Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reports 179 new cases, 8 deaths; Ontario movie theatres facing ‘arbitrary and unreasonable’ reopening restrictions; Tokyo records most virus cases in two months – Toronto Star

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Saturday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.

12:15 p.m.: India, which still has Asia’s most concerning and largest outbreak, reported 1,206 more deaths and another 42,766 cases on Saturday.

The nation has struggled to vaccinate its population of nearly 1.4 billion, with just over five per cent of people fully vaccinated so far. It administered 3.1 million shots over the last 24 hours, according to data from the Health Ministry.

12:12 p.m.: U.K. hospital cases increased by more than 56 per cent in a week, the latest figures show. Some 3,081 people were admitted as of July 6, only two days after the country passed 2,000 for the first time since April. Another 32,367 cases and 34 deaths were also reported on Saturday.

12:10 p.m.: Coronavirus deaths in Russia have hit another daily record, with authorities reporting 752 more fatalities amid a continuing surge in infections.

Russia’s coronavirus task force on Saturday reported 25,082 new coronavirus cases. The daily tally of confirmed infections has soared from around 9,000 in early June to over 23,000 in early July. Officials have attributed a steady rise in infections and an increase in mortality to the spread of the Delta variant.

Despite the surge, the Kremlin has said there are no plans to impose another lockdown. Russia had one nationwide lockdown in the spring of 2020 that lasted six weeks, and the government has resisted another one to avoid damaging the economy.

12:03 p.m.: Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting one new case of COVID-19 today as well as one new recovery.

Officials say the case has been identified in the western area of the province and is travel-related.

The province now has 39 active infections.

11:30 p.m.: The European Union says it now has enough doses to meet its goal of vaccinating 70 per cent of the region’s adult population by the end of this month.

With infections resurging in many European countries, the next challenge will be ensuring that the doses find takers, as demand wanes in some areas. According to the European Centre for Disease Control, 44 per cnet of the adult EU population is fully vaccinated, and 64 per cent have received at least one dose.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Saturday that by Sunday 500 million doses will have been delivered to all regions of the 27-nation EU. So far EU countries have administered 386 million doses for the overall population of 447 million, according to the ECDC.

10:33 p.m.: Ontario administered 207,507 vaccine doses Friday. Of those, 186,664 were second doses, and 20,843 were first doses. Of the total population, 68.6 per cent now have at least one dose, and 45.4 per cent have two doses.

10:18 p.m.: (updated) Ontario is reporting 179 cases of COVID-19, and eight deaths.

There are 32 new cases in the Region of Waterloo, 27 in Grey Bruce, 23 in Toronto, 21 in Peel Region and 16 in Hamilton.

Nearly 23,700 tests were completed, generating a positivity rate of 0.6 per cent.

Friday there were 183 cases reported in the province. The seven-day average is down to 199 cases per day.

There are 197 patients in intensive care units across the province due to the virus, according to the Ministry of Health, including 134 on a ventilator.

A total of 9,245 people have died of the virus in Ontario.

9:45 p.m.: A day before the England-Italy Euro 2020 soccer final at Wembley, police have urged England fans without tickets not to travel to London as cases rise across the U.K. The Guardian also reported the police asked soccer fans not to gather in large groups.

9:27 a.m.: After some 16 months of people being cooped up at home, fireworks are being embraced in a big way. In Alberta, for the first time, the Calgary Stampede is opening its weekend with what it’s calling the largest and most sophisticated fireworks event produced in Canada all year.

But not everyone is happy about these displays, particular the backyard devices some call “noise bombs.”

Read the story by the Star’s Omar Mosleh

8:40 a.m.: California will require that masks be worn at schools when classrooms open this fall, despite new guidance issued Friday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear face coverings inside school buildings.

Ahead of new school guidelines expected next week, health officials in California said Friday that requiring face coverings will allow all schools to reopen this fall for full in-person instruction.

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly says that not all schools can accommodate physical distancing of at least 3 feet or more, so the best preventative measure is indoor masking.

8:39 a.m.: South Korea has set a new high in daily coronavirus cases for the third straight day as officials prepare to enforce the strongest social distancing restrictions in the greater capital area.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Saturday that more than 1,000 of the 1,378 new cases were from capital Seoul and nearby Gyeonggi Province and Incheon, a region where officials from Monday will clamp down on private social gatherings of three or more people from 6 p.m. Nightclubs and churches will close, visitors will be banned at nursing homes and hospitals and weddings and funerals will be limited to family-only gatherings.

Dozens of new cases were each reported in major cities and regions across the country, including Busan, Daejeon, Ulsan, South Chungcheong Provine and South Gyeongsang Province.

After adding 9,700 cases in July alone, the country’s caseload is now at 166,722, including 2,038 deaths.

The surge is a worrisome development in a country where just over 30% in a population of 51 million have been administered their first doses of coronavirus vaccines.

8:39 a.m.: Malta is now requiring proof of vaccination for visitors to the Mediterranean island nation in hopes of stemming the latest rise in coronavirus infections.

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Starting Wednesday, visitors to Malta must present a COVID-19 vaccination certificate that is recognized by Maltese health authorities, meaning certificates issued by Malta, the European Union or the United Kingdom.

The EU’s green passport certifies people who are vaccinated, receive a negative PCR test result or have recovered from COVID-19. But Malta has decided to only recognize those who are fully vaccinated.

“Malta will be the first EU country taking this step,” said Health Minister Chris Fearne.

Children aged 5-12 only need to present a negative PCR test, while those under age 5 are exempt from any obligation.

Malta, which has a population of just over half a million, had 46 active cases on July 1 but the number rose to 252 on Friday.

The government says 90% of new cases are among unvaccinated people. Currently 79% of Maltese adults are fully vaccinated.

8:38 a.m.: Music is pulsing from Paris nightclubs for the first time in 16 months as other European countries shut nightlife down again because of rising coronavirus cases.

The reopening of Paris dance clubs Friday night was the final step in France’s process of lifting pandemic restrictions. The move was meant to mark victory over the virus, since nightclubs were among the few venues that had remained closed since March 2020.

But the Delta variant is spreading faster than vaccinations in France, and infections are rising again after weeks of decline. President Emmanuel Macron is expected to speak to the nation Monday about the situation, and the government could opt for new restrictions.

At the popular La Bellevilloise club in eastern Paris, many people were eager to return to the dance floor anyway. Parisian Laurent Queige called it “a liberation, an immense happiness to rediscover the clubbing, the party, friends.”

La Bellevilloise owner Renaud Barillet said this weekend could serve as a useful test, “to see how the public, the organizers, all that reacts and manages to adopt new habits.”

Attendees must produce a QR code that shows proof of full vaccination or a fresh negative COVID-19 test, and capacity is restricted to 75 per cent.

8:33 a.m.: Tokyo has reported 950 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily number in two months, as infections steadily spread less than two weeks before the city hosts the Summer Olympics.

Saturday’s tally compared to 822 confirmed cases reported Friday. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday declared a state of emergency in Tokyo starting Monday to keep the infections from becoming explosive during the Olympics, which open on July 23.

His government initially planned to take less stringent measures, but came under pressure to issue the emergency order as the more contagious delta strain spread in the Tokyo region.

Experts warned that caseloads could surge to thousands within weeks as people travelled around the country on summer vacations and the Olympics drew foreign and domestic visitors to Tokyo.

Olympic officials decided not to allow spectators at Olympic venues in the Tokyo region, while allowing limited attendance in other parts of Japan. However, that plan is crumbling after Hokkaido and Fukushima announced that no fans would be permitted at venues in their areas.

Despite the recent acceleration of Japan’s vaccination program, only 16.8% of the population is fully vaccinated. Japan has reported about 812,000 cases and nearly 15,000 deaths in the pandemic.

8:30 a.m.: Ontario movie theatres will be back in business on Friday as the province moves into Step 3 five days earlier than planned, but the reopening doesn’t mean crowds will be packed in for summer blockbuster season.

Instead, cinemas will be permitted to operate at a maximum of 50 per cent capacity, to a limit of 1,000 people within the entire building, a decision one industry advocate calls “arbitrary and unreasonable.”

The Movie Theatre Association of Canada (MTAC) issued a statement saying Ontario’s capacity restrictions for theatres “have no basis in any scientific analysis” and “unfairly stigmatize cinemas,” which they sayhaven’t seen a documented COVID-19 case traced back.

The organization has pushed for cinemas to reopen for months, highlighting a lack of consultation from the province or consistency across the country.

The MTAC says Alberta and Saskatchewan currently have no capacity limits on their theatres while Quebec allows 250 people in an auditorium. British Columbia’s rules fall in line with Ontario’s 50 per cent limit.

Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s chief medical health officer, explained on Friday that while the reopening plans move forward, he remains concerned about the presence of the Delta and Lambda variants. The Delta strain is currently dominant in the province.

Movie theatre reopenings will give Ontario audiences their first chance to see Marvel’s “Black Widow” on the big screen and the latest “Fast & Furious” entry “F9” outside of drive-in theatres.

The province’s multiplexes have been closed longer than any other jurisdiction in North America with locations in the Greater Toronto Area shuttered for nine months.