Today’s Coronavirus News: Ontario to Ease Pandemic Restrictions as Vaccination Deadlines Approach; Tehran holds first public Friday prayers in nearly two years

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

6:05 am: The Iranian capital, Tehran, held its main public prayer service on Fridays for the first time in 20 months, after it stopped amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organizers said in advance that all health protocols would be followed to protect the hundreds of worshipers expected during the ceremony at the University of Tehran. Iran’s National Coronavirus Task Force, which had ordered the prayers stopped, authorized their resumption.

Public Friday prayers have been held in other cities, especially smaller towns across the country since the summer. Individual mosques have been free to hold normal services since the beginning of October.

The move comes as Tehran welcomes more than 400 Muslim scholars and religious leaders for a gathering known as the International Conference on Islamic Unity.

Tehran’s Friday community prayer was halted for 20 months over the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 124,700 people and left about 4,400 in critical condition in hospitals since February 2019. Statistics show Iran has the worst COVID-19 death rate in the Middle East.

6 am: Deadlines have passed for thousands of GTA hospital workers to prove they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and some are now on unpaid leave or facing layoff.

At the Hospital for Sick Children, 98 percent of the 8,258 hospital staff members, including 100 percent of its active physicians, are fully vaccinated.

But 145 staff members have been assigned to unpaid leaves of absence for failing to comply with the hospital’s mandatory vaccination policy or for failing to provide proof of their status, though some are still in the process of submitting the required documentation, he said. Sick Kids in an email to Estrella.

“We anticipate that the number of staff on leave of absence will decrease in the coming days,” spokeswoman Jessamine Luck said in an emailed statement.

Read the full story of Megan Ogilvie from Star.

5:50 am: Concerned that the flu and COVID-19 could unleash a winter double whammy of new infections and deaths, France is moving forward with a national vaccination and booster program against both diseases, offering simultaneous injections to millions of people at risk. .

The annual flu vaccination campaign began on Friday, four days earlier than initially planned, in line with France’s COVID-19 vaccination program which, in addition to trying to reach those who remain unvaccinated, also provides booster shots. to those who need them.

French health authorities, in instructions issued this week, urged doctors, nurses, pharmacists and midwives to “systematically promote both vaccines” among at-risk people eligible for the COVID-19 booster and flu vaccines. The note said that the blows can be given the same day, one on each arm.

He added that the start of the winter flu season with the ongoing pandemic “increases the risk of co-infection and the development of severe cases and deaths.”

5:40 am: The federal government will spend $ 7.4 billion on a renewed set of pandemic-specific supports in the months after several major aid programs expire on Saturday.

As The Star first reported Wednesday night, the Canada Response Benefit (CRB), which replaced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit last year, will end for good on October 23.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced Thursday morning that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Rental Allowance (CERS) will also officially expire on the same day.

“Our economy is recovering and we are winning the fight against COVID. However, it is also true that the recovery is uneven and that health measures that are saving lives continue to restrict some of the economic activity, “Freeland told reporters along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in front of a children’s hospital in Ottawa.

Read the full story of Star’s Raisi Patel.

5:25 am: Fully vaccinated Canadian travelers will be able to prove their status with province-issued vaccine passports that have machine-readable QR codes and the backing of the federal government, and as of November 30, they won’t be able to fly without one.

Meanwhile, Ontario residents will need the most recent version of the province’s vaccination credential to enter restaurants, gyms, concert halls and stadiums beginning Oct. 22.

Ontario began issuing the newly standardized documents last week. The Ford government said Thursday that about four million Ontario residents had already downloaded the updated proof of vaccination.

Read the full story of Tonda MacCharles from Star.

5:15 am: Amnesty International is calling for an independent parliamentary investigation into COVID-19 deaths in Italian nursing homes and reports of retaliation against nursing home staff who denounced the unsafe conditions there.

Amnesty based its findings on interviews with 34 health workers, as well as union leaders and lawyers. A third of the workers “expressed concern about a climate of fear and retaliation in their workplace,” Amnesty said in a statement on Friday.

Nursing homes in Italy, like those in other parts of Europe, the US and beyond, saw a significant share of COVID-19 deaths, and prosecutors in dozens of jurisdictions have opened criminal investigations into whether the deaths could have been prevented.

Italy was the first country in the West to be affected by the outbreak and soon found itself critically short of protective gear, masks and hospital beds, particularly in the worst-hit Lombardy region. During the first wave of contagion, many residents of nursing homes in Lombardy were not even taken to hospital because there was no place for them.

In addition to the high cost of nursing home residents, Amnesty said that some employees who complained about the lack of protective equipment or raised other concerns about unsafe working conditions at the facilities were subjected to disciplinary procedures.

5 am: Finally, a reason to wait for Monday.

Restaurants, bars and gyms may start welcoming more customers starting Monday under a long-awaited lowering of Ontario’s COVID-19 capacity limits, Star learned.

The measures are part of a “comprehensive” roadmap to be outlined Friday by Prime Minister Doug Ford and Medical Director Dr. Kieran Moore for the next phase of the province’s pandemic reopening plan, the sources said.

Reinforced by the lack of a post-Thanksgiving spike in new cases, the liberalization follows a steady easing of restrictions in recent months and will be announced as a new QR code system takes effect on Friday. for smartphones as proof of vaccination in non-essential locations.

Read the full story of Robert Benzie and Rob Ferguson from Star.

4:30 am: Taking their strongest stance yet on mandatory vaccination, Toronto police announced Thursday that officers who do not have both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of November will no longer be paid and will no longer be able to work, as “ they have become unable to perform their duties. “

Beginning November 30, any Toronto police employee who is not fully vaccinated or who has not disclosed this status will be placed on “indefinite absence without pay,” a move hailed by a doctor as a “positive step. “To protect the public, they often have no choice but to interact with officers. These employees will also not be allowed to enter Toronto Police buildings or facilities.

And, effective immediately, unvaccinated officers, a category that includes anyone who has not disclosed their status to law enforcement, are not eligible for promotion to supervisory or management positions. In the statement, Toronto Police Chief James Ramer emphasized that the COVID-19 vaccine “protects the health and safety of each of our members, our workplaces and the public we serve.”

Read the full story of Wendy Gillis from Star.

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