Ontario and New Brunswick are rolling out vaccine passport systems on Wednesday that require people who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine to show proof of vaccination before entering non-essential indoor spaces.
The programs will require people who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines to show proof of vaccination at non-essential businesses where large numbers of people gather, including dine-in restaurants, gyms, sports events and clubs.
Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical officer, urged people to be patient as workers and businesses adjust to the new requirement. The top doctor said he hopes the new system will help boost vaccination rates — particularly among 20 to 39-year-olds, who currently have the highest rate of infection in Ontario.
Proof-of-vaccination systems are becoming more common across Canada, as governments work to boost vaccination rates amid increasing COVID-19 numbers. The systems, however, are not without controversy — some view them as an infringement on individual rights, others argue that the systems put undue burdens on businesses that have already been hit hard by pandemic closures and ever-changing regulations.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has said he understands that some people are concerned that their civil liberties are being infringed upon. But he said the greater concern is experiencing a sudden surge in infections and having to lock down the province again.
The systems put in place by officials in Ontario and New Brunswick allow for medical exemptions for people with documentation from their health-care provider.
–From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7 a.m. ET
What’s happening in Canada
- B.C. resumes notifying parents about COVID-19 school exposures after outcry.
Hospitalizations rising in B.C. as province records 525 new cases Tuesday and 1 more death.
Alberta reports 1,519 new COVID-19 cases and 29 deaths.
How much ventilation makes a Manitoba school safe? Experts say it’s a moving target.
N.W.T. reports 27 new cases of COVID-19.
What’s happening around the world
As of early Wednesday morning, more than 229.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.
In the Asia-Pacific region, officials in the northeast China city of Harbin say national level health officials have been sent to the city to deal with what may be a coronavirus outbreak. The city of 9.5 million people reported three infection cases Wednesday, a day after discovering a first case of community transmission.
After the initial finding, authorities started mass testing and closed schools. The city also ordered businesses like mahjong parlours, cinemas and gyms to shut. City authorities say residents must display a negative virus test to be able to leave for only essential travel. Otherwise, people are being told to stay home.
In Europe, the European Commission has signed a joint procurement contract with U.S. drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. for the supply of a monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19, the EU executive arm said in a statement.
In the Middle East, as coronavirus infections plummet and vaccinations accelerate in the United Arab Emirates, authorities have loosened a long-standing face mask mandate.
The Gulf Arab sheikhdom said Wednesday that residents no longer need to wear masks while exercising outdoors or visiting beaches and pools in the country. Those who receive medical or beauty treatments may also forgo the mask. However, face masks will still be required in indoor spaces like shopping malls and public transportation.
In the Americas, Brazil reported 485 new deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, bringing the total toll from the coronavirus in the country to 591,440, the health ministry said on Tuesday.
The ministry said it had revised down by 573 the number of infections since the pandemic began, which lowered the total cases to 21,247,094.
In Africa, South Africa on Tuesday reported 2,197 new cases of COVID-19 and 160 additional deaths.
-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 7:10 a.m. ET