Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Friday

Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday

The latest:

Denmark’s high vaccination rate has enabled the Scandinavian country to become one of the first European Union nations to lift all domestic COVID-19 restrictions.

The return to normality has been gradual, but as of Friday, the country’s digital proof of vaccination is no longer required when entering nightclubs, making it the last virus safeguard to fall. More than 80 per cent of people above the age of 12 have had the two shots. 

As of midnight, the Danish government no longer considers COVID-19 “a socially critical disease.” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said Aug. 27 that “the epidemic is under control,” but warned that “we are not out of the epidemic,” and the government will act as needed if necessary.

Since Aug. 14, it’s no longer been mandatory to wear a face mask on public transportation. On Sept. 1, nightclubs reopened, limits on public gatherings were removed and showing the digital pass was no longer required when one wanted to be seated inside restaurants, or go to soccer games, fitness centres or a hairdresser.

Nightlife guests crowd in front of a club in Copenhagen earlier this month as Denmark lifted COVID-19 restrictions. (Olafur Steinar Gestsson/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images)

However, the face mask or shield are still mandatory at airports and people are advised to wear one when at the doctor’s, test centres or hospitals. Distancing is still recommended and strict entry restrictions still apply for non-Danes at the borders. The outbreak is still considered “an ordinary dangerous illness.”

After more than a year, several European countries are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but with caveats. Some have lifted restrictions but will introduce a vaccination passport. Others expect to do so soon. And in some places, there are few restrictions and they are not respected.

Jens Lundgren, a professor of viral diseases at the Copenhagen University Hospital, said the government would be “quite willing” to reintroduce restrictions if infections spike again. He pointed at nightclubs being the last venues to open because “it is the activity associated with the highest risk of transmission.”

“The world is in the middle of a pandemic and none of us can claim that we are beyond the pandemic,” said Lundgren, who described Denmark as being “an isolated island” where the vaccine rollout has worked.

“Nobody should have the illusion that we are over this.”

-From The Associated Press, last updated at 7 a.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Non-urgent surgeries cancelled across Alberta

Non-urgent surgeries cancelled across Alberta

Alberta Health Services has cancelled all non-urgent surgeries in the province because of the surge in COVID-19 cases. Officials say it will free up nurses, but patients are frustrated about facing more delays. 2:05

What’s happening around the world

Students wearing face masks walk home after schools reopened on a trial basis after the government extended restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Ciamis, West Java, Indonesia. (Adeng Bustomi/Antara Foto/Reuters)

As of early Friday morning, more than 223.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 case tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at 4.6 million.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Sri Lanka is extending a lockdown for another week as it struggles against a COVID-19 surge. The lockdown was first imposed on Aug. 20. During that period, the government has allowed export-related factories to operate and for agriculture work to be done, in addition to essential services such as health, food distribution, communication and power.

Doctors and trade unions have warned that hospitals and morgues have reached their maximum capacities during the ongoing surge caused by the delta variant of the coronavirus.

In the Americas, a White House plan to mandate COVID-19 vaccination or repeated testing for around two-thirds of U.S. workers could be hampered by supply challenges as test manufacturers strain to keep pace with demand.

In Africa, Egypt’s daily reported cases of coronavirus have surpassed 400 for the first time in months. The Health Ministry on Friday reported 413 cases and 12 fatalities for the past 24 hours. Daily cases have been spiking in recent weeks since the more contagious delta variant was detected in the country in July.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s economic output contracted for the first time in nearly three decades last year, pummelled by the impact of the pandemic, official data showed.

In the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates announced that people with residency permits who are fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved product can return.

In Europe, Italy’s medicines agency AIFA said it had approved the use of a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines for vulnerable groups of the population, while the country’s government ruled catering and cleaning staff in schools and nursing homes can only work if they have proof of COVID-19 immunity.

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 7:05 a.m. ET

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