Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world Wednesday

The latest:

Alberta has given first doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than half of its eligible population and new case numbers are trending downward — but the test positivity rate is still too high, the province’s top doctor says.

Health officials in Alberta reported 877 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths on Tuesday. Hospitalizations stood at 691, with 187 people in ICU.

Case numbers are declining, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, but she cautioned that there’s still more to do.

“Our positivity rate currently stands at about 11.4 per cent, and despite lower daily case numbers [it] has remained at this high levels for weeks,” Hinshaw said at a briefing.

At this time last year, the province’s positivity rate was around 1.5 per cent, Hinshaw said, noting that the difference “emphasizes why public health measures are still needed right now.”

More than 2.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, Hinshaw said, adding that the province is looking at when it can begin offering second doses.

In neighbouring Saskatchewan, which reported 129 new cases and three additional deaths on Tuesday, officials have released a “tentative guideline” outlining when people will be able to book second doses

The province noted the plan — which is currently allowing people who were vaccinated on or before Feb. 15 and those aged 85 and up to book second doses — could change “due to vaccine eligibility.”

From CBC News, last updated at 7 a.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Quebec to start lifting COVID-19 restrictions May 28: 

Quebec has announced its plan to lift its COVID-19 restrictions starting on May 28 with the end of its curfew, opening patios and allowing outdoor gatherings. 2:27

As of early Tuesday morning, Canada had reported 1,338,141 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 64,742 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 25,018. 

In Atlantic Canada on Tuesday, Nova Scotia reported 90 new cases of COVID-19, with 64 of the cases in the central zone that includes Halifax.

New Brunswick reported 10 new cases of COVID-19, while Newfoundland and Labrador reported six new cases. There were two new cases reported in Prince Edward Island, where officials announced on Tuesday they would resume processing applications from seasonal residents and people who are looking to reunify with family.

Quebec, which offered details for a staggered reopening plan on Tuesday, reported 549 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths.

WATCH | Advice on COVID-19 vaccines for kids raises questions about 2nd doses:

The National Advisory Council on Immunization has recommended people over 12 can receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, but it’s sparked questions about whether vulnerable people should get a second shot before kids get their first. 2:04

In Ontario, health officials reported 1,616 new cases of COVID-19 and 17 additional deaths on Tuesday. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 1,484, with 764 people in ICU due to COVID-19.

Manitoba reported 335 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and one additional death.

Across the North, Nunavut reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. There were no new cases reported in Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

In British Columbia, health officials reported 411 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and two additional deaths.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7 a.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

A medical worker checks the equipment and beds inside a hospital ward which will be used in treating COVID-19 patients at a district hospital in Siliguri, India. (Dipetndu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Wednesday morning, more than 164.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a coronavirus tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 3.4 million.

In the Asia-Pacific region,  India has set another record for daily COVID-19 fatalities even as infections dipped further.

The Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 4,529 deaths in the last 24 hours, driving the overall toll to 283,248. India also confirmed 267,334 new infections, as daily cases dropped below 300,000 for the third consecutive day. Both numbers are almost certainly undercounts.

India’s vaccination drive is also faltering just at the time when it is needed the most. The number of daily vaccine doses has fallen by about half over the last six weeks, from a high of 4 million a day on April 2 to around daily 2 million or fewer this week.

In Africa, Sudan will restrict all travellers who have visited India within the prior two weeks.

In Europe, the French government is lifting restrictions incrementally to stave off a resurgence of COVID-19 and to give citizens back some of their signature “joie de vivre.” As part of the plan’s first stage, France’s 7 p.m. nightly curfew was pushed back to 9 p.m. and museums, theaters and cinemas reopened along with outdoor cafe terraces.

WATCH | Cafés, theatres and museums reopen in France: 

France lifts some COVID-19 restrictions after a six-month shutdown as new cases drop and vaccination rates increase. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus) 3:11

“Let’s get used to try and live together,” President Emmanuel Macron told reporters from a café. “If we manage to get well organized collectively and continue vaccinating, have a common discipline as citizens, there’s no reason why we can’t continue moving forward.”

In the Americas, vaccinated New Yorkers can shed their masks in most situations as of Wednesday; restaurants, shops, gyms and many other businesses can go back to full occupancy if all patrons are inoculated. 

Midnight curfews for bars and restaurants will be gone by month’s end. Broadway tickets recently went back on sale. City residents have mixed views about whether the city is getting back to normal or whether normal is even possible anymore.

Mexico, meanwhile, is mounting a final push to get all of the country’s three million school teachers vaccinated so it can reopen schools, perhaps by the second half of June.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday that getting kids back into classrooms is an urgent necessity, as much for their social development as anything else. “School is like a second home, and we need all students at all levels to return to in-person classes,” he said. 

A health worker applies a dose of China’s CanSino COVID-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination for teachers and school staff in Mexico City on Tuesday. (Edgard Garrido/Reuters)

Officials estimate 2.1 million teachers at private and public schools have already been vaccinated, and hope to inject almost 520,000 this week and a similar number in the last week of May.

In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates will offer a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine from China’s state-owned drugmaker Sinopharm at least six months after the initial two doses.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 8:55 a.m. ET

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