Officials in British Columbia outlined the province’s plans Thursday to have all kids in school full time in September. For the most part, students in the province stayed in classrooms throughout the past school year, with a number of safety measures, like distancing, masks and handwashing stations in place.
Many of those measures are expected to be continued in the fall.
“Guidance on mask-wearing in school settings will be confirmed later this summer and will align with broader provincial direction,” said B.C. Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside. “What will remain the same is that we will expect students and staff to continue to complete daily health checks, stay home when they feel sick and practice diligent hand hygiene.”
WATCH | Whiteside on what will be different this fall:
More than 50 per cent of kids aged 12 to 17 years old in B.C. have already received their first dose of vaccine and the province expects all eligible British Columbians will have the opportunity to receive a second dose by September.
While most students will return to full in-class learning, online learning programs will remain available for students.
But provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry emphasized that “being in school is about more than education,” pointing to the social benefits. “We know it is about social, physical, emotional and mental health as well, and it is so, so important.”
The province is providing $43.6 million to support ongoing health and safety measures, First Nations and Métis students, mental health services, rapid response teams and to address learning impacts of the pandemic on students.
British Columbia reported 120 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and one death.
What’s happening across Canada
WATCH | New guidance on AstraZeneca vaccines:
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) is now recommending provinces stop administering the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in most cases — even as booster shots for people who’ve already received first doses of it.
All provinces ended the use of AstraZeneca for first doses in early May. But many continued to offer it for second doses.
NACI said Thursday that people who already have had two doses of AstraZeneca “can rest assured that the vaccine provides good protection against infection and very good protection against severe disease and hospitalization.”
As of 8:25 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had reported 1,406,262 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 13,449 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 26,012. More than 30.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered so far across the country, according to CBC’s vaccine tracker.
In Atlantic Canada on Thursday, Nova Scotia reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 while Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case. New Brunswick had four new cases, while officials in Prince Edward Island had not reported any new cases as of Thursday evening.
WATCH | Doctor reassures people who have received AstraZeneca doses:
Ontario on Thursday reported seven additional deaths and 370 new cases of COVID-19, as Quebec reported one additional death and 161 new cases of COVID-19.
Across the North, there were no new cases of COVID-19 reported in Nunavut or the Northwest Territories on Thursday, while Yukon reported nine new cases.
In the Prairie provinces on Thursday, Manitoba reported one additional death and 183 new cases of COVID-19. The province hopes to have everyone aged 12 and up eligible for second doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of next week.
Saskatchewan health officials reported 94 new cases on Thursday, and no related deaths. The province says 69 per cent of Saskatchewan adults have received their first dose of vaccine. If 70 per cent of adults get their first vaccine by this Sunday, then the province will be able to proceed with the third stage of its reopening road map on July 11.
In neighbouring Alberta, health officials reported 150 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and two more deaths. A doctor at a Calgary hospital says two deaths in patients confirmed to have had the delta variant of COVID-19 should act as a dire warning to people who are choosing not to get vaccinated, or to only receive one dose.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 9:15 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of Thursday evening, a database of COVID-19 cases showed more than 177.2 million cases reported worldwide. The Johns Hopkins University tracker put the reported global death toll at more than 3.8 million.
Japan on Thursday announced the easing of a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and six other areas from next week, with new daily cases falling just as the country begins final preparations for the upcoming Olympics.
Japan has been struggling since late March to slow a wave of infections propelled by more contagious variants, with new daily cases soaring above 7,000 at one point and seriously ill patients straining hospitals in Tokyo, Osaka and other metropolitan areas.
Daily cases have since subsided significantly, paving the way for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to downgrade the state of emergency when it expires on Sunday to less-stringent measures. The new measures will last until July 11 — just 12 days before the Games.
In the Americas, Costa Rican health authorities said that after studying the available clinical studies they had decided to reject the delivery of Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine for the time being, saying it was not effective enough.
In Africa, some of the poorest countries in the world are seeing a two-headed crisis: a surge in COVID-19 cases and a critical shortage of vaccine. Fears are running high in African nations such as Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda.
In Europe, the U.K. has recorded more than 10,000 daily coronavirus infections for the first time in nearly four months, likely the result of the spread of the more contagious delta variant. Government figures on Thursday reported 11,007 daily cases, the highest daily amount since Feb. 19.
In Portugal, travel in and out of the Lisbon metropolitan area is to be banned over coming weekends, as authorities respond to a spike in new COVID-19 cases in the region around the capital, officials announced Thursday.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesia’s president has ordered authorities to speed up the country’s vaccination campaign as the World Health Organization warned of the need to increase social restrictions amid a fresh surge of coronavirus cases in the country.
“We need vaccination acceleration in order to achieve communal immunity, which we hope can stop the COVID-19 spread,” President Joko Widodo said Thursday while visiting a vaccination centre near Jakarta.
In the Middle East, Bahrain approved the emergency use for regn-cov2 medicine, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ and Roche’s newly authorized COVID-19 antibody combination, as part of its coronavirus treatment protocol to treat existing cases with mild and moderate symptoms.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 9:15 p.m. ET
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