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

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The latest:

  • Ontario enters province-wide lockdown in effort to curb rising COVID-19 case counts.
  • Most Boxing Day shopping expected to happen online.
  • Most of Canada takes holiday pause from announcing new COVID-19 cases.
  • Millions of Americans lose jobless benefits as Trump refuses to sign aid bill
  • Have a question about COVID-19 in Canada? Send your questions to COVID@cbc.ca.

A province-wide lockdown meant to bring down COVID-19 case counts takes effect today in Ontario.

The restrictions will remain in place for southern Ontario until Jan. 23, but will lift for northern Ontario on Jan. 9.

The move was announced on Monday after the provincial government took part in emergency talks last weekend.

Under the new rules, restaurants can only provide takeout, drive-thru and delivery, including the sale of alcohol.

Supermarkets, pharmacies and retailers that sell primarily food can stay open for in-person shopping but with distancing and limits on capacity.

When the holiday break is over, children enrolled in publicly funded elementary and secondary schools will participate in remote learning from Jan. 4 to Jan. 8, and some longer depending on their age and area.

WATCH | Health-care workers reflect on difficult year, unite in holiday message:

Health-care workers have spent a year working through the pandemic and several ER doctors shared a united message while working during a difficult holiday season. 1:58


What’s happening in Canada

Boxing Day is supposed to be the post-Christmas shopping day that deal hunters have been waiting for, but with non-essential retail shuttered or restricted across much of the country, the usual crowded malls and long lineups are expected to be replaced with internet searches and online orders.

Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba have all closed non-essential retail, while much of the rest of the country has curtailed in-store capacity.

People wear face masks as they make their way through a shopping mall in Montreal in December. In-person shopping for Boxing Day is expected to be sharply down compared to previous years. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Farla Efros, president of HRC Retail Advisory, says there will be fire-sale prices on some items.

She says retailers don’t want to get stuck with a backlog of holiday and seasonal inventory and also need to shore up their balance sheets in the face of mounting lockdowns and restrictions.

Most of the country did not release numbers on Christmas Day. The exception was New Brunswick, which announced one new case. The province has 43 active cases and 588 total, with eight deaths.

As of Christmas morning, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 535,243, with 76,459 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 14,720.

WATCH | Pfizer, Moderna vaccines can be modified to tackle variants: expert:

According to infectious disease specialist Dr. Zain Chagla, vaccines that use mRNA technology can be reverse engineered quite quickly to take on variants — such as the recent U.K. variant of the coronavirus. 1:42

What’s happening around the world

As of 8 a.m. ET on Saturday, more than 79.9 million coronavirus cases had been reported worldwide, with more than 45 million cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University researchers. The global death toll stood at more than 1.7 million.

In the Americas, millions of people in the U.S. saw their jobless benefits expire on Saturday after U.S. President Donald Trump refused to sign into law a $2.3-trillion US pandemic aid and spending package, protesting that it did not do enough to help everyday people.

Trump stunned Republicans and Democrats alike when he said this week he was unhappy with the massive bill, which provides $892 billion in badly needed coronavirus relief, including extending special unemployment benefits expiring on Dec. 26, and $1.4 trillion for normal government spending.

Without Trump’s signature, about 14 million people could lose those extra benefits, according to Labor Department data. A partial government shutdown will begin on Tuesday unless Congress can agree on a stop-gap government funding bill.

WATCH | Is one COVID-19 vaccine better than another?

Infectious disease physicians answer viewer questions about COVID-19 vaccines, including if one is better than another and how vaccinations will impact the health-care system. 6:35

In Europe, Hungary began vaccinating its people against COVID-19 on Saturday, a day ahead of rollouts in several other European countries. Mass vaccination across the European Union, home to almost 450 million people, would be a crucial step toward ending the pandemic. Hungary administered the vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, to front-line workers at hospitals in the capital, Budapest, after receiving its first shipment of enough doses to inoculate 4,875 people. The rollout came a day before countries including France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Portugal and Spain are planning to begin mass vaccinations, starting with health workers.

In Asia, South Korea posted its second-highest daily number of coronavirus cases on Saturday as outbreaks at a prison, nursing homes and churches continued to grow, prompting authorities to plead for a halt to all year-end gatherings. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said there were 1,132 new coronavirus cases on Friday, not far off the record 1,241 logged a day earlier.

A pastor wearing a face mask sits among empty benches during an online Christmas service at the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul on Christmas Day. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, China’s capital has urged residents not to leave the city during the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays, implementing fresh restrictions after several coronavirus infections last week. Two domestic cases were reported on Friday, a convenience store worker and a Hewlett Packard Enterprise employee. Another two asymptomatic cases were discovered in Beijing earlier in the week.

Beijing is conducting testing on a limited scale in the neighbourhoods and workplaces where the cases were found. To contain any new outbreaks, the Beijing government cancelled big gatherings such as sports events and temple fairs.

Coronavirus infections in Tokyo hit a record daily high of 949 cases on Saturday as Japan heads into the New Year holiday, which normally sees people stream from the capital into the provinces. Serious cases were unchanged from a day earlier at 81. Local media reported subdued scenes at Tokyo transport hubs a day after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, under pressure as daily cases continue to climb, urged the nation to stay home and avoid social mixing.

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Ontario must cut COVID-19 cases to 1,000 daily to lift lockdowns, medical officer says – Global News

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TORONTO — COVID-19 cases in Ontario must fall below 1,000 per day before lockdown measures can be lifted, the province’s top doctor said Monday as he expressed cautious optimism that infection rates may have plateaued.

Dr. David Williams said while the province’s virus rates remain high – with 2,578 new cases reported Monday – he thinks the impact of a provincewide lockdown that started on Boxing Day is beginning to emerge.

Read more:
Toronto COVID-19 vaccination clinic pausing after 5 days due to supply issues

Williams said Ontario’s seven-day case average has dropped to just over 3,000 cases he said, down from the mid-3,000s in recent weeks.

He said he would like to see the province’s new daily case counts move to levels last seen in late October before any pandemic measures are relaxed.

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“It is achievable, we can get back there,” Williams said. “I take that as a sign that Ontarians … are making headway.”

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Williams said he would also like to see the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital intensive care units drop to 150 – from 395 reported Monday – before ending the lockdown.

[embedded content]

“If you get below 150 COVID patients in ICU beds that starts to get you back down to where all the hospitals can start to do their other elective procedures,” he said.

Williams said while people must continue to stay-at-home and follow public health rules, the latest numbers show that Ontario’s per cent positivity has not risen in recent days.

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His comments come less than a week after the province was plunged into its second state of emergency during the pandemic and Premier Doug Ford’s government imposed a stay-at-home order.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Ontario must cut COVID-19 cases to 1,000 daily to lift lockdowns, medical officer says – Global News

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TORONTO — COVID-19 cases in Ontario must fall below 1,000 per day before lockdown measures can be lifted, the province’s top doctor said Monday as he expressed cautious optimism that infection rates may have plateaued.

Dr. David Williams said while the province’s virus rates remain high – with 2,578 new cases reported Monday – he thinks the impact of a provincewide lockdown that started on Boxing Day is beginning to emerge.

Read more:
Toronto COVID-19 vaccination clinic pausing after 5 days due to supply issues

Williams said Ontario’s seven-day case average has dropped to just over 3,000 cases he said, down from the mid-3,000s in recent weeks.

He said he would like to see the province’s new daily case counts move to levels last seen in late October before any pandemic measures are relaxed.

Story continues below advertisement

“It is achievable, we can get back there,” Williams said. “I take that as a sign that Ontarians … are making headway.”

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Williams said he would also like to see the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital intensive care units drop to 150 – from 395 reported Monday – before ending the lockdown.

[embedded content]

“If you get below 150 COVID patients in ICU beds that starts to get you back down to where all the hospitals can start to do their other elective procedures,” he said.

Williams said while people must continue to stay-at-home and follow public health rules, the latest numbers show that Ontario’s per cent positivity has not risen in recent days.

Story continues below advertisement

His comments come less than a week after the province was plunged into its second state of emergency during the pandemic and Premier Doug Ford’s government imposed a stay-at-home order.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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B.C. focuses on second doses of COVID-19 vaccine after Pfizer delay: top doctor – News 1130

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VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — B.C. is still on track to vaccinate the most vulnerable people despite a reduction in deliveries from Pfizer, the provincial health officer says.

Dr. Bonnie Henry explained the supply issue will have the biggest impact over the next week after which deliveries of vaccines will start to pick up again.

She said this will slow down getting the shots to some hospitals, but the province will continue on schedule for giving the first dose to those most at-risk.

“We have, however, been able to rearrange and look at the process that we have to make sure that we are continuing with providing the first of two doses to those at highest risk, and that we are able to start second doses at day 35, in accordance to our plans that we announced a few weeks ago,” she said during Monday’s briefing.

“It is a bit of a setback, but it is only a delay.”

RELATED: COVID-19 outbreak at Port Moody care facility

She said the province expects to receive extra doses at the end of February and into early March, when it will look at expanding its program.

Until then, the plan is still to give people their second dose before focusing on getting others their first dose.

Henry added 87,346 people have received a COVID-19 shot since immunizations started.

She stressed that while immunizations are underway, the risk remains high across the province as transmission continues.

Since Friday, 31 people lost their lives to the virus, with the deaths in every health authority. The total since the start of the pandemic climbed to 1,078.

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Another 1,330 infections were reported over the weekend.

There was also a jump in cases in non-resident Canadians, which Henry explained is mostly farmworkers coming for the season. Henry noted there are quarantine accommodations.

She again said the arrival of coronavirus mutations requires caution and following health measures.

“The biggest risk and the biggest variants we have right now is all of us, our human behaviour, the choices that we make every day,” she said.

Henry added the investigation is ongoing after someone tested for the South African variant in B.C. without knowing how they contracted it.

RELATED: South African COVID-19 variant not immune to vaccines but source of B.C.’s first case remains a mystery

Health Minister Adrian Dix noted it has been almost a year since the first COVID-19 joint release from the province, noting it hasn’t been easy.

“We’ve seen through the course of the pandemic a lot of worry, a lot of fear, a lot of loss, a lot of uncertainty. While COVID-19 gives each of us every reason to experience those feelings, each and every day, I also saw from that day something else, something reassuring – resolve, spirit, strength compassion, and well fear and uncertainty. I think are part of every day in a pandemic. What has kept us going to seeing how British Columbians in every part of our province refuse to let fear and uncertainty rule,” he said.

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