The latest Sunday coronavirus news from Canada and around the world. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories, if available,
10:07 PM: Samoa has reported new COVID-19 cases each day since its first case of community transmission was detected last week.
The South Pacific island nation of 200,000 people has been in lockdown since Saturday as it deals with its first outbreak of the pandemic.
The outbreak was detected when a woman who was about to travel tested positive for the virus last Thursday, indicating that the virus was likely not spreading for days or weeks.
Samoa reported 95 new cases in 24 hours on Saturday and another 85 on Sunday.
According to the latest government statement available on Monday, only 15 of the 196 active cases were imported from abroad. More than 2,200 tests have been conducted since Friday, the statement said.
Samoa and several neighboring Pacific island nations were one of the last places in the world to escape an outbreak of the virus. But the more permeable Omicron version has changed the equation, and one island nation after another is succumbing to COVID-19.
Since the start of the year, Kiribati, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, the Cook Islands and American Samoa have all experienced their first major outbreaks.
All Samoan schools are closed, public gatherings are banned, and all shops and other services have been closed, except those considered essential.
The lockdown was initially supposed to last till Tuesday, but many expect it to be extended.
According to Our World in Data, about 65 percent of all Samoans have had at least two doses of the coronavirus vaccine.
After previous virus scares and lockdowns in Samoa, plane passengers were tested positive in isolation, but had so far managed to avoid any community outbreaks.
Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Nauru are among the few remaining Pacific island nations to have survived Omicron’s wrath.
4:51 PM: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infants and children under the age of 5 were hospitalized with the coronavirus at much higher rates during the latest US surge, when compared to earlier periods in the pandemic, when the highly transmissible Omicron variant was chief.
Between June 27 and December 18, the hospitalizations of these children were nearly five times higher between December 19 and February 19, during the omicron surge, compared to the period the delta type took effect.
The rate of admission to intensive care also increased dramatically among young children, peaking on January 8.
Children under the age of 5 are injured in hospitals at disproportionate rates. Only a third of the children were white, while 28 percent were Hispanic, and 23 percent were black. Hispanics represent 18 percent of the population, and black Americans make up 13 percent. (Six percent of hospitalizations of children under the age of five were among Asian or other Pacific Islander children, similar to their representation in the population.)
Experts say children of color are infected at higher rates because they are more likely to have parents who work in public-facing jobs and more likely to live in poverty and multi-generational homes. Huh.
Although hospitalization rates for young children are still relatively low, compared to rates for older Americans, the virus poses particular risks to young children, and especially infants.
Infants 6 months and younger were most vulnerable, accounting for about half of hospitalizations among young children during the Omicron period. They were hospitalized at rates nearly six times higher at the peak of the omicron surge than at the peak of the delta wave. The CDC found that two infants died.
1:46 PM: A Southern Ontario school board is sticking to its plan to extend its mask mandate beyond a provincial one, even though the government has instructed it to drop the public health measure.
In a statement released Friday evening, the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board said it would enforce wearing masks until April 1, despite the province ordering removals in most indoor settings starting Monday.
“It is our priority to take this phased approach and support staff and families during this time of transition. We are reminding staff and students to wear masks by April 1 and exercise their choice by completing the mask waiver process if needed,” board chairman Don Danko said in the statement.
He issued the statement in response to a letter sent by Education Minister Stephen Lecce on Friday.
The government says that the board has no legal authority to make masks mandatory in the absence of instructions from the public health unit.
Lecce reiterated in his letter what the top doctor in the province had said.
“Ontario now has both the prevention and response tools needed to manage the impact of COVID-19,” the letter reads, adding that the province has now been able to lift “a number of emergency measures over the past two years.”
Some public health measures will remain in place in schools, such as mandatory COVID-19 self-screening for staff and students, ventilation upgrades and increased air quality practices, the letter said.
1:42 PM: One of President Joe Biden’s top advisers said a potential rise in US COVID-19 cases probably won’t account for a full-scale increase or a renewal of broad restrictions.
“The bottom line is that we will see an uptick in cases, as we have seen in European countries, particularly the UK,” said Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “Hopefully we don’t see a surge. I don’t think we will.”
Omicron’s BA.2 subvariant is increasing cases in Europe and Asia, particularly Hong Kong, and now accounts for about 30% of infections in the US, where indoor-mask and vaccine requirements have been largely withdrawn.
While the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has argued that the US needs to be prepared to resume measures such as requiring masks in indoor public spaces, Fauci said, “Right now, at this point, I have to not visible.”
US cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline. Fauci said BA.2 is about 50% more transmitted than the original strain of Omicron, but does not cause more severe disease or evade immunity from vaccination or earlier infection.
Fauci and US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy urged Congress to pass a stalled package of new COVID-19 relief. The White House is seeking $22.5 billion in funding, warning it will soon have to shut down programs and cannot buy more medical treatments.
11:30 AM: According to its latest report released Sunday morning, Ontario is reporting 182 people in intensive care due to COVID-19 and 551 people in hospital have tested positive for the virus.
The numbers represent a 1.6 percent reduction in ICU COVID-19 count and a 10 percent reduction in overall hospitalizations. Of the province’s 2,343 adult ICU beds, 31 percent are available for new patients.
Given the new provincial rules around testing that take effect on December 31, 2021, the case count – reported on Sunday at 1,680, down 19.1 percent from the previous day – is also not considered an accurate assessment That’s how widespread COVID-19 is right now.
Three new deaths have been reported in the latest figures.
Read the star’s full story from Erin LeBlanc.
10:30 AM: Masks will no longer be part of the required dress code in most Ontario public places coming Monday, as the government turns the public health measure into a personal choice.
Face coverings will no longer be mandatory in schools, retail settings and other venues, weeks after the province removed proof-of-vaccination rules and capacity limits.
Hospitals, long-term care homes and public transport and some other sectors will keep masks until the end of April, when the province aims to roll back all remaining public health rules.
Provincial politicians and top health officials say COVID-19 indicators have improved enough to warrant the removal of mask rules, which have also been removed in Canada and other jurisdictions around the world.
Some are celebrating the change, but other Ontarians are wary of the virus exposure – as well as a lack of data on cases since the province has stopped widespread PCR testing – and say they will keep masking after Monday. are planning.
Lisa Lam said she will continue to wear a mask at her retail job.
“There’s no weird way to change your mind about this,” she said outside a Toronto shopping mall. “I think it’s too early.”
The province’s top doctor, Dr. Kieran Moore, said the true number of cases was nearly 10 times the number of daily cases, with a seven-day average of 1,821 as of Friday. The province’s expert science advisers said last week that between 15,000 and 20,000 cases were being reported daily in the province.
7:52 am: As Nova Scotia prepares to roll out its mask mandate for most indoor public spaces on Monday, the province’s chief medical officer of health is warning it is not a sign the pandemic is over.
Dr. Robert Strang wants people to know that “there are still too many viruses” and that they should continue to practice many of the public health measures that have taken the past two years and are now voluntary.
“We still strongly recommend that people continue to wear masks, especially in indoor public places,” Strang said in an interview last week. “It doesn’t change, whether it’s mandatory or not.”
According to data released late last week, the Omicron version of COVID-19 is highly active in the province, resulting in a steady hospitalization rate and 120 deaths since it first appeared in December.
7:51 am: Buckhorn Maplefest organizers are once again optimistic about their Maple Sugar Bush Festival offering next year after seeing it now canceled for three years in a row due to COVID-19.
The McLean family made the “difficult” decision to cancel this year’s event, Erin McLean said, due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic when planning began for it in December.
“It takes a lot of time and effort to set up a festival, so we really had to make this call before there was any talk of withdrawing the ban, when things were even worse than they are now,” she said. .
“It’s a lot of time and effort and investment and it’s hard to work it all out and not know how it’s going to proceed, especially since we have to completely revise the festival to make it as safe as we want it to be.” Everyone has to come out. It wasn’t in the cards this year.”
She said they are looking forward to a good maple season this year. In early March he began collecting and boiling the sap on McLean Farm’s sugar bush, south of the Buckhorn, to produce maple syrup to sell at local farmers’ markets and directly from his farm.
Sunday at 7:49 am: Hong Kong’s leader said on Sunday that the government would consider lifting strict social distancing measures as new COVID-19 infections in the city continued to trend downward.
“I will no longer promise that there is room for adjustments,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said. “But after a review, we have a duty to account for the findings in this review and the direction we will take.”
Hong Kong is in the midst of a massive outbreak, with the city of 7.4 million reporting a total of more than 1 million cases. The city has suffered heavy losses, as they are trying to deal with the large number of deaths. Hong Kong has so far avoided a strict city-wide lockdown, such as China routinely imposes to control the spread of the virus.
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