11:10 a.m.: Promising trial results from one-shot vaccine
10:15 a.m.: Ontario reporting 1,837 more cases, 58 deaths
5:30 a.m.: Trudeau to announce new measures to restrict travel abroad
The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update from outside his home in Ottawa on the federal government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic.
12:10 p.m. Ontario will still move ahead with mandatory COVID-19 testing of arriving international passengers at Pearson airport on Monday, a senior official says. It’s expected testing mandated by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier today won’t be in place until at least mid-February.
11:58 a.m. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that Canada will be getting fewer doses than expected from its next shipment of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.
He says that Canada will receive 180,000 doses next week, which is 78 per cent of what was expected.
He says Canada is still on track to receive two million doses of the Moderna vaccine before the end of March.
Trudeau says he also had another call with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, who said that Canada will still receive its promised four million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by the end of March.
(Updated) 11:43 a.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced all Canadian travellers returning from overseas will have to take a COVID-19 test at the airport when they land and quarantine in a designated hotel for three days at their own expense while they await results.
He says that’s expected to cost more than $2,000.
Those with negative test results will be able to then quarantine for the remainder of the mandatory two weeks at home, while those with positive tests will be required to quarantine in designated government facilities.
Canada’s main airlines will also suspend service to all Caribbean destinations and Mexico starting this Sunday until April 30.
Trudeau says it’s important to further restrict international travel as more infectious variants of COVID-19 spread around the globe.
In the coming weeks, non-essential travelers will also have to show a negative test before entry at the land border with the United States.
Trudeau also announced all international passenger flights returning must land at Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal airports.
11:10 a.m.: American pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson says its vaccine is very good at preventing people from being hospitalized or dying from COVID-19.
The vaccine is the first to use just a single dose and can be stored in a fridge for up to three months, making it a potential game changer in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign.
The results aren’t quite as good as those seen in the two vaccines Health Canada has already approved, with both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna saying their vaccines showed 95 per cent efficacy against severe illness.
Johnson and Johnson says it’s single-dose vaccine is 85 per cent effective against severe illness a month after the injection is given, and 66 per cent effective against both moderate and severe illness.
The federal government has already pre-purchased 10 million doses of the vaccine, but it is still being reviewed by Health Canada.
There is no timeline yet for when approval might come or when those doses would be delivered for use in Canada.
11 a.m.: Quebec is reporting 1,295 new COVID-19 cases and 50 more deaths linked to the novel coronavirus, including nine in the previous 24 hours.
Health authorities say hospitalizations dropped by 47, for a total of 1,217, and the number of patients in intensive care also dropped by three, to 209.
Quebec says it administered 3,071 vaccine doses Thursday and says it has used 236,057 of the 238,100 doses it has received.
The province has reported a total of 259,993 infections, 9,717 deaths linked to the virus and 235,516 recoveries from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
10:35 a.m.: Ontario is also reporting 29 more deaths among residents in long-term-care homes for a total of 3,491 since the pandemic began.
The number of long-term-care homes in outbreak remains at 229, which is 36.6 per cent of the total LTC facilities in the province.
10:30 a.m.: Ontario reports that 10,215 vaccine doses were administered since its last daily update.
As of 8 p.m. Thursday, 327,455 doses have been administered in total with 61,679 people fully vaccinated which means they have received both shots.
10:15 a.m. (updated): Ontario is reporting 1,837 additional COVID-19 cases with 58 deaths.
The seven-day average is 2,011 cases daily, or 97 weekly per 100,000. (That’s the first time the weekly average has been below 100 since Dec. 16.)
The seven-day avg for deaths is up to 53.0/day.
The labs completed 69,040 tests.
Locally, there are 595 new cases in Toronto, 295 in Peel, and 170 in York Region.
There are 51 confirmed cases of the U.K. variant of the coronavirus in Ontario.
9:41 a.m.: Ontario culture and tourism minister Lisa Macleod says it’s “far too early to speculate on how and when restrictions will be loosened” after Canada’s Wonderland announced that it planned to reopen in May.
“I’ll continue to work with large-scale attractions across the province to develop a safe reopening plan informed from advice from Ontario’s chief medical office,” Macleod tweeted out Friday morning.
Earlier on Thursday, the amusement park had sent out a “save the date” email, informing the public of its opening date on May 14.
The amusement park wasn’t able to open last year because of provincial restrictions due to the pandemic.
9:41 a.m.: South Africa is allowing the limited use of a medicine to treat COVID-19 even though regulators acknowledge there’s not enough evidence that it works or is safe for this purpose.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority this week announced the drug ivermectin could be used in exceptional circumstances. Neighboring Zimbabwe also has apparently quietly allowed use of the drug.
Ivermectin has long been used elsewhere for parasites, and interest grew when a report suggested it might inhibit the coronavirus in a lab dish. But large, definitive experiments have not been done to establish whether it’s safe or effective for treating COVID-19.
9:30 a.m.: Tanzania’s president says God has eliminated COVID-19 in his country. His own church now begs to differ.
From the local Catholic authority warning this week of a new wave of coronavirus infections, to government institutions now requiring staffers to take precautions, populist President John Magufuli is being openly questioned as the African continent fights a strong resurgence in cases and deaths.
Tanzania has tried to be an island since April, when the East African country of 60 million people stopped updating its number of virus infections at 509 cases. Some health officials who questioned Magufuli’s stance that COVID-19 had been defeated were fired. The government promoted international tourism, eager to avoid the economic pain of neighbours who imposed lockdowns and curfews.
8:42 a.m. A month after travelling to the Bahamas despite Canadian and Ontario government orders to avoid unnecessary travel, Kevin Ashe is stepping down as deputy mayor of Pickering.
On the same day, Ward 2 regional councillor Bill McLean wrote a letter to residents apologizing for his decision to also travel during the pandemic.
Ashe spoke in an official statement on Thursday of his stepson’s death by suicide two-and-a-half years ago.
“It is a profound pain that will never go away for me, my wife Karen, and our daughter Keara,” he said.
Over the holidays, Ashe and his wife went overseas to visit his stepson’s ashes and “deal with our ongoing grief. In making this decision, I believed it was a necessary one for the mental well-being of our family. But I am also aware of how this appears, recognizing that we have all been urged to stay home in an effort to contain COVID-19.”
Last week Ashe was not re-elected as chair of the Durham Region Police Services Board. He said in his letter he did not wish to be a distraction.
8:37 a.m. Johnson & Johnson said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was 66 per cent effective at protecting people from moderate to severe disease in a large clinical trial, positive results that could pave the way for its deployment across the U.S. within weeks.
The J&J vaccine also appeared to be generally safe and well tolerated among the 44,325 adults aged 18 years and older in the late-stage trial, J&J said Friday, though some of the volunteers reported side effects like fever.
The company, one of the world’s biggest health-care companies, said it would ask American regulators in early February to authorize use. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration could take action by the end of February.
If the shot gets a green light, J&J, which has been making shots to be ready should testing pan out, will be able to quickly ship millions of doses, federal officials have said. The company has said it expects to produce more than one billion doses in total this year.
8:35 a.m. Eli Lilly’s new COVID-19 treatment helped the drugmaker’s fourth-quarter profit surge even though U.S. regulators approved its use late in the quarter.
The antibody treatment bamlanivimab brought in $871 million in sales for Lilly after the Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use in November for patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19.
The one-time treatment is given through an IV and can be used for patients who are 12 and older who don’t require hospitalization.
Lilly said the U.S. government has agreed to buy nearly1.5 million doses of the drug, and 950,000 have already been delivered. Nearly all of the drug’s sales in the quarter came from the United States.
8:21 a.m. Starting next week, Ontario will force travellers arriving from other countries to be swabbed for COVID-19 and expand rapid testing in ramped-up efforts to curb the dangerous spread of more contagious variants, the Star has learned.
The mandatory tests will begin at Pearson International Airport “in a few days” before being implemented at other airline terminals taking foreign flights, and at land border crossings, a senior government official said Thursday night.
Rapid testing kits are being deployed to long-term-care homes and schools as provincial public health officials brace for the impact of the coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K. They warned the new variant could cause a spike in infections that would swamp hospitals and result in a dramatically higher death toll.
Read the full story from Rob Ferguson
7 a.m.: Spain’s health minister says that between 5 and 10 per cent of all confirmed coronavirus infections are believed to be derived from a mutation seen as responsible for the high contagion rates seen first in the United Kingdom and later in other countries.
Appearing Friday at a Congress of Deputies health commission, Carolina Darias said that so far confirmed cases of the new variant in Spain stand at 350 but that experts’ analysis showed that up to 10% of new infections could be attributed to it.
“The following weeks are crucial to see if this variant takes over … like has happened in other countries,” Darias told lawmakers.
On Thursday Spain logged nearly 35,000 new cases of the virus and 515 confirmed deaths, although the 14-day rate of infection per 100,000 residents dropped slightly for the first time in nearly a month.
6:46 a.m.: Italy’s virus czar says pharmaceutical company Moderna officially advised the government Friday that it would reduce a planned upcoming vaccine delivery to Italy by 20 per cent, fueling increasing outrage in Italy as such delays have forced the country to drastically slow down its vaccine campaign.
Domenico Arcuri expressed “stupor, concern and discomfort” at Moderna’s decision, noting that it came after both Pfizer and AstraZeneca announced similar delays in scheduled deliveries. The Italian government has formally advised Pfizer it is weighing legal action.
Arcuri said Moderna told the government its Feb. 8 deliveries would be 132,000 doses instead of a planned 166,000.
The reduced deliveries have meant that Italy’s plan to start vaccinating Italians over age 80 on a mass scale have been delayed by several weeks, and reduced by more than half the number of shots administered each day.
5:30 a.m.: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce Friday new measures aimed at further restricting international travel as more infectious variants of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spread around the globe.
Trudeau has urged Canadians for weeks not to take any non-essential trips outside the country.
And he has warned that the federal government could impose restrictions at any time that would make it harder for them to return.
He is expected to follow up those warnings today with action in time to stop an exodus of winter-weary Canadians from taking advantage of the coming March break to vacation in warmer climes.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault has been urging Ottawa to require anyone returning from abroad to quarantine for two weeks in a hotel, at their own expense.
Trudeau, who has conspicuously left the door open to that option, is expected to adopt it today.
He is also expected to announce other measures to further discourage travel abroad.
Non-essential travel into Canada by most foreign nationals has been banned since the pandemic first began sweeping across the country last March. Anyone entering the country has been required to self-quarantine for two weeks.
The federal government began beefing up those measures earlier this month.
As of Jan. 7, the government has required proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken within 72 hours of departure time, before anyone is allowed to board a flight to Canada.
5:25 a.m. New travel restrictions requiring anyone who enters Manitoba to self-isolate for 14 days start today.
Since last June, only travellers arriving from areas east of Terrace Bay in northern Ontario had been subject to the requirement.
All out-of-province arrivals are now covered by the public-health measure.
Premier Brian Pallister has said the move is needed because of the growing spread of novel coronavirus variants and delays in vaccine supplies.
There are exceptions for people travelling for essential work and medical care, and for residents of border communities who cross into Saskatchewan or Ontario for necessities.
5:20 a.m. New cases of local transmission in China are continuing to fall with just 36 announced on Friday, even as the country’s annual Lunar New Year travel push gets underway.
Authorities have taken a variety measures to discourage travel this season and far few Chinese appear willing to make the trip, even though it might be their only chance to return home and see family all year.
The northeastern province of Heilongjiang reported the largest number of new cases, 21, over the past 24 hours, followed by Jilin province just to the south. The capital Beijing and its surrounding province of Hebei both reported one new case each.
5:15 a.m. Denmark has extended restrictions that close food shops, except for grocery stores and pharmacies, schools and public gatherings of more than five people for another three weeks until the end of February.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said “we have seen how quickly the new mutation can get things out of control. Therefore, we cannot relax the restrictions. Even when we get vaccinated more, we must proceed cautiously.”
Cafes and restaurants remain closed but can still sell takeout food. Gyms, public libraries, beauty parlours and hairdressers also will remain shut until Feb. 28.
5:11 a.m. The coronavirus pandemic dragged Spain’s economic output down 11 per cent in 2020 from the previous year, according to official preliminary statistics released Friday.
The year closed with the fourth largest economy among the nations that use the euro currency shrinking for the first time after six years of continuous growth. Output grew by 2% in 2019 compared to 2018.
The economy grew in the last three months of 2020 by a meagre 0.4 per cent, mostly driven by internal consumption and investment, after a 16.4 per cent quarter-to-quarter growth from April to June. The timid growth from October to December surprised some analysts who were forecasting an imminent return to recession.
5:06 a.m. The European Medicines Agency says no new side effects linked to the coronavirus vaccine made by BioNTech and Pfizer were identified in the regulator’s first safety update on COVID-19 vaccines.
In a statement published Friday, the European regulator said its expert committee assessed reports of people who died after getting the vaccine and said their review “did not suggest a safety concern.” Earlier this month, Norwegian officials amended their vaccination advice to say that doctors should assess frail and severely ill elderly people to decide if they should be immunized.
The EMA concluded that safety data collected on the Pfizer vaccine are “consistent with the known safety profile of the vaccine” and noted that severe allergic reactions are a known, rare side effect. It said the frequency of such allergic reactions was about 11 cases per million doses in the U.S. but that there was no comparable European estimate yet.
5 a.m.: Germany’s health minister says he expects the European Union’s drug regulator to authorize a further coronavirus vaccine made by AstraZeneca on Friday, but that currently available data may mean it is not recommend for older adults.
Jens Spahn said authorities are waiting to see what advice the European Medicines Agency issues with regard to vaccinations for people over 65, and Germany would then adjust its own guidance for doctors in the country.
“We don’t expect an unrestricted approval,” Spahn told reporters in Berlin.
Questions remain about how well the AstraZeneca vaccine protects older people. Only 12% of the participants in the AstraZeneca research were over 55 and they were enrolled later, so there hasn’t been enough time to get results.
4:50 a.m. Global stock prices tumbled Friday amid worries about rising coronavirus cases, Wall Street volatility and U.S. economic aid plans.
London and Frankfurt opened lower while Shanghai and Tokyo also retreated.
Overnight, Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index gained one per cent, recovering some of its loss from the previous day’s 2.6 per cent fall after American unemployment data were better than expected. The future for the S&P fell 1.2 per cent after trading hours, denting expectations about how long that run might last.
U.S. markets were roiled by a spate of trading by small investors of video game vendor GameStop that hurt hedge funds that bet the stock would fall.
Friday 4 a.m.: A World Health Organization team on Friday visited a hospital where China says the first COVID-19 patients were treated more than a year ago as part of the experts’ long-awaited fact-finding mission on the origins of the coronavirus.
The WHO team members and Chinese officials earlier had their first in-person meetings at a hotel, which WHO has said were to be followed by field visits in the central city of Wuhan.
“First face to face meeting with our colleagues. Correction: facemask to facemask given the medical restrictions,” Dutch virologist Marion Koopmans tweeted around 9:30 a.m. (0130 GMT).
“Discussing our visiting program. China teamleader prof Wannian joking about some technical glitches. Nice to see our colleagues after lengthy Zoom meetings,” Koopman tweeted, referring apparently to top Chinese epidemiologist Liang Wannian, who has been a leader of China’s response team.
Members of the team later left the hotel by car, a short time later entering the gates of the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine, where, according to China’s official account of its response to the initial outbreak, doctor Zhang Jixian, first reported cases of what was then known as “pneumonia of unknown origin” on Dec. 27, 2019.
Thursday 7:47 p.m. There have been 766,103 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, 689,419 of them resolved and 19,664 resulting in deaths), according to The Canadian Press. The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers.
There were 4,877 new cases Thursday from 92,645 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 5.3 per cent. The rate of active cases is 151.69 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 34,653 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 4,950.
There were 131 new reported deaths Thursday.
Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,042 new reported deaths.
The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 149. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 52.31 per 100,000 people.
There have been 17,290,560 tests completed.
Click here to read more of Thursday’s COVID-19 coverage.