Today’s coronavirus news: Moderna vaccine production facility to be built in the Montreal area


5:50 a.m. Inflation hit a new record for the 19 countries that use the euro as skyrocketing fuel prices boosted by the war in Ukraine add new burdens to household finances and weigh on a slowing economic recovery from the latest outbreaks of COVID-19.

Annual inflation hit 7.5 per cent for April, the highest since statistics started in 1997 and the sixth record in a row, topping the old record of 7.4 per cent from March, the European Union’s statistics agency Eurostat reported Friday.

Energy prices jumped a startling 38 per cent, a testimony to how the war and the accompanying global energy crunch are affecting the eurozone’s 343 million people.

5:35 a.m. Once silenced by the pandemic, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival opens Friday for the first time in three years — a long awaited 2022 revival that holds echoes of 2006 when the annual celebration of music and culture went on even after Hurricane Katrina.

The two-weekend production draws tens of thousands to the city’s Fair Grounds Race Course, where as many as 80 musical acts perform daily on more than a dozen stages, complemented by art and craft exhibits and an array of booths featuring foods from Louisiana and beyond.

5:40 a.m. American vaccine maker Moderna is to announce today it plans to build its promised Canadian production facility in Montreal.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, and Quebec Premier François Legault are scheduled to attend a Friday morning health care announcement in the city.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante confirmed the news Thursday, but Moderna would only say that it was still finalizing an agreement to construct a biomanufacturing facility in Canada.

Read more from The Canadian Press.

5:30 a.m. Black and Hispanic Americans remain far more cautious in their approach to COVID-19 than white Americans, recent polls show, reflecting diverging preferences on how to deal with the pandemic as federal, state and local restrictions fall by the wayside.

Despite majority favorability among U.S. adults overall for measures like mask mandates, public health experts said divided opinions among racial groups reflect not only the unequal impact of the pandemic on people of color but also apathy among some white Americans.

Black Americans (63 per cent) and Hispanic Americans (68 per cent) continue to be more likely than white Americans (45% per cent) to say they are at least somewhat worried about themselves or a family member being infected with COVID-19, according to an April poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Read more from The Associated Press.

5:15 a.m. Over the next two days, Canada’s capital is set to play host to what could become a familiar scene: a national movement that will bring hundreds of honking vehicles into the city’s downtown core.

The event, known as “Rolling Thunder Ottawa,” could see more than 500 participants arrive in the city on motorcycles by Friday evening, on top of an additional wave of attendees showing up on foot.

Participants plan to stay in the capital throughout the weekend, holding multiple rallies on Parliament Hill, an event honouring veterans at the National War Memorial, a procession through the city’s streets and a local church service.

But the demonstration has also prompted concern over its links to the so-called “Freedom Convoy” that gridlocked Ottawa for three weeks and led to the historic invocation of the federal Emergencies Act.

Read more from the Star’s Raisa Patel.

5 a.m. Classes suspended. Buildings and communities sealed off. Mass testing of residents. A rush to stock up on food, just in case.

Beijing, China’s sprawling capital, is starting to resemble other Chinese cities grappling with the latest wave of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Authorities are moving quickly to try to prevent a massive COVID-19 outbreak that could trigger a citywide lockdown like the one that has paralyzed Shanghai for more than three weeks. The political stakes are high as the ruling Communist Party prepares for a major congress this fall at which President Xi Jinping is seeking a third five-year term to reassert his position as China’s unquestioned leader.

Xi and the party’s main policymaking body, the Politburo, reaffirmed their commitment to a “zero-COVID” policy on Friday, putting China at odds with much of the world. While many countries are dropping restrictions and trying to live with the virus, China is keeping its international borders largely shut and closing off entire cities to all but essential travel.

Read more from The Associated Press.


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