Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reports 419 COVID-19 cases and no deaths; court lifts
The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
7:05 p.m. British Columbia residents can now access the federal government’s proof-of-vaccination record allowing for travel within Canada and internationally, The Canadian Press reports.
The provincial government says residents can now access the federal COVID-19 proof-of-vaccination card in the same way 3.7 million people downloaded their card for non-essential activities within the province, according to CP.
However, the province says the federal government has indicated it will allow British Columbians to use the BC Vaccine Card to travel within the country until Nov. 30, while national proof of vaccination is implemented.
The federal government has said its card can also be used for international travel, but those leaving Canada would need to check the requirements of the country they’ll be visiting.
B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix says the federal vaccine card can be accessed through Health Gateway, the ministry’s web service, by phone or at most Service BC offices.
Travellers need two doses of a vaccine, with the second one administered at least 14 days before departure.
The B.C. government also says provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has extended a mask mandate for everyone aged five and up in indoor public spaces in order to continue slowing the transmission of COVID-19.
The mask mandate was due to expire on Sunday.
The province recorded 584 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and nine more people have died, for a total of 2,156 deaths.
It says 85 per cent of eligible residents aged 12 and up are now fully vaccinated.
Thirty-three outbreaks continue, mostly at long-term care facilities. Other outbreaks are at Mission Memorial Hospital, Chilliwack General and University Hospital of Northern BC, a correctional centre on Vancouver Island.
5:56 p.m. The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an emergency appeal from healthcare workers in Maine to block a vaccine mandate that went into effect Friday, The Associated Press reports.
Three conservative justices noted their dissents. The state is not offering a religious exemption to hospital and nursing home workers who risk losing their jobs if they are not vaccinated, according to CP.
Only New York and Rhode Island also have vaccine mandates for healthcare workers that lack religious exemptions. Both are the subject of court fights and a court has allowed workers in New York to seek religious exemptions while the lawsuit plays out.
The high court has previously turned away students at Indiana University and teachers in New York City who objected to being vaccinated. Both the university and city allow people to seek religious exemptions.
5:29 p.m. Canada is watching the U.S. Food and Drug Administration closely now that it has approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11, reports The Canadian Press.
The FDA approved the vaccine for emergency use on Friday afternoon, citing data that shows the shot is 90 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 in children and there have been no serious side-effects, according to CP.
The FDA advisory committee recommended in favour of approving the vaccine after hours of testimony from experts Tuesday.
Health Canada officials attended that meeting and are watching the process in the U.S. carefully as Canada makes its own decision about the pediatric vaccine.
Health Canada received Pfizer-BioNTech’s submission for approval and associated data slightly later than the FDA, and Canadian officials are still reviewing it.
The pediatric COVID-19 vaccine differs slightly from Pfizer-BioNTech’s adult formulation. For that reason, the company will need to deliver new vials of the vaccine before Canadian kids can get their shot.
Canada is expecting 2.9 million child-size doses of the new formulation if it is approved, enough for every child to get their first dose.
But Sharma said it could still be a few weeks until Health Canada makes a final decision.
The FDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be monitoring the rollout of the children’s’ vaccines for any adverse effects, and Canadian public health officials will be keeping an eye on that data as well.
The CDC will meet next week to discuss clinical recommendations in the administration of the children’s vaccine in the U.S.
Meanwhile, Health Canada is expecting more submissions for pediatric vaccines in coming weeks.
3:59 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting 26 new cases of COVID-19, reports The Canadian Press.
Officials say the bulk of the cases, or 18 of them, have been discovered in the central region of the province, according to CP.
There are also four cases in the eastern zone, three in the northern zone and one in the western zone.
Twenty-eight recoveries have been reported meaning the active case count now sits at 169.
Two more schools have been notified of COVID-19 exposures; one in the Halifax area and one in Cape Breton.
Officials also say more than 83 per cent of the population overall has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 78.3 per cent are now fully vaccinated.
3:34 p.m. A significant part of the Saint John region in New Brunswick will be entering a 14-day circuit breaker today in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19, reports The Canadian Press.
Chief medical officer, Dr. Jennifer Russell, previously said while case numbers across the province are trending downward overall, the seven-day average of cases has been steadily rising in the region over the last week, according to CP.
The new, tougher public health measures will begin at 6 p.m. local time and affect several areas, including the Saint John metropolitan area.
Officials say the circuit-breakers in the Moncton, Fredericton, Edmundston and Campbellton regions will continue for another seven days.
Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting 48 new cases of COVID-19.
There are 41 new recoveries in the province, bringing the active case count to 556, and 28 people are in hospital.
3:26 p.m. The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency says residents will be required to provide proof of vaccination to enter hospitals and long-term care homes as the province reports no decline in COVID-19 cases, reports The Canadian Press.
Marlo Pritchard, who is president of the agency responsible for emergency management, says the health order is to come into effect on Nov. 8, according to CP.
Pritchard says visitors to healthcare facilities can also show a negative COVID-19 test performed within the last three days.
He says the measure will help prevent vulnerable people in high-risk settings from getting sick.
The province is reporting 238 new cases of COVID-19, and 238 hospitalizations, including 54 patients in intensive care.
Twenty-two Saskatchewan residents are in Ontario receiving care, including three who were taken in the last 24 hours.
Pritchard says two patients a day will be transferred to Ontario between Friday and Sunday.
3:19 p.m. The Food and Drug Administration on Friday paved the way for children ages five to 11 to get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, The Associated Press reports.
The FDA cleared kid-size doses — just a third of the amount given to teens and adults — for emergency use, and up to 28 million more American children could be eligible for vaccinations as early as next week, according to AP.
One more regulatory hurdle remains: On Tuesday, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make more detailed recommendations on which youngsters should get vaccinated, with a final decision by the agency’s director expected shortly afterwards.
“With this vaccine kids can go back to something that’s better than being locked at home on remote schooling, not being able to see their friends,” said Dr. Kawsar Talaat of Johns Hopkins University. “The vaccine will protect them and also protect our communities.”
A few countries have begun using other COVID-19 vaccines in children under 12, including China, which just began vaccinations for 3-year-olds.
But many that use the vaccine made by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech are watching the U.S. decision, and European regulators just began considering the companies’ kid-size doses.
With FDA’s action, Pfizer plans to begin shipping millions of vials of the pediatric vaccine — in orange caps to avoid mix-ups with the purple-capped doses for everyone else — to doctors’ offices, pharmacies and other vaccination sites.
Kids will get two shots, three weeks apart.
While children are at lower risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 than older people, five- to 11-year-olds still have been seriously affected, including over 8,300 hospitalizations, about a third requiring intensive care, and nearly 100 deaths since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the FDA.
And with the extra-contagious delta variant circulating, the U.S. government has counted more…