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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Sept. 17 – CBC.ca

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The latest:

With climbing cases of COVID-19 across Canada, health experts are struggling to trace the source of new infections — raising concerns that several provinces are lacking crucial information to curb a potential second wave this fall. 

In Quebec, Health Minister Christian Dubé and chief public health officer Dr. Horacio Arruda held a press conference on Thursday, to encourage residents to continue practising safe social distancing as the weekend approaches. Dubé said this weekend is not the time to go out partying and risk pushing a region into a higher COVID-19 alert level.

He said regions will remain yellow, but will be changed to orange in the coming days depending on the progress and the number of active cases over the weekend.

Dubé also reminded people that bars, even if they sell food, cannot sell liquor after midnight and that includes restaurants and microbreweries.

WATCH | Quebecers warned to heed health measures to slow coronavirus:

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said this weekend is not the time to go out partying and risk pushing a region into a higher COVID-19 alert level. 1:15 

As of Thursday afternoon, there are 66,356 confirmed cases in Quebec. 

B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec have all reported a bump in cases throughout September, and some have paused their reopening plans as a result. 

As of 3:40 pm ET on Thursday, Canada had 140,556 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 122,842 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,238.

In B.C. a record number of new cases were confirmed on Thursday, and two new outbreaks have been declared in hospitals in the Lower Mainland.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry urged British Columbians to stick to gatherings with six or fewer people and to keep those groups of six consistent. She said the new restrictions to end the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. is necessary to slow transmission of the disease.

British Columbia Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides an update on COVID-19 on Sept. 17, 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Meanwhile in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford unveiled a series of new measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, including restrictions on social gatherings in three regions and significant fines for violating the new rules. 

Ford held a news conference Thursday afternoon saying the increasing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases “are concerning,” and that the province has decided to “implement further restrictions,” starting Friday.

He also announced that Ontario will have the “highest fine anywhere in the entire country,” with a minimum amount of $10,000 for organizers of illegal social gatherings, and a $750 fine for individuals who “break the rules and show up to these parties.”

As a result of the growing pandemic in Ontario, health officials have shut down a high school in the Ottawa Valley after a third staff member tested positive for COVID-19 — making it the first school in the province to close since the new school year began.

All in-person classes at Fellowes High School in Pembroke, Ont., were halted Wednesday after the latest case was linked to two previous ones, also involving staff members.

WATCH | Ford announces new COVID-19 gathering limits, freeze on rent increase:

Ontario Premier Doug Ford unveiled a series of new measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, including restrictions on social gatherings in three regions and significant fines for violating the new rules. 4:41

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Renfrew County District School Board spokesperson Jonathan Laderoute said the closure will remain in place until further notice.

“The decision was made shortly after a third case was confirmed earlier today that was linked to two previous cases,” the email reads. “The school will reopen only with public health approval.” 

WATCH | Alarms raised after COVID-19 cases close Ontario high school:

An Ottawa-area high school is the first in the province to shut down after three staff test positive for COVID-19, prompting concerns about cases in schools and how outbreaks are handled in schools. 2:02

Despite the school closure and an increasing caseload, health officials in Ontario say they can’t trace how roughly half of its latest COVID-19 cases became infected, even as Ford announced new measures to try to slow the pace of spread.

To gain insights into the September surge of COVID-19 in Canada’s largest province, CBC News has analyzed Ontario’s data on active cases — those who have most recently tested positive for the virus and are either hospitalized or still considered to be infectious. 

Data suggests that many Ontarians are currently contracting COVID-19 through unmemorable interactions with others in the course of their daily lives. Experts are worried that failing to track the source of so many new infections will hamper efforts to rein in the spread of the virus. 

Those under 40 are driving the spread in most provinces. In Ontario, health officials have identified smaller, indoor gatherings as the culprit. Younger people may also be working in precarious jobs where their exposure is increased, or where sick days may not be readily available. 

“If we don’t understand how and where people are getting infected, it’s very hard to control this disease,” said Ashleigh Tuite, epidemiologist at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. “It suggests that our contact tracing is not up to the level that we wanted it to be.”  

A health-care worker walks along the lineup of people waiting outside a COVID-19 testing facility in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Alberta is starting to see a caseload similar to that in Ontario and Quebec, which is concerning as the prairie province has a much lower population, said Dr. Stephanie Smith, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. 

On Thursday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said testing priorities will change as the province prepares for increasing testing demands.

With flu season upon us, Hinshaw said asymptomatic testing will therefore no longer be recommended for general population.

“We and every other province in Canada must prepare for a surge in demand in tests this winter. We must prioritize our testing, especially as we prepare for the flu system to ensure that testing is scheduled and that results are returned as quickly as possible.” 

For the first 15 days of September in Alberta, the province has reported an average of 137 new cases of COVID-19 per day. That’s up from an average of 88 cases for that same period in August, meaning that cases have gone up by about 55 per cent in the last month.

WATCH | Looking back at six months of COVID in Alberta:

Even though it may feel much longer, it’s officially been six months since COVID-19 restrictions were put in place in Alberta – here’s a look back at when and how it started. 1:50

The province is also facing widespread community transmission of COVID-19, Smith said, rather than the disease appearing in a few specific hotspots, like a long-term care facility.

While some of the increase in Alberta cases could be attributed to more testing in September with upwards of 30,000 people tested per day, Smith said these jumps in case counts are still concerning.


What’s happening around the rest of Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says dealing with COVID-19 remains his government’s number one job.

Trudeau says Canadians deserve an ambitious plan for a healthier and safer Canada, a country that’s fair and inclusive and clean and competitive.

He made his comments at the end of a two-and-a-half day cabinet retreat.

A COVID-19 testing site is opening up for Indigenous people in Toronto, just in time for the cold and flu season. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says dealing with COVID-19 remains his government’s number one job. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

“There’s not much trust for some Indigenous folks in our health-care system because of discriminatory practices or blatant racism,” said Steve Teekens, executive director of Na-Me-Res, an emergency shelter and housing organization.

“We have a vacant building here and one of our managers thought this would be a fabulous idea to offer it up as a COVID testing facility for Indigenous people,” Teekens said. 

Roughly 250 students have been sent home from John Pritchard School in Winnipeg as the number of COVID-19 cases linked to it climbed to seven, Manitoba’s education minister said on Wednesday.

Students at the North Kildonan school in Grades 6, 7 and 8, as well as those in a split Grade 4/5 class and the Henderson Early Learning Centre (the school’s before and after program), started remote learning on Wednesday, Kelvin Goertzen said at a news conference.

“Of course, we knew that there would be cases within the school system, and we wanted to ensure that there could be quick response when those cases arose,” Goertzen said.

Those students may continue learning from home for up to two weeks, the Winnipeg school said in a letter to parents on Tuesday.

Alberta’s health minister and chief medical officer of health have said they would support repealing a piece of legislation that gives the government the power to make vaccines mandatory. 

The Public Health Act currently contains a section that allows the Lieutenant Governor in Council to order Albertans to be immunized or re-immunized against a communicable disease in certain circumstances, like an epidemic. 

That power has never been used in the province’s history, nor can Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, imagine a scenario where it would be.

“I think if we have a piece of legislation that we’re unlikely to use, I’m not sure it provides much benefit,” she told the legislative review committee examining the act in August. “I would be comfortable with that particular piece of the legislation being removed.”

Travellers flying out of Halifax will soon have their temperature taken before liftoff to scan for one of the symptoms of COVID-19.

Next Wednesday, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) is rolling out temperature screening stations in the departure sections of 11 airports, including Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

WATCH | Rapid rise in cases in many parts of Canada, infectious disease specialist says:

Parts of Canada are seeing ‘exponential’ growth in COVID-19 cases, and we could be headed toward a thousand new cases per day, says infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Gardam. 0:58

All passengers who have a fever (38 C and above), and don’t have a medical certificate to explain a condition that would result in an elevated temperature, will not be allowed to continue their travel and will be asked to rebook after 14 days.

Leah Batstone, spokesperson for the Halifax International Airport Authority, said they’re happy to have another feature to help ease people’s fears and concerns about air travel.


What’s happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 29.9 million. More than 941,000 people have died, while 20.3 million have recovered.

Authorities in Pakistan have closed as many as 22 schools across the country after detecting violation of physical distancing regulations amid a steady decline in COVID-19 cases.

The government action comes only two days after authorities allowed schools to reopen.

Thursday’s announcement by the military-backed command and control centre came after health officials alerted the government that students at some schools were violating distancing guidelines.

The number of new confirmed coronavirus infections have hit a record in the Czech Republic, surpassing 2,000 cases in one day for the first time.

The country’s health ministry said a total of 2,139 cases were registered on Wednesday, about 450 more than the previous number recorded a day earlier.

The ministry said 388 people have been hospitalized with COVID-19, 55 more than the previous day, with 81 in serious condition.

India has confirmed another record jump in coronavirus cases, logging 97,894 cases in the past 24 hours.

A health worker collects a swab sample from a man for a coronavirus test at a public health centre in Hyderabad, India. (Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)

The country’s health ministry said on Thursday the new cases raised the nation’s confirmed total to more than 5.1 million since the pandemic began. It said 1,132 people died in the past 24 hours, for a total of 83,198.

At the current rate of infection, India is expected within weeks to surpass the 6.6 million reported cases in the United States, which is currently the country with the most reported infections.

The number of people in the United States applying for unemployment benefits dropped to 881,000 last week, but the Labour Department reported Thursday that the economy is still struggling to recover and rebuild the job market.

Before the pandemic hit the economy, the number signing up for jobless aid had never exceeded 700,000 in a week, even during the depths of the 2007-09 Great Recession. Now they’ve topped 700,000 for 26 straight weeks.

Meanwhile, 10 fans who attended the Kansas City Chiefs game last week have been told to quarantine after one tested positive for COVID-19, Kansas City health officials announced Thursday.

A person who watched the NFL game from the group’s box in Arrowhead Stadium’s lower level tested positive a day later, the health department said.

The health department and Chiefs organization worked together to track down those who had contact with the person.

Airline industry workers hold signs during a protest in Federal Plaza in Chicago. (AFP via Getty Images)

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Travel restrictions eased for remote communities along Canada-U.S. border – CBC.ca

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The federal government has relaxed travel restrictions, allowing people in remote communities along the Canada-U.S. border to access the necessities of life — including food and medical services — and allowing cross-border students to attend school.

The communities of Stewart, B.C., home to about 400 residents, and Hyder, Alaska, which has a population of 63, are about three kilometres apart.

Residents and local politicians have been asking for the border to be reopened since the travel restrictions went into effect on March 21 in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

On Friday, Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, gave them the news they’ve been waiting to hear.

Under the new adjusted rules, the statement reads: “residents of Campobello Island, New Brunswick; Stewart, British Columbia; Northwest Angle, Minnesota; and Hyder, Alaska will be exempt from mandatory 14-day quarantine only to access the necessities of life (e.g., food, medical services) from the nearest Canadian or American community.”

The communities of Stewart, B.C., and Hyder, Alaska, are about three kilometres apart. (CBC)

Blair noted the changes, which come into effect Saturday, will allow students (and one driver) to cross the border to go to school and they also allow children who are part of a shared custody arrangement to be exempt from the quarantine period, along with a parent. 

“The limited and practical changes will continue to protect Canadians’ health and safety while removing hardships for children and for residents in remote communities impacted by the border restrictions.”

Relief in the communities

People living in Hyder and Stewart have been calling for changes to travel restrictions for months.

The President of the Hyder Community Association, Wes Loe, said people in the community are relieved, especially children who can now see their friends and attend school.

“Stewart and Hyder, it’s like one community with a border in between. We celebrate weddings. We celebrate births. It’s one community, then all of a sudden seven and a half months ago they put a wall there.”

Loe said the rule change is what residents in the remote communities needed.

“It’s a good feeling in the community. It’s a positive feeling.”

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Kelowna reports largest crime rate increase in Canada in 2019 – CBC.ca

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A new Statistics Canada study on police-reported crime data from 2019 shows Kelowna with the fastest growing crime rate in Canada.

Crime increased by 24 per cent, compared to 2018, according to StatsCan. The violent crime rate increased 65 per cent. And the crime severity Index — a measurement of the volume and severity of crime — rose 20 per cent, which is also more than any other city in Canada.

The Kelowna census metropolitan area’s crime rate is now 10,747 incidents per 100,000 residents, the second highest overall in Canada, just behind Lethbridge, Alta. 

The national average is 5,874 per 100,000 residents.  

The central Okanagan city’s metropolitan area for census purposes includes the cities of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Lake Country and their surrounding rural areas.

Statistics Canada notes one reason for the crime rate increase, especially in violent crimes, was the new Kelowna RCMP reporting method.

In 2018, the detachment faced public criticism over its handling of sexual assault cases. Statistics Canada revealed 40 per cent of sexual assault cases reported to Kelowna RCMP were dismissed as “unfounded” — three times the national average. 

A national RCMP sexual assault review team investigated and recently determined that there was an underlying clerical error in how the cases were being classified that skewed the statistics.

Even so, the national team wound up recommending Kelowna RCMP reinvestigate 12 of the cases it had closed.

The 2019 StatsCan report also shows increases in robbery, car theft, mischief, uttering threats and shoplifting.

According to the report, Kelowna also has the highest rate of opioid-related offences in Canada, at 124 per 100,000 people, compared to 35 in Vancouver.

‘Communities remain extremely safe,’ say RCMP

RCMP Supt. Kara Triance, the new commander of the Kelowna detachment, responded to the new statistics in a written statement, blaming much of the increase in the overall crime rate on non-violent property crimes and a transient population.

“We recognize that this ranking appears concerning, but I would like to stress that Kelowna and the surrounding communities remain extremely safe,” Triance stated.

“Kelowna is also a resort destination during the summer with a significant increase in visitor population. While that number is not reflected in our population statistics, it does affect reported crime.”

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran says he would like to see a co-ordinated effort involving the province to help deal with the surge in non-violent crimes in his municipality. (Colin Basran/Facebook)

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran also noted the increase in non-violent crime and called for more co-ordination and provincial support to tackle the problem.

“We work with RCMP every day to address criminal behaviour, but we need senior levels of government to address the underlying problems of health, housing and poverty that contribute to these downstream issues,” Basran stated. “RCMP need support from other agencies to deal with repeat offenders.”

Since 2015, the city has approved funding for 34 new full-time RCMP officers and 23 police safety support staff.

The detachment has increased patrols on Friday and Saturday nights and bolstered investigative support teams involved in complex crimes. 

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

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The latest:

Health officials across Canada continue to warn about the risks of gatherings as a family Thanksgiving dinner in Ontario is cited as the source of a major COVID-19 outbreak, and British Columbia announces the death of an elderly woman who contracted the virus at a small birthday party.

In the case of the Thanksgiving dinner in Renfrew County, Ont., up to 20 people attended the event, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Cushman told CBC News.

“Someone must have showed up to the event with COVID. Either they were asymptomatic or they didn’t pay attention to their symptoms,” he said. “And then it continued to spread.”

WATCH | Family Thanksgiving dinner was superspreading event, health official says:

Dr. Robert Cushman, medical officer of health for Renfrew County, says a Thanksgiving gathering attended by up to 20 people has led to a dozen cases of COVID-19 so far. 0:59

About a dozen cases have been linked to the dinner so far, Cushman said.

Among them were two teenagers, which necessitated “some very aggressive contact tracing and testing in their particular high school,” he said. As a result, about 70 students missed at least a week of classes.

In British Columbia, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry highlighted the province’s most recent COVID-19 death — a woman in her 80s who contracted the disease at a birthday party — as she urged residents to remain vigilant.

“Somebody unknowingly brought COVID-19, and even though it was a small party in one person’s home, the majority of people who were in that home became infected with COVID-19,” Henry said.

The birthday party, which had fewer than 10 people, took place in the Fraser Valley region, which has more than half of B.C.’s identified cases despite accounting for only 39 per cent of the population.

(CBC News)

Meanwhile, with Halloween this weekend, health experts are urging Canadians to be mindful of certain things to keep any holiday activities from becoming superspreaders.

“Halloween is usually an outdoor activity — keep it exclusively outdoors,” Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious diseases specialist at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, told CBC News Network.

He said people should make sure trick-or-treaters don’t cluster together to get candy from a communal bowl; rather, prepackaged bags of candy should be available that can be handed out one or two at a time. 

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, the federal government released new modelling projections that found all Canadians must reduce close contacts by 25 per cent in order to flatten the second wave. 

Dr. Theresa Tam, the country’s chief public health officer, said despite new health restrictions, transmission will continue if Canadians keep up the number of contacts they currently have.

The projections show the number of COVID-19 cases could rise from the current level — 230,547 as of 11:20 a.m. ET Friday — to 262,000 by Nov. 8. Another 300 people are expected to die during that period if cases rise at that rate. 

While the number of deaths have risen, it’s at a slower rate than earlier in the pandemic. Tam said this is likely because more young people have had the virus recently and recovered at home, and because treatment options have improved.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also said Friday that the federal government will provide further supports for Indigenous communities dealing with the pandemic.

Ottawa is adding $200 million to its funding to help those communities fight COVID-19, he said. More than half of that money will go toward pre-schools and daycare centres, to improve training and staffing and enhance cleaning.

Around $60 million is going to First Nations to make community buildings safer with renovations, better cleaning and upgraded ventilation, while $26 million is going to Indigenous post-secondary institutions, Trudeau said. 

The new money is on top of more than $2.2 billion the federal government has already allocated to help Indigenous and northern communities get through the health crisis.


What’s happening in the rest of Canada 

As of  6 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 231,727 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases, with 27,903of those active. Provinces and territories listed 193,715 as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,109.

In the Yukon, the first COVID-19-related death was announced on Friday. The territory has reported 23 confirmed cases since the pandemic and 17 of those positive cases are considered recovered.

The person who died was from the rural community of Watson Lake, where there has been a recent cluster of cases with an unknown source of infection. Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley said at a news conference Friday that the person was “older” and had “significant” underlying medical conditions. 

On Thurdsay, Yukon reported its most recent case, which officials said was travel-related and not linked to Watson Lake.

Ontario reported another 896 cases of COVID-19 and nine new deaths on Friday, with 796 recoveries. Its seven-day average of daily cases has now climbed above 900 for the first time in the pandemic.

Premier Doug Ford said Friday that he’ll ask the province’s health experts when more businesses can open in harder-hit areas after the 28-day period of tightened restrictions ends next month. 

At Friday’s news conference Ford also said he’d ask Ontario’s health team if lifting Stage 2 restrictions can be done safely. 

Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe told reporters that while cases continue to increase, the climb has slowed — making it possible to discuss loosening restrictions.

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

The province is not yet declaring a victory around data showing that there are fewer COVID-19 deaths so far associated with the surge in infections over the last few weeks. Doctors told CBC News that a person who is infected with COVID-19 now is more likely to survive than they would have been during the initial spring outbreak, as they now know more about how to treat the virus effectively. 

However, the number of deaths may rise in the coming weeks as there is a “lagging issue” in that it takes time for COVID-19 to jump from younger people to older, more vulnerable members of the population. 

In Ottawa, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said that spread has slowed in the region but there are outbreaks at long-term care homes that are concerning. Provincial data released Thursday showed that although Ottawa is a COVID-19 hotspot, it’s fairing better than other regions with a high number of infections. 

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

Cases in hard-hit Montreal have remained steady at 250 new infections per day on average, but some neighbourhoods are grappling with more outbreaks than others, Montreal Public Health Director Dr. Mylène Drouin said on Friday.

Workplace transmission has become less of an issue, but health officials are seeing more cases of the virus in schools, she said. There are 93 schools currently experiencing outbreaks. 

Clients write comments on the outside wall of a gym during a morning protest in Montreal on Thursday. The Quebec government has extended the closure of gyms until Nov. 23. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

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 in a row. 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. 

Alberta recorded a dramatic jump in COVID-19 cases on Friday, reporting 622 new infections. That figure is significantly higher than the daily average of 450 that the province has seen in the last 10 days. 

Currently, 140 Albertans are in hospital with the disease, 25 of them in ICU, also both record numbers. The province also reported another five deaths. 

Manitoba reported another 480 new cases on Friday, shattering the record number of new cases announced on Thursday.

As a result of the continued increase in cases, the Winnipeg region is being moved to the critical red alert, which is the highest level  on the province’s pandemic response system. The rest of the province is being moved to the orange level.

Starting Monday, bars and restaurants will be closed in Winnipeg and will be offering take-out or delivery only. Concert halls and movie theatres will also close.

WATCH | Dr. Brent Roussin explains new, strict health rules being implemented in Manitoba: 

While widespread closures and capacity restrictions have significant impacts on people, Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin says a concerning trend of rising COVID-19 cases and strain on the healthcare system in recent days forced the province to introduce the latest round of rules meant to slow the spread of the illness. 0:42

Other restrictions are being ushered in as well, including hospitals suspending non-urgent and elective procedures, retail outlets being reduced to 25 per cent capacity and faith-based gatherings will be limited to 15 per cent capacity. The new rules will be in place for two weeks, and then reassessed, said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer.

In orange zones outside of Winnipeg, new rules are also being implemented including reducing capacity to 50 per cent at restaurants, bars, retail stores, museums, galleries and libraries. 

The shutdown announcement comes as 12 doctors in the province published a letter Friday in the Winnipeg Free Press directed toward the premier and health minister, stating it’s time for a province-wide shutdown. Manitoba’s positivity rate has climbed to 8.6 per cent, and there are 104 people in hospital as of Friday.

The physicians say in the letter that what’s needed is mass closures such as those implemented in Manitoba and elsewhere when COVID-19 emerged in the spring.

It’s important to note that Manitoba’s active case count is currently inaccurate, as there’s a backlog for tracking recoveries, Roussin said earlier this month.

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 sixteen of those receiving inpatient 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. CST. 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 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 45.1 million as of Friday morning, with more than 30.3 million of those listed as recovered. The death toll reported by the U.S.-based university stood at more than 1.1 million.

European Union officials said Friday that the World Health Organization (WHO) needs to be quickly overhauled to be strengthened, so it can be faster when handling emergencies. 

Those comments were made during a video conference of EU health ministers who endorsed an EU document outlining changes they say need to occur at WHO. The document also urges the UN body to make public how and if member states respect their obligations to share information on health crises. 

The move comes after criticisms that some countries, including China, did not share information with WHO about COVID-19 quickly enough at the outset of the pandemic. 

At the same conference Germany’s health minister said that when a vaccine for COVID-19 is ready, it will be distributed equally among all European Union member nations. 

Jens Spahn told EU health ministries that they will wait for Phase 3 trials to be completed and then organize fair distribution.

Spahn, who was in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19, has emphasized that comprehensive clinical trials must be completed before the vaccine is approved for use.

The United States now has nine million cases of COVID-19 according to data compiled by John Hopkins University. The country was at eight million just two weeks ago, marking the fasted accumulation of another million cases reported so far.

Infections are rising in nearly every state. The U.S. also broke its single-day record for new coronavirus infections on Thursday, reporting at least 91,248 new cases, as 21 states reported their highest daily number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients since the pandemic started, according to a Reuters tally of publicly reported data.

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

Among the hardest-hit states are those most hotly contested in Tuesday’s presidential election between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, such as Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Also in the U.S., Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a biotech company based out of Tarrytown, N.Y., said Friday that their study testing an experimental antibody drug for the coronavirus has been paused to investigate a possible safety issue.

Independent monitors had recommended placing on hold enrolment of the most severely ill patients — those who need intense oxygen treatment or breathing machines — because of a potential safety problem and unfavourable balance of risks and benefit, they said. 

The study can continue to test the two-antibody drug combo in hospitalized patients who need little or no extra oxygen. Other studies in mild or moderately ill people also are continuing.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also released a new study on Friday that found COVID-19 can spread in households more extensively than previous research suggests. The report emphasizes why it’s important for those who test positive to isolate from other household members while they are recovering.

The research looked at 101 homes in Tennessee and Wisconsin and discovered about 53 per cent of household members tested positive after the first person became sick. 

Confirmed coronavirus infections in Slovakia have also hit a new record high as the country gets ready for countrywide testing.

The Health Ministry says the day-to-day increase in the country of 5.4 million reached 3,363 on Thursday, more than 300 above the previous record set on Saturday.

People are seen at a COVID-19 testing site in Nizna, Slovakia, last week. Authorities are hoping a broad testing program will help them respond to the pandemic more effectively. (Radovan Stoklasa/Reuters)

The government wants to use antigen tests, which are less accurate than polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests but have the advantage of producing faster results, for testing almost the entire population older than age 10 over the next two weekends. It’s not compulsory and is free of charge.

India reported 48,648 new coronavirus cases, continuing a month-long slowing trend in infections even as the country adds to its eight million cases.

The Health Ministry also reported 563 more fatalities in the past 24 hours, raising the confirmed death toll to 121,090.

Even as cases are dropping across the country, New Delhi is facing what could be a third wave of infections. The capital is India’s worst-hit city and is among the few regions in the country seeing further new infections, clocking more than 5,000 daily in the last three days. The surge comes while seasonal pollution levels are soaring in the capital, worsening respiratory illnesses.

Muslims, many wearing masks, leave the Jama Masjid mosque after offering Friday prayers on the occasion of Eid-e-Milad-ul-Nabi, the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, in the old quarters of Delhi on Friday. (Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters)

In Britain, a weekly survey by the region’s statistics agency shows an average of nearly 52,000 daily coronavirus cases, an increase of nearly 50 per cent in the most recent week.

The highest rates were shown in northern England, where restrictions have been tightened the most in the last few weeks. 

France is grappling with a strict new lockdown that started Friday. Parisians fled for the countryside, jamming up roads and booking trains solid to ride out the lockdown away from the city.

The entire country, made up of 67 million people, has been ordered to stay at home at all times with no visitors. Those who break the rules could face steep fines or be charged. There are some exceptions, including being allow outside for one hour per day within one kilometre of home, going to work, medical appointments, or shopping for essentials. 

A woman walks by closed shops near Galeries Lafayette in the center of Paris as a national lockdown went into effect. (The Associated Press/Lewis Joly)

Restaurants have closed, other than offering take-out. Per capita, France has two and half times the number of cases the U.S. has. The lockdown is set to last for four weeks until it’s reassessed. 

Kenya has joined the trial of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine candidate, which was developed with Oxford University. The Kenya Medical Research Institute said the first of 40 volunteers in the country who have been vaccinated are all front-line health workers.

The news of the east African nation joining the trial comes as Kenya’s government said a second surge in COVID-19 cases had begun there. 

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