The latest news from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
7:05 p.m. British Columbia health officials are reporting 820 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the active infections in the province to 5,850, The Canadian Press reports.
In a news release Friday, they say another nine people have died from the virus, which brings the total number of fatalities to 1,856, according to CP.
The Fraser region reported the highest number of new cases, at 264, followed by 253 in Interior Health, and 112 in Vancouver Coastal Health.
Officials say people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 78 per cent of the 4,661 cases from Sept. 2 to Sept. 8.
They say people who are not vaccinated are 35 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who have had both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
They say about 79 per cent of those eligible in B.C. have now received both shots.
5:01 p.m. Quebec’s premier and education minister on Friday condemned anti-vaccine protests taking place outside Montreal high schools this week as the province reported its highest daily COVID-19 case count since May, The Canadian Press reports.
“It’s unacceptable to see the anti-vaxxers getting our children involved in their fight,” Premier François Legault told reporters in Quebec City, according to CP. “Please, get our children out of this debate.”
Education Minister Jean-François Roberge spoke out against what he called the intimidation of children and school staff by anti-vaccine activists.
Earlier in the week, a small group of anti-vaccine protesters outside Louis-Riel high school in Montreal urged students not to get vaccinated, spouting false conspiracy theories that the sudden death Tuesday of a Grade 10 student at the school was a reaction to vaccination.
The 15-year-old girl’s family told the Journal de Montréal she, in fact, had a heart condition and had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 since June.
Roberge said it was irresponsible of demonstrators to use the tragic death of the teen to fuel disinformation. “Going around schools, instrumentalizing children, intimidating children and school personnel, this is unacceptable,” he said on Friday.
On Friday, Quebec reported 879 new cases of COVID-19, the highest number of daily cases in the province since mid-May. The Health Department reported four more deaths linked to the disease, and the number of hospitalizations rose by nine, to 207, with 72 people in intensive care.
Quebec’s public health institute said Laval, Montreal’s large northern suburb, remains Quebec’s most affected region, with 175.6 active COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people. It is followed by the neighbouring region of Lanaudière, with 100.3 active cases per 100,000 people. There are 70 active cases per 100,000 people across the province.
Legault said Friday he is concerned about rising COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations, saying it’s why Quebec has acted by introducing measures such as mandatory masks in schools, a vaccine passport and requiring vaccinations for health-care staff as of mid-October.
“It’s getting worse, not as (bad) as in the United States or Europe, so we have to be very careful,” Legault said.
The Health Department says the number of elementary and secondary schools reporting active COVID-19 cases rose to 564 on Wednesday, the most recent day for which data is available. It says 776 students and 94 school staff members have active cases of COVID-19.
The public health institute says 88.1 per cent of residents 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 82.7 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated.
“The vast majority of people in hospitals are people that are not vaccinated, so please, the 12 per cent who didn’t get at least one dose, get your dose,” Legault said.
4:51 p.m. Alberta Health Minister, Tyler Shandro, accused of not doing enough to stop a COVID-19 surge swamping hospitals, says the government wants to see the effect of recent health restrictions before adding any new ones, reports The Canadian Press.
A week ago, Shandro reintroduced a province-wide mask mandate, along with curfews on alcohol sales in bars and restaurants, to stem a steep rise in COVID-19 that has overrun intensive care wards and forced hospitals to reassign staff to care for the critically ill, according to CP.
Due to staff displacement, up to 60 per cent of non-urgent surgeries have been cancelled across the province, including all such procedures this week in the Calgary zone.
Physicians with the advocacy group Protect our Province say the current measures won’t tur