The front lines of Canada’s COVID-19 battle remain asymmetrical, with promising progress occurring in some provinces and continuing challenges in others.
British Columbia on Thursday reported two more deaths from COVID-19, but also saw a third straight day where the count of new cases remained below 200.
Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said that 71.8 per cent of adult British Columbians eligible to receive a vaccine have now received at least one dose.
Both Alberta and Manitoba reported higher daily case counts than B.C., on a day when Manitobans also learned that many students will finish out their school year at home.
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In neighbouring Ontario, 870 new cases and 10 additional deaths were reported. In an update, the province reported that 729 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 546 in ICU.
The update came a day after Premier Doug Ford confirmed that students would not be heading back to in-class learning this academic year.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7:10 p.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
As of 6 p.m. ET, Canada had reported 1,387,445 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 27,790 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 25,644.
More than 24.9 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country, according to CBC’s vaccine tracker.
In Quebec, health officials on Thursday reported 267 new cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths.
In the North, no new cases were reported in Nunavut, Yukon or the Northwest Territories on Thursday.
In Atlantic Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador on Thursday reported six new cases of COVID-19, as Nova Scotia reported 25 new cases and one additional death. Sixteen new cases and one additional death were reported in New Brunswick. Two new cases were reported in Prince Edward Island.
Saskatchewan on Thursday reported 131 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7:25 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of Thursday afternoon, the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 case-tracking tool showed more than 171.8 million cases had been reported around the world. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.6 million, according to the database.
In the Americas, lack of effective political leadership has hampered efforts to stop the pandemic in Latin America, where infections are dangerously on the rise again, the Pan American Health Organization has said.
Pot-banging protests erupted across several cities in Brazil as President Jair Bolsonaro addressed the nation, just days after protesters took to the streets over his handling of the pandemic.
Chile’s health ministry on Thursday said it would raise the minimum age of men approved to receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to 45 from 18, and suspend administering second doses until authorities complete an investigation into a case involving a man who had a blood clot after his first shot.
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In Africa, the World Health Organization says vaccine shipments have ground to “a near halt” while COVID-19 cases have spiked 20 per cent over the past two weeks.
South Africa alone had a more than 60 per cent rise in new cases last week as the country with the highest COVID-19 caseload in Africa continued to face delays in its effort to roll out the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
More than one million J&J doses remain on hold at a pharmaceuticals plant in South Africa because of contamination concerns at a U.S. factory. The head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said he expects an announcement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on those contamination issues soon.
In the Middle East, Bahrain has begun offering a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for some people, six months after they received two shots of China’s Sinopharm vaccine. The mixing of vaccines comes as the Mideast island nation struggles through its worst wave of the virus despite being one of the top countries in the world in per-capita inoculations.
The government’s BeAware app allows those living in Bahrain to register for booster shots of either the Pfizer or the Sinopharm jabs. However, the government now recommends that people over 50, with obesity, and people with weakened immune systems receive the Pfizer shot regardless of whether they first received Sinopharm.
In Europe, European Union governments have agreed to add Japan to a small list of countries from which they will allow non-essential travel, while holding off until at least mid-June for British tourists.
In Italy, a cruise ship travelled down the Giudecca canal in Venice for the first time since the pandemic.
Also Thursday, Britain removed Portugal from its list of coronavirus-safe travel destinations, meaning thousands of U.K. residents currently on vacation there will have to quarantine on return.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says the “difficult decision” was prompted by rising case rates in Portugal and worries about new strains of the virus that could prove resistant to vaccines. The change will take effect Tuesday.
Portugal is a major destination for sun-seeking Britons, and was the only large tourism destination on the U.K. government’s “green list,” announced last month, of destinations that can be visited without the need to self-isolate on return.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the head of Japan’s Olympics organizing committee ruled out on Thursday another suspension of the Games, despite deep disquiet at the prospect of thousands of athletes and officials arriving during a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections.
Already postponed from last year at the cost of an extra $3.5 billion US, a scaled-down version of the Games, with no foreign spectators, is set to start on July 23. But with a slow vaccine rollout, Tokyo and nine other regions under a state of emergency, and rising numbers of severe coronavirus cases, most Japanese oppose hosting the Olympics.
However, organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto countered the gloom, telling the Nikkan Sports newspaper: “We cannot postpone again.”
-From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 7:20 p.m. ET