Faced with mounting COVID-19 case numbers, Quebec is considering temporarily closing schools as part of its efforts to “break” the second wave of the novel coronavirus in the province.
Premier François Legault said Thursday that “schools are a place of transmission” in the province and that is why officials are looking at the possibility of closing schools for a “limited period of time.”
“As I’ve said before, that is our last solution,” Legault said. “Children have already lost many days of school last spring. But we have to consider all of our options to break the wave.”
More than 1,100 classrooms have been closed due to COVID-19, with more than 300 of them closing in the last two days alone, officials said Thursday.
The temporary shutdown could come as an extended holiday break — with the possibility of extending the academic year into July.
Quebec, which has seen more reported COVID-19 cases and deaths than any other Canadian province, reported 1,365 new cases and 42 deaths on Thursday.
Masks are not currently mandatory in all of Quebec’s classrooms. Elementary students from Grade 5 and up need to wear masks when moving through the school — but not while they are in their class. High school rules have been adjusted since classes began, and students in the province’s “red zones” are now required to wear masks throughout the day.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 10:35 a.m. ET on Friday, provinces and territories in Canada had reported a cumulative total of 283,978 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 227,793 cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,787.
In Ontario, health officials on Friday reported 1,396 new cases of COVID-19, with 440 of those in Toronto and the same number in Peel Region.
The province reported 19 additional deaths on Friday, bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the province to 3,312. The numbers published Friday put the number of hospitalizations at 452, with 106 in intensive care.
Ontario’s trend in <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> cases just keeps going up. Seven-day average of new cases daily is now 1,355. <a href=”https://t.co/hdplPJBxkH”>https://t.co/hdplPJBxkH</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19Ontario?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19Ontario</a> <a href=”https://t.co/twUsQS2jOu”>pic.twitter.com/twUsQS2jOu</a>
Friday’s figures come a day after the province released new modelling numbers that suggest the province could see as many as 6,500 COVID-19 cases a day by mid-December.
In Toronto, Mayor John Tory has called on residents to stay home as much as possible.
“My message today with respect to COVID is very blunt and very simple: Please stay home,” Tory said Thursday as he urged people to avoid socializing outside their household and stay home except for work, schools, essential errands and exercise.
“Our work has to be absolutely relentless to get where we want to be.”
British Columbia also released new modelling information on Thursday that put the current estimated doubling time for case numbers at 13 days. (You can see the province’s COVID-19 data and modelling slides here.)
“We are in a challenging time, perhaps the most challenging time of this pandemic,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Health officials in B.C. are particularly concerned about case numbers in communities covered by the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health authorities, where stepped-up restrictions have been put in place temporarily.
Alberta announced “new targeted measures” on Thursday to try and slow the transmission of COVID-19, including a two-week halt on indoor group sports and fitness classes in hard-hit areas. Premier Jason Kenney’s government is also making bars, lounges and pubs stop serving alcohol by 10 p.m. and close at 11 p.m. in areas of the province under enhanced watches.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, and Kenney both said that further measures could be on the table.
“COVID is starting to win and we cannot let that happen,” Kenney said. “This two-week push is, I believe, our last chance to avoid more restrictive measures that I and most Albertans desperately want to avoid.”
WATCH | Some Alberta doctors say new COVID-19 restrictions don’t go far enough:
In Saskatchewan, health officials reported 111 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, marking six days in a row with new case numbers over 100. The province listed the number of people with COVID-19 in hospital at 49, one more than on Wednesday. There were 13 people in intensive care, up from 11 the day before.
Manitoba reported 474 new cases of COVID-19 and nine new deaths on Thursday as stepped-up restrictions kicked in. The province reported 227 people were in hospital, with 34 in intensive care.
Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin reiterated his call for people to reduce social interaction and stay home as Manitoba tries to beat back the virus.
“These orders are here to save Manitobans’ lives,” Roussin said of the enhanced measures. “We don’t need to find a way around them. We just need to find a way to step up and follow them.”
COVID-19 case numbers were ticking upward across Canada’s North. In Yukon, health officials announced a new case in Whitehorse, the 24th confirmed case in the territory.
WATCH | Canadians struggle with contradictory COVID-19 guidelines amid 2nd wave:
The Northwest Territories reported four new cases in Fort Smith, all linked to one household. N.W.T. has now seen a total of 15 cases since the pandemic began.
In Nunavut, restrictions are being increased in Iqaluit and Kivalliq after a COVID-19 case was reported in Rankin Inlet. The territory, which until recently had no confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, now has three confirmed cases.
What’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 9:20 a.m. ET
As of early Friday morning, more than 52.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 34.2 million of those considered recovered, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at nearly 1.3 million, the database reported.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga raised caution over coronavirus infections, urging officials to step up testing, tracing and cluster investigations, while reminding people to stick to wearing masks, handwashing and other basic preventive measures.
The country set a record Friday for daily new infections, with the health ministry reporting 1,649 new cases, bringing the national total to 113,298.
South Korea has reported its biggest daily jump in COVID-19 cases in 70 days as the government began fining people who fail to wear masks in public. The 191 cases added to the country’s caseload on Friday represented the sixth consecutive day of over 100 and most were from the Seoul metropolitan area.
The steady spread of the virus has alarmed government officials, who eased social distancing measures to the lowest level since October to soften the economic shock. While this has allowed high-risk venues like nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the continuing spread could force the government to “seriously consider” tightening social distancing again.
In Europe, Germany’s disease control centre is reporting a new daily record of coronavirus infections as the country nears the halfway point of new lockdown measures meant to slow the spread of the pandemic. The Robert Koch Institute said Friday that Germany’s states had reported 23,542 daily cases, slightly more than the previous record of 23,399 set on Saturday.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to hold talks with state governors on Monday, midway through a series of measures the government has called “lockdown light.”
A surge in coronavirus infections in Greece’s northern city of Thessaloniki is pushing the hospital system to its limits.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex, meanwhile, said there would be no easing for at least two weeks of the country’s second COVID-19 lockdown.
The co-operative that sells nearly half of Denmark’s mink furs will “gradually downsize” and shut down over the next two to three years after the government last week ordered the culling of millions of animals to fight an outbreak of COVID-19 among the animals and staff.
Kopenhagen Fur CEO Jesper Lauge said Thursday that the discovery of coronavirus infections put the Danish mink industry “in an extreme and unusually difficult situation.”
Kopenhagen Fur employs some 300 people and sells the furs of the farms in its co-operative. There are 1,139 mink farms in Denmark, employing about 6,000 people, according to the industry. It was unclear how many of the farms would shut down, though their prospects are not good.
Earlier this month, Denmark reported that 11 people were sickened by a mutated version of the coronavirus that had been observed among the mink. The country began killing farmed minks in the north of the country and plans to cull 15 million in all.
The coronavirus evolves constantly as it replicates but, to date, none of the identified mutations have changed anything about COVID-19’s transmissibility or lethality.
In the Americas, California has become the second U.S. state to record one million confirmed coronavirus infections. Texas reached the mark earlier this week, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
California was the first in the nation to implement a statewide stay-at-home order on its nearly 40 million residents in March.
After spiking in the summer, the rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases in California declined markedly into the fall but now is surging again, like much of the nation. This week, 11 counties had rates high enough that state restrictions were reimposed on certain businesses and activities.
In the Middle East, Israel has signed a deal with Pfizer Inc. to receive the drugmaker’s potential COVID-19 vaccine, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday.
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech SE confirmed a deal was forthcoming in a statement on Thursday but did not disclose financial details.
South Africa remained the hardest-hit country in Africa, with COVID-19 case numbers approaching 745,000 and more than 20,000 deaths.
The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for Dec. 3 – CBC.ca
National vaccine deployment plan calls for up to 205 vaccine distribution locations across Canada
Canadians heard extensively for the first time on Thursday from Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who has been tasked by the federal government with leading vaccination logistics and operations. While the country is facing unprecedented “logistical complexities,” the military and its partners will be ready to deploy COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are approved in Canada, Fortin said.
The former NATO commander, along with the other public health officials who spoke at Thursday’s news conference, tried to provide assurances for the many questions still swirling in the air, including the cold storage capacities for feeding the supply chain given the temperature requirements of some of the vaccines.
Eventually, there will be 205 “points of issue” locations across the country where health-care professionals can administer the vaccine, Fortin said. It will be up to the provinces and territories to specify where and when individual Canadians will be inoculated.
The national operations centre has conducted one dry run scenario, with others planned. Fortin said exercises and planning have contemplated a number of possible complications, including treacherous winter delivery conditions, fires at distribution hubs and cyberattacks.
With respect to Pfizer’s vaccine, which needs to be kept at approximately -80 C to remain stable, Fortin said his team is in daily contact with the company and there have been no hiccups with Canada’s plans. The Pfizer product will be delivered by that company directly to provincial and territorial distribution points as early as the end of the month, he said, and the federal government has secured the cold storage required for this vaccine. In addition, the provinces have indicated where the Pfizer-specific fridges should be placed, according to Fortin.
The total supply of doses and prioritization of vaccine recipients will be key, ongoing questions. Government officials have previously said they hoped some three million people could get vaccinated through the first quarter of 2021, but Canada is not manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines and will rely on importing them through deals it’s struck with the pharmaceutical companies.
Health Canada has said its approval of at least one vaccine could come within the next two weeks, not long after U.S. regulators meet.
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said the federal government is now refining who is best suited to first get a dose of a vaccine. Early guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) suggests seniors in long-term care homes and front-line health-care workers will be among the first to get a shot.
Click below to watch more from The National
Alberta planning for COVID-19 field hospitals, according to internal document
An Alberta Health Services document obtained by CBC News shows the province has been planning for more than a week to set up indoor field hospitals that could treat up to 750 COVID-19 patients.
The document dated Nov. 28 outlines plans for 375 beds each in Calgary and Edmonton for patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms. Patients requiring intensive care would remain in city hospitals.
The field hospitals draft plan underscores the severity of the public-health crisis Alberta faces — and provides a sobering sign of where officials believe the trajectory of virus infections could be headed. There were 504 people in hospitals and 97 in ICUs in Alberta on Wednesday. A total of 561 people in the province have died from the disease since the start of the pandemic.
The greatest challenge to making the hospitals operational by December or January would be staffing, and the document references potentially calling in the military to assist. Other logistical challenges would be building adequate toilet, shower and handwashing facilities at the proposed sites as well as determining whether an oxygen supply infrastructure could be established.
Dr. Noel Gibney, a veteran Edmonton critical-care doctor who has publicly criticized the government’s pandemic response, says the field hospital planning is sensible due diligence planning, but he said the government has clearly not told the public the degree of risk they are now facing while continuing with policies that downplay the risk.
“On one hand, we are having provincial planning at a disaster level or for an upcoming disaster,” he said. “And on the other hand, we are being told everything is fine.”
In addition, CBC News has learned through a source close to the federal government that Alberta has inquired with the Trudeau government and the Red Cross about supplying field hospitals to help offset the strain COVID-19 is having on the province’s health-care system.
Quebec cancels plans to allow Christmas gatherings as COVID-19 cases surge
Quebec Premier François Legault on Thursday backtracked on his plan to allow gatherings over the Christmas holiday period after a rise in cases, hospitalizations and deaths that caused doctors at some hospitals to voice their concerns.
Legault said that gatherings in the province’s hard-hit “red zones,” which encompass most of the province, will be prohibited over the holidays.
“When we look at the situation, we are forced to realize that it is not realistic to think that we are going to succeed in reducing the progression of the virus in a satisfactory way by Christmas,” he said.
Legault announced last month that people would be allowed to gather in groups of 10 over a four-day period, from Dec. 24 through Dec. 27, if they isolated for a week before and after. He later said people should only gather twice during that period.
The province reported more than 1,500 daily cases for the first time ever on Wednesday, and more than 1,400 again Thursday.
“If we continue in this direction, hospitals will start to overflow. We have a limited number of nurses, and our nurses are very tired,” the premier said.
Legault did allow that Quebecers could individually visit a person living alone, particularly the elderly, over the holidays. But he stressed visitors in such circumstances need to be wearing masks, maintaining a two-metre distance and not staying very long. Visits to the province’s long-term care homes and seniors’ residences, however, will be prohibited — with the exception of caregivers.
Dozens of internationally educated nurses are on the sidelines in Manitoba
Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen said recently a special designation will be granted to 39 internationally educated nurses waiting on English tests so they can practise in Manitoba and have the language requirement temporarily waived, but it’s not clear when that will happen.
Bhupinder Grewal, originally from India, is among the internationally educated nurses who’ve struggled and been inconvenienced by a recurring two-year English language test that is required for licensing. Both of the English tests that would be suitable to take are not being administered this year because of the pandemic.
Darlene Jackson, president of the Manitoba Nurses Union, said it’s a shame the internationally educated nurses are unable to work because of a language test when they have otherwise shown the necessary skills through bridging tests to meet Canadian standards. The union says the nursing vacancy rate in the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Shared Health combined is around 16 per cent.
“We are in a nursing shortage. We’re at a critical nursing shortage in many areas. We are desperate to have every possible nurse that can work in the system,” she said.
The Touchstone Institute, responsible for administering the Canadian English Language Benchmark Assessment for Nurses, says the two-year expiry date on the language requirement, is “based on the assumption that the measure of examinees’ capabilities at a given point in time may become less trustworthy indicators of those capabilities as time passes.”
When contacted by CBC for this story, Friesen’s office declined to comment, but said it will provide an update on the special designation soon.
Stay informed with the latest COVID-19 data.
Why children in Canada won’t immediately receive a COVID-19 vaccine
There is currently no human pediatric data for vaccine candidates to protect against COVID-19, although that could change in 2021.
Federal statistics show that at 8.1 million Canadians, children and teens make up one-fifth of the population. But younger immune systems are more active than those of adults, and children often show stronger immune reactions to vaccines in terms of side-effects.
“Children often will need either a slightly different formulation or a smaller dose of a vaccine, so it’s appropriate to ensure the vaccine is safe and effective in adults and then move on to that testing,” said Shannon MacDonald, an assistant professor in the faculty of nursing at the University of Alberta who conducts public health research, including on vaccines.
Earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on NBC’s Meet the Press that it could take months before those younger than 18 in the U.S. general public could get a coronavirus vaccine, if approved by regulators.
Pfizer announced in October it was expanding vaccine testing to those 12 and older, while Moderna said this week it expects to test the vaccine on children between the ages of 12 and 17 in the coming weeks and on younger children in 2021. The developments are likely welcomed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which wrote an open letter to U.S. federal health officials to ensure children are not left out of vaccine efforts.
Although it’s far from guaranteed, it is possible adults will gain enough immunity from vaccinations that widespread vaccinations of children will not be necessary.
“Some vaccines contribute to herd immunity because the person who gets the vaccine doesn’t spread any infection,” says Dr. Joanne Langley of Dalhousie University, who is the co-leader of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine task force. “We don’t know for sure yet whether that occurs with the COVID vaccines and how effective it is.”
From a tiny outport to a Vietnamese city, how one Newfoundlander is enduring the pandemic
Many Canadians who live abroad won’t be coming home for the holidays for safety reasons or because of the complications involved with travel quarantines, but Newfoundland and Labrador native Sabrina Pinksen is in one of the safest spots in the world, statistically speaking, with respect to the coronavirus.
Pinksen, who is originally from tiny Wild Cove, near the Baie Verte Peninsula, has been living in Hanoi since 2017. It’s a city nearly twice as populous as Canada’s biggest, but with one-third of the physical space.
But as of Wednesday, Vietnam has recorded 1,351 cases and 35 deaths since the pandemic began, according to the World Health Organization. Even if there was a moderate amount of underreporting, it would be a status that ranks favourably with any country in the world.
“I don’t even think about COVID, going out into my daily life,” Pinksen said. “It’s almost like it wasn’t real.”
Pinksen, who’s passionate about her art but earns her income teaching English through a school, said the disruptions that have occurred with daily life have actually led to more of a demand for her services, as some Vietnamese have more free time.
Unlike in North America, there is no cultural resistance to the most publicly visible mitigation measure. Pinksen said: “This is a mask-wearing country anyway. So even before COVID, a lot of people would wear masks.”
Pinksen is not able to travel to Canada for the holidays and admits to being homesick — it’s been 15 months since she’s been home and her father has a serious health issue.
But, she said, “I’m very grateful that everything in Newfoundland is OK right now.”
Find out more about COVID-19
Still looking for more information on the pandemic? Read more about COVID-19’s impact on life in Canada, or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
If you have symptoms of the illness caused by the coronavirus, here’s what to do in your part of the country.
For full coverage of how your province or territory is responding to COVID-19, visit your local CBC News site.
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Airbnb rolls out restrictions in Canada to prevent New Year's Eve parties – CBC.ca
Airbnb says it has a plan to curb New Year’s Eve parties this year while Canada works to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, with the announcement coming not long after a short-term rental was the site of a 60-person party in Mississauga, Ont.
In addition to its ongoing ban on parties, Airbnb now says guests will need a history of positive reviews on its app to reserve an entire home for New Year’s Eve in Canada.
Airbnb is making an exception for one-night bookings made up to Tuesday, based on data that suggests bookings made before early December rarely involve parties.
Most guests and hosts “are quite responsible, but there’s always a couple people who try to skirt those rules,” said Nathan Rotman, senior manager of public policy at Airbnb.
“We want to make sure that people are both adhering to public health guidelines and following the policies that we’ve put in place and our hosts have put in place.”
Still, Rotman says there are plenty of good reasons why hosts might get bookings over the holidays, including people who might need to use rental suites for isolation purposes after returning to Canada. This new restriction, he says, is to target people who are ignoring company policies.
The app is loosening its standards from a similar policy on Halloween by allowing users with previous positive reviews to book a home for one night.
But Airbnb says it will put more stringent policies in place as the new year nears, by using technology that blocks certain kinds of last-minute bookings.
Airbnb’s announcement comes after Deputy Chief Marc Andrews of the Peel Regional Police said a short-term rental unit was the site of a 60-person party this past weekend, resulting in thousands in fines to partiers who violated COVID-19 restrictions.
Canada will have vaccine infrastructure in place around ‘Christmas,’ 1st doses in January – Global News
The federal government laid out details for Canada’s coronavirus vaccine rollout Thursday, saying it plans to have logistics and infrastructure in place before Christmas, according to Dany Fortin, the lead on the nations’ COVID-19 distribution of a vaccine.
Speaking at a media conference, Fortin said although Health Canada is still reviewing approval for vaccines, the federal government and provinces are working on a rollout plan and will do a trial run next week.
“We’re not going to wait until the end of December … we are getting ready so that when it becomes possible we are poised to distribute,” he said.
Fortin said the vaccines that require colder storage, such as Pfizer and Moderna, are most likely to be first distributed in January.
But the initial shipments of vaccines to arrive in Canada, called “track one,” will be rolled out differently.
For example, Moderna’s vaccine will first be shipped to one location in Canada and then sent to communities across the country. But the Pfizer vaccine will be sent directly to the communities, according to the federal government.
This is because Pfizer’s vaccine requires specially designed temperature-controlled shipment and storage containers — the temperature has to be -70 C for up to 10 days unopened.
Alberta health minister expects shipments of COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in early January
Fortin said the military, federal government and provinces are implementing a “soft launch” of the distribution plan in order to ensure authorities are ready to handle the ultra-low temperatures required for Pfizer and Moderna.
Fourteen sites across Canada will be ready for Pfizer, he said.
Moderna expects the vaccine to be stable at normal fridge temperatures of two to eight degrees Celsius for 30 days and it can be stored for up to six months at -20 C.
Fortin said every province has already identified the “points of use” where the vaccines will be distributed. And by Dec. 14, he added that these locations are expected to be ready for the vaccines.
“So this gives you a sense that in December, we’re hard at it in the next couple of weeks to ensure you that we are ready,” he said. “I kind of like the idea of being ready before the Christmas timeframe so that we’re certain to be ready when it comes in January.”
First vaccines will cover 3M Canadians
Currently, Health Canada is reviewing approval for four coronavirus vaccines.
Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said Thursday that he is “optimistic” that reviews of Pfizer, Moderna and several other vaccines will be complete soon, and expects the Pfizer one to be “a favorable one.”
The federal government plans to give three million Canadians the first round of coronavirus vaccines when they are approved and arrive in the country, Njoo said.
“We will immunize as many Canadians as possible, as quickly as possible and ensure that high-risk populations are prioritized,” Njoo said. “We expect certain Health Canada-approved vaccines to become available in early 2021. The initial supply of these vaccines will be limited, such that we will be able to vaccinate around three million Canadians. That means we need to be strategic on who gets vaccinated first.”
He said the National Advisory Committee on Immunization will release guidelines in the coming days that will help identify who receives the COVID-19 shots first, he said.
“Although the initial supply will be limited I want to be clear there will be enough vaccines for every Canadian,” Njoo added.
Coronavirus: O’Toole blames ‘secrecy and incompetence’ of Trudeau government for vaccine delay
On Wednesday, Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, described the country’s vaccine effort as “one of the most consequential scientific endeavours in living memory” and “one of the most complex operations ever taken in public health.”
Speaking at a vaccine conference, she said the country is working to further refine the list of who gets the vaccine first, since the initial six million doses expected to come in early 2021 — enough for three million people — aren’t enough for everyone on the national vaccine advisory committee’s list of priority groups, which include the ill and elderly, health-care workers, essential workers and Indigenous communities.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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