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Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 119 COVID-19 cases and 3 deaths; Ontario asks Ottawa to work with WHO on ensuring mixed vaccines recognized abroad

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

7:45 p.m.: The COVID-19 pandemic is hitting conflict-ridden and impoverished countries much worse this year than in 2020, with many facing higher caseloads and rising deaths, the UN’s deputy humanitarian chief warned Monday.

Ramesh Rajasingham said in a closed briefing to the UN Security Council that these surges are being fueled by a lack of access to vaccines, an easing of public health measures, increased social mixing, and the spread of the delta variant to at least 124 countries, including 17 fragile and conflict-affected nations.

In his briefing obtained by The Associated Press, Rajasingham said that so far in 2021 almost three-quarters of countries needing humanitarian aid have recorded more cases or deaths than in all of 2020. And in over one-third of those countries, he added, “at least three times more cases or deaths have been recorded this year compared to last.”

Rajasingham urged the international community to respond by ensuring that the poorest countries have access to protective equipment, oxygen, testing kits and other critical supplies. To tackle the pandemic and the worsening impact on the poorest people, he said, the global humanitarian system is appealing for $36 billion to help 161 million people.

6:30 p.m.: British Columbia is reporting 267 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed over the last three days, for an average of 89 new infections per day.

A statement from the Health Ministry on Monday says 695 cases were active across the province, up from 603 at the last update on Friday.

One more person has died from COVID-19 in the Northern Health region, pushing B.C.’s death toll from the illness to 1,768.

There are 43 people in hospital, including 17 in intensive care.

The majority of the latest infections were diagnosed in the Interior Health region, where 342 or nearly half of B.C.’s active cases are located.

The province says 80.6 per cent of eligible B.C. residents aged 12 and up have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 61.3 per cent are fully vaccinated.

5:35 p.m.: At the urging of federal regulators, two coronavirus vaccine makers are expanding the size of their studies in children ages 5 to 11 — a precautionary measure designed to detect rare side effects including heart inflammation problems that turned up in vaccinated people younger than 30.

The FDA has asked the companies to include 3,000 children in the 5-to-11-year-old age group, the group for whom results were expected first, according to people familiar with the situation. One of the people, granted anonymity to speak freely, described that as double the original number of study participants envisioned.

A spokesman for Moderna, Ray Jordan, confirmed that the company intends to expand its trial “to enroll a larger safety database which increases the likelihood of detecting rarer events” and expects to seek emergency authorization in “winter 2021/early 2022.”

Pfizer has previously said it expects to have results for the 5-to-11 group in September, with results for children aged 2 to 5 shortly after. Results for the youngest children between the ages of 6 months and 2 years old are expected in October or November. A spokeswoman said Monday that the company had no updates on its timetable.

5:30 p.m.: Prince Edward Island reported two new cases of COVID-19 Monday, while Nova Scotia and New Brunswick reported one each.

P.E.I. health officials said the two cases involved residents of another province who were unvaccinated, and they have been isolating since their infection was detected at the point of entry.

2:56 p.m. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are each reporting one new case of COVID-19 today, while Newfoundland and Labrador has no new cases.

The new case in Nova Scotia is located in the central zone, which includes Halifax, and involves a contact of a previously reported infection.

The province has 13 active reported cases, with no one in hospital with COVID-19, and health officials say 57.6 per cent of the total population is fully vaccinated.

New Brunswick’s new case is located in the Fredericton region and is related to travel. Health officials say the province has six active reported cases and no one in hospital with the disease.

Officials in that province say 64.4 per cent of residents 12 and up are fully vaccinated.

New Brunswick will enter the green phase of its reopening plan this Friday at midnight, under which all public health orders — including the mask mandate and limits on indoor gatherings — will be lifted.

2:15 p.m. The Quebec government says fully vaccinated residents who have received the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can receive a third dose of an mRNA vaccine before travelling.

Public health officials are offering the extra shot because some countries don’t recognize the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine made at the Serum Institute of India. But officials warned Monday it’s up to the recipient to seek advice and weigh the risks before getting a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

A spokesman for the Health Department said in an email Monday a third dose doesn’t necessarily provide more protection compared with two doses, adding that the safety of receiving two shots of AstraZeneca and an mRNA vaccine is unclear.

Robert Maranda says there are no studies that assess the impact of receiving three doses of two separate vaccines. “The person should be properly counselled to be informed of the potential risks associated with this added dose compared to the benefits of the planned trip,” he wrote.

“It is up to everyone to weigh the balance of risks and benefits.”

Quebec reported 75 new cases of COVID-19 Monday along with 223 new infections from Friday and Saturday. The province has 814 active reported cases. Health officials reported one death attributed to the novel coronavirus since Friday’s report, and they said the number of patients in hospital with COVID-19 was 67 — stable since Friday.

Meanwhile, Premier François Legault announced on Monday his government is relaxing more rules for bars, nightclubs, festivals and entertainment venues.

Legault said on Twitter that beginning Sunday, bars and nightclubs can serve alcohol for an extra hour, until 1 a.m., and they must close by 2 a.m. Festivals will be able to host a maximum of 15,000 people outside — up from 5,000. Indoor venues will be permitted to welcome a maximum of 7,500 people seated indoors, up from 3,500. Dancing, however, remains prohibited.

Quebec’s public health institute says 83.5 per cent of residents aged 12 and up have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 62.5 per cent are considered adequately vaccinated.

2:05 p.m. Pfizer (PFE) and Moderna (MRNA) reportedly are expanding their COVID-19 vaccine studies in children ages five to 11.

The Food and Drug Administration told the companies that the initial size and scope of their pediatric studies were inadequate to detect rare side effects.

The side effects include myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis, inflammation of the lining around the heart, The New York Times reported.

The FDA has asked the companies to include 3,000 children in the 5-to-11 year old age group.

1:55 p.m. In a Monday afternoon press conference, Premier Ford says back to school plans will be released soon.

“They are going back even if I have to hop in that school bus and drive the myself,” Ford said.

He also encouraged teachers to get vaccinated.

1:45 p.m. California will require state employees and all health care workers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or get tested weekly as officials aim to slow rising coronavirus infections, mostly among the unvaccinated.

The new rule will take effect next month, officials announced Monday. There are at least 238,000 state employees, according to the California controller’s office. Health officials couldn’t immediately provide an estimate on size of the health care workforce in the nation’s most populated state.

About 62 per cent of all eligible Californians are fully vaccinated, and the state has struggled to make significant progress in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, the more contagious Delta variant now makes up an estimated 80 per cent of infections in California. Hospitalizations are on the rise, though still far below where they were during the winter peak.

1:30 p.m. Tanzania on Saturday received its first batch of 1 million Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines donated by the U.S. government.

Tanzania had been among the few countries in Africa yet to receive vaccines or start inoculating its population, mainly because its former leader had claimed prayer had defeated COVID-19 in the country.

The vaccines were received by Foreign Affairs Minister Liberata Mulamula and the U.S. ambassador to Tanzania, Donald Wright, at the Julius Nyerere International Airport in the country’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.

Former Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who died in March, had refused to accept vaccines after he claimed three days of prayer had healed the country of the virus in June 2020.

Magufuli, 61, was among the world’s most prominent skeptics of COVID-19. Though his official cause of death was reported to be cardiac arrest, Magufuli’s critics believe he died of COVID-19.

Magufuli’s deputy, Samai Suluhu Hassan, took over as president in line with the country’s constitution and became the first female president in Tanzania.

Hassan has reversed Tanzania’s practice of denying COVID-19’s spread in the East African country.

1:10 p.m. Tennis Canada says it has received approval from the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to host the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in Montreal and Toronto.

Both tournaments have now been issued all the necessary authorizations from every level of government and can officially host women’s and men’s tennis from August 7 to 15.

12:40 p.m. A recent study from Peel Public Health (PPH) has looked at COVID-19 hospitalizations and status of vaccinations from patients across Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon.

According to the July 23 weekly epidemiological report from PPH, 1, 655 cases of COVID-19 were reported in the region between June 1 and July 9.

Out of those cases, 81 patients were hospitalized, with four sent to the intensive care unit (ICU).

Public health has determined that 100 per cent of these hospitalizations were “considered unvaccinated or partially vaccinated,” with 67 per cent of patients listed as nonvaccinated and 31 per cent listed as having received one vaccine dose.

Two patients, in the 65-plus age group, reported receiving two doses of the vaccine; however, their symptoms started to develop shortly after receiving their second doses, “indicating infection likely occurred while partially protected,” said PPH.

12:30 p.m. Ontario is reporting another 119 COVID-19 cases and three more deaths, according to its latest report released Monday morning.

Ontario has administered 65,920 vaccine doses since its last daily update, with 19,018,393 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night.

According to the Star’s vaccine tracker, 10,392,461 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 79.7 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 70.5 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine.

Read the full story from the Star’s Urbi Khan

11:10 a.m. Ontario has asked the federal government to ensure Canadians who received mixed COVID-19 vaccines will be recognized for international travel as border measures lift.

Health Minister Christine Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones wrote to Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc about the issue on Sunday.

They are asking Ottawa to work with the World Health Organization to update guidance to international partners, recognizing mixed vaccines as an accepted, complete vaccine regimen.

Ontario and other Canadian provinces have offered residents the option of taking one shot each of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines orto take an mRNA shot after a first of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.

The ministers say it’s critical for “the integrity and confidence” in Canada’s and Ontario’s vaccination programs that people who received doses of two different vaccines are considered immunized abroad.

They also argue that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Authority, should be seen as valid internationally.

11 a.m. The United States will keep existing COVID-19 travel restrictions on international travel in place for now due to concerns about the surging infection rate because of the Delta variant, according to a White House official.

President Joe Biden earlier this month said that his administration was “in the process” of considering how soon the U.S. could lift the ban on European travel bound for the U.S. after the issue was raised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit to the White House.

The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said while the administration understands the importance of international travel, cases are rising in the U.S. — particularly among those who are unvaccinated and will likely continue to increase in the weeks ahead.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans against travel to the United Kingdom this past Monday given a surge in cases there.

Most of continental Europe has relaxed restrictions on Americans who are fully vaccinated, although the United Kingdom still requires quarantines for most visitors arriving from the U.S. Airlines say, however, that the lack of two-way travel is limiting the number of flights they can offer and seats they can sell.

But the rise and prevalence of COVID-19 variants in Europe, especially the delta mutation that is also spreading throughout the U.S., has caused the Biden administration to tread slowly about increasing transatlantic travel.

10:45 a.m. A new report reveals a Burlington area is now among the 35 highest in the GTA with a COVID-19 positivity rate nearly quadruple the provincial average.

The most recent report by the Toronto-based research group ICES, which uses population-based health and social data to produce data on a broad range of health care issues, shows a list of more than 50 GTA neighbourhoods with the highest positivity percentage, which refers to the percentage of residents tested for COVID-19 tests that were positive for the disease, for the week of July 11-17, which are broken down by postal codes.

Excluding long-term care residents/homes, a Burlington “Forward Sortation Area (FSP)” with a postal code starting with L7S, which includes Joseph Brant Hospital and Spencer Smith Park and neighbourhoods north of these locations, has a positivity rate of 3.09 and is the highest Halton community on the list.

This positivity rate sits 35th among Ontario communities, according to the report.

For all Ontario residents, the overall per cent positivity among those tested for COVID-19 during the same time period was 0.8 per cent. For Halton region, the number is 0.71 per cent.

10:35 a.m. New York City will require all of its municipal workers — including teachers and police officers — to get coronavirus vaccines by mid-September or face weekly COVID-19 testing, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.

The rule is expected to affect about 340,000 city employees, making the city one of the largest employers in the U.S. to take such action. While it isn’t a vaccine mandate — no workers will be forced to take a shot — officials hope the inconvenience and discomfort of weekly tests will persuade many to overcome a reluctance to get inoculated.

“This is about our recovery. This is about what we need to do to bring back New York City,” de Blasio said. “This is about keeping people safe.

The Sept. 13 deadline coincides with the start of public school, when the Democratic mayor has said he expects all pupils to be in classrooms full time.

The move comes as the city battles a rise in COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly contagious delta variant. Since the end of June, the daily average of new cases has increased by more than 300%.

Last week, the city had announced it was mandating vaccinations or weekly testing for workers in the city’s hospital system.

The number of vaccine doses being given out daily in the city has dropped to less than 18,000, down from a peak of more than 100,000 in early April. About 65% of adults in the city are fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, caseloads have been rising for weeks, and health officials say the variant makes up about seven in 10 new cases.

De Blasio has said that he does not plan to reimpose a broad indoor mask mandate, as Los Angeles County has done. Masks are required in some settings such as public transportation.

10:20 a.m. Ontario is reporting 119 COVID-19 cases and 3 deaths. Locally, there are 22 new cases in Toronto, 15 in Hamilton, 14 in the Region of Waterloo and 13 in Peel Region; 11,900 tests completed.

10 a.m. Ontario administered 65,920 vaccine doses Sunday; 9,740 were first doses. 56,180 were second doses. Ontario is averaging 116,000 doses per day, according to the Star’s Ed Tubb.

9:35 a.m. Jessica deSouza always knew she wanted to be a nurse.

But, now, after working as a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) in both Australia and Peel during the pandemic, she’s ready to take her career to the next level.

The 28-year-old Mississauga resident is going to start her studies to become a fully Registered Nurse (RN) through Athabasca University this fall.

“I’ve always wanted to try the hospital,” said deSouza, who is currently working at Brampton Civic’s orthopedic unit, after caring for seniors in long-term-care homes in both Australia and back at home throughout the pandemic.

Her interest in caring for people in hospital started when she was young, watching nurses at SickKids hospital tend to her brother who was fighting leukemia. One of her first jobs out of school was working at camp Oochigeas, a camp for children and families affected by childhood cancer.

Read: As the pandemic fades, Peel needs nurses more now than ever

9:20 a.m. A survey from the Angus Reid Institute suggests that the pandemic has changed the way most Canadians think about their future with long-term care.

The survey finds that just 18 per cent of respondents say their views haven’t changed since COVID-19 hit, but about half of those surveyed say they now “dread” the thought of themselves or their loved ones being in long-term care.

Long-term care residents have accounted for the majority of COVID-19 deaths in Canada.

The report says that both those with loved ones in care and those without are equally likely to have changed their views. On other questions throughout the survey, such as what should change within the system, the two groups of people often held similar views.

That doesn’t always happen, said president Shachi Kurl.

“Often lived experience can lead to a very different outlook on an issue as opposed to those who have an opinion on an issue but don’t have the lived experience,” she said.

9:10 a.m. Los Angeles County health officials reported 2,089 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, with hospitalizations rising as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to spread.

There are 716 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, up from 452 on July 16, officials said. The county also reported four new deaths, bringing the total to 24,628 fatalities since the pandemic began early last year.

On Saturday, L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer warned that the Delta variant was “one of the most aggressive and infectious respiratory diseases known and currently makes up over 80 per cent of sequenced cases in L.A. County.”

Although cases remain at a lower point than they were during any of the previous surges, the rate of increase between July 3 and 16 was 135 per cent. Ferrer said vaccinations were still the best safeguard against serious illness requiring hospitalization.

“With unvaccinated individuals comprising over 90 per cent of those currently hospitalized, the ability of the three vaccines to protect us from serious illness caused by the Delta variant is well established,” Ferrer said. “If you are eligible but have not yet been vaccinated, please consider getting vaccinated now.”

Despite the recent jump in hospitalizations, L.A. remains in far better shape than during the fall and winter surge, when an average of about 15,000 new cases were being reported every day and more than 8,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized at times.

8:55 a.m. The United Kingdom’s health secretary apologized Sunday after saying in a since-deleted tweet that the public shouldn’t “cower” from COVID-19.

“I’ve deleted a tweet which used the word ‘cower,’” secretary Sajid Javid said. “I was expressing gratitude that the vaccines help us fight back as a society, but it was a poor choice of word and I sincerely apologize.”

“Like many, I have lost loved ones to this awful virus and would never minimize its impact,” he added.

The UK has seen an increase in cases, hospitalizations and deaths as the Delta variant continues to spread, but has nevertheless reopened.

Javid himself recently tested positive for COVID and recovered, but not before potentially exposing, among others, prime minister Boris Johnson.

The secretary sent his poorly phrased tweet on Saturday announcing he tested negative.

8:20 a.m. The U.K. government is encouraging people to eat healthier and become more active after waistlines expanded for many during extended coronavirus lockdowns.

Some 41 per cent of U.K. adults say they’ve gained weight since the initial March 2020 lockdown, according to a nationwide survey of 5,000 people conducted by pollster Opinium between July 2 and July 8. In response, the National Health Service is offering various apps and weight loss plans.

“The past sixteen months have caused many to change their habits,” Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist of Public Health England, said in an emailed statement. “It is not a surprise to see so many people reporting weight gain.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is attempting to address a backlog of operations and other procedures in the NHS, and has increasingly highlighted the public health consequences of lockdown restrictions. The main contributors to weight gain were snacking and comfort eating, according to the survey.

“The pandemic has been hugely challenging for everyone,” said Jo Churchill, public health minister. “We want to make it easier for people to adopt a healthier lifestyle that works for them.”

The U.K. has tried different solutions to rising obesity levels. In May, the government proposed to a limit on junk food commercials on television, and called on many food chains to post calorie counts.

Earlier this month, Johnson said he was “not attracted” to the idea of putting higher taxes on unhealthy food as a way to change the country’s eating habits.

Johnson was hospitalized with COVID-19 in 2020 and blamed his weight for the severity of his condition. “I had a very common underlying condition,” he told a virtual Conservative Party conference in October. “I was too fat.”

8 a.m. 4,254,988 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered to date in Toronto; 28 Team Toronto clinics are open Monday.

7:50 a.m. Malaysia won’t extend the country’s state of emergency beyond its Aug. 1 expiry date despite high new daily COVID-19 infection numbers.

The federal government also revoked all ordinances under the state of emergency on July 21, said Takiyuddin Hassan, one of the country’s ministers in the prime minister’s department, on Monday.

“Hence, the issue of annulment [of these ordinances] is no longer relevant,” Mr. Takiyuddin, who is the de factor law minister, told parliament in a special session.

The government’s decision came after pressure from the country’s Malay rulers for parliament to debate the ordinances enacted during the statement of emergency which was imposed since January this year to curb COVID-19 outbreak.

The country’s opposition has also called for Parliament to annul these ordinances. Parliament on Monday sat for the first time this year after being suspended when the government declared the state of emergency.

7:40 a.m. Ghana seems to be facing a third wave of coronavirus infections driven by the more transmissible Delta variant.

The West African nation restricted the time of events such as weddings and funerals to two hours, banning post-event receptions because of the risk of people abandoning safety protocols such as mask-wearing and social distancing, President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a state broadcast late Sunday.

“It appears that our nation like many others is experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 infections,” he said. “These increased infections have largely been driven by the Delta variant of the virus.”

Ghana has seen over 102,000 COVID-19 cases, including 823 deaths, since the first case was reported. Active cases more than tripled to 4,521 as of July 23 from 1,200 in June, according to Akufo-Addo who described the trend as alarming. The Delta variant has led in recent weeks to a rise in severe cases and deaths.

“It is obvious from the data that we’ve let our guard down,” he said.

7:30 a.m. As Niagara Region Public Health grows closer to its goal of vaccinating at least 75 per cent of the region’s population, health-care workers are bracing for an increase in misinformation about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines.

“When they see us starting to promote vaccination more heavily, they’re going to react to that and spread their misinformation even more,” Niagara’s acting medical officer of health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji, said.

Now that people are no longer eagerly lining up for their COVID-19 vaccinations, public health will be focusing on outreach, encouraging people who have yet to be vaccinated to roll up their sleeves while addressing issues that may be preventing them from doing so.

“We’re going to be in a time where we can’t just sit back, and people are going to sign up for vaccine appointments. We now need to really promote it,” Hirji said.

Anti-vaccine groups, he added, will likely respond by ramping up their efforts to spread misinformation.

7:15 a.m. While Peel and many other parts of Ontario are currently seeing significantly less COVID-19 cases compared to earlier in the year, the region’s top doctor is signalling a possible virus revival in the fall.

Dr. Lawrence Loh, the Region of Peel’s medical officer of health, warned on July 22 that “fall is coming” and a resurgence of COVID-19 is “very likely.”

“We know that COVID-19 is a respiratory virus and there is usually, especially as you move indoors in the colder weather, more close contact, more opportunities for droplets and aerosols to spread,” he said. “So there is that recognition that it is entirely possible in the fall that you will see a resurgence.”

Peel Public Health data shows that COVID-19 case counts across Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga have dropped substantially since their peak so far in the pandemic, which saw 1,137 new infections reported on April 22.

6:25 a.m.: The United States is in an “unnecessary predicament” of soaring COVID-19 cases fueled by unvaccinated Americans and the virulent delta variant, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert said Sunday.

“We’re going in the wrong direction,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, describing himself as “very frustrated.”

He said recommending that the vaccinated wear masks is “under active consideration” by the government’s leading public health officials. Also, booster shots may be suggested for people with suppressed immune systems who have been vaccinated, Fauci said.

He noted that some local jurisdictions where infection rates are surging, such as Los Angeles County, are already calling on individuals to wear masks in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status. Fauci said those local rules are compatible with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that the vaccinated do not need to wear masks in public.

6 a.m.: Quebecers might need to be patient as they try to register in Loto-Québec draws intended for those who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Quebec government has said the lottery is an attempt to get 75 per cent of its eligible population fully immunized against COVID-19 by the end of August.

Registration was supposed to open yesterday. The province’s health ministry said Sunday that the website was “experiencing technical problems.”

Any Quebecer who received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine can register in Loto-Québec draws, regardless of when they were vaccinated.

The draws will take place each Friday in August and people will be eligible to win up to a $150,000 prize or a $10,000 scholarship by registering online.

5:40 a.m.: A few months before the birth of her fourth baby, Tara Hills, then a 29-year-old mom living in suburban Ottawa, made a decision she would come to regret. She chose to stop vaccinating her children. Hills can’t point to any one event or encounter that swayed her. “It was more like a trickle,” she said. A collection of uncertainties that grew from things she read on the internet or conversations on park benches with other moms, and left her with a vague but growing sense of alarm. “The doubts just kind of settled there and piled up.”

Like many young mothers, Hills spent a lot of time connecting with other parents on Facebook. During her late-night scrolling, she sometimes encountered blog posts that made frightening claims about childhood vaccines. The stories had headlines like “My baby was never the same again” or “If only I had known what would happen.” The anecdotes were not verified or backed with evidence, but they made an impression on Hills, who was deep in the trenches of new motherhood, and whose primary concern was protecting her children from harm.

Decades of research has demonstrated that vaccines are effective and safe for most people. The data supporting immunization is clear, but the stories shared by anti-vaccination groups can be more powerful than charts and numbers. “They use a lot of effective storytelling,” Hills said. “It may not be true, or data-based or supportable. But it’s effective.”

Read the full story from the Star’s Amy Dempsey: She was a vaccine-hesitant mom. Scorn kept her silent. Here’s what changed her mind.

4:30 a.m.: Hundreds of contract doctors walked off their jobs in Malaysian government hospitals on Monday, demanding fairer treatment for more than 20,000 physicians who work without permanent positions and play a key role in the fight against the country’s worsening coronavirus pandemic.

Since 2016, new medical school graduates practicing under supervision in hospitals are given temporary contracts rather than being employed permanently due to an influx of medical students. These contract doctors face an uncertain career path, earn less than permanent doctors and receive few benefits.

Clad in black and wearing face masks, the doctors protested silently in hospitals nationwide, according to live coverage on social media. Some carried placards saying “We want career security” and “Equal pay, equal rights, equal opportunities.”

The strike comes as new confirmed COVID-19 infections surged to a record high of more than 17,000 on Sunday, pushing the country’s number of reported cases above 1 million. The total is an eight-fold jump from last year and up 77 per cent since a national lockdown began June 1. Deaths have also surged to near 8,000.

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