Today’s coronavirus news: COVID-19 deaths in Canada may be two times higher than reported, study finds; Russia records highest daily virus death toll

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.7:20 a.m. As vaccination rates skyrocket and new COVID-19 cases counts remain low, pressure is mounting on Premier Doug Ford to accelerate Ontario’s reopening.The province enters its second step on Wednesday — allowing haircuts and other personal services for the first time in months — having easily surpassed the benchmark of 70 per cent of adults with one shot and 20 per cent fully vaccinated.But restaurants and fitness centres must wait until Step 3 before indoor dining and workouts will be permitted.That could be another three weeks away, even though thresholds for that step are between 70 and 80 per cent with one dose and 25 per cent fully vaccinated.Read the full story from the Star’s Robert Benzie6:42 a.m.: Australia has removed age restrictions for adults who want the AstraZeneca vaccine as the delta variant of the coronavirus spreads.Australian health authorities had initially advised against using AstraZeneca for adults under age 50 and then younger than 60 because of the greater risk of rare blood clots in younger people.The general leading the Australian military’s pandemic response told Nine Network on Tuesday that increasing the availability of AstraZeneca is a risk-based judgment. Lt. Gen. John Frewen says supplies of Australian-manufactured AstraZeneca are adequate.Only 5% of the Australian population is fully vaccinated. The only other vaccine available in Australia is Pfizer, but manufacturers cannot meet demand.The cities of Sydney, Perth and Darwin are in lockdown.6:41 a.m.: Health officials in Los Angeles County are recommending, but not making mandatory that people wear masks indoors in public places regardless of their vaccination status.The recommendation in the nation’s most populous county is aimed at preventing the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus.The county public health department suggests that people wear masks when inside grocery or retail stores as well as at theatres and family entertainment centres and in workplaces when people’s vaccination statuses are not known.The county experienced a surge in cases and deaths over the winter. To date, the county has recorded a total of 1.2 million coronavirus cases and more than 24,000 deaths from COVID-19.6:41 a.m.: Hungary will donate half a million COVID-19 vaccines to other countries in Central and Southeast Europe as its vaccination drive slows and supplies pile up.An early vaccination leader in the European Union, Hungary has struggled in recent weeks to use up its available stocks of vaccines. With 67% of its adult population having received at least a first dose, until recently Hungary had the second-highest vaccination rate in the 27-member EU.But other European countries like Belgium and Finland have since caught up as most Hungarians who want a vaccine have already received one. While a daily average of 60,000 first-dose shots were being given in mid-May, on Tuesday that number was scarcely over 9,000.Speaking to reporters in Poland on Monday, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that Hungary would provide Bosnia and Montenegro with 200,000 doses each of the Chinese-manufactured Sinopharm vaccine, noting that the jab has been approved for emergency use in both countries.“The more protected our neighbours are, the safer Hungary will be from a health perspective,” Szijjarto said.The foreign minister said on Sunday that Hungary would donate 100,000 doses of an unspecified vaccine to the Czech Republic, since “there is plenty of vaccine available so the Hungarian government can help those who are less well off.”Hungary — the only EU country to approve the Sinopharm vaccine — purchased 5 million doses of the jab, contributing to the early surge in its vaccination program.But according to figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, more than 3.1 million of the country’s Sinopharm doses remain unused.6:40 a.m.: Russian authorities have reported 652 new coronavirus deaths on Tuesday — the highest daily tally in the pandemic. The record comes as Russia struggles to cope with a surge in infections and deaths and low vaccine uptake.Russia’s state coronavirus task force has been registering over 20,000 new coronavirus cases and around 600 deaths every day since last Thursday. On Tuesday, 20,616 new contagions were recorded.Russian officials have blamed the surge, which started in early June, on Russians’ lax attitude toward taking necessary precautions, growing prevalence of more infectious variants and laggard vaccination rates. Although Russia was among the first countries to announce and deploy a coronavirus vaccine, only about 14% of the population has received at least one shot.Russia’s coronavirus task force has reported nearly 5.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the pandemic and 134,545 deaths.6:39 a.m.: As la

Today’s coronavirus news: COVID-19 deaths in Canada may be two times higher than reported, study finds; Russia records highest daily virus death toll

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.

7:20 a.m. As vaccination rates skyrocket and new COVID-19 cases counts remain low, pressure is mounting on Premier Doug Ford to accelerate Ontario’s reopening.

The province enters its second step on Wednesday — allowing haircuts and other personal services for the first time in months — having easily surpassed the benchmark of 70 per cent of adults with one shot and 20 per cent fully vaccinated.

But restaurants and fitness centres must wait until Step 3 before indoor dining and workouts will be permitted.

That could be another three weeks away, even though thresholds for that step are between 70 and 80 per cent with one dose and 25 per cent fully vaccinated.

Read the full story from the Star’s Robert Benzie

6:42 a.m.: Australia has removed age restrictions for adults who want the AstraZeneca vaccine as the delta variant of the coronavirus spreads.

Australian health authorities had initially advised against using AstraZeneca for adults under age 50 and then younger than 60 because of the greater risk of rare blood clots in younger people.

The general leading the Australian military’s pandemic response told Nine Network on Tuesday that increasing the availability of AstraZeneca is a risk-based judgment. Lt. Gen. John Frewen says supplies of Australian-manufactured AstraZeneca are adequate.

Only 5% of the Australian population is fully vaccinated. The only other vaccine available in Australia is Pfizer, but manufacturers cannot meet demand.

The cities of Sydney, Perth and Darwin are in lockdown.

6:41 a.m.: Health officials in Los Angeles County are recommending, but not making mandatory that people wear masks indoors in public places regardless of their vaccination status.

The recommendation in the nation’s most populous county is aimed at preventing the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus.

The county public health department suggests that people wear masks when inside grocery or retail stores as well as at theatres and family entertainment centres and in workplaces when people’s vaccination statuses are not known.

The county experienced a surge in cases and deaths over the winter. To date, the county has recorded a total of 1.2 million coronavirus cases and more than 24,000 deaths from COVID-19.

6:41 a.m.: Hungary will donate half a million COVID-19 vaccines to other countries in Central and Southeast Europe as its vaccination drive slows and supplies pile up.

An early vaccination leader in the European Union, Hungary has struggled in recent weeks to use up its available stocks of vaccines. With 67% of its adult population having received at least a first dose, until recently Hungary had the second-highest vaccination rate in the 27-member EU.

But other European countries like Belgium and Finland have since caught up as most Hungarians who want a vaccine have already received one. While a daily average of 60,000 first-dose shots were being given in mid-May, on Tuesday that number was scarcely over 9,000.

Speaking to reporters in Poland on Monday, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that Hungary would provide Bosnia and Montenegro with 200,000 doses each of the Chinese-manufactured Sinopharm vaccine, noting that the jab has been approved for emergency use in both countries.

“The more protected our neighbours are, the safer Hungary will be from a health perspective,” Szijjarto said.

The foreign minister said on Sunday that Hungary would donate 100,000 doses of an unspecified vaccine to the Czech Republic, since “there is plenty of vaccine available so the Hungarian government can help those who are less well off.”

Hungary — the only EU country to approve the Sinopharm vaccine — purchased 5 million doses of the jab, contributing to the early surge in its vaccination program.

But according to figures from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, more than 3.1 million of the country’s Sinopharm doses remain unused.

6:40 a.m.: Russian authorities have reported 652 new coronavirus deaths on Tuesday — the highest daily tally in the pandemic. The record comes as Russia struggles to cope with a surge in infections and deaths and low vaccine uptake.

Russia’s state coronavirus task force has been registering over 20,000 new coronavirus cases and around 600 deaths every day since last Thursday. On Tuesday, 20,616 new contagions were recorded.

Russian officials have blamed the surge, which started in early June, on Russians’ lax attitude toward taking necessary precautions, growing prevalence of more infectious variants and laggard vaccination rates. Although Russia was among the first countries to announce and deploy a coronavirus vaccine, only about 14% of the population has received at least one shot.

Russia’s coronavirus task force has reported nearly 5.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the pandemic and 134,545 deaths.

6:39 a.m.: As larger weddings become possible around the country, wedding planners say the COVID-19 vaccination status of attendees has become an important talking point.

Alexandra Slawek of Boutiq Weddings and Events in Calgary said some of her clients have said they only want attendees who are at least partially vaccinated, and expects that more people will specify that requirement on invitations.

“It seems to be the trend right now, people still seem to be scared,” particularly of the Delta variant of the virus, said Slawek

“A lot of weddings have websites now, I wouldn’t be surprised if they put it as an asterisk on the website to please make sure you’re vaccinated before accepting the invitation.”

Read full story from the Canadian Press here.

6:30 a.m.: A new study suggests Canada has vastly underestimated how many people have died from COVID-19 and says the number could be two times higher than reported.

Dr. Tara Moriarty, working group lead for the study commissioned by the Royal Society of Canada, said in an interview while most accounts have put the majority of deaths in long-term care, the new data analysis suggests the toll of COVID-19 was also heavily felt outside the homes in the community.

Many of those deaths likely occurred in lower income, racialized communities and affected essential workers, new immigrants and people living in multi-generational homes, as well as clinically frail seniors living at home, the study says.

“If we’d had some sense early on of who was dying where, if we had had a sense of just how many deaths were actually occurring ... maybe people would have started looking sooner or listening sooner to people in communities who were saying, ‘It’s really bad here, people are dying,’” Moriarty said.

“It might have provided support for those claims that might have caused some kind of action that would have saved lives.”

Moriarty said seeing Canada out of step with similar high-income countries on the proportion of long-term care deaths was a red flag that inspired the analysis by the society.

The new peer-reviewed analysis casts doubt on the widely accepted assumption that 80 per cent of Canada’s deaths due to COVID-19 occurred among older adult residents of long-term care homes.

Instead, it says at least two-thirds of deaths caused by COVID-19 in communities outside of long-term care may have been missed. That would put the proportion of deaths in long-term care at around 45 per cent, much closer to the average of 40 per cent reported by peer countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.