Today’s coronavirus news: Ontario reporting 486 new cases of COVID-19; Iran reports daily record for deaths; Quebec reports 345 new COVID-19 cases

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

7:46 p.m.: More than 500 people in B.C.’s Interior Health region will need to get another COVID-19 vaccine shot after officials there say some of the doses were kept in an incorrect freezer.

A statement from the health authority says the vaccine shots are considered invalid.

The vaccine was given to 15 people for a first shot and 501 people got their second dose with the invalid vaccine.

The region says while it may have provided some protection from COVID-19, the authority is contacting each person to come back.

It says receiving the vaccine doesn’t pose a risk to the person and no one given the shots got COVID-19 since their immunization.

6:36 p.m.: The smartphone applications that will run Quebec’s vaccine passport system will be available for download starting Wednesday, one week before the government’s latest health order goes into effect, according to Health Minister Christian Dubé.

“We are responding to a promise we made to Quebecers, that the vaccination would be a passport to freedom,” Dubé told reporters in Montreal Tuesday. “The vaccine passport is the balance we found to keep our economy opened while protecting people.”

Starting Sept. 1, residents 13 years old and up will be required to show proof of vaccination to access businesses the government deems non-essential, such as gyms, bars and restaurants. Residents have been emailed a quick response code by the Health Department as vaccination proof.

The passport will also apply to a wide range of other activities and businesses, including cinemas, bowling alleys, festivals and other outdoor events involving more than 50 people, as well as outdoor sports that involve frequent or prolonged contact.

Businesses will be required to download a special application to read QR codes, while patrons are being encouraged to download a separate application into which they can link their QR codes. Residents can also present a paper version of the code or show an image of the code on their smartphones. The applications will be ready for download on Apple’s App Store Wednesday morning, while Android users will be able to access it later this week, Dubé said.

4 p.m.: Elementary and high school students will be required to wear masks inside classrooms when schools resume across nine regions of Quebec, including Montreal, the province’s education minister said Tuesday.

Jean-François Roberge said the rise of the Delta variant is forcing officials to take a cautious approach. The province’s previous back-to-school plan had included a mask requirement for buses and common areas but not in class.

“It’s not ideal, it’s not what we wanted at the beginning of the school year, but we have to take note of the situation, take note of what’s happening elsewhere in the world and the rise of the Delta variant,” Roberge told reporters about the new rules.

The mask mandate applies to students in Grade 1 and up in nine regions, including Montreal, Estrie, Laval, Montérégie and the Outaouais region in western Quebec.

Students in the other regions, which include Quebec City, will have to wear masks in common areas of school buildings and on school buses but not in class.

Teachers across the province will not have to wear masks if they can keep a two-metre distance or are separated from students by a Plexiglas barrier.

3:20 p.m.: The chief public health officer of the Northwest Territories has confirmed the territory’s first death related to COVID-19.

Dr. Kami Kandola says in a news release that a N.W.T. resident died from COVID-19 late last night.

The territory is experiencing its worst outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic with 219 active cases.

There are 190 cases in the Sahtu region in the territory’s northwest — including 74 cases in Colville Lake and 84 cases in Fort Good Hope — and the territory says fewer than five people are in hospital.

Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake are currently under a 10-day lockdown period to contain the spread.

Kandola says she will not release any details about the person who died out of respect for their family.

3:15 p.m.: The Quebec government says its vaccine passport application for businesses won’t require an internet connection because the system won’t send, receive or save customer data.

Reno Bernier, who is responsible for information technology at the Health Department, made the announcement today during a technical briefing with reporters ahead of the application’s scheduled Sept. 1 rollout across the province.

He says businesses will be required to use a smartphone application to read quick response codes that are sent to Quebec residents who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Bernier says the application for businesses will only display the customer’s name, date of birth and whether they are considered adequately vaccinated.

Patrons will be required to show proof of vaccination to access businesses the government deems non-essential such as gyms, bars and restaurants. They can either download a smartphone application and upload their QR code into it, or they can present a paper version of the code.

Health Minister Christian Dubé is holding a news conference this afternoon to give more details on the vaccine passport system and the province’s vaccine rollout.

3:15 p.m.: Ontario’s chamber of commerce released a framework Tuesday for private sector businesses seeking to develop COVID-19 proof-of-vaccination protocols, a move it said aimed to provide support in the absence of government guidance.

The organization – which represents more than 150 chambers of commerce and boards of trade in the province – said implementing proof-of-vaccination would help businesses safely reopen and mitigate the risk of further lockdowns.

“In the absence of government guidance on domestic applicability, we hope these principles can avoid a piecemeal approach in the province,” Rocco Rossi, the organization’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

“We have already seen a number of businesses, organizations, associations, unions, and post-secondary institutions implement their own proof-of-vaccination policies,” added Rossi. “With this framework, private sector businesses can implement similar programs with shared confidence.”

The guidance issued by the chamber of commerce lays out five principles for businesses as they establish their own systems, including using the least intrusive manner possible in checking vaccination status, and providing accommodation based on human rights concerns.

2:35 p.m. New Brunswick is expanding COVID-19 vaccination eligibility to include children who are turning 12 this year.

Education Minister Dominic Cardy said today the change will help support healthy and safe schools by allowing a greater number of students to be vaccinated.

Ontario has also announced that kids turning 12 in 2021 can get vaccinated. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is authorized for use in Canada for people 12 and older, while the other vaccines are only authorized for use on adults.

As of today, 73.8 per cent of New Brunswickers aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated and 83.8 per cent have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The province is reporting 15 new cases of COVID-19 today. Ten new cases are in the Moncton region, while there are three in the Miramichi area and two in the Fredericton region.

There are 167 active reported cases of COVID-19 in the province and three people are hospitalized with the disease.

2:10 p.m. British Columbia is reintroducing a public health order requiring people to wear masks in all indoor public spaces starting Wednesday to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The order will also extend to students in Grade 4 and up at the start of the school year.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the order will be reassessed in mid-October when the province fully implements a card showing proof of immunization for those entering restaurants, theatres and events.

Henry says about 75 per cent of B.C. residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but that number needs to be higher as the Delta variant drives up case counts, putting those who are unvaccinated at greater risk of contracting the virus.

Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside says vaccines have made it possible for students to look forward to the resumption of safe in-person, full-time learning and extracurricular activities.

She encouraged eligible students to get vaccinated, saying only 57 per cent of youth between 12 and 17 are fully immunized.

Post-secondary students living on campus will have to be vaccinated, and Henry says colleges and universities have the option of requiring faculty and staff to be immunized.

2:04 p.m. The former longtime military ruler of Myanmar, Than Shwe, and his wife have been released from a capital city hospital after both being successfully treated for COVID-19, a hospital official said.

The 88-year-old and wife, Daw Kyaing Kyaing, were discharged from the Thaik Chaung military hospital in Naypyitaw on Friday, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the press.

Than Shwe was hospitalized earlier this month, and his wife a short time later, and both were treated in a VIP section of the hospital under tight security.

The government has not yet officially commented on their cases, and independent media in Myanmar initially reported that their hospitalization was a precautionary measure as the country grapples with a new wave of the coronavirus, fueled by the virulent Delta variant.

1:10 p.m. The Oilers Entertainment Group says it will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test from fans aged 12 and older or a negative test result within the previous 48 hours for access to Rogers Place, home of the Edmonton Oilers.

12:40 p.m. Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they’ll maintain targeted border screening, testing and self-isolation for unvaccinated travellers until at least the middle of October.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison said Tuesday the border measures will remain a little longer to help support a safe return to school for children by keeping COVID-19 numbers low in the province.

She is reporting one new case of COVID-19 Tuesday, involving a person who travelled outside Atlantic Canada and who is a close contact of a previously reported infection. There are six active reported cases of COVID-19 in the province.

Morrison says she is in talks with the federal government about a pilot project for which parents of students would be given COVID-19 test kits to screen children showing symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

The province released its back-to-school plan Monday with recommendations for continued mask use.

Morrison says that later this week the province will run a training exercise for principals, administrators and others in the education system about what to do should a COVID-19 outbreak occur in a school.

12:25 p.m. Dr. Anthony Fauci says the U.S. won’t emerge from the COVID pandemic until next spring at the earliest.

The world-renowned infectious disease expert predicted the coming months will remain very difficult, with high caseloads and deaths especially in places with low vaccination rates.

“If we can get through this winter … I hope we can get some good control in the spring of 2022,” Fauci told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Monday night.

Fauci said it will be impossible to get a grip on the pandemic until underwhelming vaccination rates dramatically improve.

“That would mean you have the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated,” he said. “Then we can get an overall blanket protection of the community.”

With just over half of Americans fully vaccinated and close to 100 million eligible people so far refusing to get the lifesaving shots, Fauci essentially predicted it will be impossible to return to a normal life anytime soon.

“We hope we’ll be there … but there’s no guarantee,” he said. “Because it’s up to us.”

Even more worrisome, Fauci said the U.S. and the world are racing to get the virus under control before COVID potentially mutates into new and even more virulent strains.

He reminded Americans that things looked much more promising until we were hit with the “sucker punch” of the ultra-contagious Delta variant, which effectively dashed hopes of an earlier recovery this summer.

11:52 a.m. Quebec is reporting 345 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and three more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.

Health officials say hospitalizations rose by three, to 102, and 29 people were in intensive care, a drop of two.

The numbers come as Health Minister Christian Dubé is expected to give an update on the province’s vaccine campaign and details about the vaccine passport system scheduled to start Sept. 1.

Dubé said Monday there had been a “certain stability” in the number of new COVID-19 cases in recent days, but he added that it could be linked to fewer tests conducted on weekends.

The province added another 32,597 vaccine doses to its total, including 31,424 in the previous 24 hours.

Officials say 78.5 per cent of Quebecers 12 and older are considered adequately vaccinated.

11:44 a.m. Ontario is reporting another 486 COVID-19 cases and 18 more deaths. Sixteen of the 18 deaths are part of a data cleanup according to the province’s latest report released Tuesday morning.

Ontario has administered 36,655 vaccine doses since its last daily update, with 20,526,219 vaccines given in total as of 8 p.m. the previous night.

According to the Star’s vaccine tracker, 10,732,405 people in Ontario have received at least one shot. That works out to approximately 82.3 per cent of the eligible population 12 years and older, and the equivalent of 72.2 per cent of the total population, including those not yet eligible for the vaccine.

Read the full story from the Star’s Urbi Khan

11:14 a.m. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says an NDP government would ban the opening of any new for-profit care homes for seniors.

Speaking to reporters on campaign trail in Mississauga, he says his party, if elected, would implement a plan to take profit out of long-term-care homes and would create national care standards to hold institutions to account.

He says seniors living in for-profit facilities had higher infection and death rates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau last week said a re-elected Liberal government would give provinces up to $9 billion over the next five years to hike wages and train more workers in Canada’s troubled long-term care facilities.

Trudeau said he would work with the provinces to implement national standards for long-term-care homes, but won’t micromanage long-term care, which is a provincial jurisdiction.

11:02 a.m. (updated) The Toronto police service has announced that COVID-19 vaccinations will be required for all 7,400 uniform officers and civilian employees.

The force announced Tuesday that all TPS members must provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status by Sept. 13.

“The Service has an obligation to ensure a safe workplace for TPS members and the public. This is a primary commitment for the Service, as it has been throughout the pandemic,” the service said in a news release.

Read the full story from the Star’s Wendy Gillis

10:42 a.m. A COVID-19 outbreak in the Northwest Territories has grown to 219 cases.

There are 190 cases in the Sahtu region in the territory’s northwest, including 74 cases in Colville Lake and 84 cases in Fort Good Hope.

Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake are currently under a 10-day lockdown period to contain the spread.

The territory says fewer than five people have been hospitalized.

There are also 27 cases in Yellowknife, the territory’s capital city, and several exposure notices have been sent out about events held across the N.W.T.

This is the territory’s biggest COVID-19 outbreak to date, after a hand games tournament in the Sahtu region in early August was considered a super-spreader event.

The Canadian Rangers and nurses with the Canadian Red Cross have also been deployed to the region at the request of the territorial government.

10:18 a.m. (updated) Ontario is reporting 486 new cases of COVID-19; 372 cases are in individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 114 are in fully vaccinated individuals. In Ontario, 20,526,219 vaccine doses have been administered. 82.3 per cent of Ontarians 12+ have one dose and 75.1 per cent have two doses.

The province is also logging 18 new deaths from the virus, though it says 16 of them occurred more than two months ago and are being counted now because of a data cleanup.

9:50 a.m. The Durham Region Health Department is urging anyone who attended a basketball tournament in Oshawa earlier this month to get tested for COVID-19.

The health department says up to 7,000 people may have attended the 43rd Annual Jane and Finch Classic basketball tournament, which ran from Aug. 3 to 8 at the Playground Global facility, 1313 Boundary Rd. in Oshawa.

So far, “upwards of 20 positive cases” of COVID-19 have been identified in connection with the event and declared an outbreak.

“The health department has been notified of multiple cases of COVID-19 associated with this event and is having difficulty reaching all players and spectators,” the health department said in a statement released Aug. 23. “The teams and attendees are from all over Ontario and other provinces.”

9:20 a.m. Scotland says it will hold a public inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic by authorities, starting by the end of the year.

The Scottish government says the judge-led probe will “scrutinize decisions taken in the course of this pandemic and learn lessons for future pandemics.” It will look at deaths and other health impacts along with the economic and social effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

A separate inquiry for the whole U.K. has been announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson but is not scheduled to begin until next year. Families of people who died in the pandemic have been pushing for an earlier start.

Cases are once again rising following the easing of pandemic restrictions — especially in Scotland, where new infections have more than doubled in the past week. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she can’t “rule out having to reimpose some restrictions” if cases continue to rise.

Britain has recorded more than 130,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe after Russia.

9 a.m. Chad’s former dictator Hissene Habre, the first former head of state to be convicted of crimes against humanity by an African court after his government was accused of killing tens of thousands of people, has died in Senegal. He was 79.

Habre, whose case for years showcased Africa’s reluctance to put its despots on trial as he lived in luxurious exile, had recently contracted COVID-19 according to local media reports. His death Tuesday at a Dakar hospital was confirmed by Jean Bertrand Bocande, director of the penitentiary administration.

The former dictator, first arrested in 2013, had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 2016 but ultimately served about five years in prison following his conviction.

Human rights activists say Chad was a ruthless, one-party state under Habre’s rule from 1982 to 1990. A fearsome security service headed by members of Habre’s Gorane ethnic group was placed in every village, documenting even the slightest transgressions against the regime, they said.

The list of offenses meriting arrest included speaking ill of Habre, listening to “enemy” radio stations or “performing magical rites to aid the enemy,” according to a truth commission appointed shortly after Habre fell from power.

The commission concluded that Habre’s government oversaw 40,000 killings.

“Hissene Habre will go down in history as one of the world’s most pitiless dictators, a man who slaughtered his own people, burned down entire villages, sent women to serve as sexual slaves for his troops and built clandestine dungeons to inflict medieval torture on his enemies,” tweeted Reed Brody, a Human Rights Watch lawyer who worked for years to bring Habre to justice.

8:40 a.m. Iran has registered its highest single-day COVID-19 death toll of the pandemic, according to state media reports.

The country’s Health Ministry said Tuesday that 709 people with the disease had died since Monday and 7,727 patients were in critical condition. The ministry said 40,600 new cases were confirmed in the same 24-hour period.

The previous daily record for COVID-19 deaths in Iran was set Sunday. The country reported its highest daily tally of confirmed cases — more than 50,000 — a week ago.

The highly contagious delta variant is fueling the surge in new cases. A five-day lockdown in the country that included a ban on the use of personal cars between provinces recently ended.

Only some 8 per cent of Iranians have been fully vaccinated.

Authorities have said that less than 40 per cent of the population follows measures such as wearing face masks and social distancing.

8 a.m. The coronavirus is hitting Miami-Dade’s criminal justice system hard.

In the past week, amid a surge in COVID-19 outbreaks across the state, at least five South Florida police officers have died because of complications from the virus.

As officials have moved to limit the number of people gathering inside courtrooms, the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office reported Monday that in August, at least 33 employees have reported positive.

And in Miami-Dade jails, officials now say they may be extending shifts to help deal with the rising number of staff members — and inmates — who have been infected with or been exposed to COVID-19 in the latest surge in South Florida. As of Friday, 136 employees were home quarantining. That’s in addition to 188 inmates in the jail system who are positive with COVID-19, the department said.

“MDCR is experiencing an increasing number of sworn staff who have tested positive with COVID-19,” Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Director Daniel Junior wrote in a text alert to staff on Friday. “This is impacting staffing levels at our detention facilities. Therefore, all essential personnel have been placed on emergency standby.”

Despite the wide availability of vaccines, Florida has been hit in recent months by a surge in COVID-19 cases, fueled by the highly contagious delta variant. As of Sunday, more than 17,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state, many of them in South Florida.

7:50 a.m. Toronto restaurateur Jen Agg is accusing Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Doug Ford of failing to protect her restaurants from being routinely picketed by anti-vaccine protesters.

“It’s been four weeks of targeted harassment,” said Agg, of the protesters, who have shown up repeatedly at Rhum Corner, Bar Vendetta and Cocktail Bar, on Dundas Street West.

“They scream at me, the staff and our diners for hours. It is way beyond any kind of peaceful protesting and is clearly harassment that disturbs the peace as well as impedes our ability to effectively operate our CafeTO patios, which were put in place to help us get back on our feet after an awful 17 months,” Agg told the Star.

Read the full story from the Star’s Francine Kopun

7:39 a.m. Unvaccinated British Columbians will no longer be able to sweat it out in group fitness classes or meet up at bars indoors — starting this fall.

Amid intense public pressure over rising COVID-19 case numbers and the spread of the Delta variant, B.C. is implementing a new vaccine card system designed to prevent unvaccinated people from gathering in settings likely to allow the spread of the virus.

British Columbians will be able to download the cards onto their phones, or have a physical copy, indicating whether they are partially or fully vaccinated.

Read the full story from the Star’s Alex McKeen

7:16 a.m. Four days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, Ontario’s team of health and safety inspectors received a lengthy document outlining how to enforce workplace laws in a once-in-a-generation crisis.

Marked confidential, the March 15, 2020, document provided guidance to health and safety inspectors on a range of issues: masking requirements, occupational illness reporting, and whether pregnant employees should continue working.

It also addressed an issue that was top of mind for many educators, who would soon be returning from spring break: Could teachers refuse work they considered unsafe?

After 18 months, thousands of school-related COVID cases, and the longest school closures in the country, the answer has been no. Of the 44 work refusals filed in the education sector to date, none have been accepted, according to ministry data.

Read the full story from the Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh

6:52 a.m.: The government is launching an eight-week pilot project in a number of boards across the province to distribute take-home COVID-19 test kits to high school students and staff exposed to COVID-19, according to a memo sent to directors of education Tuesday morning.

The memo, obtained by the Star, said the program will begin the week of Sept. 7 as most schools reopen, targetting 13 public health units — encompassing about 40 boards, including those in Durham, Peel and York Regions — and that “through this pilot, students and staff who are vaccinated and asymptomatic will receive a take-home self-collection kit when they have been identified as a high-risk contact as part of an identified cohort or outbreak.”

It will run until the end of October and could be expanded province-wide, wrote Deputy Education Minister Nancy Naylor.

Read the full story by the Star’s Kristin Rushowy: Province to pilot take-home tests for Ontario secondary students exposed to COVID-19.

5:56 a.m.: Pandemic response and recovery plans will likely be how parties aim to secure votes in hard-hit Ontario during this federal election, experts say, but just which pledges will hold the most appeal remains to be seen.

Ontario has experienced frequent lockdowns, school closures, widespread workplace outbreaks and a health system pushed to the brink over the last year and a half. The pandemic experience for many residents has, however, varied depending on where they live and what they do.

Some have worked risky front-line jobs or lost employment during shutdowns, while others have continued earning uninterrupted income from the safety of their homes. Parents with young kids have had to juggle work and child-care duties as schools moved online at several points, while residents in long-term care have denounced heavy restrictions that they say left them feeling imprisoned.

That range of experiences, experts say, makes it challenging for politicians to come up with promises that resonate with all groups — but appealing to residents in Ontario, which has the largest number of legislative seats, will be key to winning the race.

5:55 a.m.: Students in Kindergarten to Grade 12 and those attending post-secondary schools in British Columbia will get the COVID-19 lesson plan on health and safety Tuesday.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and the ministers for education and advanced education are expected to lay out the plans at a news conference.

Premier John Horgan says he knows parents and students have a lot of questions about the return to school next month as COVID-19 cases rise across the province.

There were 16 more COVID-related deaths over a 72-hour period ending Monday along with 1,711 new cases, spurred by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Henry says youth aged 12 to 17 will have easy access to vaccination heading into the school year, along with on-campus clinics for post-secondary students.

She told a news conference this week that almost 90 per cent of the province’s COVID-19 cases in the last month have been among unvaccinated people, and most of the infections have been diagnosed in those aged 20 to 40.

Almost 75 per cent of all eligible B.C. residents have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, while just over 83 per cent have had their first shot.

5:54 a.m.: The former longtime military ruler of Myanmar, Than Shwe, and his wife have been released from a capital city hospital after both being successfully treated for COVID-19, a hospital official said.

The 88-year-old and wife, Daw Kyaing Kyaing, were discharged from the Thaik Chaung military hospital in Naypyidaw on Friday, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the press.

Than Shwe was hospitalized earlier this month, and his wife a short time later, and both were treated in a VIP section of the hospital under tight security.

The government has not yet officially commented on their cases, and independent media in Myanmar initially reported that their hospitalization was a precautionary measure as the country grapples with a new wave of the coronavirus, fuelled by the virulent Delta variant.

But the hospital official confirmed they had both tested positive for COVID-19, though both ended up exhibiting only mild symptoms. He said, for example, neither needed oxygen to help them breathe while they were being treated.

Since their release they have been examined by doctors and continue to do well, he said.

Tuesday 5:51 a.m.: Hawaii’s governor asked Monday that visitors and residents reduce travel to the islands to essential business only while the state struggles to control COVID-19 as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads in the community.

Gov. David Ige wants to curtail travel to Hawaii through the end of October.

“It is a risky time to be travelling right now,” he said.

He said restaurant capacity has been restricted and there’s limited access to rental cars.

Ige stopped short of a mandate, saying it’s a different time now than last year when strict travel rules that required quarantining essentially shut down Hawaii’s tourism industry.

Read Monday’s coronavirus news.