Another 7,471 cases of the novel coronavirus have been detected in Canada, marking the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began.
The new cases bring the country’s total number of infections to 572,525.
More than 8,000 new cases were reported on December 26, however, several provinces reported cases detected over 48 hours, because of the Christmas holiday.
Provincial health authorities also confirmed 94 more people have died, pushing Canada’s death toll to 15,472.
The new cases and deaths come as the federal government announced Canada will now require all air passengers to obtain a negative COVID-19 test three days before arriving in the country.
The new rules are expected to come into effect in the next few days.
“We strongly advise against travel unless absolutely necessary,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair told reporters at a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday.
“If you must travel, understand that upon your return, you must follow guidelines and quarantine for 14 days,” he said. “It’s not just the right thing to do — it’s the law. And if you don’t, it can result in serious consequences.”
Coronavirus: Airline passengers now required to show negative test results
In a series of tweets Wednesday afternoon, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, said while Canadians can be “hopeful heading into 2021 as vaccines are being administered, we must remember that until they are more widely available, following proven #PublicHealth measures is key to #SlowtheSpread.”
Tam said the country remains on a “trajectory for resurgence” adding that COVID-19 infections rates “remain very high in many areas.”
She said this means we must celebrate New Year’s Eve “differently and resolve to carry on with effective public health practices” in the new year.
Thousands of new cases in the provinces
In Ontario, a record 2,923 new cases of the virus were detected, and provincial health authorities said another 19 people have died.
To date, Ontario has seen 178,831 infections and 4,474 fatalities related to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, in Quebec, 2,511 new cases were detected, marking the highest single-day increase since the pandemic began.
The new cases bring the province’s total case load to 199,822. Forty-one more fatalities mean a total of 8,165 people have died in Quebec after testing positive for the virus.
Saskatchewan reported 138 new cases of the coronavirus, and three more deaths.
So far, the province has seen 15,160 infections and fatalities.
Health officials in Manitoba said 130 new cases have been detected, and two more people have died, bringing the total number of infections and fatalities to 24513 and 661 respectively.
Four new cases were detected in Atlantic Canada on Wednesday.
Nova Scotia added three new cases, while New Brunswick saw one new infection, bringing the total number of cases in the provinces to 1,483 and 946 respectively.
Coronavirus: Airline passengers now required to show negative test results
Newfoundland and Labrador did not report any new infections, meaning its case load remained at 390.
Prince Edward Island did not release any new COVID-19 data on Wednesday, however the latest numbers issued on Dec. 29 said the province has seen 96 cases of COVID-19, 90 of which are considered to be resolved.
None of the Maritime provinces, or Newfoundland and Labrador reported any new fatalities associated with the virus on Wednesday.
Alberta added 1,287 new infections and health authorities confirmed 18 more deaths have occurred.
Since the pandemic began, the province has seen 100,428 cases and 1,046 people have died after falling ill.
In British Columbia, 485 new cases were detected, five of which are considered epidemiologically-linked meaning they have not yet been confirmed by a laboratory.
Eleven new deaths mean 893 people have died in B.C. since the pandemic began.
The new cases bring the total confirmed number of infections to 50,843, along with an additional 457 epidemiologically-linked cases.
No new cases in the territories
The Yukon did not report any new cases or fatalities. To date, the territory has seen 60 cases — 59 of which are considered to be resolved — and one death related to COVID-19.
Nunavut did not report any new cases or deaths on Wednesday, either, meaning the territory’s case count and death toll remained at 266 and one, respectively.
The Northwest Territories has not reported a new case of the novel coronavirus since Dec. 18.
To date, 24 people in the territory have contracted the virus, but all have since recovered.
Global deaths top 1.8 million
By 7 p.m. ET, the virus had claimed 1,800,400 lives globally.
Coronavirus: Canada hasn’t identified any cases of new coronavirus variant seen in U.K., Dr. Tam says
The United States remained the viral epicentre with over 19.6 million confirmed cases and more than 341,300 deaths.
India has reported the second-highest number of infections, with over 10.2 million cases, and over 148,400 fatalities.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada will not approve new thermal coal mining projects
Canada will not approve new thermal coal mining projects or plans to expand existing mines because of the potential for environmental damage, Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said on Friday.
“The government considers that these projects are likely to cause unacceptable environmental effects within federal jurisdiction and are not aligned with Canada‘s domestic and international climate change commitments,” he said.
In a statement, Wilkinson said thermal coal – primarily used for generating electricity – was the single largest contributor to climate change.
Canada produced 57 million tonnes of coal in 2019, just 1% of the overall global total. Canadian output in 2019 comprised 47% thermal coal and 53% metallurgical coal, which is used for steel manufacturing, according to official data.
“The continued mining and use of thermal coal for energy production in the world runs counter to what is needed to effectively combat climate change,” Wilkinson said. In 2018, Ottawa introduced regulations to phase-out conventional coal-fired electricity across Canada by 2030.
The new policy would apply to privately-held firm Coalspur’s plans to expand an existing thermal coal mine in the western province of Alberta, he said.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)
Victoria cancels Canada Day celebration after mass grave discovery
Victoria British Columbia has decided to cancel a virtual celebration of the national Canada Day holiday on July 1 after discovery of unmarked graves of children at a now-defunct indigenous boarding school.
The city council of Victoria voted on Thursday instead to air programming led by the local indigenous nation at a later date. Local indigenous leaders who usually participate in Canada Day ceremonies declined after remains of 215 children were found at the former school in Kamlooops, northern British Columbia.
“They’re grief-struck and reeling, as are many indigenous people across the country,” Lisa Helps, mayor of Victoria, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday.
Victoria will “produce a broadcast to air later this summer guided by the Lekwungen people and featuring local artists, that explores what it means to be Canadian, in light of recent events,” she said.
The Songhees Nation, of which the Lekwungen people are members, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
NATO summit seeks return to gravitas with Biden
NATO leaders will seek reassurance on Monday from that after four years of denigration by his predecessor Donald Trump, the alliance can count on the support of the United States, its most powerful member.
In a more pared-back gathering than past NATO summits in part due to COVID-19 restrictions, without fighter jet fly-pasts, the 30 allies will gather in their glass and steel headquarters to agree reforms for a multipolar, post-Cold War world where China’s military rise presents a new challenge.
The summit is a “unique opportunity” to renew transatlantic ties, according to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
Brussels’ town hall in the historic Grand Place will be illuminated in NATO’s signature blue on Sunday night while the Belgian capital’s famed bronze fountain of a boy urinating will also don a NATO-branded outfit on Monday.
“The first thing is for Biden to recommit to NATO’s collective defence,” Jamie Shea, a former senior NATO official who was at a 2018 summit at which Trump considered quitting the alliance.
Trump brought a television reality-show quality to the NATO summits he attended from 2017 to 2019, diplomats said, attracting international attention but also wearing down allies whom he called “delinquent” for not spending enough on defence.
Biden has already annulled a Trump decision to pull U.S. troops out of Germany, although there is still American pressure for European allies to pay more towards their own security. Stoltenberg said on Friday that European allies, Turkey and Canada will have collectively increased their defence budgets by $260 billion by the end of 2021, compared to 2014.
“This summit with Biden should be a signal to the world that NATO is back,” said a senior European NATO diplomat who was also at the alliance during the Trump years.
“There was so much noise and it was a difficult time. But now we can actually talk about the things that matter, the defining security challenges of our time,” the envoy said.
Founded in 1949 to contain a military threat from the Soviet Union, NATO celebrated its 70th anniversary at a summit in London in December 2019.
Russia, climate change, Afghanistan and new technologies are on the menu of the day-long summit, which will culminate in a special leaders’ session in the amphitheatre-like North Atlantic Council chamber.
“I expect Allies will agree a new cyber defence policy for NATO,” Stoltenberg said. “It will recognise that cyberspace is contested at all times,” he told a news conference.
Having strengthened its capability to carry out its core mission of defending Europe following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, NATO now aims to be more ambitious.
In a twist of fate, the NATO summit will agree reforms to the alliance, known as NATO 2030, which were set in motion after Trump questioned its relevance.
Stoltenberg will set out nine areas where NATO could modernise over the medium term, including more joint allied funding of military operations. However, France has already expressed concern about the proposal, fearing it will take money away from national military priorities.
Leaders are likely to agree to draw up a new master strategy document, known as NATO’s Strategic Concept, to include China’s military rise as a challenge for the first time.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Giles Elgood and Angus MacSwan)