Today’s coronavirus news: July 23, 2021, canada, gta, world
|Toronto Star 23 Jul 2021 at 06:47|
The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
6:25 a.m. More Americans are now getting vaccinated against coronavirus in the areas worst hit by the virulent Delta variant, a potentially hopeful sign as cases continue to soar, public health experts said Thursday.
President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 czar Jeff Zients said more people in the five states with the highest infection rates — Florida, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Missouri — are now getting vaccinated on a daily basis than the national average.
“People are feeling the impact of being unvaccinated and taking action,” Zients said at a briefing of the White House coronavirus task force. “Each shot matters each person is a step toward putting this pandemic behind us.”
Republican Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, a pro-Trump stalwart who had refused to get a vaccine until now, got his first vaccine shot last weekend in a sign that fear of illness might be overcoming politically motivated resistance.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky suggested that the efforts of public figures could be a game changer.
“Maybe you’re seeing some of your local officials stepping forward,” Walensky said.
Florida alone accounts for 20 per cent of the cases nationwide, and Missouri and Texas account for another 20 per cent, Zients said.
Almost all the serious cases, including 97 per cent of those hospitalized and 99.5 per cent of deaths, are among unvaccinated people.
“Almost every death from COVID-19 is a preventable tragedy,” Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said.
6:20 a.m. New Zealand has closed its border to Australia, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Friday, as the neighboring country was struggling to contain new COVID-19 outbreaks.
The so-called Trans-Tasman travel bubble began on April 19 and allowed Australians and New Zealanders to travel between the two countries without the need to quarantine.
However, Ardern said the Delta variant had "materially changed the risk profile" and COVID-19 is now widespread in Australia.
"We ve always said that our response would evolve as the virus evolved. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it is the right decision to keep New Zealanders safe."
The prime minister said New Zealand s border would close from midnight Friday and would remain closed for at least eight weeks.
The suspension would give Australia time to manage its current outbreaks, Ardern said.
"We do want the bubble to resume. We remain committed to it, and when I spoke to (Australia Prime Minister) Scott Morrison this morning I conveyed this view directly. But it must be safe."
A travel bubble between New Zealand and the Cook Islands remains in place.
New Zealand, a country of 5 million, has recorded a total of 2,499 coronavirus infections with 26 deaths.
6 a.m. Pfizer Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine was just 39 per cent effective in keeping people from getting infected by the contagious Delta variant in Israel in recent weeks, according to the country’s health ministry, but provided a strong shield against hospitalization and more severe forms of the virus.
The vaccine provided 88 per cent protection against hospitalization and 91.4 per cent against severe illness for an unspecified number of people studied between June 20 and July 17, according to a report Thursday from the health ministry.
The report said that the data could be skewed because of different ways of testing vaccinated groups of people versus those who hadn’t been inoculated.
The Delta variant first emerged in India and is spreading around the globe as governments race to inoculate people, sometimes infecting those already fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The mutation has forced some countries to delay or rethink plans to loosen curbs on businesses, activity and travel.
Israel has had one of the world’s most effective inoculation drives, with 57 per cent of the population fully vaccinated, but has seen a recent surge in infections due to Delta. Critical cases have also climbed, but remain a fraction of the peak earlier this year.
Friday 4 a.m. As COVID-19 vaccination rates increase and case numbers drop across the country, the provinces and territories have begun releasing the reopening plans for businesses, events and recreational facilities.
Most of the plans are based on each jurisdiction reaching vaccination targets at certain dates, while also keeping the number of cases and hospitalizations down.
Here s a look at what reopening plans look like across the country:
Newfoundland and Labrador:
The province s reopening plan begins with a transition period during which some health restrictions, like limits on gatherings, will loosen.
Requirements for testing and self-isolation lifted entirely for fully vaccinated Canadian travellers on Canada Day, while those requirements will ease over the next few months for travellers with just one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
If case counts, hospitalization and vaccination targets are met, the province expects to reopen dance floors as early as Aug. 15, and lift capacity restrictions on businesses, restaurants and lounges while maintaining physical distancing between tables.
As early as Sept. 15, mask requirements for indoor public spaces will be reviewed.
Nova Scotia has further reduced COVID-19 public health orders after entering the fourth phase of its reopening.
Under the new rules, retail stores can operate at full capacity, churches and other venues can operate at half capacity or with a maximum of 150 people, and up to 50 people can attend outdoor family gatherings.
Capacity limits for dance classes, music lessons and indoor play spaces have also been lifted.
Organized sports practices, games, league play, competitions and recreation programs can involve up to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors without physical distancing.
Day camps can operate with 30 campers per group plus staff and volunteers, following the day camp guidelines. In addition, professional and amateur arts and culture rehearsals and performances can involve up to 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors without physical distancing.
Meanwhile, fully vaccinated residents of long-term care homes can now have visitors in their rooms and visit their family s homes, including for overnight stays.
New Brunswick has moved into Phase 2 of its reopening plan, having reached its goal of having 20 per cent of people 65 or older vaccinated with two doses of a COVID vaccine.
Premier Blaine Higgs says the change opens travel without the need to isolate to all of Nova Scotia after opening to P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Travellers from elsewhere in Canada who ve had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine can enter the province without the need to isolate, while those who haven t had a shot must still isolate and produce a negative test before being released from quarantine.
Other changes allow restaurants, gyms and salons to operate at full capacity as long as customer contact lists are kept.