The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Saturday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
8:10 p.m.: More than 15 months into the pandemic, Ontario is getting a new chief medical officer of health, the Star has learned.
According to multiple sources with knowledge of the move, but who are not authorized to speak publicly, Dr. Kieran Moore, the much-respected medical officer of health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, will replace the much-criticized Dr. David Williams, who has been Ontario’s top doctor since 2016.
The move is expected to be announced Monday, with Moore not expected to officially take the job full-time for several weeks. Williams, who was appointed by Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government, was due to retire in February, but the Ford government extended that term to September during the second wave of COVID-19.
Neither Moore nor the Ministry of Health responded to requests for comment. The move comes as the pandemic has finally started to recede in earnest, and after the province unveiled a reopening plan which was praised as responsible by prominent medical figures.
Read the full story here from Bruce Arthur.
6:35 p.m.: Alberta is reporting that the number of patients with COVID-19 in the province’s hospitals has fallen to 478.
There were 517 virus patients in hospitals the day before, and the number has been trending down.
The government has said if there are fewer than 500 people in hospital two weeks from now, at the same time the latest vaccinations take full effect, it will lift an array of health restrictions on June 10.
Alberta is also reporting 406 additional COVID-19 cases and eight new deaths linked to the virus.
4:30 p.m.: Quebecers lost no time in marking the end of the provincewide curfew imposed to help lower COVID-19 cases, gathering in large groups across the province and creating a busy night for local police forces.
Authorities in multiple jurisdictions said Friday night was a hectic one, with residents cleared to be out after dark for the first time since the curfew took effect on Jan. 5.
Montreal police spokeswoman Véronique Comtois said officers monitored crowds gathered at the city’s Old Port and at most major parks, but said all was peaceful throughout the evening.
“The crowds were festive,” said Comtois. “We took on a preventive and raising awareness approach.”
She said police didn’t issue any tickets or make
any arrests related to the various gatherings.
Things were less peaceful in the provincial capital of Quebec City, where local police alleged violence erupted at one of its largest parks.
City police spokesman David Pelletier said two people were arrested and six tickets were issued during the police intervention at Victoria Park, which saw officers close the site at around 10 p.m.
4:30 p.m.: Saskatchewan is reporting 179 new COVID-19 cases and one additional virus-related death.
The province’s daily pandemic update says the person who died was in their 50s and was from the Regina zone.
The update says Saskatchewan has now passed 700,000 vaccines administered.
As of today, second-dose vaccinations are open to residents 70 or older, or anyone who received their first shot before March 15.
3 p.m.: Manitoba is reporting three new deaths of residents with COVID-19.
The province’s daily pandemic update says two of those who died were men in their 20s from the Winnipeg health region, while the third was a man in his 70s from the Prairie Mountain health region.
The update says 357 new cases of the virus have been identified over the past 24 hours.
On Friday, health officials in Manitoba announced one of the biggest one-day jumps in COVID-19 numbers since the pandemic began, with 497 new cases.
1 p.m.: Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting nine new confirmed cases of COVID-19 today.
Health officials have identified six cases in the province’s western health region, two in the eastern region and one in the central health region. There are four people in hospital due to the virus, and the province is reporting 100 known active cases.
Officials say they are still trying to identify the source of infection in the central region where there is a cluster of 60 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
New Brunswick is reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19 today.
Five infections have been identified in the Moncton region, four in the Fredericton area and one in the Bathurst region.
The province has 143 known active cases with seven people hospitalized, including six in New Brunswick and one out of province. Two patients are currently in intensive care.
Health officials are also reporting that just over 60 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 and older have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Nova Scotia is reporting four new deaths related to COVID-19 and 33 new cases of the virus today.
Officials say two men in their 80s and a woman in her 70s have died in the Halifax area, along with a man in his 80s in the western zone. The province says the single day death total is the highest since six deaths were reported on May 3, 2020.
There are 566 known active cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia and 43 people in hospital, including 18 in intensive care.
Quebec is reporting 410 new cases of COVID-19 today and seven more deaths related to the virus, including one in the last 24 hours.
Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by 12 for a total of 373. The number of patients in intensive care held steady at 91.
The province says it administered 95,505 doses of vaccine on Friday, for a total of 5,405,885 since the start of the immunization campaign. The province says about 59.1 per cent of Quebecers have received at least one dose.
12 p.m.: As of Saturday morning, more than 50 per cent of youth aged 16 to 19 years old in Toronto have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Toronto said a big part of this rollout took place at city-run, partner-run or pop-up clinics across the city, amounting to a total of 62,601 first doses administered.
This milestone has been reached after the province expanded the vaccine to children aged 12 to 17 less than a week ago, on Sunday. The city said about 30 per cent of those in this age group have also received their first dose.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved by Health Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization for youth age 12 and older earlier this month.
“Thank you to the families who are coming out to get vaccinated by the thousands to make sure they are protected and their community is protected,” said Mayor John Tory in a news release Saturday.
“Getting vaccinated as soon as possible is the right thing to do so that we can bring this pandemic to an end.”
The city has administered 2,092,608 vaccines to those eligible and 739,669 people have booked an appointment at a city-run clinic, as of Friday night.
11:45 a.m.: Health Canada has extended the expiry date for thousands of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from May 31 to July 1, according to a spokesperson for Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott.
“Health Canada has issued an authorization to extend the expiry date of specific lots of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from six months to seven months, following the review of submitted stability data,” a statement issued Saturday morning said.
The news comes as pharmacies scrambled to administer thousands of doses of the vaccine before they expired on Monday.
Read full story by the Star’s Wendy Gillis.
11 a.m.: Ontario is reporting another 1,057 COVID-19 cases and 15 more deaths, according to its latest report released Saturday morning.
Ontario has administered 8,839,445 vaccine doses since its last daily update, with 148,972 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night.
According to the Star’s vaccine tracker, 8,180,306 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 55.5 per cent of the total population and the equivalent of 68.7 per cent of the adult population.
The province says 659,139 people have completed their vaccinations, which means they’ve had both doses. That works out to approximately 4.5 per cent of the total population and the equivalent of 5.5 per cent of the adult population.
The number of people vaccinated in Ontario includes a relatively small number of 12-17 year olds.
The seven-day average is down to 1,248 cases daily, or 60 weekly per 100,000. Ontario’s seven-day average for deaths is down to 18.1 daily.
The province says 33,559 tests were completed the previous day, and a 3.6 per cent positivity rate, the lowest on a Saturday since March 13.
There are 934 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province, including 626 patients in intensive care. There are 438 people on ventilators.
Locally, Health Minister Christine Elliott says 228 cases are in Toronto, 178 in Peel Region, 82 in York Region and 71 in Hamilton.
There are 124,172 confirmed cases in Ontario of the highly contagious variant first detected in the United Kingdom, an increase of 986 from the previous day.
There are 945 cases in Ontario of the variant first detected in South Africa, with 31 more reported than the previous day.
There are 2,794 cases of the variant first found in Brazil, an increase of 178 from the previous day.
10:30 a.m.: Vietnam has discovered a new coronavirus variant that’s a hybrid of strains first found in India and the U.K., the Vietnamese health minister said Saturday.
Nguyen Thanh Long said scientists examined the genetic makeup of the virus that had infected some recent patients, and found the new version of the virus. He said lab tests suggested it might spread more easily than other versions of the virus.
Viruses often develop small genetic changes as they reproduce, and new variants of the coronavirus have been seen almost since it was first detected in China in late 2019. The World Health Organization has listed four global “variants of concern” – the two first found in the U.K. and India, plus ones identified in South Africa and Brazil.
Long says the new variant could be responsible for a recent surge in Vietnam, which has spread to 30 of the country’s 63 municipalities and provinces.
Vietnam was initially a standout success in battling the virus — in early May, it had recorded just over 3,100 confirmed cases and 35 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
But in the last few weeks, Vietnam has confirmed more than 3,500 new cases and 12 deaths, increasing the country’s total death toll to 47.
10:25 a.m.: The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou shut down a neighbourhood and ordered its residents to stay home Saturday for door-to-door coronavirus testing following an upsurge in infections that has rattled authorities.
Guangzhou, a business and industrial centre of 15 million people north of Hong Kong, has reported 20 new infections over the past week. The number is small compared with India’s thousands of daily cases but has alarmed Chinese authorities who believed they had the disease under control.
The spread of infections was “fast and strong,” the official Global Times newspaper cited health authorities as saying.
Saturday’s order to stay home applied to residents of five streets in Liwan District in the city centre. Outdoor markets, child care centres and entertainment venues were closed. Indoor restaurant dining was prohibited and grade schools were told to stop in-person classes.
China reports a handful of new cases every day but says almost all are believed to be people who were infected abroad. The mainland’s official death toll stands at 4,636 out of 91,061 confirmed cases.
10:17 a.m.: Ontario is reporting 1,057 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 33,600 tests completed, Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted Saturday. Locally, there are 228 new cases in Toronto, 178 in Peel, 82 in York Region and 71 in Hamilton. Fifteen deaths were reported Saturday.
As of 8:00 p.m. yesterday, 8,839,445 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.
The seven-day average is down to 1,248 cases/day or 60 weekly per 100k, and down to 18.1 deaths/day. Labs report 33,559 completed tests (fewest on a Sat. since Sept. 3) & 3.6 per cent positivity (lowest on a Sat. since Mar. 13).
8:37 a.m.: The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table has recommended the reopening of schools on a regional basis in a response to Doug Ford’s request for consultation on the matter.
In a letter posted online on Saturday morning, the Science Table stated that schools should maintain public health measures to limit the spread of the virus.
The Science Table said one month of in-person schooling would help schools reconnect with students and mitigate short- and long-term implications on children’s mental health.
The document was signed by 11 groups including the Hospital for Sick Children, children’s hospitals in Ottawa and London, Children’s Mental Health Ontario, Pediatricians Alliance of Ontario and the Council of Ontario Medical Officers of Health.
Read the full story here.
8:24 a.m.: With reopening around the corner and the province weighing whether to let students return to schools, staff are afraid Ontario is teetering on the edge of a fourth wave. If that happens, they worry they won’t have the stamina to cope.
Recently, the Star went inside Brampton Civic, a part of the William Osler Health System. Here is a glimpse of what it’s like to work in a hot-spot hospital only just pulling back from the brink.
Read and view the full story from the Star here.
8:22 a.m.: For 2,500 hockey fans with tickets to Saturday’s Game 6 showdown between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens, entering the Bell Centre will be a dreamlike moment.
The indoor gathering — albeit capped at 12 per cent capacity — would have seemed impossible even a month ago during the peak of the pandemic’s third-wave, but dropping case rates in Quebec and elsewhere have made watching a live hockey game a reality. Still, while the resale demand for tickets shows desire is high to return to a life resembling pre-pandemic normalcy, some Canadians are nowhere near ready to run back to their old lives just yet.
The cautiousness to emerge out of the pandemic has been dubbed by some as “restart anxiety,” and many Canadians are feeling it. A recent poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies revealed 52 per cent of respondents felt some sort of anxiety about reopening. That anxiety is highest among those aged 18 to 24, 68 per cent of whom felt unease.
Read the full story from the Star’s Nadine Yousif.
8:21 a.m.: Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Friday issued an executive order repealing a mask mandate prohibition put in place while he was out of the state by the lieutenant governor, describing her actions as a tyrannical abuse of power and an “irresponsible, self-serving political stunt.”
The Republican governor up to now had been reserved in his comments about Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, a member of the far-right who has worked to undermine Little’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last week she announced her run for governor, challenging the first-term incumbent Little. Her executive order Thursday banning mask mandates in schools and public buildings is widely seen as part of that campaign, and she is already using that executive order in fundraising efforts.
Little has never issued a statewide mask mandate, but counties, cities and schools have issued their own directives. Many have been lifted as more Idaho residents have been vaccinated, but two counties and 10 cities still have them in place, as do multiple schools.
8:20 a.m.: Kids at U.S. summer camps can skip wearing masks outdoors, with some exceptions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the guidance Friday. Children who aren’t fully vaccinated should still wear masks outside when they’re in crowds or in sustained close contact with others – and when they are inside.
But fully vaccinated kids need not wear masks, indoors or outside. It’s the first in a wave of guidance updates that seek to incorporate recent CDC decisions to tell Americans they don’t have to be as cautious about using masks and social distancing outdoors.
8:19 a.m.: The Philippines has lifted a ban on the deployment of workers to Saudi Arabia, which it imposed after receiving reports that workers were being asked to shoulder COVID-19 test and quarantine costs in the oil-rich kingdom.
Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that after Saudi Arabia formally notified his country Saturday that recruitment agencies and Saudi employers would bear the costs of tests and 10 days of quarantine for Filipinos, he decided to lift the ban.
The ban, which Bello imposed Thursday, prevented more than 400 Filipino workers from boarding their Philippine Airlines flights for Saudi Arabia on Friday. Many were stranded at the Manila airport, with some begging in tears for the government to immediately lift the ban.
“I apologize for the inconvenience and momentary anguish that it may have caused our dear overseas Filipino workers,” Bello said, but added “our Saudi-bound workers will no longer be disadvantaged.”
The Philippines is a leading source of global labour. Its regulations require recruitment agencies and foreign employers to cover the costs of COVID-19 tests and quarantines, which would be a financial burden to the mostly poor workers.
8:15 a.m.: Pharmacists are hurrying this weekend to administer thousands of doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine before they expire in a matter of days.
Ontario has been trying to redistribute a stockpile of 45,000 doses expiring on Monday and 10,000 more going bad in June.
But quality checks held up the delivery of thousands of the shots, and many weren’t delivered until yesterday.
Justin Bates, the head of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, says participating pharmacies will work hard over the weekend to avoid wastage, with three full days left to complete the vaccinations.
The province paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine earlier this month due to an increase in reports of rare but deadly blood clots.
This week, the province started offering it for second shots to people who received the dose between March 10 and March 19 at pharmacies in Toronto, Windsor and Kingston, and at some primary care offices.
Approximately 90,000 people participated in the AstraZeneca pilot between March 10 and March 19.
4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Saturday, May 29, 2021.
There are 1,374,275 confirmed cases in Canada (39,903 active, 1,308,932 resolved, 25,440 deaths). The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.
There were 3,206 new cases Friday. The rate of active cases is 104.99 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 22,154 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,165.
There were 31 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 278 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 40. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.1 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 66.94 per 100,000 people.
There have been 34,550,157 tests completed.
4 a.m.: The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Saturday, May 29, 2021.
In Canada, the provinces are reporting 463,184 new vaccinations administered for a total of 22,809,939 doses given. Nationwide, 1,877,968 people or 5.0 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 60,185.684 per 100,000.
There were 9,700 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 25,994,734 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 87.75 per cent of their available vaccine supply.