As Manitoba battles the highest COVID-19 infection rate per capita in Canada, the province’s premier is repeating his calls for the U.S. government to send its unused COVID-19 vaccine doses north of the border.
Premier Brian Pallister on Saturday said the province was working on a plan to get thousands of surplus shots from North Dakota sent to Manitoba, but it was “kiboshed” by the White House, which needs to approve such requests.
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Earlier this month, U.S. President Joe Biden said by July 4, the U.S. would share about 10 per cent of its supply with other countries.
“Thus far, President Biden has said no. I say, ‘Let’s go, Joe.’ The right answer is yes. We need your help, and we need it now,” Pallister said.
The federal government will be sending 50 additional contact tracers to Manitoba, Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne said in a tweet Saturday.
We are responding to the request for assistance from <a href=”https://twitter.com/BrianPallister?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@BrianPallister</a> and <a href=”https://twitter.com/StatCan_eng?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@StatCan_eng</a> and will be providing 50 additional contact tracers to assist Manitoba. We now have 120 contact tracers assisting the province. <a href=”https://t.co/DwfGnEDSUY”>https://t.co/DwfGnEDSUY</a>
Pallister’s comments came as the province reported 476 new cases and six new deaths on Saturday, including what appears to be the first person in Manitoba to die after contracting the P1 coronavirus variant associated with Brazil.
There are now 298 COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the province, including 74 in intensive care units.
Meanwhile, Canada’s race toward widespread COVID-19 immunity reached a milestone on Saturday, as numbers showed half the national population has received at least one dose of vaccine to protect against the pandemic’s coronavirus.
Canada edged ahead of the United States in its proportion of inoculations on Thursday, when just over 48 per cent of Americans had received their first dose.
Federal figures show an average of about 330,000 Canadians joined those in the vaccinated group each day over the past week.
Despite the progress, CBC’s vaccination tracker and federal figures show that less than five per cent of the national population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
What’s happening in Canada and around the world
As of 7 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 1,355,765 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 55,277 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 25,203.
Ontario reported 1,794 new cases and 20 new deaths on Saturday. Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 continue to decline, with 1,207 patients hospitalized across the province, including 706 in the ICU, according to provincial data.
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Quebec reported 505 new cases on Saturday — its lowest single-day increase since Sept. 23 — along with seven new deaths.
New Brunswick reported two new COVID-19 cases on Saturday. The update came a day after the province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, announced that a second person in the province has died from a rare blood clot associated with the AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine.
Nova Scotia reported 64 new cases and one new death, while Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new cases. Prince Edward Island had yet to provide an update.
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In the North, Nunavut on Saturday reported one new case of COVID-19. There are 39 active cases in the territory — 38 in Iqaluit and one in Kinngait, Premier Joe Savikataaq tweeted. Yukon and the Northwest Territories had not yet provided updated figures for the day.
Saskatchewan reported 180 new cases and two new deaths on Saturday, while Alberta recorded 621 cases and six new deaths.
British Columbia on Friday reported 420 new cases and six related deaths.
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday afternoon, more than 166.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, a tracking dashboard from U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University said. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.4 million.
India’s capital New Delhi will start relaxing its strict pandemic lockdown next week if new cases of COVID-19 continue to drop, its chief minister said on Sunday.
The nation on Sunday reported 240,842 new infections nationwide over 24 hours — the lowest number of daily new cases in more than a month. It also reported 3,741 more deaths from the illness.
For weeks, India has battled a devastating second wave of COVID-19 that has crippled its health system and led to shortages of oxygen supplies.
New Delhi, one of the worst-hit cities, went into lockdown on April 20, but new cases have declined in recent weeks and the test positivity rate has fallen under 2.5 per cent, compared to 36 per cent last month, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.
“If cases continue to drop for a week, then from May 31 we will start the process of unlocking,” Kejriwal told a news conference.
In Taiwan, officials reported another 457 locally transmitted cases of COVID-19 and six more deaths from the disease on Sunday, according to the local epidemic command centre.
Taiwan is in the midst of its worst outbreak since the onset of the pandemic. The total number of confirmed cases on the island has risen to 4,322, including 23 deaths, the centre said.
Chen Tsung-yen, deputy head of the centre, confirmed that the current Level 3 alert will be extended until May 28.
Under the island’s four-tiered alert system, Level 3 requires people to wear masks at all times when they leave their homes, prohibits indoor gatherings of more than five people, and limits outdoor gatherings to 10 people.