Today’s coronavirus news: Vaccine passports for Canadians coming soon; COVID cases spiking in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta; Winnipeg Jets fans must be vaccinated for home games – Toronto Star

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The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Wednesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
7:30 p.m.: If only Premier Doug Ford could walk backwards at the same clip as Andrea Horwath, writes columnist Emma Teitel.
Last week, the leader of the provincial NDPs said she opposed a vaccine mandate for education workers — a statement that unleashed a world of fury her way. But the very next day, like a robot short-circuiting, Horwath snapped back into the good graces of her party. “I fully support mandatory vaccination in health-care and education workers,” she said.
Ontario’s premier, on the other hand, will not walk back his opposition to vaccine passports — at least not until things get really bad. That’s the premier’s MO after all.
6:38 p.m.: The COVID-19 infection rate in British Columbia has leaped to 536, a figure not seen since mid-May.
A Health Ministry statement says there are more than 3,500 active cases in the province and more than half of those are in the Interior Health region. The vaccination rate has reached 82.2 per cent for a single shot for those eligible aged 12 and up, while 71.1 per cent are fully vaccinated.
New restrictions were introduced last week by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry in the central Okanagan region as case counts multiplied, spurred by the more contagious Delta variant.
6:30 p.m.: Alberta has recorded 501 new cases of COVID-19 — the largest single-day increase since late May.
The new infections reported Wednesday increase Alberta’s active case count to 3,769. Hospitalizations rose by five to 138 and ICU admissions by two, for a total of 31.
Alberta currently has the highest active case count in all of Canada.
Most testing, tracing and isolation measures have ended in the province, with quarantine requirements lifting for positive cases next Monday.
6:23 p.m.: The Winnipeg Jets will require all fans to be fully vaccinated to attend home games at Canada Life Centre this season.
The Jets’ parent company, True North Sports and Entertainment, made the announcement on Twitter, saying season ticket holders had made it clear that was their preference.
The company says it plans to fill the arena for Jets home games this year, and will require all employees, event staff and guests to provide proof of vaccination. The team’s website says fans will also be required to wear masks in the arena.
6:17 p.m. (Updated): It took three cabinet ministers and a late-day news conference on the eve of an expected election to announce that maybe, by early fall, Canada will introduce its version of an international vaccine passport to allow Canadians to prove their vaccination status when they travel abroad.
Marco Mendocino, Dominic Leblanc and Omar Alghabra, the ministers of immigration, intergovernmental affairs and transport, took to Zoom to repeat much the same thing that they told reporters in mid-June: they’re working on it.
Available to Canadian citizens, permanent residents or temporary residents of Canada, the Canadian-government approved “proof of vaccination credential” — or vaxxport if you will — is expected to indicate the individual’s vaccination history: the type of vaccine, along with when and where it was received.
5:55 p.m.: Pressure is growing on the Ontario government to follow in Quebec’s footsteps with a vaccine certificate program that would ban unvaccinated people from restaurants, bars and gyms.
As consensus builds that a fourth wave of COVID-19 will hit Toronto this fall, an increasing number of business leaders and health experts say the city is facing a tough dilemma: close businesses to everyone, or close them to the unvaccinated.
5 p.m.: National vaccination passports are coming to Canada this fall, Justin Trudeau’s government is assuring citizens as an election looms.
They won’t likely be in Canadians’ hands before the campaign is over, however, which represents a political opportunity lost for Trudeau’s Liberals, writes Star columnist Susan Delacourt.
The fact that the government moved to offer this reassurance on the eve of the election, though, shows that there may be some dawning recognition that national vaccine ID could be a powerful political tool for a government looking for re-election.
4:48 p.m.: Isolation rules for Ontarians considered close contacts of someone who has COVID-19 now vary depending on vaccination status, including in schools, where cases are expected to pop up this fall.
New guidance from the province issued Wednesday said fully vaccinated individuals in contact with positive cases don’t have to isolate unless they develop symptoms or are directed to do so by public health. That also applies to those who’ve tested positive for the virus within the last 90 days.
In guidance specifically for schools, the province said fully immunized close contacts of positive or likely cases don’t have to be dismissed from classes unless they have symptoms.
Those showing COVID-19 symptoms will be directed to isolate and get tested, but their return-to-class date will depend on their vaccination status.
4:20 p.m.: Premier Doug Ford has rejected a demand he meet with opposition parties pushing vaccine passports and mandatory vaccinations for health and education workers as cases of COVID-19 doubled in the last two weeks.
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca wrote a letter to Ford on Wednesday requesting an “urgent meeting” to discuss the measures — supported by a growing chorus of business and medical organizations — that could blunt a fourth wave and help avoid possible lockdowns and closures of schools and businesses.
“Everybody, it seems can see that it makes sense for Doug Ford to move forward in this direction, except for Doug Ford,” Del Duca told a news conference as the province announced 324 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths.
3:50 p.m.: Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino says fully vaccinated Canadians will soon be able to get a government document that will certify their COVID-19 vaccine history for the purpose of international travel.
The document, expected to be ready by the fall, will be digital, with an option for those who can’t or don’t want a digital certificate.
2:30 p.m.: California will become the first state in America to require all teachers and school staff to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.
The statewide vaccine mandate for K-12 educators comes as schools return from summer break amid growing concerns of the highly contagious delta variant.
1:30 p.m. Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting 13 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday.
Eleven new infections are in the Moncton area and all but one involve people in their 20s. The remaining two cases are in the Saint John region and also involve people in their 20s.
The province has 71 active reported cases.
Officials say 70.2 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated and 83 per cent have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
1:20 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday.
Two new cases have been identified in the Halifax area and are related to travel. Health officials say the other case is in the province’s eastern health zone and is also travel related. The province has 19 active reported cases of COVID-19.
There is one person in hospital in intensive care with the disease. As of Tuesday, 1,400,666 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered and 654,766 Nova Scotians were fully vaccinated.
1:10 p.m. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, Moderna announced Tuesday that he expects clinical data from the vaccine company’s trials for those six-to-11-years-old to be released in the early fall.
The information will be submitted to Health Canada, with data from those under six to come by the end of the year or early 2022.
Bancel said these two age groups are split up due to a difference in “risk profile,” with lower doses given to those who are younger.
1:07 p.m. Canada has gone from being desperate for every dose of vaccine it could get to stockpiling millions of them in freezers across the country.
Data on vaccine deliveries, distribution and injections provided by Health Canada and the provinces show almost 22 million doses have been delivered but not yet used.
That includes a national “reserve” of nearly 10 million doses, and more than 11.7 million doses delivered to provincial and territorial governments that have yet to be administered.
Procurement Minister Anita Anand says how many of those doses can be considered excess and available for donation to other countries is still up in the air.
That’s because of ongoing conversations about whether and when booster doses are needed for some or all Canadians, and how many doses will be needed to vaccinate children under 12 when vaccines are eventually approved for them.
Almost 23.6 million Canadians are now fully vaccinated, or 71.3 per cent of all people at least 12 years old.
1:05 p.m. The main emergency benefits lifeline for Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic was in fact two streams processed by two different government bodies, with implications for whether seniors qualify for federal support payments, the Conservatives say.
In a letter to Seniors Minister Deb Schulte, Tory MP Rosemarie Falk says some low-income seniors “have been arbitrarily penalized” based on whether their guaranteed income supplement (GIS) came through Service Canada’s employment insurance program or through the Canada Revenue Agency.
The $2,000-per-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit amounted to “two entirely different relief programs, distributed by different government agencies and with different eligibility criteria,” though seniors were never informed, Falk wrote in an Aug. 9 letter obtained by The Canadian Press.
“Applicants who collected emergency benefits through the EI system may exclude this income in their statement of estimated income” — and thus avoid clawbacks on their income supplement — “while applicants who collected emergency benefits through CRA cannot,” she said.
Falk called the situation “unacceptable,” saying it could have been prevented with clearer communication and a more streamlined bureaucratic process.
12:50 p.m. The Quebec government says students returning to school in the coming weeks will be required to wear a procedural mask but not in the classroom.
Education Minister Jean-François Roberge told a news conference Wednesday that masks will be required on the bus, when entering school and in common areas inside, but not in class, the schoolyard or in after school care.
Roberge says a class bubble system that kept groups of students together throughout the last school year will not be used this year.
The minister warned the plan may need to be adjusted depending on the COVID-19 situation, as infections climb amid a fourth wave of the pandemic.
Roberge however says he’s encouraged by vaccination figures in the 12 to 17 year age bracket: 83 per cent have received or signed up for a first dose while 77 per cent are adequately vaccinated.
In June, Roberge had hoped for a return to school without masks, but the more transmissible Delta variant has changed the plan.
Quebec is reporting a jump in the number of COVID-19 infections Wednesday, with 365 new cases and one more death attributed to the novel coronavirus.
That’s an increase of 131 cases compared with the previous day’s count.
12:40 p.m. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged all pregnant women Wednesday to get the COVID-19 vaccine as hospitals in hot spots around the U.S. see disturbing numbers of unvaccinated mothers-to-be seriously ill with the virus.
Expectant women run a higher risk of severe illness and pregnancy complications from the coronavirus, including perhaps miscarriages and stillbirths. But their vaccination rates are low, with only about 23 per cent having received at least one dose, according to CDC data.
‘’The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible Delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people,’’ CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
The updated guidance comes after a CDC analysis of new safety data on 2,500 women showed no increased risks of miscarriage for those who received at least one dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine before 20 weeks of pregnancy. The analysis found a miscarriage rate of around 13 per cent, within the normal range.
12:30 p.m. Ontario is reporting another 324 COVID-19 cases and three more deaths, according to its latest report released Wednesday morning.
Ontario has administered 48,307 vaccine doses since its last daily update, with 19,998,744 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night.
According to the Star’s vaccine tracker, 10,580,112 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 81.2 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 71.2 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine.
The province says 9,418,632 people have completed their vaccinations, which means they’ve had both doses. That works out to approximately 72.3 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 63.4 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine.
Read the full story from the Star’s Urbi Khan
12:15 p.m. Despite a significant surge in both coronavirus cases and hospitalizations this summer, California so far has managed to avoid the sky-high infection rates and increasingly overcrowded hospitals some other states are now experiencing.
California’s coronavirus case rate remains below the national average and significantly less than that of Florida and Texas: two common points of comparison given their population size and distinctly different pandemic responses.
Experts say California’s better-than-average vaccination rates and newly implemented mandatory mask policies in parts of the state have helped prevent a more grim situation.
While governors in Florida, Texas and other states have opposed allowing local governments to mandate the wearing of masks, California has allowed counties to enact such orders in indoor public spaces for everyone age 2 and older, regardless of vaccination status.
“I am hopeful for California and Los Angeles, because of the fact that we have higher levels of vaccination, and we have increased numbers of people stepping up to the plate and getting vaccinated,” said Dr. Robert Kim-Farley, medical epidemiologist and infectious diseases expert at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. “However, we still have a ways to go to achieve a higher level of community immunity, or herd immunity, because of the increased transmissibility of the delta variant.”
California is reporting 141.1 new coronavirus cases for every 100,000 residents over the last seven days — a rate half that of Texas, 297.8; and less than one-fourth that of Florida’s rate of 653.8, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. California’s rate is also less than the national average of 232.1.
12 p.m. In U.S. school districts, debates over safety have devolved into litigation and protests as the first day of class nears. The toxic mix has sparked fear among some parents that their children face a third academic year marred by the pandemic.
Even in New York City, which requires vaccines to eat at restaurants or attend a Broadway show, the Sept. 13 opening is uniquely thorny: Teachers can enter the classroom with just a negative test, but children have no virtual option to learn at home.
By the end of this week, more than one-third of U.S. kindergarten through 12th-grade students will have started class, according to school tracking website Burbio. And throughout the Delta-plagued country, officials in big cities and rural counties must balance safety, science and political fealty.
“Public health knows how to prevent transmission, but politics is intervening,” said Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston, where the school board is expected to decide this week whether to defy Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates.
COVID cases are double what they were at the onset of last school year — and likely to increase, Troisi said. The consequences are unknown. “It’s a sad thing to say that our kids are really guinea pigs,” she said.
Less than a week before the first day of school, San Francisco on Tuesday mandated teachers and other staff be vaccinated or face weekly testing. In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy last week ordered teachers, staff and students in public and private schools to mask up. He faced criticism from Republican opponent Jack Ciattarelli, and about 100 people protested near the governor’s mansion.
States are split. About a quarter of students live in states like Florida that have banned mask mandates outright while an equal number are in places like Illinois, which will start with the mandate in place. Most of the rest are enrolled in districts with flexibility to decide for themselves.
11:50 a.m. (updated) Fully vaccinated Ontarians considered close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 won’t have to isolate unless they develop symptoms or are directed to do so by public health.
The new rule is part of updated provincial guidance issued Wednesday on managing virus outbreaks, including in schools.
In its school-specific guidance, the province says fully immunized high-risk contacts of positive or likely COVID-19 cases don’t have to isolate or be dismissed from classes unless they have symptoms.
Vaccinated individuals with symptoms who receive a negative COVID-19 test result can return to school if their symptoms improve over 24 hours, or after 48 hours if they had gastrointestinal symptoms.
Unvaccinated, high-risk contacts of positive or likely cases need to isolate for 10 days and it’s recommended that they take a COVID-19 test seven days into their isolation.
The province says household members of those who are close contacts of positive cases have to abide by similar rules.
The Ontario government says there will be different rules and procedures for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals when it comes to COVID-19 health regulations.
Some of the new rules and procedures include:
11:30 a.m. Quebec is reporting a jump in the number of COVID-19 infections Wednesday, with 365 new cases and one more death attributed to the coronavirus.
That’s an increase of 131 cases compared with the previous day’s count.
Health officials also reported five more patients in hospital today for a total of 67, with 22 people requiring intensive care, an increase of four.
The province administered 35,865 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday.
Quebec has reported 380,038 confirmed infections and 11,242 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
The latest numbers come as Education Minister Jean-François Roberge is set to outline the province’s back-to-school plan amid a fourth wave of COVID-19.
10:20 a.m. Ontario is reporting 324 cases and 3 deaths. The seven-day average is up to 332 cases per day or 16 weekly per 100,000 and down to 7.4 deaths per day. Labs are reporting 24,772 completed tests and a 1.7 per cent positive, according to the Star’s Ed Tubb.
Health Minister Christine Elliott says 234 of the new cases are in unvaccinated people and 32 are in people with one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The case numbers are based on 24,772 tests.
There are 108 people in intensive care with COVID-related critical illness and 70 people on ventilators.
10 a.m. The World Health Organization says it will soon test three drugs used for other diseases to see if they might help patients sickened by the coronavirus.
In a statement on Wednesday, the U.N. health agency says the three drugs would be adopted into the next phase of its ongoing global research into identifying potential treatments for COVID-19. The drugs were chosen by an independent panel based on the likelihood they could prevent deaths in people hospitalized for coronavirus.
They include artesunate, a malaria drug, the cancer drug imatinib, and infliximab, currently used in people with diseases of the immune system.
WHO’s ongoing study into COVID-19 treatments previously assessed four drugs. Among its findings, the agency determined that remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine didn’t help people hospitalized with the virus. WHO’s research includes thousands of researchers in hundreds of hospitals in 52 countries.
“Finding more effective and accessible therapeutics for COVID-19 patients remains a critical need,” says WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
9:40 a.m. (updated) With COVID-19 again spreading rapidly in Toronto, the city has rethought plans to completely close a North York vaccination clinic.
In a news release, the city said that, “given new information and the current vaccination situation” in the city, Toronto Public Health won’t entirely close the clinic at Mitchell Field community centre as announced July 28.
Instead, it will “continue to run a smaller fixed-site clinic” administering COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines provided by TPH.
The clinic will serve as a key site for both COVID-19 vaccination and other vaccination programs operated by TPH.
As of Aug. 23, the clinic will accept walk-in appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations Tuesday to Saturday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. — the same hours as other city-run immunization clinics that are remaining open.
Read the full story from the Star’s David Rider
9:30 a.m. Hamilton has Ontario’s highest COVID rate at the same time it also has among the lowest vaccine coverage.
The city’s rising case counts come at the same time Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said COVID restrictions will soon be regional instead of provincewide.
Within Hamilton itself, there are vast divides, such as one Stoney Creek Mountain neighbourhood — with L8J postal codes — having among the highest test positivity in the province while also having one of the city’s lowest vaccination rates.
“I believe we are in the fourth wave,” said Ahmed Al-Jaishi, an epidemiologist with Ontario research institute ICES Western.
9:20 a.m. In Shane Firth’s 34 years on the job, hiring staff in the restaurant industry has never been harder.
“This is by far the worse that I’ve seen,” said Firth, who is the general manager at The Clarkson Pump and Patio.
The most difficult position to hire for has been kitchen staff. Firth said he’s contacted numerous people who applied through Indeed, but most haven’t shown up for the interview process.
“I blame the government for this,” Firth explained. “They’re handing out free money even when the industry is now up and we’re fully running. There are so many jobs out there, but people would rather take the government money. It’s crazy that we have to go through this.”
Due to the pandemic, the Canadian government provided financial help to those who lost their jobs. The federal government offered the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which has now transitioned to other supports such as Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and more.
9:15 a.m. The U.S. government said Wednesday that it will deliver nearly 837,000 Pfizer vaccines to Caribbean nations as the region with limited resources struggles with a spike in COVID-19 cases amid violent anti-vaccine protests.
The Bahamas will receive 397,000 doses followed by Trinidad and Tobago with more than 305,000 doses. Barbados will receive 70,200 doses, while 35,100 are slated for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 17,550 for Antigua and 11,700 for St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The Biden-Harris administration’s highest priority in the Americas today is managing and ending the COVID pandemic and contributing to equitable recovery,” said Juan González, the National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere.
Thousands of specialized syringes required for the Pfizer vaccine also were donated, with officials noting that the donations involved “significant legal and logistic complexity.”
9 a.m. Prices for U.S. consumers rose last month but at the slowest pace since February, a sign that Americans may gain some relief after four months of sharp increases that have imposed a financial burden on the nation’s households.
Wednesday’s report from the Labor Department showed that consumer prices jumped 0.5 per cent from June to July, down from the previous monthly increase of 0.9 per cent. They have increased a substantial 5.4 per cent compared with a year earlier.
Excluding volatile oil and gas prices, so-called core inflation rose 4.3 per cent in the past year, down from 4.5 per cent in June.
Rising inflation has emerged as the Achilles’ heel of the economic recovery, erasing much of the benefit to workers from higher pay and heightening pressure on the Federal Reserve’s policy-makers under Chair Jerome Powell, who face a mandate to maintain stable prices.
8:25 a.m. The highly contagious Delta variant has darkened the outlook for Southwest Airlines, one of the largest carriers in the U.S., which said that it may not turn a profit in the third quarter as COVID-19 infections spread.
The revelation, contained in a Wednesday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, comes just three weeks after Southwest CEO Gary Kelly called the airline’s most recent quarter a “milestone” after turning a profit in June without government assistance.
The airline said Wednesday that it was again profitable in July, but believes the recent negative effects of the pandemic on August and September revenue will make profitability less likely in the third quarter if the benefits of temporary salaries and wages relief are excluded.
The problems are appearing in what are called close-in bookings and close-in trip cancellations, trips people scheduled several weeks out. The first is falling, the second rising in recent weeks, Southwest said, and it tied those trends to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.
8 a.m. New Zealand’s government is warning its citizens to be prepared for a strict lockdown at the first sign of an outbreak of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the government’s response is likely to be “swift and severe.”
New Zealand has stamped out the spread of the virus and had previously planned to rely primarily on contact tracing for any small outbreaks.
But Hipkins said the problems that Sydney currently faces in trying to contact trace a growing outbreak showed the delta variant was extremely hard to manage and that New Zealand’s tolerance for risk was now very low.
7:50 a.m. Hawaii is tightening COVID-19 restrictions amid an alarming spike in cases but the state is not changing tourist entry requirements, at least yet.
Gov. David Ige late Tuesday said restaurant and bar capacity will be reduced to 50 per cent effective immediately. Capacity was raised to 75% per cent in early July as vaccination rates climbed, welcome news to restaurant operators and visitors who have been scrambling to find reservations. But the dangerous Delta variant dictates a cut in capacity, Ige said.
Hawaii is seeing a seven-day average of more than 500 cases per day and a test positivity rate of 7.25 per cent, Ige said. Those figures a month ago: 60 cases per day and a test positive rate of 2.25 per cent.
“We need to take action and we need to take action now,” he said.
7:40 a.m. Toronto is in the early days of a fourth wave of COVID-19 certain to worsen this autumn, experts say after an almost fivefold jump in daily new infections over one month.
The question now is how to ensure the city’s high vaccination rate prevents hospitalizations and deaths from surging along with infections, especially among the legions of unvaccinated young schoolchildren headed back to classrooms.
Defences include continued mask rules and, if necessary, shutting schools and businesses to halt outbreaks, said Toronto infectious diseases expert Dr. Anna Banerji. But she said the best defence is vaccine mandates — a measure the Ontario government is so far rejecting.
Students should be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, Banerji said, as should workers in health care, long-term care and maybe just people going to theatres and other crowded places with an elevated risk of virus spread.
Read the full story from the Star’s David Rider
7:23 a.m. India is in negotiations with western vaccine makers in an effort to secure tens of millions of doses in the next few months, which would ease supply shortages that have been stymying the country’s massive immunization campaign, people familiar with the matter said.
The country is in talks to acquire 50 million doses of a vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, the people said. It is also expecting to receive about seven million doses of a vaccine made by Moderna Inc. from the U.S. through Covax, a program to supply COVID-19 vaccines to poorer nations.
Indian authorities are also in an advanced stage of negotiations with Johnson & Johnson, which has a deal with India-based Biological E. Ltd. to manufacture as many as 600 million doses, starting as soon as this month. The Indian company, however, doesn’t have the rights to sell the doses.
On Saturday, J&J’s single-shot vaccine received emergency-use authorization in India, making it the fifth to win such approval in the country. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment on the amount that is likely to be supplied to India.
5:40 a.m.: With Ontario seeing more than three straight weeks of growth in daily COVID-19 cases — primarily in people who have not been vaccinated — the province is “most definitely” in a fourth wave, says a top doctor with the government’s science advisory table.
And with the number of new cases currently doubling every 10 days, Dr. Peter Juni, scientific director of the science table, warns the province could see as many as 1,200 new cases per day by the time school resumes in less than a month. That’s up from a current average of just over 300.
For those who choose to remain unvaccinated, Juni has a sobering message: “If we continue on our current reopening path, the probability of unvaccinated people across all age groups to experience infection in the next six to 12 months is 80 to 90 per cent. And the risk of complications from Delta in this unvaccinated group is two to three times higher than with previous variants.”
Ontario is already seeing exponential growth in new cases, with an effective reproduction number of 1.54, meaning every 100 cases cause an average of 154 new infections. This is similar to the fastest exponential growth rates seen during the province’s second and third waves.
Read more from the Star’s Kenyon Wallace and Ed Tubb.
5:25 a.m.: Iranians are suffering through yet another surge in the coronavirus pandemic — their country’s worst yet — and anger is growing at images of vaccinated Westerners without face masks on the internet or on TV while they remain unable to get the shots.
Iran, like much of the world, remains far behind countries like Canada and the U.S. in vaccinating its public, with only 3 million of its more than 80 million people having received both vaccine doses. But while some countries face poverty or other challenges in obtaining vaccines, Iran has brought some of the problems on itself.
After Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei refused to accept vaccine donations from Western countries, the Islamic Republic has sought to make the shots domestically, though that process lags far behind other nations.
And even as the delta variant wreaks havoc, filling the country’s already overwhelmed hospitals, many Iranians have given up on wearing masks and staying at home.
5 a.m.: Ontario remains a “week or 10 days” away from easing more COVID-19 restrictions as vaccination rates slow and case counts rise, says chief medical officer Dr. Kieran Moore.
Painting a picture of how the pandemic will unfold in the next few months, Moore said daily infection levels — which have almost doubled in the last two weeks to an average of 306 a day — will continue rising and “take off” sometime in the fall unless more people get their jabs to fight the contagious Delta variant.
“The risk is going to rise in September as we head indoors,” he told his weekly news conference Tuesday. “The coming months will require vigilance … COVID-19 will be with us for some time.”
Read more from the Star’s Rob Ferguson.
4:45 a.m.: The paramedics get the urgent call at 10:30 p.m.: A 25-year-old woman, eight months pregnant and likely suffering from COVID-19, is now having serious trouble breathing.
Yahya Niane grabs two small oxygen cylinders and heads to the ambulance with his team. Upon arrival, they find the young woman’s worried father waving an envelope in front of her mouth, a desperate effort to send more air her way.
Her situation is dire: Niane says Binta Ba needs to undergo a Caesarean section right away if they are to save her and the baby. But first they must find a hospital that can take her.
“All the hospitals in Dakar are full so to find a place for someone who is having trouble breathing is very difficult,” he says.
It’s a scenario that has become all too common as Senegal confronts a rapid increase in confirmed coronavirus cases. Instead of motorcycle accidents and heart attacks, the vast majority of ambulance calls in the country’s capital are now COVID-19 cases.
Read more from The Associated Press.
Wednesday 4:15 a.m.: Quebec will test a smartphone application over the next two weeks that will run the vaccine passport system the government plans to impose across the province on September 1, Health Minister Christian Dubé said Tuesday.
Two days of testing will begin Wednesday at a sports bar and restaurant in Quebec City, Dubé told reporters in Montreal, adding that the application will be tested the following week over two days at a gym in the Montreal area. The passport software would be used in settings with a high degree of contact, such as festivals, bars, restaurants and gyms, the minister added.
“These two pilot projects and maybe others in bars will allow us to make the necessary adjustments to the application mechanics,” he said, adding that the passport system will help keep the government from closing businesses and locking down the province again in the fall.
Tuesday 6:07 p.m. Texas tallied more than 10,000 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 for the first time since early February as a new summer surge in coronavirus cases continues to strain critical care resources across the state.
The state has only 329 staffed beds for intensive care among 8,283 hospital beds left for about 30 million people, according to state health data released Tuesday. Central Texas hospitals, also struggling against the effects of the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus, are down to only two staffed ICU beds and are seeing a tripling of pediatric patients, local health officials said Tuesday.

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