Today’s coronavirus news: Check out the Star’s interactive school COVID tracker; Ontario reports 577 new cases

The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Tuesday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.5:20 p.m.: Ontario has confirmed more than 300 COVID-19 cases early into the school year — a number that one expert says indicates the virus is spreading faster than last year and is raising the alarm about school closures as early as Thanksgiving.The provincial data dating back to Aug. 23 and released Tuesday shows that out of the 4,844 schools being tracked in the province, 218 schools — or about 5 per cent — have confirmed staff or student cases. At this time last year, there were fewer than 30 confirmed cases in schools, according to archived data.Read the full story by the Star’s Celina Gallardo.5 p.m.: The Toronto Star’s interactive school COVID-19 tracker provides up-to-date COVID case numbers in all publicly funded elementary and secondary schools in the province.Click here to look up any public Ontario school to see how many cases have been detected in schools and staff, as well as a rolling total of cases to track the spread of the virus in schools over time.Read the full story by the Star’s Kenyon Wallace and Andres Plana.4 p.m. Six unidentified members of the New Orleans Saints coaching staff, a player and a nutritionist have tested positive for COVID-19, two people familiar with the situation said.The people spoke with The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the team and NFL had not made a public statement about the matter. The names of those who tested positive were not expected to be released in the short term because of federal medical privacy laws.The people said the entire Saints coaching staff had been vaccinated.4 p.m. Tens of thousands of people in Ontario are experiencing post-COVID-19 symptoms, a science advisory group said Tuesday, calling for more research on the condition and its potential burden on the health-care system.The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, which provides guidance to the province on the pandemic, said the symptoms of so-called long COVID can last from weeks to months after contracting the virus."The literature on the post-COVID-19 condition is still largely in a formative phase and more controlled studies are needed," the group said in a science brief.A conservative estimate suggests between 57,000 and 78,000 Ontarians had or are currently experiencing long COVID symptoms, the brief said.The most common of more than 200 different symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, general pain or discomfort, anxiety and depression.3:50 p.m. Prince Edward Island health officials are reporting three new cases of COVID-19 today. Two new cases involve students under the age of 19 at Stratford Elementary School who are close contacts of a previously reported infection.The third case involves a person in their 30s who recently travelled outside Atlantic Canada. Prince Edward Island has 22 active reported COVID-19 infections.2:59 a.m. An Alberta pastor who, along with his brother, was found guilty of contempt after deliberately violating COVID-19 health orders has told a judge that he is a political prisoner who is being persecuted by Alberta Health Services.Artur Pawlowski said during a seven-minute statement at his sentencing hearing on Tuesday that he and his brother, Dawid, have done nothing wrong.“I am here before this court as a political prisoner of conscience,” he said before Justice Adam Germain. “The AHS and the politicians have found a new way of penalizing anyone that is opposing their unconstitutional medical tyranny. They hate the idea that they have been exposed for what they really are: liars, hypocrites and cheaters,” he said.“I have heard from my grandparents about similar tactics from the time of the Nazis, persecuting churches and the clergy. Canada has fallen. Sure you can lock us up and throw the key away, but our political imprisonment will shout even louder about the hypocrisy.”The Pawlowskis, both from Calgary, were arrested in May and accused of organizing an illegal gathering as well as of promoting and attending an illegal gathering. They had been holding church services that flouted rules on masking and physical distancing.The arrests came after court orders were granted allowing Alberta Health Services and police to charge anyone who advertised gatherings that would breach health restrictions. At the sentencing hearing Monday, the health provider asked that the pastor be jailed for 21 days and that his brother be sentenced to 10 days. The court is also being asked to fine Artur Pawlowski $2,000 and impose $15,000 in costs.2:24 p.m. Alberta’s top doctor says the province’s “Open For Summer” plan set the trajectory for a crushing fourth wave of COVID-19. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw told a conference call with doctors Monday that lifting all restrictions in July was the wrong move. She said provinces that kept base-level restrictions to man

Today’s coronavirus news: Check out the Star’s interactive school COVID tracker; Ontario reports 577 new cases

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

5:20 p.m.: Ontario has confirmed more than 300 COVID-19 cases early into the school year — a number that one expert says indicates the virus is spreading faster than last year and is raising the alarm about school closures as early as Thanksgiving.

The provincial data dating back to Aug. 23 and released Tuesday shows that out of the 4,844 schools being tracked in the province, 218 schools — or about 5 per cent — have confirmed staff or student cases. At this time last year, there were fewer than 30 confirmed cases in schools, according to archived data.

Read the full story by the Star’s Celina Gallardo.

5 p.m.: The Toronto Star’s interactive school COVID-19 tracker provides up-to-date COVID case numbers in all publicly funded elementary and secondary schools in the province.

Click here to look up any public Ontario school to see how many cases have been detected in schools and staff, as well as a rolling total of cases to track the spread of the virus in schools over time.

Read the full story by the Star’s Kenyon Wallace and Andres Plana.

4 p.m. Six unidentified members of the New Orleans Saints coaching staff, a player and a nutritionist have tested positive for COVID-19, two people familiar with the situation said.

The people spoke with The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the team and NFL had not made a public statement about the matter. The names of those who tested positive were not expected to be released in the short term because of federal medical privacy laws.

The people said the entire Saints coaching staff had been vaccinated.

4 p.m. Tens of thousands of people in Ontario are experiencing post-COVID-19 symptoms, a science advisory group said Tuesday, calling for more research on the condition and its potential burden on the health-care system.

The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, which provides guidance to the province on the pandemic, said the symptoms of so-called long COVID can last from weeks to months after contracting the virus.

"The literature on the post-COVID-19 condition is still largely in a formative phase and more controlled studies are needed," the group said in a science brief.

A conservative estimate suggests between 57,000 and 78,000 Ontarians had or are currently experiencing long COVID symptoms, the brief said.

The most common of more than 200 different symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, general pain or discomfort, anxiety and depression.

3:50 p.m. Prince Edward Island health officials are reporting three new cases of COVID-19 today.

Two new cases involve students under the age of 19 at Stratford Elementary School who are close contacts of a previously reported infection.

The third case involves a person in their 30s who recently travelled outside Atlantic Canada.

Prince Edward Island has 22 active reported COVID-19 infections.

2:59 a.m. An Alberta pastor who, along with his brother, was found guilty of contempt after deliberately violating COVID-19 health orders has told a judge that he is a political prisoner who is being persecuted by Alberta Health Services.

Artur Pawlowski said during a seven-minute statement at his sentencing hearing on Tuesday that he and his brother, Dawid, have done nothing wrong.

“I am here before this court as a political prisoner of conscience,” he said before Justice Adam Germain. “The AHS and the politicians have found a new way of penalizing anyone that is opposing their unconstitutional medical tyranny. They hate the idea that they have been exposed for what they really are: liars, hypocrites and cheaters,” he said.

“I have heard from my grandparents about similar tactics from the time of the Nazis, persecuting churches and the clergy. Canada has fallen. Sure you can lock us up and throw the key away, but our political imprisonment will shout even louder about the hypocrisy.”

The Pawlowskis, both from Calgary, were arrested in May and accused of organizing an illegal gathering as well as of promoting and attending an illegal gathering. They had been holding church services that flouted rules on masking and physical distancing.

The arrests came after court orders were granted allowing Alberta Health Services and police to charge anyone who advertised gatherings that would breach health restrictions.

At the sentencing hearing Monday, the health provider asked that the pastor be jailed for 21 days and that his brother be sentenced to 10 days. The court is also being asked to fine Artur Pawlowski $2,000 and impose $15,000 in costs.

2:24 p.m. Alberta’s top doctor says the province’s “Open For Summer” plan set the trajectory for a crushing fourth wave of COVID-19.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw told a conference call with doctors Monday that lifting all restrictions in July was the wrong move.

She said provinces that kept base-level restrictions to manage spread of the virus are faring better than Alberta is now.

“Obviously, Alberta is in a significant crisis state right now,” said Hinshaw. “Delta has spread much more quickly and has had more severe outcomes than we anticipated.”

She said available data in July on COVID-19 spread and outcomes, mixed with vaccine uptake, led her to believe it was an appropriate time to open the province.

“The expectations did not match the reality,” said Hinshaw, who noted officials did not see the expected decoupling of case rates compared to hospitalizations. “(We) really had to shift and walk back about, ‘OK, we’re not ready yet, need to take more time.’”

Hinshaw said she “deeply regrets” how comments she made in July led some Albertans to believe COVID-19 was over and could be impacting the amount of people getting tested.

2:10 p.m. Calgary-based Providence Therapeutics says it has signed two contracts to have its developmental mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 manufactured in Canada.

The company says it has signed a $90-million, five-year contract with Emergent Biosolutions to make part of the drug substance, and also to fill and finish the vaccine, at its Winnipeg manufacturing plant.

Another $15-million contract was signed with Calgary’s Northern RNA firm to make some of the raw materials needed to produce the messenger RNA in the vaccine.

Providence this week reported that a Phase 1 trial, involving 60 adults between 18 and 64, showed its mRNA vaccine is producing immunity levels comparable to those produced by authorized mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

A Phase 2 clinical trial in 525 people is now about to begin to further test the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.

Canada has yet to authorize a made-in-Canada vaccine for COVID-19 and has relied mostly on importing mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

2:10 p.m. Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting 35 new cases of COVID-19 in the province today and say 30 of the cases involve people who are not fully vaccinated.

There are now 244 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 11 people hospitalized and eight of them in intensive care.

Officials are also confirming a positive case at Fredericton High School and one at Andover Elementary School in Perth-Andover.

Provincial guidelines require schools with cases to close or move to online learning for at least one day to allow for contact tracing.

2:10 p.m. The top doctor in the Northwest Territories has closed all schools in Yellowknife and surrounding areas after a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Schools closed Tuesday — two weeks after students returned to classrooms — and are to stay closed until at least Sept. 24.

Students will shift to online learning, said a statement from Dr. Kami Kandola, the territory’s chief public health officer.

Kandola also ordered that private gatherings in Yellowknife and the surrounding area to be limited to 10 people. No more than five can be from another household.

The territory is dealing with its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic. There have been 523 cases since early August after a hand-games tournament became a superspreader event.

The bulk of the N.W.T.’s 179 active cases are in three communities. There were 117 cases reported in Yellowknife, 22 in Behchokǫ̀̀ and 14 in Whatì. Both areas are northwest of the capital.

2:10 p.m. Nova Scotia reported 66 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday as health officials were expected to announce whether the province will move into the final phase of the government’s recovery plan.

Officials said 61 of the new cases are in the northern zone, with two related to travel and 59 involving close contacts of previously reported infections. They said there is a large cluster of cases in the region involving a group of people who are largely unvaccinated.

The five remaining cases are in the Halifax area, where officials say there are signs of community spread among people aged 20 to 40 who are unvaccinated and participating in social activities.

The province reported a total of 173 active cases, including four people who are in hospital COVID-19 units.

Meanwhile, officials were expected to announce whether the province will move to Phase 5 on Wednesday, which would lift most pandemic-related public health measures if 75 per cent of all Nova Scotians are fully vaccinated.

As of Monday, however, about 72.5 per cent of the population had been fully vaccinated, and Premier Tim Houston has said the 75 per cent target is “very firm.”

The last phase would see the removal of most of the public health measures that have been in place since the onset of the pandemic, such as indoor masking and gathering limits.

2 p.m. Canadian singer-songwriter Michael Bublé has cancelled his Austin appearance at the Frank Erwin Center on Sept. 20 after the venue did not accommodate his request for more stringent COVID-19 safety protocols.

“Though The University of Texas is confident in the health and safety protocols and procedures that are in place for large scale events, we are not in a position to expand on those as Michael Bublé requested,” a representative from the Erwin Center said in a statement.

The statement did not detail how Bublé wanted the Erwin Center’s safety protocols expanded, but a message posted to his official Twitter account in late August said that either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test would be required for entry to all shows on the upcoming tour.

The COVID-19 safety page on the website for the Erwin Center says nothing about screening upon entry for events, but it notes that social distancing markers are placed at each door.

“For individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have weakened immune systems, social distancing is optional but recommended,” the guidelines say.

Per university guidelines masks are recommended, but not required, at the arena which has a capacity of over 15,000.

1:30 p.m. The head of Quebec’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy will oversee the deployment of rapid tests in schools after administrators criticized the rollout of the program.

Daniel Paré will be responsible for ensuring that schools across the province have access to rapid COVID-19 testing, Health Minister Christian Dubé said Tuesday on Twitter.

An association representing school administrators in Montreal said on Monday that some schools had not yet received the rapid test kits.

Kathleen Legault, president of L’Association montréalaise des directions d’établissement scolaire, said training videos had been received on Friday but they were aimed at medical professionals, not teachers. She said that while each test takes about 15 minutes, preparation time and verifying parental consent can take another 15 to 20 minutes.

“The teachers absolutely do not have the time to do these tests,” Legault said Monday in an interview. “So, we’re asking, who will conduct the tests? Because no staff has been added, no money has been added for this and we already have a shortage of staff in our schools.”

1 p.m. (updated) Fake exemptions could be a problem when Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine certificate system takes effect in restaurants, bars, sports stadiums and other venues next Wednesday, officials say.

The province will require a written document from a physician or nurse practitioner stating the bearer is medically exempt from being fully vaccinated, but such a note could be easily forged and presented upon entry to a business, senior government staff told reporters during a background briefing Tuesday.

“We all recognize fraud is a possibility,” one official said after being asked if people opposed to vaccinations and the certificate system could use their computers to print out exemption notes using phoney letterhead.

The briefing was held in advance of an afternoon news conference by Health Minister Christine Elliott and others.

Read the full story from the Star’s Rob Ferguson

12:55 p.m. It’s the subject of endless speculation and discussion — when will people go back to work. But a new gauge of downtown foot traffic shows that Toronto is trailing most North American cities when it comes to returning to the office.

Among six Canadian cities, only Ottawa lags Toronto in terms of downtown business traffic. That is according to a new Vitality Index, developed by commercial real estate company Avison Young. It shows foot traffic in Toronto is still 85.8 per cent lower on average than it was before the pandemic. Ottawa is down 89.6 per cent in the same period.

Toronto’s office activity ranked 18th among 23 North American cities. Only Silicon Valley, East Bay/Oakland, Calif., and Miami, as well as Ottawa, had lower office attendance last week.

Read the full story from the Star’s Tess Kalinowski

12:45 p.m. A science advisory group says tens of thousands of people in Ontario are experiencing post-COVID-19 symptoms.

In a brief released today, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says the symptoms of so-called long COVID can last from weeks to months after contracting the virus.

The group says a conservative estimate suggests between 57,000 and 78,000 Ontarians had or are currently experiencing long COVID symptoms.

The most common of more than 200 different symptoms include fatigue, shortness of breath, general pain or discomfort, anxiety and depression.

The science group says individuals experiencing such symptoms have difficulty performing daily activities and may require increased health-care resources.

The group is also calling for more research to help the health-care system better prepare to deal with the impact of long COVID in the future.

12:30 p.m. The chief public health officer in the Northwest Territories has closed all schools in Yellowknife and surrounding areas after a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Schools will be closed starting today until at least Sept. 24.

The territory is dealing with its worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic, with 117 active cases in Yellowknife.

There are 179 active infections across the N.W.T.

Dr. Kami Kandola says she ordered schools to close because public health workers in Yellowknife can’t keep up with contact tracing and testing.

Yellowknife’s day shelter and sobering centre have also closed after a number of staff were infected with COVID-19.

12:15 p.m. Quebec is reporting 633 new cases of COVID-19 today and seven additional deaths linked to the novel coronavirus.

The Health Department says the number of hospitalizations linked to the disease rose by three from the day before, to 230, and 78 people are in intensive care, a rise of three.

Authorities say 14,116 doses of vaccine were administered within the past 24 hours.

According to the province’s public health institute, 88.4 per cent of Quebec residents 12 and over have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 83.4 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated.

The public health institute says Laval, a large suburb of Montreal, is the most affected region in the province, with 196.6 active cases per 100,000 people, followed by the neighbouring region of Lanaudière, with 113.4 active cases per 100,000 people. There are 72.6 active cases per 100,000 people in Quebec.

Quebec has reported 399,058 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 11,312 deaths linked to the disease since the beginning of the pandemic.

12 p.m. Dr. Matt Strauss will start his term as acting medical officer in Haldimand-Norfolk on Tuesday after a tumultuous few days that saw some members of the local board of health initially withdraw their support for the noted lockdown skeptic.

Whatever Strauss’s detractors heard behind closed doors Monday night during a nearly two-hour session with an unnamed lawyer changed their minds, for the board subsequently voted 8-1 to confirm the appointment.

Norfolk County councillor Kim Huffman, who last Tuesday publicly revoked her support for Strauss after outcry over some of his statements — such as calling into question public health measures like vaccine passports and masking, or when he tweeted that he would sooner give his children COVID-19 than fast food — was among those who changed her tune.

11:45 a.m. A maverick Toronto MPP is urging Premier Doug Ford to protect the jobs of Ontarians who refuse to get vaccinated or who decline to share their vaccination status with their boss.

Independent MPP Roman Baber (York Centre) told reporters Tuesday at Queen’s Park that his proposed “Jobs and Jabs Act” would prevent employers from firing or suspending workers because they have not had their COVID-19 shot.

Baber, who is himself fully vaccinated, said his private member’s bill would also guarantee the privacy of employees who won’t disclose to their employer whether they have been vaccinated.

“The goal is to protect jobs and preserve livelihoods,” said the MPP, who was defenestrated from the Progressive Conservative caucus in January for publicly questioning the wisdom of pandemic lockdowns and warning of the toll on Ontarians’ mental health.

Read the full story from the Star’s Robert Benzie

11:34 a.m. Montreal Alouettes head coach Khari Jones has tested positive for COVID-19 and will isolate from the CFL team for a minimum of 10 days.

The club said Jones, who was diagnosed Sunday, is asymptomatic and “feeling well” at home.

The Alouettes added Jones is fully vaccinated and has followed social distancing guidelines.

Montreal players and staff were tested Monday in the wake of Jones’ diagnosis. No other positive tests were detected.

10:18 a.m. Ontario is reporting 577 new cases of COVID-19, 452 cases in individuals not fully vaccinated In Ontario, 21,212,026 vaccine doses have been administered. Nearly 84.5 per cent of Ontarians 12+ have one dose and 78.2 per cent have two doses. 363 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, according to tweets from Health Minister Christine Elliott.

The seven-day average is up to 717 cases per day or 34.5 weekly per 100,000 and up to 10.1 deaths per day. Labs are reporting 21,133 completed tests and a 2.3 per cent positive, according to the Star’s Ed Tubb.

9:47 a.m. Health officials in Nova Scotia are expected to announce Tuesday whether the province will move into the final phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan.

Phase 5 is scheduled to be implemented on Wednesday if at least 75 per cent of all Nova Scotians are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

As of Monday, however, about 72.5 per cent of the population had been fully vaccinated, and Premier Tim Houston has said the 75 per cent target was “very firm.”

The last phase would see the removal of most of the public health measures that have been in place since the onset of the pandemic, such as indoor masking and gathering limits.

Officials reported 73 new cases of COVID-19 over the three-day period covering Sept. 11-13.

That figure included 36 new cases in the northern zone, where health officials said there was a large cluster of linked cases within a “defined group” it did not identify.

8:30 a.m. Cyprus’ health minister says the east Mediterranean island nation has achieved the milestone of having 80 per cent of the population receive at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Minister Michalis Hadjipantela said in a statement on Tuesday it’s expected that 80 per cent of citizens will be fully vaccinated within two or three weeks.

He said the achievement has put Cyprus among those European Union member states that have achieved or surpassed the target set by the 27-member bloc.

Hadjipantela said health authorities will ramp up vaccination efforts to ensure that the country will enter the winter season with a greater degree of safety.

A recent opinion poll showed that 13 per cent of Cypriots are either reluctant about getting vaccinated against COVID-19 or completely oppose it.

The country’s COVID-19 infection rate has dropped in recent days following a sharp spike in new cases that had set record highs.

8:15 a.m. Toronto Public Health is investigating 23 schools for potential “COVID-19 activity,” as of Monday morning.

The public health unit listed the schools in a statement released Monday, adding that they were completing case and contact management to keep staff and students as safe as possible.

Out of the 23 schools identified, 16 belonged to the Toronto District School Board, four to the Toronto Catholic District School Board, one to the French Catholic Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir and two were private schools.

Read the full story from the Star’s Akrit Michael and Joshua Chong

8:05 a.m. Alaska reported yet another record for hospitalizations in people with COVID-19 through the weekend amid an ongoing surge linked to the Delta variant responsible for most of the state’s cases.

Fairbanks Memorial Hospital also reported two new deaths in people with the virus over the weekend, amid high numbers of COVID-19 cases reported in the Fairbanks and North Pole communities including 175 cases reported on Friday alone.

A combination of staff shortages, heavy admissions and a crush of COVID-19 patients is pushing the state’s hospitals to the brink of what the system can handle, medical providers and health officials say.

State data reported Monday showed 210 COVID-positive patients hospitalized around the state as of Sunday, more than half of them in Anchorage. That’s up slightly from the record set Thursday of 208. Virus-related hospitalizations have risen more than 1,200 per cent since late June, when there were barely two dozen COVID-positive patients at one time.

7:50 a.m. The first day of British Columbia’s program requiring that residents have vaccine cards to gain entry to non-essential businesses was met with tension in the streets and anxiety from the businesses required to enforce the rules.

The rollout of B.C.’s so-called vaccine passport Monday — the same day groups of protesters across the country targeted hospitals over pandemic restrictions and vaccine mandates — could serve as an example of what is yet to come in Ontario, where a proof-of-vaccination program comes into effect next week.

On busy Government Street in downtown Victoria, the restaurant business appeared to be booming — sunny patios filling with tourists and locals alike. Only small things indicated a change, such as the signs instructing people to have their vaccine card and identification ready, and, in some cases, security guards posted at what is typically the host’s stand.

Read the full story from the Star’s Alex McKeen

7:30 a.m. The pandemic has often seen employers and employees pitted against each other.

While government supports have provided a lifeline for businesses, they are also being blamed for keeping workers at home. But the reality is more complicated.

With wage and rent subsidies running out on Oct. 23 — just four days before the Canada Recovery Benefit ends — labour advocates say the loss of these programs will impact both workers and their employers.

“It gave us a sense of security,” said Rena Kisfalvi, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4055, which represents more than 1,000 flight attendants for Sunwing.

Read the full story from the Star’s Rosa Saba

7 a.m.: An expert advisory panel recommended Tuesday that the U.K. government offer a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to everyone over age 50 to protect against waning protection this winter.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization’s recommendation came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepared to announce the government’s new plan for combating the pandemic. The World Health Organization has asked wealthy nations to delay booster shots until every country has vaccinated at least 40% of their populations.

The JCVI said booster shots were needed to ensure vulnerable people are protected against COVID-19, because studies have shown that the immunity conferred by vaccines weakens over time. The panel recommended that people over 50 get a booster shot six months after they received their second dose of vaccine.

The move comes despite appeals from WHO, which has urged rich countries with large supplies of coronavirus vaccines to refrain from offering booster shots through the end of the year and make the doses available for poorer countries.

6:06 a.m.: Honestly, I didn’t expect it to be so sad. Dispiriting, sure: a protest outside a hospital, 18 months into a pandemic, as burned-out health-care workers stared down at people who statistically may be the most likely to end up inside a hospital with COVID-19. There had been vows online to block ambulances, and even isolated threats of guns from some People’s Party of Canada supporters.

There is a virus in this country, beyond the obvious one.

Read the full column from the Star’s Bruce Arthur.

6:05 a.m.: Toronto Public Health has quantified Toronto’s remaining vaccine challenge. Our magic number? 336,000.

That’s the approximate number of remaining people who need to become fully vaccinated to push the city’s two-dose vaccination rate from its current level of about 78 per cent of the eligible population to the 90 per cent threshold the city’s public health agency has set as its new target.

Read the full column from Matt Elliott.

6:05 a.m.: Alberta doctors called on the government to restrict unvaccinated people from indoor public spaces on Monday, as COVID-19 intensive care admissions reached an all-time high.

Numbers released by the province show 198 Albertans with COVID-19 were receiving intensive care — surpassing the previous record of 182 admissions in May. Alberta Health Services, as of Monday morning, said the number was even higher, at 202.

Alberta Health Services also said intensive care capacity was operating at 90 per cent with surge spaces added. Without additional surge beds, capacity would be at 148 per cent.

In an open letter, 65 intensive care physicians urged the United Conservative government to take urgent action to protect the health system.

“It is our opinion that the current measures do not go nearly far enough to interrupt transmission or reduce barriers to vaccination. It is also our opinion that the current state of health-care capacity in Alberta is so dire that waiting to see the results of current, less stringent measures will result in devastating consequences,” reads the letter.

“To prevent broad restrictions like those required in earlier waves, we are calling for immediate implementation of certificates of immunity that individuals must provide to enter any indoor public spaces for the purpose of accessing anon-essential service.”

Over the weekend, the province recorded 4,740 new cases: 1,659 infections on Friday, 1,497 on Saturday and 1,584 on Sunday. Government data showed 803 Albertans were in hospital with the virus.

Alberta also continued to have the highest count of active infections in the country with 18,395.

6:04 a.m.: Russian President Vladimir Putin is going into self-isolation because of coronavirus cases in his inner circle, the Kremlin said Tuesday, adding that he tested negative for COVID-19.

The announcement came in the Kremlin’s readout of Putin’s phone call with Tajikistan’s president. Putin has been fully vaccinated with the Russian coronavirus vaccine Sputnik V, receiving his second shot in April.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Putin is “absolutely healthy,” but will self-isolate after coming in contact with someone who contracted the virus. He didn’t clarify for how long Putin would remain in self-isolation, but assured that the president will continue working as usual.

Asked if Putin tested negative for the virus, Peskov said “definitely, yes.”

Peskov didn’t say who among Putin’s contacts were infected, saying only that there were several cases.

6:03 a.m.: The number of coronavirus infections and people hospitalized for COVID-19 in West Virginia have set new highs as Gov. Jim Justice scolds residents who continue to balk at getting vaccinated.

At least 40 per cent of the state’s people older than 12 have not received all doses.

The governor said Monday that “this is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” He has balked at issuing either a vaccination or mask mandate.

Officials said Monday that confirmed virus cases statewide totaled about 8,860 last week, breaking the previous weekly high of about 8,200 set in early January. A record 852 people were in hospitals Monday for COVID-19, the disease that can be caused by the virus. The previous high of 818 was set Jan. 5.

6:02 a.m.: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is urging the Food and Drug Administration to quickly authorize booster shots for the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine as well as permit children ages 5 to 11 to be vaccinated.

Polis said Monday that foot-dragging by U.S. health officials has cost lives. In his words, “The FDA needs to get out of their ivory tower and realize there is a real life pandemic.”

In August, Pfizer said it had started the application process for a third dose of its vaccine for everyone age 16 and older. It asserts that people’s antibody levels jump fivefold to tenfold after a third dose, compared to their second dose months earlier.

The White House has begun planning for boosters later this month, if both the FDA and the CDC agree. Advisers to the FDA will weigh evidence about an extra Pfizer shot Friday. The U.S. already offers an extra dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to people with severely weakened immune systems.

6:02 a.m.: Australia’s capital city of Canberra will remain locked down for a second month after the local government reported 22 new coronavirus infections.

The Australian Capital Territory locked down Aug. 12 after a single case linked to a Sydney outbreak of the virus’ delta variant was detected.

Territorial Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Tuesday that Canberra’s lockdown will be extended until Oct. 15.

Canberra is surrounded by New South Wales state, where Australia’s delta outbreak began when a limousine driver tested positive June 16. He was infected while transporting a U.S. cargo flight crew from Sydney’s airport.

Sydney is Australia’s largest city and has been locked since June 26.

Before delta came to Canberra last month, the city of 430,000 people had not recorded a single case of coronavirus community infection since July 10, 2020.

6 a.m.: A second city in southeastern China has seen a jump in COVID-19 cases in a delta variant outbreak that started late last week.

The National Health Commission said Tuesday that 59 new cases had been identified in the latest 24-hour period, more than doubling the total to 102. All are in Fujian province on China’s east coast.

The port city of Xiamen has confirmed 33 cases in the past two days. Another 59 cases have been found in Putian, about 150 kilometres (90 miles) north on the coast, where the outbreak was first detected.

Xiamen locked down affected neighbourhoods, closed entertainment and fitness venues and cancelled group activities including those for the upcoming Mid-Autumn Festival holiday. Long-distance bus service to other parts of the province has been suspended.

China has largely stopped the spread of COVID but has sporadic outbreaks. A delta variant outbreak in July and August spread to several provinces, raising concern about new and more contagious variants.

6 a.m.: Pakistan’s planning minister has warned that people who are not vaccinated will not be allowed to work from offices after this month.

In a televised message Tuesday, Asad Umar said unvaccinated people will also not be eligible to enter shopping malls, use public transport or to travel by air after the Sept. 30 deadline.

Umar also asked people to keep social distancing in comments that came hours after Pakistan reported a steady decline in cases of coronavirus.

Umar said about 52% of the adult population in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, had been vaccinated and other cities should also try to vaccinate at least 40% of their eligible population as soon as possible to avoid lockdowns and COVID-19 related restrictions.

Pakistan has reported 1.2 million COVID-19 cases and nearly 27,000 deaths since the pandemic began last year.