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Today’s coronavirus news: Doctors, caregivers push for in-home COVID-19 vaccinations for housebound seniors; Vaccination ‘passports’ may open society, experts say, but inequity looms
The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Friday. This file will be updated throughout the day. Web links to longer stories if available. 6:23 a.m.: Workplace inspectors fanned out across Peel Region last week, targeting warehouses in the hard-hit manufacturing, logistics and distribution sectors. But even as the province was stepping up its own enforcement, some experts and advocates were wondering why the region itself wasn’t doing more to publicize where exactly COVID-19 outbreaks in the workplace were occurring.Earlier this month, the City of Toronto began publicly listing, by name, specific businesses that had been hit by a COVID outbreak. But for now, Peel, which has seen some of the worst workplace outbreaks in the province, isn’t following suit.Some epidemiologists and public health experts, believe that publicly naming businesses helps keep workers safe. They argue that the risk of public exposure encourages employers to do everything they can to avoid outbreaks and that public scrutiny can help push bad actors to change.Read the full story from the Star’s Richard Warnica. 6:22 a.m.: Ontario universities have been hit with $1 billion in costs and lost revenue because of COVID-19 and are now making a public appeal to the province for help.The Council of Ontario Universities, in a statement posted Friday on its website, says while institutions were able to find $500 million in one-time savings, they are still short the remaining $500 million and there is an “urgent need for sector-wide cost recovery.”COVID has had “a significant impact on the sector, which is why we are looking for short-term relief,” said Steve Orsini, the council’s president and CEO.“We want to work with the government over long-term sustainability, (which) would also be a goal,” he added. “Our focus now is getting COVID-19 relief to deal with the net impact on the sector so that we can continue to invest in students and communities and really help to support Ontario’s economic recovery.”Read the full story from the Star’s Kristin Rushowy 6:14 a.m.: A crisis over the supply of medical oxygen for coronavirus patients has struck nations in Africa and Latin America, where warnings went unheeded at the start of the pandemic and doctors say the shortage has led to unnecessary deaths.It takes about 12 weeks to install a hospital oxygen plant and even less time to convert industrial oxygen manufacturing systems into a medical-grade network. But in Brazil and Nigeria, as well as in less-populous nations, decisions to fully address inadequate supplies only started being made last month, after hospitals were overwhelmed and patients started to die.The gap in medical oxygen availability “is one of the defining health equity issues, I think, of our age,” said Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who said he survived a severe coronavirus infection thanks to the oxygen he received.Doctors in Nigeria anxiously monitor traffic as oxygen deliveries move through the gridlocked streets of Lagos. Desperate families of patients around the world sometimes turn to the black market. Governments take action only after hospitals are overwhelmed and the infected die by the dozens.6:13 a.m.: The thrills and chills of the big screen are back big-time in the world’s largest film market.With the coronavirus well under control in China and cinemas running at half capacity, moviegoers are smashing China’s box office records, with domestic productions far outpacing their Hollywood competitors.February marked China’s all-time biggest month for movie ticket sales, which have so far totalled 11.2 billion yuan ($1.7 billion). China overtook the U.S. as the world’s biggest market for movie ticket sales last year as the American box office took a massive hit from the closure of cinemas because of the pandemic.Chinese theatres were able to reopen by midyear and have seen steady audience growth since then. Local movies have also benefited from periodic unofficial “blackout” periods, when only domestic productions are allowed to be screened. A dearth of major Hollywood blockbusters over recent months appears to have also boosted the market for Chinese films.6:12 a.m.: On the same day Brazil reached the grim milestone of 250,000 deaths by COVID-19, the country’s health ministry signed a deal with Indian pharmaceutical company Bharat Biotech for the purchase of 20 million doses of the Covaxin vaccine, which is yet to be approved by local regulators.The administration of President Jair Bolsonaro said the first 8 million Covaxin shots, which will be made by Brazilian company Precisa Medicamentos, will arrive in March. A second batch of another 8 million doses is expected for April and in May, another 4 million doses will be available.So far Brazil has vaccinated less than 4% of its population of 210 million people, with some cities stopping immunization campaigns last week due to shortages.Neither Precisa nor Bharat confir
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