Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 356 new cases, four deaths Saturday; Canada
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.
5:20 p.m.: Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting two COVID-19-related deaths in the province today, bringing the death toll to 116 since the start of the pandemic.
The latest deaths – in the Campbellton region – involve someone in their 70s and a person in their 40s.
Officials are reporting 33 new cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the number of active infections to 551.
There are 23 people in hospital, including 13 in intensive care.
A statement from the Health Department says that as a result of a province-wide strike by CUPE members, some vaccination clinics and COVID-19 screening at assessment centres have been cancelled or rescheduled.
Currently 84.8 per cent of eligible New Brunswickers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while 92.5 per cent are partially immunized with at least one dose.
4:23 p.m.: More than 26,000 of New York City’s municipal workers remained unvaccinated after Friday’s deadline to show proof they’ve gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the city said Saturday.
A last-minute rush of jabs boosted the vaccination rate to 83% among police officers, firefighters, garbage collectors and other city workers covered by the mandate as of 8 p.m. Friday, up from 76% a day earlier.
Workers who haven’t complied with the requirement will be put on unpaid leave starting Monday, leaving the Big Apple bracing for the possibility of closed firehouses, fewer police and ambulances and mounting trash.
Vaccination rates for the city’s fire and sanitation departments jumped significantly Friday as workers rushed to meet the deadline for the mandate and an extra incentive: Workers who get a shot by Friday will get $500.
The fire department’s rate rose 8% and the sanitation department saw an additional 10% of its staff get vaccinated Friday, according to city data. The fire and sanitation departments each have 23% of their staffs that still haven’t been vaccinated.
The NYPD had a 5% jump in vaccinations Friday, leaving 16% of police personnel who had yet to get a dose.
City officials have been weighing various contingencies to deal with an expected staffing shortfall come Monday.
The fire department said it was prepared to close up to 20% of its fire companies and have 20% fewer ambulances in service while also changing schedules, canceling vacations and turning to outside EMS providers to make up for expected staffing shortages.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the sanitation department will move to 12-hour shifts, as opposed to the usual 8-hour shifts, and begin working Sundays to ensure trash doesn’t pile up.
3:05 p.m.: New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says he’s exploring his options to end a strike by 22,000 CUPE members in the province after the job action impacted health care services Saturday.
A COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Fredericton was cancelled, and Higgs says the strike also meant that COVID-19 screeners were not available in some hospitals and other facilities.
Higgs told reporters during an afternoon news conference he could use the province’s Emergency Measures Act to force the employees back to work, but will take the next 24 hours to weigh his options.
The strike over wages began Thursday, and the premier said no formal notice was given of the job action in health care facilities Saturday.
But CUPE New Brunswick president Steve Drost says the premier is continually trying to lay blame on the union.
He says most of the union’s members haven’t had a proper raise in 15 years and remain among the lowest paid workers in the country.
12:00 p.m.: Quebec is reporting 591 new cases of COVID-19 today and two additional deaths attributed to the virus.
The Health Department says the number of hospitalizations declined by six to 244, while the number of patients in intensive care declined by one to 67.
Authorities say 8,120 doses of vaccine were administered in the past 24 hours, including 2,764 first doses.
The province’s public health institute said Friday that 90.6 per cent of Quebec residents 12 and over have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 87.8 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated.
Authorities say there are currently 470 active COVID-19 outbreaks in Quebec.
The province has reported an average of 450 new COVID-19 cases a day over the past seven days.
11 a.m.: Canada will donate 10 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine to the COVAX vaccine sharing facility and donate $15 million to help make mRNA vaccines in Africa.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the donation in Rome this afternoon while attending the G20 leaders’ summit.
Canada also intends to increase its financial support to COVAX to buy another 63 million doses itself.
In all, between financial contributions and direct delivery of doses, Canada says it will help deliver at least 200 million shots of vaccine by the end of next year.
Vaccine equity is a big issue on the table at the summit, with warnings from the International Monetary Fund and the World Health Organization, among others, that inequitable distribution of vaccines will postpone the global economic recovery and make it very uneven.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, the host of this year’s summit, said in his opening remarks Saturday that the inequitable delivery of vaccines is “startling.”
On average the G20 nations have fully vaccinated about 55 per cent of their populations. Canada has fully vaccinated 74 per cent of its entire population.
Globally, 38 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated. In Africa, it’s not even six per cent.
10:15 a.m.: Ontario is reporting 356 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths Saturday. Two hundred and thirty cases are in individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 126 are in fully vaccinated individuals.
In addition, 132 people are in ICU due to COVID-19. Of those, 119 are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 13 are fully vaccinated, Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted.
10:10 a.m.: An unfamiliar noise hums in the late-October air on evening strolls through some Canadian neighbourhoods.
It’s not the whooshing of witches on brooms overhead, the howling of werewolves or the lament of restless spirits. It’s the whirring sound of motors blowing air into giant inflatable Halloween decorations that have become ever more popular over the last several years.
Many families celebrating their second pandemic-era Halloween have upped the ante with their decorations, offering a little extra joy to kids who have sacrificed so much in the name of public health.
“Because we can’t travel and we can’t go anywhere with the kids, it’s all about just trying to get community spirit up,” said Candace MacGibbon of Toronto. “We had a little bit more time than we normally do, and we just thought if we can share a little bit of a smile when people drive and walk by, why not?”
The hedges leading to her home are adorned with giant spiders, and zombie hands peek out from the mulch in her garden. Ghoulish figures and at least one bright orange, disembodied foot hang from the trees — decorations picked out in part by her kids, she said.
8:25 a.m.: They are not the image that typically comes to mind when one hears of lives devastated by COVID-19.
A 27-year-old communications professional who could once polish off a press release in a few hours — but now needs a whole day.
And a 28-year-old previously “extremely healthy” office worker and mom who spent her spare time running and being active with her kids, but now experiences constant exhaustion, sore muscles and other health issues that have forced her to go on medical leave.
The stories on their own would be notable for highlighting the impact COVID-19 can have on the lives of young people who were mostly healthy before getting infected. What further sets Hannah Lohnes, Hobson Lin and Jessica Sewell apart is that they are long haulers, still experiencing complications from COVID-19 anywhere from five months to more than a year after their initial illness.
8:23 a.m.: The leaders of the world’s economic powerhouses on Saturday took part in the first in-person summit since the coronavirus pandemic, with climate change, COVID-19 economic recovery and the global minimum corporate tax rate on the agenda.
Italian Premier Mario Draghi welcomed the Group of 20 heads of state to Rome’s Nuvola cloud-like convention center in the Fascist-era EUR neighbourhood, which was sealed off from the rest of the capital. Saturday’s opening session was focused on global health and the economy, with…