COVID-19 updates, Aug. 30: Quebec vaccine passport app now available for Android devices

Give third doses to immunosuppressed people and dialysis patients – but, for now, not to CHSLD residents, provincial vaccine committee says.

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Updated throughout the day on Monday, Aug. 30. Questions/comments: ariga@postmedia.com

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Top updates

  • Quebec vaccine passport app now available for Android devices
  • Video: ‘We want to be very, very prudent’ as children return to school, Dubé says
  • Give 3rd dose to immunosuppressed people, Quebec vaccine committee says
  • ‘We’ll be ready’ to launch vaccine passport Wednesday, Dubé says
  • Only unvaccinated patrons welcome at Laurentians’ restaurant
  • EU to reimpose travel curbs on U.S. amid rise in cases
  • Quebec reports 386 cases as hospitalizations dip
  • Montrealers are suffering more anxiety than other Quebecers, survey suggests
  • World briefs: protest in Berlin, New Zealand extends lockdown, Fauci backs vaccine mandate
  • Quebec’s 4th-highest provincial infection rate
  • A guide to Quebec’s COVID-19 vaccine passport
  • A guide to COVID-19 vaccinations in Quebec
  • Here are the current pandemic restrictions in Montreal and Quebec
  • Sign up for our free nightly coronavirus newsletter

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5 p.m.

Thanks for reading

I’ll be back tomorrow with another live blog.

In the meantime, you can follow all our coverage via the coronavirus page.

My previous COVID-19 live blogs are available here.


4:50 p.m.

Alberta government backbencher denies advocating for COVID case spike in unvaccinated

The chairman of Alberta’s United Conservative caucus is denying he said he wanted more unvaccinated people to catch COVID-19 so the province could attain herd immunity, The Canadian Press reports.

Nathan Neudorf says he wants cases to go down and that getting more people vaccinated is the best way to achieve that.

On Friday, Neudorf, the legislature member for Lethbridge-East, told a local news program he hoped Alberta would see a rise in COVID-19 cases among the unvaccinated.

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He told the program that having infections sweep through unprotected people could result in herd immunity — leaving the virus with no one else to infect and thereby causing cases to fall.

Alberta has well over one million unvaccinated residents, including 660,000 children under 12, who are not eligible to get shots.

Opposition NDP critic Shannon Phillips calls Neudorf’s remarks “odious” and urged him to apologize and resign as caucus chairman.


3:55 p.m.

Quebec vaccine passport app now available for Android devices

Available now on Google Play: the Android versions of the VaxiCode vaccine-passport app and the VaxiCode Verif app that will be used to check proof of vaccination.

Click here to download VaxiCode on Google Play.

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The Android version of VaxiCode Verif is available here.


3:30 p.m.

Manitoba government opens up COVID-19 vaccination card to more people

The Manitoba government says COVID-19 vaccination cards and QR digital bar codes are now available to people even if they don’t have a provincial health card, The Canadian Press reports.

Individuals will have to have had two doses — in any combination — of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson.

Their last shot will have to have been at least two weeks before the request.

Manitobans vaccinated outside the province will need to provide proof to public health and the data must be recorded.

A public health order starting Friday will require people to be double vaccinated to attend sporting events and concerts, indoor theatre and dance performances, restaurants, nightclubs, movie theatres and casinos.

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Public health officials say vaccine appointments have increased since the measure was announced last week.


2:50 p.m.

Opinion: McGill should lead by example with mandatory COVID-19 vaccination

“The requirement to attend a university lecture on infectious disease should be at least as stringent as the requirement to, say, play bingo.”

Read the full column by Saleema Nawaz


2:45 p.m.

Video: ‘We want to be very, very prudent’ as children return to school, Dubé says

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

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2:35 p.m.

Give 3rd dose to immunosuppressed people, Quebec vaccine committee says

Quebec’s vaccination committee says people who are immunosuppressed or are on dialysis should receive an additional dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine against COVID-19.

However, for now, the Comité sur l’immunisation du Québec (CIQ) is not recommending third doses be given to people who live in long-term care homes, known as CHSLDs.

The recommendations were presented in a report published today.

“The additional dose (for particular groups) should be considered as a reinforcement of the basic vaccination and not as a booster dose,” the committee said in a press release.

The recommendation only affects between one per cent and two per cent of the population, including people who have had an organ transplant or who are receiving chemotherapy to fight cancer.

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“These people often do not respond to the first two doses due to a medical condition that affects their immune system,” said Dr. Nicholas Brousseau, a medical specialist at the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) who is president of the CIQ.

People who are immunosuppressed or on dialysis “should receive a third dose of a messenger RNA vaccine with a delay of four weeks or more after the second dose to improve their defences against COVID-19.”

The committee said it is “essential that relatives of immunosuppressed people are adequately immunized.”

As for CHSLD residents, the committee said “the Quebec strategy of extending the time between two doses beyond the intervals recommended by vaccine manufacturers seems to have promoted better protection.

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“This strategy also means that the second dose was offered more recently to residents of CHSLDs in Quebec compared to other jurisdictions. In addition, the incidence of COVID-19 is currently very low in these settings.

The committee noted that “the fourth wave is concentrated in young people who are less vaccinated.”

It said that it is monitoring the situation and further recommendations regarding third doses may come later.

“CIQ and INSPQ experts closely monitor scientific data on the number of COVID-19 cases, the evolution of the virus and the effectiveness of vaccines in order to quickly adapt recommendations,” the committee said.

“If necessary, a booster dose (or booster) will be considered for certain groups of the population in order to reactivate their immune memory.”

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1:55 p.m.

‘We’ll be ready’ to launch vaccine passport Wednesday, Dubé says

Health Minister Christian Dubé says Quebecers will be able to download within the next few hours the Android versions of the VaxiCode vaccine-passport app and the VaxiCode Verif app that will be used to check proof of vaccination.

As of Sept. 1, Quebecers will need to flash their proof of vaccination to access activities and services deemed non-essential by the provincial government, including restaurants, gyms, bars, concerts, festivals and sporting events.

Dubé added: “If you don’t have the app by (Wednesday), you can just show your QR code. It’s much easier if you have the app but if you don’t have the time to load the app, you can still show the QR code on a piece of paper or whatever.”

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He noted that 5.5 million Quebecers have downloaded their QR codes.

“We’ll be ready and we’ll start as promised on Sept. 1,” Dubé said of the vaccine passport.

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We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

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1:50 p.m.

Runny nose, headache removed from symptom list on daily Ontario school COVID screener

From The Canadian Press:

Ontario has trimmed down the COVID-19 symptoms that would require children to stay home from school or daycare, dropping runny noses and headaches from the list.

The province’s updated online screening tool lists five categories of symptoms “most commonly associated with COVID-19.”

Those are fever and chills, cough or barking cough, shortness of breath, losing taste or smell and nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

Children reporting any of those symptoms are to stay home, isolate and seek COVID-19 testing.

A spokeswoman for the health minister confirmed that a runny nose, sore throat or difficulty swallowing, congested nose, headache, and extreme tiredness or muscle aches were removed from the screening tool.

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Some symptoms were also removed for people over age 18 taking the questionnaire. Removed symptoms for that age group include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, runny nose, sore throat, congestion, headache, stomach pain, pink eye and falling down often.

Spokeswoman Alexandra Hilkene said health units can give further advice on isolation requirements based on things like the local COVID-19 situation and whether an individual was in contact with a confirmed case.

People can also attend school if an individual or someone in the household started experiencing mild virus symptoms like a headache, fatigue, muscle aches or joint pain within 48 hours of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

The province’s top doctor indicated earlier this month that the screening list for schools and daycares was to be narrowed after hearing from parents about disruption created by associated testing, and finding fewer cases in those with mild symptoms.

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1:40 p.m.

About 90% of new cases in Quebec are among people not adequately vaccinated, Dubé says

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1:15 p.m.

Only unvaccinated patrons welcome at Laurentians’ restaurant

In what appears to be a protest against Quebec’s vaccine passport system, a Mexican restaurant in Mont-Tremblant – Resto Bar Lolita – says it’s planning to allow only unvaccinated customers to enter its premises on Tuesday.

That’s the day before vaccine passports come into effect.

“Yvan will be the police officer at the door,” the restaurant said in a Facebook post that includes an image of a crossed-out vaccine needle.

As of Sept. 1, Quebecers will need to flash their proof of vaccination to access activities and services deemed non-essential by the provincial government, including restaurants.


12:50 p.m.

Updated: Montreal and regional charts

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12:30 p.m.

EU to reimpose travel curbs on U.S. amid rise in cases

From the Bloomberg news agency:

European Union countries voted to subject the U.S. to fresh restrictions on non-essential travel amid a surge in new coronavirus cases, dealing a fresh blow to the tourism industry.

A qualified majority of ambassadors voted to reintroduce the curbs, which had been lifted in June, according to an EU statement on Monday.

The U.S. had 588 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the two weeks ending Aug. 22, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, well above the limit of 75 set out in the EU guidelines.

The guidance from the bloc is a recommendation and any decision on who to let in, and what restrictions to impose, ultimately rests with the governments of each member state. Countries can also choose to accept proof of vaccination to waive travel restrictions.

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While countries have largely followed the EU guidelines, there have been times when individual nations have diverged from them.

The move to restrict visitors from the world’s largest economy is a significant setback for airlines and travel firms who have been pressing for a full reopening of lucrative transatlantic routes.

The decision is a blow to flagship European carriers such as Lufthansa and Air France who need their long-haul passenger numbers to pick up. The recovery for airlines has not been equal across Europe, as low-cost European carriers have been able to benefit from COVID-vaccine passes, allowing for easy intra-European travel during the summer season.

Israel, Montenegro, Kosovo, Lebanon and North Macedonia were also removed from the EU’s safe-travel list.

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Travel between the EU and U.S. has been a point of political contention. The Biden administration has kept border restrictions in place despite pressure to allow visitors from allies like the EU that have eased their own curbs. U.S. officials have cited rising delta infections as one reason for that stance.


12:25 p.m.

Ottawa mayor urges Ford to put a proof-of-vaccination system in place

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11:40 a.m.

Young adults have lowest vaccination rate, Quebec figures show

COVID-19 updates, Aug. 30: Quebec vaccine passport app now available for Android devices


11:10 a.m.

Update on Quebec’s vaccination campaign


11:10 a.m.

Updated charts: Quebec cases, deaths


11:05 a.m.

Quebec reports 386 cases as hospitalizations dip

Quebec has recorded 386 new cases of COVID-19, the provincial government announced this morning.

That’s the lowest case count in a week.

The seven day rolling average edged upward to 526 – the highest in three months.

The latest figures “may seem encouraging at first glance, but these are weekend data,” Health Minister Christian Dubé said via Twitter.

“We will continue to monitor the situation in the coming days. We will also closely monitor the effects of the start of the school year and the end of the summer holidays.”

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No new deaths were reported.

Some other key statistics from Quebec’s latest COVID-19 update:

  • Montreal Island: 69 new cases, zero deaths.
  • Net decrease in hospitalizations: 1, for a total of 125.
  • Net increase in intensive care patients: 1, for a total of 37.
  • 19,602 additional vaccine doses were administered over the previous 24 hours.
  • 16,422 tests were conducted Saturday, the last day for which screening data is available.
  • Positivity rate: 2.9 per cent.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Quebec has reported 388,799 cases and 11,285 deaths linked to COVID-19. A total of 373,109 people who have contracted the disease have since recovered.


10:25 p.m.

Montrealers are suffering more anxiety than other Quebecers, survey suggests

The mental health of Montrealers is poorer than that of other Quebecers and has been since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey published by Montreal’s public health department.

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Read our full story.


10 a.m.

World briefs: protest in Berlin, New Zealand extends lockdown, Fauci backs vaccine mandate

 Via the Reuters news agency:

An increase in COVID-19 transmission rates across Europe over the last two weeks combined with low levels of vaccination in some countries are “deeply worrying,” head of the World Health Organization in Europe Hans Kluge said.

A third-dose booster shot of the vaccination is a way to keep the most vulnerable safe and “not a luxury,” he added.

EUROPE

  • Several thousand people marched through the streets of Berlin on Sunday for a second day of unauthorized protest against vaccinations and restrictions aimed at curbing a fourth wave of the pandemic.

ASIA-PACIFIC

  • New Zealand’s prime minister extended a lockdown in Auckland by two weeks, while officials reported the country’s first death linked to the Pfizer vaccine.
  • The Philippines reported 22,366 new cases, its largest daily increase, bringing the Southeast Asian country’s total confirmed infections to 1.976 million.
  • Malaysia’s prime minister is under quarantine after close contact with a COVID-19 patient, his office said.
  • India’s rising output of vaccines and the inoculation of more than half its adult population with at least one dose are raising hopes the country will return as an exporter within months.
  • Japan’s top government spokesman said there was not enough data yet to promote the mixed use of vaccines. The country also closed a school in Chiba after confirming cases in two teachers who accompanied students to watch the Paralympic Games, a city official said.
  • Australia faces perhaps its biggest health policy challenge of the pandemic: how to reopen. Intensive care cases in New South Wales will also hit a peak in October as infections accumulate, the premier of the country’s most populous state said.

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AMERICAS

  • Top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday he supported vaccine mandates for children attending schools as the Delta variant continues to fuel a surge in cases in the nation.

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

  • Israel on Sunday began offering a booster to children as young as 12, and its prime minister said a campaign that began a month ago among seniors has slowed a rise in severe illness caused by the Delta variant.
  • Yemen received its first shipment of vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson on Sunday, roughly 151,000 doses, the health ministry said.

MEDICAL DEVELOPMENTS

  • Moderna’s vaccine contamination woes in Japan have widened, with another million doses being suspended after foreign substances were found in more batches and two people died following shots from affected lots.

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ECONOMIC IMPACT

  • Asian shares perked up and the dollar fell to two-week lows after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell struck a dovish tone at the central bank’s long-awaited symposium, although investors remained cautious about prospects in China.
  • The economies in France and the euro zone should be back to pre-COVID levels in early 2022 or maybe earlier, the Bank of France’s governor said.
  • Denmark’s government raised its economic growth forecast for this year, as it expects the recovery from the impact of the pandemic to kick in sooner than expected.

9:45 a.m.

Trudeau campaign rally cancelled over safety concerns from angry anti-vaccine protesters

The Liberal campaign cancelled an early evening rally Friday after an unruly group of demonstrators denouncing Justin Trudeau and pandemic policies set off security concerns, with Trudeau himself saying that going ahead with the event would have put people at risk.

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Read our full story.


9:45 a.m.

What has the pandemic done to friendships?

As it altered so much else about life as we knew it, the pandemic may well also have changed the nature of friendships.

Read our full story.


9:45 a.m.

Therapy dogs helping with COVID-19 vaccinations in Montreal

At a vaccination clinic in LaSalle, the local health authority has been using pet therapy to help people who are afraid of needles or concerned about side effects.

Read our full story.

Zootherapist Sylvain Gonthier and dog Bidule comfort Divine Nsabimana as she waits to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Montreal, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021.
Zootherapist Sylvain Gonthier and dog Bidule comfort Divine Nsabimana as she waits to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Montreal, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021. Photo by Graham Hughes /The Canadian Press

9:45 a.m.

Extended ban on direct flights from India hits international students hard

Sachin Dev is one of the many international students navigating Canada’s extended ban on direct flights from India as he tries to make his way to Montreal before the start of the new semester.

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The PhD student at McGill University has been planning a circuitous route that would allow him to take a COVID-19 test in another country before arriving in Canada — an effort he said has already led to five flight cancellations and a financial hit to his family.

Read our full story.


9:15 a.m.

Quebec has 4th-highest provincial infection rate

Quebec has the fourth highest provincial infection rate, according to federal statistics.

Quebec has reported 41 new cases per 100,000 population over the past week, behind Alberta (135), Saskatchewan (102) and British Columbia (90).

Here’s the rate of case growth per 100,000 people over the past seven days, via the federal government’s latest epidemiological update.

COVID-19 updates, Aug. 30: Quebec vaccine passport app now available for Android devices

9:15 a.m.

A guide to Quebec’s COVID-19 vaccine passport

Quebec’s vaccine passport will soon be mandatory for people 13 and older who want to access services and activities deemed non-essential by the provincial government, including bars, restaurants, gyms, festivals and sporting events.

Though the passport comes into effect Sept. 1, no penalties will be issued for the first two weeks. Quebecers will be able to use a smartphone app to prove their vaccination status or simply carry their QR code on paper.

Quebecers can now download the iOS version of the app (for iPhones, iPads and iPods). An app for Android devices is expected to be available via Google Play soon.

We have published two guides to the passports – one looks at how to download and set up the app, and another answers key questions about the system, including how, when and why.

You can find more information on the Quebec government’s website – one page has details on how the system works, and another has a list of the places where a vaccine passport will be required .

The Quebec government’s VaxiCode app is shown on a phone in Montreal, Wednesday, August 25, 2021.
The Quebec government’s VaxiCode app is shown on a phone in Montreal, Wednesday, August 25, 2021. Photo by Graham Hughes /The Canadian Press

9:15 a.m.

A guide to COVID-19 vaccinations in Quebec

Local health authorities have set up mass vaccination sites across Montreal.

You can book appointments via the Clic Santé website or by phone at 1-877-644-4545.

Quebecers can also visit walk-in AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer vaccine clinics.

Here are the nuts and bolts of getting vaccinated, by Katherine Wilton. Her guide includes the age groups targeted, how to book appointments, and addresses of vaccination centres.

Two private sites can also help you book appointments:

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.


9:15 a.m.

Here are the current pandemic restrictions in Montreal and Quebec

We are regularly updating our list of what services are open, closed or modified in Montreal and Quebec, including information on the curfew and other lockdown measures.

You can read it here.


9:15 a.m.

Here’s where Montrealers can get tested today

Montrealers can be screened at test centres across the island.

You can check screening clinic wait times here.


8:30 a.m.

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You can sign up here.


ariga@postmedia.com

Read my previous live blogs here.


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