Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 270 COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths; Accelerated second dose eligibility expands across Ontario Monday

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.12:45 p.m. A British man has died 15 months after first contracting COVID-19, his wife said.Jason Kelk, 49, was hospitalized in Leeds in March 2020, according to The Guardian. However, he died Friday after he was transferred to a hospice center.Kelk is believed to have been Britain’s longest-known COVID-19 patient.“It was definitely important for him to do it on his terms. But he is leaving an awful lot of people absolutely bereft,” his wife, Sue Kelk, 63, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.“People might not think he has been brave but my God, he has been brave. I really think he has. And I just think that this is the bravest thing that you could ever do – to actually say: ‘I don’t want to live like this any more.’”Kelk, who suffered from diabetes and asthma, had been transferred to an intensive care unit in April 2020 and remained there before transitioning to hospice care. During the course of his infection, he suffered additional lungs, kidney and stomach damage.12:30 p.m. Suns star Chris Paul has remained symptom-free after testing positive for COVID-19 last week, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.As a result, Phoenix is encouraged by Paul’s progress and is hopeful that he will clear NBA health and safety protocols at some point early in the Western Conference finals, per Yahoo Sports. Paul has been quarantining at his home in Los Angeles. He entered the league’s protocols on June 16.Paul, who, according to multiple reports, is vaccinated, did not play in Game 1 on Sunday vs. the Clippers. Nevertheless, Phoenix topped L.A. 120-114.12 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting no new cases of COVID-19 for the first time in almost three months.Premier Iain Rankin said today in a statement the last time the daily caseload had dropped to zero was March 29.Rankin says news of the declining infection rate marks "a great way to begin summer."He is also encouraging Nova Scotians to follow public health measures and get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.Nova Scotia has 79 active reported cases of COVID-19, including three people recovering in hospital — one of them in intensive care.Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, says Nova Scotians should be proud of their efforts to reduce the number of COVID-19 infections."But please don't let your guard down," he said in a statement. "We need to continue to follow the public health measures, get tested often and get vaccinated until we get to Phase 5 of our reopening."Since April 1, the province has reported 4,049 COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus.11:30 a.m. Quebec is reporting 90 new COVID-19 cases Monday and no new deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by two, to 168, and 39 people were in intensive care, unchanged since the prior day.Premier François Legault received his second COVID-19 vaccination today at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium and urged Quebecers to get fully vaccinated.About 80 per cent of Quebecers 12 and up have received a first dose and 19 per cent are considered fully vaccinated.10:25 a.m. The number of United States air travelers soared to a new record high for the COVID-19 pandemic on Sunday.A lofty 2,100,761 travelers were screened at U.S. airport checkpoints on Sunday, the Transportation Security Administration announced, which is the first time since March 2020 that so many people have been screened.In a tweet Monday, Lisa Farbstein of the TSA said Sunday had the” highest checkpoint volume since the start of the pandemic.”“Continue to #MaskUp,” Farbstein wrote.Sunday was the fifth day in June that more than 2 million people were screened at U.S. checkpoints, according to TSA data. There hadn’t been a single day before June with 2 million air travelers since March 2020.Air traveled plummeted at the beginning of the pandemic, with the daily number of people screened at TSA checkpoints frequently dipping below 100,000 travelers in April 2020, and typically remaining below 1 million people through the end of the year.This week, American Airlines cited “the incredibly quick ramp up of customer demand,” along with “unprecedented weather” and “labor shortages,” for why the company is canceling hundreds of flights through mid-July.10:20 a.m. (updated) Ontario is reporting another 270 COVID-19 cases and three more deaths, according to its latest report released Monday morning.This is the lowest case count reported for a single day since Sept. 15.Ontario has administered 118,625 vaccine doses since its last daily update, with 12,669,775 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night.According to the Star’s vaccine tracker, 9,697,075 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 65.8 per cent of the total population and the equivalent of 76.1 per cent of the adult

Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 270 COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths; Accelerated second dose eligibility expands across Ontario Monday

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Monday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

12:45 p.m. A British man has died 15 months after first contracting COVID-19, his wife said.

Jason Kelk, 49, was hospitalized in Leeds in March 2020, according to The Guardian. However, he died Friday after he was transferred to a hospice center.

Kelk is believed to have been Britain’s longest-known COVID-19 patient.

“It was definitely important for him to do it on his terms. But he is leaving an awful lot of people absolutely bereft,” his wife, Sue Kelk, 63, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

“People might not think he has been brave but my God, he has been brave. I really think he has. And I just think that this is the bravest thing that you could ever do – to actually say: ‘I don’t want to live like this any more.’”

Kelk, who suffered from diabetes and asthma, had been transferred to an intensive care unit in April 2020 and remained there before transitioning to hospice care. During the course of his infection, he suffered additional lungs, kidney and stomach damage.

12:30 p.m. Suns star Chris Paul has remained symptom-free after testing positive for COVID-19 last week, according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.

As a result, Phoenix is encouraged by Paul’s progress and is hopeful that he will clear NBA health and safety protocols at some point early in the Western Conference finals, per Yahoo Sports. Paul has been quarantining at his home in Los Angeles. He entered the league’s protocols on June 16.

Paul, who, according to multiple reports, is vaccinated, did not play in Game 1 on Sunday vs. the Clippers. Nevertheless, Phoenix topped L.A. 120-114.

12 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting no new cases of COVID-19 for the first time in almost three months.

Premier Iain Rankin said today in a statement the last time the daily caseload had dropped to zero was March 29.

Rankin says news of the declining infection rate marks "a great way to begin summer."

He is also encouraging Nova Scotians to follow public health measures and get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.

Nova Scotia has 79 active reported cases of COVID-19, including three people recovering in hospital — one of them in intensive care.

Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, says Nova Scotians should be proud of their efforts to reduce the number of COVID-19 infections.

"But please don't let your guard down," he said in a statement. "We need to continue to follow the public health measures, get tested often and get vaccinated until we get to Phase 5 of our reopening."

Since April 1, the province has reported 4,049 COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus.

11:30 a.m. Quebec is reporting 90 new COVID-19 cases Monday and no new deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.

Health officials say hospitalizations dropped by two, to 168, and 39 people were in intensive care, unchanged since the prior day.

Premier François Legault received his second COVID-19 vaccination today at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium and urged Quebecers to get fully vaccinated.

About 80 per cent of Quebecers 12 and up have received a first dose and 19 per cent are considered fully vaccinated.

10:25 a.m. The number of United States air travelers soared to a new record high for the COVID-19 pandemic on Sunday.

A lofty 2,100,761 travelers were screened at U.S. airport checkpoints on Sunday, the Transportation Security Administration announced, which is the first time since March 2020 that so many people have been screened.

In a tweet Monday, Lisa Farbstein of the TSA said Sunday had the” highest checkpoint volume since the start of the pandemic.”

“Continue to #MaskUp,” Farbstein wrote.

Sunday was the fifth day in June that more than 2 million people were screened at U.S. checkpoints, according to TSA data. There hadn’t been a single day before June with 2 million air travelers since March 2020.

Air traveled plummeted at the beginning of the pandemic, with the daily number of people screened at TSA checkpoints frequently dipping below 100,000 travelers in April 2020, and typically remaining below 1 million people through the end of the year.

This week, American Airlines cited “the incredibly quick ramp up of customer demand,” along with “unprecedented weather” and “labor shortages,” for why the company is canceling hundreds of flights through mid-July.

10:20 a.m. (updated) Ontario is reporting another 270 COVID-19 cases and three more deaths, according to its latest report released Monday morning.

This is the lowest case count reported for a single day since Sept. 15.

Ontario has administered 118,625 vaccine doses since its last daily update, with 12,669,775 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night.

According to the Star’s vaccine tracker, 9,697,075 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 65.8 per cent of the total population and the equivalent of 76.1 per cent of the adult population.

The province says 2,972,700 people have completed their vaccinations, which means they’ve had both doses. That works out to approximately 20.2 per cent of the total population and the equivalent of 24.4 per cent of the adult population.

Read the full story from the Star’s Cheyenne Bholla

10:15 a.m. Changes to quarantine rules at the border will go into place for some fully vaccinated people beginning July 5, the federal government announced Monday.

Canadian citizens, permanent residents and others already eligible to enter Canada and who have two doses of a Health Canada approved vaccine won’t have to quarantine, but will still need COVID-19 tests before they leave for Canada and once they arrive.

They’ll have to prove they are fully vaccinated, by keeping a paper or digital copy of their vaccine record, and uploading that and other related COVID-19 information into the government’s ArriveCAN application or website.

The government said Monday that anyone who submits false information on their vaccination status could be fined up to $750,000 or face six months imprisonment, or both.

Read the full story from the Star’s Stephanie Levitz

9:10 a.m. Indonesian health authorities announced the country's largest one-day jump in new coronavirus infections on Monday, as the number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began crossed 2 million.

The Health Ministry reported 14,536 new infections and 294 deaths, bringing the country's total confirmed fatalities to more than 54,950. Both the total cases and total deaths are the most in Southeast Asia.

Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, has seen infections surge in recent weeks, a climb that has been blamed on travel during last month’s Eid al-Fitr holiday as well as the arrival of new virus variants, such as the the Delta version first found in India.

The surge is putting pressure on hospitals, including in Jakarta, where 80 per cent of hospital beds are full, and has added urgency to the government's plan to inoculate 1 million people each day by next month. Authorities have so far only fully vaccinated 12.3 million of Indonesia's 270 million people and partially vaccinated another 10.9 million.

The World Health Organization last week said Indonesia’s drastic increase in hospital bed occupancy rates is a major concern and necessitates stricter public health and social measures, including large-scale social restrictions.

The government has resisted a large-scale lockdown due to fears of the economic impact. Offices, restaurants. shopping malls and places of worship remain open, though at 50 per cent of their capacity.

9 a.m. Scotland's leader has defended the ban on non-essential travel between the country and the northwestern England city of Manchester after its mayor lambasted the decision and called for businesses to be compensated.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Monday that the ban on people from Manchester and nearby Salford entering Scotland was taken on public health grounds based on COVID levels in the area, which was one of the first parts of England to witness the spread of the delta variant first identified in India.

New coronavirus infections around the Greater Manchester area are running higher than most places in England. Recent surveys point to around one in 200 people in the Greater Manchester area having the virus, three times higher than the rates of infection in Scotland.

“These are public health measures,” Sturgeon told the BBC. “I have a duty, and it’s one I take very seriously, to keep Scotland as safe as possible.”

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said the ban, which came into force on Monday, was disproportionate and had “come out of the blue.” He said he thinks the Scottish government should compensate businesses that are set to suffer from the ban.

Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party which wants to take Scotland out of the U.K., countered by suggesting that Burnham, one of the highest-profile politicians in the Labour Party, was playing politics.

“I’ve always got on well with Andy Burnham and if he wants to have a grown-up conversation, he only has to pick up the phone but if, as I suspect might be the case, this is more about generating a spat with me as part of some positioning in a Labour leadership contest in future, then I’m not interested," Sturgeon said.

8:45 a.m. A limited number of local fans will be allowed to attend the Tokyo Olympics, organizers announced Monday as they tried to save some of the spirit of the Games where even cheering has been banned.

Organizers set a limit of 50 per cent capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans — for each Olympic venue, and officials said that if coronavirus cases rise again the rules could be changed and fans could still be barred all together. Spectators from abroad were banned several months ago, and now some local fans who have tickets will be forced to give them up.

The decision comes as opposition among Japanese to holding the Games in July remains high, though may be softening, and as new infections in Tokyo have begun to subside.

8:20 a.m. If you’re reading this and you have school-aged children, you have likely experienced the hair-tugging frustration of technology the past 15 months as your kids struggle to adjust to online learning.

Now take a moment to imagine the challenges students living in low-income communities are facing.

Many are living in small, busy apartments with multiple family members. Many of these families can’t afford a computer or a webcam even if they could afford the reliable connection needed for video learning — and many parents are having to choose between putting food on the table and an internet connection so their children can continue learning. This means food insecurity is also often a considerable issue, and we all know how hard it is to concentrate when we’re hungry. To make matters more challenging, many teenagers must take on additional work to help contribute to the family’s bills. That’s time away from learning.

7:45 a.m. Cars, furniture, shelter, gas, groceries, lumber, barbecue meats; it’s all costing more according to new data from the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Around this time last year much of what a household purchased was a lower cost because we were at the front end of the pandemic, and the demand for consumer goods dropped rapidly while Canadians squirrelled away savings, if they could afford to do so.

It appears the brief era of widespread savings opportunities is coming to abrupt end as the economy reopens and “normal” consumption of goods (e.g. clothes and shoes) and services (e.g. drinks on a patio) resumes.

Try these techniques to brace yourself for higher costs, and still be able to save.

7:30 a.m. Starting on Sunday, adults in Toronto who booked COVID vaccine appointments at city mass clinics will receive Moderna, regardless of their first dose. Peel vaccine clinics will start using Moderna for all adult appointments on Monday.

Toronto announced the change amid a delay of a Pfizer-BioNTech shipment of more than 162,000 doses that was supposed to arrive in freezers on June 21.

“While Team Toronto vaccination partners are facing a shipment delay, we must not delay the quick administration of doses,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health, in a statement.

Children and teens aged 12 to 17 will still get Pfizer, as that’s the only vaccine that’s approved for them.

Read the full story from the Star’s May Warren

7:20 a.m. The number of workers claiming paid sick days under Ontario’s temporary benefit program has almost doubled over the past week, as the province expedites second doses in a bid to limit the spread of the Delta variant.

Ministry of Labour data provided to the Star shows a sudden uptick in sick-leave claims — and while the ministry can’t confirm a link between vaccine availability, it says the majority of sick days taken are for “vaccine-related reasons.”

As of this week, over 10,800 Ontario workers have taken days off as part of the temporary sick-day program introduced in April. Last week, that number was just over 5,800.

But despite the sudden surge, Deena Ladd of the Toronto-based Workers Action Centre says the overall number of claims is “minuscule.”

Read the full story from the Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh

7:10 a.m. The England team says every player and member of the coaching staff was negative in the latest round of coronavirus testing.

The PCR tests took place on Sunday. That was two days after the team played Scotland at Wembley Stadium. Scotland says midfielder Billy Gilmour has tested positive for COVID-19.

England says officials remain in contact with Public Health England and that the squad trained on the eve of the final Group D match against the Czech Republic on Tuesday.

6:49 a.m.: (updated) Scotiabank Arena, home of the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs, is transforming into a massive COVID-19 vaccine clinic on Sunday.

The city said Monday it aims to vaccinate more than 10,000 people aged 12 and up at the arena in an event called “Our Winning Shot” co-hosted with Scotiabank and teams owner Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.

Organizers promise a special experience and festive atmosphere including appearances by the Raptors and Leafs mascots.

Eligible people can pre-book their appointment starting at 8 a.m. Monday through the online system, by clicking the dark blue button, or by calling 1-833-943-3900.

Anybody aged 12 or older can book a first-dose appointment. Second-dose appointments will be available for anyone who received Pfizer or Moderna vaccine before May 9, or AstraZeneca on or before May 1.

Read the full story from the Star’s David Rider

6:34 a.m.: What will school look like in Ontario this September?

Quebec has already announced that students won’t have to wear masks, and cohorts aren’t needed — as parents and students here in Ontario begin to push for a normal return to school, especially for teens who should be fully vaccinated by then, along with their teachers.

“We need them to be back to normal,” said Toronto mom Tammy Doane, one of three local parents who started a lawn-sign campaign, with 900 now up on lawns in and around the city and York Region.

Kids “were pulled out of school 16 months ago, basically to save our lives,” she said. “And now parents and grandparents, we are 95 per cent safer than we were before (with full vaccinations), so now it’s time for us to save their lives.”

As kids have struggled with learning from home online, as well as the isolation from friends, she said they need to be back in school, in person, full time with extracurriculars and clubs.

Read the full story from the Star’s Kristin Rushowy.

6:28 a.m.: The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday.

Organizers set a limit of 50 per cent of capacity up to a maximum of 10,000 fans for all Olympic venues.

The decision was announced after so-called Five Party talks online with local organizers, the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, the Japanese government and the government of metropolitan Tokyo.

The decision contradicts the country’s top medical adviser, Dr. Shigeru Omi, who recommended last week that the safest way to hold the Olympics would be without fans. He had previously called it “abnormal” to hold the Olympics during the pandemic.

The Tokyo Games are set to open on July 23.

Local organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said it was important to acknowledge the uncertainty around the pandemic during the games.

6:28 a.m.: Medical regulators in New Zealand have approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in children as young as 12, following the lead of regulators in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.

The decision by Medsafe was welcomed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, although it still needs official sign-off from the government, which is likely later this month.

The Pfizer vaccine was previously approved in New Zealand for people aged 16 and older.

Ardern said about 265,000 extra children would be eligible under the expanded coverage, although she didn’t believe it would alter plans to complete the nation’s coronavirus vaccination rollout by the year’s end.

New Zealand plans to use only the Pfizer vaccine to inoculate its population of 5 million.

6:28 a.m.: A top health official is urging Australians to get their second doses of AstraZeneca despite deaths from the vaccine exceeding the nation’s COVID-19 death toll this year.

Two women in Australia have died from rare blood clots caused by the vaccine. The only COVID-19 fatality this year was an 80-year-old traveller who died in April after being infected overseas and diagnosed in hotel quarantine.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly told state leaders on Monday that health authorities did not recommend people follow up their first AstraZeneca dose with a different vaccine. Globally, the safety and effectiveness of switching vaccines between doses is still being tested.

He urged people not to cancel their second AstraZenca jab, which is booked three months after the first, saying the chances of developing blood clots after a second dose were 1.5 in a million.

COVID-19 has claimed 910 lives in Australia, but vaccine hesitancy is on the rise as the death rate slows.

Australia last week lifted its recommended age limit for AstraZeneca from 50 to 60 after a 52-year-old woman died of clots. A 48-year-old woman died in April.

Pfizer is currently the only alternative to AstraZeneca in Australia, although Moderna is expected to be registered soon. The government hopes that every Australian adult who wants a vaccine will have access to one by the end of the year.

6:26 a.m.: Canada is set to detail what quarantine rules citizens and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will soon have to follow when entering the country.

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said last week that “measures” would be announced today that will apply to immunized Canadians, as well as foreign nationals who are permitted entry.

Currently, those without citizenship or resident status can enter the country only if their travel is related to work, school or other essential business, but not for leisure.

As more Canadians get inoculated against COVID-19 and summer weather has people itching to take some long-awaited trips, pressure is building for the Liberal government to begin relaxing some of its border and quarantine rules.

Over the weekend the country hit an important target of having 75 per cent of its eligible population receive one dose and 20 per cent get two, providing the latter group with full protection against COVID-19.

6:26 a.m.: More Ontarians become eligible for an earlier second dose of COVID-19 vaccine this week.

Starting this morning at 8 a.m., those who received their first dose of an mRNA vaccine on or before May 9 can book or reschedule their second dose at a shortened interval.

People in Delta variant hot spots who received first shots on or before May 30 can move up their second shots on Wednesday.

Health units covering Toronto, Peel, Halton, Porcupine, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, Waterloo and York, Hamilton, Simcoe-Muskoka and Durham are considered hot spots for the more infectious variant.

The province says that starting sometime next week, it plans to allow all adults who received a first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna’s product to book a second appointment as soon as 28 days after their initial shot.

As of last week, the province allowed people who received a first shot of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to book their second shot earlier.

They must wait at least eight weeks before getting their second dose.

6:25 a.m.: Canada is set to receive more than five million doses of COVID-19 vaccine over the coming week.

Around 2.4 million are expected to come from Pfizer and BioNTech, though that shipment isn’t slated to land until mid-week and has prompted some jurisdictions to temporarily pause walk-in appointments or make use of other vaccines due to the brief delay.

Another 2.8 million will come from Moderna, for a total of 5.2 million shots expected this week.

The federal government says about nine million doses came into the country last week as Canada officially immunized more than 20 per cent of eligible residents with two shots of vaccine.

Procurement Minister Anita Anand has said Canada is on track to receive more than 50 million doses by the end of June, thanks in part to Moderna’s decision to ship about five million shots ahead of schedule.

She said Ottawa is on pace to take delivery of more than 68 million jabs by the end of July.

6:25 a.m.: Three more regions in Quebec are moving into the green, or least restrictive, level of the province’s COVID-19 response plan as of today.

The regions of Bas-Saint-Laurent, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Mauricie-Centre-du-Québec will join much of the rest of the province in attaining the coveted level that allows for further easing of public health measures.

The zone change will relax restrictions including limits on gatherings in homes, which can host up to 10 people from three different addresses. In yellow zones, only two families are permitted.

The changes come as Quebec continues its downward trajectory of COVID-19 infections, with case numbers generally on the decline since mid-April when daily counts routinely topped 1,500.

Meanwhile, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé is encouraging Quebecers inoculated against COVID-19 to get their proof of vaccination if they haven’t done so already.

In a tweet Sunday, Dubé posted a link to the provincial government’s website where vaccination validation can be obtained.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Monday June 21, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 352,550 new vaccinations administered for a total of 32,171,232 doses given.

Nationwide, 7,083,620 people or 19 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 84,886.136 per 100,000. There were 13,016 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 34,687,930 doses delivered so far.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Monday June 21, 2021. Some provinces and territories do not report daily case numbers.

There are 1,408,835 confirmed cases in Canada.

Canada: 1,408,835 confirmed cases (11,759 active, 1,371,000 resolved, 26,076 deaths).The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 712 new cases reported Sunday. The rate of active cases is 30.94 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 6,500 new cases reported. The seven-day rolling average of new reported cases is 929.

There were 22 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 145 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 21. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.05 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 68.61 per 100,000 people.

There have been 36,111,298 tests completed.

Source : Toronto Star More   

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COVID-19 border measures to ease July 5 for fully vaccinated Canadian travellers

OTTAWA — Changes to quarantine rules at the Canadian border will go into place for some fully vaccinated people beginning July 5, the federal government announced Monday. Canadian citizens, permanent residents and others already eligible to enter Canada who are fully vaccinated with a Health Canada approved vaccine won’t have to quarantine, but will still need COVID-19 tests before they leave for Canada and once they arrive.But when the government will expand that approach to include other fully vaccinated groups — like tourists or non-essential business travellers — depends on the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Monday. “One metric that Canadians can watch for is the rate of fully vaccinated Canadians that is at least 75 per cent,” Hadju told a news conference. She said Ottawa will also be closely watching “how the disease is behaving in Canada. Are we seeing sustained and prolonged outbreaks in regions of the country? How are we managing in terms of our own hospitalization rates and capacity?” The changes announced Monday follow Canada achieving a previously set target of ensuring 75 per cent of Canadians had a single dose of a vaccine, and 20 per cent were fully vaccinated, before border measures could be relaxed. That milestone was hit over the weekend. The new approach applies only to those who are fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson& Johnson vaccines. Travellers could have received the shots, or a combination of them, anywhere in the world but must be able to prove it with either a paper or digital certificate. That information, along with other travel data, will need to be uploaded into the government’s existing ArriveCAN application or website.Those who are only partially vaccinated, or not vaccinated at all, must still abide by the full suite of public health restrictions: testing before and upon arrival, a 14-day quarantine, a test towards the end of that quarantine, and if they arrive by air, staying for up to the first three nights in a government-approved hotel while they wait for the results of the first arrival test.Currently, only those aged 12 and older can be vaccinated, and while children travelling with fully vaccinated adults can skip the hotel quarantine, they will still need to quarantine at home for the full 14 days. Their fully vaccinated parents will be free to come and go, but public health officials said Monday children must quarantine to avoid the possibility they have COVID-19 and spread it in the community.The Canadian border closed to all but essential travel in March 2020, although Canadian citizens and permanent residents have always the right to enter. Some of their family members, international students and temporary foreign workers are also allowed in.On Monday the government expanded that list slightly to include about 23,000 people whose permanent residency applications have been approved since the border closed. The federal government has been under increased pressure from business, aviation and tourism groups to loosen restrictions at the border as the pace of vaccination increases. In May, the government’s expert panel on COVID-19 testing and screening laid out guidelines for how the border rules could be rolled back, recommending a phased approach. But it also said the government ought to immediately eliminate the mandatory hotel quarantine program, calling it too expensive to maintain and also inefficient, as it does not apply at land borders. Public health officials speaking a technical briefing Monday said the hotel program is catching cases among newly arrived travellers and so helps keep the virus from spreading in communities. Hajdu also noted Monday that panel submitted its report before it became clear the Delta variant of the virus was emerging as a dominant source of new infections.“This government believes that a prudent, careful and cautious approach to alleviating measures is what’s required,” she said.“We don’t want to see all of our hard work put at risk as a result of as a result of moving too quickly without truly understanding how the changes we’re proposing today will impact Canadians.”Stephanie Levitz is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @StephanieLevitz

COVID-19 border measures to ease July 5 for fully vaccinated Canadian travellers

OTTAWA — Changes to quarantine rules at the Canadian border will go into place for some fully vaccinated people beginning July 5, the federal government announced Monday.

Canadian citizens, permanent residents and others already eligible to enter Canada who are fully vaccinated with a Health Canada approved vaccine won’t have to quarantine, but will still need COVID-19 tests before they leave for Canada and once they arrive.

But when the government will expand that approach to include other fully vaccinated groups — like tourists or non-essential business travellers — depends on the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said Monday.

“One metric that Canadians can watch for is the rate of fully vaccinated Canadians that is at least 75 per cent,” Hadju told a news conference.

She said Ottawa will also be closely watching “how the disease is behaving in Canada. Are we seeing sustained and prolonged outbreaks in regions of the country? How are we managing in terms of our own hospitalization rates and capacity?”

The changes announced Monday follow Canada achieving a previously set target of ensuring 75 per cent of Canadians had a single dose of a vaccine, and 20 per cent were fully vaccinated, before border measures could be relaxed.

That milestone was hit over the weekend.

The new approach applies only to those who are fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson& Johnson vaccines.

Travellers could have received the shots, or a combination of them, anywhere in the world but must be able to prove it with either a paper or digital certificate.

That information, along with other travel data, will need to be uploaded into the government’s existing ArriveCAN application or website.

Those who are only partially vaccinated, or not vaccinated at all, must still abide by the full suite of public health restrictions: testing before and upon arrival, a 14-day quarantine, a test towards the end of that quarantine, and if they arrive by air, staying for up to the first three nights in a government-approved hotel while they wait for the results of the first arrival test.

Currently, only those aged 12 and older can be vaccinated, and while children travelling with fully vaccinated adults can skip the hotel quarantine, they will still need to quarantine at home for the full 14 days.

Their fully vaccinated parents will be free to come and go, but public health officials said Monday children must quarantine to avoid the possibility they have COVID-19 and spread it in the community.

The Canadian border closed to all but essential travel in March 2020, although Canadian citizens and permanent residents have always the right to enter.

Some of their family members, international students and temporary foreign workers are also allowed in.

On Monday the government expanded that list slightly to include about 23,000 people whose permanent residency applications have been approved since the border closed.

The federal government has been under increased pressure from business, aviation and tourism groups to loosen restrictions at the border as the pace of vaccination increases.

In May, the government’s expert panel on COVID-19 testing and screening laid out guidelines for how the border rules could be rolled back, recommending a phased approach.

But it also said the government ought to immediately eliminate the mandatory hotel quarantine program, calling it too expensive to maintain and also inefficient, as it does not apply at land borders.

Public health officials speaking a technical briefing Monday said the hotel program is catching cases among newly arrived travellers and so helps keep the virus from spreading in communities.

Hajdu also noted Monday that panel submitted its report before it became clear the Delta variant of the virus was emerging as a dominant source of new infections.

“This government believes that a prudent, careful and cautious approach to alleviating measures is what’s required,” she said.

“We don’t want to see all of our hard work put at risk as a result of as a result of moving too quickly without truly understanding how the changes we’re proposing today will impact Canadians.”

Stephanie Levitz is an Ottawa-based reporter covering federal politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @StephanieLevitz

Source : Toronto Star More   

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