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

November 1, 2021
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Monday
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New York woke up on Monday to its first full workday under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s order that all city workers be vaccinated for COVID-19, with many police officers and firefighters still refusing the shot and one labour leader calling the mandate a recipe for disaster.

De Blasio, a Democrat who announced the mandate less than two weeks ago, has assured the city of 8.8 million people that officials could handle any shortage of police, firefighters or sanitation workers through schedule changes and overtime.

City workers faced a 5 p.m. Friday deadline to show proof they’ve received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Workers who don’t comply were to be put on unpaid leave starting Monday.

“Another great uptick to report. @FDNY EMS vaccine rates are up to 87%,” Danielle Filson, a press deputy for de Blasio, tweeted on Sunday night.

The percentage of inoculated police officers and firefighters is below that of other city employees, and union leaders say de Blasio will be to blame if emergency services are left in disarray in the largest U.S. city.

“We need everyone we can to keep the city running and keep it safe. We’re trying to avoid what is going to be an inevitable disaster by design on Monday morning,” Andrew Ansbro, president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, told a news conference on Friday.

Municipal workers hold placards and shout slogans outside city hall during a protest against the COVID-19 vaccine mandate in New York on Oct. 25. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

Union leaders say their members were given only nine days to comply with the mayor’s vaccination deadline and that workers who have already been ill with COVID-19 should be granted an exemption. That includes some 70 per cent of firefighters, Ansbro said.

The dispute is the latest in the U.S. over vaccine mandates that have been increasingly imposed by political leaders, including President Joe Biden, to help stem the spread of the highly contagious delta variant. Police officers and firefighters in Chicago and Los Angeles have also pushed back hard.

New York City health officials say that while research has yet to determine the degree and length of immunity from COVID-19 following an infection and illness, experts agree that vaccines can afford additional protection.

De Blasio has forecast that vaccination rates for city workers would continue to rise significantly.

The mayor said similar deadlines for other New York state and city workers prompted a rush for last-minute shots as reality set in that paycheques were about to stop coming.

Legal challenges by police and fire unions in New York City and elsewhere have so far been unsuccessful, with state and federal courts reluctant to overturn vaccine mandates.

— From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 8:30 a.m. ET


What’s happening in Canada

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What’s happening around the world

As of Monday morning, more than 246.8 million COVID-19 cases had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s online coronavirus database. The reported global death toll stood at more than five million.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Cambodia on Monday began vaccinating five-year-old children against the coronavirus as its leader announced the start of the country’s reopening, including the phased re-entry of foreign tourists. Vaccinations for two million children age six to 11 began Sept. 17 and are nearly complete.

A young girl receives a shot of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine at a health centre outside Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Monday. (Heng Sinith/The Associated Press)

In the Middle East, Israel on Monday began welcoming individual tourists for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. It had planned to reopen to tourists last spring but delayed the move amid a spike in cases driven by the delta variant. Israel has since rolled out a booster campaign in which nearly half the population has received a third vaccine dose.

In Europe, the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv implemented tough new restrictions on Monday in an attempt to stem a surge in COVID-19 infections that is affecting many countries across eastern Europe amid a low take-up of vaccinations.

From Monday, residents of Kyiv will have to present vaccine certificates or evidence of a negative COVID-19 test to use restaurants, cafés, gyms, entertainment facilities and shopping malls. Staff working in those places must have been vaccinated. City authorities have said special teams will monitor compliance with the restrictions on public transport.

A Moroccan protester lifts a placard in Arabic that reads ‘my body my freedom’ during a demonstration against the government’s COVID-19 vaccine pass in Rabat on Oct. 31. (Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images)

In Africa, protests erupted across cities in Morocco on Sunday against a coronavirus vaccine passport that is required to access indoor activities and travel. Proof of vaccination has been mandatory since Oct. 21 for all Moroccans to enter their place of work and restaurants and for domestic and international air travel.

In the Americas, Mexico’s health ministry said it had received nearly six million AstraZeneca vaccine doses against COVID-19 as pressure grows on the government to widen its vaccination rollout to include children.

— From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 8:30 a.m. ET



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