Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians that full vaccination doesn’t offer total protection against COVID-19.
Dr. Theresa Tam, speaking at a virtual town hall for Yukoners on Saturday, said the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower for anyone who receives two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines.
“But it’s not absolute. There’s reduction in your risk of transmission, but it doesn’t necessarily eliminate your risk of transmission,” Tam said, adding that the danger dials down, especially after the second dose.
“Some studies have shown that it reduces the amount of virus in the back of your nose. If you sample people, there’s less virus, which means less risk of transmission.”
Tam noted that young people, who often work in front-line or essential services, now have some of the highest case rates — and can transmit COVID-19 despite showing no symptoms.
She added that these people need to be protected to reduce transmission of the virus, but due to their age, they’re often at the bottom of vaccine priority queues.
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Meanwhile, the RCMP have arrested the owner of a highway diner in central Alberta and ticketed dozens of people after an anti-lockdown protest. Demonstrators gathered Saturday evening outside the Whistle Stop Cafe in the hamlet of Mirror, northeast of Red Deer, after the restaurant was closed by health officials earlier this week.
The protest went ahead despite pouring rain and a pre-emptive court injunction.
In Calgary, police arrested two organizers of a church service on Saturday and charged them with organizing an illegal in-person gathering.
Brothers Artur and Dawid Pawlowski were also charged with inciting or inviting others to attend an illegal public gathering, as well as promoting and attending the illegal public gathering. Throughout the pandemic, the pair have held large, maskless gatherings and have denied health officials entry to their church, which is located in the southeast neighbourhood of Dover.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 7 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 1,279,977 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 81,052 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 24,568.
Alberta registered 2,042 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths on Saturday.
Saskatchewan saw 269 new cases but no new fatalities. The province also announced it is lowering the age for vaccine eligibility to 32. In the northern district, the eligibility age remains 18 years and older.
Manitoba recorded 488 new cases and three more deaths.
Starting Sunday, outdoor gatherings in Manitoba will be capped at five people, restaurants and bars will be limited to delivery or takeout only, and indoor events, including religious gatherings, are prohibited. The new measures announced on Friday will remain in place for at least three weeks.
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Ontario registered 2,864 new cases and 25 more deaths on Saturday, marking the third day this week that new daily case counts have dipped below 3,000.
Nearly 140 pharmacies started offering COVID-19 vaccines to all adults in some Ontario virus hot spots this weekend.
The province says 78 pharmacy locations in Toronto and Peel Region are offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. In Durham Region, Hamilton, Ottawa, Windsor and York Region, 58 pharmacies have the Moderna shot.
Quebec confirmed 958 new cases and seven more deaths on Saturday.
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New Brunswick reported its fifth death in a week related to an outbreak at a Grand Falls special care home. There were also eight new cases on Saturday, the province said, which brings the total number of active cases to 141.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported six new cases.
Nova Scotia logged 163 new cases and an additional death on Saturday. The province’s latest surge is seeing younger patients fill hospitals and intensive care units.
In the Northwest Territories, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola says 90 per cent of coronavirus cases stemming from a recent outbreak in a Yellowknife school are among children and youth.
Nunavut added seven more infections on Saturday but also 10 new recoveries, lowering active cases in the territory to 74 — all of them in Iqaluit.
The Iqaluit Elders’ Home is being closed and elders are being moved out of the facility, after staff members were exposed to COVID-19 and ordered to isolate, according to Nunavut’s Department of Health.
Six clients have been transferred to other facilities, four are being transferred to Embassy West Senior Living retirement home in Ottawa because of more advanced needs, while the rest are being cared for elsewhere in the territory, a department spokesperson said in an email to CBC News on Saturday night.
What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday morning, 157.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 3.2 million.
In Europe, Impromptu street celebrations erupted across Spain as the clock struck midnight on Saturday, when a six-month-long national state of emergency to contain the spread of coronavirus ended and many nighttime curfews were lifted.
In Madrid, police had to usher revellers out of the central Puerta del Sol square, where the scenes of unmasked dancing and group singing resembled pre-pandemic nightlife.
Teenagers and young adults also poured into central squares and beaches of Barcelona to mark the relaxation of restrictions.
Local restaurants will be able to serve dinner again beginning Sunday and can stay open until 11 p.m. But a limit of four people per table remains, and indoor dining is limited to 30 per cent capacity.
With the end of the state of emergency, bans on traveling across Spain’s regions have also been lifted, and many curbs on social gatherings were relaxed. Only four of the country’s 19 regions and autonomous cities are keeping curfews in place.
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In the Middle East, Emirates airline said on Sunday it will fly medical supplies from Dubai to nine cities in India free of charge beginning this week to help battle a devastating upsurge in the coronavirus.
International aid has poured in for India, where record infection rates have overwhelmed hospitals, depleting medicines, oxygen tanks and other supplies.
Earlier this month, Qatar Airways also airlifted 300 tonnes of aid free of charge from Doha to India.
India reported 4,092 new deaths from the virus on Sunday, bringing the total to 242,362. Infections in the last 24 hours rose to 403,738, a near record, increasing the total since the pandemic started to 22.3 million.