The latest on the coronavirus pandemic for August 9

Canada·Coronavirus Brief

The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for August 6th.

A Canadian border guard directs a motorist at the Rainbow International Bridge border crossing in Niagara Falls, Ont., on Monday. Canada began allowing fully vaccinated Americans to enter the country without a quarantine period as part of an easing of COVID-19 restrictions on travellers. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Fully vaccinated Americans line up at land border points for long-awaited Canadian trips

Fully vaccinated Americans who arrived at land border points of entry on Monday were allowed to enter Canada and skip a requirement for a 14-day quarantine, a significant milestone after 17 months of pandemic restrictions.

To be considered fully vaccinated, Americans must have received all required doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine 14 days prior to entering Canada. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents residing in and travelling from the United States will be permitted entry.

Just like returning Canadians, Americans must submit their travel information — including vaccination documents — using the ArriveCAN app or by registering online within 72 hours before their arrival. Some Americans will be subjected to a random post-arrival COVID-19 test, however.

Fully vaccinated travellers who test positive for COVID-19, or who fail to meet Canada's vaccination requirements, have two choices: They can either quarantine for 14 days or return to the U.S.

The mayor of tourism-dependent Niagara Falls, Ont., said his city is glad to finally be approaching some version of normality, but he doesn't expect a "mad rush" of Americans.

"I think it's going to be gradual, like a dimmer switch, because for day-trippers, it's an awful lot of work and hoops to jump through in order to be able to cross that border," said Mayor Jim Diodati.

Officials in a number of Canadian localities say there will be also be casting a wary eye on case numbers in the coming weeks, given that the delta variant has accounted for a huge rise in infections in the U.S. recently.

"Apprehensive remains the word of the day," said Arthur Slip, mayor of Woodstock, N.B. "But a year and a half is a long time. We're getting ready to open for business."

The measures should allow more extended family members or friends to reunite, such as one New Hampshire native who was starting her weeklong visit in Quebec.

"I miss my friends in Whitehorse," said Leigh Horner of Skagway, Alaska, telling CBC News that prior to the pandemic she also used to shop in Yukon for products she could only find in Canada.

Douglas Olerud, mayor of Haines, Alaska, said Yukoners are like extended family and he is looking forward to seeing them.

"Just that relationship of seeing each other out fishing, in stores, on the path snow machining, you build up a relationship and a friendship with people."

The U.S. side of the Canada-U.S. land border remains closed to non-essential travellers until at least Aug. 21. While the federal government has discouraged nonessential travel, Canadians have been able to fly to the U.S. since the start of the pandemic.



How will the delta variant affect kids? Experts explain what they know

School is just about a month away and parents of elementary and secondary students have concerns about how COVID-19 will affect another academic year, although in contrast to September 2020, both vaccines and the pernicious delta variant are now part of the academic equation.

CBC News spoke to a number of experts about the degree of threat posed by delta.

Dr. Stephen Freedman, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at the Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary, is leading two studies looking at the effects COVID-19 is having on children.

While Freedman doesn't want to minimize the risk, he said the proportion of children with an acute COVID-19 infection who need intensive care is well below one per cent.

"So, one in a thousand or even less," said Freedman. Also very rare, but "a short-term scary illness" is multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) related to the virus.

Both Freedman and Regina infectious disease physician Dr. Alexander Wong say that even with the current rate of vaccination progress (See graphic further down in this newsletter), they would recommend masks by worn inside schools.

Dr. Jeff Burzynski, a pediatric intensive care and emergency physician at Winnipeg's Children's Hospital, said he hasn't seen any kids hospitalized there yet as a result of the delta variant. He said approximately 10 young people have been admitted to Winnipeg's Children's Hospital's intensive care unit with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and one of those patients died.

Burzynski said the vast majority of kids who get infected with COVID-19 will have mild symptoms or no symptoms. He said there hasn't been evidence that delta makes kids sicker than other variants, and that improving the adult vaccination rate can provide the youngest kids with a good deal of protection.

"I think that's a message that needs to be very clearly said: that the higher our community vaccination rates, the lower the burden of illness will be in children," he said.

In defending her province's controversial new approach to COVID-19, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw told CBC News that in 2019-2020, Alberta "had a higher ICU rate for influenza in kids between the ages of five and nine than we've had for [children with] COVID-19 throughout the last 17 months."

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World roundup: Cruise line wins latest court ruling over Florida; France's vaccine passport takes effect

A U.S. judge has allowed Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. to demand that passengers show written proof of coronavirus vaccination before they board a ship, dealing a major blow to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's effort to ban "vaccine passports."

In a preliminary ruling issued on Sunday, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams in Miami said Norwegian would likely prevail on its argument that the "vaccine passport" ban, signed into law by DeSantis in May, jeopardizes public health and is an unconstitutional infringement on Norwegian's rights.

Norwegian is looking to resume port activity in Miami on Aug. 15. The company has said the Florida law would prevent the company from ensuring at least 95 per cent of passengers were vaccinated.

DeSantis has become a national figure for opposing pandemic restrictions, even as Florida has become a hotbed of infections and hospitalizations have hit record levels in the past week.

In Europe, France took a big step Monday into a post-pandemic future by requiring people to show a QR code proving they have a special virus pass before they can enjoy restaurants and cafés or travel across the country. The measure is part of a government plan to encourage more people to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot and slow down a surge in infections.

In Asia, coronavirus cases in the Philippines have been growing at a rate of around 8,000 to 10,000 infections a day over recent weeks, above the daily average of 5,700 cases reported last month, according to official data. The Health Ministry there said Monday that nearly one-fifth of hospitals are close to full capacity.

Meanwhile, experts say Winter Olympics organizers will be considering COVID-19 transmission risks involved in winter sports, tools to track and monitor infections and vaccination rates among visitors and local residents as the International Olympic Committee now looks ahead after the weekend conclusion of Tokyo 2020 toward the Beijing Winter Games, scheduled to begin on Feb. 4, 2022.

More world pandemic coverage from CBC News

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With files from Reuters, The Canadian Press, The Associated Press

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