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News and updates on the coronavirus for Thursday, January 13, 2022

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

6 a.m : The director of the African Centers for Disease Control said the organization was discussing with Pfizer the introduction of its COVID-19 treatment pill to the continent, which has just passed 10 million cases.

The talks come as Dr John Nkengasong urges the government and citizens not to relax vaccinations and preventative measures as various countries experience increased waves of infections with the omicron variant.

“We work hand in hand. … We are in close discussions with Pfizer to see what can be done to make the drugs available on the mainland, ”Nkengasong said Thursday at a press briefing.

He said he hoped the treatment would help stressed health systems on the continent and be part of an approach in 2022 that includes stepping up vaccines and expanding testing to help deal with the pandemic.

At least 39 countries have reported the new variant and the average increase in cases in Africa is around 11%, he said.

He noted that vaccination rates are still not high enough, saying governments are struggling because there are so many people only getting vaccinated when there is a spike, resulting in many preventable hospitalizations and strain on systems.

6 a.m : Just days before Canadian truck drivers are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the country or face quarantine, the federal government is withdrawing from the vaccination mandate.

The new rule will still go into effect for U.S. truckers starting this weekend, with drivers turned back at the border unless they have been vaccinated.

But a spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency told The Canadian Press on Wednesday evening that unvaccinated Canadian truckers, or those who have only received a single dose, will not have to train themselves. quarantine.

The leader of the Canadian Trucking Alliance says about 10 percent of the 120,000 large Canadian truckers crossing the border have not been fully immunized.

5h54: France will let in British travelers vaccinated against COVID-19 without having to self-isolate or offer a valid reason for the trip, the French Prime Minister said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Jean Castex said travel restrictions will be eased from Friday as the highly contagious variant of omicron is now largely dominant in both countries.

By mid-December, France had curbed the breath of what it considered valid reasons to visit the country and demanded 48-hour isolation on arrival in a bid to slow the spread of the omicron, which was more prevalent in the UK at the time. .

Everyone arriving from Britain must show a negative virus test taken within the previous 24 hours.

Unvaccinated travelers arriving from the UK must still provide a valid reason to travel and undergo a 10-day quarantine under police surveillance.

5:52 am: Ajman Emirate is warning its government employees they will be penalized if they come into contact for the second time with anyone who has contracted COVID-19, state-related media in the Arab Emirates reported Thursday. United.

Local media have said federal employees in Ajman will not receive paid sick leave for quarantine if they come into close contact with infected people outside of the workplace or home for the second time.

The UAE has a 99% vaccination rate among eligible residents and a total number of virus deaths of less than 2,200, but the spread of the omicron variant around the world has increased the number of daily infections. . The United Arab Emirates, home to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, saw the number of daily cases rise from around 50 per day in early December to more than 2,600 per day this week.

To limit the spread of the virus, Ajman’s human resources department issued a circular with a no-no list that would result in payroll deductions, ranging from a one-day pay cut to a one-day pay cut. 10 days for repeat offenders.

UAE-based The National newspaper said index offenses include not wearing masks, being in crowded areas, shaking hands with other people and going to the office after being in contact with someone who has contracted the coronavirus. Supervisors will also be slapped with payroll deductions if they fail to ensure employees comply.

5:48 am: Less than two weeks after the start of the winter term, French teachers are already exhausted by the pressure of the upsurge in COVID-19 cases.

On Thursday, French teachers withdrew from a national strike organized by teachers’ unions to protest class disruptions linked to the virus and the constantly evolving isolation rules.

France is at the epicenter of Europe’s current fight against COVID-19, with new infections exceeding 360,000 per day in recent days, driven by the highly contagious variant of omicron. Teachers are upset and want clarification on the rules and more protections, such as masks and extra tests to help relieve the tension.

“The month of January is hard (for schools)”, admitted the Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer on France 2. His ministry has counted 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 among students in the “last days” and a large number of classes closed due to the virus: 10,553. The numbers are expected to worsen in the coming weeks.

The teachers’ union SNUIPP says discontent is growing among French teachers. Since January 6, authorities have already imposed two changes to the rules on testing schoolchildren, leaving a lot of whiplash. The union expects around 75% of teachers to go on strike, with half of schools closed across the country.

“The situation since the start of the January school year has created an indescribable mess and a strong sense of abandonment and anger among school staff,” the union said.

5:48 am: South Korea on Thursday received its first supply of Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral pills to treat patients with mild to moderate symptoms.

Health officials have described Paxlovid pills as a potentially important tool to suppress hospitalizations and deaths as the country braces for another possible rise in infections brought on by the contagious variant of omicron.

South Korea’s initial supply is sufficient to support the five-day treatments required for 21,000 people. Officials say another batch of pills, enough to provide the required five-day classes to 10,000 people, will arrive by the end of January.

Workers were seen unloading pill containers from a plane at Incheon International Airport. The pills will be moved to a pharmaceutical warehouse in central South Korea before being administered to patients across the country from Friday.

Since supplies of Paxlovid will initially be limited amid a global shortage, the pills will initially only be available to patients 65 years of age or older who are being treated at home or in shelters for mild or moderate symptoms.

Thursday 5:46 am: Just weeks before hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics, China is battling multiple coronavirus outbreaks in half a dozen cities, the closest to the capital being driven by the highly transmissible variant of omicron.

With the success of the Games and China’s national dignity at stake, Beijing is stepping up its efforts in its “zero tolerance” COVID-19 policy.

Across China, more than 20 million people are in some form of lockdown, and many are prevented from leaving their homes.

Tianjin, just an hour from Beijing, is on high alert, although it has refrained from imposing a full lockdown like that of Xi’an, a city of 14 million people.

Instead, it has cordoned off several residential communities and universities, canceled almost all flights, suspended high-speed train service, and closed highways. People leaving the city are required to show negative COVID-19 tests and receive special permission.

Read Wednesday’s coronavirus news.