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

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The latest:

  • Health Canada issues recall for disposable masks with graphene.
  • Alberta chief medical officer of health describes P1 variant outbreak as ‘significant.’
  • Researcher says coronavirus variants could require annual vaccinations, like the flu.
  • Daughter of COVID-19 victim pleads for stricter restrictions as cases surge in southern Alberta.
  • Situation in Ontario ICUs like a never-ending ‘fire’ amid COVID-19 3rd wave, says nurse.
  • Essential but forgotten? Youth working in grocery stores, cafés feel the strain.
  • Have a question about the COVID-19 pandemic? Send your questions to COVID@cbc.ca

Canada’s confirmed count of COVID-19 cases passed the one-million mark on Saturday — 14 months after the country’s first known case was recorded — while the number of vaccine shots administered surpassed six million.

The federal government’s goal was to have six million doses arrive in Canada by the end of the first quarter of the year — a target it met last week.

“We’re expecting millions and millions more doses over the next weeks and months,” Procurement Minister Anita Anand told CBC News on Friday. She reiterated that 44 million vaccine doses are expected to arrive by the end of June.

As of 12:35 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 1,002,823 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 57,399 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 23,059.

When asked about the official number of cases, an infectious diseases specialist with Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont., said, “It’s actually probably much more than a million.”

“It’s anywhere from five to 10 times more than that, because a lot of the time, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, we weren’t actually catching a lot of the cases that were happening,” Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti told CBC News on Sunday.

“Many cases are mild and are not getting tested,” he said. “The point is, this is a respiratory virus … and their job is essentially to infect people, and they do so very very efficiently.”

The two milestones are emblematic of where the nation stands with COVID-19, ramping up its vaccination drive as more contagious variants of the virus fuel the pandemic’s third wave in several parts of Canada.

Alberta, for instance, is investigating what the province’s chief medical officer of health described as a “significant” outbreak of the P1 variant of concern, which is now the dominant strain in Brazil.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a tweet that the outbreak can be traced back to a returning traveller.

“Health officials are working hard to limit future spread and reaching out directly to those at risk of exposure,” she said. “AHS (Alberta Health Services) will ensure that anyone at risk is isolated, offered testing twice and connected with supports if needed.”

WATCH | Should vaccines be redirected to Canada’s COVID-19 hot spots?

Dr. Amit Arya, a palliative care physician, says Ontario’s new shutdown doesn’t get to the root of the problem. He says we need to focus our attention on vaccinating people at warehouses and at homes in hotspots rather than vaccinating by age groups. 7:16

Hinshaw said officials will provide an update on the investigation on Monday.

That province logged an estimated 1,100 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, roughly half of which are variants of concern.

Hinshaw said 35 per cent of the province’s active COVID-19 cases are due to those variants, which are more contagious and can cause more serious illness.

WATCH | Doctors bring COVID-19 vaccines to homebound seniors:

Ontario’s Covid-19 science table is pushing for more mobile vaccine units to vaccinate seniors in their homes after new data reveals that 25 per cent of Ontario seniors 75 and older have still not received their first shot because they’re either unwilling or unable to leave home for medical reasons. A look at two doctors leading the charge. 2:03

Meanwhile, the United States had administered 161,688,422 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country as of Saturday morning and distributed 207,866,645 doses, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The tally is for Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines, the agency said.

The CDC said 104,213,478 people had received at least one dose while 59,858,146 people are fully vaccinated as of Saturday.


What’s happening across Canada

Health officials in British Columbia on Saturday announced 2,090 new cases of COVID-19 in the last two days, but did not provide information about deaths, variants of concern or the number of active cases.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix again urged people to stay within their local health authority region to prevent the spread of the respiratory illness.

A total of 856,801 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. to date, including 87,455 second doses.

WATCH | 2 doctors on how to deal with Canada’s coronavirus 3rd wave:

Infectious disease specialists Dr. Lynora Saxinger and Dr. Zain Chagla discuss the latest restrictions in several provinces and how they’re feeling about where we are in the third wave. 7:54

In Saskatchewandrive-thru vaccination sites have opened in Prince Albert and North Battleford, and re-opened in Regina Saturday.

More drive-thru sites are anticipated to open this week across the province.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority website said the Lloydminster site is expected to open on Sunday, the Saskatoon drive-thru site is anticipated to open on Monday and the Yorkton and Weyburn sites are anticipated to open Tuesday. 

Manitoba logged 181 new cases and one additional death over the past two days.

Meanwhile, the province has now administered more than 200,000 vaccine doses.

Ontario logged 3,009 new cases as a new provincewide “shutdown” took effect to try to curb soaring infection rates.

The restrictions force gyms and personal care services to close, but allow essential and non-essential retailers to remain open, with their capacities limited to 50 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.

WATCH | ICU doctor says Ontario’s ’emergency brake’ is not enough:

Dr. Michael Warner, medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, says the current restrictions are not enough to protect people who are getting sick in the third wave of the pandemic. Warner says the provincial framework won’t stop young people from getting sick and ending up in intensive care units. With permission, Dr. Warner spoke of one patient in particular who was very ill. She has since died. 5:23

Quebec confirmed 1,154 new cases and nine new deaths on Sunday.

Provincial police are patrolling the streets of the province this weekend, on the lookout for indoor private gatherings. They’re focusing largely on the Quebec City area, where there has been a surge in cases in recent days.

New Brunswick registered 11 new cases on Sunday. The province reported a record-high 14 hospitalizations on Saturday, including six in intensive care. Most of those patients are in the hard-hit Edmundston region, which has seen a recent spike in cases, including spread of the B117 variant.

Nova Scotia reported seven new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday after four new infections the previous day.

In the Northwest Territories, an outbreak has been declared at the Diavik Diamond Mine about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife after a second worker tested positive for the virus within a week. 


What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 130.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a coronavirus tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.84 million.

In Europe, the U.K. government is planning to launch a vaccine certificate trial over the coming months to determine how mass events can be held safely.

The trial events will include soccer’s FA Cup semi-final and final, the World Snooker Championships, and a comedy club show.  Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to set out more details on Monday.

The government has said the “status certification system” under development would show whether a person has had a vaccine, a recent negative test or natural immunity from a  positive test taken in the previous six months.

Johnson said the trials will play an important role in allowing the “reopening of our country so people can return to the events, travel and other things they love as safely as possible.”

However, dozens of his Conservative Party legislators have opposed the plans, and Johnson could struggle to get Parliament to approve the trials.

In Italy, Pope Francis said Easter Sunday mass under pandemic precautions. Only 200 or so faithful were allowed inside St. Peter’s Basilica to celebrate mass and hear the Urbi et Orbi blessing.

Italian State Police vehicle is seen in an empty St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Sunday. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images)

Normally, thousands would gather outside in St. Peter’s Square, with more than 100,000 sometimes assembling to receive the Pope’s special Easter blessing after the mass.

But this year, like last year, crowds are banned from gathering in Italy, and at the Vatican. So Francis scheduled his noon Easter address on world affairs to be delivered from inside the basilica.

In South Asia, India’s COVID-19 tally rose to 12,485,509 by Sunday evening local time as 93,249 new cases were reported from across the country over the past 24 hours, according to figures released by the federal health ministry.

In addition, 513 new deaths were registered in the past 24 hours, taking the country’s death toll to 164,623.

The latest number of new daily confirmed cases marks a record high since late September of last year.

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What the rise of the PPC says about Canada in 2021 – CTV News

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TORONTO —
While the People’s Party of Canada did not manage to gain any seats this federal election, its accruing of the popular vote has experts saying the rise of the far-right populist party cannot be ignored.

Maxime Bernier, who failed to win his own riding of Beauce, Que., said Monday that he will remain as party leader despite the defeat, telling CTV News’ Genevieve Beauchemin at his Saskatoon rally that he views the election outcome as “a huge victory.”

The PPC won over 820,000 votes and more than five per cent of the popular vote this time around, a marked increase from the 1.6 per cent of the vote it got in 2019.

POPULISM FINDS A HOME

The party that ran on an anti-immigration, anti-lockdown platform that has been endorsed by white nationalists, Neo-Nazis and other far-right groups has become a home for anti-vaxxers, anti-government protesters and gun rights activists, showing that populism on the left or right may be more about a movement than a traditional political party, said University of Guelph professor of political science Tamara Small.

“I think the only leader who is ecstatic about last night’s results is Bernier,” said Small in a telephone interview with CTVNews.ca after the election. “I don’t think they’re going anywhere… it seems that he’s taken that populism and attached it to far-right politics.”

The idea of Canadian exceptionalism from far-right and populist movements needs to be dispelled, Small said.

“The idea used to be that Canada was immune to sort of far-right populism…this idea that Canadians were sort of going to be free from the populism that we saw in Europe, like Nigel Farage is to the U.K.,” Small said. “But I think lots of people are wondering, if he’s [Bernier] just going to say ‘I’m not here to form government…I’m more here to challenge the system’” as a way of gaining support.

Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University, said it makes sense to call the PPC a populist party, and that the party takes “an extremist position on things like immigration and diversity.”

“They’re extreme in terms of their anti-Trudeau or anti-state positioning. They’re extreme in terms of their anti-lockdown and anti-tax standpoints as well. So, yeah, I think they absolutely might be considered extremists,” Perry said in a telephone interview with CTVNews.ca.

“As is calling them a populist group or populist party, because that’s really what he’s done so effectively is absorbed some of those broad concerns around COVID-19 and freedom and even the more mainstream concerns about economic anxieties, loss of jobs, loss of businesses… and managed to roll them all up.”

Some who support the PPC bristle at the implication that the party is a hotbed of far-right rhetoric or white nationalist supporters, with many online saying they simply support a party that is dedicated to their freedoms.

In an email to CTVNews.ca, PPC candidate for the riding Parkdale-High Park Ont., Wilfried Danzinger, denied that the party is aligned with extremist values, writing that “love was the guiding principle of his campaign,” and that his supporters come from all “different sexual preferences, all ages and religions.”

When CTVNews.ca emailed the PPC for comment on this story, party spokesperson Martin Masse sent back a one-line response: “I don’t respond to requests from leftist activists masquerading as journalists. Get lost.”

COVID-19 WAS A ‘GIFT’ TO THE PPC

The rise of the PPC in the polls can be attributed partially to the “gift” of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Evan Balgord, executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.

Balgord said that “the COVID-19 pandemic was a gift to the far-right” in general as it allowed them to infiltrate conspiracy theory spaces and begin attracting new followers.

“The rise of the party kind of fit into this because these people didn’t really have a political party. If they voted for any party, they would vote Conservative,” he said. “But they weren’t particularly happy about voting Conservative either because they’re the most fringe. So when the PCC started as a party in 2019, Bernier, right from day one was using their language, their talking points, and the words of the far-right in several spaces. We saw them actually say ‘Bernier is dog whistling to us.’”

But Small questioned whether the end of the COVID-19 pandemic would stop the drip of followers to the PPC and spell a marked decline in the party.

“My sense is that a lot of this anger and concern is tied up in a particular type of anger about lockdowns and vaccine mandates and overreach of the state,” Small said. “I’m not too sure whether or not once the pandemic is done, to what extent the party still exists.”

It is a sentiment echoed by extremism researcher and assistant professor at Queen’s University, Amarnath Amarasingam.

“In early 2020, with COVID-19, the kind of conspiratorial thinking and angst around the pandemic went through the roof, and a lot of these movements coalesced around similar ideas,” Amarasingam said in a telephone interview with CTVNews.ca, noting that traditionally conspiracy movements generally operate separately from each other.

Amarasingam said the COVID-19 pandemic “gave them all a common cause and they all were playing in the same playground.”

Amarasingam said the question now surrounding the PPC is whether its rise is solely due to the “catch-all” the party provided surrounding anger around lockdowns, quarantine and the pandemic, “or whether it’s a sign of something bubbling beneath the surface that a lot of everyday Canadians actually held secretly anti-immigrant views, anti-refugee groups, all the things that are part of the PPC platform.”

“If that’s the case, I mean, it’s going to be a longer concern of ours,” he continued. “So that’s kind of the big question is whether this is just a blip because of the pandemic or whether it kind of speaks to something else going on that we should be concerned about.”

HATE WAS ON THE BALLOT

Bernier has always denied ties or affiliations to any of the far-right, white supremacist and Neo-Nazi rhetoric he is accused of platforming with his stance on things like reduced immigration and scrapping the Multiculturalism Act.

However, Balgord said known Neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups endorse the party, and that the party is populated with a litany of candidates, insiders and supporters who have been documented by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network as members of far-right groups.

“There’s so many examples,” he said. “This isn’t a few isolated incidents, this is a pattern. This is what the PPC is.”

Balgord referenced more than 10 incidents of PPC candidates or people associated with the party who have engaged in far-right rhetoric or have been exposed by work done by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network as being part of white nationalist groups.

“One of his very first riding executives was a guy [who] ran a USA Neo-Nazi organization and actually did time in the United States for organizing racially motivated assaults,” he said.

Balgord noted that the man charged with throwing gravel at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while he was campaigning as the Liberal leader was a riding director for the PPC, and that his organization had previously exposed him for “posting white power music on social media accounts with lyrics about killing immigrants.”

Another example listed by Balgord was the PPC candidate for the Ontario riding of Vaughn-Woodbridge who was exposed by Press Progress this month for allegedly having touted and created a video game where users can re-enact the 1999 Columbine shooting massacre and partake in their own shooting of caricatures of minorities and LGBTQ2S+ people.

Bernier himself has been featured on what Balgord describes as an “anti-Semitic blog collective,” which endorses a book full of terrorist Nazi ideologies. 

The PPC platform itself is also chock-full of “dog whistles” to the far-right, Balgord, Amarasingam and Perry said, referencing the sections on refugees, immigration and “Canadian identity.”

“I think the Canadian identity is tied to the anti-immigration, anti-refugee stuff,” Amarasingam said. “But I know when someone says Canadian identity, especially with all the other things that are at play in the platform, what that likely means for the PPC, is basically kind of ‘The Great Replacement,’ but around Canadian values.”

The Great Replacement theory is a conspiracy prevalent in white nationalist and far-right groups that posits that a shadowy cabal is behind demographic changes in a country or area, and that “white identity” or “Western values” are in decline because of it.

Balgord said it is known to have spurred terrorist attacks like the Christchurch mosque shooting of 2019.

“When we talk about the PPC, it’s necessary to talk about their ties to white supremacy and white nationalism and how dangerous the thing is, they’re not just another political party, right?” Balgord said. “They’re the white nationalist and the hate movement in Canada. It’s their way of trying to get a foothold into mainstream Canadian politics.”

Perry noted the language Bernier has used in his campaigns, in tweets and even in his speech on election night, in particular his word choices of “government overreach, tyrannies and authoritarian government.”

“Look at some of the language. It’s drawn from groups like three percenters…in particular in the militia movement,” Perry said. “So, yeah, there’s a very direct line. It’s not a dotted line. It’s a direct line.”

But when asked about the PPC and Bernier’s denial of allegations of extremist views, Balgord was unimpressed.

“The PPC is the party of plausible deniability,” he said. “But when you really scratch the surface, you find that it’s a party for white nationalists.”

WHERE DOES CANADA GO FROM HERE?

For the single-issue voters who chose to vote for Bernier’s party because of their views on lockdowns or COVID-19 vaccine mandates, the end of lockdowns and pandemic restrictions may tempt them away from the party, but Amarasingam says they cannot deny that their vote is still an endorsement of what the PPC represents.

“I think if you’re a single-issue voter on the vaccine, and you can find common cause with the PPC that doesn’t necessarily make you far-right, that just means that you’re unfortunately willing to sell a whole host of Canadian communities down the river to hold up this one value,” he said.

Amarasingam said that education on extremism may be what people need to make informed choices moving forward.

“I think everyone basically has to become an extremism watcher now that it’s no longer just some of us who live in these bizarre online communities paying attention to things, because as things become mainstream, people need to understand extremism and how these dynamics work and how these movements work,” he said.

As for the PPC’s presence in mainstream politics, Perry and Small said it’s a fine line to walk between exposing and identifying extremist views and providing too much of a platform for them to gain more followers.

“I think people feel very differently. I think there’s a lot of people who would say you should just ignore these people and never give them any platform,” Small said. “But I’m of the belief that not being aware in some ways is like throwing a match into a forest and then just not worrying about it.”

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

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The latest:

Alaska, which led most U.S. states in coronavirus vaccinations months ago, took the drastic step on Wednesday of imposing crisis-care standards for its entire hospital system, declaring that a crushing surge in COVID-19 patients has forced rationing of strained medical resources.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy and health officials announced the move as the tally of newly confirmed cases statewide reached another single-day record of 1,224 patients amid a wave of infections driven by the spread of the highly contagious delta variant among the unvaccinated.

The delta variant is “crippling our health-care system. It’s impacting everything from heart attacks to strokes to our children if they get in a bike accident,” Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said at a news conference with Dunleavy.

Alaska’s health and social services commissioner, Adam Crum, announced that he signed an emergency addendum extending to the whole state standards of crisis care announced last week at the state’s largest hospital, Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. The new document limits liability faced by providers for crisis-level medical care in all Alaska hospitals.

Moreover, it acknowledges the realities of rationed care statewide, with scarce medical supplies and staff prioritized in a way that denies normal levels of care to some patients for the sake of others, depending on how sick they are and their chances for recovery.

To cope with the COVID-19 influx, Alaska has signed an $87 million US contract to enlist hundreds of health-care workers from out of state, officials said.

About one-fifth of Alaska hospital patients are infected with COVID-19, according to state data. But that figure understates the burden placed on the system as a whole as it “squeezes out” capacity to treat victims of car accidents, strokes, heart attacks and other ailments, Dunleavy said.

Paradoxically, back in April, Alaska had ranked among the top states getting COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of residents, helped in large part by efforts of the state’s pandemic-conscious Indigenous population.

Alaska has since slipped below the national average, with just 58 per cent of residents aged 12 and older fully vaccinated, according to the state database. The vaccination slump coincided with significant political resistance to public health requirements.

-From Reuters, last updated at 6:45 a.m. ET


What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Record number of COVID-19 cases further strain Saskatchewan’s hospitals: 

Growing calls for lockdown as COVID-19 strains Sask. hospitals

13 hours ago

There are growing calls for tighter restrictions in Saskatchewan, including a lockdown, as the record number of COVID-19 cases further strain the province’s hospitals. 2:20

Saskatchewan’s only children’s hospital is opening its pediatric intensive care unit to younger adults with COVID-19.

Those under the age of 40 are getting admitted to the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon. The Saskatchewan Health Authority said Wednesday that so far two adults are in the pediatrics ICU, and space is being made for more.

Dr. Susan Shaw, the health authority’s chief medical officer, said critical care capacity is under strain.

The province has recently been reporting record numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations — mostly unvaccinated patients.

-From The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:40 a.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a private school in Quito, Ecuador, earlier this month. (Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Thursday morning, more than 230.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s case tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.7 million.

In the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization has warned that countries in the region could continue to face localized COVID-19 outbreaks well into 2022, even while deaths have fallen from their peak in January.

In the Middle East, Syria is facing a new surge in infections in both government-held areas and territory outside state control that could overwhelm the war-ravaged country’s fragile health system.

In Africa, Uganda’s president has eased restrictions, allowing the resumption of education for universities and other post-secondary institutions, citing a decline in infections.

Police patrol along St. Kilda Beach in Melbourne on Thursday. The city has seen recent protests from construction workers and others against COVID-19 regulations. (William West/AFP/Getty Images)

In the Asia-Pacific region, police in the Australian city of Melbourne prepared for a fourth day of anti-lockdown protests on Thursday while a vaccination hub closed after protesters abused staff, the operator said, while COVID-19 cases across the state of Victoria hit a daily record. Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets in the city of five million since officials this week ordered a two-week closure of building sites and made vaccines mandatory for construction workers to limit the spread of the virus.

Japan plans to give other countries 60 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, doubling the target from the previous pledge of 30 million doses.

Thailand pushed back plans to reopen Bangkok and some other major cities to foreign arrivals until November.

In Europe, Italy plans to give other countries 45 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines before the end of the year, three times its original pledge, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said.

-From Reuters and The Associated Press, last updated at 6:35 a.m. ET


Have questions about this story? We’re answering as many as we can in the comments. 

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New Zealand’s Ardern says lockdowns can end with high vaccine uptake

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday the country should aim for a 90%-plus rate of inoculation, and could drop strict coronavirus lockdown measures once enough people were vaccinated.

New Zealand eliminated COVID-19 last year and remained largely virus-free until an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant in August led to a nationwide lockdown.

With its biggest city Auckland still in lockdown and new cases being reported every day, Ardern said vaccinations will replace lockdowns as the main tool against the virus, allowing authorities to isolate only those who are infected.

“If that rate (of vaccinations) is high enough then we will be able to move away from lockdowns as a tool,” she said.

The highest possible vaccine rates will give the most freedoms, Ardern said, adding that the country should be aiming for a 90% plus rate of vaccination.

After a sluggish start to its vaccination campaign, some 40% of adult New Zealanders are fully vaccinated and about 75% have had at least one dose.

Authorities reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, all in Auckland, taking the total number of cases in the current outbreak to 1,123.

The Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield warned earlier this week that New Zealand may not get to zero COVID cases again.

 

(Reporting by Praveen Menon; editing by Richard Pullin)

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