- Mexico has world’s most health worker deaths from the coronavirus, according to Amnesty International.
- U.S. CDC asks states to prepare to distribute potential coronavirus vaccine to high-risk groups as soon as late October.
- Trudeau says CERB payments delayed due to ‘hiccups’ caused by program extension.
- Ottawa, Manitoba announce $400,000 for Western Canada’s first personal protective equipment (PPE) testing facility.
- Brazil passes four million coronavirus cases, Health Ministry says.
- South African health-care workers protest working conditions, allege corruption in PPE purchase.
- Thailand reports its first local transmission in more than 100 days.
- South Korea vows to double its critical-care hospital beds as COVID-19 resurgence strains system.
- Quebec City karaoke night outbreak now linked to 10 secondary cases, including three in schools.
- India reports record daily jump of 83,883 coronavirus infections, taking its tally to 3.85 million.
More health workers have died from the coronavirus in Mexico than in any other country, Amnesty International said on Thursday, highlighting the high toll the pandemic has taken on front-line medical staff around the globe.
At least 7,000 health workers around the world have died after becoming infected with the coronavirus, including 1,320 in Mexico, Amnesty said.
Other countries with high mortality rates include the United States, Brazil and India, where health worker death tolls stand at 1,077 in the U.S., 634 in Brazil and 573 in India.
“Many months into the pandemic, health workers are still dying at horrific rates in countries such as Mexico, Brazil and the U.S.A.,” said Steve Cockburn, head of economic and social justice at Amnesty International.
“There must be global co-operation to ensure all health workers are provided with adequate protective equipment, so they can continue their vital work without risking their own lives.”
A Reuters analysis of Mexican government data in August found that the health-care workers’ risk of dying in Mexico is four times higher than in the U.S. and eight times higher than in Brazil.
The U.S., Brazil and India have registered the highest number of overall deaths and confirmed cases. Between them, they have recorded more than 14 million coronavirus cases and almost 387,000 deaths, according to Reuters data.
Mexico has registered more than 610,000 cases and more than 66,000 deaths. Its government earlier this week said 102,494 health workers had contracted coronavirus, and the death toll had climbed to 1,378.
On Thursday, Mexico reported 5,937 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections and 513 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 616,894 cases and 66,329 deaths.
Amnesty called for more help for workers, citing Brazil as an example of a place where health professionals complain about the lack of protective equipment.
“Throughout the pandemic, governments have hailed health workers as heroes, but this rings hollow when so many workers are dying from a lack of basic protection,” Cockburn said.
What’s happening with coronavirus in Canada
As of 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 130,491 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 115,444 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,180.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is blaming processing “hiccups” for the fact that many Canadians are reporting delays in receiving their Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) payments.
Many people who rely on the $2,000 monthly benefit to cover food, rent and bills amid the pandemic are expressing anxiety and frustration on social media over being forced to wait longer to see the money deposited in their accounts.
Many also have said they haven’t been able to get clear answers from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) about the delays.
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Trudeau was asked for an explanation during an interview Thursday with VOCM News in St. John’s.
“We’re working through some of the challenges because there was an extension. There might be a couple little hiccups, but we have said from the beginning we’d be there for Canadians and we will continue to be there for them,” he said.
Many CERB claimants applied for the monthly benefit Monday and were expecting the deposit within one or two days, as has been the delivery pattern in past months. The CRA did not offer an explanation for the slower pace of payments but said the money is on the way.
In Quebec, a karaoke night at a bar has been linked to a growing number of cases of COVID-19, including several at local schools, and there are reports the bar’s customers flouted isolation orders while waiting for their test results.
Public health officials in Quebec City said Wednesday they have traced 10 secondary cases of COVID-19 back to Bar Kirouac, on top of the original 40 linked to a karaoke night there on Aug. 23.
“We’re pretty sure that three positive cases, namely children, got the virus from somebody who was celebrating something at this bar,” said Dr. Jacques Girard, who heads the Quebec City public health authority.
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There are six schools in the Quebec City region that have reported cases of coronavirus, three of which are connected to Bar Kirouac, he said.
The owners of La Gamelle, another Quebec City bar that offers karaoke nights, said they have temporarily closed their establishment after learning they served two customers from Bar Kirouac who should have been in self-isolation on Saturday and Sunday.
Those two customers visited La Gamelle after learning they may have been infected at Bar Kirouac and while they were waiting for their test results — which ultimately came back positive.
The developments come as public health authorities in Quebec City deal with a recent spike in coronavirus cases. On Wednesday, Quebec’s health ministry reported 23 new cases in Quebec City — down from Tuesday’s increase of 31, but still considerably higher than the relative trickle of new cases over the past two months.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
According to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases is now more than 26.1 million. More than 866,000 people have died while 17.4 million have recovered.
Brazil‘s confirmed cases passed the four million mark, the Health Ministry reported on Thursday.
The country registered 4,041,638 cases, up from 3,997,865 yesterday. Total deaths rose to 124,614 from 123,780 the day before.
Health-care workers in South Africa on Thursday protested against poor working conditions and urged the government to end corruption in the purchase of COVID-19 PPE.
The protesters gathered in Pretoria and Cape Town, charging that the lives of health-care workers are endangered as some health facilities have inadequate supplies of protective equipment like surgical masks.
The union leading the demonstrations, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union, has threatened that its 200,000 public workers will go on strike on Sept. 10 if their issues are not addressed.
Although the number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 has decreased, South Africa is still reporting more than 2,000 new cases per day. The country has recorded 630,595 positive cases of COVID-19, the highest in Africa, and the sixth-highest in the world.
Israel will impose a partial national lockdown next week to battle a surge of new cases, the head of its pandemic task force said on Thursday, in an emotional television address.
The health official, Ronni Gamzu, said Israel was facing a “pivotal moment” in trying to contain the spread of COVID-19, with some 3,000 new cases now reported daily in a population of nine million.
Other health experts have said political in-fighting among members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government has led to a slow response to a second wave of cases after a national lockdown flattened the infection curve in May.
“Please, no weddings now, no mass gatherings … anywhere,” Gamzu, his voice rising to a shout, implored on TV. “There are cities in Israel that will be put under curfew and closure in the coming week and face economic, social and personal hardship.”
He spoke after Netanyahu’s “coronavirus cabinet” approved on Thursday a lockdown of so-called red towns with high infection rates.
About 30 communities, mainly with Arab or ultra-Orthodox populations, have already been put in that category.
Israel has 122,799 confirmed coronavirus cases and 976 deaths.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has asked state public health officials to prepare to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine to high-risk groups as soon as late October, according to documents published by the agency.
The timing has taken on political importance as U.S. President Donald Trump seeks re-election on Nov. 3, after committing billions of federal dollars to develop vaccines for COVID-19, which has killed more than 186,000 people in the U.S.
Pfizer Inc. said on Thursday it should know by the end of October whether a COVID-19 vaccine it is developing with German partner BioNTech SE is safe and effective.
The U.S. drugmaker said it will seek approval immediately if trial results are positive. It has already manufactured hundreds of thousands of doses.
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South Korea, scrambling to control a second wave of COVID-19, vowed on Thursday to double its critical-care hospital beds amid a severe shortage, highlighting the strain of the pandemic on even well-equipped countries.
The spike in serious cases, as older people make up an increasing proportion of patients within a broader resurgence, marks a sharp turn for a country that was seen as successful in crushing one of the early outbreaks of the novel coronavirus outside China.
Fewer than 10 intensive-care beds were available as of Tuesday in the greater Seoul area, a metropolis of 26 million people, health authorities said. Officials do not give daily numbers, which can fluctuate widely.
The Health Ministry said it will spend 100 billion won ($110 million Cdn) to acquire 500 beds for severely ill patients nationwide by the middle of next year, aiming to secure at least 110 by the end of the month.
India reported another record daily jump of 83,883 coronavirus infections on Thursday, taking its tally to 3.85 million, just 100,000 behind Brazil, the world’s second-most-affected nation, health ministry data showed.
Asia’s worst-hit country has been posting the world’s largest daily caseload every day for almost a month, although deaths remain relatively low. The ministry said 1,043 people died from COVID-19, taking the toll to 67,376.
A prison inmate in Thailand has tested positive for the coronavirus in the country’s first confirmed locally transmitted case in 100 days, health officials said Thursday.
They identified the inmate as a 37-year-old man arrested on drug charges who was brought to prison in Bangkok on Aug. 26 and tested positive Wednesday at the prison’s health centre.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Wednesday had congratulated the nation for having achieved 100 days without any confirmed local cases of the coronavirus.
Dr. Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director-general of the Health Ministry’s Disease Control Department, stressed that the infected man had been kept in a small group of quarantined inmates in a standard procedure to limit the possible spread of the virus.
In Australia, a pregnant woman said Thursday she didn’t know she had broken any law when she was handcuffed by police in front of her children in her home and led away in her pajamas for allegedly inciting activists to demonstrate against pandemic lockdown.
Zoe Buhler’s partner helped her livestream the arrest on Wednesday at her home where she lives with two children, aged three and four, in the city of Ballarat in Victoria state. The video has been viewed millions of times.
The 28-year-old has since been charged with using social media platforms to incite others to break pandemic restrictions by attending weekend rallies.
Victoria is Australia’s COVID-19 hot spot and its capital, Melbourne, has been under lockdown restrictions unprecedented in Australia since early August. The state on Thursday reported 113 new infections and 15 deaths in the latest 24-hour period.