Today’s Coronavirus News: BC to First Offer J&J Vaccine to Unvaccinated Healthcare Workers; The EU evaluates the Moderna vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world on Wednesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

6 am: As the second pandemic winter approaches and downtown employers reject plans to go back to the office, new data exclusive to the Star shows that the volume of midweek workers in Toronto’s financial district is still down by 77 percent, and some experts say the area will likely never fully recover.

Read the full story of Rosa Saba from Star here.

5:53 am: Coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic have increased significantly and are at levels close to the record numbers seen during previous waves, authorities said Wednesday.

The Health Ministry said the daily count of new cases reached 14,539 on Tuesday, about 4,500 more than a week ago and the highest number since March 12.

The daily record of 17,776 was recorded on January 7.

The country’s infection rate rose to 558 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, more than double the number recorded in neighboring Germany.

5:53 am: Germany’s national disease control center reported a record number of new coronavirus cases on Wednesday when one of the country’s top virologists warned that another lockdown would be necessary if vaccines were not accelerated quickly.

The 39,676 cases recorded by the Robert Koch Institute surpassed the previous daily record of 37,120 new cases reported on Friday. The institute said Germany’s infection rate rose to 232.1 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days.

“We have a real emergency situation right now,” said Christian Drosten, head of virology at the Charite Hospital in Berlin, regarding the situation in many hospital intensive care units across the country. “We have to do something right now.”

Government officials have repeatedly said that they do not intend to impose blockades and have instead asked residents to get vaccinated.

Germany currently has a provisional national government after the federal elections in September. The parties expected to form the next government plan to introduce legislation this week that would allow a declaration from March 2020 of a “nationwide epidemic situation” to expire at the end of the month and provide a new legal framework to institute the coronavirus. measures.

5:52 am: As vaccination rates rise in many parts of the world and even countries that previously had strict COVID containment strategies cautiously ease restrictions, China is doubling down on its zero tolerance policy.

China pioneered that approach – of strict lockdowns, multiple rounds of mass testing and centralized quarantine – during the first major outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan. And it continues now, even as it says it has fully vaccinated 77% of its 1.4 billion people and started giving booster shots.

“The cost is really quite high, but compared to not administering it, relaxing (the zero tolerance policy), then that cost is even higher,” said Zhong Nanshan, a top government doctor, in a recent television interview.

The impact of the restrictions is not pervasive, but it is unpredictable. Unfortunate travelers can find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, such as tourists in the Gobi Desert, some of whom were transported by bus for 18 hours to finish their quarantine in another city. People in Beijing have complained online about going on a work trip and not being able to return home.

5:51 am: Chinese authorities have issued warnings about potentially COVID-19-contaminated packages just as the country’s largest annual online shopping festival looms, after three workers at a small company that makes children’s clothing tested positive for the virus.

Authorities are testing packages and monitoring the people who tampered with them after the infections were discovered at Haohui eCommerce Co., which is based in Hebei, a province surrounding Beijing. Parcel delivery services in two cities, Xinji and Jinzhou, as well as Shenze city, have been stopped, according to a government statement.

About 300 packages have been tested and all gave negative results. The tests were also carried out in a small county in southern China, Guangxi, where 16 packages from the company were shipped in what authorities described as a “COVID-related chain of mail.” The local health commission said anyone who touches the plots should be tested and monitored for COVID.

Meanwhile, Xilinhot authorities in Inner Mongolia have told people who bought or received packages from another clothing store last month to report to the local disease prevention department after more traces of COVID-19 were detected. No positive tests have been linked to the articles. China has previously inspected products such as imported frozen foods for the virus.

5:51 am: Nepal will get enough vaccines to immunize all adults against COVID-19 by mid-April and is focusing on administering doses in remote mountainous areas of the Himalayan nation, the health minister said on Wednesday.

The government will hire workers and establish vaccination centers to meet the goal, Health Minister Birod Khatiwada told The Associated Press in an interview.

“We are going to reach our goal or even exceed our goal because we are already getting enough vaccines,” said Khatiwada, who was appointed last month. “We are going to hire more health workers so that they can reach every corner of the country and establish new vaccination centers to reach the entire population.”

Nepal’s immunization campaign started in January with vaccines donated by neighboring India, but stalled as India faced a devastating surge in COVID-19 and halted vaccine exports.

Records from the Ministry of Health show that 44% of Nepalese adults have received at least one dose and 37.5% are fully vaccinated. Adults comprise about 72% of Nepal’s population of 30 million. So far, only people ages 18 and older have received vaccinations, but the country plans to immunize people ages 12 to 17 when doses become available.

5:50 am: The European Union’s drug regulator said Wednesday that it has begun evaluating whether to authorize Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, a decision that could significantly open up COVID-19 vaccination across the continent for children. Small children.

The Amsterdam-based European Medicines Agency is already evaluating the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech for use in the age group 5 to 11 years. In a statement Wednesday, the EMA said it anticipates making a recommendation on Moderna’s vaccine in about two months, unless more data or analysis is needed.

Coronavirus vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have already been approved for use in children ages 12 to 17 in Europe, and many countries are giving injections to adolescents.

The EMA announcement comes as coronavirus infection levels are rising across much of Europe. It is the only region in the World Health Organization where COVID-19 has risen steadily for the past six weeks; the number of cases reported in the 61-country WHO European region accounted for roughly two-thirds of the 3 million new infections reported globally in the past week.

Moderna said last month that a low dose of its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and appears to work in children ages 6 to 11. Its vaccine is still pending approval for use in people under the age of 18 in the United States.

5:45 am: British Columbia’s unvaccinated healthcare workers will have their first chance to receive the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine when it arrives in British Columbia next week, says the province’s chief physician.

The federal government will provide BC with a limited number of doses of the vaccine, which has been widely used in the United States, Dr. Bonnie Henry said Tuesday.

He said the vaccine has not yet been available in the province.

“Our first priority will be to offer it to BC workers who have been affected by the order (from the public health official) and who want the vaccine as an option for them to continue working safely in BC,” Henry said at a conference. press.

More than 3,000 BC healthcare workers have not been immunized against COVID-19 and are violating the government’s proof of vaccination policy, which took effect last month.

Under the order, unvaccinated health workers have received three months of unpaid leave and could face dismissal.

Henry said some unvaccinated healthcare workers who were put on leave have suggested they would take the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

He said he also hopes the vaccine will be available to the public, depending on the amount of supply the province receives.

Henry described the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as a viral vector vaccine that offers protection against COVID-19 similar to the two-dose Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

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