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

21

The latest:

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said at a briefing Friday that modelling suggests the country is on track to record 10,000 new cases a day by early December.

That modelling « should be a wake-up call for everyone, » Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday as he urged people to reduce social contacts, avoid gatherings and « do the things that we know keep us all safe. »

The prime minister cautioned that resources « are not infinite » at the federal government, pointing to the provision of contact tracing services, support through the military or provision of personal protective gear as examples of what Ottawa can do to help provinces through the pandemic.

Among them, Trudeau said his government has approved a request from Manitoba to provide support in the province’s long-term care facilities until Jan. 15, 2021.

« But there is a threshold beyond which, when the cases spike too much, we might have to make really difficult choices about where to deploy the limited resources we have, » he said.

While the country is not yet at that point, he said that possibility should make clear to everyone « how much we need to get things under control now. » 

WATCH | Canadians struggle with contradictory COVID-19 guidelines amid 2nd wave:

Canada’s COVID-19 second wave is accelerating. Frightening new modelling projections, especially for Ontario and B.C., make it more frustrating for many Canadian doctors who say health guidelines are still contradictory, vague or just plain weak. 2:01

While acknowledging that individual behaviour is important, Trudeau again called on provinces to move « quickly and firmly » on any measures that could help bend the curve. 

« Provinces need to make the right decisions around bringing in rules that will limit close contacts, limit the spread of COVID-19 in places that are appropriate for them, » he said.

« We’re seeing very different case profiles across the country, very different behaviours across the country, and the provinces are themselves best positioned to know what they need to do. »

Saskatchewan tightened restrictions on Friday, including updates to mask guidelines and a curfew on liquor sales, but nearly 300 doctors signed a letter saying the province didn’t go far enough.

Health officials reported 81 new cases on Friday, lower than the seven-day average of more than 100. The province said 53 people are in hospital, with 15 of those in ICU, both increases from yesterday.

Meanwhile, Alberta announced « new targeted measures » on Thursday to try to slow the transmission of COVID-19, including a two-week halt on indoor group sports and fitness classes in hard-hit areas. Premier Jason Kenney’s government is also requiring bars, lounges and pubs to stop serving alcohol by 10 p.m. and close at 11 p.m. in areas of the province under enhanced watches.

Kenney and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, have both said that further measures could be on the table.

« COVID is starting to win, and we cannot let that happen, » Kenney said. « This two-week push is, I believe, our last chance to avoid more restrictive measures that I and most Albertans desperately want to avoid. »

WATCH | Alberta doctors make 2nd appeal for ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown:

Doctors in Alberta have sent a second letter to the provincial government asking it to impose a brief, strict ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown to help slow the spread of COVID-19. According to Dr. Darren Markland, the respite would give those running the contact tracing system time to reorganize.   5:05

What’s happening across Canada

As of 3:30 p.m. ET on Friday, provinces and territories in Canada had reported a cumulative total of 285,794 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 229,220 cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,821.

Ontario put four regions into its red « control » zone, the most stringent zone before a total lockdown, on Friday. Toronto, Hamilton, Halton and York regions will join Peel Region in the red zone.

The province also said it is changing the colour-coded system to make its thresholds more stringent, following criticism in recent days that its system was too lenient.

The red zone will now be triggered when a region reaches a positivity rate of 2.5 per cent and a weekly incidence rate of 40 cases per 100,000 people. Previously, the threshold was a positivity rate of 10 per cent and a weekly incidence rate of 100 cases per 100,000 people.

This comes a day after Ontario released new modelling numbers that suggest it could see as many as 6,500 COVID-19 cases a day by mid-December.

WATCH | Ontario lowers thresholds for implementing COVID-19 restrictions:

When asked why he ‘waited so long’ to lower thresholds in the province’s framework for restrictions despite warnings from medical experts about rising COVID-19 cases, Premier Doug Ford told reporters the modelling has changed from what it was nine days ago, and said he’s been decisive throughout the pandemic. 1:05

Health officials on Friday reported 1,396 new cases of COVID-19, with 440 of those in Toronto and the same number in Peel Region.

The province reported 19 additional deaths on Friday, bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the province to 3,312. The numbers published Friday put the number of hospitalizations at 452, with 106 in intensive care.

Quebec, which has seen more reported COVID-19 cases and deaths than any other Canadian province, on Friday reported 1,301 new cases and 30 new deaths, with nine of those reported to have occurred in the previous 24 hours.

Hospitalization numbers reported Friday stood at 583, with 85 in intensive care, according to Quebec’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Faced with mounting COVID-19 case numbers, Premier François Legault said Thursday the province is considering temporarily closing schools as part of its efforts to « break » the second wave of the coronavirus in the province.

WATCH | Quebec considers closing schools to fight COVID-19 spread:

Quebec is considering closing schools for about a month during the holidays as classrooms across the province continue to shutdown over COVID-19 infections. 1:42

More than 1,100 classrooms have been closed due to COVID-19, with more than 300 of them closing in the last two days alone, officials said Thursday. The temporary shutdown could come as an extended holiday break — with the possibility of extending the academic year into July.

« As I’ve said before, that is our last solution, » Legault said. « Children have already lost many days of school last spring. But we have to consider all of our options to break the wave. »

Masks are not currently mandatory in all of Quebec’s classrooms. Elementary students from Grade 5 and up need to wear masks when moving through the school — but not while they are in their class. High school rules have been adjusted since classes began, and students in the province’s « red zones » are now required to wear masks throughout the day.

Manitoba reported 437 new cases of COVID-19 and five new deaths on Friday, a day after stepped-up restrictions kicked in. The province reported 227 people were in hospital, with 34 in intensive care.

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin on Thursday reiterated his call for people to reduce social interaction and stay home as Manitoba tries to beat back the virus.

« These orders are here to save Manitobans’ lives, » Roussin said of the enhanced measures. « We don’t need to find a way around them. We just need to find a way to step up and follow them. »

WATCH | Manitoba’s health-care system at breaking point, top doctor warns:

The current volume of COVID-19 cases is putting serious strain on Manitoba’s health-care system, according to Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer. He says Manitobans know what they have to do now — and that’s stay home. 3:25

British Columbia also released new modelling information on Thursday that put the current estimated doubling time for case numbers at 13 days. (You can see the province’s COVID-19 data and modelling slides here.)

« We are in a challenging time, perhaps the most challenging time of this pandemic, » said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Health officials in B.C. are particularly concerned about case numbers in communities covered by the Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health authorities, where stepped-up restrictions have been put in place temporarily.

COVID-19 case numbers were ticking upward across Canada’s North. Nunavut reported a new case Friday, bringing the total number of cases in the territory to four.

« The individual is currently outside the territory, is isolating and doing well, » Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said in a statement. He said the territory is conducting contact tracing and a rapid response team is on standby to help if needed.

Patterson said that communities in the Kivalliq region will be facing stepped up public health restrictions, including the closure of non-essential businesses and a prohibition on indoor gatherings.

On Thursday, Yukon health officials announced a new case in Whitehorse, the 24th confirmed case in the territory, while the Northwest Territories reported four new cases in Fort Smith, all linked to one household.

Across Atlantic Canada, there were two new cases of COVID-19 announced in Nova Scotia on Friday and one new case reported in Newfoundland and Labrador.

New Brunswick reported two new cases on Friday, one in the Moncton region and the other in the Saint John region. As well, the Town of Sussex says there was a possible COVID-19 exposure at its hockey rink earlier this week and is advising players and visitors to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.

Prince Edward Island has not reported any new cases on Friday.


What’s happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

As of Friday afternoon, more than 53.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 34.2 million of those considered recovered, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.3 million, the database reported.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga raised caution over coronavirus infections, urging officials to step up testing, tracing and cluster investigations, while reminding people to stick to wearing masks, handwashing and other basic preventive measures.

The country set a record Friday for daily new infections, with the health ministry reporting 1,649 new cases, bringing the national total to 113,298.

Drones fly over Olympic Park in Seoul on Friday showing messages to support the country and share measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

South Korea has reported its biggest daily jump in COVID-19 cases in 70 days as the government began fining people who fail to wear masks in public. The 191 cases added to the country’s caseload on Friday represented the sixth consecutive day of over 100 and most were from the Seoul metropolitan area.

The steady spread of the virus has alarmed government officials, who eased social distancing measures to the lowest level since October to soften the economic shock. While this has allowed high-risk venues like nightclubs and karaoke bars to reopen, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the continuing spread could force the government to « seriously consider » tightening social distancing again.

In Europe, Sweden remains steadfast in its strategy of voluntary measures and no lockdowns, the architect of its unorthodox COVID-19 response said on Friday, as the country battles a growing second wave of a disease that has now killed more than 6,000 Swedes.

Customers are seen at a fast-food restaurant in Stockholm on Thursday. Sweden has kept schools, restaurants and other businesses open throughout the pandemic, instead focusing on voluntary measures aimed at promoting physical distancing and good hygiene. (Fredrik Sandberg/TT News Agency/Reuters)

The Nordic nation of 10 million people, whose soft-touch approach to combating the virus has drawn worldwide attention — and harsh domestic criticism from some — has seen a surge in the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths in recent weeks.

At 5,990, the number of new cases reported on Friday was the highest since the start of the pandemic. A further 42 deaths were also recorded, the most in around three months.

Germany’s disease control centre is reporting a new daily record of coronavirus infections as the country nears the halfway point of new lockdown measures meant to slow the spread of the pandemic. The Robert Koch Institute said Friday that Germany’s states had reported 23,542 daily cases, slightly more than the previous record of 23,399 set on Saturday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to hold talks with state governors on Monday, midway through a series of measures the government has called « lockdown light. »

A medical worker wearing personal protective equipment takes care of a patient in the intensive care unit of the George Papanikolaou General Hospital in Thessaloniki, Greece, earlier this week. (Alexandros Avramidis/Reuters)

A surge in coronavirus infections in Greece’s northern city of Thessaloniki is pushing the hospital system to its limits.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex, meanwhile, said there would be no easing for at least two weeks of the country’s second COVID-19 lockdown.

The co-operative that sells nearly half of Denmark’s mink furs will « gradually downsize » and shut down over the next two to three years after the government last week ordered the culling of millions of animals to fight an outbreak of COVID-19 among the animals and staff.

Kopenhagen Fur CEO Jesper Lauge said Thursday that the discovery of coronavirus infections put the Danish mink industry « in an extreme and unusually difficult situation. »

Kopenhagen Fur employs some 300 people and sells the furs of the farms in its co-operative. There are 1,139 mink farms in Denmark, employing about 6,000 people, according to the industry. It was unclear how many of the farms would shut down, though their prospects are not good.

Men in protective gear disinfect truck containers as Danish health workers, assisted by members of the Danish Armed Forces, dispose of dead mink in a military area near Holstebro, Denmark, earlier this week. (Morten Stricker/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images)

Earlier this month, Denmark reported that 11 people were sickened by a mutated version of the coronavirus that had been observed among the mink. The country began killing farmed minks in the north of the country and plans to cull 15 million in all.

The coronavirus evolves constantly as it replicates but, to date, none of the identified mutations have changed anything about COVID-19’s transmissibility or lethality.

In the Americas, the U.S. set a single-day record of more than 160,000 coronavirus cases on Thursday. It has now reported more than 10.6 million cases and more than 243,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Friday instituted a statewide two-week « freeze » that will limit restaurants and bars to takeout only and close gyms, indoor and outdoor recreational facilities during that period. The state has reached record-high positivity rates so far in November.

California on Thursday became the second U.S. state to record one million confirmed coronavirus infections, after Texas reached the mark the day before. This week, 11 counties had rates high enough that state restrictions were reimposed on certain businesses and activities.

In the Middle East, Israel has signed a deal with Pfizer Inc. to receive the drugmaker’s potential COVID-19 vaccine, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech SE confirmed a deal was forthcoming in a statement on Thursday but did not disclose financial details.

South Africa remained the hardest-hit country in Africa, with COVID-19 case numbers approaching 745,000 and more than 20,000 deaths.