Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario’s seven-day average case count drops; B.C. woman diagnosed with rare AstraZeneca blood clot; Alberta files injunction against anti-lockdown protests

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Thursday. Web links to longer stories if available.10:26 p.m.: The Alberta government says it has taken legal action to stop any planned protests of COVID-19 public health orders, including one at a central Alberta cafe that was closed for not following the rules.On Wednesday, Alberta Health Services closed the Whistle Stop Cafe in the hamlet of Mirror until its owner can demonstrate the ability to comply with health restrictions.The agency says it had received more than 400 complaints against the business since January.Alberta Health Services says it has been granted a pre-emptive court injunction against a planned protest by the cafe owner and supporters. It says it also has received a court order against all other organizers of advertised illegal gatherings and rallies breaching COVID-19 public health orders.There is an ad promoting a rally this weekend at the cafe in Mirror called "The Save Alberta Campout Protest."The ad says the event is a response to "harmful restrictions" imposed by Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, and "the United Conservative Party caucus' ongoing attack on the rights and freedoms of the people of Alberta."Alberta Health Services says the court order restrains the cafe owner and others from organizing, promoting and attending the event.Last weekend, hundreds of people gathered near Bowden, also in central Alberta, for a pre-advertised maskless "No More Lockdowns'' protest rodeo.Days later, the premier announced stronger restrictions and doubled fines for scofflaws.9:14 p.m.: The first person in British Columbia to have a rare blood clot associated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been hospitalized after a family doctor quickly recognized her symptoms, the provincial health officer says.Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday the woman in her 40s contacted her physician about symptoms five or six days after being vaccinated and a blood test confirmed the clot linked to the rare condition.A monitoring program in B.C. provides all doctors with information reminding them of symptoms to look for in case of a clot in the veins or arteries of the legs or arms and in very unusual cases, veins in the brain, Henry said.She said the likelihood of such clots is about one in 100,000 doses and anyone with symptoms such as a persistent severe headache, chest pain and swelling or redness in a limb should seek medical help right away.“I want to make sure that people are monitoring for these unusual symptoms and I know that many people have lots of anxiety about that. So take a deep breath and be assured that this is rare, that physicians know what to do and that if you have concerns that you contact your health-care provider,” she said.“We only have to look at places like the U.K. to see how beneficial it has been to stop the outbreaks that we’ve been seeing,” she said of AstraZeneca, which has been linked to three deaths in Canada since last month.8:44 p.m.: The City of Toronto wants residents to enjoy the weekend sunshine and weather.As part of the city’s ActiveTO program, the eastbound lanes of Lake Shore Boulevard East from Leslie Street and Woodbine Avenue will be closed to vehicles – but open and inviting for pedestrians and cyclists this weekend (Saturday, May 8, and Sunday, May 9).The program closes particular roads during the spring and summer weekends to allow residents to get outdoors and exercise, while being able to maintain physical distance as warranted by public health restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.“I encourage everyone in the community to enjoy ActiveTO and support local businesses in the Beach this weekend,” Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford said.“As the pandemic drags on, we’re all looking for ways to break the monotony and change our routine. Initiatives like this help us do that safely and in a way that’s good for our mental and physical health,” he added.8:43 p.m.: Alberta's top doctor says it's very likely that second doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be offered within less than four months of the first as supplies ramp up.The province authorized a 16-week interval in order to get as many people protected with their first shots as possible while vaccine shipments remained uncertain. For Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the drug makers say the gaps between doses should be three weeks and one month, respectively."I want to be clear that that four-month interval was always a maximum," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday."We were never planning to require a wait of four months. It was really about we would not have anyone go beyond four months, but if we can offer it sooner, we will."People on immunosuppressive drugs, like chemotherapy, are already being offered their second shots in a shortened time frame, Hinshaw said.She noted that for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, there is evidence that a 12-week wait between doses

Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario’s seven-day average case count drops; B.C. woman diagnosed with rare AstraZeneca blood clot; Alberta files injunction against anti-lockdown protests

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Thursday. Web links to longer stories if available.

10:26 p.m.: The Alberta government says it has taken legal action to stop any planned protests of COVID-19 public health orders, including one at a central Alberta cafe that was closed for not following the rules.

On Wednesday, Alberta Health Services closed the Whistle Stop Cafe in the hamlet of Mirror until its owner can demonstrate the ability to comply with health restrictions.

The agency says it had received more than 400 complaints against the business since January.

Alberta Health Services says it has been granted a pre-emptive court injunction against a planned protest by the cafe owner and supporters. It says it also has received a court order against all other organizers of advertised illegal gatherings and rallies breaching COVID-19 public health orders.

There is an ad promoting a rally this weekend at the cafe in Mirror called "The Save Alberta Campout Protest."

The ad says the event is a response to "harmful restrictions" imposed by Premier Jason Kenney, Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, and "the United Conservative Party caucus' ongoing attack on the rights and freedoms of the people of Alberta."

Alberta Health Services says the court order restrains the cafe owner and others from organizing, promoting and attending the event.

Last weekend, hundreds of people gathered near Bowden, also in central Alberta, for a pre-advertised maskless "No More Lockdowns'' protest rodeo.

Days later, the premier announced stronger restrictions and doubled fines for scofflaws.

9:14 p.m.: The first person in British Columbia to have a rare blood clot associated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been hospitalized after a family doctor quickly recognized her symptoms, the provincial health officer says.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday the woman in her 40s contacted her physician about symptoms five or six days after being vaccinated and a blood test confirmed the clot linked to the rare condition.

A monitoring program in B.C. provides all doctors with information reminding them of symptoms to look for in case of a clot in the veins or arteries of the legs or arms and in very unusual cases, veins in the brain, Henry said.

She said the likelihood of such clots is about one in 100,000 doses and anyone with symptoms such as a persistent severe headache, chest pain and swelling or redness in a limb should seek medical help right away.

“I want to make sure that people are monitoring for these unusual symptoms and I know that many people have lots of anxiety about that. So take a deep breath and be assured that this is rare, that physicians know what to do and that if you have concerns that you contact your health-care provider,” she said.

“We only have to look at places like the U.K. to see how beneficial it has been to stop the outbreaks that we’ve been seeing,” she said of AstraZeneca, which has been linked to three deaths in Canada since last month.

8:44 p.m.: The City of Toronto wants residents to enjoy the weekend sunshine and weather.

As part of the city’s ActiveTO program, the eastbound lanes of Lake Shore Boulevard East from Leslie Street and Woodbine Avenue will be closed to vehicles – but open and inviting for pedestrians and cyclists this weekend (Saturday, May 8, and Sunday, May 9).

The program closes particular roads during the spring and summer weekends to allow residents to get outdoors and exercise, while being able to maintain physical distance as warranted by public health restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I encourage everyone in the community to enjoy ActiveTO and support local businesses in the Beach this weekend,” Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford said.

“As the pandemic drags on, we’re all looking for ways to break the monotony and change our routine. Initiatives like this help us do that safely and in a way that’s good for our mental and physical health,” he added.

8:43 p.m.: Alberta's top doctor says it's very likely that second doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be offered within less than four months of the first as supplies ramp up.

The province authorized a 16-week interval in order to get as many people protected with their first shots as possible while vaccine shipments remained uncertain. For Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the drug makers say the gaps between doses should be three weeks and one month, respectively.

"I want to be clear that that four-month interval was always a maximum," Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday.

"We were never planning to require a wait of four months. It was really about we would not have anyone go beyond four months, but if we can offer it sooner, we will."

People on immunosuppressive drugs, like chemotherapy, are already being offered their second shots in a shortened time frame, Hinshaw said.

She noted that for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, there is evidence that a 12-week wait between doses is more effective than a shorter interval.

5:29 p.m. Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has issued a new public health class order to education providers limiting in-person attendance of school-aged children across all education settings.

The new Section 22 order, which will come into effect on Monday, defines how and when school-aged children can attend school premises or other education settings.

The intention of the order is to “enhance the provincial lockdown regulation” by: limiting in-person attendance of school-aged children across all educational settings, not just schools within the meaning of the Education Act; and limiting in-person student attendance as much as possible, regardless of whether they qualify as “in-person teaching or instruction.”

Under the current provincial regulations, public and private schools within the meaning of the Education Act are not permitted to provide in-person teaching or instruction, subject to limited exceptions.

5:10 p.m. Quebecers 12 to 17 years old will be offered a first dose of COVID-19 by the end of June and will be fully vaccinated by the time they return to school in September, the province’s health minister said Thursday, The Canadian Press reports.

Christian Dubé said he’s waiting for formal guidelines from Quebec’s immunization committee before announcing details of the plan, but it will likely include vaccinating teens at their schools, according to CP.

‘’We’re so pleased with this news, because it’s good for the people that will be vaccinated, and good for the population in general,” he told reporters in Quebec City. “We’re back to school in September, and this is behind us.”

Daniel Paré, head of the province’s vaccine effort, said teens would be vaccinated in a “hybrid” model that will likely include both schools and vaccination centres, depending on the region. He said the province will prepare information sessions for parents before vaccinations begin.

Health Canada approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 12 and up on Wednesday.

The province’s public health director said there were about 500,000 people in the 12-to-17 age group. Dr. Horacio Arruda urged teenagers to get the vaccine in order to be able to see their friends again and return to a normal life.

“I want to say to teenagers: please, get vaccinated! That’s the way to get liberty,” he said.

Dubé said the province recently crossed the milestone of vaccinating 40 per cent of the population with at least one dose. He said that beginning May 13, Quebec will begin offering electronic proof of vaccination.

Previously vaccinated people who want one will be sent a QR code by email, he added.

Arruda said the code could be useful for those who need to travel to countries that require proof of vaccination, and said it could help health officials verify a person’s vaccination history in the case of a future pandemic.

5.04 p.m. Canada’s most populous provinces showed promising signs of containing their COVID-19 cases Thursday, as pandemic urgency shifted to surges in Alberta and Nova Scotia, and efforts to vaccinate teenagers before the next school year, The Canadian Press reports.

Ontario reported 3,424 new cases Thursday and 26 more deaths linked to the virus. While that’s an increase from 2,941 reported Wednesday, the province’s seven-day average dropped to 3,369 from a record-high 4,348 on April 19, according to CP.

The slight levelling off came as the province said it had administered a record 141,000 vaccines Wednesday, while over in Quebec, Health Minister Christian Dubé noted declines in case counts, hospitalizations and test positivity rates were pushing his province “in the right direction.”

Hospitalizations there dropped by eight, to 580, and 144 people were in intensive care, a decrease of eight.

Eyes remained on Nova Scotia, however, where an alarming upswing pushed daily counts to a pandemic-high of 182 on Thursday, following a 175-case tally a day before.

Alberta, meanwhile, reported 2,271 cases on Wednesday, as the province waited to see whether new containment measures announced early this week would make a difference.

Vaccine strategy and lockdown measures are playing a role in Ontario’s dropping daily average, infectious disease doctor Zain Chagla said in an interview.

And promising provincial data on vaccine effectiveness may give other jurisdictions hope things can turn around quickly, especially if inoculations are prioritized to those who need them most.

“The big thing now is vaccinating people in places where density of transmission is high,” Chagla said.

“So having that mentality of, we’re not only vaccinating to a particular age, but scaling vaccines in populations that have been hit hard throughout this pandemic.”

Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said “vaccines alone are not the silver bullet” to easing spread in Alberta, which has seen skyrocketing infection rates and a healthcare system that’s “beginning to be overloaded.”

He said “strong public health measures” are also necessary.

Nova Scotia, which was mostly spared by COVID-19 in earlier stages of the pandemic, added new restrictive measures last week, including a $2,000 fine for anyone caught leaving their counties for non-essential reasons.

Premier Iain Rankin said he was “frustrated” by his province’s rising case numbers.

“I don’t know what more I can say to Nova Scotians to make sure they take this issue seriously,” he said.

Quebec reported 907 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, along with seven more deaths attributed to the virus.

Nunavut reported 12 new cases, all in the 8,000-population capital of Iqaluit, with chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, saying house parties were to blame.

Data released by Public Health Ontario this week showed how effective Canada’s approved COVID-19 vaccines have been.

The agency found that from Dec. 14, 2020, the beginning of the rollout, to April 17, only 2,223 people tested positive for COVID-19 out of almost 3.5 million people vaccinated with at least one dose in Ontario.

Ontario says it expects 65 per cent of adults to have their first dose by the end of May, and eligibility could soon open to teenagers following Health Canada’s authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab in 12- to 15-year-olds on Wednesday.

4:15 p.m. B.C.’s top doctor says a woman is recovering in hospital after suffering a blood clot reaction to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, The Canadian Press reports.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says the patient is in stable condition, and that the vaccine is still safe to use, according to CP.

B.C. reported 684 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, along with one new death.

Henry says B.C. is on track to administer its two millionth dose of vaccine today.

4 p.m. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says Canada will be getting another 655,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the next few weeks, The Canadian Press reports.

The doses are the second shipment from the COVAX facility, a global vaccine-sharing program, according to CP.

Canada invested hundreds of millions into COVAX to help low- and middle-income countries access vaccines they otherwise couldn’t afford, and also to buy millions of doses for itself.

It has been criticized for taking doses from COVAX when it has so many private purchase agreements.

More than 1.2 billion doses have been administered so far worldwide, but more than eight in 10 of those doses have gone to wealthy nations.

North American countries have administered 49 doses for every 100 people, Europe has given 32, while South America has done 19 and Africa only 1.4.

3:55 p.m. Prince Edward Island is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 today, The Canadian Press reports.

Health officials say the cases involve people in their 20s: one travelled within Atlantic Canada and the other travelled outside the region, according to CP.

Prince Edward Island has nine active reported cases of COVID-19.

The Island has reported a total of 185 cases and no deaths linked to the virus.

3:44 p.m. Grocery workers aged 18 and up are now eligible to register for a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine in British Columbia’s largest health region, The Canadian Press reports.

Fraser Health says all workers, whether they are unionized or not, will get information from their employers on how to register and book appointments online, as well as an access code, according to CP.

Staff must provide identification and proof of employment, such as a pay stub or work identification, when they arrive for an appointment.

Supplies of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine were quickly snapped up last month when the province lowered the eligibility age for the vaccine to 40, before making it available to those aged 30 and up.

Provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has said B.C. expects to receive more vaccine doses starting this month to enable everyone to get their first shot by June.

Health Canada anticipates a total of 36.5 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna as well as AstraZeneca from the Serum Institute of India by June 30, though supplies from that country are expected to be disrupted because of the worsening COVID-19 crisis there.

3:35 p.m. Saskatchewan is reporting 156 new cases of COVID-19 today, The Canadian Press reports.

The province now has 2,158 active cases, according to CP.

There are 173 people are in hospital, 41 of whom are in intensive care.

Of those intensive care patients, 23 are in Regina and 14 are in Saskatoon.

3:02 p.m. Halton will start offering vaccine doses to all residents 16 and older starting May 19.

2:47 p.m. Canada’s international trade minister says the federal government will take part in talks to waive the global rules that protect vaccine trade secrets, The Canadian Press.

Mary Ng made the announcement today in the House of Commons, according to CP.

The move puts Canada squarely onside with the United States, which surprised and delighted progressive anti-poverty groups Wednesday when it agreed to the negotiations.

In theory, a waiver would make it easier for developing countries to import the expertise, equipment and ingredients necessary to make their own vaccines.

The pharmaceutical industry says a waiver won’t have the desired effect and would undermine the development of innovative drugs.

Other medical experts say a waiver would take too long, and the developed world should focus instead on ramping up production.

2:33 p.m. Health officials in New Brunswick have confirmed that a person in their 80s has died from COVID-19, the 40th novel coronavirus death in the province.

The person was a resident of Pavillon Beau-Lieu, a special care home in Grand Falls.

Health officials say four residents of that home have died after contracting COVID-19.

Officials reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 today, including 10 travel-related cases of New Brunswick workers who are isolating outside the province.

Officials have also confirmed that a previously reported case in the Bathurst region has been determined to be the P.1 variant first identified in Brazil.

New Brunswick has 142 active cases of COVID-19 and six patients are hospitalized, including two in intensive care.

2:26 p.m.: Children between the ages of 12 and 15 in Wellington County, Dufferin County and Guelph are able to pre-register for their COVID-19 vaccine, according to Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.

“Health Canada has authorized the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children 12-15 years of age,” the public health unit tweeted on Thursday afternoon, with a link to pre-registration.

“We are not booking appointments for this group at this time,” the statement said. “By pre-registering we will be able to contact you as soon as there are appointments available for your group.”

2 p.m. Manitoba is reporting 363 new COVID-19 cases.

Six earlier cases have been removed due to data correction, however, for a net increase of 357.

The province is also reporting four deaths — two in Winnipeg and two in the Prairie Mountain health region.

1:50 p.m. Officials with an Edmonton hospital say they’re investigating what happened when a woman who would later die sought help at the emergency department after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

A family friend of Lisa Stonehouse, Wilf Lowenberg, says she was taken off life support on Monday, 12 days after she got an Oxford-AstraZeneca shot.

Alberta chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, announced Tuesday that the death of the 52-year-old woman was due to a rare blood clot disorder — one of three such fatalities in Canada.

Lowenberg says Stonehouse had a throbbing headache and had been vomiting when she went to the emergency room at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital, but he says she was told to go home and rest.

He says her health worsened and her daughter took her the next day to the Strathcona Community Hospital in Sherwood Park, Alta., where a CT scan found a blood clot in her brain.

He says Stonehouse was being taken to another hospital in an ambulance when she had a seizure.

Covenant Health, the Catholic health-care provider that manages the Grey Nuns hospital, says in a statement that officials have assured the woman’s family members that they are looking into their concerns.

1:35 p.m. Germany is making the AstraZeneca vaccine available immediately to all adults in a push to get as many people inoculated against COVID-19 as quickly as possible, Health Minister Jens Spahn said Thursday.

Millions of doses of AstraZeneca have been safely administered in Europe, but concerns linger over a rare type of blood clot seen in an extremely small number of recipients. That has prompted some people in Germany, even those in high-risk groups, to hold off on getting the shot, preferring to wait for another vaccine.

Spahn said many people in lower-priority groups waiting for a vaccine appointment would be happy to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. Therefore, the government has decided to allow doctors’ offices to vaccinate any adults with it.

“It’s very, very important to be more pragmatic and flexible,” he said.

He suggested some people may have been deterred by the waiting time between AstraZeneca’s two vaccine shots — currently 12 weeks in Germany, compared to half that for the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, the most popular in the country.

1 p.m. The Atlanta Braves will be providing free COVID-19 vaccinations for fans at Truist Park during their games Friday and Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be available to those who are 18 and older, while the two-dose Pfizer vaccine will be provided to those who are 16 and 17.

Each person who gets vaccinated is eligible to receive two free tickets to a future Braves game.

The team is asking fans to register for the vaccine at www.braves.com/gamevaccine. Walk-ups will also be admitted as long as supplies last.

12:30 p.m. Russian authorities gave regulatory approval Thursday to a single-dose version of the country’s Sputnik V vaccine, arguing that the move could accelerate the process of achieving herd immunity against the coronavirus.

Named Sputnik Light, the new version is identical to the first dose of the two-dose Sputnik V. The regulatory approval will allow it to be marketed and administered as a separate COVID-19 vaccine.

The jab, however, has yet to complete its own advanced testing needed to ensure its safety and effectiveness in line with established scientific protocols. Russia started human trials of Sputnik Light in January, and the studies are still ongoing, according to official records.

The two-dose Sputnik V will remain “the main source of vaccination in Russia,” said Russian Direct Investment Fund CEO Kirill Dmitriev, whose organization bankrolls the Sputnik shots. Sputnik Light will be exported “to our international partners to help increase the rate of vaccinations in a number of countries in the face of the ongoing fight with the pandemic and new strains of coronavirus,” he said.

Sputnik Light is the fourth domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine approved in Russia. Commenting on the decision to authorize it for use, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday, “It’s nice to know that this range of tools (against COVID-19) is expanding.”

12:25 p.m. Canada achieved a new milestone in its vaccination program Wednesday, surpassing the vaccination rate in the United States for the first time.

The Our World in Data project that tracks vaccinations given around the world, says on May 5, the United States injected doses at a rate of 6.4 doses for every 1,000 people.

Canada injected 6.6 doses for every 1,000 people.

Canada has been inching closer to the U.S.’s rate for weeks now, as supplies of vaccines shipped into Canada increased in April, and the United States has been slowing, after getting at least one dose to 44 per cent of Americans, and full vaccinations to almost one-third.

The United States peaked on April 16th, delivering 10 doses for every 1,000 people.

12:20 p.m. Rugby Canada says some members of the women’s seven program have tested positive for COVID-19 while completing quarantine after returning from competing in Dubai.

“Most are currently asymptomatic, and all athletes and staff are in good health,” Rugby Canada said in a statement. “The team is being closely monitored by Rugby Canada’s chief medical officer and has been provided medical support to ensure the best care possible.”

The team has cancelled all upcoming training so it can undergo “additional quarantine and isolation protocols.”

The women’s sevens squad has made headlines recently after filing a complaint under Rugby Canada’s bullying and harassment policy.

An independent review subsequently concluded that while the conduct described in the complaint reflected the experiences of the athletes, it did not fall within the policy’s definition of harassment or bullying.

Head coach John Tait, while maintaining he had done nothing wrong, subsequently stepped down. He has since said he supports release of the review. Rugby Canada, however, says its policy does not allow making it public.

12:15 p.m. Toronto administered 44,500 COVID-19 vaccine doses Wednesday.

11 a.m. Nunavut is reporting 12 new cases of COVID-19 and eight new recoveries Thursday.

All the new cases are in Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital city of about 8,000 people.

There are now 84 active cases in Iqaluit and two in Kinngait.

There have been 72 recoveries since the first case was declared in Iqaluit on April 14.

Two Iqaluit residents have been hospitalized in southern Canada with COVID-19.

10:50 a.m. York Region District School Board announced Wednesday that it will implement a hybrid model of learning for elementary and secondary schools for 2021-22.

“Through feedback, we have heard from families that their priorities include students being connected to their home school, the ability to switch more readily when required between remote learning to in-person learning, and access to continuity of remote learning as needed,” YRDSB director Louise Sirisko said.

“Through the hybrid model, families will continue to have the ability to opt for in-person or remote learning, and placement for all students will be in their home school.”

Both in-class students and pupils attending remotely will be taught simultaneously by the same educators, the board said in a news release.

10:30 a.m. Groups representing thousands of health-care workers say their members need to be prioritized for full immunization from COVID-19 as they work with patients hospitalized with the virus.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, Canadian Union of Public Employees, and Service Employees International Union say they have asked the province to accelerate second doses for the workers but have received no commitment.

Health-care workers were amongst the initial groups to be prioritized for a first dose of the shot.

Since Ontario’s vaccine effort began, however, the province has extended dosing intervals for COVID-19 shots from 21 days to four months due to supply shortages.

The group representing the health-care workers say the government needs to ensure the employees get second doses soon because they remain at risk when working with patients who have more transmissible COVID-19 variants.

A spokeswoman for the health minister says as the province receives more vaccines it may eventually be able to shorten the dosing interval for all Ontarians.

10:02 a.m. (will be updated) Ontario is reporting another 3,424 COVID-19 cases and 26 more deaths, according to its latest report released Thursday morning.

The seven-day average is at 3,369 cases daily, or 162 weekly per 100,000. Ontario’s seven-day average for deaths is at 26.3 daily.

The province says 54,118 tests were completed the previous day, and a 6.8 per cent positivity rate.

There are 1,964 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the province, including 877 patients in intensive care. There are 600 people on ventilators.

Ontario has administered 141,038 vaccine doses since its last daily update, the highest number of doses administered in a single day in the province so far. A total of 5,740,761 vaccine doses have given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night. The province says 384,589 people have completed their vaccinations, which means they’ve had both doses.

Locally, Health Minister Christine Elliott says there are 958 new cases in Toronto, 900 in Peel, 291 in York Region, 175 in Durham and 155 in Hamilton.

Read the full story from the Star’s Akrit Michael

10 a.m. Early signs of improvement seem to be emerging in Toronto’s fight against COVID-19, the city’s medical officer of health said Wednesday.

“I liken it to a patient being re-categorized from critical to serious condition. It’s a better condition, but a long way from the best,” said Dr. Eileen de Villa, speaking at a COVID-19 update from city hall.

De Villa reported 991 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths. In all, 1,162 people are in hospital; 281 people are in intensive care.

She said the case count figures over the last few days suggest a stabilization, although at a level that remains high and continues to cause severe illness and death.

The effective reproductive rate is currently 0.94, according to the city’s COVID-19 dashboard, meaning each person who is infected with the virus is passing it on to slightly less than one other person.

“While any improvement is welcome news, we have to greet this improvement with caution,” said de Villa.

COVID-19 lab tests in Toronto are at 12.3 per cent positivity, when the goal is to keep the positivity rate under three per cent.

Vaccine supply remains a problem, officials said, with Mayor John Tory again calling on the province to provide more vaccine to Toronto, an acknowledged hot spot.

Read the full story from the Star’s Francine Kopun

9:55 a.m. The family allegedly involved in the theft of $11 million in COVID-19 relief aid says Queen’s Park is orchestrating a “coverup” by trying to freeze their spending on legal fees.

Defence lawyer Christopher Du Vernet said Premier Doug Ford’s government’s “attempt to defund the Madans is an attempt to silence them — to shield its own misconduct from public view.”

In documents filed with Ontario Superior Court of Justice, the province alleged last spring, “some or all of” Sanjay Madan, his spouse Shalini, their adult sons Chinmaya and Ujjawal, and associate Vidhan Singh perpetrated “a massive fraud” to funnel COVID-19 relief money to numerous bank accounts at branches of TD, Bank of Montreal, Royal Bank of Canada, Tangerine, and India’s ICICI Bank.

Sanjay Madan was the information technology leader on the Support for Families payment program. He was fired in November from his $176,608-a-year job as a Ministry of Education computer specialist.

While the government has frozen some $28 million in Madan family assets — including $12.4 million in Indian bank accounts; an $8 million, 30-unit Waterloo apartment complex; a $2.57-million, seven-bedroom North York house; six Toronto condominiums; and $1 million in profit from selling a four-bedroom house — they have been given access to funds to bankroll their legal defence.

Read the full story from the Star’s Robert Benzie

9:35 a.m. Infections in India hit another grim daily record on Thursday as demand for medical oxygen jumped sevenfold and the government denied reports that it was slow in distributing life-saving supplies from abroad.

The number of new confirmed cases breached 400,000 for the second time since the devastating surge began last month. The 412,262 new cases pushed India’s official tally to more than 21 million. The Health Ministry also reported 3,980 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 230,168. Experts believe both figures are an undercount.

Eleven COVID-19 patients died when pressure in an oxygen line dropped suddenly in a government medical college hospital in Chengalpet in southern India on Wednesday night, possibly because of a faulty valve, The Times of India newspaper reported.

Hospital authorities said they repaired the pipeline last week, but the consumption of oxygen had doubled since then, the newspaper said.

Demand for hospital oxygen has increased sevenfold since last month, a government official said, as India scrambles to set up large oxygen plants and transport oxygen. India created a sea bridge on Tuesday to ferry oxygen tankers from Bahrain and Kuwait in the Persian Gulf, officials said.

9:20 a.m. The Bank of England has kept interest rates on hold as it forecast the fastest annual pace of growth for the British economy since early on in World War II, largely as a result of the rapid rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

In a prepared statement Thursday, the nine-member Monetary Policy Committee said it will maintain the bank’s main interest rate at 0.1 per cent. The unanimous and widely anticipated decision means that interest rates will remain at the lowest level in the bank’s 327-year history.

Alongside its decision, the bank’s rate-setting panel said growth is likely to be greater than it previously thought as lockdown restrictions ease, vaccinations grow common, and people feeling more at ease begin to ramp up spending.

The bank is now projecting U.K. economic growth of 7.25 per cent in 2021, up from its previous forecast of 5 per cent. That would be the greatest economic rebound since 1941 when the U.K. was on a war footing, according to Bank of England statistics that date back to 1700.

Because it anticipates growth being brought forward, it has revised down its forecasts for next year. It is now expects 5.75 per cent growth in 2022, instead of the 7.25 per cent previously predicted.

If growth returns as quickly as the central bank expects, the British economy should make up all the ground lost during the pandemic by the end of this year.

Bailey cautioned against euphoria, noting that the pandemic will still leave a long-term “scarring” effect on the British economy that will stretch public finances and keep unemployment higher than it otherwise would have been.

9 a.m. The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid fell last week to 498,000, the lowest point since the viral pandemic struck 14 months ago and a sign of the job market’s growing strength as businesses reopen and consumers step up spending.

Thursday’s report from the Labor Department showed that applications declined 92,000 from a revised 590,000 a week earlier. The number of weekly jobless claims — a rough measure of the pace of layoffs — has declined significantly from a peak of 900,000 in January as employers have ramped up hiring.

At the same time, the pace of applications is still well above the roughly 230,000 level that prevailed before the viral outbreak tore through the economy in March of last year.

As vaccinations have been more widely administered, restrictions on businesses have gradually lifted and consumers have become more willing to travel, shop and dine out, stronger spending has boosted hiring, slowed layoffs and accelerated growth. The economy grew last quarter at a vigorous 6.4% annual rate, with expectations that the current quarter will be even better.

In March, employers added nearly 1 million jobs, the most since August. Roughly the same number is expected to be reported Friday when the government issues the jobs report for April. Even so, the economy will still be more than 7 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level.

The government’s report Thursday showed that about 16.2 million people were continuing to collect unemployment benefits in the week that ended April 17, down from 16.6 million in the previous week. That’s a sign that some former recipients have found jobs.

8:45 a.m. (updated) All Peel residents aged 18+ can now book a vaccine appointment. Public Health Clinics are accepting bookings for those who are 18+ at the time of their appointment at https://peelregion.ca/coronavirus/vaccine/book-appointment/

Several residents reported the booking portal was still claiming there were not yet eligible for a shot.

People took to Twitter to express their frustration for getting “stuck on loading” and “not being eligible on the day I’m supposed to be eligible.”

Some reported they had better luck on the Trillium Health Network’s website, which was allowing faster bookings with more availability of slots.

Peel resident Emily Vestergaard tweeted Trillium Health Partners website allowed her to book an appointment in just two minutes, compared to the Region of Peel portal, which was “stuck on loading” for much longer. She was also offered vaccination slots that were earlier than the ones on Peel’s portal.

Resident and Twitter user @nathanielalam_m reported similar appointment success with the hospital run option, recommending the THP site to those facing issues on the Peel website.

8:40 a.m. Workers at a major Canada Post sorting plant in Mississauga held a retirement party for a colleague last month just weeks before the plant was partly shut down by a COVID-19 outbreak.

In a press conference Wednesday, a fuming Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie blasted the April 9 party at Canada Post’s Gateway West facility, which happened as the pandemic’s third wave swept through Peel Region.

“This is incredibly irresponsible behaviour and I’m very disappointed,” Crombie said. “This is shocking.”

“I’m extremely disappointed in the workers over at Canada Post,” she added.

Asked whether there was any link between the party and subsequent outbreak, a spokesperson for Peel Public Health said investigators are looking into the gathering, along with Canada Post.

Many people at the party in the plant appeared to not be social distancing, and some weren’t wearing masks, according to photographs posted by Global News, which first reported the party.

Canada Post spokesperson Phil Legault called the party “an unfortunate and isolated incident.”

Read the full story from the Star’s Josh Rubin

8:30 a.m. Cineplex Inc. says it lost $89.7 million in its latest quarter as a majority of its theatres remained closed or under strict operating restrictions.

The company says the loss amounted to $1.42 per diluted share for the quarter ended March 31.

The result compared with a loss of $178.4 million or $2.82 per diluted share a year ago when it took $173.1 million in non-cash impairment charges at the start of the pandemic.

Revenue totalled $41.4 million, down from $282.8 million in the first three months of 2020.

The plunge came as theatre attendance totalled 415,000 in its most recent quarter compared with 10.7 million people a year earlier and box office revenue fell to $3.8 million from $111 million a year ago.

The movie theatre company reached a deal with its lenders earlier this year to further amend its credit agreement and completed a sale-leaseback of its head office in Toronto in a bid to help its finances.

8:10 a.m. When you pick up your takeout during Ontario’s latest stay-at-home order, the worker handing you your food and cans of beer may be making less than minimum wage.

With restaurants closed to dining, many servers who used to make a large portion of their pay in the form of tips are still working — but they are no longer serving alcohol on premises and are getting a fraction of the tips they used to.

But some say they are still being paid the liquor server minimum wage, which is almost $2 an hour less.

Employment law experts say such employees may be entitled to the regular minimum wage instead.

“If the rationale behind the liquor server minimum wage disappears, then by act of law you now have to pay the regular minimum wage,” said Lluc Cerda, an employment lawyer with Samfiru Tumarkin LLP.

Rebecca Gordon, a spokesperson for the Canadian Restaurant Workers’ Coalition, said her organization has spoken to many servers in Ontario and other provinces who are still making the server minimum wage despite their places of employment only offering takeout.

“It seems to be a pretty serious issue, and a lot of people ... chose not to go back to work because of this,” said Gordon.

Read the full story from the Star’s Rosa Saba

8 a.m. Vaccine developers Pfizer and BioNTech will donate doses to inoculate athletes and officials preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, the IOC said Thursday.

Delivery of doses is set to begin this month to give Olympic delegations time to be fully vaccinated with a second shot before arriving in Tokyo for the games, which open on July 23.

It’s the second major vaccination deal for the International Olympic Committee. An agreement was announced in March between the IOC and Olympic officials in China to buy and distribute Chinese vaccines ahead of the Tokyo Games and next year’s Beijing Winter Games.

The new Pfizer offer gives the IOC greater coverage worldwide ahead of Tokyo with most countries yet to authorize emergency use of Chinese vaccines.

“We are inviting the athletes and participating delegations of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games to lead by example and accept the vaccine where and when possible,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement.

The Pfizer donation followed talks between the firm’s chairman and CEO, Albert Bourla, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

“Following this conversation, the Japanese government had a meeting with the IOC and now the donation plan has been realized,” Pfizer said in a statement.

The IOC said any vaccination program must be done “in accordance with each country’s vaccination guidelines and consistent with local regulations.”

The IOC-China vaccine deal includes two does being made available to the general public for each dose received by an Olympic participant in that country.

7:50 a.m. European Union leaders said Thursday that in the wake of the U.S. backing for waiving patents on COVID-19 vaccine technology the 27-nation bloc will start discussing such plans immediately.

Their first get-together to mould a common view will come as as soon as during their two-day summit in Porto, Portugal, starting Friday.

While many insist that such a patent waiver could be no more than a part of the solution to end the pandemic, and likely in the midterm only, French President Emmanuel Macron said he “completely” supports opening up intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines. “Evidently, we must turn this vaccine in a global public good,” he said.

EU nations have long insisted they were in the vanguard of helping the rest of the world obtain vaccines, and have looked with a weary eye at how the United States effectively banned such exports itself.

Even though the EU has not been an immediate proponent for lifting vaccine patent restrictions, it generally welcomed the U.S move.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that “we are ready to discuss how the U.S. proposal for waiver on intellectual property protection for COVID vaccines could help” end the crisis.

The move to support waiving intellectual property protections on vaccines under World Trade Organization rules marked a dramatic shift for the United States, which had previously lined up with many other developed nations opposed to the idea floated by India and South Africa.

Von der Leyen said in a video address Thursday, though, that other issues should take centre stage. “In the short run ... we call upon all vaccine producing countries to allow exports and to avoid measures that disrupt supply chains,” she said.

She was hinting at so-called vaccine nationalism that has limited or made nonexistent any exports from nations including Britain and the United States, while the 27-nation bloc was allowing the export of millions of doses to countries around the world.

Many hope the initiative of the Biden administration will help poorer countries get more doses and speed the end of the pandemic. But EU nations pointed out other problems even if vaccine restrictions were lifted.

“The question is to raise capacity in the fastest way possible,” said a diplomat from an EU nation, requesting anonymity because the issue will be discussed by leaders Friday.

“Ending patent restrictions is only one element. You will also need the raw materials. How will the supply chain follow? What about the quality of production locations? So we have about 300 other elements that affect this,” the official said.

7:40 a.m. Vaccines are showing significant protection against COVID-19 infection, hospitalization and death so far in Ontario, according to new data from the province’s public health agency.

Public Health Ontario reported 2,223 Ontarians developed COVID-19 symptoms after receiving one or two doses of a COVID vaccine. That number represents just 0.06 per cent of the 3.5 million people in the province who had received at least one vaccine dose by April 17.

It’s the best news that infectious diseases physician Dr. Zain Chagla has heard all week, and a good sign that as more Ontarians get vaccinated, the burden on hospitals will ease and life can eventually return to normal.

The majority (66.9 per cent) of post-vaccination COVID-19 cases occurred between 0 and 14 days after the first dose, when the body is still building up immunity. Just 3.9 per cent of those who developed COVID-19 symptoms after vaccination became sick seven or more days after the second dose of a two-shot vaccine, classifying them as “breakthrough” cases.

Read the full story from the Star’s Lex Harvey

7:30 a.m. Over just two and a half days in London, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau was tested for COVID-19 five times, as he bounced in a diplomatic bubble back and forth from in-person meetings with his G-7 counterparts.

Back in Canada, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra logged into virtual meetings with his G-7 equals, as did International Development Minister Karina Gould.

The choice of who would go abroad and who would stay back reflects the complex world of travel in the era of COVID-19, a mix of determining what’s essential and what isn’t. It’s a topic that was also part of each of their meetings: when and how will travel truly be able to resume?

Central to that discussion was the question of the so-called “vaxport,” or vaccine passport, a certificate that attests that travellers have been vaccinated.

Discussions of the vaxport have been underway in international health circles for some time. It’s not a new concept — many countries require visitors or newcomers to have a range of vaccines before they’re allowed to visit or settle.

Read the full story from the Star’s Stephanie Levitz

7:06 a.m. It’s been almost a year since a visibly upset Premier Doug Ford said there would be an “investigation” into the horrific conditions military medical teams found in a five Ontario nursing homes that were ravaged by COVID-19 — and the results would be “shared with police.”

Three scathing reports and 11 months later, critics are asking what happened to the premier’s promise “there will be accountability, there will be justice for these residents and their families.”

Almost 4,000 nursing home residents died from the highly contagious virus and more than 15,000 were infected. At least 26 were found dead from dehydration because there were not enough staff to get them water, according the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission report last Friday.

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said Wednesday she is not aware of any provincial investigation, and the Ontario Provincial Police said the force is also “not aware” of any probe into what Ford himself called “disgusting” and “gut-wrenching” situations.

Read the full story from the Star’s Rob Ferguson

6:32 a.m.: Last Friday, sitting cross-legged in a former school gym in St. Paul, Alta., Gabrielle Hebert, 14, became one of the youngest people in Canada to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Speaking to the Star by phone more recently, she is clear why she did it: “To help people.”

On Wednesday, Canada authorized the Pfizer vaccine for use in those age 12-15, after a U.S. trial of 2,260 adolescents found that none of the vaccinated individuals had ended up with COVID-19, and that side-effects were similar to those found in young adults.

Health Canada’s green light is the first move toward vaccination for those younger than 16, an expansion of the inoculation program that will trigger new questions, new anxieties — and new hope — for parents across the country.

Read the full story from the Star’s Alex Boyd.

6:30 a.m.: More than a thousand patients were transferred, mostly from the GTA, to hospitals across the province over the month of April, in an attempt to prevent ICUs from overflowing during the third wave, new numbers show.

The transfers skyrocketed to the unprecedented level, up from around 200-250 per month from January to March, with the most patients sent from hard-hit Brampton Civic, Etobicoke General and Humber River to hospitals as far away as Ottawa and Owen Sound, according to data provided by Ornge.

Read the full story from the Star’s May Warren.

6:27 a.m.: As Toronto officials have scrambled to open emergency homeless shelters during the COVID-19 pandemic, internal city emails obtained by the Star give an inside look at a process riddled with difficulties — from legal hurdles to unwilling owners and, in at least one instance, accusations of political interference.

The emails centre on negotiations with a North York hotel last fall, as the capacity crunch of winter neared and staff hoped to obtain the site as a temporary shelter. That deal was scuttled, the emails show, after the hotel suddenly ended negotiations just days after they restarted.

The failed deal with the 350-room Don Valley Hotel & Suites has left questions about the involvement of the local city councillor and staff concerns about unspecified “pressure” in the already fraught process of creating needed spaces for the city’s vulnerable residents.

Read the full story from the Star’s Jennifer Pagliaro and Victoria Gibson.

6:27 a.m.: Infections in India hit another grim daily record on Thursday as demand for medical oxygen jumped seven-fold and the government denied reports that it was slow in distributing life-saving supplies from abroad.

The number of new cases breached 400,000 for the second time and pushed India’s total past 21 million. The nation’s health minister said India has enough oxygen but faces constraints in moving it.

Most of its liquid oxygen supply is produced in eastern India while the demand has risen in northern and western parts.

6:26 a.m.: The military and police in the Pacific nation of Fiji have surrounded and locked down a major hospital amid concerns of a growing virus outbreak.

Health authorities say they’re quarantining 400 patients, doctors, nurses and staff within the compound until they can determine who had contact with a coronavirus patient who died.

The 53-year-old patient at Lautoka Hospital was just the third person in Fiji to die from the virus but the nation’s leaders are deeply worried that the latest outbreak is spreading, especially after two doctors at the hospital tested positive for the virus.

Authorities say that throughout the country, there are currently 28 cases of community transmission. They have restricted movement in six so-called containment areas, including the capital, Suva.

Fiji’s health system is ill-equipped to deal with a major outbreak.

Dr. James Fong, the permanent secretary for health, said the hospital is closed and all medical services are being diverted to other facilities. He said those sequestered in the hospital would be provided with food, bedding and whatever other supplies they needed.

“Right now, we are in a war with this virus and the front-line has just extended to Lautoka Hospital,” Dr. Fong said. “This will be the greatest test our health care system has ever faced –– it will be a test for all of us. Lives are at stake, sacrifices must be made, and every Fijian’s commitment is needed. The virus is insidious, it is unrelenting.”

Fiji is located north of New Zealand and is home to just under 1 million people.

6:24 a.m.: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says Broadway theatres can reopen Sept. 14. Many Broadway productions are scrambling to resume ticket sales in the coming days to welcome theatre-goers this fall after city and state leaders have green-lit a reopening of the Great White Way at full capacity.

Broadway theatres will be allowed to decide their own entry requirements, like whether people must prove they’ve been vaccinated to attend a show.

Selling tickets will allow theatres to gauge interest before stages open, said Robert Mujica, Cuomo’s budget director. The Broadway that reopens will look different, with “Frozen” and “Mean Girls” deciding not to restart.

6:23 a.m.: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked China to take back 1,000 doses of donated Sinopharm vaccine after he was criticized for getting the injection even though the vaccine hasn’t been authorized for public use in the country.

The Philippine health secretary injected Duterte on Monday, and an unspecified number of Duterte’s guards received the Sinopharm vaccine in secrecy.

Duterte said he told the Chinese ambassador “that this came under criticism because Sinopharm did not undergo examination so let’s just do away with it. You withdraw all Sinopharm vaccines, 1,000 of them.”

Duterte said his injection did not breach any regulation because it fell under a “compassionate use” exemption.

Critics, however, said Duterte and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III made a mockery of vaccine regulations while ordinary Filipinos have struggled with a plethora of pandemic restrictions.

6:23 a.m.: European Union President Ursula von der Leyen says the 27-nation bloc is ready to talk about the U.S. proposal to share the technology behind COVID-19 vaccines to help speed the end of the pandemic.

Without firmly committing to the U.S. proposal, von der Leyen said “we are ready to discuss how the U.S. proposal for waiver on intellectual property protection for COVID vaccines could help.”

In a video address, she said that “In the short run, however, we call upon all vaccine producing countries to allow exports and to avoid measures.”

6:22 a.m.: New research believed to be the first of its kind suggests patients discharged from intensive care are at higher risk of suicide, a finding that could have implications for seriously ill COVID-19 patients.

The study published in the medical journal BMJ looked at hundreds of thousands of adult ICU admissions in Ontario between 2009 and 2017 and found patients who made it through ICU had a 22 per cent higher risk of suicide compared with non-ICU hospital survivors and a 15 per cent higher risk of self-harm.

The more invasive the life-saving procedures, such as mechanical ventilation or kidney dialysis, the more pronounced the effect.

The research also showed that younger people surviving ICU — those aged 18 to 34 — appear at highest risk of harming themselves.

6:21 a.m.: People aged 50 and older across Ontario are among a number of new groups who can book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment starting today.

The province announced Wednesday the 50-and-older age group, in addition to those with high-risk health conditions, and a number of employees who cannot work from home are now eligible to get the shot.

The newly eligible workers include those in the education, child-care, food and manufacturing sectors.

People aged 18 and up can book vaccine appointments if they live in hot-spot postal codes as of this week.

Peel Region says it will be offering vaccines to all residents aged 18 and older – not just those in hot-spot neighbourhoods – starting today, weeks ahead of the province’s schedule.

Ontario says it expects 65 per cent of adults to have their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of May.

6:20 a.m.: Herd immunity may not be reached in Canada but a return to life similar to that before COVID-19 is possible through immunization, experts say.

Such immunity is achieved when enough people are immune to a virus, either through vaccinations or natural infections or a combination of both.

Prof. Paul Tupper of Simon Fraser University’s mathematics department said herd immunity is unlikely to happen with COVID-19 for a few reasons.

The virus is being transmitted worldwide, which means it is reintroduced in different places across borders and immunity through vaccination and infection doesn’t last permanently. The vaccines don’t seem to be completely effective against some of the new variants, he said.

Read more from the Canadian Press here.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Thursday, May 6, 2021.

In Canada, the provinces are reporting 283,833 new vaccinations administered for a total of 14,568,067 doses given. Nationwide, 1,173,962 people or 3.1 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 38,438.905 per 100,000.

There were 120,572 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 16,834,204 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 86.54 per cent of their available vaccine supply.

4 a.m.: The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m.. ET on Thursday, May 6, 2021.

There are 1,257,328 confirmed cases in Canada (81,671 active, 1,151,207 resolved, 24,450 deaths). The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.

There were 7,379 new cases Wednesday. The rate of active cases is 214.89 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 54,593 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 7,799.

There were 57 new reported deaths Wednesday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 338 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 48. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 64.33 per 100,000 people.

There have been 32,127,668 tests completed.

Read Wednesday’s rolling file

Source : Toronto Star More   

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Raptors’ play-in hopes are all but done after an overtime loss against the Wizards

It really is quite simple for Nick Nurse. He finds out who he is going to have available, figures out how he might best use them, makes adjustments as the game goes on and lives with whatever the result is, confident that has done his best to put everyone in a position to succeed. It’s something he did for years in minor leagues around the world and something he has been forced to do in this obstacle-laden season with the Raptors. Thursday night was no different. The stakes were higher and the absence of a player was significant — Kyle Lowry got the night off for rest — but it was old hat to the Raptors coach. And it almost worked again. In crazy, close, emotional night, the Raptors may have been dealt a fatal playoff blow by dropping a 131-129 overtime decision to the Washington Wizards on Thursday in Tampa, Fla. The loss may not mathematically eliminate the Raptors from the post-season but it will be a devastating one to rebound from given how well they played to get nothing from it. Fred VanVleet send the game into overtime with a clutch three-pointer with 1.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter, splitting two defenders after taking a pass from Pascal Siakam to hit the dramatic shot. Siakam tied a career high with 44 points but his last-ditch three-point attempt at the overtime buzzer missed and, with it, the Raptors fell four games behind Washington for 10th in the East with five games to play.The decision to rest Lowry for such a significant game was an organizational one. “How it's determined is we — being myself and Bobby (Webster, the general manager) and Masai (Ujiri, the team president) — talk about who we want to play and who we want to see and who we're going to evaluate, and that's what it comes down to,” Nurse said before the game. “And that's where we are with it tonight.”It is meant to serve a dual purpose. If there is some miracle run to the play-in games, the Raptors will presumably have key players healthy and rested and young prospects like Malachi Flynn, Jalen Harris, Khem Birch and Gary Trent will have been put through the ringer. Nurse, whose background coaching in various minor leagues with rosters that changed weekly, won’t complain about the challenges. “You know me, I never get too awkward in these situations,” he said. “I just kind of want to know who's playing at some point before the ball goes up, and then we give the opportunity to these other guys, and we roll with it and do the best we can.” Their best was pretty good against a Wizards team that had won 11 of its last 14 games. The Raptors’ two main threats — Siakam and VanVleet, with 22 points — did most of the heavy lifting offensively and the defence was solid for most of the night.Trent came back after missing six games with a leg bruise to chip in 25 points while Birch had 17. Washington’s Russell Westbrook had a typical triple-double — 13 points, 17 rebounds, 17 assists — to lead the Wizards. THREE POINTERSBembry gets his shots: There’s something about the Wizards that turns the Raptors’ DeAndre’ Bembry into a three-point shooting threat.Bembry, who was shooting 26 per cent from three-point range going into the game, made his first two of the night, equalling his season high in just 5 1/2 minutes. The last time he made two threes in game was also against the Wizards, in a game in Washington in February. Hitting a milestone: Trent made his 36th start of the season — his 13th with the Raptors — and it triggered a minor salary-cap issue to be dealt with in the summer. Trent, who will be a restricted free agent, now has as qualifying offer of $4.7 million instead of $2.1 million because he will have started half a season worth of games. It’s mostly a bookkeeping issue for the Raptors, who will surely pay Trent at least that much on a new contract if they want to keep him. New look: The Raptors started their 33rd different group, an all-time franchise high for a season. They are not alone in having such turnover in their lineups: The Brooklyn Nets have used 34 different starting groups and the Wizards have used 27 combinations. Doug Smith is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @smithraps

Raptors’ play-in hopes are all but done after an overtime loss against the Wizards

It really is quite simple for Nick Nurse.

He finds out who he is going to have available, figures out how he might best use them, makes adjustments as the game goes on and lives with whatever the result is, confident that has done his best to put everyone in a position to succeed.

It’s something he did for years in minor leagues around the world and something he has been forced to do in this obstacle-laden season with the Raptors. Thursday night was no different.

The stakes were higher and the absence of a player was significant — Kyle Lowry got the night off for rest — but it was old hat to the Raptors coach. And it almost worked again.

In crazy, close, emotional night, the Raptors may have been dealt a fatal playoff blow by dropping a 131-129 overtime decision to the Washington Wizards on Thursday in Tampa, Fla.

The loss may not mathematically eliminate the Raptors from the post-season but it will be a devastating one to rebound from given how well they played to get nothing from it.

Fred VanVleet send the game into overtime with a clutch three-pointer with 1.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter, splitting two defenders after taking a pass from Pascal Siakam to hit the dramatic shot.

Siakam tied a career high with 44 points but his last-ditch three-point attempt at the overtime buzzer missed and, with it, the Raptors fell four games behind Washington for 10th in the East with five games to play.

The decision to rest Lowry for such a significant game was an organizational one.

“How it's determined is we — being myself and Bobby (Webster, the general manager) and Masai (Ujiri, the team president) — talk about who we want to play and who we want to see and who we're going to evaluate, and that's what it comes down to,” Nurse said before the game. “And that's where we are with it tonight.”

It is meant to serve a dual purpose. If there is some miracle run to the play-in games, the Raptors will presumably have key players healthy and rested and young prospects like Malachi Flynn, Jalen Harris, Khem Birch and Gary Trent will have been put through the ringer.

Nurse, whose background coaching in various minor leagues with rosters that changed weekly, won’t complain about the challenges.

“You know me, I never get too awkward in these situations,” he said. “I just kind of want to know who's playing at some point before the ball goes up, and then we give the opportunity to these other guys, and we roll with it and do the best we can.”

Their best was pretty good against a Wizards team that had won 11 of its last 14 games. The Raptors’ two main threats — Siakam and VanVleet, with 22 points — did most of the heavy lifting offensively and the defence was solid for most of the night.

Trent came back after missing six games with a leg bruise to chip in 25 points while Birch had 17.

Washington’s Russell Westbrook had a typical triple-double — 13 points, 17 rebounds, 17 assists — to lead the Wizards.

THREE POINTERS

  • Bembry gets his shots: There’s something about the Wizards that turns the Raptors’ DeAndre’ Bembry into a three-point shooting threat.

Bembry, who was shooting 26 per cent from three-point range going into the game, made his first two of the night, equalling his season high in just 5 1/2 minutes.

The last time he made two threes in game was also against the Wizards, in a game in Washington in February.

  • Hitting a milestone: Trent made his 36th start of the season — his 13th with the Raptors — and it triggered a minor salary-cap issue to be dealt with in the summer.

Trent, who will be a restricted free agent, now has as qualifying offer of $4.7 million instead of $2.1 million because he will have started half a season worth of games. It’s mostly a bookkeeping issue for the Raptors, who will surely pay Trent at least that much on a new contract if they want to keep him.

  • New look: The Raptors started their 33rd different group, an all-time franchise high for a season.

They are not alone in having such turnover in their lineups: The Brooklyn Nets have used 34 different starting groups and the Wizards have used 27 combinations.

Doug Smith is a sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @smithraps

Source : Toronto Star More   

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