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

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The latest:

Four provinces reported new highs for daily COVID-19 infections this weekend as Canada’s chief public health officer warned that more and larger outbreaks are occurring in long-term care homes and hospitals and spreading in Indigenous communities. 

“These developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies,” Dr. Theresa Tam said.

WATCH | Canadian hospitals near capacity amid COVID-19 2nd wave:

Hospitals are filling up with COVID-19 patients fast. How much time Canada has left before there are simply no beds left ranges from region to region. But with cases rising relentlessly, doctors dread what December will bring. 4:19

She said federal modelling that shows the country could have 20,000 new daily cases by the end of December means “a stronger response is needed immediately, to interrupt transmission and slow the spread of COVID-19 across the country.”

Health officials in New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta on Saturday reported new single-day peaks in diagnoses — recording 23, 1,588, 439 and 1,336 new cases respectively.

Ontario reported its record daily high on Saturday, along with 21 new deaths. Another 1,534 cases were added on Sunday, including 490 new cases in Peel Region, 460 in Toronto and 130 in York Region, provincial Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter.

Premier Doug Ford announced on Friday that Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region are going back into lockdown as of Monday, and several other regions are moving to higher restriction levels.

One of Saskatchewan’s northernmost communities is dealing with a major outbreak of COVID-19. Health officials say Fond du Lac First Nation had identified 63 cases as of Saturday and listed more than 300 people as close contacts in the community of about 1,000.

WATCH | First Nations chief responds to federal cash injection to help fight COVID-19:

CBC News Network’s Carole MacNeil speaks to Chief Ouray Crowfoot of the Siksika Nation about the extra $120.3 million from the federal government to support Indigenous communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan in their fight against COVID-19. 10:50

A Saskatchewan doctor says record-high COVID-19 cases should be a signal that it’s time for tighter restrictions. 

Saskatchewan recorded 439 new cases on Saturday, a record single-day high, with Saskatoon reporting 170 new cases.

The province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said everyone needs to reduce activities by more than half. For example, he suggests that if you shop for groceries twice a week, cut it down to once a week.

Alberta set a new single-day record for new infections for a third straight day with 1,336 cases detected on Saturday. Officials have said the high caseload has strained the health-care system and overwhelmed contact-tracing efforts, as public health workers don’t know where most of the 11,274 active infections in the province were contracted.

New Brunswick officials announced 23 cases of COVID-19 in the province on Saturday, setting a single-day high since the start of the pandemic.

WATCH | N.B bubble is about to burst, says premier:

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs is pleading with residents to repeat the efforts made earlier this year to flatten the COVID-19 case curve. On Saturday, the province reached a single-day record. 6:03

The new cases bring the total of active infections in the province to 71, and one person is in hospital due to the virus.

Quebec reported 1,189 new cases and 32 more deaths on Saturday, as well as 646 people in hospital for treatment of COVID-19.

The latest major outbreak in the province is at a Quebec City convent, where 39 nuns and 43 workers at the Soeurs de la Charité in suburban Beauport have tested positive for COVID-19.


What’s happening across Canada

As of 10:30 a.m. ET Sunday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 327,245, with 53,998 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,420.

Manitoba reported 387 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional deaths on Saturday.

The province has for weeks recorded the highest per-capita rate of new infections in Canada. Premier Brian Pallister was put on the defensive on Saturday as he addressed Progressive Conservative party members at a convention, saying “every province west of Nova Scotia has its highest numbers in the last few days, including Manitoba.”

WATCH | 40% positivity rate in Steinbach, Man., region sparks concern:

Manitoba is reporting 387 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday. Ten more people have died from the virus. And as CBC’s Austin Grabish shows us, COVID is now spreading outside the province’s capital at alarming numbers. 2:13

“Trying to make the political argument that Manitoba’s government missed the boat when everybody in the Western world is under attack right now is not a fruitful thing — even if it was right, and it isn’t,” he said.

Nova Scotia reported eight new cases on Saturday, after seeing five new cases the previous day.

Newfoundland and Labrador announced five new cases on Saturday, the largest single-day increase in cases in the province since April 16.

Nunavut is recording a surge in new infections, reporting 25 new cases on Saturday, including 22 in hard-hit Arviat and three in Whale Cove.

There are 107 active infections in the territory, which just confirmed its first case a little more than two weeks ago.

People arriving in the Northwest Territories and Yukon are once again required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Yukon reported three new cases, according to a Saturday news release by Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. The territory also expanded a public exposure notice for a Whitehorse fitness centre.

In British Columbia, a province-wide public health order has barred social gatherings of any size in private homes except between members of the same “core bubble.” The order went into effect on Thursday and will remain in place until midnight, Dec. 7.


What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, there were more than 58.2 million reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with more than 37.2 million of those cases listed as recovered, according to a COVID-19 tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.3 million.

South Korea will tighten physical-distancing rules for the capital Seoul and nearby areas now that the country has reported more than 300 new COVID-19 cases for a fifth straight day, Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said Sunday.

He said for two weeks starting Tuesday, nightclubs and other high-risk entertainment facilities must shut down, and
late-night dining at restaurants will be banned. Customers aren’t allowed to drink or eat inside coffee shops, internet cafés and fitness centres, while audiences at sports events will be limited to 10 per cent of the stadium’s capacity.

In Japan, the daily tally of confirmed coronavirus cases hit a record for the fourth straight day at 2,508, the country’s Health Ministry said Sunday.

People wearing face masks as a preventive measure against COVID-19 visit the restaurant area of Omoide Yokocho alleyway in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district on Nov. 19. (Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images)

Japan has had fewer than 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths so far, avoiding the toll of harder-hit nations. But fears are growing about another surge.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Saturday scrapped the “GoTo” tourism campaign, which encouraged travel and dining out with discounts, but only after many people had already made travel reservations for a three-day Thanksgiving weekend in Japan.

Russia on Sunday reported a daily increase of 24,581 new coronavirus infections, taking the national tally to 2,089,329.

Authorities also reported 401 coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 36,179.

WATCH | Inside a Moscow COVID-19 ward:

A well-equipped, high-tech COVID-19 ward set up inside a Moscow convention centre is a stark contrast to the overwhelmed hospitals elsewhere in Russia. CBC News got a first-hand look at the facility and found out what’s creating the disparity in health care. 6:34

India registered 45,209 new cases on Sunday amid a festival season surge in the capital and many other parts of the country. At least three states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat — have imposed night curfews in many cities.

In Australia, Victoria and South Australia states eased COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday. Victoria, which was hardest hit, has gone 23 days without a new infection.

Mask-wearing outdoors, which until now has been mandatory, is no longer required where physical distancing is possible.

New South Wales police stop vehicles at the Hume Highway checkpoint at the Victorian border on Sunday in Albury, Australia. New South Wales will reopen its border to Victoria at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, with people able to freely travel into New South Wales for the first time since COVID-19 border restrictions were put in place in July. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Masks will still have to be worn indoors and carried at all times. Home gatherings of up to 15 people will be allowed, and up to 50 people can gather outdoors. Up to 150 people will be allowed at weddings, funerals or indoor religious services.

Residents of South Australia emerged from a state-wide lockdown at midnight Saturday and are now able to visit bars and restaurants in groups of up to 10 and host gatherings up of to 50 people with physical distancing.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc’s COVID-19 antibody therapy, an experimental treatment given to U.S. President Donald Trump that he said helped cure him of the disease.

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Tesla seeks entry into U.S. renewable fuel credit market

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Tesla Inc is seeking to enter the multi-billion dollar U.S. renewable credit market, hoping to profit from the Biden administration’s march toward new zero-emission goals, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The electric car maker is one of at least eight companies with a pending application at the Environmental Protection Agency tied to power generation and renewable credits, the sources said. The EPA produces a list of pending applications with some details, but not companies’ names.

Tesla’s entry could potentially reshape the renewable credit market, established in the mid-2000s to boost investment in the U.S. biofuel industry. The market generated some 18 billion credits in 2020 and is currently dominated by ethanol producers. Tesla’s application would likely be tied to the production of electricity associated with biogas.

The Biden administration is expected to review the EPA applications and lay out how electric vehicles could qualify for tradable credits under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) this summer, the two sources said.

The move could represent the largest expansion of the RFS program that was created by President George W. Bush and aimed at boosting rural America and weaning the country off oil imports.

The entry of Tesla and other electric vehicle makers to the renewable energy scheme could attract investment for a much-needed infrastructure network, including charging stations, for electric vehicles.

However, it is likely to anger some in the U.S. refining industry who would need to buy the credits, known as RINs, generated by Tesla and other alternative fuel providers, essentially subsidizing an electric car company that seeks to put petrochemical refiners out of business.

Rural farmers could view Tesla’s entry as the Biden White House prioritizing electric vehicles over biofuels as an answer to the climate crisis.

BIOGAS LOGISTICS

In 2016, just before the Obama administration exited office, the EPA published a proposal seeking comment on how best to structure credits for renewable electricity that is used as a transportation fuel.

The proposal largely sat dormant during the Trump administration, which spent most of its time on fuel credits trying to find common ground among rivals in the corn and oil industries.

Electricity from biogas – mainly pulled from the nation’s landfills – is already eligible for generating credits under the RFS program, but the EPA has never approved applications to do so because the agency hasn’t yet figured out the logistical issues.

Key questions include how to trace the credit-eligible biogas from its origin through to a car’s battery, and who along that supply chain should be allowed to claim the lucrative credits.

Under the RFS, refiners must blend biofuels like corn-based ethanol into their fuel pool or purchase compliance credits in a credit market, where prices have swung wildly in recent years.

The program has helped drive investment in ethanol plants in states like Iowa and Nebraska, but liquid fuels have been under attack from the Biden administration.

Tesla would generate the most lucrative type of credits, known as D3s, which trade at a significant premium to the larger pool of traditional ethanol credits.

As well as building electric cars, Tesla is also investing in charging stations and large-scale batteries.

 

(Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw and Stephanie Kelly; Editing by Heather Timmons and Richard Pullin)

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Fed privately presses big banks on risks from climate change

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The U.S. Federal Reserve has asked lenders to start providing information on the measures they are taking to mitigate climate change-related risks to their balance sheets, according to four people with knowledge of the matter.

The previously unreported supervisory discussions highlight how U.S. watchdogs are moving to execute President Joe Biden’s agenda to incorporate climate risk into the financial regulatory system, with potentially major ramifications for Wall Street.

While European regulators are this year rolling-out climate-change “stress tests” for lenders, the Fed lags its peers.

Fed officials have previously said they are considering a new scenario analysis to help them understand how climate change may affect trillions of dollars’ worth of bank assets, but have not said how or when they would start to apply such tests.

In private discussions, however, Fed supervisors have begun pressing large lenders to detail the measures they are taking to understand how their loan books would perform under certain climate change scenarios, the four people said.

Fed officials have not dictated the parameters for the analysis but have made it clear they expect lenders to conduct the internal risk-management exercises and hand over the data, the people said.

That analysis includes testing the geographical exposure of bank assets to physical risks such as flooding, drought and wildfires, as well as testing exposures to different sectors, such as how oil and gas loans may perform versus renewable energy loans.

The aim of the tests is to identify risks, but the Fed has not indicated that the data it is gathering would translate into any additional capital charges or other regulatory actions.

“They’re being very pragmatic. They’re doing their homework,” said one of the people.

Global banks — including JPMorgan, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley — have been exploring the implications of climate change for some time, both internally and in some cases with European regulators like the Bank of England who are more aggressively integrating climate change risks into the regulatory framework.

Nevertheless, the new climate scrutiny from the U.S. central bank adds to the pressure on Wall Street lenders, forcing them to make investments in technology, data management and staff.

“The data work is a big deal,” said another of the sources.

The banks did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the private discussions with the Fed.

STRESS TESTS

Climate change could upend the financial system because physical threats such as rising sea levels, as well as policies and carbon-neutral technologies aimed at slowing global warming, could destroy trillions of dollars of assets, risk experts say.

In a 2020 report, a Commodity Futures Trading Commission panel cited data estimating that $1 trillion to $4 trillion of global wealth tied to fossil fuel assets could be lost.

The Fed in January appointed Kevin Stiroh, one of its top supervisors, to lead a new team focusing on climate-related financial risks, but some congressional Democrats are pushing the central bank to move much faster and add climate risks to bank stress tests which dictate Wall Street’s capital plans.

In March, Fed governor Lael Brainard said that climate scenario tests could be helpful but that they would also rely on qualitative judgments and be highly uncertain.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell has said the agency will tread carefully and focus on incorporating climate change into existing regulatory obligations, as opposed to creating strict new rules. It is unclear, though, if he will be renominated to lead the Fed after his term expires next year, while his vice chair Randal Quarles, a Republican appointee who oversees bank regulation, is expected to leave this year.

Progressive groups say there is much more the central bank could do to address climate risks, even if it does not want to go as far as its European counterparts.

Tim Clark, a former senior Fed official who helped build its stress tests after the 2008 financial crisis, said it should publicly communicate that it expects banks to incorporate climate change into their risk management processes.

“That’s something they can basically start right now and make it clear to the industry that they expect banks to be working hard on this.”

 

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Michelle Price and Lisa Shumaker)

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Cuban tanker en route to Venezuela reports missing sailor at sea

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A crew member aboard a Cuba-flagged oil tanker on its way from a Mexican shipyard to Venezuela was reported missing this week, according to a shipping report seen by Reuters, marking the second incident aboard the same vessel in about a year.

Sailor Rafael Desiderio Martinez Alonso was not found last Sunday by the doctor onboard oil tanker Petion, which set sail on May 6 from Mexico’s port of Veracruz bound for the Cardon terminal in Venezuela’s western coast.

The report by the tanker’s shipping agency to Venezuelan port authorities about the incident said Martinez Alonso, who was one the tanker’s fitters, is believed to have fallen into open waters because his shoes were found near the ship’s gas plant. He has not officially been reported dead.

The tanker’s general alarm was activated the same day to start search and rescue operations, but after 24 hours the sailor was not found, said the report, which is dated May 11.

The report did not identify Martinez Alonso’s nationality. Cuba-flagged vessels frequently use all-Cuban crews.

Venezuela’s oil ministry and Cuba’s foreign ministry did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

The Petion made a stop on Monday for about 18 hours near the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, changing its status from “underway using engine” to “not under command.”

It continued its voyage to Venezuela on Tuesday, according to Refinitiv Eikon tanker monitoring data.

The same ship last year reported the death of a Cuban sailor while anchored near Venezuela’s Amuay port, after the helmsman fell overboard, according to people familiar with the accident.

Both the Petion and its managing firm, Cyprus-registered Caroil Transport Marine Ltd, were hit with U.S. sanctions in 2019 for transporting Venezuelan oil to Cuba. The vessel was serviced in Mexico between March and May.

Caroil could not be reached for comment.

A separate tanker, the Cameroon-flagged Domani, arrived in Venezuelan waters in March with a dead crew member onboard, according to two sources with knowledge of the incident. The death was reported as a suicide before Venezuelan authorities.

 

(Reporting by Mircely Guanipa in Maracay, Venezuela, and Marianna Parraga in Mexico City. Additional reporting by Sarah Marsh in Havana; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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