The latest coronavirus news in Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available.
6h15 : Merck & Co. said on Friday that its experimental COVID-19 pill was halving hospitalizations and deaths among people recently infected with the coronavirus and that it would soon ask health officials in the United States and around the world to allow its use.
If approved, Merck’s drug would be the first pill to treat COVID-19, a potentially major breakthrough in efforts to fight the pandemic. All COVID-19 therapies now authorized in the United States require an intravenous or injection.
Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics said initial results showed that patients who received the drug, called molnupiravir, within five days of COVID-19 symptoms had about half the rate of hospitalization and death as patients who have received a dummy pill. The study followed 775 adults with mild to moderate COVID-19 who were considered to be at higher risk of serious illness due to health conditions such as obesity, diabetes or heart disease.
Of the patients on molnupiravir, 7.3% were hospitalized or died after 30 days, compared with 14.1% of those on the dummy pill. There were no deaths in the drug group after this period, compared with eight deaths in the placebo group, according to Merck. The results have been published by the company and have not been peer reviewed. Merck said he plans to present them at a future medical meeting.
6h05 : Japan has fully emerged from the coronavirus state of emergency for the first time in more than six months as the country begins to gradually ease antiviral measures to help rejuvenate the pandemic-stricken economy as infections slow .
At Tokyo’s busy Shinagawa Station, a sea of masked commuters rushed to their jobs despite a typhoon approaching, some returning to their desks after months of working remotely.
Emergency measures, in place for more than half of the country, including Tokyo, ended Thursday after a steady decline in the number of new cases in recent weeks, helping to ease pressure on Japanese health systems .
Outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga thanked the people for their patience and cooperation and urged them to stick to their basic anti-virus measures.
“Once again, I ask for your cooperation so that we can resume our daily life safely,” he said.
5h45.: Toronto Public Health has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Toronto East Detention Center in Scarborough, according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of the Solicitor General.
Ontario is reporting 34 active cases of COVID-19 among inmates at the correctional facility on Thursday.
According to provincial data, the detention center reported four confirmed cases on September 12. As of September 23, there were 17 active cases. 17 other confirmed infections were reported on Monday.
Located near Eglinton Avenue East and Birchmount Road in Scarborough, the correctional facility has a capacity of 473 inmates.
Read more from The Star’s Joshua Chong.
5:30 am: Somalia has opened the country’s first public oxygen plant as a country in the Horn of Africa with one of the world’s weakest health systems to fight COVID-19.
The oxygen plant was installed Thursday in a hospital in the capital, Mogadishu. It should produce 1,000 oxygen cylinders per week.
The scarcity of medical oxygen has hampered response efforts in many African countries, as the delta variant of the coronavirus is now the cause of the bulk of infections on the continent, amounting to 1.3 billion people.
Insecurity in Somalia poses an additional challenge for efforts to combat the pandemic. A COVID-19 ward recently installed at the hospital was partially destroyed a few weeks ago in an attack by the al-Qaeda-linked extremist group al-Shabab, which controls parts of Somalia and frequently targets the capital.
Part of the work around the installation of the oxygen plant has focused on repairing this damage.
Somalia has one of the highest case fatalities from COVID-19 in Africa, and few measures are being taken to slow the spread of the virus.
5h15 : Saskatchewan’s proof of vaccination policy is now in effect, which means residents will need to show they have been immunized or have a negative COVID-19 test to access multiple businesses and event venues.
Public service employees are also required to provide proof of vaccination or provide a negative COVID-19 test result at least every seven days.
It comes a day after Saskatchewan recorded its highest number of daily COVID-19 cases and highest number of people requiring intensive care.
Businesses that will require proof of vaccination include restaurants, bars, nightclubs, theaters, casinos, and places of entertainment.
Children under 12 are exempt from the requirements.
5 am: On Thursday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced that approximately 35 out-of-province health care workers will be recruited to help deal with the growing COVID-19 crisis in the province.
The move comes after the premier spent the week resisting calls from medical professionals for a hard lockout of circuit breakers in the province as well as downplaying the immediate need for outside help.
But at a press conference Thursday, Kenney said Alberta is working hard to bring in five or six workers from Newfoundland and Labrador, eight to ten from the Canadian Armed Forces and about 20 from the Cross. Canadian Red. Workers would likely travel to Fort McMurray, Edmonton and Red Deer to help overwhelmed intensive care units across the province, Kenney said.
“It’s a helping hand,” Kenney said. “It will help bring some relief. In some of our hospitals, this is very welcome.
For weeks, Alberta has been struggling with the worst COVID-19 crisis in the country. About 200 more intensive care beds have been opened as hospitals struggle to cope with the onslaught of mostly unvaccinated patients admitted.
Read more from The Star’s Kieran Leavitt.
4h30 : A third school district in British Columbia announced its own policy extending the provincial mask term for Kindergarten to Grade 3 students starting Monday.
The Burnaby School District has followed the lead of the Districts of Vancouver and Surrey in making masks mandatory for all classes as concerns grow over the growing number of COVID-19 infections among children who are not eligible vaccination.
The district said in a letter sent to parents on Thursday that the Burnaby School Board had made a unanimous decision on the change after requesting an urgent meeting Wednesday night with Dr. Ariella Zbar, Fraser Health’s medical officer of health.
“His assurance that masks provide an effective layer of protection for all students when used in conjunction with other health and safety measures informed the board’s decision to swiftly implement this new requirement. of mask ”, indicates the letter.