Manitoba’s top doctor is again warning people to stick with their households and keep track of their close contacts as the province struggles with growing COVID-19 case numbers and more hospitalizations.
“We should only be going out for essential purposes,” Dr. Brent Roussin said Monday as the province reported 10 more deaths and 392 new cases of COVID-19. “That’s our only way forward … we have to reduce our overall amount of contacts.”
The province’s health system is struggling as hospitalizations increase and more COVID-19 patients fill intensive care beds.
“In the last three days we’ve announced more than 1,000 cases,” Roussin said at his briefing. “We can’t sustain this number of cases in our health-care system.”
The government last week closed restaurants, bars, gyms, non-essential retail stores and other facilities in an attempt to reduce the increasing caseload. But even with public health orders and enforcement, Roussin said the province needs “buy-in” from residents to get case numbers moving in the right direction.
What’s happening across Canada
Canada’s COVID-19 case count — as of 11:15 a.m. ET on Tuesday — stood at 304,427, with 50,613 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,063.
Ontario reported 1,249 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 new deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total number of deaths in the province ot 3,383. There were 569 new cases in Toronto, 256 in Peel Region and 94 in York Region, according to Health Minister Christine Elliott.
The province’s COVID-19 website on Tuesday put the number of hospitalizations at 529, with 127 people in intensive care.
In Quebec, the number of daily COVID-19 cases dropped below 1,000 as health officials reported 982 new cases. The province reported 24 deaths, including five reported to have occurred in the last 24 hours.
COVID-19 hospitalizations were on the rise, though, reaching 638 with 100 in intensive care.
“We know why we had this horror back in the spring. It’s because of inadequate staffing, poor infrastructure… and what’s changed in the interim?” <a href=”https://twitter.com/picardonhealth?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@picardonhealth</a> on the lessons missed from the first wave of COVID-19: <a href=”https://t.co/CYSlwESLo8″>https://t.co/CYSlwESLo8</a> <a href=”https://t.co/XyStBvZYig”>pic.twitter.com/XyStBvZYig</a>
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.
In Prince Edward Island, which has just three active cases, officials said Tuesday that the province will be introducing a mask mandate for indoor public spaces.
Across the North, which has so far avoided the worst of the global pandemic, concern was mounting as Nunavut announced eight new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the number of cases in the territory to 26.
The territory, which announced its first confirmed case earlier this month, is tightening up restrictions to try and clamp down on the virus: schools will close, as will recreation facilities, bars and restaurants.
In neighbouring Northwest Territories, which has seen 15 cases to date, health officials are revising rules around travel to require most people coming from Nunavut to self-isolate for 14 days. The two northern governments had formed a “travel bubble” in the summer allowing for easy movement between the territories.
Yukon, which has seen 24 cases of COVID-19, reported no new cases on Monday.
In British Columbia, case numbers are on the rise — with the vast majority of new cases coming in the Lower Mainland. Health officials said Monday that 1,959 cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths were recorded in B.C. over a three-day period.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, who has said it’s the “expectation” that people will wear masks in indoor public spaces but has not ordered it, said Monday that a provincewide mask mandate wouldn’t address one of the main areas of concerns around transmission: social settings.
“Many of the settings that we are talking about are settings where people would not naturally wear a mask, like in your home or at a party.”
WATCH | Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about COVID-19 in B.C. and why she’s not pushing for a mask mandate:
In Alberta, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the province has entered a “deeply concerning” period of “exponential growth” of COVID-19.
Health officials in the province on Monday reported 20 new deaths and 860 new cases of COVID-19.
Hinshaw said the province — which as of Monday had more than 10,000 active cases and more than 260 COVID-19 patients in hospital — is in a “second wave at this point in time.”
“But again it’s up to us where that wave peaks and how quickly we can bring it down.”
In Saskatchewan, health officials reported 181 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the number of active cases in the province close to 2,000. New restrictions came into effect on Monday, but Premier Scott Moe said his government is considering further measures.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority has said that, based on the test positivity rate, it’s preparing for more people to be hospitalized and to need intensive care over the next couple of weeks.
What’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 9:25 a.m. ET
As of early Tuesday morning, more than 55 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 35.4 million of those cases considered recovered, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The COVID-19 tracking tool put the global death toll at more than 1.3 million.
In the Americas, U.S. president-elect Joe Biden said “more people may die” if outgoing President Donald Trump continues to block a transition of power as the pandemic worsens.
With Iowa hospitals filling up, Gov. Kim Reynolds has dropped her opposition to a statewide mandate for mask use to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Reynolds signed a proclamation Monday requiring that everyone over two years old wear masks when in indoor public spaces.
But South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is showing no sign of budging from her hands-off approach to the pandemic, despite her state having the nation’s highest death rate this month.
South Dakota has reported 219 deaths in November — about a third of all its deaths over the course of the pandemic. The COVID-19 deaths have sent the state to the top of the nation in deaths per capita this month, with nearly 25 deaths per 100,000 people.
Still, Noem, a Republican, has no plans to issue mask requirements
In California, meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was pulling the “emergency brake” on the state’s efforts to reopen its economy as coronavirus cases surge more dramatically than during a summer spike. Newsom will impose more restrictions on businesses across most of the state. He said masks would now be required outside homes with limited exceptions.
Newsom’s action, which takes effect Tuesday, will put most of the state’s 58 counties in the strictest of the four-tier system for reopening that is based on virus case rates. That tier closes many non-essential indoor businesses.
Counties with lower rates have had more freedom for businesses to operate, schools to open for classroom instruction and for formal gatherings like religious services.
In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea said it will tighten physical distancing rules in the greater Seoul area and some parts of eastern Gangwon province to try to suppress a coronavirus resurgence there.
Tuesday’s announcement came as South Korea’s daily virus tally stayed above 200 for a fourth straight day. The country has been experiencing a steady increase in virus infections since it relaxed its physical distancing guidelines last month.
Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said it was necessary to adjust the distancing rules for two weeks.
Australia’s fifth most populous state reported one new COVID-19 case overnight, dampening fears of another deadly cluster emerging.
New Zealand, meanwhile, has made masks mandatory from Thursday for users of public transport in Auckland as well as on all domestic flights.
WATCH | Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shows positive early results:
In the Middle East, Beirut’s popular Sabra market teemed with shoppers this week, some of them unmasked, in apparent defiance of a full national lockdown imposed on Saturday to stem a resurgence of coronavirus infections.
The Lebanese government ordered the two-week restrictions, including a 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew on Sundays, as new daily infections rose above 1,000.
Lebanon reported 1,016 new infections on Monday, bringing its total to 106,446 cases and 827 deaths since Feb. 21.
Iran, which has seen more than 788,000 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the global pandemic, reported a record 13,053 new infections and 486 deaths over the previous 24 hours on Monday as the government planned tougher restrictions.
South Africa remained the hardest-hit country in Africa, with more than 752,000 cases reported and more than 20,000 deaths.
In Europe, Austria has started a new tough lockdown meant to slow the surging spread of the coronavirus in the Alpine nation. As of Tuesday, people are only allowed to leave their homes to purchase groceries, to go to jobs deemed essential, to exercise or to help people who need assistance.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Monday ahead of the lockdown, which is to run through Dec. 6, that “all of social and public life will be brought down to a minimum.”
Austria currently is registering more than 527 new cases per 100,000 residents over seven days — more than 10 times the rate that authorities say is sustainable. Over the last seven days it has reported 46,946 new coronavirus infections.
Italian authorities have inspected more than 230 nursing homes as part of the health ministry’s anti-coronavirus controls, identifying 37 with violations and flagging 11 people to law enforcement for possible prosecution.
The violations included lack of protective equipment and training for health-care workers, insufficient hygiene and missing anti-COVID protocols. In addition, inspectors found other underlying violations of health norms, including overcrowding, abusive treatment of the elderly, expired medicine, poor food safety and unqualified staff.
Trudeau nominates first judge of colour to sit on Supreme Court
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday made history by nominating the first judge of color to sit on the country’s Supreme Court, which has only ever had white justices in its 146-year existence.
Mahmud Jamal, who has been a judge on Ontario‘s court of appeal since 2019, trained as a lawyer and appeared before the Supreme Court in 35 appeals addressing a range of civil, constitutional, criminal and regulatory issues.
“He’ll be a valuable asset to the Supreme Court – and that’s why, today, I’m announcing his historic nomination to our country’s highest court,” Trudeau said on Twitter.
Trudeau has frequently said there is a need to address systemic racism in Canada.
Jamal, born in Nairobi in 1967, emigrated with his family to Britain in 1969 where he said he was “taunted and harassed because of my name, religion, or the color of my skin.”
In 1981 the family moved to Canada, where his “experiences exposed me to some of the challenges and aspirations of immigrants, religious minorities, and racialized persons,” he said in a document submitted to support his candidacy.
Canada is a multicultural country, with more than 22% of the population comprised of minorities and another 5% aboriginal, according to the latest census.
“We know people are facing systemic discrimination, unconscious bias and anti-black racism every single day,” Trudeau said last year.
Jamal will replace Justice Rosalie Abella, who is due to retire from the nine-person court on July 1.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
Donors pledge $1.5 billion for Venezuelan migrants, humanitarian crisis
More than 30 countries and two development banks on Thursday pledged more than $1.5 billion in grants and loans to aid Venezuelan migrants fleeing a humanitarian crisis, as well as their host countries and vulnerable people still in the country.
The $954 million in grants announced at a donors’ conference hosted by Canada – which included pledges of $407 million from the United States and C$115 million Canadian dollars ($93.12 million) from Canada – exceeded the $653 million announced at a similar event last year.
But that fell short of the needs of countries hosting the more than 5.6 million Venezuelans who have left their country since 2015, as the once-prosperous nation’s economy collapsed into a years-long hyperinflationary recession under socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
Most have resettled in developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean who have themselves seen their budgets stretched thin due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Does this cover all needs? Of course not,” Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters. “We will have to continue to encourage donors to support the response.”
At the conference, Ecuadorean President Guillermo Lasso announced that the country – which hosts some 430,000 Venezuelans – would begin a new process to regularize migrants’ status. That came after Colombia in February gave 10-year protected status to the 1.8 million Venezuelans it hosts.
Karina Gould, Canada‘s minister for international development, said the amount pledged showed donors were eager to support such efforts.
“There is that recognition on behalf of the global community that there needs to be support to ensure that that generosity can continue, and can actually deepen, in host countries,” Gould said.
In addition, the World Bank and Inter-American Developmemt Bank pledged $600 million in loans to address the crisis, Gould said.
($1 = 1.2349 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Luc Cohen, Michelle Nichols and David Ljunggren; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Aurora Ellis)
Ecuador to start new ‘normalization process’ for Venezuelan migrants
Ecuador will implement a new “normalization process” for the 430,000 Venezuelan migrants living in the South American country, President Guillermo Lasso said on Thursday, without providing further details of the plan.
Lasso’s announcement, at a conference hosted by Canada intended to raise money to support the more than 5.6 million Venezuelans who have fled an economic crisis in the South American country, came after Colombia in February gave 10-year protected status to the nearly 2 million Venezuelans it hosts.
“I am pleased to announce the beginning of a new regularization process, which in order to be an effective, lasting and permanent policy should be complemented by strategies for economic integration and labor market access,” Lasso said.
Ecuador in late 2019 launched a regularization process for Venezuelans who arrived before July of that year. That included two-year humanitarian visas meant to facilitate access to social services.
Lasso said Ecuador needed outside funding to continue caring for Venezuelan migrants, estimating that more than 100,000 additional migrants were expected to arrive before the end of the year.
“I call on our partners in the international community to be co-responsible and have solidarity with Venezuelan migrants and refugees, and with the countries that receive them,” he said.
(Reporting by Luc Cohen; editing by Barbara Lewis)