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

The latest:

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday he would have to spend “a few days” in self-isolation after dozens of people in his entourage fell ill with COVID-19, the TASS news agency reported.

Putin was speaking via a video link at a summit of a Russia-led security bloc being held in Tajikistan that he had initially planned to attend in person.

It was previously unclear how big the outbreak was and how long Putin would remain isolated.

“This is not just one person or two people, there are dozens of people,” he said. “And now I have to remain in self-isolation for a few days.”

Putin, 68, has had two shots of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine. He said this week he was now personally testing its efficiency.

The Kremlin said Putin was healthy. His spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said on Thursday the president’s self-isolation could last at least a week and added that he was unaware of anyone being gravely ill in the Kremlin.

He said Putin was yet to decide whether he would attend a summit of the Group of 20 major economies at the end of next month in Rome.

The Kremlin had imposed rigorous measures designed to keep Putin away from anyone with COVID-19.

Kremlin visitors have had to pass through special disinfection tunnels, journalists attending his events must undergo multiple PCR tests, and some people he meets are asked to quarantine beforehand and be tested for COVID-19.

-From Reuters, last updated at 7:20 a.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | ‘I apologize,’ Kenney says as Alberta declares state of public health emergency: 

‘I apologize,’ Kenney says as Alberta declares state of public health emergency

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney on Wednesday introduced strict and sweeping new measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 as he apologized for his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. 1:57

What’s happening around the world

Workers plant white flags as part of artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg’s temporary art installation on the National Mall in Washington in remembrance of Americans who have died of COVID-19. (Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press)

As of early Thursday morning, more than 226.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.6 million.

In the Americas, Alaska reported its highest number of new coronavirus cases Wednesday, after the state’s largest hospital started rationing care because of a flood of COVID-19 patients. Officials reported 1,068 new virus infections, which is 13 per cent higher than last week. State officials say 201 Alaskans are hospitalized for COVID-19, and 34 of them are on ventilators.

In Africa, South Africa reported 4,667 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 166 additional deaths, the health ministry said. The country, which has struggled to procure and roll out vaccines against COVID-19, has now fully vaccinated almost 13 per cent of its total population, according to the Johns Hopkins database

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday reported seven additional deaths and 88 additional cases of COVID-19.

A student reacts to a disinfectant spray while passing through a gate at a secondary school on Wednesday Phnom Penh. Cambodia has had high vaccination rates among teachers and has targeted to vaccinate nearly two million adolescents aged 12-17. (Cindy Liu/Getty Images)

In the Asia-Pacific region, several Asian nations are quickly ramping up vaccination campaigns from shaky starts, as supply shipments roll in and people overcome hesitancy in hopes of easing curbs.

In Hong Kong, a panel of health experts advising the government has recommended children aged 12-17 should get only one dose of BioNTech’s vaccine.

In Europe, around 3,000 health workers who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 have been suspended in France, Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Thursday, a day after the country made vaccination mandatory for all health-care and care-home workers.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government imposed the rule to boost vaccination uptake and help prevent a new wave of infections in the autumn that might jeopardize France’s economic recovery.

“Most of the suspensions are only temporary … many of them have decided to get vaccinated as they see that the vaccination mandate is a reality,” Veran told French RTL radio.

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 7:20 a.m. ET

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