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

The latest:

Top officials in Nova Scotia are set to unveil the province’s reopening plan later Friday, a day after Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick presented multi-step plans to lift COVID-19 restrictions.

Nova Scotia reported 33 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, continuing a downward trend in single-day cases. 

The province, which opened vaccine bookings to everyone aged 12 and up on Thursday, introduced a “circuit-breaker” lockdown in late April. Initially set to last two weeks, the lockdown is now set to last until at least June 9.

Premier Iain Rankin and Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, are expected to brief the public Friday afternoon.

Nova Scotia Premier Iain Rankin and Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Robert Strang, seen here, are expected to discuss reopening plans at a briefing later Friday. (Communications Nova Scotia)

New Brunswick, which reported nine new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, is moving forward with a three-step reopening plan set to begin June 7 — if the province meets its targets around vaccination rates and case numbers.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said the pandemic isn’t over, but she said the reopening plan does offer hope. 

“This is about giving everyone the strength to stay on course for a few more weeks,” she said.

Prince Edward Island, which reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, is proceeding with a five-step plan, which is tentatively set to begin on June 6. As with New Brunswick, the plan requires certain thresholds to be met around vaccination and case rates before proceeding to the next stage. 

“Today is about being thankful for what we’ve been able to achieve together,” Dr. Heather Morrison, the province’s chief public health officer, said Thursday. “P.E.I. has the lowest rate of COVID-19 cases in Canada. We have been fortunate, but we’ve also worked very hard.”

Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador, meanwhile, reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 8:30 a.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Ottawa advised to end hotel quarantine for travellers: 

An advisory panel recommends an end to the federal hotel quarantine for travellers, saying it’s inequitable and that at-home quarantine is as effective. The panel also laid out guidance for testing and isolation requirements for vaccinated travellers. 2:26

As of 11:20 a.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 1,372,766 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 40,776 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 25,428. More than 22.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far across the country, according to CBC’s vaccine tracker.

Ontario on Friday reported 1,273 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 1,023, with 645 people in ICU due to COVID-related illness, according to the provincial health ministry.

The update came as Premier Doug Ford gave an update on vaccine schedules and took questions about what comes next in the province, including for students who are still learning remotely.

Across the North, Nunavut reported one new case of COVID-19 on Friday, according to Premier Joe Savikataaq. Health officials in Yukon and the Northwest Territories had not yet provided updated information for the day.

In Quebec, health officials reported 419 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths on Friday as a range of restrictions — including the provincewide curfew — were being lifted

Manitoba, which saw 297 new cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths on Thursday, is extending restrictions aimed at slowing transmission of the novel coronavirus.

“We need to bring down these numbers,” said Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin. “This is a strain on the health-care system. And these are eight more Manitobans we’ve lost now.”

Saskatchewan, meanwhile, reported 118 new cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths.

Alberta on Thursday reported 513 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death. Health officials said 538 people were in hospital with the virus and, of those, 150 were in intensive care.

In British Columbia, health officials reported 378 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths on Thursday. The update came as the province announced it was shortening the interval between first and second vaccine doses for most people.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 11:10 a.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

A man gets a shot of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for COVID-19 during a vaccination program for the homeless at a public square in Rio de Janeiro on Thursday. (Bruna Prado/The Associated Press)

As of early Friday morning, more than 169 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a database from Johns Hopkins University in the United States. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.5 million.

Member countries of the World Health Organization have approved an “ambitious increase” in the budget for the UN health agency at a meeting, with some noting that WHO’s chronic underfunding cripples its ability to protect global health. Delegates at the World Health Assembly on Thursday approved a 16 per cent increase to WHO’s proposed budget for the next two years, setting it at about $6.1 billion US.

More than 90 per cent of the WHO’s funding is tied to specific health issues, and the agency often struggles to respond to urgent crises. Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergencies chief, said there is currently a 70 per cent funding gap.

A commissioned review of the WHO in the wake of its global handling of the COVID-19 pandemic suggested the agency could have acted faster and more aggressively to stem the spread of the coronavirus, but also said it lacked power and money.

In the Americas, United States Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the government is taking “a very close look” at the possibility of vaccine passports for travel into and out of the U.S.

WATCH | Lotteries, free tickets offered as vaccine incentives in U.S.: 

As demand for the COVID-19 vaccine drops across the U.S. some states are offering people incentives to get the shot, including lotteries and free tickets. 2:01

In the Asia-Pacific region, Malaysia’s prime minister said a total coronavirus lockdown will be imposed in the country, with all business and economic activities to be halted for two weeks to contain a worsening outbreak.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the decision to implement the lockdown starting June 1 came after new infections on Friday breached 8,000 for the first time, sparking fears the disease could spiral out of control.

The health ministry also reported another 61 deaths on Friday, pushing the tally to 2,552 — nearly 40 per cent recorded this month alone. Malaysia’s total cases and deaths have jumped nearly five-fold compared to all of last year.

India reported 186,364 new infections during the previous 24 hours, for its lowest daily rise since April 14.

In Europe, the European Medicines Agency has recommended that the use of the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech be expanded to children ages 12 to 15.

Messages are pictured on hearts painted on the National Covid Memorial Wall, at the embankment on the south side of the River Thames in London, on Friday in memory of those who lost their lives to COVID-19. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

The recommendation on Friday follows similar decisions by regulators in Canada and the U.S., as rich countries slowly approach their vaccination targets for adults and look to immunize as many people as possible.

In Africa, South Africa is racing to vaccinate as many people as possible amid signs the virus may be surging again with the approach of winter in the Southern Hemisphere, when people spend more time indoors, typically allowing for more spread of disease. 

Since January, South Africa has vaccinated nearly 500,000 of its 1.2 million health-care workers and now is adding its older citizens to the campaign. In the past two weeks nearly 200,000 have received the Pfizer jabs with instructions to come back in six weeks to get their second dose.

In the Middle East, the first group of foreign tourists in more than a year touched down in Israel on Thursday after the government began opening its borders.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 11:20 a.m. ET

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