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.”
Manitoba offered some details around second doses on Wednesday, saying it would begin booking appointments for priority groups as of Friday.
–From CBC News, last updated at 11:30 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
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As of 12:40 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had reported 1,340,325 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 63,018 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 25,045.
Ontario on Wednesday reported 1,588 new cases of COVID-19 and 19 additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 1,401, with 735 in ICU due to COVID-related illness.
In Quebec, which unveiled its staggered reopening plan on Tuesday, health officials reported 584 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and eight additional deaths.
Across the North on Wednesday, Nunavut reported four new cases of COVID-19. Health officials in Yukon and the Northwest Territories had not yet provided updated figures for the day.
In Atlantic Canada on Wednesday, Prince Edward Island reported five new cases of COVID-19, while Newfoundland and Labrador reported three new cases. Health officials in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick had not yet provided updates for the day.
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Manitoba reported 335 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and one additional death.
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 12:40 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of early Wednesday afternoon, more than 1643 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 four million a day on April 2 to around a daily count of two million or fewer this week.
Nepal and Bangladesh are making frantic diplomatic efforts to secure COVID-19 vaccines as stocks run out amid India’s prolonged curb on vaccine exports.
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:
“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.
Argentina reported a record one-day death toll on Tuesday.
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.
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 12:40 p.m. ET