Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world Friday


On the road to post-pandemic life, Canada and the United States are seemingly driving at different speeds — and perhaps along different lanes.

Federal Green Party Leader Annamie Paul waves after receiving her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Humber River Vaccination Clinic at Toronto’s Downsview Arena on Friday. (Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press)

The latest:

  • Partially vaccinated Canadians can socialize outdoors this summer, top doctor says.
  • Preliminary talks on lifting Canada-U.S. border restrictions underway.
  • Fast-spreading B1617 variant could delay Britain’s reopening, PM warns.
  • Experts call on Canada to use or return COVAX AstraZeneca doses.
  • Canadians who got AstraZeneca vaccine shouldn’t regret decision, health experts say.
  • Nunavut officials scold residents as parties continue to spread COVID-19.
  • Delayed 2nd Pfizer-BioNTech shot produces more antibodies, U.K. study says.
  • Ontario reports 2,362 new cases, administers 141,765 vaccine doses.
  • 2,000 patients have been transferred around Ontario to free up beds — but it’s taking a toll.
  • COVID-19 battle puts India’s government on ‘war footing.’
  • Japan widens state of emergency.
  • Track how many people in Canada have received 1st and 2nd doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email: [email protected]

On the road to post-pandemic life, Canada and the United States are seemingly driving at different speeds — and perhaps along different lanes.

Friday, Canadian officials were laying out a roadmap for life after vaccination, while fully vaccinated Americans have already received a green light for a return to going maskless in certain circumstances.

Canada’s chief public health officer said Friday that Canada may have “passed the peak” of the third wave, as average daily COVID-19 case counts dropped to fewer than 7,000 for the first time since April.

Dr. Theresa Tam said there’s also been a decline in severe illness, with an average of fewer than 4,000 COVID-19 patients being treated in hospital each day.

Lakher Sidhu, 85, received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine at an immunization clinic at the Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Tam touted “great strides” in vaccinations, saying nearly 50 per cent of adults have at least one vaccine dose and suggesting that maintaining this pace could pay off in the form of “an outdoor summer that gets us back into many of the activities we’ve been missing.”

That could include small outdoor gatherings with family and friends in the warm weather, such as picnics in the park, outdoor sports and patio dining, said Tam.

For that to happen, at least 75 per cent of adults must receive at least one jab, including 20 per cent who have both doses, according to federal modelling. Tam said that first immunization target is “within sight.”

WATCH | CDC eases guidelines:

The Centers for Disease Control in the U.S. says fully vaccinated people can finally ditch their masks, and walk away from physical distancing, both indoors and out. But while many Americans are celebrating, others have serious doubts. 2:02

Meanwhile, on the U.S. side of the border, a dozen states were quickly embracing new federal guidelines that say fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors or out in most cases.

But other states and cities and some major businesses hesitated amid doubts about whether the approach is safe or even workable.

As many business owners pointed out, there is no easy way to determine who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t. And the new guidelines, issued Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, essentially work on the honour system, leaving it up to people to do the right thing.

Walmart has since said it won’t require vaccinated shoppers or workers to wear a mask in its U.S. stores unless state or local laws say otherwise.

-From The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 8:40 p.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | COVID-19: How much protection is in the 1st dose of vaccine?

Two infectious diseases doctors answer viewer questions about COVID-19 vaccines, including how much protection people get from the first dose and how variants may change that. 8:03

As of 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 1,318,405 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 73,420 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 24,869.

Ontario on Friday reported 2,362 new cases of COVID-19 and 26 additional deaths. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 1,582, with 777 people in ICU due to COVID-related illness.

Quebec, meanwhile, on Friday reported 838 new cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths.

In Atlantic Canada, Prince Edward Island was the first province to report updated figures on Friday, saying there were two new cases on the island. Newfoundland and Labrador, meanwhile, reported six new cases. Nova Scotia reported 117 new cases and one additional death, while New Brunswick reported five new cases. 

WATCH | COVID-19 spread in Nunvaut:

Nunavut’s health minister and chief public health officer are pointing to unsafe gatherings as a continuing source of new COVID-19 infections. 2:01

Across the North on Friday, Nunavut reported 12 new cases of COVID-19, while no new cases were reported in either the Northwest Territories or Yukon.

On Friday, Manitoba reported 491 new cases, as a top Manitoba health official said COVID-19 numbers are expected to worsen for at least another week before dropping.

WATCH | How Manitoba got to this point in its fight against COVID-19:

Manitoba’s powerful surge of COVID-19 cases is not a surprise, says former emergency room doctor Lisa Bryski. ‘We let down our guard,’ she says. 2:58

Saskatchewan, meanwhile, reported 227 new cases and two additional deaths on Friday, as Alberta reported 1,433 new cases and five additional deaths.

British Columbia reported two additional deaths and 494 new COVID-19 cases. It was the first day since March 17 that the daily count of new cases fell below 500.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7:45 p.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

A host cleans a pod of the London Eye in preparation to reopen as COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease in London on Friday. (Peter Cziborra/Reuters)

As of early Friday evening, more than 161.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to a tracking tool from Johns Hopkins University. The global reported death toll stood at more than 3.3 million.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, executive director of the World Health Organization, expressed concern Friday about ongoing inequities in vaccine distribution and the need for more vaccines to be donated to COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing alliance.

WATCH | WHO chief on the need for vaccines:

The World Health Organization wants wealthier countries to delay the COVID-19 inoculation of their less vulnerable citizens and send some vaccine to poorer countries, which are suffering from an acute shortage. 1:43

“In a handful of rich countries, which bought up the majority of the vaccine supply, lower-risk groups are now being vaccinated,” Tedros said, expressing concern about the number of health-care workers worldwide who are not yet protected by vaccines.

“I understand why some countries want to vaccinate their children and adolescents — but right now, I urge them to reconsider and instead donate vaccines to COVAX.”

In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan is further expanding a coronavirus state of emergency to three additional areas ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

India’s prime minister has warned people to take extra precautions as a devastating coronavirus outbreak is spreading fast to rural areas where almost two-thirds of the country’s nearly 1.4 billion people live.

WATCH | Singapore tightens restrictions after spike in COVID-19:

The start of a planned travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong may be delayed past May 26, as Singapore tries to curb new clusters of COVID-19 infections. 0:25

Singapore announced the strictest curbs on social gatherings and public activities since easing a lockdown last year, amid a rise in locally acquired infections and with new clusters forming in recent weeks.

Mainland China reported 12 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, including its first local transmissions in more than three weeks, national and regional authorities said.

In the Americas, confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in Colombia passed 80,000 on Friday with intensive care units almost full in the biggest cities, where large crowds have been gathering for weeks of anti-government protests.

In Mexico, Gov. Carlos Joaquin, the governor of the country’s resort-studded Caribbean coast, said Thursday his Quintana Roo state is at “imminent risk” of returning to lockdown as coronavirus cases there rose steadily. He suggested that increased tourism around Easter played a role in the rise. 

A nurse administers a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a vaccination center for people over 50 set up at the Vasconcelos Library, in Mexico City earlier this week. (Pedro Pardo/AFP/Getty Images)

In Africa, Egypt has received a batch of more than 1.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX initiative and a separate shipment of 500,000 Sinopharm vaccine doses from China, the health ministry said on Thursday.

In the Middle East, Oman will end a nightly curfew on Saturday, but shops and commercial activities will be banned from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m.

People are inoculated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine inside a vaccination centre in Barcelona, Spain on Friday. The country is aiming to vaccinate 70 per cent of Spain’s population by the end of August. (David Ramos/Getty Images)

In Europe, Italy has relaxed its COVID-19 quarantine requirement for visitors from the European Union, Israel and Britain in a bid to jump-start its pandemic-devastated tourism industry heading into the peak season.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza signed an ordinance Friday allowing the quarantine-free visits with proof of a negative virus test starting Sunday.

-From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 7:45 p.m. ET

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