- At least 463 million children missed out on remote learning after schools closed amid COVID-19, UNICEF says.
- Spain says schoolchildren aged six and over must wear masks to class.
- India records another single-day record with 75,760 new coronavirus cases.
- Ottawa announces $2B in federal funding aimed to help schools reopen safely.
- Canadian COVID-19 clinical trial scrapped after China wouldn’t ship potential vaccine.
- Alberta is expecting a deficit of more than $24 billion, triple than what was projected.
- EU trade chief resigns following backlash over golf dinner critics say breached COVID-19 guidelines.
- France’s government allows new local COVID-19 restrictions to avoid another national lockdown.
The United Natons children’s agency says at least a third of children couldn’t access remote learning when the COVID-19 pandemic closed schools, creating “a global education emergency.”
At the height of lockdowns meant to curb the pandemic, nearly 1.5 billion children were affected by school closures, UNICEF said.
“For at least 463 million children whose schools closed due to COVID-19, there was no such a thing as remote learning,” UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore said.
“The sheer number of children whose education was completely disrupted for months on end is a global education emergency,” she said in a statement. “The repercussions could be felt in economies and societies for decades to come.”
The report released late Wednesday night highlights significant inequality across regions, with schoolchildren in sub-Saharan Africa the most affected. The highest number of children affection by region were in South Asia — at least 147 million, according to the report.
UNICEF said the report used a globally representative analysis on the availability of home-based technology and tools needed for remote learning, such as access to television, radio and internet, and the availability of curricula delivered by the platforms.
Children in the poorest households and in rural areas were most affected.
The youngest children are also most likely to miss out on remote learning during critical years, the report said, largely due to challenges and limitations to online learning for young children and lack of assets at home.
UNICEF warned that the situation is likely far worse, because even where technology exists at home, children may not be able to learn due to pressures to do chores or work.
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 2 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 126,667 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 112,640 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,136.
Canada’s end to a partnership on a coronavirus vaccine between Chinese firm CanSino Biologics and the National Research Council was not “necessarily” tied to diplomatic tensions between the two countries, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne said on Thursday.
Champagne met his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Tuesday and urged Beijing to release two Canadian citizens it has detained.
The two ministers also “discussed the importance of global collaboration in the face of COVID-19, including the search for a vaccine,” according to a statement.
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On Wednesday, Canada’s National Research Council said it had ended its partnership on a coronavirus vaccine with CanSino because the company lacked the authority to ship the vaccine at this time.
“We are going through a difficult time” in bilateral relations, Champagne told reporters, “but I would not necessarily make a link between that discussion and the Canadian or the Chinese position.”
This was echoed by Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, who said earlier on Thursday that the end of the vaccine collaboration had nothing to do with soured diplomatic relations.
Champagne also did not rule out collaboration with China or Chinese companies on health issues or COVID-19 in the future.
“When it comes to global health, when it comes to issues around global health and managing issues around COVID, I think it is wise for us to be talking to each other,” Champagne said.
A Statistics Canada report published Thursday suggests that more than half of Canadians with disabilities who participated in a crowdsourced survey are struggling to make ends meet because of the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
The responses indicate that 61 per cent of participants aged 15 to 64 said the pandemic has had a major or moderate impact on their ability to fulfil at least one financial obligation or essential need.
Forty-four per cent of respondents reported concerns about paying for groceries, while 40 per cent were worried about the costs of personal protective equipment.
Nearly one-third of participants said their overall household income has declined since the lockdown began, more than half of whom reported losses greater than $1,000 a month.
The findings were gathered from about 13,000 Canadians with long-term conditions or disabilities who voluntarily filled out an online questionnaire between June 3 and July 23. Unlike most Statistics Canada studies, the survey wasn’t randomly sampled and therefore isn’t statistically representative of the Canadian population.
Of those who were employed prior to the pandemic, 36 per cent said they were laid off or saw their hours cut since March. Almost half of participants said they’ve relied solely on non-employment income in the months since the outbreak hit.
Alberta is expecting a deficit of more than $24 billion, due to the double blow of collapsing oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The historic deficit is more than triple what the governing United Conservative Party projected in its February budget.
“These numbers are incredibly sobering to all of us,” Finance Minister Travis Toews said. “We are facing the most
significant economic challenge of our generation.”
Toews said plans to balance Alberta’s budget are delayed, and he intends to give a three-year fiscal update in November.
In Ontario, the Toronto District School Board says elementary students will be able to shift between in-person or online learning at three points during the academic year.
As Canada’s largest school board, the decision comes a day after the province introduced new guidance to help school boards prevent and manage COVID-19 outbreaks.
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Students and parents will need to apply approximately two weeks before each date. The dates students can shift are on Oct. 13, Nov. 23 and Feb. 16, 2021.
The board says it’s not possible to switch immediately because of the impact that would have on staffing, physical distancing and space allocation.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
According to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases is now more than 24.2 million. More than 827,000 people have died, while 15.8 million have recovered.
Spanish schoolchildren aged six and over must wear masks to class, the government announced on Thursday, unveiling a plan to reopen schools just days before the start of the new academic year.
With Spain registering the highest prevalence of the novel coronavirus in western Europe and diagnosing thousands of new cases every day, there had been speculation the new term might be postponed in the worst-affected areas.
But Health Minister Salvador Illa said that while closing down schools could be necessary if multiple cases of the virus were detected across different classrooms, that would be the last resort.
Since Spain came out of a strict lockdown at the end of June, transmission of the virus has rebounded fast. The health ministry diagnosed 3,594 new infections on Wednesday and has logged nearly 83,000 in the past two weeks. Nearly 29,000 people have died since the onset of the pandemic.
Phil Hogan quit as the EU’s trade commissioner on Wednesday after days of pressure over allegations he breached COVID-19 guidelines during a trip to his native Ireland.
“It was becoming increasingly clear that the controversy concerning my recent visit to Ireland was becoming a distraction from my work as an EU Commissioner and would undermine my work in the key months ahead,” Hogan said in a statement.
“I deeply regret that my trip to Ireland — the country that I have been so proud to represent as a public servant for most of my adult life — caused such concern, unease and upset.”
Hogan attended a golf dinner last week that outraged the Irish public and led to the resignation of an Irish minister and the disciplining of several lawmakers. He had insisted on Tuesday that he adhered to all rules during the trip.
Britain reported its biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases since June 12 on Thursday.
The government said 1,522 people tested positive on Thursday, up from 1,048 on Wednesday, and announced a tightening of restrictions on some overseas travel.
Britain has suffered Europe’s highest death toll from the disease, due largely to a failure to control its spread in the early stages of the pandemic.
However Thursday’s daily new case total is now the highest since non-essential shops reopened to the public on June 15 and restaurants and pubs resumed operations on July 4.
The United States federal administration will purchase 150 million rapid coronavirus tests from Abbott Laboratories for about $750 million, a White House spokesperson said on Thursday.
The portable antigen tests, which can deliver results within 15 minutes and will sell for $5, received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday.
France‘s government says the coronavirus is now actively circulating in about a fifth of the country’s regions, and it’s allowing new local restrictions to avoid another national lockdown.
Despite the resurgence, the government is pushing ahead with plans to reopen all French schools next week, and to welcome workers back to their jobs after summer vacations blamed for spreading the virus.
France “must do everything to avoid a new confinement,” Prime Minister Jean Castex told reporters Thursday. The government’s main mantra this fall will be learning to “live with the virus.”
France is now seeing more than 50 positive tests per 100,000 people in Paris, Marseille and other areas.
The government announced Thursday that 21 administrative regions, or departments, are now in the “red zone” where the virus is actively circulating, and where local authorities can impose stricter rules on gatherings and movements.
India has recorded another single-day record of new coronavirus cases, reporting 75,760 new confirmed infections in the past 24 hours.
The country’s health ministry on Thursday also reported 1,023 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 60,472.
India’s previous highest daily count was 70,488 on Aug. 22. India has been recording more than 60,000 new infections per day for the last two weeks and now has reported 3.3 million cases since the pandemic began.
With an average of more than 800,000 tests every day, India has scaled up testing per million to more than 27,000, the ministry said.
South Korea reported 441 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, its highest single-day total in months, making lockdown-like restrictions look inevitable as transmissions slip out of control.
The country has added nearly 4,000 infections while reporting triple-digit daily jumps on each of the past 14 days, prompting health experts to warn about hospitals possibly running out of capacity.
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 315 of the new cases were from the Seoul metropolitan area, home to half of the country’s 51 million people, where health workers have struggled to track infections linked to various sources including churches, restaurants, schools and workers.
The National Assembly in Seoul was shut down and more than a dozen ruling party lawmakers were forced to isolate Thursday following a positive test of a journalist who covered a ruling party leaders’ meeting.
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Africa’s top public health official says the continent has seen a 20 per cent decrease in confirmed coronavirus cases in the past week, but he warns that “we shouldn’t go home celebrating that our pandemic is over.”
John Nkengasong with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells reporters that testing and other efforts to contain the virus are largely working, but just one or two cases could reignite infections.
He says 23 of Africa’s 54 countries have reported a sustained decrease in new confirmed cases in the past couple of weeks.
The African continent has reported more than 1.2 million confirmed cases, roughly half in South Africa. More than 11 million tests for the virus have been conducted across the continent of 1.3 billion people, and Nkengasong says the new goal is an additional 20 million tests by November.