Coronavirus: What’s Happening in Canada and Around the World Thursday
The head of the Japan Olympics Organizing Committee ruled out another Games suspension on Thursday, despite deep concern over the prospect of thousands of athletes and officials arriving in a fourth wave of COVID infections -19.
Already postponed from last year at a cost of an additional US $ 3.5 billion, a scaled-down version of the Games, without foreign spectators, is set to begin on July 23.
But with a slow vaccine rollout, Tokyo and nine other regions in a state of emergency and a growing number of severe cases of the coronavirus, most Japanese are against hosting the Olympics.
Illustrating public anxiety, residents of a training site, Ota City, were furious at the decision to grant preferential vaccinations to staff assisting visiting Australian softball players, according to local media.
However, the president of the organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto, countered the gloom by telling Nikkan Sports newspaper: “We cannot postpone again”.
Hashimoto, who has competed in seven summer and winter Olympics as a cyclist and skater, told the BBC that while the Japanese were understandably worried, they should be reassured that a “bubble situation” was carefully constructed.
“I think the possibility of these Games happening is 100% that we do,” she said. “One thing that the organizing committee commits and promises to all athletes is that we will defend and protect their health.”
The country’s top medical adviser said on Thursday that public health guidelines, including his own, did not reach the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in charge of the event.
“We are now thinking about where we should give our advice,” Shigeru Omi told lawmakers. “If they want to hold [the Games], it’s our job to tell them what the risks are. “
Although Olympic advertisements are scattered around Tokyo, this is a far cry from the usual glitz and buzz, with many sponsors unsure of how to proceed with the events. Thousands of volunteers also quit, state broadcaster NHK said this week.
Hashimoto acknowledged the sadness of not having an outside spectator at an event that is normally a huge global celebration.
“It’s a unique opportunity that they [athletes] can participate in the Games, ”she said in an interview with the BBC.
-From Reuters, last update 9:10 am ET
What’s happening across Canada
WATCH | Ontario will not reopen schools this spring:
As of 11:35 a.m.ET, Canada had reported 1,386,415 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which 28,455 were considered active. The CBC News death tally stood at 25,628. More than 24.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered across the country so far, according to the CBC vaccine tracker.
Quebec Thursday reported 267 new cases of COVID-19 and six more deaths.
Ontario Thursday reported 870 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 more deaths. In an update, the province reported that 729 people were hospitalized, including 546 people who were in intensive care due to COVID-19. The update came a day after Premier Doug Ford confirmed that students will not be returning to classroom learning this school year.
In the north, Nunavut again reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. Health officials in Yukon and the Northwest Territories had yet to provide updated details for the day.
In Atlantic Canada, on Wednesday, health officials from both Newfoundland and Labrador and New Scotland reported 17 new cases of COVID-19. Nova Scotia, which began reopening this week, also reported two more deaths.
New Brunswick reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 and no new cases were reported in Prince Edward Island.
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 267 new cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths.
Manitoba health officials have said they will step up vaccination efforts as the number of people receiving their first vaccine begins to level off. The vans will be used as mobile clinics in some areas, and community clinics will be set up in areas where vaccine reluctance is high, they said. In some rural areas south of Winnipeg, immunization rates are less than half the provincial average.
Saskatchewan, meanwhile, on Wednesday reported 130 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death.
In Alberta, health officials have reported 410 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths.
In British Columbia, health officials reported fewer than 200 cases of COVID-19 for the second day in a row.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated 11:35 a.m.ET
What is happening in the world
Early Thursday morning, the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Case Tracker showed more than 171.7 million cases had been reported worldwide. The worldwide death toll stood at more than 3.6 million, according to the database.
In the Americas, The lack of effective political leadership has hampered efforts to stop the pandemic in Latin America, where infections are again dangerously on the rise, the Pan American Health Organization said.
Protests against the pot erupted in several cities in Brazil as President Jair Bolsonaro addressed the nation, just days after protesters took to the streets for his handling of the pandemic.
WATCH | Africa targets vaccine safety amid rare COVID-19 injections:
In Africa, the head of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday he expects an update in the coming days from the United States Food and Drug Administration on contamination issues at factories that have delayed millions of doses of Johnson & Johnson single-injection COVID-19 vaccine around the world.
Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong said he was in touch earlier Thursday with officials at J&J, and they told him that a visit from FDA regulators and an announcement regarding the Emerging plant BioSolutions in Baltimore had been pushed back from Wednesday to Friday.
The FDA shut down the Emergent BioSolutions plant, known as Bayview, in mid-April after contaminating and ruining around 15 million doses of J&J vaccine earlier this year. Emergent BioSolutions is one of the major contractors manufacturing doses of J&J, and the move by US regulators has resulted in supply chain issues in Europe and Africa.
In the Middle EastBahrain began offering a booster of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine to some people, six months after receiving two injections of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. The vaccine mix comes as the Middle Eastern island nation battles its worst wave of the virus, despite being one of the best countries in the world in terms of vaccinations per capita.
The government’s BeAware app allows people living in Bahrain to sign up for Pfizer or Sinopharm jabs booster shots. However, the government is now recommending that people over 50, obese people, and people with weakened immune systems receive the Pfizer vaccine, whether or not they received Sinopharm first.
The Bahraini government and health officials, as well as its embassies abroad, did not respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press on Thursday. Sinopharm officials could not be reached immediately.
In Europe, European Union governments have agreed to add Japan to a small list of countries from which they will allow non-essential travel, while waiting at least mid-June for British tourists.
In the Asia Pacific region, Australia’s second most populous state on Thursday reported its smallest increase in new cases in more than a week, a day after an instant lockdown in Melbourne was extended by a week.
-From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated 9:10 am ET