Today’s coronavirus news: Quarantine exemptions lure visitors to Canada in advance of busy travel weekend; Mask-wearing expected in England beyond July 19 – Toronto Star

Pedestrians walk in front of Union Station during the final week of Ontario’s phase 2 of re-opening after the pandemic.

By Star staff and wire services

Sun., July 11, 20215 min. read

Article was updated 40 mins ago

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

8:42 a.m.: The mayors of two Tokyo islands have asked the metropolitan government to take the planned Olympic torch relay off public roads amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

The torch relay in Tokyo, which started on Friday, has been taken off all public roads except for those on islands, because of rising cases in the Japanese capital.

Kyodo News agency reported that the mayors of Oshima and Hachijo have asked the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to take the torch off public roads in their areas, citing rising virus cases.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday declared a state of emergency in Tokyo.

Olympic officials last week barred all fans from venues in Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures.

Tokyo reported 950 new cases on Saturday. That is the highest level since early May. Japan has reported about 816,000 cases and 15,000 deaths during the pandemic.

8:42 a.m.: New infections in South Africa have risen to record levels in recent days.

It’s part of a rapid rise across the continent. And experts say the surge here hasn’t yet peaked.

South Africa has reimposed several restrictions to fight the new wave. They include shutting restaurants and bars and limiting alcohol sales.

Its vaccination drive is also finding its feet after several stumbles. But experts say it’s too late to reduce the deadly impact of the current spike.

South Africa is instead rushing to vaccinate enough of its 60 million people to blunt the impact of the next surge.

8:41 a.m.: Three million doses of the Moderna vaccine have arrived in Indonesia.

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said that the Moderna vaccine will be used as a third dose for health care workers.

Sadikin said that “the plan for this vaccine, apart from (being) the first and second injections for the Indonesian people, we will specifically use it for the third booster injection for Indonesian health workers.”

Many health care workers were previously vaccinated with the Chinese produced Sinovac vaccine.

8:41 a.m.: Israel’s prime minister says the country has struck a deal with Pfizer to receive a fresh batch of coronavirus vaccines in August to help with its drive to vaccinate teenagers.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting that the agreement to advance delivery of new vaccines to Aug. 1 to “ensure from this moment a continuous supply of vaccines in the state of Israel.”

Bennett said that the country had vaccinated over 200,000 people in recent weeks. Many of them were teenagers. The country is trying to halt a fresh outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant. Children under age 12 aren’t yet eligible for the vaccine.

Israel has vaccinated over 61% of its 9.3 million citizens with at least one dose, and almost 56% with two doses, the vast majority with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

The Health Ministry has recorded a steady climb in new infections in recent weeks, most of them among unvaccinated young children. Most new infections have been mild cases of coronavirus.

Loading…

Loading…Loading…Loading…Loading…Loading…

8:40 a.m.: Britain’s vaccines minister says that people in England are expected to continue wearing masks indoors from July 19 even though the legal requirement to do so would be dropped.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will confirm Monday whether most coronavirus restrictions including social distancing and mandatory mask-wearing will be lifted the following week as widely expected.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said new guidance will be issued Monday on mask-wearing. He said there will be “an expectation of people to wear masks indoors, in crowded places, on public transport” instead of a legal requirement.

The U.K. is seeing a sharp surge in coronavirus cases. It’s partly driven by the more transmissible Delta variant and partly by increased social mixing with the easing of lockdown rules. New cases now stand at over 34,000 a day. But deaths and hospitalizations have remained low and broadly stable.

8:40 a.m.: Health officials say Libya has seen an unprecedented spike in coronavirus cases amid a slow vaccination program and concerns about the highly infectious Delta variant.

The number of new cases in the oil-rich country has risen more than six times since July 1, according to daily figures from Libya’s National Center for Disease Control.

“We are facing an unprecedented situation,” said Tareq Gibrael, a senior physician at the centre. “The constantly rising curve of new cases shows that we are bracing for a third wave, especially now that the delta variant is spreading in neighbouring countries. We are in a very tough position.”

On Saturday, the North African country recorded 2,854 new cases, up from 719 a week earlier. So far, Libya has recorded more than 200,000 total cases, including 3,232 deaths. The actual figures are believed to be much higher given the scarcity of testing and the depletion of the country’s health care system after almost a decade of civil war.

8:30 a.m.: The number of incoming visitors to Canada has been gradually increasing in the days since travel restrictions began easing for fully vaccinated, eligible travellers — and the country’s border agents are expecting more this weekend.

The Canada Border Services Agency says incoming traffic last week increased about 25 per cent after quarantine rules were waived Monday for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents and others already allowed to cross the border.

But despite the agency’s best efforts to publicize the requirements, roughly half of the people seeking the exemption had to be turned away, said Denis Vinette, vice-president of the agency’s travellers branch.

“It’s a question, I think, of folks not understanding the rules,” Vinette said in an interview.

Only Canadian citizens, permanent residents and eligible foreign nationals who have gone two weeks since a full course of one of the four COVID-19 vaccines approved by Health Canada — Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson — are exempt from quarantine.

Canada has exceptions in place for foreign nationals who are immediate family members of a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, as well as a process to allow extended family members and international students to apply for entry.

Of those who were denied the exemption last week, most had either had only one dose of a two-dose vaccine, had not waited the requisite 14 days after their last shot or had received a vaccine not cleared for use in Canada, Vinette said.

Read the full story from the Canadian Press here.