Manitoba’s sharp new “code red” COVID-19 restrictions kicked in early Thursday as the province tries to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Health officials reported 431 new cases and nine new deaths in the province on Wednesday. Hospitalizations stood at 218, with 32 in intensive care — a record high in the province.
Schools will stay open, but everything from non-essential retail to theatres and restaurant dining rooms will be closed.
Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin, who earlier this week said the province was at a “crossroads in our fight against this pandemic,” urged people to stay home to stop the spread.
In neighbouring Saskatchewan, more than 300 doctors have signed a letter calling for that province to do more to fight the novel virus.
“If more is not done to change our course we are confident that winter will bring overflowing hospitals, cancelled surgeries, overwhelmed health-care providers and needless death,” the letter said.
COVID-19 case numbers have been rising in Saskatchewan, with 112 new cases reported on Wednesday. The latest figures from the province put the number of hospitalizations at 48, with 11 in intensive care.
A letter signed by hundreds of doctors and three major unions representing health-care workers in Alberta sent to Premier Jason Kenney on Thursday made an explicit call for tighter restrictions, including a suspension of many indoor group activities.
“We have reached a juncture where only strong and decisive mandatory measures can prevent our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed,” the letter said.
The letter said the province’s testing system is “strained” and contact tracing capacities “have collapsed.”
“We see no other way to break chains of transmission and decrease cases, than to implement a “circuit breaker” of short, strict measures.”
Alberta is considering stepped-up COVID-19 restrictions, two officials told CBC News, as COVID-19 cases in that province continue to climb. Health officials reported 672 new cases of COVID-19 and seven more deaths on Wednesday. Hospitalizations stood at 217, with 46 people in intensive care.
What’s happening across Canada
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As of 10:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, provinces and territories in Canada had reported a cumulative total of 278,636 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 224,116 cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,703.
In British Columbia, the Interior Health authority has issued a COVID-19 alert to its residents as cases rise in the region. The health authority, which includes communities like Kamloops and Kelowna, said in a statement that it’s concerned by the upward trend and frequency of new local clusters.
A recent provincial health officer’s order limiting social interactions doesn’t apply to Interior Health, but local health officials said they need the public’s help to prevent further restrictions.
Ontario on Thursday reported 1,575 cases of COVID-19, with 472 in Toronto, 448 in Peel Region, 155 in York Region and 91 in Ottawa. The province reported 15 additional deaths, bringing the number of COVID-19 deaths reported in Ontario since the outbreak began to 3,293.
There were 431 people in hospital with 98 in intensive care, according to a provincial dashboard.
In Quebec on Wednesday, health officials reported 1,378 new COVID-19 cases and 22 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, six of which occurred in the previous 24 hours.
Health officials said today hospitalizations increased by 39, to 573, and 84 patients were in intensive care, a rise of two.
What’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 9:45 a.m. ET
More than 52 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported around the world with more than 34 million of those listed as recovered, according to a Johns Hopkins University case-tracking tool. The worldwide death toll stood at more than 1,286,000, the university reported.
In Africa, the top public health official says the continent has seen an average eight per cent rise in new coronavirus cases over the past month as infections creep up again in parts of the region of 1.3 billion people.
John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said “we expected it to happen,” and warned that when the virus comes back for a second wave, “it seems to come back with a lot of full force.” The African continent is approaching two million confirmed cases, including more than 45,000 deaths.
Nkengasong said that “we are at a critical point in the response,” and again urged governments and citizens to follow public health measures. Testing across Africa remains a challenge, with 19 million tests conducted so far. Countries with the highest increase of cases in the past week include Congo at 37 per cent, Kenya at 34 per cent and Nigeria at 17 per cent.
In the Americas, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez and several of his ministers began preventative isolation after coming in close contact with an official infected with coronavirus.
Meanwhile, in the United States Dr. Anthony Fauci said he hopes a broad embrace of public health measures aimed at fighting COVID-19 will allow the country to avoid locking down.
“If you can do that well, you don’t have to take that step that people are trying to avoid, which has so many implications both psychologically and economically,” he said. “We’d like not to do that.”
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday that vaccines being developed “are going to have a major positive impact” once they start being deployed. Health-care workers and some high-risk populations could receive vaccines as early as December or early next year, he said. The “ordinary citizen” may be able to get a vaccine sometime between the end of April and June.
In the meantime, Fauci said there are fundamental things Americans can do to stem the spread of the deadly virus. They include “universal and uniform” wearing of masks, avoiding crowds, keeping physical distance, doing as many activities as possible outdoors and washing hands. He said that sounds simple against a very difficult challenge but “it really does make a difference.”
Fauci’s message echoes that of president-elect Joe Biden, who this week signalled strongly that fighting the raging pandemic will be the immediate priority of his administration.
In the Middle East, hundreds of disillusioned doctors are leaving Lebanon amid falling wages and shortages of equipment, staff and even some basic supplies in hospitals as the country runs out of hard currency to pay for imports.
Emirates Group, the owner of the Middle East’s biggest air carrier, reported Thursday it lost $3.8 billion in the first half of the year, its first net loss in over three decades after the pandemic wiped out air travel.
In Europe, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has been hospitalized after testing positive for the novel virus. Spokesperson Iuliia Mendel told The Associated Press his symptoms remain mild and there is “nothing serious” in his condition. Zelensky disclosed Monday he contracted the virus.
Mendel said he was moved to a hospital in Kyiv because “there are better conditions for self-isolation and care for coronavirus patients.”
Zelensky’s chief of staff, defence minister and finance minister have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
On Wednesday, Ukraine’s government ordered non-essential businesses to shut down on weekends to stem the rapid growth of the outbreak.
Health officials reported another record 11,057 coronavirus cases on Thursday. Ukraine has reported a total of 500,865 confirmed cases and 9,145 deaths.
Dozens of hospital workers have held protests at hospitals in Greece, demanding more medical staff be hired as the country struggles to contain a resurgence of the coronavirus that has led to a new lockdown being imposed.
France’s prime minister said now is not the time to relax COVID-19 measures, a day after the country’s total reported cases overtook Russia to become the worst-affected country in Europe.
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Moscow’s mayor said city authorities were expecting cases to increase and that the situation with hospital beds could remain critical for some time, TASS news agency reported.
In the Asia-Pacific region, India has reported 47,905 new cases of coronavirus infection with New Delhi setting another daily record Thursday.
The surge of 8,593 cases in the nation’s capital is the highest for any major Indian city and comes as people crowd shopping areas ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, on Saturday.
Deaths, too, are climbing again, with 85 in New Delhi in the past 24 hours. Deaths are a lagging indicator of the impact of the virus, due to long periods of illness and medical treatment.
Japan reported record new infections, while Tokyo Olympics organizers said athletes arriving for the Games will not have to isolate for 14 days.
Which provinces are pushing Canada's COVID-19 active case count higher than ever? – CTV News
The number of active COVID-19 cases in Canada has more than doubled this month, as the total number of Canadians infected by the novel coronavirus since the start of the pandemic nears one per cent of the country’s population.
There were 364,810 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada as of end-of-day Saturday, according to a CTV News tracker, including 61,421 cases that were classified as active – an increase of 113 per cent over the 28,875 cases that were active as of Nov. 1. The current number of active cases is greater than the population of Fredericton, N.B.
Every part of the country has helped contribute to that surge. The Atlantic “bubble” has popped, with New Brunswick being the first Atlantic province to show COVID-19 activity at similar rates to the spring. There have also been significant ramp-ups in virus detections in the North, with Yukon reporting record numbers and Nunavut just starting to fall back from a worrying period that left it with the highest per capita infection rate in Canada.
It’s Central Canada and the West that are carrying the lion’s share of this phase of the pandemic, with the four most populous provinces all reporting record single-day infection totals since Friday.
Ontario and British Columbia set their records on Friday, logging 1,855 and 911 cases of the virus respectively. Alberta and Quebec took their turns on Saturday, with 1,731 new infections recorded in Alberta and 1,480 in Quebec.
All of this activity helped push Canada to a record single-day total of 5,967 new cases on Friday. That number fell to 5,743 on Saturday, albeit without any data from B.C.
Modelling data released by Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, has projected that there could be 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 a day diagnosed in Canada by mid-December if Canadians do not do more to curb their interactions with others.
Dr. Ronald St. John, a former director-general of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Centre for Emergency Preparedness, told CTV News Channel on Sunday that Canada is on track for that scenario, at which point large-scale lockdowns may be necessary in order to preserve capacity in the health-care system.
“That’s been repeated over and over in country after country after country, and Canada will be no exception,” he said.
THE WESTERN FRONT
While Ontario, Quebec and Alberta are all jockeying for first place in the race for the most infections, adjusting the data for population leaves us with a much different leaderboard.
The recent record-setting numbers in Ontario leave the heavily populated province with a seven-day average of 10.52 new cases per 100,000 residents – lower than any province outside Atlantic Canada.
By this measure, the Prairies are by far Canada’s current COVID-19 hotspot.
Alberta’s seven-day average increased Saturday to 30.91 cases per 100,000 residents, a new high-water mark for that province. Manitoba had been above the 30-per-100,000 line earlier in the week but fell to 29.19 per 100,000 as of Saturday.
Those two provinces are followed by Saskatchewan, which set a record Friday at 22.88 cases per 100,000 and fell back slightly on Saturday. Fourth place on the list is Nunavut – which, at 20.21 cases per 100,000, has cut its rate in half over the past week – and Quebec at 14.65 per 100,000.
To put the worries in Atlantic Canada in perspective, Nova Scotia has the highest rate in that region, at 1.64 cases per 100,000 population. Nonetheless, its government introduced a host of new public health restrictions this week in hard-hit parts of Halifax, closing restaurants for in-person dining, halting recreational and religious gatherings, and restricting retailers to 25 per cent capacity.
Alberta, which has a per capita infection rate nearly 19 times that of Nova Scotia, introduced its own province-wide restrictions one day later. Measures taken there include bans on social gatherings except with those in one’s household and indoor recreational gatherings, as well as capacity limits for religious services.
“When you look at the measures that the government of Alberta has put into place, they are similar to what Ontario and Quebec had in place before that didn’t work,” Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, told CTV News Channel on Sunday.
“There might have to be a reality check coming up in the next little while.”
Meanwhile, in the United States, 42 out of 50 states have higher seven-day average infection rates, per capita, than Alberta, with 22 reporting new COVID-19 cases at double Alberta’s rate.
FEARS IN ONTARIO
Although Ontario is fairing relatively well compared to both other provinces and states – Hawaii is the only state that currently has a lower per capita infection rate – there are still concerns that COVID-19 activity might be enough to overwhelm the province’s health-care system.
The number of COVID-19 patients in Ontario intensive care units is already high enough to jeopardize some scheduled surgeries, and the province’s latest modelling data suggests the situation will only get worse before the end of the year.
The province has been gradually increasing restrictions in various regions based on local virus activity. Dr. Dale Kalina, medical director of infection at the Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ont., told CTV News Channel on Saturday that it will be “another week, at least” before those changes show up in daily case counts – and that some hospitals are already offloading patients to neighbouring facilities.
“We’re not going to be able to continue to do that if people don’t help us [by following public health measures],” he said.
Canada ‘not at the back of the line’ for COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna chairman says
The head of a U.S. biotechnology company that is developing one of the most promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates says Canada is not far behind other countries when it comes to receiving doses of its vaccine.
“Canada is not at the back of the line,” Noubar Afeyan, co-founder and chairman of Moderna, told CBC’s Chief Political Correspondent Rosemary Barton on Sunday.
Afeyan said because Canada was among the first countries to make a pre-order with Moderna, the country is guaranteed to receive a certain portion of the company’s initial batch of doses — as long as the vaccine proves safe and effective and is given regulatory approval.
“The people who were willing to move early on with even less proof of the efficacy have assured the amount of supply they were willing to sign up to,” Afeyan said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live.
“Nothing that happened subsequently can affect that.”
The Canadian government secured an agreement on Aug. 5 with Moderna for 20 million doses of its mRNA vaccine, with the option to procure an additional 36 million doses. It’s one of seven vaccine makers Canada currently has agreements with.
Moderna’s vaccine is currently in Stage 3 clinical trials and preliminary data released two weeks ago showed it appears to be 94.5 per cent effective.
Despite that promising news, the Liberal government came under intense pressure this week to lay out a timeline for when Canadians will begin receiving an inoculation as countries like the U.S., U.K. and Germany have all announced plans to begin vaccinating their populations in December.
Opposition politicians and some premiers argued Canada was falling behind other countries in its planning after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canadians would have to wait to get vaccinated because the first doses of any vaccine will go to people in the countries where the vaccines are being manufactured.
Federal officials said on Thursday that if all goes well as many as three million Canadians — mainly those in “high-priority groups” — could be vaccinated in early 2021.
WATCH | Federal government pressured on when Canadians will get COVID-19 vaccine
Regulatory approval pending
Moderna is in the process of applying for emergency-use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Once the company obtains that authorization, Afeyan said it will begin shipping doses to countries that have made pre-orders, including Canada.
Afeyan said he expects to start shipping the vaccine to Canada in the first quarter of 2021 and the quantity of shipments should increase through the second quarter and throughout the rest of the year.
The company expects to be able to produce a total of 20 million doses by the end of 2020 and between 500 million and 1 billion doses throughout 2021.
Moderna submitted early safety and pre-clinical data from Phase 1 and 2 trials with Health Canada last month as part of the regulator’s rolling regulatory review process. Health Canada must approve any COVID-19 vaccine before it can be distributed to Canadians.
Experts say Moderna’s vaccine — which requires two shots taken 28 days apart — will be relatively easy to store and distribute because the vaccine can remain stable at normal fridge temperatures of 2 C to 8 C for 30 days. By contrast, another leading candidate manufactured by U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer must be shipped and stored at -70 C.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu said it’s difficult to nail down a delivery date at the moment for any of the leading vaccine candidates because of the long list of uncertainties stemming from unfinished clinical trials, ongoing regulatory reviews, and manufacturing and logistical challenges related to distribution.
“We’re all anxious to get out of this mess as a world, but certainly as a country as well,” Hajdu said.
“As Canada’s health minister, I’m staying focused on Canadians and on our own process, making sure our delivery plans are well laid out and that we have what we need in terms of being able to deliver on the variety of different kinds of vaccines.”
Hajdu added that her top priority is ensuring that Health Canada has what it needs to make sure the regulatory process proceeds smoothly so that any vaccines that are approved are safe and effective.
Source: – CBC.ca
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):
Quebec is reporting 1,395 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 additional deaths linked to the virus.
Health officials say four of those deaths occurred in the past 24 hours and eight others took place between Nov. 22 and 27.
Hospitalizations went down by 13 today for a total of 665, including 92 people in intensive care – a decrease of one compared to the previous day.
Quebec has now reported 141,038 total cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and 7,033 deaths.
Ontario is reporting 1,708 new cases of COVID-19 today and 24 new deaths related to the virus.
More than half of the new cases remain in Toronto and Peel Region, which recorded 463 and 503 respectively.
The two regions are the only ones currently under lockdown under the province’s tiered, colour-coded pandemic response framework.
The province is moving five regions to higher alert levels tomorrow, which means tougher COVID-19 restrictions.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020.
The Canadian Press
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