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Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Sunday

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The latest:

Canada’s death toll from COVID-19 passed 12,000 on Sunday, a day after the country’s chief public health officer said there is still a “window of opportunity” to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Canada remains on a troubling path for new infections as case counts continue to mount, Dr. Theresa Tam said Saturday, adding that the most recent infection rates indicate the country is on track to hit as many as 10,000 new cases a day by next month.

“If we continue on the current pace, our longer range models continue to forecast significant increases in daily case counts and estimate that there could be up to 10,000 cases reported daily by mid-December,” Tam said in a statement.

 

CBC News Network’s Natasha Fatah speaks to Andrew Catchpole, chief scientific officer with the British clinical development company, hVIVO, about the trials it is conducting where test subjects are infected with the coronavirus. 6:28

“Right now, we have a window of opportunity to act collectively together with public health authorities to bring the infection rate down to a safer trajectory.”

Canada is currently recording caseloads at about half that level, with the most recent seven-day average standing at 5,335 between Nov. 20 and Nov. 26.

Tam said Canada is also averaging 76 deaths a day and more than 2,100 people in hospital.

People 80 years and older are experiencing Canada’s highest COVID-19 death rate, and there are now more and larger outbreaks in long-term care facilities, hospitals, group living settings, Indigenous communities and remote areas, she said.

“Those 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,” Tam said.

Tam redoubled her calls for Canadians to heed public health advice, limit their social interactions and practise physical distancing in a bid to bring surging case counts under control.

Her assessment came as case counts continued to soar in numerous provinces.

What’s happening across Canada

As of 10 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 366,518, with 62,375 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 12,012.

Ontario reported 1,708 new cases of COVID-19  and 24 deaths on Sunday, with nearly 54,000 tests completed. Locally, there were 503 new cases in Peel Region, 463 in nearby Toronto and 185 in York Region. On Saturday, the province logged case numbers just shy of Friday’s one-day record as it reported 1,822 new diagnoses.

Officials in the province have said it could take at least two weeks to see some improvements after the added restrictions were imposed on Monday.

Quebec set a new single-day record with 1,480 new infections Saturday as the provincial death toll crossed the 7,000 threshold.

Alberta also broke its own record, reporting 1,731 new cases of the virus on Saturday. It also counted five new deaths.

Case numbers also jumped sharply in Manitoba, where officials recorded 487 new infections and 10 new deaths on Saturday. Among those who died was a boy under the age of 10, officials said, though they offered no other details.

On Sunday, RCMP officers prevented people from accessing the parking lot of the Church of God south of Steinbach, Man. Police recently issued two fines to a minister at the church for attending a protest against COVID-19 restrictions and being at a Sunday religious service.

Under Manitoba’s public health restrictions, group sizes can’t exceed more than five people inside or outside. Churches, mosques, synagogues, temples and other places of worship must be closed to the public, including for drive-up or drive-thru services.

 

 

Saskatchewan reported 197 COVID-19 cases and one death Saturday.

The province ordered the suspension of team sports earlier this week until Dec. 17 after confirmed COVID-19 cases among several minor and recreational hockey teams. The Saskatchewan suspension applies to hockey and curling leagues and dance studios.

 

As new pandemic restrictions come into effect in Saskatchewan, some business owners say they are more than willing to make the sacrifice. 2:02

In British Columbia, Fraser Health announced the closure of an elementary school in Surrey after confirming 16 COVID-19 cases.

Newton Elementary School will close for two weeks, said Fraser Health.

B.C. reported a daily record of 911 COVID-19 cases Friday. The province will update its numbers Monday.

 

B.C.’s new mask mandate has become a pressure point in the province, as some people flout the rules or confront people for enforcing them. 2:08

Figures from New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador show increases of four and two cases, respectively.

Prince Edward Island reported two new COVID-19 cases, both involving young males aged 10 and 19.

There were 14 new cases in Nova Scotia and five COVID-19 cases in Nunavut.


What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday morning, there were more than 62.3 million cases of COVID-19 recorded worldwide, with more than 39.8 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to a coronavirus tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The global death toll stood at more than 1.4 million.

Hong Kong reported 115 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday, including 109 locally transmitted, the highest in nearly four months. The government has ordered schools to close from Wednesday until after the Christmas holidays.

India has reported 41,180 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, with the daily toll staying below the 50,000-mark for the fourth week.

New Delhi also got some respite as it added fewer than 5,000 cases for the first time in a month.

The New Delhi government decided that half its employees, barring senior officials, will be allowed to work from home starting Monday. India reported another 496 deaths in the past 24 hours, raising the death toll to 136,696. India’s confirmed cases since the pandemic began are more than 9.3 million, second behind the U.S.

The United Sates has reported four million cases for November, as of Saturday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That’s more than double the 1.9 million cases reported the previous month. The total has recorded more than 13.2 million cases of the respiratory illness since the pandemic began, the most of any country.

The Czech Republic’s government has announced it is easing measures imposed to contain coronavirus infections. Sunday’s move was made possible by the falling numbers of new confirmed cases.

 

People gather by a Christmas tree illuminating the Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic on Saturday. The city has cancelled the traditional markets due to a surge in coronavirus infections. (Petr David Josek/The Associated Press)

 

The day-to-day increase of new cases reached 2,667 on Saturday. The country of almost 10.7 million has had 518,649 confirmed cases since the pandemic began, with 8,054 fatalities.

Health Minister Jan Blatny said all stores, restaurants and bars can reopen on Thursday, with limitations on seating. Stores and shopping centres will also still have to limit the number of shoppers.

Source: – CBC.ca

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G7 demand action from Russia on cybercrimes and chemical weapon use

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The Group of Seven (G7) wealthy nations on Sunday demanded Russia take action against those conducting cyber attacks and using ransomware from within its borders.

The rebuke came in a communique issued after a three-day summit of G7 leaders in Britain that also called on Moscow to “stop its destabilising behaviour and malign activities” and conduct an investigation into the use of chemical weapons on Russian soil.

The communique said Russia must “hold to account those within its borders who conduct ransomware attacks, abuse virtual currency to launder ransoms, and other cybercrimes”.

The issue is in the spotlight after a cyber attack on Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the United States, and another that disrupted the North American and Australian operations of meatpacker JBS USA.

Britain has previously said Russia is a leading proponent of cyber attacks.

The G7 statement called for wider action against ransomware attacks, describing the practice of encrypting victims’ data and demanding payment for its return as an “escalating shared threat”.

“We call on all states to urgently identify and disrupt ransomware criminal networks operating from within their borders, and hold those networks accountable for their actions,” it said.

The call for an investigation into chemical weapon use comes after Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny was treated in Germany for what German doctors said was poisoning with a military-grade nerve agent. He accused Putin of ordering the poisoning, which the Kremlin denies.

“We call on Russia to urgently investigate and credibly explain the use of a chemical weapon on its soil,” the G7 document said.

 

(Reporting by William James; editing by Michael Holden)

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G7 chides China on rights, demands COVID origins investigation

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Group of Seven leaders on Sunday scolded China over human rights in its Xinjiang region, called for Hong Kong to keep a high degree of autonomy and demanded a full and thorough investigation of the origins of the coronavirus in China.

After discussing how to come up with a unified position on China, leaders issued a highly critical final communique that delved into what are for China some of the most sensitive issues, including also Taiwan.

The re-emergence of China as a leading global power is considered to be one of the most significant geopolitical events of recent times, alongside the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union that ended the Cold War.

China’s rise has also unnerved the United States: President Joe Biden casts China as the main strategic competitor and has vowed to confront China’s “economic abuses” and push back against human rights violations.

“We will promote our values, including by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in relation to Xinjiang and those rights, freedoms and high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration,” the G7 said.

The G7 also called for a transparent, expert-led Phase 2 COVID-19 Origins study including in China, to be convened by the World Health Organization (WHO). Reuters earlier reported the finalised version of the draft communique.

“We haven’t had access to the laboratories,” Biden told reporters.

Biden said it was not yet certain whether or not “a bat interfacing with animals and the environment… caused this COVID-19, or whether it was an experiment gone awry in a laboratory”.

Before the G7 criticism emerged, China pointedly cautioned G7 leaders that the days when “small” groups of countries decided the fate of the world were long gone.

The G7 also underscored “the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues”.

“We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions,” they said.

FORCED LABOUR

Biden said democracies were in a global contest with “autocratic governments”, and that the G7 had to deliver viable alternatives.

“We’re in a contest, not with China per se, … with autocrats, autocratic governments around the world, as to whether or not democracies can compete with them in a rapidly changing 21st century,” Biden told reporters.

“As I’ve told (Chinese President) Xi Jinping myself, I’m not looking for conflict. Where we cooperate, we’ll cooperate; where we disagree I’m going to state this frankly, and we are going to respond to actions that are inconsistent.”

The G7 – comprising the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada – said it was concerned about forced labour in global supply chains including in the agricultural, solar, and garment sectors.

Beijing has repeatedly hit back against what it perceives as attempts by Western powers to contain China. It says many major powers are still gripped by an outdated imperial mindset after years of humiliating China.

U.N. experts and rights groups estimate that more than a million people, mainly Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, have been detained in recent years in a vast system of camps in Xinjiang in northwest China.

China denies all accusations of forced labour or abuse. It initially denied the camps existed, but has since said they are vocational centres and are designed to combat extremism. In late 2019, China said all people in the camps had “graduated”.

(Additional reporting by Kate Holton, Elizabeth Piper, William James, Michel Rose and Michael Holden; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Andrew Heavens and Gareth Jones)

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G7 agrees to end new gov’t support for coal power by end of 2021

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The Group of Seven nations on Sunday pledged to rapidly scale up technologies and policies that accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity, including ending new government support for coal power by the end of this year.

The countries, in a communique following their summit in Britain, confirmed pledges to increase climate finance contributions as part of efforts to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change and help a move toward cleaner energy, although climate groups said firm cash promises and other details were missing.

“Coal power generation is the single biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions,” the seven nations – the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – said, adding “continued global investment in unabated coal power generation is incompatible with keeping 1.5°C within reach.”

“We stress that international investments in unabated coal must stop now and we commit now to an end to new direct government support for unabated international thermal coal power generation by the end of 2021,” they said.

U.S. President Joe Biden, speaking after the summit, noted a commitment of up to $2 billion “to support developing countries as they transition away from unabated coal-fired power.”

The nations, in their statement, vowed to focus on other technologies, including carbon capture, to help speed up the transition away from coal.

“We will focus on accelerating progress on electrification and batteries, hydrogen, carbon capture, usage and storage, zero emission aviation and shipping, and for those countries that opt to use it, nuclear power,” the communique said.

 

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Susan Heavey; Editing by Michael Holden and Daniel Wallis)

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