The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world on Thursday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
6:21 am: As Portugal approaches its goal of fully vaccinating 85% of the population against COVID-19 in nine months, other countries in Europe and beyond want to know how it was achieved.
Much of the credit goes to Rear Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo. With his team from the three branches of the armed forces, the naval officer took over the launch of the vaccine in February, perhaps the time of greatest tension in Portugal due to the pandemic.
Now, the county could be just days away from reaching its goal. As of Wednesday, 84% of the total population was fully vaccinated, the highest globally, according to Our World in Data.
Along with the increasing number of injections, the rate of COVID-19 infection and hospitalizations from the virus have fallen to their lowest levels in nearly 18 months. Portugal could end many of its remaining pandemic restrictions in October, a coveted development for many countries that are still under the influence of the highly infectious delta variant and lagging behind in their own vaccination launches.
Gouveia e Melo, previously unannounced outside of the military, is now a household name in Portugal, and has made efforts to appear on television regularly to respond to public concerns about the vaccination program.
Easily recognizable even behind a face mask due to his blue eyes, very short salt and pepper hair and 1.93 meters (6 feet 3 inches) tall, he is often greeted on the street by people who want to thank him.
“The people are very nice,” he says. But the 60-year-old officer is also quick to insist that he is only “the tip of the iceberg” in the operation and that many others share the credit.
6:18 am: Earlier last week, as dozens of anti-vaccines flocked to downtown Toronto hospitals, an estimated 4,500 Toronto residents were vaccinated at city clinics.
Last week, between Thursday and Sunday, during which anti-vaccines protested COVID-19 mandates near Queen’s Park, nearly 8,000 doses of vaccine were administered to Toronto residents at clinics across the city, as a result of its bombardment of “Days of Vaxtion” mobile clinics.
I’m not a statistician, but I bet that for every anti-vaccine that tells lies in Toronto, there are thousands of unvaccinated Toronto residents who are seriously considering getting jabbed or queuing up to get it. Day by day, week by week, the undecided make good decisions.
This is in large part because the city’s vaccination campaign, once gigantic with millions of willing participants, has today been scaled down and hyper-focused on immunizing undecided stragglers.
Tenzin Wangmo helps the laggards reach the goal.
Read Emma Teitel’s column from Star
6:15 am: With Ontario a month away from launching its vaccination verification app, concerns are raised about how easy it is to modify the province’s existing vaccination certificates, which could allow unvaccinated people to have access to restaurants, bars, gyms and even flights.
According to forensic document examiner Shabnam Preet Kaur, existing vaccination certificates, which are in the form of Portable Document Format (PDF) files, can be quickly edited to change name, date of birth and other personal information using a easily accessible series of programs.
For example, Microsoft Word allows a user to open the watermarked vaccine certificate and change the name and other identifying information to that of an unvaccinated person, then resave the file as a PDF. The Star verified that this can be done quickly and easily using existing software found in most home computers.
Read the full story of Rosa Saba from Star
5:59 am: Is the delta variant of the coronavirus worse for children?
No, experts say there is still no strong evidence that it makes children and teens sicker than previous versions of the virus, although the delta has caused an increase in infections among children because it is more contagious.
Delta’s ability to spread more easily makes it more of a risk to children and underscores the need for masks in schools and vaccinations for those who are old enough, said Dr. Juan Dumois, Johns pediatric infectious disease physician. Hopkins All Children’s Hospital at St.. Petersburg, Florida.
Weekly infection rates among American children earlier this month topped 250,000, surpassing the winter peak, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association. Since the pandemic began, more than 5 million children in the US have tested positive for COVID-19.
The delta variant has been identified in at least 180 countries, according to the World Health Organization. In many of them, the increase in infections has also meant an increase in hospitalizations of young children and adolescents.
In the US, the COVID-19 hospitalization rate was less than 2 per 100,000 children in late August and early September, similar to last winter’s peak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. . But the proportion of children hospitalized with serious illnesses has not changed significantly.
The numbers can make it seem like kids are getting sicker from the delta variant, but experts say that doesn’t seem to be the case. Most infected children have mild infections or no symptoms and do not need to be hospitalized.
5:58 am: An attorney told an Idaho legislative committee that the state should adopt a health policy that sets the vaccine status in a private medical record that employees could refuse to make available to employers as a way to thwart the mandate. of President Joe Biden’s vaccination.
Attorney Christ Troupis told the legislature’s Committee on Federalism on Wednesday that such a policy would insulate employers from potential federal sanctions involving coronavirus vaccine mandates.
The committee is looking for potential legislation that can attract enough support among lawmakers to reconvene the legislature before it meets for its regular session in January.
The committee dealing with state sovereignty issues took no action, but plans to meet again on Tuesday.
5:57 am: Michigan has recorded more than 1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic.
Authorities said Wednesday the state crossed that threshold by reporting 6,079 new cases in the past two days. There have been at least 20,781 deaths in Michigan related to COVID-19, the disease that can be caused by the virus.
The state health department says that nearly 58% of eligible Michigan residents age 12 and older are fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan tells The Detroit News he’s worried another “big wave” of cases is coming this fall. He adds that due to the shortage of staff at the hospitals, “I think we are going to have a major problem in Michigan in the coming months.”
5:57 am: The Australian state of Victoria reports its largest daily increase in coronavirus cases since the pandemic began as an outbreak in the city of Melbourne continues to grow.
Melbourne police are preparing for more protests against closing the pandemic, although the situation remains relatively quiet Thursday afternoon.
Victoria reported a record 766 cases, as well as four deaths from COVID-19.
The city of Sydney in the state of New South Wales is also dealing with a large outbreak. Authorities report more than 1,000 new cases daily in the state and six deaths from COVID-19.
Victoria’s Prime Minister Daniel Andrews says the state will ease lockdown rules by the end of the month, to allow people to return from Sydney and self-quarantine at home if fully vaccinated.
5:57 am: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she does not want to use locks in the future and sees vaccines as the “golden ticket” to navigate the pandemic.
His comments came as Auckland remained in a sixth week of lockdown following an outbreak of the delta variant of the coronavirus.
New Zealand has taken an unusual zero-tolerance approach to the virus and is trying to completely eliminate the outbreak in its largest city through drastic measures, at least until vaccination rates improve. Fifteen more local broadcasts were reported Thursday.
Ardern says he sees a hopeful path in the use of vaccines alongside public health measures to prevent widespread hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19. About 62% of New Zealanders have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
5:50 am: CBRE Group Inc. says the national office vacancy rate reached 15.7 percent in the third quarter to the highest level since 1994, as people continue to work from home due to COVID-19.
The commercial real estate firm says a fourth wave has slowed the expected return to work, helping lift the vacancy rate from 15.3 percent in the latest quarter.
However, it does say that leasing activity is picking up, driven especially by demand from the tech sector, and that four of the top 10 Canadian markets saw higher occupancy.
Vancouver’s vacancy rate remains the lowest at 7.4%, while Toronto stands at 13.7% and Calgary at 30.1%.
The story is quite different on the industrial front, where vacancies are low as demand for distribution and logistics space remains at an all-time high.
CBRE says the national vacancy rate for industrial spaces was two percent in the quarter, while several markets, including Vancouver, London, the Waterloo region and Toronto, have vacancy rates of less than one percent.