- Canada could see 20,000 COVID-19 cases per day by end of year, new modelling shows.
- Ontario premier to announce ‘tough’ new measures in COVID-19 hot spots today.
- Quebec has outlined its guidelines for the holidays — see what the experts say here.
- New restrictions on private gatherings take effect in Manitoba.
- WHO advises against treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients with remdesivir.
- Pfizer seeking emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine in U.S.
- Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca.
New modelling released Friday morning shows Canada could see 20,000 COVID-19 cases per day by the end of the year if people maintain their current number of personal contacts. Meanwhile, Ontario is set to announce new public health restrictions in its hardest-hit areas.
On Thursday, CBC News saw the modelling charts prepared by the Public Health Agency of Canada, which also project a worse-case scenario of 60,000 a day by the end of December if Canadians increase their current level of contact with other people.
Conversely, limiting interactions to essential activities while maintaining physical distancing and adhering to other public health guidelines could bring that number to under 10,000 cases a day by that time, according to the modelling.
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam offered detailed projections on potential infections and deaths at 9 a.m. ET Friday.
Meanwhile, Ontario is expected to issue more stringent restrictions for its COVID-19 hot spots — Toronto, and Peel and York regions — as Premier Doug Ford says there are “difficult but necessary decisions to make.”
At a press conference on Thursday, the premier didn’t specify what those measures would be as they still needed to go before cabinet, saying only that they will have to be “tough” in the hardest-hit areas.
Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s medical officer of health, said he thinks further closures and restrictions are warranted at this time to “reduce the number of contacts and interactions” occurring in the region.
WATCH | Further restrictions needed in Peel Region, says medical officer of health:
Ontario reported another 1,210 cases of COVID-19 and 28 more deaths on Thursday, with Toronto and Peel Region each seeing over 300 of those cases.
While the number of people in hospitals with COVID-19 fell by nine to 526, admissions to intensive care jumped considerably up to 146, an increase of 19, with 88 of those people on ventilators.
What’s happening across Canada
Canada’s COVID-19 case count — as of 7 a.m. ET Friday — stood at 315,753, with 52,194 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,265.
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick has moved the Moncton health region back to the stricter orange phase due to the growing number of cases in that region.
WATCH | Moncton region goes back to orange phase as cases rise:
Quebec reported 1,207 new cases and 34 more deaths on Thursday, as Premier François Legault proposed a “moral contract” with residents in order to facilitate some holiday cheer.
Legault said residents can have small gatherings — with no more than 10 friends and family members — around Christmas if they voluntarily quarantine themselves for a week before and after.
Manitoba introduced new COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday that ban people from having anyone inside their home who doesn’t live there, with few exceptions, and businesses from selling non-essential items in stores.
The new measures were announced as the province reported 475 new cases, eight more deaths and a record high of 263 in hospital.
WATCH | Manitoba tightens shopping restrictions as COVID-19 cases spike:
Alberta on Thursday saw a record single-day increase of 1,105 new cases, as well as eight more deaths.
British Columbia is bringing in wide-ranging new rules for controlling the spread of COVID-19, including mandatory masks in indoor public and retail spaces and restricting social gatherings to household members only for everyone across B.C.
The move came as the province recorded 538 new cases and one additional death on Thursday. There were 6,929 active cases of the virus and 217 patients in hospital — both record highs for the province.
In the North, Nunavut health officials reported four more cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the number of cases in the territory to 74.
A two-week territory-wide lockdown is currently in effect in an effort to get a handle on the outbreak and avoid overwhelming Nunavut’s small, isolated health-care centres.
Yukon said it will “divorce” B.C. from its COVID-19 travel bubble as case counts rise in that province. A new case was confirmed in Whitehorse on Wednesday evening, which brought the territory’s case total since the start of the pandemic to 26.
Meanwhile, the Northwest Territories has renewed a state of emergency for Yellowknife to clear the way for an emergency warming shelter in light of capacity limitations at other facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s happening around the world
As of early Friday, there were more than 57 million reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with more than 36.6 million of those cases listed as recovered, according to a COVID-19 tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.3 million.
In the Americas, California and Ohio ordered nightly curfews on social gatherings as the number of patients hospitalized in the United States jumped nearly 50 per cent in two weeks.
Mexico has registered 100,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths within days of passing one million infections. It is the fourth country to reach that death toll, after the U.S., Brazil and India.
In Europe, Portugal’s parliament has voted by a comfortable margin to extend the country’s state of emergency by two weeks amid the pandemic. The state of emergency has allowed the government to impose nighttime and weekend curfews across most of the country.
Patriarch Irinej, the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church, has died after contracting the coronavirus. The patriarch was hospitalized with the virus early in November, soon after attending the funeral of the head of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro, Bishop Amfilohije, who also died from complications caused by the COVID-19 infection.
Ukraine said on Friday it hoped to receive eight million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine — enough vaccine for up to 20 per cent of its population — in the first half of next year, as it reported 14,575 new coronavirus infections, passing the previous day’s record of 13,357. The country has now recorded more than 598,000 cases, with more than 10,000 deaths.
In Asia-Pacific, Australia’s once hard-hit state of Victoria has gone three weeks without a new COVID-19 case for the first time since February. The state has also decided to close its border with neighbouring South Australia, which was in its second day of a six-day lockdown on Friday as it experiences a new spike in cases.
Sri Lankan officials announced that they will suspend all passenger trains for two days as COVID-19 cases surge in Colombo and its suburbs. The authorities have locked down many parts of the capital and its suburbs since last month when the virus surged.
India’s total number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began has crossed nine million. While the country’s new daily cases have seen a steady decline for weeks now, authorities in the capital of New Delhi are fighting to head off nearly 7,500 new cases a day while ensuring that the flagging economy doesn’t capsize again.
South Korea’s prime minister has urged the public to avoid social gatherings and stay at home as much as possible as the country registered more than 300 new virus cases for a third consecutive day.
Hong Kong reported a spike in daily cases to 26, two days before an arrangement with Singapore to allow a limited number of passengers to fly both ways without having to go through quarantine kicks in.
In Africa, one player in the South Africa cricket squad has tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of a six-game limited-over series against England, and two others have also been isolated after being in close contact with him.
Trudeau nominates first judge of colour to sit on Supreme Court
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday made history by nominating the first judge of color to sit on the country’s Supreme Court, which has only ever had white justices in its 146-year existence.
Mahmud Jamal, who has been a judge on Ontario‘s court of appeal since 2019, trained as a lawyer and appeared before the Supreme Court in 35 appeals addressing a range of civil, constitutional, criminal and regulatory issues.
“He’ll be a valuable asset to the Supreme Court – and that’s why, today, I’m announcing his historic nomination to our country’s highest court,” Trudeau said on Twitter.
Trudeau has frequently said there is a need to address systemic racism in Canada.
Jamal, born in Nairobi in 1967, emigrated with his family to Britain in 1969 where he said he was “taunted and harassed because of my name, religion, or the color of my skin.”
In 1981 the family moved to Canada, where his “experiences exposed me to some of the challenges and aspirations of immigrants, religious minorities, and racialized persons,” he said in a document submitted to support his candidacy.
Canada is a multicultural country, with more than 22% of the population comprised of minorities and another 5% aboriginal, according to the latest census.
“We know people are facing systemic discrimination, unconscious bias and anti-black racism every single day,” Trudeau said last year.
Jamal will replace Justice Rosalie Abella, who is due to retire from the nine-person court on July 1.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
Donors pledge $1.5 billion for Venezuelan migrants, humanitarian crisis
More than 30 countries and two development banks on Thursday pledged more than $1.5 billion in grants and loans to aid Venezuelan migrants fleeing a humanitarian crisis, as well as their host countries and vulnerable people still in the country.
The $954 million in grants announced at a donors’ conference hosted by Canada – which included pledges of $407 million from the United States and C$115 million Canadian dollars ($93.12 million) from Canada – exceeded the $653 million announced at a similar event last year.
But that fell short of the needs of countries hosting the more than 5.6 million Venezuelans who have left their country since 2015, as the once-prosperous nation’s economy collapsed into a years-long hyperinflationary recession under socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
Most have resettled in developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean who have themselves seen their budgets stretched thin due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Does this cover all needs? Of course not,” Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters. “We will have to continue to encourage donors to support the response.”
At the conference, Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso announced that the country – which hosts some 430,000 Venezuelans – would begin a new process to regularize migrants’ status. That came after Colombia in February gave 10-year protected status to the 1.8 million Venezuelans it hosts.
Karina Gould, Canada‘s minister for international development, said the amount pledged showed donors were eager to support such efforts.
“There is that recognition on behalf of the global community that there needs to be support to ensure that that generosity can continue, and can actually deepen, in host countries,” Gould said.
In addition, the World Bank and Inter-American Developmemt Bank pledged $600 million in loans to address the crisis, Gould said.
($1 = 1.2349 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Luc Cohen, Michelle Nichols and David Ljunggren; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Aurora Ellis)
Ecuador to start new ‘normalization process’ for Venezuelan migrants
Ecuador will implement a new “normalization process” for the 430,000 Venezuelan migrants living in the South American country, President Guillermo Lasso said on Thursday, without providing further details of the plan.
Lasso’s announcement, at a conference hosted by Canada intended to raise money to support the more than 5.6 million Venezuelans who have fled an economic crisis in the South American country, came after Colombia in February gave 10-year protected status to the nearly 2 million Venezuelans it hosts.
“I am pleased to announce the beginning of a new regularization process, which in order to be an effective, lasting and permanent policy should be complemented by strategies for economic integration and labor market access,” Lasso said.
Ecuador in late 2019 launched a regularization process for Venezuelans who arrived before July of that year. That included two-year humanitarian visas meant to facilitate access to social services.
Lasso said Ecuador needed outside funding to continue caring for Venezuelan migrants, estimating that more than 100,000 additional migrants were expected to arrive before the end of the year.
“I call on our partners in the international community to be co-responsible and have solidarity with Venezuelan migrants and refugees, and with the countries that receive them,” he said.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen; editing by Barbara Lewis)