The Saskatchewan government on Sunday removed all remaining public health restrictions imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, blamed for 572 deaths in the province. Those restrictions included mandatory masking and limitations on gatherings.
Saskatchewan businesses can still choose to enforce their own COVID-19 guidelines. The Saskatchewan Science Centre in Regina, for example, will still operate at only half capacity and require people to wear masks, said operations vice-president Ryan Holota.
“There is no vaccine for kids under 12, and we wanted to make sure the space was not only as safe as possible for everybody but also that everyone who is coming is feeling very comfortable,” Holota said.
The provincial government has said unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people should still consider face coverings.
Other restrictions ending on Sunday include visitor limits at care homes.
In long-term and personal care homes, residents will be allowed an unlimited number of visitors. They will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms, offered rapid tests and encouraged to wear a mask and physically distance while at the care homes.
Other provincial health-care facilities, including the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, will continue to require screening and masks until further notice.
About 71 per cent of Saskatchewan residents aged 12 and over have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and just over half the eligible population is fully vaccinated.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 7 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 1,420,279 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 5,415 considered active. National deaths stood at 26,428. More than 41.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country, according to CBC’s vaccine tracker.
In British Columbia, residents of long-term care facilities will be allowed to visit with friends and family members without restrictions, provided they are fully vaccinated, starting July 19.
In Alberta, public health officials have reported the province’s first two cases of the lambda variant. Both were travel-related.
In Manitoba, there were 87 new cases reported on Saturday, according to the province’s online dashboard, while deaths remained unchanged.
Ontario logged just 179 new cases, the fewest on a single day since Sept. 6, 2020. The province also reported eight new deaths.
In Quebec, the provincial government’s proposal to implement a vaccine passport has raised privacy and discrimination concerns from experts.
In the Atlantic region, New Brunswick, which recorded no new cases for the fifth straight day, is inching closer to half of the province’s eligible population being fully vaccinated; Prince Edward Island has reduced COVID-19 border testing and dropped its mask mandate; more than 80 per cent of eligible Newfoundland and Labrador residents had received at least one dose, and slightly more than 28 per cent received two doses; and Nova Scotia added just one new case on Saturday.
In the North, Yukon reported six new infections on Friday. It brings the territory’s active case count to 116, with the location of the new cases not yet confirmed, according to a news release from Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health.
What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday morning, more than 186.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to a tracker from Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than four million.
In the Middle East, Israel said on Sunday it will begin offering a booster shot of Pfizer’s vaccine to adults with weak immune systems, but it’s still weighing whether a third round of shots should be given to the general public.
With the rapid spread of the delta variant, new infections have risen over the past month from single digits to around 450 a day.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Sunday that the country has struck a deal with Pfizer to receive a fresh batch of COVID-19 vaccines in August to help with its drive to vaccinate teenagers.
In Asia, three million doses of the Moderna vaccine have arrived in Indonesia.
Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said the vaccine will be used as a third dose, or booster injection, for health-care workers. Many health-care workers were previously vaccinated with the Chinese produced Sinovac vaccine.
In Africa, just 16 million people out of the continent’s population of 1.3 billion — or less than two per cent — are now fully vaccinated, according to the World Health Organization.
South Africa accounts for more than 35 per cent of the 5.8 million cases of COVID-19 recorded by Africa’s 54 countries, although it is home to just over four per cent of the continent’s population.
The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in the country more than doubled over the past two weeks to more than 360 fatalities per day on July 9.
In Europe, the U.K. government is confident that plans to lift a range of COVID-19 restrictions will go ahead as planned on July 19 in England, but mask-wearing in indoor enclosed places will be expected, vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News on Sunday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson detailed proposals earlier this week to eliminate a series of rules on mask-wearing, social contact and the instruction to work from home. He is expected to give the final go-ahead on Monday.
With files from Reuters and The Associated Press
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