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

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The latest:

  • Health measures loosening in several Ontario COVID-19 hot spots today, as province reports record in new daily cases.
  • Quebec premier pens open letter to province’s residents urging unity this winter amid COVID-19.
  • U.S. sets daily record with more than 126,000 new virus cases on Friday.
  • Polypropylene is now recommended in masks. Should I be concerned? Your mask questions answered.
  • Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca.

As Canada’s most-populous province rolls back restrictions in several COVID-19 hot spots on Saturday, other provinces are moving ahead with further public health measures in an effort to curb a surge in infections.

Ontario’s new tiered, colour-coded COVID-19 restriction framework came into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday. The system classifies each public health unit as a grey, red, orange, yellow or green zone based on factors including caseload, transmission levels and health-care capacity. 

Peel Region, which has seen rising cases in recent weeks, is the sole red zone, which means indoor restaurant dining is now limited to 10 people and gyms limited to 10 people indoors.

Health officials in Peel had asked that the region remain under a modified Stage 2 — the restriction classification system previously used by the government — which involved more stringent rules such as a ban on indoor dining in restaurants and bars.

WATCH | Peel Region deemed red zone under Ontario’s new pandemic plan:

Earlier this week, the province rolled out its new tiered, colour-coded COVID-19 restriction framework. The red zone is less restrictive than the current modified Stage 2: restaurants and bars can serve indoors but only 10 customers are allowed inside, and gyms can open with restrictions. 0:56

York Region and Ottawa, which previously were also under a modified version of Stage 2, are now classified as orange zones. The orange level limits bars and restaurants to 50 people indoors, with no more than four seated together.

Toronto, which continues to see the most COVID-19 cases in the province, is staying in modified Stage 2 for another week.

The Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) has criticized the government’s decision to proceed with reopening, calling it “reckless” in the face of continuing spread of the coronavirus.

Ontario reported 1,132 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, its highest ever single-day increase in cases, and 11 deaths, with 852 recoveries.

According to documents obtained by CBC News, 100 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units as of Friday night — the highest since June.

Meanwhile, new restrictions are coming to another region of Manitoba, with the province’s chief public health officer saying that simply asking people to follow public health advice hasn’t worked.

In a press conference Friday, Dr. Brent Roussin said Southern Health region will move to the highest level of the province’s pandemic system on Monday, joining Winnipeg, which moved to the red level earlier this week.

A COVID-19 test site is pictured last month in Portage la Prairie, which is part of the Southern Health region that is moving to the red, or critical, level of Manitoba’s pandemic response system on Monday. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

Among the new restrictions the Southern Health region will see are all restaurants and bars closed for dine-in service, and capacity at cultural or religious gatherings reduced to 15 per cent, or 100 people, whichever is lower.

Roussin said the new restrictions are needed to stem the tide of cases in the region and across the province. Manitoba reported 243 new cases of COVID-19 and five deaths on Friday. Fifty-two of those new cases were in Southern Health, which includes larger population centres like Steinbach, Portage la Prairie, Winkler and Morden.

In Saskatchewan, new public health orders took effect on Friday, with masks now mandatory in indoor public spaces in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert.

The allowable size of private gatherings provincewide has also been reduced to 10 from 15. The province said that much of the recent spread of COVID-19 has occurred in private settings and in homes.

Saskatchewan reported 87 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. There were 33 people in hospital, with four of those in intensive care.


What’s happening across Canada

As of 1:15 p.m. ET on Saturday, provinces and territories in Canada had reported a cumulative total of 258,184 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 212,966 cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,475.

Quebec reported 1,234 new COVID-19 cases and an additional 29 deaths on Saturday, as Premier François Legault urged residents in an open letter to stay united and maintain their efforts to keep COVID-19 at bay this winter.

In the letter published Saturday morning, Legault thanked Quebecs for their efforts so far and struck a hopeful tone, saying, “I want us to celebrate Christmas in Quebec.”

He cautioned that “it won’t be a big Christmas with the whole family, but if grandparents could see their grandchildren at last, that for me would be a great victory.”

Pedestrians protect themselves from the cold and COVID-19 as they wait for a light to change in Montreal this week. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Nova Scotia reported four new cases on Saturday, bringing the number of active cases in the province to 20, the highest number since May 23.

New Brunswick reported three new cases, all in the Fredericton region, and one new recovery on Saturday.

Newfoundland reported two new cases and one new recovery on Saturday. Health officials there are asking people who are returning from work at Manitoba Hydro’s Keeyask Generating Station to self-isolate after news of an outbreak at the site earlier this week.

Until recently, P.E.I. was the only province in Canada with no active cases of COVID-19. That changed Friday when it announced two new cases, men in their 20s and 50s who had travelled outside Atlantic Canada.

British Columbia’s provincial health officer and health minister will hold a rare weekend news conference on Saturday amid a dramatic spike in COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix will speak at 1 p.m. local time, though there is no word yet on what will be announced. In a news conference earlier this week, Henry said they were talking with health authorities about possibly bringing in region-specific restrictions, if necessary.

WATCH | B.C.’s top doctor talks about hard-hit Fraser Health region:

Dr. Bonnie Henry says there are a number of factors, including a large number of essential workers and multigenerational families. 1:50

The province set a new COVID-19 record for the second straight day on Friday, announcing a record 589 new cases and two more deaths.

In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney urged people to forego parties and social gatherings in their homes as COVID-19 cases surge in the province, but rejected any further public health restrictions for the time being.

The province announced 609 new COVID-19 cases on Friday after reporting a record 802 new cases the day before.

In the North, Nunavut confirmed its first COVID-19 case on Friday, in Sanikiluaq. 

Residents in the community of about 900 people are being asked to remain at home and to avoid mingling with those who are not part of their households, and all travel to and from Sanikiluaq is now restricted to cargo and emergencies.


What’s happening around the world

As of Saturday morning, more than 49.5 million of COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide, with more than 32.6 million of those listed as recovered, according to a coronavirus tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.2 million, the U.S.-based university reported.

In the Americas, the United States set a record of more than 126,400 confirmed cases in a single day on Friday. The seven-day rolling average of new daily cases in the U.S. is approaching 100,000 for the first time, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Total U.S. cases since the start of the pandemic stand at 9.7 million, with more than 236,00 deaths. The seven-day rolling average for daily deaths in the U.S. rose in the past two weeks from 772 on Oct. 23 to 911 on Friday. Those numbers were higher in the spring and August.

An attendant talks to a person waiting in their car at a coronavirus testing site in El Paso, Texas, on Oct. 31. The seven-day rolling average of new daily cases in the U.S. is approaching 100,000, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. (Cengiz Yar/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. Meadows traveled with Trump in the run-up to election day and last appeared in public early Wednesday morning without a mask as Trump falsely declared victory in the vote count.

In Europe, Germany’s disease control centre reported a daily record of 23,300 coronavirus infections on Saturday, surpassing the record of 21,506 set the day before. The Robert Koch Institute also reported 130 deaths, a number trending upward but far lower than the high of 315 deaths reported one day in April.

Germany has imposed significant new restrictions to prevent the health system from being overwhelmed. A four-week partial shutdown took effect on Monday, with bars, restaurants, leisure and sports facilities closed and new contact restrictions imposed. Shops and schools remain open.

Police detain a demonstrator during a rally against the government’s restrictions amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Leipzig, Germany, on Saturday. (Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters)

In the Asia-Pacific region, Malaysia’s government says it will expand movement restrictions to most parts of the country after coronavirus cases tripled in a month. Another 1,168 new cases were reported Saturday, bringing the total tally to 39,357 — compared to just 13,993 cases a month ago. The death toll stands at 282.

Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob says the entire peninsula of Malaysia, except for three states, will be placed under a conditional movement control order from Monday until Dec. 6. He says the move will help curb the virus spread and allow targeted screening to be done.

In the Middle East, Iran reported 9,460 cases of the coronavirus on Saturday, breaking its previous single-day record earlier this week. The Health Ministry also registered 423 additional deaths, pushing its confirmed death toll to 37,832, the highest in the Middle East.

Iranians walk next to a sign advising people to wear masks on their way to shop in Tajrish square in Tehran on Nov. 1. (Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

Iran has seen a recent surge of infections as the government resists a centralized lockdown to salvage its sanctions-hit economy. However, authorities have recently tightened movement restrictions and introduced travel bans and mask mandates as hospitals in the hard-hit capital of Tehran near overwhelming numbers of patients.

Countries in Africa have reported more than 1.8 million confirmed COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started, with more than 1.5 million recoveries and more than 44,000 deaths.

South Africa has been the hardest-hit country on the continent, with more than 734,000 cases and more than 19,000 deaths reported.

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Retailers call on Ontario to open non-essential stores, say restrictions aren't working – CBC.ca

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A group of about 50 retailers called on the Ontario government on Tuesday to open all stores across the province — including those in lockdown regions, where they suggest imposing a 25 per cent capacity limit on “non-essential” stores.

“We respect the extraordinary efforts you and your administration are making to safeguard the public interest during this extremely challenging time,” the retailers said in a letter to Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott. “The problem is that Ontario’s policy of segregating ‘non-essential’ retailers from those deemed essential might actually be making things worse.”

The letter was signed by executives from several major retailers, including Hudson’s Bay Company, Canadian Tire, Ikea Canada, Roots and Staples Canada. It argues that the lockdowns in Toronto and Peel Region haven’t reduced the number of people shopping.

“Instead, it has funnelled those shoppers and the corresponding health risk into fewer, increasingly crowded stores within Toronto and Peel, as well as adjacent communities, such as we saw in Vaughan and Markham over the weekend,” the letter stated.

“At the same time, as the current policy pushes more Canadian consumers to a handful of big box retailers and discount stores, thousands of small, independent and local stores sit shuttered, with their hands tied, even though many sell the very same goods.”

According to the retailers, limited capacity in some cases — in combination with safety measures such as mandatory masks, physical distancing and hand sanitization — “can further reduce the potential for community spread while enabling more businesses to stay open across all regions during a make-or-break season for retail businesses.”

The letter notes that other provinces have taken similar steps in conjunction with public health officials and that these steps “will put fewer people in more stores, increasing safety for all. The current policy does the opposite.”

‘Difficult but necessary’ 

The province responded by noting the restrictions are aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 to protect the health and well-being of Ontarians.

Alexandra Hilkene, a spokesperson for Elliott, said the government must limit opportunities for individuals to have close contact with others to help stop the spread of the virus. This includes allowing box stores to operate at half capacity.

“These necessary measures are being taken to limit community transmission of COVID-19 in order to keep schools open, safeguard health system capacity, and protect the province’s most vulnerable populations,” Hilkene wrote in an email to The Canadian Press.

“To be clear, moving regions into a lockdown is not a measure this government takes lightly. However, as we have seen around the world, lockdowns are a difficult but necessary step to stop the spread, safeguard the key services we rely on and protect our health system capacity.”

She noted that the Ontario government is providing $600 million in relief to support eligible businesses required to close or significantly restrict services due to enhanced public health measures.

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Canada’s coronavirus cases surge past 380K while daily death toll average stands at 87 – Global News

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Canada’s cases of the novel coronavirus pushed past 380,000 Tuesday after health authorities added another 5,326 new cases of COVID-19, as well as 81 more deaths.

The data, announced by public health officials across the country, pushed the country’s total COVID-19 cases to 383,132 and its death toll from the virus to 12,211.

To date, a total of 304,888 people — or 79 per cent of all cases — have also recovered from the virus, while over 14,779,000 tests have been administered.

Read more:
Coronavirus therapeutics: A look at COVID-19 treatments in Canada

On Tuesday, Canada’s minister of public services and procurement, Anita Anand, said the federal government was in frequent talks with several coronavirus vaccine suppliers to negotiate earlier delivery dates.

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Health Canada is currently reviewing the approval of four vaccines, with the government previously estimating an initial rollout of six million doses — enough shots to fully inoculate three million Canadians — to come in the new year.

“The delivery window is within the first quarter of 2021 … I am negotiating with our vaccine suppliers every day for earlier delivery dates. So when the Health Canada approval comes we will kick into the delivery process ASAP,” Anand said.


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Coronavirus: Feds provide additional support to Indigenous communities amid outbreaks

Leaked modelling revealed on Tuesday also showed that almost 800 Albertans were projected to be hospitalized with COVID-19 by mid-December, placing an increased strain on hospitals and intensive care units.

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

Canada currently has over 2,600 hospitalizations from the virus, with the number steadily growing alongside the country’s cases and deaths.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, said in a statement Tuesday that the number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase, with an average of 87 deaths and over 2,250 people being treated in hospital over the past seven days.

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Coronavirus: Which COVID-19 treatments are available in Canada?

Ontario tallied the highest number of new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, with 1,707 more infections and seven new deaths. The province, which saw its daily coronavirus cases peak at over 1,800 on Friday, sent several of its hotspots into lockdown last week to curb its surge in new cases.

Read more:
Canada in talks with coronavirus vaccine makers ‘every day’ as approvals near: Anand

In Quebec, another 1,177 infections and 28 additional deaths were announced by health authorities Tuesday. The province has the highest number of COVID-19-related deaths in the country, which now stands at 7,084 following Tuesday’s increase.

Alberta reported 1,307 more infections as well, pushing it’s total caseload to 59,484. Ten more deaths were also added by health authorities Tuesday, with its provincial death toll now standing at 551. Manitoba reported another 282 cases while Saskatchewan added 181.

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B.C. added 653 more cases on Tuesday, of which three were diagnosed as “epi-linked,” meaning cases that displayed symptoms and were close contacts of confirmed infections, but were never tested. A total of 336 patients are considered epi-linked in the province, while the death toll stands at 457 after 16 more fatalities were announced.

Several territories and Atlantic Canadian provinces reported new cases as well, with Nova Scotia adding 10, New Brunswick another seven and both Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut reporting just one.

P.E.I., and the Northwest Territories did not add any new infections, while the Yukon has yet to update its Tuesday case figure.


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Cases of the virus continue to rise across the world, with 63,679,000 cases being reported as of today according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

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A total of 1,476,900 people have also died from the virus so far, with the United States, Brazil and India leading in both infections and fatalities.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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PM: Feds, provinces agree vaccine prioritization should be consistent Canada-wide – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
As the precise order of who will follow seniors, health care workers and high-risk populations in line to get COVID-19 vaccines is still being sorted out, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal and provincial governments agree that there should be a cross-Canada “consensus” on the matter.

With Health Canada now beginning its assessment of a fourth potential vaccine candidate — Johnson & Johnson’s — the prime minister said talks are ongoing with the provinces and territories about the “challenging ethical and societal” aspect of the country’s vaccine rollout.

Logistics aside, governments and health care experts are having to weigh and decide who will be prioritized and what the eventual order of precedence will be for Canadians to line up and be vaccinated.

According to the preliminary guidance issued by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, prioritization will be based on three factors: the state of the pandemic when the vaccine is available; the supply available and number of doses required; and the risk-benefit analysis of key populations such as those who are at higher risk for adverse outcomes if they contract the novel coronavirus.

Based on that advisory group’s preliminary guidance, the recommendation is that essential workers and others who face increased risks related to COVID-19 should be vaccinated against the disease before everyone else. Examples of those at higher risk include providers of essential services, or those whose living or working conditions put them at higher risk.

The subsequent order of who gets vaccinated next remains a largely open question, however, in the race to see 70 per cent of Canadians vaccinated by September.

“We talked about it with the provinces last week on our 22nd first minister’s call, and there was a number of perspectives, but there seemed to be a consensus that we should all agree across the country on what that list looks like and make sure that it is applied fairly right across the country,” Trudeau told reporters on Tuesday.

“There are more conversations to come and we will keep Canadians informed as we determine what that right order of priority is. Other elements of it is, certain vaccines might be more effective with certain populations versus others, and that’s why the experts are going to be so important in making determinations around, what is the best path to move forward for our country,” said the prime minister.

Though, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said later that provinces will be able to refine the prioritizations based on their own regional demographics.

“At the end of the day it is the provinces who deliver health care and it is the provinces who will decide on the priority populations and of course we’re working closely to make sure that we have coordination across the country, and that we agree on the principles, which in fact we have, we have a shared set of principles,” Hajdu said.

“There are also some federal populations that we will obviously have to take care of ourselves as the federal government,” Hajdu said. Examples of these groups would presumably be Indigenous communities and federal inmates.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said on Tuesday that he and other premiers still have outstanding questions that need to be answered.

“Clearly we need our most vulnerable folks, our seniors… our front-line care workers to get the vaccine earlier, we can all agree on that. But the devil’s in the details, when you get beyond that. Should it be done on the basis of age? Or how do you determine vulnerability? Should it be done on the basis of ethnicity? Should it be done on the basis of race in some way? These questions have to be addressed,” Pallister said.

“We’re not saying the federal government has to do it all but we’re saying that we need to have the criteria established and the priority should be common, not different in one side of Saskatchewan’s border with Alberta than it is on the other, or not different than it is in Ottawa from Gatineau, but rather that we have a co-ordinated strategy.”

In an interview on CTV’s Power Play, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said in his province he doesn’t anticipate there will be a huge line up of people who want to get vaccinated early on, but communicating as clearly as possible in advance of who will be eligible first will help avoid a “panic situation.”

So far, just over $284 million has been spent on distributing vaccines to Canadians, with overall more than $1 billion allocated to Canada’s vaccine procurement effort, as part of a more than $14-billion commitment over the next several years on research into and development of vaccines and therapeutics.

AGE MAY BE KEY FACTOR: TAM

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Tuesday that work is underway right now on getting more “granular” in planning who among the highest risk groups will be first.

“That detail work is, you know, being taken very seriously by the provinces and territories as they begin to plan their immunization clinics.”

Then, once the priority groups are immunized, it’s possible the next easiest way to break down the order would be by age, said Tam.

“The age group, based on our analysis is actually the easiest and the most scientifically-sound way, I think, of increasing the population coverage,” she said.

“We know that underlying medical conditions put people at high risk but when we actually analyze all the different underlying medical conditions, and their age, it still comes out that the age is in fact the most important where you look at severe illness and mortality.”

There will also be groups who won’t be able to get a vaccine early on, due to the lack of research into the potential impacts on them, such as children and people who are pregnant.

“Kids haven’t really been engaged in a lot of the clinical trials, so that would be another age group for which data is needed, and we’ll be looking towards more data on pregnant women as well,” Dr. Tam said.

Asked whether he anticipates being among the earliest groups to get vaccinated, Trudeau said that he’s “going to trust the experts to make the right determination of what the priority populations are.”

With files from CTV News’ Ryan Flanagan

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