- WHO approves AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.
- Residents of Mississauga, Ont., condo to be tested after coronavirus variant cluster found.
- Quebec reports 728 new cases, lowest daily increase since Sept. 26.
- India to ship COVID-19 vaccines to Canada as diplomatic tension eases.
- U.K. begins mandatory hotel quarantines for many travellers.
- All students in Newfoundland and Labrador to switch to online learning by Thursday.
- Reports of domestic, intimate partner violence continue to rise during pandemic.
- Have a question about the coronavirus pandemic? Send your question to COVID@cbc.ca
Britain’s newly established quarantine hotels have received their first guests as the government tries to prevent new variants of the coronavirus from derailing its fast-moving vaccination drive.
Passengers arriving at London’s Heathrow Airport on Monday morning were escorted by security guards to buses that took them to nearby hotels. Under the new rules, people arriving in England from 33 high-risk countries must stay in quarantine hotels for 10 days at their own expense. In Scotland the rule applies to arrivals from any country.
Britain has given a first dose of coronavirus vaccine to almost a quarter of the population, but health officials are concerned that vaccines may not work as well on some new strains of the virus, including one first identified in South Africa.
On Sunday the British government reached its goal of giving the first of two doses of vaccine to 15 million of the most vulnerable people, including health-care workers and those over the age of 70.
Visiting a London vaccination centre on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the “unbelievable effort” by scientists, medics, pharmacists, members of the military and volunteers that had achieved Europe’s fastest vaccine rollout.
Britain has had Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak, with more than 117,000 deaths. Infections and deaths are now falling steadily, and the government says that on Feb. 22 it will announce a “road map” for easing a nationwide lockdown.
Johnson is under pressure from some members of his governing Conservative Party to lift the lockdown soon, allowing businesses to reopen and people to visit friends and family.
The prime minister, who has been accused of being too slow to lock Britain down last spring, then too quick to ease restrictions over the summer, now is striking a more measured tone.
“Although the vaccination program is going well, we still don’t have enough data about the exact effectiveness of the vaccines in reducing the spread of infection,” Johnson said at a news conference.
“We must be both optimistic but also patient, because we want this lockdown to be the last.”
What’s happening in Canada
As of 5:45 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada had reported 826,929 cases of COVID-19, with 35,684 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 21,311.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has updated its guidance on vaccination priorities to include adults from racialized communities disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and all essential workers, in the second stage of the vaccination campaign.
The second stage is expected to start this spring after provinces get COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of all the staff and residents of long-term care homes, adults aged 70 or older, front-line health workers and adults in Indigenous communities.
WATCH | Age-based vaccinating the easiest method, epidemiologist says:
The committee added a third stage to its immunization recommendations that includes people between 16 and 59 years old with underlying conditions, those who are between 50 and 59 years old with no underlying conditions, and health workers and essential workers who are not vaccinated yet.
The new recommendations prioritize racialized adults from groups disproportionately affected by the pandemic ahead of some older non-racialized people.
Health authorities in the provinces and the territories make the actual decisions on who gets vaccinated first.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, all students will make the switch to online learning by Thursday, as the English School District set out a staggered schedule to get children into virtual classrooms until at least Feb. 26.
Alert Level 5 was triggered late Friday with the confirmation that the B117 coronavirus variant, the variant initially detected in the United Kingdom, is now circulating in the province.
The province saw a massive spike in COVID-19 cases last week, with reported daily new cases reaching as high as 100 on Feb. 11. New cases have since declined, with the province reporting seven new cases on Monday.
Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province’s chief medical officer of health, confirmed that one person is in hospital with the virus, marking the first hospitalization since the outbreak of the coronavirus variant.
WATCH | ‘The variant is a complete game changer,’ N.L.’s top doctor says:
Ontario reported 981 new COVID-19 cases and 42 more deaths on Sunday. Due to the Family Day holiday, the province will not be posting case numbers on Monday.
The province on Sunday identified the next groups in line to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with adults aged 80 and over among them.
Retired general Rick Hillier, chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force, told Power & Politics host Vassy Kapelos on Monday that vaccinating adults age 80 and over — who have not received a dose yet and aren’t in long-term care homes or retirement homes — will begin around the first week of March.
The Ontario government has nearly finished offering a first dose to all residents of long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes in the province, Hillier said in a memo to medical officers of health and hospital CEOs.
WATCH | Ontario to expand list of priority groups eligible for vaccine:
Quebec reported 728 new cases and 16 additional deaths on Monday. It is the province’s lowest daily case increase since Sept. 26, when it reported 698 new cases.
Meanwhile, a Quebec coroner’s inquest into long-term care deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic’s first wave is on hold after a lawyer requested a postponement or a publication ban due to the possibility of criminal charges stemming from the deaths.
A lawyer representing Herron Residence argued the inquest could prove prejudicial to the owners and management of the home in the Montreal suburb of Dorval, as the Crown hasn’t decided whether charges will be laid in the case.
WATCH | Nursing home wants to delay Quebec coroner’s inquest into COVID-19 deaths:
Lawyers representing some families of the 47 residents who died and others acting for media organizations opposed the publication ban request, citing public interest and the right to know what happened.
Coroner Géhane Kamel, who is presiding over the inquiry into seven Quebec homes, will render a decision on the requests Tuesday.
Saskatchewan announced 143 new COVID-19 cases on Monday. The province said it is providing limited data today because of the Family Day holiday.
Alberta reported 251 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday and two related deaths.
Nova Scotia reported one new case on Monday. Premier Stephen McNeil said the recently low daily case count is proof the province’s public health orders are working.
WATCH | Calls to pause reopening as variants detected across Canada:
New Brunswick reported one new case and one new death. According to a press release from the province, the person who died was a resident of Manoir Belle Vue, an adult residential facility in Edmundston.
In Nunavut, the territorial government reported seven new cases of COVID-19 in Arviat, a hamlet of about 2,650 people. There are now 18 active cases of COVID-19 in the territory — all of them in Arviat, according to a news release from the government.
What’s happening around the world
As of Monday evening, more than 109 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 61.2 million of those cases listed as recovered or resolved in a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.4 million.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday listed AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, widening access to the relatively inexpensive shot in the developing world.
A WHO statement said it had approved the vaccine as produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio and the Serum Institute of India.
Doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine make up the lion’s share of doses in the COVAX coronavirus vaccine sharing scheme, with more than 330 million doses of the shot due to begin being rolled out to poorer countries from the end of February.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford shot has been hailed because it is cheaper and easier to distribute than some rivals, including Pfizer-BioNTech’s, which was listed for emergency use by WHO late in December.
In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea said on Monday it would not use AstraZeneca’s vaccine on people aged 65 and older, reversing an earlier decision, and scaled back initial vaccination targets due to delayed shipments from global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX.
South Korea had said it would complete vaccinations on 1.3 million people by the first quarter of this year with AstraZeneca shots, but it slashed the target sharply to 750,000.
Australia and New Zealand have received their first vaccine deliveries and will begin rolling out inoculations in the coming week, while Melbourne and Auckland remained locked down following the emergence of new cases.
“The eagle has landed,” Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters in Canberra on Monday as the first shipment of 142,000 doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech touched down.
In Africa, Zimbabwe has received its first COVID-19 vaccines with the arrival early Monday of an Air Zimbabwe jet carrying 200,000 Sinopharm doses from China. It is one of China’s first shipments of vaccines to Africa, after deliveries to Egypt and Equatorial Guinea.
The first Sinopharm vaccines are a donation from China to the southern African country. President Emmerson Mnanagagwa’s government has purchased an additional 600,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine that are expected to arrive early next month, according to state media.
The first batch of vaccines for Zimbabwe has been successfully delivered. We start vaccinating Zimbabweans this week!<br><br>The faster our country is protected against this virus, the faster Zimbabwe’s economy can flourish.<br><br>God bless you all, god bless Zimbabwe! 🇿🇼 <a href=”https://t.co/u2noXMWcnR”>pic.twitter.com/u2noXMWcnR</a>
South Africa has reopened its major land borders with neighbouring countries after closing them last month to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The country, which has seen a cumulative total of nearly 1.5 million cases and 47,000 deaths, has seen a decline in new cases and is set to start vaccinating its front-line health workers with Johnson & Johnson vaccines later this week.
Coronavirus case numbers are stabilizing in parts of the Middle East, but the situation remains critical with more than a dozen countries reporting cases of new variants, the World Health Organization said Monday.
Ahmed al-Mandhari, director of WHO’s eastern Mediterranean region, which comprises most of the Middle East, said in a media briefing from Cairo that at least one of the three new coronavirus variants was reported in the 13 countries, which he did not name. All three of the new variants are more contagious, according to WHO.
Israel’s largest health-care provider reported on Sunday a 94 per cent drop in symptomatic COVID-19 infections among 600,000 people who received two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine in the country’s biggest study to date.
Health maintenance organization Clalit, which covers more than half of all Israelis, said the same group was also 92 per cent less likely to develop severe illness from the virus.
“It shows unequivocally that Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is extremely effective in the real world a week after the second dose, just as it was found to be in the clinical study,” said Ran Balicer, Clalit’s chief innovation officer.
In the Americas, Brazil has confirmed cases of the variant of the novel coronavirus first discovered in the U.K. in two states and in the federal district of Brasilia, according to a statement from the health ministry on Sunday. The government said it has not yet confirmed cases of the variant first identified in South Africa.
Brazil has the world’s highest number of coronavirus deaths after the United States and more than 9.8 million confirmed cases. The variant of the virus first discovered in Brazil is circulating in 10 states, the health ministry said.
In Europe, the first shipment of a COVID-19 vaccine developed in China will arrive Tuesday in Hungary, the first country in the European Union to approve it.
In a video on Facebook on Monday, State Secretary Tamas Menczer said 550,000 doses of the vaccine developed by Chinese state-owned company Sinopharm will be transported by jet from Beijing, enough to treat 275,000 people with two doses each. The first shipment will undergo testing by the National Public Health Center before inoculations begin, Menczer said.
A French medical team was due to start work Monday at a hospital in Portugal, which for more than three weeks has been the country in the world with most COVID-19 deaths by size of population.
The French doctor and three nurses arrived amid signs that a month-long lockdown, which is being extended to at least March 1, is paying off. On Sunday, just over 4,800 COVID-19 patients were in hospital, down from a Feb. 1 peak of close to 7,000.