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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday –



The latest:

Ontario reported more than 2,100 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, as vaccination efforts got underway in Manitoba and several Atlantic provinces.

Health officials in Ontario reported 2,139 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 additional deaths on Wednesday, bringing the provincial death toll to 4,035. Hospitalizations climbed to 932, with 256 people in intensive care units.

With case numbers and hospitalizations on the rise, officials have instructed hospitals in the province to get ready for a surge in COVID-19 patients. Ontario Health CEO Matthew Anderson said in a memo to hospitals that the province has entered “a more critical phase of the pandemic where we are seeing widespread community transmission.”

Quebec, meanwhile, reported 1,897 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 additional deaths on Wednesday.

Hospitalizations in the province also increased, rising to 975, with 128 in intensive care units, according to a provincial tracking site.

Premier François Legault announced new restrictions on Tuesday, saying offices will be closed as of Thursday, with non-essential businesses closing for a period after Dec. 25.

The updates in Ontario and Quebec come as more provinces begin to roll out their vaccination efforts.

Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia offered their first doses on Tuesday. Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island are giving their first doses on Wednesday after receiving initial supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech product, the first — and so far only — COVID-19 vaccine to be approved in Canada.

Speaking ahead of the first vaccinations in the province, Premier Brian Pallister asked Manitobans to be patient and not let their guard down as the province readies a large, complex vaccination effort.

“This is a monumental challenge, a historic challenge,” he said Tuesday.

Danielle Sheaves, a registered nurse, was the first person to get the vaccine in Nova Scotia.

“It’s a little overwhelming this morning, but feels good, and I was honoured to be asked to be the first person to get the vaccine this morning,” said Sheaves, who works at the COVID-19 unit at the Halifax Infirmary.

Halifax nurse Danielle Sheaves receives the first COVID-19 vaccination given in Nova Scotia. (Robert Short/CBC)

As provinces dealt with the Pfizer-BioNTech rollout, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday said that Canada has an agreement in place to get up to 168,000 doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine by the end of December, ahead of schedule. The Moderna vaccine has not yet been approved by Health Canada, but Trudeau said deliveries could begin within 48 hours of getting the green light.

“Doses of this vaccine will be directed to the North, as well as to remote and Indigenous communities,” Trudeau said Tuesday. 

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Infection control specialist warns of pressure on Ontario hospitals:

Ontario needs to really curb the spread of the coronavirus, says infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Gardam. ‘We can’t keep getting more COVID patients’ in hospital, he said. 0:51

As of 11:10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 479,250, with 76,214 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 13,744.

In Atlantic Canada, COVID-19 vaccination efforts were set to begin Wednesday in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labradorand Prince Edward Island.

“In that plane represents hope for 2021,” Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey said as the first doses arrived in the province on Tuesday.

P.E.I. Premier Dennis King said Tuesday that if all goes well, the province will have more people vaccinated Wednesday than have tested positive for COVID-19 on the island, which has seen just 89 positive cases since the pandemic began.

The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have arrived in New Brunswick, but that province’s vaccination effort is not set to begin until the weekend.

In British Columbia, the Interior Health Authority said Tuesday that a cluster of cases has been linked to the Big White resort near Kelowna.

B.C. reported 522 new cases of COVID-19 and 21 additional deaths on Tuesday, bringing the provincial death toll to 668. Hospitalizations stood at 361, health officials said, with 93 in intensive care.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced new supports for some neighbourhoods in Calgary and Edmonton that have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. 

Health officials in Alberta reported 1,341 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 11 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 744. Hospitalizations stood at 742, with 137 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units, according to a provincial tally.

Saskatchewan has administered its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to health-care workers in Regina. Nurses at the Regina General Hospital gave the province’s first shots to a critical care doctor and an emergency room nurse yesterday.

Health officials in Saskatchewan reported 194 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and seven additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 98.

The COVID-19 death toll in Manitoba passed the 500 mark on Tuesday as the province announced 272 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths. The province gave out its first vaccinations early Wednesday, beginning with select health-care workers.

Across the North, Nunavut reported two new cases of COVID-19 and there was one new case reported in the Northwest Territories. There were no reports of new cases in Yukon.

What’s happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:30 a.m. ET

As of early Wednesday morning, more than 73.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 41.7 million cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a case-tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.6 million.

In Europe, Germany hit a new record level of coronavirus deaths as it entered a harder lockdown Wednesday, closing shops and schools to try to bring down stubbornly high new cases.

Nearly 140,000 people in the United Kingdom have received their first COVID-19 shots in the first week of rollout of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the minister in charge of the program said on Wednesday.

The vaccine was approved for emergency use two weeks ago, with rollout commencing on Dec. 8, making Britain the first country to deploy the shot outside of clinical trials.

“A really good start to the vaccination program. It’s been seven days and we have done: England: 108,000, Wales: 7,897, Northern Ireland: 4,000, Scotland: 18,000. U.K total 137,897,” Nadhim Zahawi said in a tweet.

Britain’s easing of restrictions for family gatherings over Christmas looks like it’s still on despite a sharp spike in new coronavirus infections that’s raised fears of another wave of cases and deaths in the new year.

WATCH | New COVID-19 restrictions across Europe as U.K. allows small Christmas gatherings:

New COVID-19 restrictions have been introduced across Europe to combat the rise in cases, but the U.K. has also loosened rules around Christmas gatherings, leaving many people confused and health officials warning about the consequences. 1:58

Britain’s communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, said U.K. leaders will have further discussions Wednesday about the planned relaxation. However, he gave no indication that a change would be announced, beyond urging people to think harder about their holiday plans.

“It could be counterproductive to produce overly restrictive rules rather than providing very clear and sober guidance and ask people to think carefully and come to their informed judgment,” he told BBC radio.

In the Americas, Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine appeared set for regulatory authorization this week after U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) staff endorsed it as safe and effective.

California is distributing 5,000 body bags mostly to the hard-hit Los Angeles and San Diego areas and has 60 refrigerated trailers standing by as makeshift morgues in anticipation of a surge of coronavirus deaths. The precautions come from hospitalizations that now are double the summertime peak and threaten to soon overwhelm the hospital system.

Director of inpatient pharmacy David Cheng, centre, places trays of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine into a freezer at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in Los Angeles on Monday. (Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press)

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that the number of average daily deaths has quadrupled from a month ago.

In Kansas, a mayor announced Tuesday that she is resigning, effective immediately, because of threats she has received after she publicly supported a mask mandate. Dodge City Mayor Joyce Warshaw said she was concerned about her safety after being met with aggression, including threats via phone and email, after she was quoted in a USA Today article on Friday supporting the mandate, The Dodge City Globe reported.

Costa Rican authorities and Panama authorized the use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech.

In the Middle East, Oman’s Health Ministry has issued a licence to import the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Lebanon is expected to sign a deal this week for supplies of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and is set to receive the first batch eight weeks after that.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Indonesia will provide free vaccines to its citizens when it starts its inoculation program, President Joko Widodo said, adding that he would get the first shot to reassure people on safety.

Workers spray disinfectant in a catering shop as a preventive measure against the spread of COVID-19 in Karachi on Monday. (Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images)

The number of daily COVID-19 deaths in Pakistan crossed 100 for the first time in months with the virus spreading quickly in the financial capital of Karachi.

Tokyo has reported 678 new cases of the coronavirus, a high for the Japanese capital, as Japan now struggles with another surge in the virus.

South Africa remained the hardest-hit country in Africa, with more than 873,000 cases and 23,600 deaths.

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



The latest:

  • Pfizer says it will increase vaccine deliveries by mid-February.
  • China building isolation hospitals in Hebei province to combat increase in infections.
  • Brazilian approval of Sputnik V vaccine delayed by missing data.
  • Some health-care workers are still hesitant to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Do you have a tip or question about the pandemic? Email us at

Canada has reached a grim new milestone in its fight against COVID-19, with the country’s case count surging well past 700,000, ahead of an expected reduction in shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand on Saturday said she understands Canadians’ concerns about Pfizer’s decision to delay international deliveries while it upgrades its manufacturing facility.

She said she has been in touch with the drugmaker and been assured it’s “deploying all efforts” to return to its regular delivery schedule “as soon as possible,” Anand said on Twitter. The minister said shipments for this coming week will be largely unaffected.

WATCH | CBC medical contributor Dr. Peter Lin answers questions about strained ICUs and vaccine delays:

The CBC’S John Northcott puts your coronavirus-related questions to family physician and CBC medical contributor Dr. Peter Lin. 9:26

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics, said on Friday that Canada’s allotment of the vaccine will be reduced by 50 per cent for four weeks.

Pfizer said it hopes the upgrade will allow it to produce two billion doses per year, up from 1.3 billion doses. The company said in an email to CBC News on Saturday that it will increase its vaccine deliveries beginning the week of Feb. 15.

As of Friday night, more than half a million Canadians had received inoculations against the virus that causes COVID-19.

What’s happening across Canada

As of 12 35 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 707,354 cases of COVID-19, with 75,558 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 17,984.

In British Columbia, the B.C. Hotel Association said implementing an inter-provincial travel ban would decimate what’s left of the sector’s operators and urged Premier John Horgan — who sought legal advice on such an action — to pursue other options to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

WATCH | British Columbia mulls how to keep visitors out:

Frustrated by the number of non-residents ignoring stay-at-home orders and coming to British Columbia to holiday, the province is considering how to keep them out. 2:06

Alberta saw 717 new cases and 15 new deaths on Saturday.

Saskatchewan reported 270 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths

In Regina, police fined a woman $2,800 after breaking up a large gathering. Police in the city have now issued at least 10 tickets for people violating public health orders related to COVID-19.

Manitoba recorded 180 new cases and two additional deaths

The update comes one day after the provincial government asked people for their input on the possibility of lifting some pandemic restrictions next week.

Ontario reported 3,422 new cases on Sunday, after registering 3,056 new cases the previous day. Locally, there are 1,035 new cases in Toronto on Sunday, 585 in Peel Region, 254 in Windsor-Essex County, 246 in York Region and 186 in Niagara Region, Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter.

Children wears face masks as they play in the snow in Ottawa on Saturday. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Quebec reported 1,744 new cases on Sunday, after counting 2,225 new cases on Saturday.

In east-end Montreal, a group of protesters braved a snowstorm on Saturday to denounce the province’s COVID-19 curfew, which has been in place for a week.

The protest took place in the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough and was organized by a group called “No police solution to the health crisis.” Montreal police were present at the protest and asked that everyone present wear masks and respect physical-distancing guidelines.

New Brunswick recorded 27 new cases on Saturday.

Nova Scotia added four new cases on Sunday, after reporting the same number the previous day. Last week, mandatory testing for rotational workers in the province came into effect. Workers are now required to get a test within two days of returning to Nova Scotia and again about a week later.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case on Sunday after seeing no new infections on Saturday.

Northwest Territories health officials are urging anyone who has been in self-isolation in Hay River or Kátł’odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1 to arrange for a COVID-19 test after wastewater testing suggested there are one or more cases in the area.

Meanwhile, officials confirmed the first positive case in Fort Liard, a hamlet nearly 545 kilometres southwest of Yellowknife.

In Nunavut, a worker at Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine gold mine, located about 25 kilometres north of Rankin Inlet, has tested positive, the company said. There have now been nine confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the mine since the start of the pandemic, an Agnico Eagle spokesperson told CBC News on Saturday via email.

What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 94.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 52.1 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 case tracking tool. The global death toll stood at just over two million.

WATCH | WHO chief pleads for breaking of COVID-19 transmission:

As the global death toll from the coronavirus pushed past 2 million, the head of the World Health Organization urged people to use the tools they have to curb the virus and lift the burden on health workers. 1:40

Brazil‘s health regulator on Saturday said it’s seeking further data on Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine before considering its approval for emergency use.

Regulator Anvisa wants assurances on Phase 3 clinical trials and issues related to the manufacture of the vaccine by drugmaker Uniao Quimica.

Moscow has approved Sputnik V for Russian domestic use, though clinical trials there have not yet been completed.

The Brazilian regulator was expected to make a decision on Sunday about authorizing emergency use of vaccines developed by China’s Sinovac and Britain’s AstraZeneca.

In Britain, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab warned on Sunday that despite the U.K. government’s confidence about its coronavirus vaccination plan, the public needed to stay home as the country’s health service was “on the cusp” of being overwhelmed.

Raab told broadcaster Sky News that the U.K. was a “global leader” in its vaccination rollout, and he was confident that the government’s roadmap would meet targets.

In China, officials reported 109 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, two-thirds of them in a northern province that abuts Beijing, and no deaths.

This aerial photo taken on Saturday shows construction of a centralized COVID-19 quarantine centre in Shijiazhuang, in northern Hebei province. (China News Service/AFP via Getty Images)

There were 72 new cases in Hebei province, where the government is building isolation hospitals with a total of 9,500 rooms to combat an upsurge in infections, according to the National Health Commission.

China had largely contained the virus that was first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019 but has reported hundreds of new infections since December. The Health Commission on Saturday blamed them on travellers and imported goods it said brought the virus from abroad.

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Policy alignment, predictability to mark Canada-U.S. relationship under Biden, ambassador says –



The shared priorities between this country and its southern neighbour — including the COVID-19 crisis, economic recovery and climate policy — will define the Canada-U.S. relationship under a Biden presidency, Canada’s ambassador to the United States says.

“I think that the Biden administration and our government have an enormous amount of policy alignment,” Kirsten Hillman said in an interview airing Sunday on Rosemary Barton Live.

“And I think also that we are going to find a more predictable government to deal with and a bit more traditional relations in terms of how we deal with them,” she added.

Ahead of president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration — which Hillman will attend in person — Canada’s top diplomat in Washington said tackling the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is a chief concern.

“We are both focusing on … ensuring the safety and health of our citizens, respecting science, respecting experts, being clear and consistent in the advice that we give [and] caring about people around the world in that regard as well,” Hillman told CBC’s Chief Political Correspondent Rosemary Barton.

Getting Canada and the U.S. “back on track economically … in partnership with each other” is also a priority on the countries’ long list of mutual policies, as is climate change, Hillman said.

Trudeau, Biden have ‘very warm’ relationship

Despite their common goals, the United States that Biden will inherit is still reeling from the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol and accusations that outgoing President Donald Trump incited the attack.

“You can imagine how much [Biden’s] got on his plate with COVID and the economy and now the events of last week and the repercussions that are coming out of that,” Hillman said. “I do think that he’s been pretty clear around some of the aspects of his economic policy that are a little more protectionist than we would want to see.”

Biden’s pandemic recovery plan includes a pledge to “Buy American” — a promise to purchase, produce and develop made-in-America goods.

As for whether the relationship between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the incoming president will mirror that of Trudeau and former president Barack Obama, Hillman said such ties are forged among the myriad ways both countries “interact and work together.”

“But of course, the tone at the top matters. It’s not the only thing that matters, but it does matter. And the prime minister and president-elect Biden have a very warm and good relationship. So that is definitely going to be an asset.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, with Joe Biden, at the time U.S. vice-president, arrive at a state dinner in Ottawa on Dec. 8, 2016. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Fostering connections during last 4 years

A change in administration also doesn’t mean the connections Canada formed over the past four years were all for naught. 

“We always work really hard to foster strong relations on the Hill, in particular in the Senate and in the House, because in the system of governance here … it’s a co-equal branch of government that has an awful lot of authority over issues that matter a lot to Canada,” Hillman said.

The ambassador pointed to the renegotiated NAFTA deal as an example of those relationships in action.

“We went across the nation, and it was very healthy for the Canada-U.S. relationship, that activity. It was very healthy for us to remind each other of the degree to which we are integrated, the degree to which we are mutually supportive.”

Hillman said she’s in talks with Biden’s transition team but noted that incoming nominees and appointees to the White House are not engaging directly with foreign governments until a new president is sworn in.

“If we look at the slate of appointees and nominees that are coming [into] the Biden administration, many, many of them are well known to Canada and really good friends of Canada,” she said. “So that is also a strong reason for optimism.”

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Canadians leaving big cities at record numbers: Statistics Canada – CTV News



Canada’s biggest cities are experiencing a record-breaking loss of people as urbanites move to smaller bedroom communities in search of affordable homes.

According to a new Statistics Canada report, Montreal and Toronto both saw a record loss of people from July 2019 to July 2020 as urban-dwellers moved to the suburbs, smaller towns and rural areas. 

Toronto lost 50,375 people over those 12 months while nearby Oshawa, Ont. saw its population grow by 2.1 per cent — the fastest population growth in the country. Kitchener–Cambridge–Waterloo in Ontario and Halifax were tied for the second-fastest growth, at 2 per cent. 

Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter said this shift is great news for his city. 

“It really introduces us to greater opportunities: new families, new friends, new communities and it really adds to the wonderful fabric of the city of Oshawa,” Carter told CTV News.

Over the same period, Montreal lost 24,880 people, while nearby communities such as Farnham, Que. and Saint-Hippolyte, Que. saw their populations rise.

Experts say the pandemic has accelerated the urban-to-suburban trend as more employers shift to a work-from-home model and young, first-time buyers look beyond the city for more affordable properties. 

This shift has also inspired plenty of competition in communities where bidding wars are anything but typical. 

“With the low supply issues that we are seeing in a lot of the major markets across the country, that is creating some challenges if you want to buy a home just because there is less to choose from,” said Geoff Walker, an Ottawa realtor.

Despite urban areas posting overall population growth due to international migration, the report found that high numbers people from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver chose to move away.

And despite border closures during the pandemic, international migration from July 2019 to July 2020 accounted for 90 per cent of the growth in Canadian cities. That number drops to just over one-third of growth in other regions. 

Real estate markets in Canada’s biggest cities continued to grow during the past year, but Robert Hogue, a senior economist at RBC, expects some of that action to calm in the year to come.

“The very high levels of activity in the late stages of 2020 are probably going to settle down through the course of 2021,” said Hogue. 

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