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Why it's becoming more difficult to navigate Canada's conflicting COVID-19 guidelines – CBC.ca

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Christopher Ashby feels overwhelmed by the flood of messages every day from all levels of government. 

“Between nine o’clock in the morning and three o’clock in the afternoon, many decisions and many things have changed each and every day,” the Toronto hospitality worker told CBC News. 

“There’s so many messages coming through the course of the day between tweets and press conferences and what’s in printed press and what’s online — there’s just an avalanche of information.” 

With a member of his family who is immunocompromised, another who works in health care, a university student and an elementary school student, Ashby said he and his family struggled with what to do as Thanksgiving approached during the coronavirus pandemic.  

“Before the regulations had shifted and changed yet again, we as a family pretty much made the decision that Thanksgiving would be a pass this year,” he said.

“There were just way too many variables to feel comfortable.”

So instead of a large family gathering, he and his partner are opting for a quiet dinner together.

“We need to make what we feel is the right decision for us and we definitely err on the side of caution,” he said. “This is not something that people should be taking risks over because it affects too many people.” 

‘Different communities have different issues’

Depending where you live in Canada, it’s getting harder to navigate conflicting guidelines from various levels of government — because they can often seem completely out of sync.

“It’s up to Canadians throughout the country to do their part, to wear their mask, to maintain physical distancing,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday. 

“Unfortunately, to not get together with their families and friends for Thanksgiving so that we can take control of this second wave, so that we can all celebrate at Christmas.”

Canadians are trying to decipher confusing advice from public health officials about what kind of gathering, if any, is appropriate and safe for Thanksgiving. 1:57

That advice is especially relevant to Ontario and Quebec, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer said Monday. Daily case numbers and community transmission of COVID-19 in both provinces remain high, with strict public health restrictions on the number of people who can gather safely. 

“If you are in Ontario and Quebec, I think the most sensible thing to do is to keep to your immediate social circles,” Dr. Theresa Tam said. “Because you’ve seen the epidemic curve and this is not the time to be complacent about anything.” 

But social circles in Ontario haven’t been in place since Oct. 2, while Quebec’s hardest hit areas have banned visitors between households altogether.

“It is challenging for the public health authorities because the science and the circumstances are always changing,” said Timothy Caulfield, a Canada Research Chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta.

“So that makes it more challenging to come up with a clear public health message. This isn’t like; wear your seatbelts, don’t smoke, eat fruits and vegetables, exercise — the situation is in flux.” 

Caulfield said confusion gets worse the higher you go, because federal officials need to speak on behalf of all Canadians — even in areas with very few cases like in the Atlantic bubble.

“Different communities have different issues,” he said. “So there is going to be variation from rural Alberta to downtown Toronto.”

Messaging in one area might not be relevant in another, but he said those messages can cut across the country, which “creates confusion.” 

Making sense of guidelines ‘incredibly challenging’

In Canada’s hardest hit provinces, the messaging is no less confusing.

Quebec moved to close bars, casinos, restaurants, libraries, museums and movie theatres in its hardest hit red zones this month, while also banning home gatherings as cases spiked

But the province also prohibited outdoor gatherings like barbecues, despite permitting people to meet in public spaces as long as they stayed two metres apart.

Quebec also recommends that people avoid leisure time with anyone outside their household, whether indoors or outdoors.

In Ontario, residents are being urged to avoid gathering with friends and family, but restaurants, bars, banquet halls and even casinos remain open with much higher limits on occupants.

“Having a large number of unmasked people in an indoor, closed, poorly ventilated space is how this spreads,” said Dr. David Fisman, epidemiology professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. 

“So if you say, ‘Well, this only spreads when you’re with your family, it doesn’t spread when you’re with random strangers.’ It doesn’t make any sense.” 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday that making a comparison between the two types of gatherings was like comparing “apples and bananas.” 

“When you go into a restaurant they’re taking everyone’s name, they have six at a table, they have dividers, they have protocols in place, and the rest of the people in the restaurant you don’t know,” he said. “That’s the difference; at a family, you know the people.” 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday that making a comparison between gathering with family at home or going to a restaurant was like comparing “apples and bananas.” (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

“Please, it’s very simple,” Ford continued. “There’s rules and there’s guidelines. The rules are very clear: 10 indoors, 25 outdoors. I would really, really discourage people from having 25 people even if it’s outdoors. Stick within 10 people.” 

Asked three separate times by reporters Tuesday to clarify whether he would visit with extended family on Thanksgiving, Ford first said he would only see 10 people, then said he would need to speak with his wife and follow up.

He later clarified on Twitter that he would only gather with those in his household.

“Sometimes the messaging isn’t as clear as it should be and it all comes down to communicating with each other better and I think we all need to do a better job — even myself included,” Ford said Wednesday.

“We have to just be a lot clearer, all levels of government and all chief medical officers, on the communication.”

Municipal officials in Ontario want provincial guidance

Local public health officials in Ontario have been vocal about the need for clearer messaging and more concrete action from the province after cases hit a record high last week. 

Toronto’s top doctor Eileen de Villa called for “immediate action” from the Ontario government Friday to stop the spread of COVID-19 as the city faces the risk of “exponential growth” of new infections.

She called on the province to instruct Toronto residents to leave their homes only for essential trips including work, education, health-care appointments and exercise and asked for an end to indoor dining in the city.

“If I had the power to do this, I would have done it,” she said. “It’s just this simple: I’m asking the province to do it or to give me the power to do it.”

In Ottawa, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches called on residents to only get together with those in their immediate home for Thanksgiving and said even gathering outside was a bad idea

“My recommendation is to stick to your household,” she said. “Because we’ve seen examples where people gathered in a park and someone was sick and then more people got sick with COVID.” 

While Etches didn’t go as far as de Villa in calling for a ban on indoor dining in Ottawa, she did recommend people only eat out or go to a bar with those they live with.

Tam said public health officials in different parts of the country are trying to tailor their response to the realities of the situation on the ground. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Tam said Monday public health officials in different parts of the country are trying to tailor their response to the realities of the situation on the ground, which may account for some of the differing guidelines, but they are also “steering in uncertain waters.”

“No one knows exactly what is going to work,” she said. “So there’s a grey zone and people are doing slightly different things.” 

How can we blame individuals, when it’s incredibly challenging to make sense of any of the advice? – Dr. Andrew Boozary, executive director of health and social policy for Toronto’s University Health Network

“This just drives confusion en masse when you see such discord between different levels of government, between different public health units, between what’s being put out in the media, in press conferences,” said Dr. Andrew Boozary, executive director of health and social policy for Toronto’s University Health Network.

“How can we blame individuals, when it’s incredibly challenging to make sense of any of the advice?” 

Caulfield said public health officials and politicians need to be more transparent about the uncertainty they’re facing and the science informing health policies, because it signals to the public that the guidelines could change in the future. 

“Good public health communication is incredibly important, especially when it appears we’re getting some sense that trust is starting to wane and people are starting to get more frustrated,” he said. 

“It’s a really chaotic information environment right now, but we have to get it right.”

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Trudeau announces $214M for potential made-in-Canada COVID-19 vaccines – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying to offer Canadians modest hope about progress in testing and vaccine development after Canada notched an all-time high of new COVID-19 cases in a day.

Trudeau told a news conference Friday that the government is spending $214 million towards the development of COVID-19 vaccines, signing deals with two Canadian biotech firms.

But even as he touted Canada’s portfolio of potential vaccines, Trudeau warned it’s unlikely that any of these candidates will be ready to distribute to Canadians this year or early next year. It’s reasonable to expect that vaccines will start to roll out at some point in 2021, said Trudeau, but even then, supply will be limited, and high-risk populations will be prioritized for inoculation.

“We are hopeful that the vaccines will arrive yesterday, but they won’t,” said Trudeau. “There’s still a number more months of work to do.”

Trudeau said his government signed a $173-million contract with Quebec’s Medicago to secure the rights to buy 76 million doses of its vaccine, should it meet health and safety standards. The funding will also be used to establish a production facility in Quebec City, he said.

Ottawa is also investing $18.2 million in a potential vaccine from British Columbia’s Precision NanoSystems. Meanwhile, the National Research Council is spending $23 million to support other Canadian vaccine initiatives, Trudeau said.

The prime minister said Canada has signed six agreements with a number of companies taking part in the global race to produce a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 .

Two more American vaccine makers, Moderna and Pfizer, have asked Health Canada to review their products, which are undergoing clinical trials.

The prime minister also said Canada has acquired “hundreds of thousands” of rapid test kits from medical company Abbott. Trudeau said his government has started distributing the kits to provinces and territories, and it will be up to those authorities to decide how to deploy them.

But new innovations and investments will only prove effective in the fight against the COVID-19 contagion if Canadians do their part to curb the spread, Trudeau said.

Canada’s chief public health officer told reporters Friday that a record 2,788 new illnesses were reported Thursday, bringing the country’s total count to just over 209,000 COVID-19 cases, including more than 9,800 deaths.

Dr. Theresa Tam said authorities need the public’s help to rein in infection rates through practices such as limiting in-person contacts, wearing masks and physical distancing.

Meanwhile, a Quebec health institute released projections Friday suggesting that province’s health system should have the capacity to handle the number of COVID-19 patients expected to need care in the next four weeks.

Quebec is reporting 905 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 more deaths from the illness.

Ontario also reported 826 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and nine new deaths linked to the virus.

Manitoba reported a total of 163 new infections Friday, most concentrated in Winnipeg, and the positivity rate is now up to 6.5 per cent. The province also said a man in his 80s is the latest death linked to an outbreak at Winnipeg’s Parkview Place that has killed a total of 15 people.

New Brunswick is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 in the Campbellton region, which is one of two areas that saw significant outbreaks two weeks ago.

Newfoundland and Labrador is asking passengers who travelled on Air Canada Flight 7484 from Toronto to Deer Lake on Oct. 12 to get tested in relation to a new COVID-19 case announced on Thursday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020.

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

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The latest:

Provinces are taking different approaches to rising COVID-19 numbers. Alberta is not considering new restrictions, while Manitoba has announced tighter measures for its northern region and British Columbia warns new rules could be coming for social gatherings.

Canada saw a record high number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed on Thursday, with 2,788 new infections recorded.

Among the recently hard-hit province is Alberta, which broke two records on Thursday when the province reported 427 new cases and a total of 3,519 active cases.

While acknowledging the government is “obviously concerned” about the growing number of active cases, Premier Jason Kenney said there are no plans to impose “indiscriminate” restrictions that would shut down the hospitality industry.

WATCH | Reduce gatherings even more, health experts urge:

British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry expressed concerns around the spread of COVID-19 at social gatherings, something that infectious diseases specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti says is being seen across the country. 1:54

“I think it’s important to acknowledge that the virus is here to stay,” Kenney said Thursday while self-isolating at home after a minister in his government tested positive the day before. “And unless or until there is widespread immunity either through natural infection or through the widespread use of a vaccine, we have to cope with it and we have to carry on with life.”

The premier said Alberta has so far accomplished its primary goal of protecting lives while ensuring the health-care system is not overwhelmed.

Meanwhile, the Manitoba government has introduced sweeping new rules for the fourth time in as many weeks in an effort to get a handle on its own recent record-breaking COVID-19 numbers.

Effective Monday, the Northern Health region — where there are increasing signs of community spread and cases among vulnerable populations, such as those experiencing homelessness — will move to the orange, or “restricted,” level on Manitoba’s pandemic response system. 

WATCH | Manitoba’s top doctor on the increasing community spread of COVID-19:

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, explains why increasing community spread of COVID-19 makes targeted approaches to control the illness less effective. 0:48

The decision was made after consultation with municipal and First Nations leaders in the region, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at a news conference Thursday. “We know that the north is already at risk for transmission of this virus, especially in remote, isolated communities, [with limited] access to health care,” he said.

The new measures, which are already in place in the Winnipeg area, include a five-person cap on gatherings, the closure of casinos and other sites with live entertainment licences and a requirement for many businesses to cut occupancy to 50 per cent.

In British Columbia, the provincial health officer warned Thursday she may introduce new rules on gatherings like weddings and funerals as B.C. announced a record-high 274 new cases.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said the measures could include conditions on wedding licences and reducing the province’s current 50-person limit on gatherings.

WATCH | B.C.’s current rules for weddings, funerals not enough, says Dr. Henry:

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s warning comes as Fraser Health reports a number of social gatherings lasting days has led to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the province. 1:39

“The reality is that, right now, everywhere in B.C., weddings, funerals and other life occasions need to be small — as small as possible,” she said. “Every gathering needs to be our own household only, and at maximum, our safe six.”


What’s happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 1 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 210,881 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 177,307 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting rose to 9,883.

The federal government has signed a contract to procure 76 million doses of a promising COVID-19 vaccine from the Quebec City-biotech company Medicago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday.

Ottawa is spending $176 million to help Medicago develop the vaccine, which is being developed in partnership with British drug company GlaxoSmithKline, and build a large plant in Quebec to produce it.

So far, Canada has secured 358 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine through contracts with pharmaceutical giants, including AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer — an insurance policy if some of the vaccines in development prove to be ineffective in clinical trials.

Trudeau also announced a $18.2-million investment in Vancouver-based Precision NanoSystems, which offers technology to produce vaccines and therapeutic drugs.

Nova Scotia reported new no cases of COVID-19 on Friday, a day after the province warned residents against unnecessary travel to the Campbellton-Restigouche area of New Brunswick due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

The recommendation came after New Brunswick announced new restrictions for the Campbellton region, almost two weeks after it was pushed back to the orange phase of recovery. While Zone 5 will remain in the orange stage, people will be limited to interacting with a single household bubble, N.B. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said.

New Brunswick announced two new COVID-19 cases and eight recoveries on Friday. That brings the total number of cases the province has recorded to 324, with four deaths.

Newfoundland and Labrador announced no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The province has recorded a total of 288 cases and four deaths.

Ontario reported an additional 826 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as the seven-day average of new daily cases continued its upward trend to 778. That’s the second highest it’s been since the resurgence of COVID-19 in the province began in early August.

Nine more deaths were also recorded. There are currently 6,474 confirmed, actives cases of COVID-19, a record high for the province.

Meanwhile, the list of Toronto hospitals that have declared outbreaks of COVID-19 grew to seven, with Sunnybrook announcing five cases in a surgical unit at the hospital.

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-thru COVID-19 clinic in Montreal on Wednesday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Quebec on Friday reported 905 new COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths, four of which were in the past 24 hours.

There are 540 people in hospital, including 99 in intensive care. In its latest projections, the province’s national health institute said hospitals will not reach full capacity in the next four weeks due to the rate of transmission having stabilized in recent days.

Premier François Legault has said it’s likely the province will have to maintain many public health restrictions currently in place in red zones past Oct. 28, including keeping restaurants and bars closed.


What’s happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 41.9 million. More than 1.1 million people have died, while more than 28.4 million have recovered.

In the Americas, the pandemic was predictably the opening topic of the U.S. presidential debate between Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden on Thursday evening. Trump claimed the country was “rounding the corner” even as cases spike again across the country, while Biden said: “Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.” More than 223,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus.

WATCH | Trump, Biden clash over pandemic in debate: 

The president lamented that the city became a ‘ghost town’ amid the pandemic, while the Democratic candidate praised its response in flattening the curve. 1:00 

The Peruvian government said on Thursday that it refused to sign a coronavirus vaccine purchase agreement with AstraZeneca PLC because it did not provide sufficient data from its studies and offered minimal amounts of inoculations.

In Europe, the Netherlands began transferring COVID-19 patients to Germany again on Friday, as hospitals come under increasing strain from a second wave of infections. During the first wave in March and April, dozens of Dutch patients were transferred to Germany, where the intensive care capacity is significantly larger.

Poland will close restaurants and bars for two weeks and limit public gatherings to five people, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday, after new coronavirus infections hit a daily record of more than 13,600.

The number of new coronavirus infections in Romania also rose by a daily record, with 5,028 cases added in the past 24 hours, the government said on Friday, as new restrictions were introduced in Bucharest and other cities.

People ride bikes and an electric scooter in Bucharest on Thursday. Romania’s capital city has decided to close schools and cinemas and make mask-wearing in public spaces compulsory. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images)

In Asia, South Korea on Friday reported 155 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, its highest daily jump in more than 40 days. Officials say most of the new cases were local transmissions and primarily in the Seoul region, where hundreds of infections have been tied to a handful of hospitals and nursing homes.

Iran’s health ministry on Friday reported a record 6,134 new coronavirus cases for the previous 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 556,891 in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country. A spokesperson said 335 people had died from the disease in the past 24 hours, bringing total fatalities to 31,985.

India reported 54,366 new cases on Friday, the fifth day in a row below 60,000 new cases, and 690 deaths in the
past 24 hours. A political row erupted after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party promised free COVID-19 vaccination, when it is available, to people in eastern Bihar state, where state elections are scheduled to begin next week. Opposition parties accused Modi’s party of politicizing the pandemic.

Motorcyclists gather during a rally in Amritsar, India, this week to raise awareness about the use of face masks and physical distancing to fight the spread of COVID-19. (Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images)

In Africa, Ethiopia’s attorney general’s office has announced people can be jailed for up to two years if they deliberately violate COVID-19 restrictions, amid concern that citizens are becoming lax after a state of emergency was lifted.

Countries on the continent have reported a total of more than 1.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa. There have been more than 40,000 deaths, for a case fatality ratio of 2.4 per cent, and 1.3 million recoveries so far.

Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca

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

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The latest:

Provinces are taking different approaches to rising COVID-19 numbers. Alberta is not considering new restrictions, while Manitoba has announced tighter measures for its northern region and British Columbia warns new rules could be coming for social gatherings.

Canada saw a record high number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed on Thursday, with 2,788 new infections recorded.

Among the recently hard-hit province is Alberta, which broke two records on Thursday when the province reported 427 new cases and a total of 3,519 active cases.

While acknowledging the government is “obviously concerned” about the growing number of active cases, Premier Jason Kenney said there are no plans to impose “indiscriminate” restrictions that would shut down the hospitality industry.

WATCH | Reduce gatherings even more, health experts urge:

British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry expressed concerns around the spread of COVID-19 at social gatherings, something that infectious diseases specialist Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti says is being seen across the country. 1:54

“I think it’s important to acknowledge that the virus is here to stay,” Kenney said Thursday while self-isolating at home after a minister in his government tested positive the day before. “And unless or until there is widespread immunity either through natural infection or through the widespread use of a vaccine, we have to cope with it and we have to carry on with life.”

The premier said Alberta has so far accomplished its primary goal of protecting lives while ensuring the health-care system is not overwhelmed.

Meanwhile, the Manitoba government has introduced sweeping new rules for the fourth time in as many weeks in an effort to get a handle on its own recent record-breaking COVID-19 numbers.

Effective Monday, the Northern Health region — where there are increasing signs of community spread and cases among vulnerable populations, such as those experiencing homelessness — will move to the orange, or “restricted,” level on Manitoba’s pandemic response system. 

WATCH | Manitoba’s top doctor on the increasing community spread of COVID-19:

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer, explains why increasing community spread of COVID-19 makes targeted approaches to control the illness less effective. 0:48

The decision was made after consultation with municipal and First Nations leaders in the region, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at a news conference Thursday. “We know that the north is already at risk for transmission of this virus, especially in remote, isolated communities, [with limited] access to health care,” he said.

The new measures, which are already in place in the Winnipeg area, include a five-person cap on gatherings, the closure of casinos and other sites with live entertainment licences and a requirement for many businesses to cut occupancy to 50 per cent.

In British Columbia, the provincial health officer warned Thursday she may introduce new rules on gatherings like weddings and funerals as B.C. announced a record-high 274 new cases.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said the measures could include conditions on wedding licences and reducing the province’s current 50-person limit on gatherings.

WATCH | B.C.’s current rules for weddings, funerals not enough, says Dr. Henry:

Dr. Bonnie Henry’s warning comes as Fraser Health reports a number of social gatherings lasting days has led to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the province. 1:39

“The reality is that, right now, everywhere in B.C., weddings, funerals and other life occasions need to be small — as small as possible,” she said. “Every gathering needs to be our own household only, and at maximum, our safe six.”


What’s happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 1 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 210,881 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 177,307 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting rose to 9,883.

The federal government has signed a contract to procure 76 million doses of a promising COVID-19 vaccine from the Quebec City-biotech company Medicago, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday.

Ottawa is spending $176 million to help Medicago develop the vaccine, which is being developed in partnership with British drug company GlaxoSmithKline, and build a large plant in Quebec to produce it.

So far, Canada has secured 358 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine through contracts with pharmaceutical giants, including AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer — an insurance policy if some of the vaccines in development prove to be ineffective in clinical trials.

Trudeau also announced a $18.2-million investment in Vancouver-based Precision NanoSystems, which offers technology to produce vaccines and therapeutic drugs.

Nova Scotia reported new no cases of COVID-19 on Friday, a day after the province warned residents against unnecessary travel to the Campbellton-Restigouche area of New Brunswick due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

The recommendation came after New Brunswick announced new restrictions for the Campbellton region, almost two weeks after it was pushed back to the orange phase of recovery. While Zone 5 will remain in the orange stage, people will be limited to interacting with a single household bubble, N.B. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said.

New Brunswick announced two new COVID-19 cases and eight recoveries on Friday. That brings the total number of cases the province has recorded to 324, with four deaths.

Newfoundland and Labrador announced no new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. The province has recorded a total of 288 cases and four deaths.

Ontario reported an additional 826 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as the seven-day average of new daily cases continued its upward trend to 778. That’s the second highest it’s been since the resurgence of COVID-19 in the province began in early August.

Nine more deaths were also recorded. There are currently 6,474 confirmed, actives cases of COVID-19, a record high for the province.

Meanwhile, the list of Toronto hospitals that have declared outbreaks of COVID-19 grew to seven, with Sunnybrook announcing five cases in a surgical unit at the hospital.

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-thru COVID-19 clinic in Montreal on Wednesday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Quebec on Friday reported 905 new COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths, four of which were in the past 24 hours.

There are 540 people in hospital, including 99 in intensive care. In its latest projections, the province’s national health institute said hospitals will not reach full capacity in the next four weeks due to the rate of transmission having stabilized in recent days.

Premier François Legault has said it’s likely the province will have to maintain many public health restrictions currently in place in red zones past Oct. 28, including keeping restaurants and bars closed.


What’s happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 41.9 million. More than 1.1 million people have died, while more than 28.4 million have recovered.

In the Americas, the pandemic was predictably the opening topic of the U.S. presidential debate between Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden on Thursday evening. Trump claimed the country was “rounding the corner” even as cases spike again across the country, while Biden said: “Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.” More than 223,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus.

WATCH | Trump, Biden clash over pandemic in debate: 

The president lamented that the city became a ‘ghost town’ amid the pandemic, while the Democratic candidate praised its response in flattening the curve. 1:00 

The Peruvian government said on Thursday that it refused to sign a coronavirus vaccine purchase agreement with AstraZeneca PLC because it did not provide sufficient data from its studies and offered minimal amounts of inoculations.

In Europe, the Netherlands began transferring COVID-19 patients to Germany again on Friday, as hospitals come under increasing strain from a second wave of infections. During the first wave in March and April, dozens of Dutch patients were transferred to Germany, where the intensive care capacity is significantly larger.

Poland will close restaurants and bars for two weeks and limit public gatherings to five people, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday, after new coronavirus infections hit a daily record of more than 13,600.

The number of new coronavirus infections in Romania also rose by a daily record, with 5,028 cases added in the past 24 hours, the government said on Friday, as new restrictions were introduced in Bucharest and other cities.

People ride bikes and an electric scooter in Bucharest on Thursday. Romania’s capital city has decided to close schools and cinemas and make mask-wearing in public spaces compulsory. (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images)

In Asia, South Korea on Friday reported 155 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, its highest daily jump in more than 40 days. Officials say most of the new cases were local transmissions and primarily in the Seoul region, where hundreds of infections have been tied to a handful of hospitals and nursing homes.

Iran’s health ministry on Friday reported a record 6,134 new coronavirus cases for the previous 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 556,891 in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country. A spokesperson said 335 people had died from the disease in the past 24 hours, bringing total fatalities to 31,985.

India reported 54,366 new cases on Friday, the fifth day in a row below 60,000 new cases, and 690 deaths in the
past 24 hours. A political row erupted after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party promised free COVID-19 vaccination, when it is available, to people in eastern Bihar state, where state elections are scheduled to begin next week. Opposition parties accused Modi’s party of politicizing the pandemic.

Motorcyclists gather during a rally in Amritsar, India, this week to raise awareness about the use of face masks and physical distancing to fight the spread of COVID-19. (Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty Images)

In Africa, Ethiopia’s attorney general’s office has announced people can be jailed for up to two years if they deliberately violate COVID-19 restrictions, amid concern that citizens are becoming lax after a state of emergency was lifted.

Countries on the continent have reported a total of more than 1.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa. There have been more than 40,000 deaths, for a case fatality ratio of 2.4 per cent, and 1.3 million recoveries so far.

Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca

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