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

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The latest:

  • Record daily increases in cases reported for Ont., Que.Sask. and Alta.
  • 7 residents dead at Scarborough, Ont., long-term care home amid outbreak.
  • Man. announces 15 new deaths, most for a single day.
  • 3 Vancouver-area schools closing for 2 weeks due to COVID-19.
  • Mexico reaches 1 million virus cases, nears 100,000 deaths.
  • Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca

As health officials issue dire warnings about Canada’s surging COVID-19 numbers, some people are still pushing back against calls for tighter restrictions to combat the virus.

One such group gathered in Steinbach, Man., on Saturday to hold an anti-mask rally. Lewis Weiss, the local reeve, spoke at the rally and was handed a ticket worth $1,296 for disobeying a public health order.

He later said they were not protesting masks, but instead protesting the closing of small stores while “the big Walmart can stay open.”

Canada’s chief public health officer, meanwhile, is warning that the soaring COVID-19 numbers in some of the hardest-hit provinces could soon overwhelm hospitals.

Dr. Theresa Tam says hospitals are already being forced to make the difficult decision to cancel certain elective surgeries and procedures.

Tam says the number of people with severe cases of COVID-19 continues to rise, with a daily average of more than 1,400 people being treated in hospitals over the past week.

Celebrants of Diwali were forced to find new ways to mark the holiday this weekend as they heeded warnings from politicians and community leaders to keep gatherings to a minimum. The typical festivals and gatherings were replaced by virtual options for those celebrating the five-day South Asian holiday, which marks the victory of light over darkness.

Organizers of Canadian Diwali celebrations said they’re working hard to celebrate the holiday virtually this year. Ajaay Modi, the founder and a director of the Indo-Canada Arts Council and Canada-Diwali, says technology has permitted people around the world to share in the spirit of the holiday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a video statement posted to social media Saturday that he understands celebrations will look different this year.

“At the heart of this festival is the idea that light, good and knowledge will always triumph over darkness, evil and ignorance. And as we continue to deal with the impacts of the pandemic, this message couldn’t be more important,” he said.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh urged those celebrating Diwali and the Sikh celebration of Bandi Chhor Divas to do so while respecting health guidelines.

He said doing so will help allow future celebrations to take place in-person.

What’s happening across Canada

As of 6 a.m. ET on Sunday, provinces and territories in Canada had reported a cumulative total of 291,935 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 232,915 cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,891.

In British Columbia, the Fraser Health Authority has announced three schools are closing for two weeks after reporting cases of COVID-19. They’re located in Surrey, Delta and New Westminster.

Alberta reported more than a thousand new COVID-19 cases for the first time on Saturday. In addition to the 1,026 new infections, the province also announced three additional deaths.

Saskatchewan announced a record 308 new cases, with 123 of those cases coming from Saskatoon. Intensive care units in that city are so full that officials have stopped accepting most out-of-town patients.

WATCH | Steinbach, Man., ER nurses struggle with high volume of patients:

Nurses at the hospital in Steinbach, Man., are having to triage some patients in their cars because they don’t have space in the emergency department, their union says. There’s a “dramatically increasing number of COVID-positive patients” arriving at Bethesda Regional Health Centre, according to Manitoba Nurses Union president Darlene Jackson. The hospital is struggling with capacity, the union says, with patients arriving on their own and by ambulance. 2:28

Manitoba said Saturday 15 more people have died of COVID-19, marking the highest single-day increase in fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic. There are also 239 new cases, the province said.

Ontario reported 1,581 new cases, hitting a new daily high

Meanwhile, seven residents have died at a Scarborough long-term care home amid an outbreak, while 136 other residents and 66 staff members have tested positive for the virus.

WATCH | Ontario gym owner on pandemic impact: ‘We can’t survive’:

Ontario gym owner on pandemic impact: ‘We can’t survive’ 8:46

Quebec, which has seen more reported COVID-19 cases and deaths than any other Canadian province, topped more than 1,400 new cases for the first time. In addition to the record 1,448 new infections, the province also reported 25 more deaths.

Nova Scotia reported six new cases Saturday — the largest single-day increase in cases since May 15.

“I am concerned that people are not taking the virus seriously and putting others in jeopardy,” Premier Stephen McNeil said in a news release from the Department of Health and Wellness.

New Brunswick also announced six new cases — the largest single-day increase in nearly a month.

WATCH | How does a 3-layer mask protect you from COVID-19?:

Doctors answer viewer questions about COVID-19 including why three-layer masks are now being recommended to protect against the virus. 5:22

Newfoundland and Labrador recorded two new cases. The province said both are travel-related, one returning from Ontario and the other from the U.S.

Prince Edward Island’s revised pandemic visitor and compassionate grounds visitation protocol is expected to come into effect next week, and will apply both to public and private facilities on P.E.I.

Nunavut reported four new cases, all of them in the Hudson Bay community of Arviat. The latest cases make for a total of five in Arviat after the territory’s health officials announced a case there on Friday.


What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday morning, more than 54 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 34.7 million of those considered recovered, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.3 million, the database reported.

Mexico has now reported more than one million novel coronavirus cases and nearly 100,000 confirmed deaths attributed to COVID-19. Mexican Director-General of Health Promotion Ricardo Cortes Alcala announced the numbers on Saturday.

The country has the world’s fourth-highest death toll from the illness behind the United States, Brazil and India.

India has reported 41,100 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, taking the country’s overall tally since the pandemic began to 8.79 million, the country’s health ministry said on Sunday. The ministry also reported 447 deaths in the same period, driving total fatalities to 129,635.

WATCH | Indian officials worry Diwali gatherings could spread COVID-19:

Many people in India have reduced the size of their Diwali gatherings, but officials worry celebrations may fuel the spread of COVID-19 in the country. 2:27

Daily infections have been on the decline since the middle of September. There has been, however, a resurgence of infections in New Delhi in recent weeks, with 7,340 new cases on Sunday, including 96 deaths.

Austria is planning to move to a more strict lockdown from Tuesday until Dec. 6, closing non-essential stores and shifting schools to online teaching.

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said the measures are necessary because Austria has seen 550 new cases of coronavirus per 100,000 inhabitants in the past week, a level 11 times greater than what authorities said would be sustainable.

“My urgent plea for the next four weeks is: meet nobody,” Kurz said. “Every social contact is one too many.”

In France, the number of people in hospital with COVID-19 dropped this weekend for this first time since September, after two weeks of new nationwide lockdown measures aimed at slowing surging infections and easing hospital strains.

French comic book artist Julien Berjeaut, also known as Jul, talks to people on the street in Paris on Saturday. (Joel Saget/AFP via Getty Images)

The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care also fell for the first time in six weeks, according to figures released Saturday night, though coronavirus patients still occupy 96 per cent of France’s standard ICU beds.

France has reported more virus infections than any European country and has had 44,246 virus-related deaths. The government imposed a nationwide partial lockdown starting Oct. 30 and could start easing the measures on Dec. 1.

In Africa, the continent has seen more than 1.9 million confirmed cases and more than 46,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. South Africa leads the continent on both counts, having recorded more than 746,000 infections and more than 20,000 deaths.

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Canada-U.S. border rules: Why some travellers get to cross while others are shut out – CBC.ca

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Kim Zavesky is desperate to return to her home in Golden, B.C.

After retiring last year, she and her husband — both Americans — sold their house in Chandler, Ariz., and moved most of their belongings to their second home in Golden, in southeastern British Columbia.

The plan was to rent a place in the United States for the first part of the year and spend the rest of the year in Golden. But then the Canada-U.S. border closed to non-essential traffic in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, blocking the couple from accessing their Canadian property.

“All my stuff is there, all my documents except for my passport,” Zavesky said. “It’s like not being able to go home.”

Adding to her frustration is the fact that, despite the border closure, Canadians can still fly to the U.S for leisure travel. That includes snowbirds who are currently flocking to the Sunbelt states.

“The unfairness of it really bothers me,” Zavesky said. “Whatever the rules are, I just feel like it should be the same.”

Americans Kim Zavesky and her husband, Paul, are prohibited from entering Canada to visit their home in Golden, B.C., under policies the federal government put in place after the Canada-U.S. border closed to non-essential traffic in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Submitted by Kim Zavesky)

Although Canada and the U.S. agreed to close their shared border to non-essential travel during the pandemic, they each crafted their own policies. That has sparked some confusion and frustration because the rules vary — depending on which border you’re crossing.

Political scientist Don Abelson said the different rules between the two countries isn’t surprising.

“You’re still dealing with two sovereign countries who have jurisdiction over their own border, and they certainly have jurisdiction and responsibility for developing their own policies,” said Abelson, a professor at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S. 

Snowbirds OK to fly south

The Canada-U.S. land border is set to stay closed until Dec. 21, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau implied on Tuesday that the date could be extended.

“The [COVID-19] situation in the United States continues to be extremely serious,” he said on CBC Radio’s The Current.

Since the start of the border closure, the Canadian government has barred Americans from entering for non-essential travel by all modes of transport.

But while the U.S. has barred Canadian travellers from crossing by land, it still allows them to fly into the country. The U.S. has declined to tell CBC News why it made this decision, but in general, its air travel restrictions are less stringent than Canada’s.

Despite soaring COVID-19 infections in the U.S., a number of Canadians have taken advantage of the flying exemption, including snowbirds who are heading south to escape the Canadian winter.

“No way in hell we’re staying here,” said Claudine Durand of Lachine, Que.

Snowbirds Claudine Durand and her husband, Yvon Laramée, of Lachine, Que., travel to Florida each winter for two months. Durand says they’re still going this year, despite the pandemic. (Submitted by Claudine Durand)

If the land border is still closed when Durand and her husband head to Florida in late January, they plan to use a new service offered by Transport KMC. The Quebec company flies snowbirds — and transports their vehicles — across the Quebec-New York border.

“Basically, it solves our problem because we want to take our RV down,” Durand said, adding that she plans to take all COVID-19 safety precautions while in Florida.

The federal government advises Canadians not to travel abroad for non-essential travel during the pandemic but says it can’t prevent people from leaving.

Those who do must quarantine for 14 days upon their return to Canada.

Family exemptions

Canada and the U.S. also have different rules for family member exemptions.

Following protests from families separated by the border shutdown, the Canadian government loosened its travel restrictions in June to allow Americans with certain immediate family in Canada to enter the country for any reason by both land and air.

In October, the government further widened the exemptions to include additional family members, as well as couples who’ve been together for at least a year.

Conversely, the U.S. offers no exemptions for Canadians crossing into the country by land to visit family, unless they’re tending to a sick relative.

U.S. immigration lawyer Len Saunders suggests the U.S. hasn’t bothered to loosen the restrictions as the pandemic drags on because separated family members can still fly to the country.

“There’s a huge alternative,” said Saunders, who’s based in Blaine, Wash. “There’s no restrictions on flying.”

WATCH | Some Canadians decide to spend winter in U.S. amid COVID-19:

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t stopping some Canadian snowbirds from heading to the U.S. this winter, but they’re not all willing to take the risk for warmer weather. 2:07

One affected group that has found no way around the federal government’s travel restrictions are Americans who own property in Canada. Some of them argue they, too, should get an exemption to enter the country.

“I pay [property] taxes. I would more than live by the rules,” said Zavesky, who points out she has a place where she can quarantine for 14 days — her home in Golden, B.C.

Mark Brosch of Atlanta owns a cottage in Muskoka Lakes, Ont. He said he believes he should be allowed to enter Canada so he can check on a property that has sat vacant for 10 months.

“I get across the border and I go to my cottage and quarantine for 14 days,” he said. “I am less of a risk to the public in Muskoka than the people that travel back and forth from Toronto every weekend.”

Mark and Sandra Brosch of Atlanta are shown at their cottage in Muskoka Lakes, Ont., during a previous summer. This year, the American couple can’t visit their property due to the border shutdown. (Submitted by Mark Brosch)

When asked about property owners, the Public Health Agency of Canada told CBC News in an email that U.S. visitors will be allowed to re-enter Canada when it’s deemed safe to do so.

“Travel into Canada for tourism and recreation purposes is currently prohibited, regardless of the ability of the traveller to quarantine for the full 14 days upon arrival,” spokesperson Tammy Jarbeau said. 

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Once Canada gets a vaccine, what happens next? Doctor answers our COVID-19 questions – Global News

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Canadians have been asking this question for months now — when will we get the vaccine?

Epidemiologist Dr. Isaac Bogoch recently joined The Morning Show to speak to that question and to share all the latest COVID-19 updates.

On Tuesday, Moderna gave the world good news when it announced that its vaccine is up to 94.5 per cent effective.

However, Dr. Bogoch says the promising results also call for optimistic caution. The data still needs to be peer-reviewed and made accessible to experts.

READ MORE: Britain approves Pfizer coronavirus vaccine for use, 1st in world to do so

Moderna applied for vaccine approval in the U.S. and the U.K. However, the company has been gradually releasing data to Health Canada for its approval.

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The infectious diseases expert believes the approval process will be fair and transparent.

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

While we still don’t know when will we receive the vaccine, Bogoch says prioritized groups like people in long-term care homes and front-line workers will be among the first to get the vaccine when it is available.

He says a significant number of deaths come from long-term care homes and giving them vaccines will reduce the stress on the health-care system.

As for concerns about side-effects of the vaccine, Bogoch says people receiving the two-shot vaccine may experience fatigue, fever and a sore arm. “It is important to inform people on what they can expect,” he says.

READ MORE: How to naturally boost your immune system during cold and flu season

While Canada, and indeed the world, waits for vaccines amid continued restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19, lockdowns have been working elsewhere — in countries like France and the U.K. — to reduce infection.

Bogoch says “we can all acknowledge that they’re terrible for mental health, they bad for physical health, they take a tremendous economic toll,” and urges Canadians to stay patient in these lockdowns because they can get the cases under control despite the challenges.

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“Unfortunately, when health-care systems are stretched beyond capacity, that’s really the last straw,” he added.

To find out more about Canada’s process of getting vaccines, watch the full video above. 

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

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CDC shortens quarantine recommendation for U.S., raising questions in Canada – CBC.ca

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The recommended quarantine time for close contacts of a positive COVID-19 case is being reduced by up to a week in the United States, but while some of Canada’s health experts say a similar approach could be useful here, others aren’t so sure.

The U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Wednesday it had shortened the recommended length of quarantine after exposure from 14 days to 10 — or seven days with a negative test result.

Health Canada was still recommending a 14-day quarantine period as of Wednesday, but Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist at McMaster University in Hamilton, says cutting that time in half would be beneficial.

“It would be super important for the sake of incentivizing people to actually quarantine after exposure,” he said.

“And there’s a lot of different things that could theoretically open up — getting health-care workers back to work, getting kids back to school — a lot of ways where this could ease the burden of potential exposure in society.”

The CDC had previously said the incubation period for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 could extend to 14 days, but the organization now says most people become infectious and develop symptoms between four and five days after exposure.

Chagla says the 14-day window was likely inspired from SARS data, where the incubation period was longer.

While isolation and quarantine are sometimes used interchangeably, Chagla says there’s a difference in the terms. Isolation is for those who have tested positive, while quarantine is for people who may or may not actually have the virus, like close contacts of positive cases or those travelling into Canada. Isolation recommendations for positive cases vary, but are typically 10 days after symptom onset.

Typical course of infection

Ashleigh Tuite, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, says a change in quarantine guidance reflects our evolving understanding of COVID-19.

“If you’re exposed, it takes a couple days for you to become infectious, so [seven to 10 days] should be enough to tell whether you’ve got the virus,” Tuite said. “But of course, that’s assuming your experience is reflective of the typical course of infection.”

The key to the CDC’s new guidance for Tuite is having the option to end quarantine at seven days with a negative test result. She suspects that’s in place to stop people who have the virus but no symptoms from ending the quarantine period too early.

A positive test at Day 7 would mean that person should continue to isolate, Tuite said, while a negative result would mean they could safely end quarantine, knowing enough time has passed since exposure to confidently assume they won’t still get sick.

Testing capacity challenges

Dr. Don Sheppard, the founder and director of the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4), says the CDC’s plan makes sense scientifically, but there would be logistical issues in testing every COVID contact in Canada who wanted to end their quarantine at Day 7.

“It’s impossible to do that,” he said. “It’s either 14 days of proper isolation, or it’s seven days with a negative test, and right now our system cannot offer seven days plus testing to the public at large.”

WATCH | Could the 14-day isolation period be shorter? (At 01:18:45):

Canadians put their questions about the worsening COVID-19 pandemic to experts during an interactive two-hour special, hosted by Adrienne Arsenault and Andrew Chang. 1:39:27

Testing capacity does exist in certain situations, Sheppard said, like for health-care workers and other front-line staff that need a quicker quarantine to get back to work. He cautioned, however, that taking a test on Day 7 still means isolating for an extra day or two while awaiting results.

Quarantine also needs to be done solo in order to work, Sheppard added, warning that the CDC guidance isn’t meant as a loophole for holiday gatherings if your family isolates together for seven days before an event.

Supports for people to quarantine

He used an example of military recruits in the U.S. who were told to quarantine for 14 days before reporting to camp. A handful of positive tests (0.9 per cent) were caught upon arrival, suggesting true quarantine hadn’t been followed.

Those recruits were sent home while the rest underwent another group quarantine. When tested again two weeks later, the positivity rate had grown to 1.3 per cent.

“Why? Because there were people incubating and they turned positive. And those people infected others in their groups,” Sheppard said.

“So if you don’t do strict, single-person isolation, you don’t actually break the cycle of transmission, you just pass it around in your group.”

Tuite says that further illustrates the usefulness of a shortened quarantine period.

A mother with young children, or someone who shares a small apartment with another person will find it harder to properly quarantine for longer periods, she said, as will someone who can’t afford to take a full two weeks off work.

“It really comes down to having the means to do it,” she said. “Can you survive for two weeks if you’re not getting income? Can you isolate in a household with multiple people?

“We need to have support in place so that people can quarantine, and that doesn’t change whether it’s for a week or 14 days. But it becomes much more challenging when it’s for longer periods.”

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