Today’s Coronavirus News: Citing High Vaccination Rates, Danes End COVID-19 Restrictions; AstraZeneca Vaccine Creator Says Mass Boosts May Be Unnecessary

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

6:56 am: Statistics Canada will tell you this morning how the country’s job market fared in August, a month after posting a profit in July.

CIBC Senior Economist Royce Mendes says there appears to be room for job growth in high-touch services that posted gains in July.

He says in a note that he expects a gain of 50,000 jobs in August.

Last month, the agency said the country added 94,000 jobs in July as public health restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic continued to be lifted.

July’s job increase lowered the national unemployment rate to 7.5 percent from 7.8 percent in June, reaching its lowest level since last March.

Overall, the country in July had 246,400 jobs, or 1.3 percent, below pre-pandemic employment levels seen in February 2020.

6:20 am: In his strongest pandemic words and actions, United States President Joe Biden ordered sweeping new federal vaccine requirements for up to 100 million Americans, private sector employees, as well as federal healthcare workers and contractors, in an all-out effort to curb the growing delta variant of COVID-19.

Speaking at the White House on Thursday, Biden harshly criticized the tens of millions of Americans who are not yet vaccinated, despite months of availability and incentives.

“We have been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost us all, ”he said, almost biting his words. The unvaccinated minority “can do a lot of harm, and it is.”

Republican leaders, as well as some union bosses, said Biden was going too far in trying to strengthen private companies and workers, a sure sign of the legal challenges ahead.

6:17 am: Booster shots to extend protection from COVID-19 vaccines may be unnecessary for many people, a leading scientist behind the AstraZeneca vaccine said Friday.

Oxford University professor Sarah Gilbert told The Telegraph newspaper that the vaccine’s immunity held up well, even against the delta variant. While the elderly and the immunosuppressed may need boosters, the standard two-dose regimen provides long-lasting protection for most people, he said.

“We will analyze each situation; the immunosuppressed and the elderly will be boosted, ” he said. “But I don’t think we need to push everyone. Immunity lasts well in most people. “

The comments come as the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, a panel of experts advising the British government, is expected to make recommendations in the coming days on the scale of any booster program. The British medical regulator said on Thursday that the vaccines Pfizer and AstraZeneca were safe to use as boosters.

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said he expects a booster program to start later this month.

Gilbert said the global priority should be to get more vaccines to countries that have received limited supplies.

6:16 am: After 548 days with restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19, Denmark’s high vaccination rate has allowed the Scandinavian country to become one of the first nations in the European Union to lift all internal restrictions.

The return to normality has been gradual, but as of Friday the digital pass – proof of having been vaccinated – is no longer required to enter nightclubs, which makes it the last virus shelter to fall.

More than 80% of people over the age of 12 have received both injections.

“I wouldn’t say it’s too early. We have opened the door, but we have also said that we can close it if necessary, ”Soeren Riis Paludan, a professor of virology at the University of Aarhus in Denmark’s second-largest city, told The Associated Press.

As of midnight, the Danish government no longer considers COVID-19 a “socially critical disease”. Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on August 27 that “the epidemic is under control” but warned: “We are not out of the epidemic” and the government will act when necessary.

6:15 am: The US Department of Education has announced a new grant program for schools with state funding withheld for challenging state mask policies.

The measure aims to push back the governors of Iowa, South Carolina and other states trying to stop schools from requiring masks between students and teachers. Some states, including Florida, have withheld the salaries of school leaders who have demanded masks in defiance of state orders.

Those schools will soon be able to apply for federal grants under Project SAFE to make up for any loss of money due to the implementation of public health measures supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona says that school officials should be thanked, not punished, for taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and “this program will allow them to continue that fundamental work of keeping students safe. “.

The money will come from an existing pool of federal funds that the Department of Education can use for a variety of student safety initiatives. The agency says it will invite districts to run in the coming weeks.

6:15 am: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that starting next week, the state’s indoor mask mandate will be expanded to include outdoor events with 500 or more attendees, regardless of vaccination status.

The new requirement, which takes effect Monday, comes days after similar outdoor mask mandates went into effect in the state’s two most populous counties, King and Pierce, due to rising COVID-19 cases.

Since August 23, an indoor mask mandate has been established in Washington, regardless of vaccination status. Last month, Oregon was the first state to reinstate a statewide mask requirement for outdoor public areas where people are close together.

6:15 am: Sri Lanka is extending a lockdown for another week as it battles a surge in COVID-19.

The COVID-19 committee chaired by President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa decided on Friday to extend the lockdown that was to end on Monday until September 21, said presidential spokesman Kingsly Rathnayaka.

The shutdown was first imposed on August 20. During that period, the government has allowed export-related factories to operate and agricultural work to be carried out, in addition to essential services such as health, food distribution, communications and energy.

Doctors and unions have warned that hospitals and morgues have reached full capacity during the ongoing surge caused by the delta variant of the coronavirus.

Sri Lanka has confirmed 474,870 cases and 10,689 deaths from the pandemic.

6:15 am: The United States is doubling the fine for people who violate the rule requiring masks on planes, trains, and other forms of public transportation to slow the spread of COVID-19, and President Joe Biden warned Thursday that violators must “be ready to pay. “

First-time offenders would face a possible fine of $ 500 to $ 1,000 and second-time offenders could pay $ 1,000 to $ 3,000 under rules that the Transportation Security Administration said will go into effect Friday.

The fine currently starts at $ 250 and can go up to $ 1,500 for repeat offenders.

“If you break the rules, be prepared to pay,” Biden said, announcing the increase during a speech outlining federal vaccine requirements.

6:15 am: Daily reported coronavirus cases in Egypt have exceeded 400 for the first time in months.

The Health Ministry reported 413 cases and 12 deaths during the last 24 hours on Friday. Daily cases have skyrocketed in recent weeks since the most contagious delta variant was detected in the country in July.

The latest increase is alarming for the Egyptian authorities, as schools are scheduled to open their doors for face-to-face classes next week.

Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world with 100 million inhabitants, has reported 291,585 cases, including 16,836 deaths from the pandemic. However, the actual numbers are believed to be much higher as health authorities have conducted limited testing.

6:15 am: Emergency room nurse Jaime Gallaher recalls the emotional toll of a verbal attack he recently faced from a woman in a grocery store after another grueling workday.

“My eyes were still red from crying for the past two hours and she just insulted me,” Gallaher said after protests outside the Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, BC. the grocery store.”

Experts are expressing concern about “moral damage” among health workers who were suddenly attacked after several provinces brought vaccine passports.

Gallaher said he had spent two more hours at work to avoid protesters on the same day last week when other hospitals in British Columbia and other parts of Canada were dealing with demonstrations.

“We were making some life and death decisions around the allocation of beds. On that specific day, of all days, we had two young patients in our department who were waiting for ICU beds for two days, but they couldn’t get them because the ICU was full of unvaccinated COVID patients, “he said.

“One of our patients died upon emerging, behind a curtain with his family, which was heartbreaking because that should never happen. They had no privacy to cry. “

Gallaher said that while protesters have a voice, the demonstration could be heard in the emergency room and was a “slap in the face.” They could have protested in a park or other public place, he added.

Read the full story from Canadian Press.

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