Thousands marched in Montreal and across France on Saturday to protest vaccine passports.
Starting next month, in Canada’s Quebec province, proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will be needed to go to a restaurant, bar, gym or festival. The vaccination rate in Quebec is high: 84% of adults have received one dose, and 70% have received two.
And yet protesters, often with their families, marched peacefully Saturday through the streets of Montreal.
"It should be the choice of each person whether to be vaccinated. With the passports it is a means of forcing us" to get vaccinated, said Veronique Whalen, a 31-year-old who came with her family and said she doesn't normally attend protests.
In France, fewer people marched this Saturday, the fifth in a row, in opposition to a COVID-19 health pass that is needed to enter restaurants and travel on long-distance trains.
The health pass took effect last week as new infections rose, thanks to the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus. In the past week, France has reported more than 146,000 new cases and 358 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Nine out of every 10 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in France has not been vaccinated, according to the Health Ministry.
The Australian state of New South Wales announced a snap lockdown Saturday because of the coronavirus pandemic, with the seven-day, statewide lockdown to begin Saturday evening. Schools will close for at least a week.
“This is literally a war,” Gladys Berejiklian, the state’s premier said. “The delta strain is diabolical.”
Saturday was the state’s worst day of the pandemic, with 466 new cases and four deaths.
Earlier Saturday, Dr. Danielle McMullen, the Australian Medical Association’s New South Wales president, said in a statement, “We need to treat this virus like it’s everywhere, all the time. … Doctors from across NSW are exhausted and concerned for their community. Our already fragile rural and regional health system will be unable to cope with increases in cases.”
The U.S. recorded more than 140,000 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the U.S. Centers of Disease and Prevention said Saturday, driven almost entirely by the delta variant of the virus in people who have not been vaccinated.
The spike in cases has set records.
The Department of Health and Human Services said a record 1,902 children were hospitalized Saturday with COVID-19. Children younger than 12 cannot yet be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The number of people newly hospitalized because of COVID-19 hit records in every age group from age 18 to age 49 this week, also according to data from CDC. A fifth of all U.S. hospitalization are in the southern state of Florida, which set a record Saturday of 16,100 people hospitalized, according to a tally by Reuters.
"This is not last year's COVID. This one is worse, and our children are the ones that are going to be affected by it the most," Sally Goza, former president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, told CNN on Saturday.
Russia reported Saturday a daily record of 795 COVID-19 deaths, the highest toll of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins.
Health officials blamed the increase on the more contagious delta variant.
Officials also reported 21,661 new coronavirus cases Saturday, down from its record on Christmas Eve of last year, Johns Hopkins said.
Moscow’s mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, said daily hospitalizations in the city had fallen by half since late June. Moscow reported 2,529 new infections on Friday.