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Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario enters first stage of its economic reopening plan; Porcupine health unit will stay locked down for two weeks as cases surge

Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario enters first stage of its economic reopening plan; Porcupine health unit will stay locked down for two weeks as cases surge
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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 a.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau enters the first day of the G7 summit as the only leader who has yet to pledge how many vaccine doses his country will donate to less wealthy nations.

The United Kingdom says leaders are expected to agree to give other parts of the world access to one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines through donations and funding.

Trudeau is set to meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has stated he wants the three-day gathering to produce promises on ways to end the pandemic by the end of next year.

The G7 leaders will take part in a session today that focuses on how the health and economic recovery from COVID can be "for all."

Ensuring equitable access to inoculations against COVID-19 is a call facing leaders from the World Health Organization, as well as anti-poverty and humanitarian groups, since over 80 per cent of the vaccinations to date have been in wealthy countries.

5:50 a.m.: As he gets set to open his patio in the heart of Greektown for the first time in months, Chris Christodoulou is a bundle of energy.

Christodoulou, who owns popular Danforth restaurant Soula’s, has been running around, making sure everything’s in tip-top shape, the chairs are arranged, and the food and booze have been ordered ahead of Friday’s reopening.

But as Step 1 of Ontario’s loosening of COVID restrictions begins, his biggest concern has been people; not customers, but staff.

“Honestly, the biggest problem right now is finding enough staff, especially servers and other people in the front of house,” said Christodoulou. “I’m excited we can finally open the patio again and I’m optimistic there will be customers, but it’s not going to solve this industry’s problems. We’ve all been suffering.”

It’s a common refrain from restaurant owners across the city, as patios are allowed to open, giving them a lifeline after being closed on and off for over a year: Customers will come back, but staff shortages, higher prices from produce and meat suppliers, and limited seating means their businesses still won’t be out of the woods for a while. Some have also been struggling to get makeshift patios licensed under the CafeTO program.

5:45 a.m.: Outdoor dining and shopping at non-essential retail stores can resume in most of Ontario today as the province enters the first stage of its economic reopening plan.

New COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations have dropped in recent weeks, allowing the province to loosen some pandemic restrictions.

Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people and patio dining of up to four people per table are among the activities now permitted.

Non-essential stores can also reopen, with capacity limits, and outdoor fitness classes are allowed.

More restrictions will loosen after 21 days if pandemic indicators continue to improve and more people get vaccinated.

One region in northern Ontario, the Porcupine health unit, will hold off on easing restrictions for now as infections soar.

5:22 a.m. Some provinces hit hard by the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic have moved toward shedding more public health restrictions, but a national group is calling for those governments to slow their plans.

Zero COVID Canada sent a letter Thursday to the premiers of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec "to express our deepest concerns regarding the reopening plans."

"As more and more evidence comes in, it appears that a single dose of the vaccine — including Pfizer — is only about 30 per cent effective against the Delta variant, which is ravaging India and the U.K. right now," the letter says.

"Each new variant has the potential to evade vaccination efforts, and we need to protect our efforts to date."

The group is made up of researchers, physicians, engineers, activists, lawyers, educators, and concerned citizens.

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It noted that the variant first identified in India has already caused multiple outbreaks in Canada, including at the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, and is behind case spikes in Manitoba and in Peel Region outside Toronto.

Zero COVID Canada also recommends that provinces keep masking and physical distancing, and to only restore capacity limits indoors when 70 per cent of residents are fully vaccinated.

5:10 a.m.: Ontario is moving up second doses of COVID-19 vaccines for Pfizer and Moderna recipients in parts of the GTA and four other areas where the highly contagious Delta strain poses the greatest threat.

People who live in Toronto, the regions of Peel, York, Halton and Waterloo as well as the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and Porcupine (Timmins area) health units can begin booking boosters Monday at 8 a.m. through the provincial or health unit appointment systems and pharmacies, officials said Thursday.

The eligibility — which has been accelerated by a month — applies to those who got first doses on or before May 9. There are no restrictions by postal codes.

5:05 a.m.: An “alarming” surge in COVID cases, including in several remote First Nations communities, means the northeastern health unit of Porcupine will stay locked down for two weeks.

The health unit will also open up second doses to anyone who got a first shot on or before May 9, in an effort to protect against the more contagious Delta variant.

“The Porcupine health unit is still in its third wave,” said Dr. Lianne Catton, medical officer of health, at a press conference Thursday afternoon, held at the same time that Steini Brown presented a much more optimistic picture of trends in the rest of the province on behalf of the Ontario science table.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Friday, June 11, 2021:

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 471,196 new vaccinations administered for a total of 27,715,799 doses given. Nationwide, 3,717,945 people or 9.8 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 73,130.152 per 100,000.

There were 108,380 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 30,444,634 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 91.04 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Friday, June 11, 2021:

There are 1,398,274 confirmed cases in Canada (19,253 active, 1,353,148 resolved, 25,873 deaths). The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 1,479 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 50.66 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,832 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,547.

There were 30 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 229 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 33. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 68.08 per 100,000 people.
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