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.
1:45 p.m. Ontario is reporting seven more deaths linked to COVID-19.
In data posted Sunday morning, the province says there were 1,024 people hospitalized with the virus, a drop of 429 patients from the 1,453 hospitalizations logged in the last report.
The number of people in intensive care dipped slightly to 151 from the previous report of 156, though not all facilities report data on weekends.
A provincial spokesperson said Sunday that technical issues caused delays in updating Ontario’s online tally over the weekend. No updates were posted Saturday.
Health officials also reported 1,564 new infections detected by PCR testing, which is limited to certain groups.
The scientific director of Ontario’s panel of COVID-19 advisers has said multiplying the daily case count by 10 would give a more accurate picture.
1:00 p.m. Protected by vaccines, prior immunity or both, many people have spent this third pandemic spring easing back into the world, their initial terror of COVID receding.
But those who are immunocompromised — some 14 per cent of Canadians according to a 2020 Statistics Canada survey — remain wary of the virus.
For transplant recipients who have already faced death while waiting for a new organ, the fear of getting sick with COVID hasn’t waned. Some say their anxiety has even increased, as pandemic protections around them have dropped.
10:50 a.m. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 40 people walked through the doors of Across Boundaries daily, looking for anything from art therapy, to literacy lessons, to a healthy meal for breakfast or lunch.
But as the virus began to spread, the mental health agency focused on helping racialized communities in Toronto’s northwest quickly began losing touch with many of the people it helped.
“Some of our staff called us and said, ‘I can’t reach my clients because they don’t have a phone,’” recalled executive director Aseefa Sarang. The agency, which serves around 900 people annually, then moved quickly to give out a few prepaid devices to those who didn’t have one. It also began delivering meals directly to people’s doors.
Two years and six pandemic waves later, Across Boundaries has now given out more than 300 phones to clients who otherwise had no access to a device connecting them to services offered virtually because of COVID-19. The need for these devices has persisted well into today, Sarang said, signalling one of many challenges facing Toronto’s newcomer and racialized communities, who were hardest hit by the virus, as the city looks to pandemic recovery.
9:30 a.m. Liberal candidate John Fraser recalls looking down at his positive COVID-19 test and thinking, “Why did it have to happen now?”
On May 3, the same day Premier Doug Ford made his formal request for the Ontario election, Fraser, incumbent MPP for Ottawa South, learned he would lose almost a week at least of campaigning time to the virus — a tough blow with only a month to go until the June 2 election.
And the weather was just getting nice, too.
“I was very disappointed — and I didn’t feel great either, on top of that,” said Fraser. What followed were days of headaches, cold symptoms and low energy levels. Fraser is finished isolating, and back out meeting constituents, but he’s still feeling some lingering fatigue.
7:45 a.m. Toronto has high vaccination coverage compared to major U.S. and European cities. But vaccine rates in the city’s lower-income racialized neighbourhoods, in places like Scarborough, Thorncliffe Park and the northwest corner, have lagged, despite the fact that they had higher rates of COVID.
But at a meeting last month of the Board of Health, there was some evidence of progress to narrow this gap. The disparity between COVID rates in racialized and white people, and between people with lower and higher incomes, decreased in the fourth wave, according to analysis presented at the meeting.
As well, the 35 neighbourhoods prioritized for intense neighbourhood clinics and community ambassadors saw an average increase of 19 percentage points from June 2021 to April 2022, in first-dose vaccine coverage, (66 to 85 per cent), while all other neighbourhoods had a rise of 13 percentage points.
7:20 a.m. Supermarkets, malls and restaurants in Shanghai will be allowed to open in a limited capacity starting Monday, officials said, even while it remained unclear whether residents would be let out from their homes.
The city’s Vice Mayor Chen Tong said Sunday at a daily press briefing that grocery stores, malls, convenience stores and pharmacies will be allowed to reopen while implementing measures that “reduce the flow of people.”
Agriculture markets will also be allowed to reopen while ensuring “no contact” transactions. Restaurants will be allowed to serve takeout.
However, Shanghai’s transportation department said Sunday that all subway lines in the city had stopped operating. It was unclear when those services would restart.
7 a.m. North Korea has confirmed 15 more deaths and hundreds of thousands of additional patients with fevers as it mobilizes more than a million health and other workers to try to suppress the country’s first COVID-19 outbreak, state media reported Sunday.
After maintaining a widely disputed claim to be coronavirus-free for more than two years, North Korea announced Thursday that it had found its first COVID-19 patients since the pandemic began.
It has said a fever has spread across the country “explosively” since late April but hasn’t disclosed exactly how many COVID-19 cases it has found. Some experts say North Korea lacks the diagnostic kits needed to test a large number of suspected COVID-19 patients.
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