despite one of the world’s fastest vaccination rates.

The dramatic move came as hospitals warned they were close to saturation with victims of the disease who are middle-aged and younger as cases have spiked in recent weeks following the Southern Hemisphere summer holidays.


A Chilean police officer checks people’s transit permits amid the coronavirus pandemic outside a market where shoppers wait to buy fish for Holy Week in Santiago, Chile, on Thursday. (Esteban Felix/The Associated Press)

Chile struck early deals with vaccine makers Pfizer and Sinovac and has already vaccinated more than 35 per cent of its population, ranking it third in the world for inoculations per capita, according to a Reuters tally.

But a second wave hit before the country could reach a goal of herd immunity by July.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

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CBC | World News

What’s happening with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine around the world

Canada’s vaccine advisory committee on Monday recommended suspending the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in people under 55 because of safety concerns, the latest setback for a vaccine seen as crucial in tackling the coronavirus pandemic across the globe.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) updated its guidelines to provinces and territories following reports out of Europe of very rare instances of blood clots in some immunized patients — notably among younger women.

Clinical and real-world data have suggested the vaccine, which is easier and cheaper to transport than rival shots, is highly successful in reducing serious illness and death connected to COVID-19. But it has been dogged by poor communications and questions about possible side-effects.

Here’s the latest on the vaccine’s status in other countries:

Germany

German health officials agreed Tuesday to only give the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 60 or older, unless they belong to a high-risk category for serious illness from COVID-19 and have agreed with their doctor to take the vaccine despite the small risk of a serious side-effect.

The move follows the recommendations of Germany’s independent vaccine expert panel and comes after the country’s medical regulator released new data showing a rise in reported cases of an unusual form of blood clot in the head — known as sinus vein thrombosis — in recent recipients of the vaccine.

The Paul Ehrlich Institute said its tally of the rare blood clots reported by March 29 had increased to 31, out of some 2.7 million doses of AstraZeneca administered in Germany so far. Nine of the people died and all but two of the cases involved women, who were aged 20 to 63, the regulator said.


A man gets an injection of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Ebersberg near Munich on March 22. (Matthias Schrader/The Associated Press)

Spain

Spain has decided to remove an upper age limit of 65 years on the AstraZeneca vaccine, Cadena Ser radio reported on Tuesday.

A public health commission approved the change at a meeting on Tuesday, the broadcaster said, citing a document it had seen. That comes a week after Spain decided to reintroduce the AstraZeneca shot for people aged 18 to 65.

Like Germany and several other European countries, Spain had suspended administering the shot over blood clot concerns but resumed its use after the EU’s drug regulator deemed the vaccine “safe and effective.”

Italy

Italy resumed using the AstraZeneca vaccine on all age groups on March 19 after briefly pausing usage earlier this month.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Mario Draghi and his wife Maria Serenella Cappello, who are both 73, received their first doses of the vaccine at a large vaccination centre set up at Rome’s main railway station, the prime minister’s office said.

The head of the health panel advising the government has said that Italians who decline to be inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine will be “reconsidered later for another type of vaccine.”


People wait to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at the Clinique de l’Estree-ELSAN private hospital in Stains, France, on March 5. (Benoit Tessier/Reuters)

France

France’s medical regulator approved the resumed use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine on March 19 but said it should only be given to people aged 55 and older, breaking with guidance from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

France said the decision was based on evidence that the clotting affected younger people.

Denmark

Denmark was among the first countries in Europe to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine this month over concerns about the rare cases of blood clots. On March 25, it extended its suspension for another three weeks, pending further investigation.

Authorities said they still could not rule out a connection between the vaccine and the very unusual illness in two local cases, which are still being analyzed, and cases elsewhere in Europe.

Approximately 150,000 people in Denmark had received AstraZeneca’s shot before it was suspended.

WATCH | Why Canada’s vaccine committee recommended pausing AstraZeneca:

‘It has been very challenging as a committee to make recommendations on these vaccines and to be nimble and change recommendations when the data merits it,’ says Dr. Shelley Deeks, vice-chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization. 7:03

Norway 

Like neighbouring Denmark, Norway suspended the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 11. On March 26, health officials said they would delay a decision on whether to resume its use until April 15.

Norway had reported five cases in which healthy recipients of the vaccine were admitted to hospital with a combination of blood clots, bleedings and low platelets, three of whom died.

Sweden

The country’s health agency said on March 25 it will resume use of the vaccine for people aged 65 and older, but keep the pause in place for younger Swedes.

Thailand

Thailand began using the AstraZeneca vaccine on March 16, after it delayed rollout the week before over safety concerns.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was the first in the country to be inoculated with the vaccine.

“Today I’m boosting confidence for the general public,” Prayuth, who was soon to turn 67, told reporters at Government House before he received the shot.

South Korea

South Korea authorized the AstraZeneca vaccine for people 65 and older earlier this month after delaying its use for that age group, citing a lack of clinical data.

President Moon Jae-in received the vaccine at a community clinic on March 23, a day after authorities reaffirmed they had found no evidence of health risk.

Cameroon

Cameroon’s Health Ministry suspended administration of the batch of AstraZeneca vaccines it was scheduled to receive on March 20 as part of the global vaccines-sharing initiative COVAX.

The ministry said in a statement March 18 that the suspension was due to precaution and prudence. It gave no further reasons for the decision or say if it will go ahead and take delivery of its share of the vaccine.

WATCH | Should people who’ve had the AstraZeneca vaccine be concerned?

Infectious disease experts take questions about the changing advice for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine including if those who’ve had a shot should be concerned. 4:22

United Kingdom

The U.K. was the first country in the world to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine, on Dec. 30. On March 18, Britain’s medicines regulator gave its continued backing to the vaccine, saying the benefits outweighed the risks after finding there had been five cases of a rare brain blood clot among 11 million administered shots.

Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said that use of the vaccine should continue while the five reports were investigated.

At a new conference that day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was receiving a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine himself the following day.

“The Oxford jab is safe and the Pfizer jab is safe,” he said. “The thing that isn’t safe is catching COVID, which is why it’s so important that we all get our jabs as soon as our turn comes.”


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts after receiving a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in London on March 19. (Frank Augstein/Reuters)

United States

While the AstraZeneca vaccine has been authorized for use in more than 50 countries, it has not yet been given the green light in the U.S.

U.S. health officials had publicly rebuked the drugmaker for not using the most up-to-date information when it published an interim analysis of its major U.S. trial on March 22 that said the vaccine had a 79 per cent efficacy rate at preventing symptomatic illness. An updated analysis showed a 76 per cent efficacy rate, AstraZeneca said a few days later.

AstraZeneca said it plans to seek U.S. emergency use authorization in the coming weeks and that the latest data has been presented to the independent trial oversight committee, the Data Safety Monitoring Board.

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CBC | World News

Canadian teenager Corbeanu impressing early in World Cup soccer qualifier

After missing out on Canada’s January camp, teenage winger Theo Corbeanu wasted little time showing what he can do in World Cup soccer qualifying.

The 18-year-old from Hamilton scored off the bench in his debut in Canada’s 5-1 win over Bermuda last Thursday, prompting his phone to light up like a Christmas tree.

“It was crazy. I’ve never got that many messages before. It was amazing.” he said.

Coach John Herdman then gave Corbeanu the start in Monday’s record 11-0 romp over the Cayman Islands in Bradenton, Fla.

WATCH | Canadian men’s team breaks national record in 11-0 victory over Cayman Islands:

Substitute Lucas Cavallini scored a second-half hat trick and Canada set a new national men’s record with an 11-0 win over the Cayman Islands in their World Cup qualifying match. 0:55

Corbeanu plays for the Wolves under-23 side in England. While manager Nuno Espirito Santo has had him dress eight or nine times for the Premier League squad’s first team in both league and cup action, he has yet to be called on. But it seems only a matter of time.

Where it all started

He is no stranger to turning heads — or making the most of debuts.

In December, the Birmingham Mail marked his inclusion in Wolves’ matchday squad for the first time with an article under the headline “Who is Theo Corbeanu? The ‘outstanding’ wonderkid in the Wolves squad for Burnley.”

Both his parents were born in Romania, coming to Canada in 1999 with his older brother who was seven at the time. Theo, who came on the scene three years later, says all his relatives are in Romania.

“I’m really the only one in the family tree who’s fully Canadian,” said Corbeanu, who speaks fluent Romanian.

Corbeanu has represented Romania at the youth level, scoring in his debut for its under-16 side against Ireland.

“It was a great experience but at the end of the day I’m Canadian. I’ve always wanted to play for Canada,” he said.

“I have both [nationalities] in me but I’m very proud to wear the Canadian shirt,” added Corbeanu, who has since switched his international allegiance to Canada.

‘More excited about the future’

He’s loving every minute of it.

“I’m excited right now and I’m even more excited about the future,” he said.

Herdman called him into his January camp in Florida but Corbeanu didn’t travel because of pandemic-related travel restrictions. He made it for the World Cup qualifiers, stopping first in Mexico for a few days training with the Canadian Olympic squad.

After replacing Junior Hoilett in the 77th minute with Canada leading Bermuda 4-1 in Orlando, Corbeanu stationed himself on the right flank and prepared to do some damage.

That took just four minutes with the debutant finishing off a six-pass move that started with goalkeeper Milan Borjan. Captain Atiba Hutchinson picked out Liam Millar on the left flank and the 21-year-old forward, on loan to Charlton Athletic from Liverpool, cut the ball back for Corbeanu, making a diagonal run between defenders off his wing, to square into the goal from the edge of the six-yard box.

After the game, Herdman shared what he told Corbeanu before sending him on.

“‘Just as he was taking the field, I said to him ‘Son, you’ve got 15 minutes. Sometimes these moments don’t come back. Go make an impact. Goal and an assist,”‘ said Herdman.

“And his bloody first touch was a goal,” the coach added. “Sometimes you say that stuff as a coach and think it’s going in one ear and out the other. I’m proud of him.”

Corbeanu, an imposing figure at six foot two, says football firsts like his Canadian debut don’t faze him.

“I’d say I’m very composed when it comes to stuff like this. For me, this is just another game. I just took it as another game, as if I was playing on the street with my friends. So no nerves.”

Canadian midfielder Samuel Piette was impressed by what he saw from the teen in training.

“First time I saw him on the pitch, I couldn’t tell you if he was left-footed or right-footed, which is an amazing skill. I’m not even sure he knows as well, to be fair,” said the CF Montreal veteran.

“He’s really mature for his age, outside the pitch but on the pitch as well,” he added.

Growing up, Corbeanu was a goalkeeper until he was seven or eight, switching to striker when his team was down a few bodies. A fan of players like Robinho and Cristiano Ronaldo, he enjoys taking players on.

“That’s my game. I’m a one-v-one player. I like to be brave on the ball and I really like to enjoy myself in games. Play free.”

That includes looking to befuddle defenders with stepovers.

Playing career

Growing up, Corbeanu played for the Mount Hamilton Youth Soccer Club, Hamilton Sparta and Saltfleet Soccer Club. He often followed coach Ron Davidson, whom he says played a “vital role” in his development.

Corbeanu spent two years with the Toronto FC academy, joining in late 2016 when he was 14 after spending time earlier on in its pre-academy camps.

“I was very used to the drive to that training centre from Hamilton, I absolutely loved TFC,” said Corbeanu, who still has close friends from his Toronto academy days.

But he always wanted to test himself in England. And in the summer of 2018, his agent set up a trial at Leicester City, which went well and drew the attention of Wolves.

He visited the club and liked what he saw.

“No disrespect to Leicester. That was a brilliant club as well. But I just felt like Wolves was a better fit for me.”

In 2019, he toured China on a pre-season tour with Wolves.

Formed as St. Luke’s FC in 1877, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC has spent 66 seasons at England’s highest level.

The storied club has been home to the likes of Billy Wright, Derek Dougan, Bert Williams, Phil Parkes, Paul Ince, Robbie Keane, Denis Irwin, Steve Bull and former Whitecaps manager Carl Robinson.

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CBC | Soccer News

Canadian men set scoring record, crushing Cayman Islands 11-0 in World Cup qualifier

Substitute Lucas Cavallini scored a second-half hat trick as a young Canada side ran up a record goal total Monday, crushing the Cayman Islands 11-0 in World Cup qualifying play.

The Canadian men’s previous scoring record was 8-0 over the U.S. Virgin Islands in September 2018 in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying play. The previous high in World Cup qualifying was a 7-0 victory in St. Lucia in October 2011.

Alphonso Davies and Mark-Anthony Kaye each scored twice while Frank Sturing, Cyle Larin, David Wotherspoon and Alistair Johnston added singles for Canada, which led 4-0 after 27 minutes and 6-0 at the half.

Sturing’s goal came five minutes into his Canadian debut. Wotherspoon, Kaye and Johnston also opened their Canadian scoring accounts.

Cavallini, who could have had a hat trick last time out against Bermuda but had no luck in front of goal, upped his Canadian total to 14 with goals in the 68th, 74th and 76th minutes.

Canada is ranked 73rd in the world, 120 places above the Caymans part-timers. And the first-ever meeting between the two at the senior level quickly turned into a rout. For long stretches, it looked like a training game contested in the Caymans’ end.

The Canadians showed no mercy at the IMG Academy, knowing that No. 141 Suriname had won its two first qualifying games with a plus-nine goal differential in CONCACAF’s Group B.

Canada (2-0-0) upped its goal difference to plus-15.

Canada opened its qualifying campaign with a 5-1 win over No. 169 Bermuda in Orlando last Thursday. The Caymans lost 3-0 Wednesday at Suriname, which improved to 2-0-0 with a 6-0 thumping of No. 200 Aruba on Saturday in Bradenton.

Next up for Canada is a June 5 match at Aruba and a June 8 home game against Suriname. Whether the team can play at home in June depends on whether the pandemic-related border restrictions are eased.

Thirty CONCACAF countries have been split into six groups in the first round of qualifying in the region that covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. Only the six groups winners will advance.

WATCH | Larin hat trick leads Canada past Bermuda:

Canada dominates Bermuda 5-1 as they start World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region. 3:19

It was 27 degrees Celsius at kickoff Monday, feeling like 29 C.

The game was slated to be played Sunday but was pushed back a day so the Caymans delegation could undergo the PCR tests required by FIFA rather than rapid antigen tests originally taken.

Alfredo Whittaker, president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, said the testing problem occurred because of travel delays that disrupted the necessary COVID-19 protocols.

Canada coach John Herdman, rotating his squad against the CONCACAF minnow, made nine changes to the starting lineup that dispatched Bermuda.

Only Larin and Davies retained their starting spots. Midfielder Samuel Piette wore the captain’s armband for the first time, taking over for Atiba Hutchinson, who has returned to Turkey to rejoin club team Besiktas.

Maxime Crepeau started in goal, with Milan Borjan returning to Red Star Belgrade. He could have taken a cup of coffee and newspaper out on the field because he had nothing to do.

Canada’s starting 11 had a combined cap count of just 144, with 118 of those coming from Piette (51) Larin (33), Davies (19) and Kaye (15). Six of the seven other starters have single-digit caps.

Ferreira, Sturing earn first caps

Ricardo Ferreira and Sturing started at centre back, earning their first Canadian caps in the process. Winger Theo Corbeanu and Johnston made their first starts — and second appearances — for Canada.

Davies, who had started further up front against Bermuda, returned to the fullback role he fills at Bayern Munich.

Herdman said prior to the game that he expected the Caymans to park the bus, “maybe a couple of buses,” meaning it would stack its defence. But the defensive block was breached quickly with 21-year-old Caymans goaltender Albertini Holness finishing himself in a shooting gallery.

WATCH | Canada looks to keep World Cup 2022 hopes alive:

Canada’s men’s national team squad, filled with as much raw talent as there is experience, has to win the group stage in the First Round of qualification to keep their hopes of participating in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 alive. 10:08

Sturing opened the scoring, knocking in a rebound through traffic in a goalmouth scramble after Larin’s shot bounced of the crossbar following a corner. Wotherspoon unselfishly set up Larin for a tap-in in the 13th minute to make it 2-0 with his 12th for Canada.

Kaye played provider for Wotherspoon in the 25th with the St. Johnstone midfielder beating a defender and then Holness. Taken down in the box, Davies converted from the penalty spot in the 27th minute.

Kaye made it 5-0 in the 32nd minute, tapping in a Wotherspoon feed from the byline as the Canadian attackers cut through the Caymans defence like a hot knife through butter. Johnston hammered a shot home in the 42nd to pad the lead to 6-0 after Corbeanu and Wotherspoon ripped open the Caymans backline.

Cameron Gray gave the Caymans something to celebrate when he nutmegged Davies early in the second half.

Canada showed its depth, bringing on Cavallini, Junior Hoilett and Sam Adekugbe on the hour-mark, with Davies pushing forward.

Still the Caymans managed to slow the Canadian attack to open the second half, holding them off the scoreboard for the first 18 minutes. Kaye made it 7-0, beating Holness after Wotherspoon hit the goalpost.

Cavallini made it 8-0 in the 63rd minute, heading home a perfect cross from Johnston.

After taking down Hoilett, Holness denied Kaye his hat trick, stopping both the LAFC midfielder’s spot kick and followup shot before Davis knocked in the rebound in the 73rd for his seventh Canadian goal. Cavallini goals in the 74th and 76th made it 11-0.

Monday’s game was officially a home game for the Caymans. But the three-island group with a population of some 63,000 has the same 14-day quarantine as Canada so opted to shift the site to Bradenton where the Canadian men had held a camp in January.

The Caymans have enjoyed some success under 31-year-old English coach Ben Pugh, a former academy coach at Ipswich Town. They won four of six League C matches in the CONCACAF Nations League in 2019, including a 3-2 victory over No. 162 Barbados.

This Caymans team was without 22-year-old winger Elijah Seymour, who plays professionally in Romania for CS Tunari. Whittaker said there were too many travel restrictions to bring him in.

“We are in a rebuilding process,” Whittaker said of his squad.

He said the Caymans roster included some “key players” from the national under-17, under-20 and under-23 and “a handful of players that we called experienced players that are 24, 25, 26.”

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

The latest:

Stricter public health measures come into force in two Ontario regions today as the province continues ramping up its vaccine drive.

Hamilton is going into the strictest grey-lockdown phase of Ontario’s pandemic response plan today, while the Eastern Ontario Health Unit enters the second-strictest red zone.

But as of today, those who live in grey zones will be able to attend fitness classes outdoors.

Premier Doug Ford made that announcement Friday, when he also revealed that hair salons and other personal care services will be able to reopen in grey zones on April 12.

Ontario reported 2,448 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and 19 additional deaths. Data released by the province put the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations at 917, with 366 people listed as being in Ontario’s intensive care units.


Nurse Tahani McDonald from Humber River Hospital administers the Moderna coronavirus vaccine at a Toronto Community Housing seniors building in the northwest end of Toronto on March 25. (Carlos Osorio/Reuters)

Meanwhile, the government lowered the minimum age for vaccine eligibility in several public health units. In a news release issued Sunday night, the province said as of 8 a.m. ET on Monday, all people aged 70 and up in several public health units “will be eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment at a mass immunization clinic through the provincial online booking system and call centre.” The listed regions include:

  • City of Hamilton Public Health Services
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health
  • Lambton Public Health
  • Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
  • Niagara Region Public Health
  • Ottawa Public Health
  • Peel Public Health
  • Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
  • Timiskaming Health Unit
  • York Region Public Health

Two more mass vaccination sites will also open in Toronto, where people as young as 70 started getting vaccinated on Saturday. But the city is also grappling with COVID-19 outbreaks that have forced Toronto Public Health to shutter three schools.

Vaccination efforts have been ramping up across the country, and as of Sunday evening more than 5.1 million doses had been administered, according to a CBC News vaccine-tracking tool, including more than 1.9 million doses in Ontario.

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


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | How can people reduce COVID-19 risks outdoors?

With new concerns about coronavirus variants, an infectious disease specialist answers questions about how safe it is outdoors and how to mitigate the risks. 2:17

As of early Monday morning, Canada had reported 965,409 cases of COVID-19, with 43,590 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,880.

In Atlantic Canada, health officials in New Brunswick reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday — with five in the Edmundston region. Health officials placed the health zone in the province’s northwest under temporary “circuit-breaker” restrictions last week as health officials tried to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in the region. 

Nova Scotia reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, while Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case. There were no new cases reported on Prince Edward Island.

In Quebec, health officials reported 917 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths. COVID-19 hospitalizations in the province stood at 480, with 114 in intensive care, according to a provincial dashboard. On Saturday, the province reported more than 1,000 cases for the first time since mid-February. 

Premier François Legault has said he doesn’t have immediate plans to step up restrictions, but he cautioned that a third wave of COVID-19 is at the province’s doorstep as he urged people to follow existing guidelines.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 55 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death.

In neighbouring Saskatchewan, health officials reported 248 new cases on Sunday and three additional deaths. In Regina, meanwhile, more students are moving to online learning as the city tries to slow the spread of COVID-19.

In Alberta, health officials reported 644 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths on Sunday. Alberta’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a tweet that there were 277 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 63 in ICU.

In British Columbia, health officials will provide updated figures to cover the weekend later Monday.

Across the North, there were no new cases of COVID-19 reported in Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7:05 a.m. ET


What’s happening around the world


France’s national cycling team trains as people get a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at the indoor Velodrome National of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, southwest of Paris, last week. (Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters)

As of early Monday morning, more than 127.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 2.7 million.

In Africa, Johnson & Johnson will supply up to 220 million doses of its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine to the African Union’s 55 member states from the third quarter of 2021, the drugmaker said on Monday.

South Africa plans to administer coronavirus vaccines to up to 200,000 people a day beginning around May.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Hong Kong will ease some coronavirus restrictions, the government said on Monday, allowing swimming pools and beaches to open and shortening the quarantine period for some international arrivals to 14 days from 21.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan told a press briefing that local infections had come down considerably, giving the administration room to relax some measures. Beaches and swimming pools would reopen from April 1, while religious gatherings could resume with maximum capacity of 30 per cent. Cinemas and theme parks would be able to increase capacity to 75 per cent from 50 per cent. Bars, karaoke parlours and bathhouses would stay closed.

“We want to keep containing the epidemic and not undo the efforts we have made. We must continue to enforce stringent measures,” she said.


A police officer checks the identity document of a motorist at a quarantine checkpoint along a highway in Cainta town, on the boundary between Rizal province and suburban Manila, on Monday. (Jam Sta Rosa/AFP/Getty Images)

Philippine officials placed Metropolitan Manila and four outlying provinces, a region of more than 25 million people, back into lockdown Monday at the height of the Lenten and Easter holiday travel season as they scrambled to control an alarming surge in coronavirus infections.

Only workers, government security, health personnel and residents on urgent errands would be allowed out of homes during the weeklong restrictions, which prohibit leisure trips and religious gatherings that forced the dominant Roman Catholic church to shift all its Holy Week and Easter activities online. The renewed lockdown brought President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration under fire for what critics say was its failed handling of the pandemic.

Pakistani authorities, meanwhile, imposed a partial lockdown in several more high-risk areas in the capital, Islamabad, and elsewhere in the country after the positivity rate from coronavirus infections jumped to over 11 per cent.

Pakistan is facing another surge in coronavirus infections which officials say is worse than last year’s outbreak when Pakistan had to impose a nationwide lockdown. On Monday, authorities in the eastern Punjab province also announced a two-week long partial lockdown in high-risk cities from April 1 in an effort aimed at containing the spread of the virus.

So far, Pakistan’s government has avoided a nationwide lockdown to spare the country’s ailing economy from more damage.

In the Americas, a delivery of 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine from the United States landed in Mexico City, Mexico’s foreign ministry said, following an accord U.S. President Joe Biden made with Mexico this month.

Brazil announced its first two domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine candidates for human trials, which although months away from use, should eventually help tame the pandemic.


A gravedigger wearing a protective suit looks at the first coffin, not pictured, arriving for the first night burial as spotlights illuminate the graves at Vila Formosa cemetery in Sao Paulo, Brazil last week. (Amanda Perobelli/Reuters)

In the Middle East, a new factory in Abu Dhabi will start manufacturing a COVID-19 vaccine from Chinese pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm later this year under a joint venture between Sinopharm and Abu Dhabi-based technology company Group 42 (G42).

In Europe, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday that health conditions were worsening during a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic in France and “all options are on the table” to protect the public. Le Maire also told France Info radio that France should avoid adopting stricter COVID-19 restriction measures for as long as it could, and ruled out changing the list of shops and businesses that have been allowed to stay open.

“This list will not change,” Le Maire said. “Today sending the signal that we would reopen some businesses while the situation deteriorates, it’s not in the country’s interest.”

Under COVID-19 restrictions in place in 19 high-risk zones, including Paris, stores allowed to stay open include those selling food, books, flowers and chocolate, and hairdressers.

Clothes, furniture and beauty shops are not allowed to open. This has led to frustration among the so-called non-essential shop owners forced to stay closed.

President Emmanuel Macron last week defended his decision not to impose a third full lockdown and to keep schools open, but said further restrictions would probably be needed.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:10 a.m. ET

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Canada’s soccer World Cup qualifier postponed after Cayman Islands misses COVID-19 tests

The complexities of executing sporting events in a global pandemic were illustrated Sunday when Canada’s World Cup qualifier against the Cayman Islands was pushed back a day to Monday.

At issue were the pre-match COVID-19 tests taken by the Cayman Islands delegation, which did not meet FIFA requirements.

It appears the Caymans delegation did its best but was foiled by a tumultuous plane ride as it tried to get to Florida from Suriname, where it lost 3-0 on Wednesday in the capital of Paramaribo.

Alfredo Whittaker, president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, said his team missed its scheduled testing upon arrival because of travel issues.

The team’s charter was originally scheduled to arrive at a private airport in Sarasota, Fla., only to be turned away by U.S. Customs. The plane was diverted to Miami but, as it was about to descend, the pilot was told he could not land because it was not a scheduled flight. The plane eventually landed in Tampa with the team not getting to its hotel until 1:30 a.m. local time Friday.

The delegation underwent a rapid antigen test, which detects protein fragments specific to COVID-19. While the rapid test can deliver results in as quick as 15 minutes, the results are not always accurate as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

Canada hopefully to play Monday

FIFA requires a PCR test, which is considered the gold standard in testing for the virus. It involves a lab testing a sample typically collected using a swab inserted into a person’s nose or throat. Turnaround time for the PCR test is longer.

“We did a rapid test because there was no lab around the area that would give us results until Monday or Tuesday,” Whittaker said. “But miraculously we managed to get that lab that was originally closed on Saturday and Sunday to open for us [Sunday].”

The results are expected to be ready between 2 and 3 p.m. ET Monday, ahead of the 6 p.m. kickoff at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

News of the one-day postponement came out Sunday in brief releases from Canada Soccer and FIFA in the hour before the scheduled 4 p.m. kickoff. The decision to delay the match was made “to ensure the safety of all participants in the match,” according to FIFA.


Whittaker said Canada Soccer had been “very understanding.”

“We’re living in difficult times. These are requirements and we respect requirements,” he added.

Whittaker noted the Caymans have been pretty much COVID-free.

According to the Cayman Islands government website, the country had 487 confirmed cases of COVID and two deaths as of Friday. The four most recent cases were tourists, who tested positive following routine screening.

As of Friday, 28,861 (44 per cent of the estimated population) had received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with 26 per cent having completed the two-dose course.

WATCH | Larin hat trick leads Canada past Bermuda:

Canada dominates Bermuda 5-1 as they start World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region. 3:19

The Canadian team was still at its hotel in nearby Sarasota when it got news of the problem Sunday. Canada coach John Herdman said his squad took news of the postponement in stride, after some initial “disappointment, shock.”

“I think we’re used to the many ups and downs that this world keeps throwing at us,” Herdman said in a video posted by Canada Soccer.

“If anything we’ll look at the positives which are more recovery, more regen time for those players that played on Thursday,” he added.

Herdman said he pulled his team’s leadership group together in wake of the news. The decision was made to go ahead and hold a “light, bright” training session Sunday.

“We just turn the page and [Monday] will be the big day for us.”

Canada Soccer said teams are required to provide FIFA with negative COVID-19 PCR test results for all players and staff taken no earlier than 72 hours before accessing the venue. Without the test results, teams can’t access the stadium.


Canada Soccer said it had “engaged a laboratory to be on-site with the team to conduct its testing” and that all of its players and staff had received negative testing before arriving and while in camp in Florida.

Sunday’s game was officially a home game for the Caymans. But the three-island group has the same 14-day quarantine as Canada so opted to shift the site to Bradenton.

The current FIFA international window runs through Tuesday for CONCACAF teams. But the delay in the Caymans game means extending whatever quarantines are in place at the other end when player return home.

Canada captain Atiba Hutchinson left Friday to return to his club team Besiktas in Turkey as part of an apparent prearranged deal.

The Canadian men are ranked 73rd in the world, 120 places above the Cayman part-timers.

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

The latest:

More than five million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Canada, according to CBC’s vaccine tracking tool.

As of Sunday at 10:35 a.m. ET, the number of doses administered across the country totals 5,032,269. Provincially, Ontario has given the most shots, with 1.98 million, followed by Quebec with 1.17 million and British Columbia with 637,856.

The proportion of people in Canada who have received the two doses of a vaccine to be fully protected against COVID-19, however, remains relatively low. Nationally, about 1.75 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated. The proportion is highest in Yukon, where about one in four people (25.6 per cent) have received both doses. It’s lowest in New Brunswick, where 1.56 per cent of the population has received two shots.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand said last week that 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine on loan from the United States are expected to arrive in Canada on Tuesday.

WATCH | Anand on arrival date of AstraZeneca doses from the U.S.:

Procurement Minister Anita Anand announced that 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will arrive in Canada by truck from the U.S. on Tuesday, March 30. 2:40

Those doses are part of a surge in vaccine deliveries set to take place over the coming weeks, she said.

Canada has distributed more than six million doses of COVID-19 vaccines overall.

On Saturday, Canada’s chief public health officer warned that current health orders are not enough to stop rapid growth of COVID-19 as provinces push ahead with plans to reopen their economies.

Longer-range forecast models predict a resurgence of COVID-19 infections unless public health measures are enhanced and strictly followed, Dr. Theresa Tam said in a written statement.

Tam said public health orders across Canada need to be stronger, stricter and sustained long enough to control the rise of variants of concern. High infection rates in the most populous provinces are driving up the country’s average daily case counts, she said.


What’s happening across Canada

As of 5:45 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 965,409 cases of COVID-19, with 43,890 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 22,880.

In British Columbia, the province has expanded the eligibility for vaccine appointments.

Resident 73 and older — or born in 1948 and before — are now able to book appointments, while those living on the Sunshine Coast or in Powell River, Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton and Bowen Island are able to book if they are aged 70 and up, or born in 1951 and before.

Indigenous people aged 55 and older, born in 1966 or earlier, are also eligible to book appointments.

Some vulnerable people who have received a letter from the province will also be able to begin booking vaccine appointments on Monday.


A person is administered a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a drive-thru clinic in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Alberta reported 644 new COVID-19 cases and three more deaths on Sunday.

Saskatchewan recorded 248 new COVID-19 cases and three related deaths.

As of Sunday, restaurants and bars in Regina closed to indoor dining as variant cases surged in the city and surrounding areas. Other “non-essential indoor locations” — like museums, libraries and cinemas — also closed.

Manitoba saw 55 new cases and an additional death.

Ontario logged 2,448 new cases and 19 more deaths, marking the fourth consecutive day of new daily cases topping 2,000. 

The provincial government said Sunday its extending vaccination bookings for those 70 and older to 11 additional health units starting on Monday. The announcement comes after Toronto expanded vaccination eligibility in that age range on Saturday.

Also on Monday, two regions in the province will move into more restricted areas of its colour-coded reopening framework: Hamilton will move into the grey-lockdown zone, while the Eastern Ontario Health Unit will move into the red-control zone.


A person wearing a face shield and masks is seen in Toronto on Sunday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Quebec confirmed 917 new cases and two more deaths on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Collège des médecins du Québec — the professional body representing physicians in the province — asked the provincial government to reconsider its decision to relax some health measures as churches welcomed back larger crowds on Sunday and high school students in red zones prepared to return to class full time on Monday.

Premier Francois Legault said on Friday that he wasn’t considering reversing his decision to reopen gyms or to allow places of worship to welcome up to 250 people, even as he acknowledged that the province appeared to be at the beginning a third wave.


People wearing face masks attend mass in Montreal on Sunday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

New Brunswick registered six new cases, with most in the Edmundston region.

The province’s northwest remains under tightened restrictions following a spike in cases and a move to “circuit-breaker” red-phase restrictions earlier this week.

Prince Edward Island will open its first mass vaccination clinics on Monday. 

The clinics in Charlottetown and Summerside are for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, as opposed to the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which is being distributed in pharmacies to younger Islanders who must work with the public.


A mass vaccination clinic in Charlottetown is seen before its Monday opening. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Nova Scotia identified two new cases on Sunday, for a total of 25 active cases in the province.

Newfoundland and Labrador added one new infection, only the province’s second in the last 10 days. According to the Department of Health, the case is related to domestic travel.

Effective midnight Saturday, the entire province moved to Alert Level 2, allowing households to keep a “steady 20” group of consistent contacts.

In the North, both Nunavut and the Northwest Territories have no active active cases, while Yukon has just one.

What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 126.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, which runs a coronavirus case-tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 2.7 million.

In Europe, critical-care doctors in Paris are calling for a full lockdown and said softer new restrictions imposed this month on the French capital and other regions won’t quickly bring the the surging coronavirus under control. Lighter restrictions, doctors say, could soon overwhelm their ability to care for the sick in the French capital’s hospitals — possibly forcing them to choose which patients to treat.


Crowds of people, most appearing not to wear masks, gather at the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris on Sunday. (Stephane de Sakutin/AFP via Getty Images)

In Asia, India’s richest state, Maharashtra, is considering imposing a strict lockdown  this week after recording 40,414 new cases on Sunday — the highest one-day jump in coronavirus infections of any Indian state since last March.

In the Americas, Mexico’s government is acknowledging that — due to overwhelmed hospitals and people dying at home without being tested — the country’s true death toll from the coronavirus pandemic stands above 321,000, almost 60 per cent higher than the official toll of 201,429.

In Africa, 44 countries have received vaccines through the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative, with more than 7.7 million doses administered so far, according to WHO Africa Region.

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Denmark latest European soccer side to call for workers’ rights in World Cup host Qatar

Denmark became the latest European soccer team on Sunday to use World Cup qualifying games to direct attention to workers’ rights in Qatar, which hosts the 2022 tournament.

Denmark players wore red T-shirts with the slogan “Football supports change” for the team photo before kickoff against Moldova. The Danes won 8-0 to extend a strong start in Group F.

The Danish soccer federation said the shirts will be signed and auctioned to raise money for projects with Amnesty International that help migrant workers in Qatar.

Denmark followed the Netherlands team on Saturday which wore T-shirts with the same slogan.

Players from Norway and Germany also wore T-shirts during their respective pre-games to draw attention to human rights issues in Qatar. The Norwegian national team made a point about rights again ahead of its game against Turkey on Saturday.

Germany’s players made a more subtle gesture in the team photo Sunday in Romania. They wore shirts reversed with each name and number facing the front in a photo published on official social media accounts with the message “We are for 30” and the hashtag “HUMANRIGHTS.”

Qatar facing renewed scrutiny

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer confirmed to German broadcaster RTL it was reference to the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“We are all in favour of fair play, both on the field and off the field too, and we stand for these 30 articles,” Neuer said.

Since winning the World Cup hosting vote in 2010, Qatar has faced scrutiny for living and working conditions of migrant workers helping to build stadiums, transport and other construction projects ahead of the tournament, which starts next November.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino defended Qatar this month, saying that becoming the World Cup host had accelerated social progress in the emirate.

Although FIFA’s disciplinary code states players and federations can face disciplinary action in cases of “using a sports event for demonstrations of a non-sporting nature,” it said after the first Norway protest that no investigation would be opened.

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Dutch join teams speaking out on human rights situation in Qatar ahead of World Cup

The Netherlands national team wore T-shirts on Saturday emblazoned with the words “Football supports change,” in an apparent statement about human rights in World Cup host Qatar, ahead of its Group G qualifier against Latvia.

Defender Matthijs de Ligt had said ahead of the match that the Dutch team wanted to make a statement about the human rights situation in Qatar, saying “it’s a very difficult situation with workers’ rights there.”

The Dutch action before the game at the Johan Cruyff Arena followed expressions of support for human rights by Norway and Germany players ahead of their first World Cup qualifying matches on Wednesday and Thursday.

The German team lined up in black shirts, each with one white letter to spell out “HUMAN RIGHTS,” ahead of the 3-0 win against Iceland in Group J. Midfielder Leon Goretzka said the German players had followed Norway’s lead and that they wanted to make a statement about the 2022 World Cup.

Norway players wore shirts stating: “HUMAN RIGHTS” and “Respect on and off the pitch” before their game against Gibraltar in Group G on Wednesday.

FIFA’s disciplinary code states players and federations can face disciplinary action in cases of “using a sports event for demonstrations of a non-sporting nature.”

FIFA has not opened a case against Norway or Germany for their actions.

The Norwegian national team made a point about human rights again ahead of its game against Turkey in Malaga, Spain. Its players took off jackets for the national anthem to reveal white T-shirts with the message “HUMAN RIGHTS On and off the pitch”, but this time calling on more teams to join forces with them. The shirts also bore the names of Norway and Germany with ticks beside them and the question “Next?”

Qatar, which won the World Cup hosting vote a decade ago, has been under scrutiny over laws and conditions for migrant workers helping to build infrastructure for the tournament.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino said last week Qatar has made social progress because of becoming the World Cup host.

England manager Gareth Southgate said the English Football Association and Amnesty International have been in talks. Amnesty International wrote to the FA last year urging them to put pressure on FIFA to ensure the rights of migrant workers in Qatar are properly protected.

Southgate said talks between the two organizations remain ongoing and that Amnesty are not looking for the tournament to be called off.

“I think in terms of the situation in Qatar, the FA are working closely with Amnesty International and will be talking with Qatar as well,” he said. “My understanding is Amnesty don’t want the tournament postponed or moved. They want to work and highlight issues that maybe could be improved. So, it’s important we work with organizations like that.”

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