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Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on March 29

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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.

What’s happening across Canada

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.

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.

With files from CBC News, Reuters and The Associated Press

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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