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Coronavirus report card: Experts give Canada a B, U.S. an F – CTV News

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TORONTO —
The novel coronavirus became a reality in Canada six months ago today.

A man who had travelled to Wuhan, China, had fallen ill after returning to his home in a Toronto suburb. He sought medical attention, and doctors diagnosed him with Canada’s first presumptive positive case of the virus. Two days later, test results on the man came back positive, and his wife was diagnosed as the country’s second presumptive patient.

As this was happening, health officials from B.C.to Ottawawere saying that there was little risk to Canadians, and the World Health Organization (WHO) was holding off on declaring the virus a global health emergency.

Much has changed since then. The disease caused by the virus has been given a name – COVID-19 – and the world is in the grip of the greatest pandemic in decades. There have been more than 15 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 600,000 deaths worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. In Canada, there have been more than 110,000 cases – more than the entire population of Moncton, N.B. – and nearly 9,000 deaths.

Half a year after COVID-19 first showed itself in Canada, CTVNews.ca asked seven prominent epidemiologists, public health experts and infectious disease specialists to look back at the pandemic responses of Canada, the United States and the world as a whole, and put together a report card for each – assessing their strengths and weaknesses thus far, and assigning them a letter grade.

Our expert panel includes:

  • Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto
  • Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist at Dalhousie University in Halifax
  • Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont.
  • Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease specialist based in Mississauga, Ont.
  • Dr. Brian Conway, president and medical director of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre
  • Dr. Ronald St. John, the first director-general of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Centre for Emergency Preparedness
  • Ashleigh Tuite, an epidemiology professor at the University of Toronto

CANADA BETTER THAN AVERAGE

Although all of our experts said that our country’s response to the pandemic had obvious room for improvement, Canada was given high marks relative to the U.S. and the world.

“We’re in a position where we have low community spread all over the country, to a point that we even have the option of safely … opening indoor dining and bars and schools,” Chakrabarti told CTVNews.ca via telephone July 21.

“In the grand scheme of things, we have actually done a very good job and we should actually be proud of ourselves for that — but proud in a way that we don’t get complacent.”

Chakrabarti gave Canada an A-minus – the highest mark of any of our experts, though not by much. He noted that most other countries with similar caseloads went through periods where their hospitals were overwhelmed, which was never the case here.

“We never were at a point where we felt appreciably out of control,” he said.

Many of the experts praised Canada’s federal, provincial and municipal governments for often presenting a united front during the pandemic, learning from experiences elsewhere in the country and usually having clear, rational explanations for decisions around shutting down and reopening parts of the country.

“Even though we don’t necessarily agree on every level of risk, there is at least some methodology to it,” Chagla said July 21 in an emailto CTVNews.ca, in which he graded Canada’s performance as a B-minus.

The positive comments about Canada’s handling of COVID-19 were tempered by concerns about the response in the early days of the pandemic, from difficulties securing personal protective equipment and testing kits to the seeming lack of preparation for outbreaks in long-term care homes and Indigenous communities.

“A lot of health-care workers and front-line workers and EMS really put themselves at risk at the beginning, because we didn’t have the supplies,” Banerji said in a telephone interview on July 22.

While governments may have fallen short at times, most of the experts had praise for how Canadians as a whole listened to public health advice.

“Canadians get an A-plus. Regardless of what the policy said, they generally did the right thing regardless,” Barrett told CTVNews.ca July 23 in a telephone interview. Barrett gave Canada as a whole a lower B-plus, due to foreseeable issues affecting long-term care homes and other vulnerable settings.

That adhering to official advice has continued even as the guidance itself has changed. Think about how face masks went from being considered unnecessary outside hospitals to mandatory in public spaces in some parts of the country.

Canadians’ attitudes are also shifting around the accuracy of test results, Banerji said, as more evidence emerges that false negative results are a significant problem – leading to advice that anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 should stay home, even if they have tested negative.

Inaccurate tests are just one of several problems the experts warned will be on the horizon as provinces reopen the businesses and sectors of society that were closed in the spring. The long-term lack of federal funding for Indigenous health care is another, Banerji said, while Tuite noted that some parts of the country still lack the capacity to carry out effective contact tracing.

Conway, who gave Canada a B-plus, cautioned that young adults may see reopening as a sign that the country is returning to normal, which could be dangerous as long as the virus remains active.

“There is a lack of understanding that public health measures are still needed and that we are possibly not ever going back to the full-on old normal,” he said July 22 in an email.

Despite the challenges in the past and those that may be ahead, the experts’ grades reflect that they feel Canada has weathered the pandemic relatively well – especially considering the situationon the other side of the world’s largest international border.

Chakrabarti said that while he’d give New Zealand an A-plus for its coronavirus response, its geography gives it a built-in advantage over most other countries.

“We don’t have the luxury of being an island nation,” he said.

“We have the U.S. next door to us, and they have the worst outbreak in the entire world, and we were still able to get to this point.”

5 OUT OF 7 SAY U.S. FLUNKS

Is the American pandemic experience really the worst in the world? It depends how you measure it.

Our southern neighbour does have the highest raw numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths anywhere, and its testing rate is low enough that it cannot account for that. But several European countries have worse per capita death rates.

Regardless of whether the U.S. is at the absolute bottom of the list, our panel made it clear they can find little to praise in the American response. Five of the seven experts gave the U.S. a failing grade.

“[The U.S. is] a raging flunk. What’s your lowest letter?” St. John said July 21 during a telephone interview.

Common criticisms of the American approach included the politicization of public health advice such as mask-wearing, and decisions to reopen businesses before virus activity had tampered down enough to make doing so safe.

The greatest scorn, though, was reserved for what many of the experts described as a clear lack of federal leadership. Unlike in Canada, where provincial and local authorities have generally followed the federal handbook, mixed messages have abounded.

“There’s been conflicting messaging and communication and an overall anti-science feel to national response,” Tuite said July 21 in an email.

Tuite actually gave the U.S. the highest grade of anyone we asked – a D – but categorized the American response as disappointing, noting that the surges of the past month were “predictable and preventable.”

Those surges have led to “50 states [that] seem like they’re doing 50 different things,” as Chakrabarti put it, with no clear nationwide approach to stopping the virus or even fully understanding its progress.

“I don’t even know if this is a first wave or a second wave,” Banerji said.

Barrett noted that there has been “a lot less overall buy-in” from Americans than Canadians and others when it comes to adjusting lifestyles in order to halt the spread of the virus.

“You can open Disney World, but no one has to go – and everyone did,” she said.

St. John, who started his career at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, said he has been “amazed” by how small a role that organization has had in the American response.

“Ordinarily it would be the CDC that would be leading this and co-ordinating things across the entire country — and they’re nowhere to be seen,” he said.

The CDC may be nearly invisible in Washington’s response to the pandemic, but one public health leader has been much more prominent. Several of our experts singled out Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, for his work to keep science at the forefront of the American debate.

In giving the U.S. a D-minus, Chakrabarti described Fauci as “one of the brightest shining lights” of the American pandemic experience, noting that he was one of the first prominent voices to tout the staged approach to reopening now being used across Canada.

However, Fauci’s frank manner and willingness to contradict the White House have repeatedly put him at odds with U.S. President Donald Trump, who appears to be less rigorous about sticking to scientific consensus.

“You have to give [Fauci] credit for trying to talk about science, but you’ve got the head of the country that says maybe by injecting bleach, you can stop COVID,” Banerji said.

The experts also noted Trump’s recently-ended refusal to promote masks and his eagerness to promote hydroxychloroquine, a potential COVID-19 treatment that has not been shown to work and comes with deadly side effects, as actions that hindered America’s ability to fight the virus.

“There’s no consistency. There’s nothing there. To me, it’s unbelievable,” Banerji said.

And things could well get worse as community spread continues unchecked in some parts of the country. Even Trump has admitted that there will likely be further escalation of virus activity before the situation starts to improve.

“It is still early days, and the U.S. is in the worst possible position to deal with events going forward,” Conway said.

THE WORLD GETS A ‘C’

Ultimately, neither Canada nor the U.S. can eliminate COVID-19 on their own. As Health Minister Patty Hajdu has said, “as long as COVID is raging out of control in another country, Canadians will not be safe.”

So, how are we doing on that front? How is humanity doing at fighting off what might be the greatest collective threat to emerge in decades?

Our experts were nearly unanimous on this question, with six out of seven giving the world a C. Most said this was a sort of average grade, taking into account the parts of the world where the virus has been beaten back and those where it is still raging uncontrollably. Overall, though, there was a general air of pessimism.

“Globally we have learned that we were not prepared for a pandemic,” Tuite said.

Since it was first reported in Chinaat the end of 2019, the virus has followed a relatively straight pattern across the planet – first affecting South Korea, Japan and other Asian nations, then moving on to Europe and crossing the Atlantic Ocean to North America, before finally emerging in South America and Africa.

By following this track, the virus has been able to ramp up its activity in countries including Brazil, India and South Africa even as earlier-hit nations in Asia and Europe have largely got a handle on it.

Several of our experts said this should not come as a surprise, especially given the lack of proper health-care resources in some parts of the developing world – the gulf between “the haves and the have-nots,” as Banerji put it.

“At least the States has the ability to contain this. We don’t have that in other [countries],” Chakrabarti said.

“What’s happening in other parts of the world is likely going to get worse before it gets better.”

Barrett said that she fears the deteriorating situation in the developing world may be ignored by the developed world, presenting a major hurdle to eradicating the virus.

“The biggest challenge right now really, really, really is that we’re nowhere near done,” she said.

Several experts noted that the pandemic has shown the ability of many of the world’s countries to work together, both in sharing information about the virus and in working to develop vaccines and treatments for it – even though there has never before been a successful vaccine for a coronavirus.

“[There is] a clear understanding this is a pandemic and we are all in this together,” Conway said.

And while disastrous COVID-19 situations in some countries can have some questioning the world’s readiness to deal with a pandemic, Banerji said that it’s important to remember the virus itself is a difficult enemy to defeat.

“This is one of the most highly infectious viruses that we’ve had at least in 100 years, maybe in several hundred years. This is as bad as it gets,” she said.

“Even with the best procedure or policy, it’s still very difficult to contain.”

Infographic by Mahima Singh

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Canada’s chief public health officer is calling for a “collective effort” to stem the spike of COVID-19 and to lessen the burden on essential workers.

“To essential workers — from those growing our food and keeping grocery stores stocked with vital supplies to the health-care and public health workforce providing care and services to Canadians — thank you for your commitment to keeping our society running,” Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement on Saturday.

“Many of you have been on the front lines since the beginning, putting yourselves in harm’s way,” she said. “As individuals, we have an important role to play to minimize the COVID-19 burden on essential workers.”

Tam again urged Canadians to adhere to public health guidelines, such as physical distancing, hand washing, wearing a face covering and using the COVID Alert app.

Tam’s comments come a day after the latest federal modelling on COVID-19 suggests the surge in cases could continue in the coming weeks unless Canadians take action now.

On Friday, she said that based on the current projections, Canadians need to cut their contacts by 25 per cent in order to get the second wave under control to the point where daily counts may drop below 2,000.

Without reducing the rates of contact, Canada could see COVID-19 case counts rise to 8,000 per day come early December, she said.

Tam said the country has lost its lead in the ongoing “dance” with COVID-19 after curbing cases over the summer, and taking it back will require discipline.

“What comes next for us this fall and winter is for every one of us to determine through our decisions and our actions,” Tam told a news conference. “Letting down our guard and letting this virus win is not an option.”


What’s happening in the rest of Canada 

As of 12:40 p.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 234,084 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases, with 28,229 of those active. Provinces and territories listed 195,721 as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,134.

Ontario reported 1,015 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, up from 896 cases added to the count on Friday. Locally, there are 325 new cases in Toronto on Saturday, 282 in Peel Region, 94 in Ottawa and 88 in York Region.

A pumpkin vendor waits for customers at a market in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his children will not be trick-or-treating this year because Ottawa is considered one of Ontario’s hot spots.

The province has recommended against going door-to-door for candy in the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions of Ottawa, Peel Region, Toronto and York Region.

In Quebec, children can go out as long as they stay with members of their own household. Health officials in British Columbia are recommending people keep their trick-or-treating groups to six people or fewer.

Quebec reported 1,064 new cases on Saturday, down from 1,108 new cases on Friday.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Friday said a plan is coming next week to ease COVID-19 restrictions in the province’s hot spots.

John Oliveira, left, helps load hockey equipment for nine year-olds Delcan Morgan, left, and Anthony Oliveira, right, after having a small group session of on-ice practice in Brampton, Ont., on Oct. 26. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Ford said he has asked his health advisers to put together a strategy to allow shuttered businesses in the regions to safely reopen.

Restrictions that banned indoor dining in restaurants and bars and closed gyms were put in place in the so-called hot spots on Oct. 10. The measures were intended to be in place for 28 days and are set to expire next Saturday.

Ford could not provide any details of the plan or say how the plan would impact restaurants and gyms.

In Peel Region, the city of Brampton is not helping the cause. Its weekly test positivity rate rose to 9.6 per cent for the week ending Oct. 24, according to a Peel Health Surveillance report published on Friday.

(CBC News)

This represents a 1.5-point increase from the previous week, when Brampton sat at 8.1 per cent positivity. This is well above the five per cent benchmark used by infectious disease experts to signal the virus could be under control.

Brampton’s positivity rate is two-and-a-half times higher than the national figure.

WATCH | Gym owners, patrons frustrated by renewed COVID-19 closures:

Despite Manitoba’s surge in COVID-19 cases, gyms remain open in most of the province even though the facilities are closed in Ontario and Quebec. Gym owners and patrons are increasingly frustrated and want to know why they’re paying more to contain the pandemic than other jurisdictions. 1:57

In Alberta, health officials reported a record number of new cases in a single day on Friday, with 622 new infections. There are currently 140 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Alberta, with 25 of them in intensive care. The Edmonton and Calgary health zones have about 2,000 cases each.

New Brunswick reported one new COVID-19 case and two recoveries on Saturday.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on Friday for the fourth straight day. Three active cases remain in the province. 

Nova Scotia reported five new cases on Saturday, up from two additional cases on Friday, when officials in the province said the state of emergency would be renewed. The emergency status will begin at noon on Nov. 1 and run until Nov. 15, unless the province extends it. 

Saskatchewan reported 76 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with 34 of those cases coming from the Saskatoon area. There are currently 22 people in hospital, with 16 of those receiving in-patient care. 

A public health order on nightclubs is now in effect in Saskatoon, where drinking alcohol is barred between 10 p.m. and 9:30 a.m. CST, and they are required to close between 11 p.m. and 9:30 a.m. Karaoke and dance floors have been closed at the clubs, where guests are to be seated and cannot mingle between tables. 

Two medical experts told CBC News they’re worried that the number of new infections will overwhelm the province’s health system. 

British Columbia announced in a written public statement another 272 cases of COVID-19 on Friday and one additional death. There are currently 2,390 active cases in the province.

Three new outbreaks at health-care facilities were announced by health officials, who also reminded residents not to hold large parties over the Halloween weekend. 


What’s happening around the world

A database maintained by Johns Hopkins University put the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reported around the world since the pandemic began at more than 45.7 million as of Saturday morning, with more than 29.7 million of those listed as recovered. The death toll reported by the U.S.-based university stood at more than 1.1 million.

In Britain, the government is considering imposing a new national lockdown in England, after its scientific advisers warned that hospitalizations and deaths from the resurgence of the coronavirus could soon surpass the levels seen at the outbreak’s spring peak.

A protester in London’s Parliament Square holds a poster on Friday, on Day 5 of a week-long protest action called ‘Survival in the Square,’ highlighting how the pandemic has affected opera singers and other performers. (Hollie Adams/AFP/Getty Images)

The Times of London says Prime Minister Boris Johnson could announce a month-long lockdown as soon as Monday, though the government says no decisions have been made. Any new lockdown would likely see non-essential businesses close and people told to stay mostly at home, though schools would remain open.

The U.K. is recording more than 20,000 new coronavirus infections a day, and government statisticians say the true figure is far higher. On Saturday the country is likely to surpass one million confirmed cases since the outbreak began. The U.K. has Europe’s highest coronavirus death toll at more than 46,000.

India has registered 48,268 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, continuing a downward trend.

The country’s Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 551 additional deaths, taking total fatalities up to 121,641. The figure raises the country’s total virus tally to more than 8.1 million, behind only the U.S. Over 7.4 million people have recovered.

The slowdown in daily infections has held for more than a month, with fewer than 60,000 cases for nearly two weeks. Some experts say the trend suggests the virus may have finally reached a plateau in India, but others question the testing methods and warn that a major festival due in a few weeks and the winter season could result in a new surge.

In Sri Lanka, police have, for the first time, arrested dozens of people for not wearing masks and failing to maintain physical distancing, under the new laws imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

A Sri Lankan police officer stands guard as health officers collect swab samples from rail commuters to test for COVID-19 at a railway station in Colombo on Oct. 12. (Eranga Jayawardena/The Associated Press)

Police spokesperson Ajith Rohana said 39 people were detained, and separately, another 221 were held for violating a curfew.

Since Thursday, the Sri Lankan government has imposed a curfew in the whole of Western province, where new outbreaks at a garment factory and the main fish market were discovered early this month. The province includes the capital Colombo.

Infections from the two clusters have grown to 6,945 by Saturday, including 633 in the last 24 hours, bringing to more than 10,000 the number of confirmed cases in the island nation, including 19 deaths.

WATCH | COVID-19 long-haulers share experience with prolonged symptoms:

After a record-breaking day for COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, the province announced more restrictions for the Winnipeg area and prepared for an influx of cases at hospitals. 2:14

The United States now has nine million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins, as infections continue to rise in nearly every state.

It took two weeks to reach the mark from eight million, the fastest jump of one million yet. It had taken more than three weeks for the total to rise from seven million to eight million.

Confirmed U.S. cases are on the rise in 47 states. Deaths are up 14 per cent over the past two weeks, averaging more than 800 every day. The virus has now killed more than 229,000 Americans.

South Dakota broke its record for new coronavirus infections reported in one day on Friday as 1,560 people tested positive.

The new virus cases brought the number of cases statewide to 13,520, according to the state’s Department of Health. That means that roughly one out of every 65 people currently has an active infection.

The state has ranked second in the nation for new cases per person over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. There were about 1,359 new cases per 100,000 people.

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

  • New restrictions for Winnipeg to begin Monday after Manitoba reports record number of new cases.
  • Ontario and Quebec both reporting over 1,000 new cases of infection.
  • Canadians must reduce contacts by 25 per cent to reduce COVID-19 transmission, says top doctor.
  • Alberta reports dramatic increase in new cases compared with the last 10 days.
  • U.S. surpasses 9 million cases of COVID-19.
  • U.K. could see new lockdown in days as virus cases surge. 
  • Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca.

The latest federal modelling on COVID-19 suggests the surge in cases could continue in the coming weeks unless Canadians take action now, which has prompted a new warning from the country’s chief public health officer.

Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday said that based on the current projections, Canadians need to cut their contacts by 25 per cent in order to get the second wave under control to the point where daily counts may drop below 2,000.

Without reducing the rates of contact, Canada could see COVID-19 case counts rise to 8,000 per day come early December, she said.

On Friday, Canadian health officials reported a record-breaking number of new cases, totalling 3,457.

WATCH | Keep Halloween activities outdoors, says infectious diseases specialist:

People should keep Halloween activities outdoors while making sure that kids don’t cluster together for candy when trick-or-treating, says infectious diseases specialist Dr. Matthew Oughton. 1:35

Tam said the country has lost its lead in the ongoing “dance” with COVID-19 after curbing cases over the summer, and taking it back will require discipline.

“What comes next for us this fall and winter is for every one of us to determine through our decisions and our actions,” Tam told a news conference. “Letting down our guard and letting this virus win is not an option.”

Large increases in infections were reported Friday in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. 

Manitoba saw its highest single-day spike with 480 new cases on Friday. Winnipeg is being placed under “red alert” pandemic restrictions, starting Monday.

WATCH | Winnipeg faces more restrictions due to COVID-19 surge:

After a record-breaking day for COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, the province announced more restrictions for the Winnipeg area and prepared for an influx of cases at hospitals. 2:14

That means bars and restaurants will only be allowed to offer takeout and delivery. Most retail stores will be limited to 25 per cent capacity. Movie theatres must close, and sports and recreation programming will be suspended. In the rest of the province restaurants, bars and stores will be limited to half capacity.

Religious services will be capped at 15 per cent in the Winnipeg region and 20 per cent elsewhere. Public gatherings across the province will be capped at five people — a restriction that was recently implemented in the Winnipeg region only.

The restrictions are to be in place for at least two weeks and will be reassessed at that time, said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer.

The new measures were announced as 12 doctors in the province published a letter on Friday in the Winnipeg Free Press directed toward the premier and health minister, stating it’s time for a provincewide shutdown


What’s happening in the rest of Canada 

As of 11:20 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 234,083 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases, with 28,230 of those active. Provinces and territories listed 195,719 as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,134.

Ontario reported 1,015 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, up from 896 cases added to the count on Friday. Locally, there are 325 new cases in Toronto on Saturday, 282 in Peel Region, 94 in Ottawa and 88 in York Region.

A pumpkin vendor waits for customers at a market in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his children will not be trick-or-treating this year because Ottawa is considered one of Ontario’s hot spots.

The province has recommended against going door-to-door for candy in the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions of Ottawa, Peel Region, Toronto and York Region.

In Quebec, children can go out as long as they stay with members of their own household. Health officials in British Columbia are recommending people keep their trick-or-treating groups to six people or fewer.

Quebec reported 1,064 new cases on Saturday, down from 1,108 new cases on Friday.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Friday said a plan is coming next week to ease COVID-19 restrictions in the province’s hot spots.

John Oliveira, left, helps load hockey equipment for nine year-olds Delcan Morgan, left, and Anthony Oliveira, right, after having a small group session of on-ice practice in Brampton, Ont., on Oct. 26. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Ford said he has asked his health advisers to put together a strategy to allow shuttered businesses in the regions to safely reopen.

Restrictions that banned indoor dining in restaurants and bars and closed gyms were put in place in the so-called hot spots on Oct. 10. The measures were intended to be in place for 28 days and are set to expire next Saturday.

Ford could not provide any details of the plan or say how the plan would impact restaurants and gyms.

In Peel Region, the city of Brampton is not helping the cause. Its weekly test positivity rate rose to 9.6 per cent for the week ending Oct. 24, according to a Peel Health Surveillance report published on Friday.

(CBC News)

This represents a 1.5-point increase from the previous week, when Brampton sat at 8.1 per cent positivity. This is well above the five per cent benchmark used by infectious disease experts to signal the virus could be under control.

Brampton’s positivity rate is two-and-a-half times higher than the national figure.

WATCH | Gym owners, patrons frustrated by renewed COVID-19 closures:

Despite Manitoba’s surge in COVID-19 cases, gyms remain open in most of the province even though the facilities are closed in Ontario and Quebec. Gym owners and patrons are increasingly frustrated and want to know why they’re paying more to contain the pandemic than other jurisdictions. 1:57

In Alberta, health officials reported a record number of new cases in a single day on Friday, with 622 new infections. There are currently 140 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Alberta, with 25 of them in intensive care. The Edmonton and Calgary health zones have about 2,000 cases each.

New Brunswick reported one new COVID-19 case and three recoveries on Friday.

That comes a day after the province reported four new confirmed cases, declared an outbreak at a special care home in Balmoral and announced new isolation rules for people who travel outside the Atlantic bubble for work.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on Friday for the fourth straight day. Three active cases remain in the province. 

Nova Scotia reported five new cases on Saturday, up from two additional cases on Friday, when officials in the province said the state of emergency would be renewed. The emergency status will begin at noon on Nov. 1 and run until Nov. 15, unless the province extends it. 

Saskatchewan reported 76 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with 34 of those cases coming from the Saskatoon area. There are currently 22 people in hospital, with 16 of those receiving in-patient care. 

A public health order on nightclubs is now in effect in Saskatoon, where drinking alcohol is barred between 10 p.m. and 9:30 a.m. CST, and they are required to close between 11 p.m. and 9:30 a.m. Karaoke and dance floors have been closed at the clubs, where guests are to be seated and cannot mingle between tables. 

Two medical experts told CBC News they’re worried that the number of new infections will overwhelm the province’s health system. 

British Columbia announced in a written public statement another 272 cases of COVID-19 on Friday and one additional death. There are currently 2,390 active cases in the province.

Three new outbreaks at health-care facilities were announced by health officials, who also reminded residents not to hold large parties over the Halloween weekend. 


What’s happening around the world

A database maintained by Johns Hopkins University put the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reported around the world since the pandemic began at more than 45.6 million as of Saturday morning, with more than 29.7 million of those listed as recovered. The death toll reported by the U.S.-based university stood at more than 1.1 million.

In Britain, the government is considering imposing a new national lockdown in England, after its scientific advisers warned that hospitalizations and deaths from the resurgence of the coronavirus could soon surpass the levels seen at the outbreak’s spring peak.

A protester in London’s Parliament Square holds a poster on Friday, on Day 5 of a week-long protest action called ‘Survival in the Square,’ highlighting how the pandemic has affected opera singers and other performers. (Hollie Adams/AFP/Getty Images)

The Times of London says Prime Minister Boris Johnson could announce a month-long lockdown as soon as Monday, though the government says no decisions have been made. Any new lockdown would likely see non-essential businesses close and people told to stay mostly at home, though schools would remain open.

The U.K. is recording more than 20,000 new coronavirus infections a day, and government statisticians say the true figure is far higher. On Saturday the country is likely to surpass one million confirmed cases since the outbreak began. The U.K. has Europe’s highest coronavirus death toll at more than 46,000.

India has registered 48,268 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, continuing a downward trend.

The country’s Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 551 additional deaths, taking total fatalities up to 121,641. The figure raises the country’s total virus tally to more than 8.1 million, behind only the U.S. Over 7.4 million people have recovered.

The slowdown in daily infections has held for more than a month, with fewer than 60,000 cases for nearly two weeks. Some experts say the trend suggests the virus may have finally reached a plateau in India, but others question the testing methods and warn that a major festival due in a few weeks and the winter season could result in a new surge.

In Sri Lanka, police have, for the first time, arrested dozens of people for not wearing masks and failing to maintain physical distancing, under the new laws imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

A Sri Lankan police officer stands guard as health officers collect swab samples from rail commuters to test for COVID-19 at a railway station in Colombo on Oct. 12. (Eranga Jayawardena/The Associated Press)

Police spokesperson Ajith Rohana said 39 people were detained, and separately, another 221 were held for violating a curfew.

Since Thursday, the Sri Lankan government has imposed a curfew in the whole of Western province, where new outbreaks at a garment factory and the main fish market were discovered early this month. The province includes the capital Colombo.

Infections from the two clusters have grown to 6,945 by Saturday, including 633 in the last 24 hours, bringing to more than 10,000 the number of confirmed cases in the island nation, including 19 deaths.

WATCH | COVID-19 long-haulers share experience with prolonged symptoms:

During a World Health Organization news conference, an infectious disease epidemiologist, a nurse and a software engineer share the long-term effects they’ve had after getting COVID-19. 5:38

The United States now has nine million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins, as infections continue to rise in nearly every state.

It took two weeks to reach the mark from eight million, the fastest jump of one million yet. It had taken more than three weeks for the total to rise from seven million to eight million.

Confirmed U.S. cases are on the rise in 47 states. Deaths are up 14 per cent over the past two weeks, averaging more than 800 every day. The virus has now killed more than 229,000 Americans.

South Dakota broke its record for new coronavirus infections reported in one day on Friday as 1,560 people tested positive.

The new virus cases brought the number of cases statewide to 13,520, according to the state’s Department of Health. That means that roughly one out of every 65 people currently has an active infection.

The state has ranked second in the nation for new cases per person over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. There were about 1,359 new cases per 100,000 people.

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

  • New restrictions for Winnipeg to begin Monday after Manitoba reports record number of new cases.
  • Canadians must reduce contacts by 25 per cent to reduce COVID-19 transmission, says top doctor.
  • Alberta reports dramatic increase in new cases compared with the last 10 days.
  • U.S. surpasses 9 million cases of COVID-19.
  • South Dakota breaks record for coronavirus infections reported in single day.
  • U.K. could see new lockdown in days as virus cases surge. 
  • Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca.

The latest federal modelling on COVID-19 suggests the surge in cases could continue in the coming weeks unless Canadians take action now, which has prompted a new warning from the country’s chief public health officer.

Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday said that based on the current projections, Canadians need to cut their contacts by 25 per cent in order to get the second wave under control to the point where daily counts may drop below 2,000.

Without reducing the rates of contact, Canada could see COVID-19 case counts rise to 8,000 per day come early December, she said.

WATCH | Keep Halloween activities outdoors, says infectious diseases specialist:

People should keep Halloween activities outdoors while making sure that kids don’t cluster together for candy when trick-or-treating, says infectious diseases specialist Dr. Matthew Oughton. 1:35

On Friday, Canadian health officials reported a record-breaking number of new cases, totalling 3,457.

Tam said the country has lost its lead in the ongoing “dance” with COVID-19 after curbing cases over the summer, and taking it back will require discipline.

“What comes next for us this fall and winter is for every one of us to determine through our decisions and our actions,” Tam told a news conference. “Letting down our guard and letting this virus win is not an option.”

Large increases in infections were reported Friday in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. 

Manitoba saw its highest single-day spike with 480 new cases on Friday. Winnipeg is being placed under “red alert” pandemic restrictions, starting Monday.

WATCH | Winnipeg faces more restrictions due to COVID-19 surge:

After a record-breaking day for COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, the province announced more restrictions for the Winnipeg area and prepared for an influx of cases at hospitals. 2:14

That means bars and restaurants will only be allowed to offer takeout and delivery. Most retail stores will be limited to 25 per cent capacity. Movie theatres must close, and sports and recreation programming will be suspended. In the rest of the province restaurants, bars and stores will be limited to half capacity.

Religious services will be capped at 15 per cent in the Winnipeg region and 20 per cent elsewhere. Public gatherings across the province will be capped at five people — a restriction that was recently implemented in the Winnipeg region only.

The restrictions are to be in place for at least two weeks and will be reassessed at that time, said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer.

The new measures were announced as 12 doctors in the province published a letter on Friday in the Winnipeg Free Press directed toward the premier and health minister, stating it’s time for a provincewide shutdown


What’s happening in the rest of Canada 

As of 10:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 233,014 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases, with 27,952 of those active. Provinces and territories listed 194,735 as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,119.

Ontario reported 1,015 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, up from 896 cases added to the count on Friday. Locally, there are 325 new cases in Toronto on Saturday, 282 in Peel Region, 94 in Ottawa and 88 in York Region.

A pumpkin vendor waits for customers at a market in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his children will not be trick-or-treating this year because Ottawa is considered one of Ontario’s hot spots.

The province has recommended against going door-to-door for candy in the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions of Ottawa, Peel Region, Toronto and York Region.

In Quebec, children can go out as long as they stay with members of their own household. Health officials in British Columbia are recommending people keep their trick-or-treating groups to six people or fewer.

Quebec reported 1,108 new cases, 1,150 new recoveries and 18 new deaths on Friday.  

Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Friday said a plan is coming next week to ease COVID-19 restrictions in the province’s hot spots.

John Oliveira, left, helps load hockey equipment for nine year-olds Delcan Morgan, left, and Anthony Oliveira, right, after having a small group session of on-ice practice in Brampton, Ont., on Oct. 26. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Ford said he has asked his health advisers to put together a strategy to allow shuttered businesses in the regions to safely reopen.

Restrictions that banned indoor dining in restaurants and bars and closed gyms were put in place in the so-called hot spots on Oct. 10. The measures were intended to be in place for 28 days and are set to expire next Saturday.

Ford could not provide any details of the plan or say how the plan would impact restaurants and gyms.

In Peel Region, the city of Brampton is not helping the cause. Its weekly test positivity rate rose to 9.6 per cent for the week ending Oct. 24, according to a Peel Health Surveillance report published on Friday.

(CBC News)

This represents a 1.5-point increase from the previous week, when Brampton sat at 8.1 per cent positivity. This is well above the five per cent benchmark used by infectious disease experts to signal the virus could be under control.

Brampton’s positivity rate is two-and-a-half times higher than the national figure.

WATCH | Gym owners, patrons frustrated by renewed COVID-19 closures:

Despite Manitoba’s surge in COVID-19 cases, gyms remain open in most of the province even though the facilities are closed in Ontario and Quebec. Gym owners and patrons are increasingly frustrated and want to know why they’re paying more to contain the pandemic than other jurisdictions. 1:57

In Alberta, health officials reported a record number of new cases in a single day on Friday, with 622 new infections. There are currently 140 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Alberta, with 25 of them in intensive care. The Edmonton and Calgary health zones have about 2,000 cases each.

New Brunswick reported one new COVID-19 case and three recoveries on Friday.

That comes a day after the province reported four new confirmed cases, declared an outbreak at a special care home in Balmoral and announced new isolation rules for people who travel outside the Atlantic bubble for work.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on Friday for the fourth straight day. Three active cases remain in the province. 

In Nova Scotia, officials said Friday that the state of emergency would be renewed as the province announced two new cases. The emergency status will begin at noon on Nov. 1 and run until Nov. 15, unless the province extends it. 

Saskatchewan reported 76 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with 34 of those cases coming from the Saskatoon area. There are currently 22 people in hospital, with 16 of those receiving in-patient care. 

A public health order on nightclubs is now in effect in Saskatoon, where drinking alcohol is barred between 10 p.m. and 9:30 a.m. CST, and they are required to close between 11 p.m. and 9:30 a.m. Karaoke and dance floors have been closed at the clubs, where guests are to be seated and cannot mingle between tables. 

Two medical experts told CBC News they’re worried that the number of new infections will overwhelm the province’s health system. 

British Columbia announced in a written public statement another 272 cases of COVID-19 on Friday and one additional death. There are currently 2,390 active cases in the province.

Three new outbreaks at health-care facilities were announced by health officials, who also reminded residents not to hold large parties over the Halloween weekend. 


What’s happening around the world

A database maintained by Johns Hopkins University put the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reported around the world since the pandemic began at more than 45.6 million as of Saturday morning, with more than 29.7 million of those listed as recovered. The death toll reported by the U.S.-based university stood at more than 1.1 million.

In Britain, the government is considering imposing a new national lockdown in England, after its scientific advisers warned that hospitalizations and deaths from the resurgence of the coronavirus could soon surpass the levels seen at the outbreak’s spring peak.

A protester in London’s Parliament Square holds a poster on Friday, on Day 5 of a week-long protest action called ‘Survival in the Square,’ highlighting how the pandemic has affected opera singers and other performers. (Hollie Adams/AFP/Getty Images)

The Times of London says Prime Minister Boris Johnson could announce a month-long lockdown as soon as Monday, though the government says no decisions have been made. Any new lockdown would likely see non-essential businesses close and people told to stay mostly at home, though schools would remain open.

The U.K. is recording more than 20,000 new coronavirus infections a day, and government statisticians say the true figure is far higher. On Saturday the country is likely to surpass one million confirmed cases since the outbreak began. The U.K. has Europe’s highest coronavirus death toll at more than 46,000.

India has registered 48,268 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, continuing a downward trend.

The country’s Health Ministry on Saturday also reported 551 additional deaths, taking total fatalities up to 121,641. The figure raises the country’s total virus tally to more than 8.1 million, behind only the U.S. Over 7.4 million people have recovered.

The slowdown in daily infections has held for more than a month, with fewer than 60,000 cases for nearly two weeks. Some experts say the trend suggests the virus may have finally reached a plateau in India, but others question the testing methods and warn that a major festival due in a few weeks and the winter season could result in a new surge.

In Sri Lanka, police have, for the first time, arrested dozens of people for not wearing masks and failing to maintain physical distancing, under the new laws imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

A Sri Lankan police officer stands guard as health officers collect swab samples from rail commuters to test for COVID-19 at a railway station in Colombo on Oct. 12. (Eranga Jayawardena/The Associated Press)

Police spokesperson Ajith Rohana said 39 people were detained, and separately, another 221 were held for violating a curfew.

Since Thursday, the Sri Lankan government has imposed a curfew in the whole of Western province, where new outbreaks at a garment factory and the main fish market were discovered early this month. The province includes the capital Colombo.

Infections from the two clusters have grown to 6,945 by Saturday, including 633 in the last 24 hours, bringing to more than 10,000 the number of confirmed cases in the island nation, including 19 deaths.

WATCH | COVID-19 long-haulers share experience with prolonged symptoms:

During a World Health Organization news conference, an infectious disease epidemiologist, a nurse and a software engineer share the long-term effects they’ve had after getting COVID-19. 5:38

The United States now has nine million confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins, as infections continue to rise in nearly every state.

It took two weeks to reach the mark from eight million, the fastest jump of one million yet. It had taken more than three weeks for the total to rise from seven million to eight million.

Confirmed U.S. cases are on the rise in 47 states. Deaths are up 14 per cent over the past two weeks, averaging more than 800 every day. The virus has now killed more than 229,000 Americans.

South Dakota broke its record for new coronavirus infections reported in one day on Friday as 1,560 people tested positive.

The new virus cases brought the number of cases statewide to 13,520, according to the state’s Department of Health. That means that roughly one out of every 65 people currently has an active infection.

The state has ranked second in the nation for new cases per person over the last two weeks, according to Johns Hopkins researchers. There were about 1,359 new cases per 100,000 people.

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