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

November 12, 2021
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday

The latest:

Europe has become the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic again, prompting some governments to consider re-imposing unpopular lockdowns in the run-up to Christmas and stirring debate over whether vaccines alone are enough to tame COVID-19.

The Dutch government is widely expected to announce a partial lockdown Friday amid soaring COVID-19 cases that are putting the country’s health-care sector under renewed strain.

Dutch broadcaster NOS, citing unnamed government sources, reported that the government is planning to impose three weeks of measures including closing bars, restaurants and nonessential stores at 7 p.m. and banning fans from sports events. That could mean the Dutch national team playing a World Cup qualifier against Norway on Tuesday night behind closed doors.

The move comes a day after the country’s public health institute recorded 16,364 new positive tests in 24 hours — the highest number of any time during the pandemic. 

The Netherlands, where nearly 85 per cent of adults are fully vaccinated, largely ended lockdown restrictions at the end of September. 

Half of all infections globally are now in Europe

Carnival revellers line up at a beer pub to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations before they begin the start of the carnival season in Cologne, Germany, on Thursday. Europe has once again become the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, accounting for half of the recent cases and deaths worldwide. (Oliver Berg/The Associated Press)

Europe accounts for more than half of the average seven-day infections globally and about half of the latest deaths, according to a Reuters tally, the highest levels since April last year when the virus first swept into Italy.

Germany and France are also experiencing a surge in infections, showing the challenge even for governments with high acceptance rates and dashing hopes vaccines would mean a return to close to normal.

To be sure, hospitalizations and deaths are much lower than a year ago. As well, big variations by country in use of vaccines and boosters as well as measures like physical distancing make it hard to draw conclusions for the whole region.

– From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 6:36 a.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

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What’s happening around the world

A man wearing a face mask walks in the town of Podolsk, some 40 kilometres outside of Moscow, on Friday. (Yuri Kadobnov/Getty Images)

As of Friday morning, more than 252 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to the global database maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than five million.

In Europe, British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Friday that it will start to book a modest profit from its coronavirus vaccine as it moves away from the nonprofit model it has operated during the pandemic. Until now, AstraZeneca said it would provide the vaccine “at cost” — around $2 to $3 — for the duration of the pandemic following an agreement with the University of Oxford, which developed the vaccine. Other COVID-19 vaccine producers, such as Pfizer and Moderna, have been booking hefty profits on their shots all along.

Germany’s disease control centre is calling for people to cancel or avoid large events and to reduce their contacts as the country’s coronavirus infection rate hits the latest in a string of new highs. While the infection rate isn’t yet as high as in some other European countries, its relentless rise in Germany has set off alarm bells. 

“We must now do everything necessary to break this momentum,” Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters. “Otherwise it will be a bitter December for the whole country.”

In the Asia-Pacific region, Thailand on Friday said it would delay the reopening of nightlife entertainment venues to Jan. 15 despite pleas from the industry to make it sooner. A spokesman for the government’s COVID-19 administration cited concerns about ventilation and inefficient prevention measures in pubs, bars and karaoke joints. 

The Japanese government’s preparations for the next virus surge include adding thousands more hospital beds to avoid a situation like last summer when many COVID-19 patients were forced to stay home, even while dependent on oxygen deliveries.

In the Americas, one United States governor defied federal guidance on COVID-19 booster shots Thursday by issuing an order allowing all state residents 18 and older to get them. 

“Because disease spread is so significant across Colorado, all Coloradans who are 18 years of age and older are at high risk and qualify for a booster shot,” Gov. Jared Polis said in an order. The state is facing a surge in infections that threatens to overwhelm hospitals.

In the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and senior aides holed up in a nuclear command bunker to simulate an outbreak of a vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variant to which children are vulnerable, describing such an eventuality as “the next war.”

– From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 7:18 a.m. ET

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