Four provinces reported new highs for daily COVID-19 infections this weekend as Canada’s chief public health officer warned that more and larger outbreaks are occurring in long-term care homes and hospitals and spreading in Indigenous communities.
“These developments are deeply concerning as they put countless Canadians at risk of life-threatening illness, cause serious disruptions to health services and present significant challenges for areas not adequately equipped to manage complex medical emergencies,” Dr. Theresa Tam said.
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She said federal modelling that shows the country could have 20,000 new daily cases by the end of December means “a stronger response is needed immediately, to interrupt transmission and slow the spread of COVID-19 across the country.”
Health officials in New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta on Saturday reported new single-day peaks in diagnoses — recording 23, 1,588, 439 and 1,336 new cases respectively.
Ontario reported its record daily high on Saturday, along with 21 new deaths. Another 1,534 cases were added on Sunday, including 490 new cases in Peel Region, 460 in Toronto and 130 in York Region, provincial Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter.
Premier Doug Ford announced on Friday that Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region are going back into lockdown as of Monday, and several other regions are moving to higher restriction levels.
One of Saskatchewan’s northernmost communities is dealing with a major outbreak of COVID-19. Health officials say Fond du Lac First Nation had identified 63 cases as of Saturday and listed more than 300 people as close contacts in the community of about 1,000.
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A Saskatchewan doctor says record-high COVID-19 cases should be a signal that it’s time for tighter restrictions.
Saskatchewan recorded 439 new cases on Saturday, a record single-day high, with Saskatoon reporting 170 new cases.
The province’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, said everyone needs to reduce activities by more than half. For example, he suggests that if you shop for groceries twice a week, cut it down to once a week.
Alberta set a new single-day record for new infections for a third straight day with 1,336 cases detected on Saturday. Officials have said the high caseload has strained the health-care system and overwhelmed contact-tracing efforts, as public health workers don’t know where most of the 11,274 active infections in the province were contracted.
New Brunswick officials announced 23 cases of COVID-19 in the province on Saturday, setting a single-day high since the start of the pandemic.
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The new cases bring the total of active infections in the province to 71, and one person is in hospital due to the virus.
Quebec reported 1,189 new cases and 32 more deaths on Saturday, as well as 646 people in hospital for treatment of COVID-19.
The latest major outbreak in the province is at a Quebec City convent, where 39 nuns and 43 workers at the Soeurs de la Charité in suburban Beauport have tested positive for COVID-19.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 10:30 a.m. ET Sunday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 327,245, with 53,998 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,420.
Manitoba reported 387 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional deaths on Saturday.
The province has for weeks recorded the highest per-capita rate of new infections in Canada. Premier Brian Pallister was put on the defensive on Saturday as he addressed Progressive Conservative party members at a convention, saying “every province west of Nova Scotia has its highest numbers in the last few days, including Manitoba.”
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“Trying to make the political argument that Manitoba’s government missed the boat when everybody in the Western world is under attack right now is not a fruitful thing — even if it was right, and it isn’t,” he said.
Nova Scotia reported eight new cases on Saturday, after seeing five new cases the previous day.
Newfoundland and Labrador announced five new cases on Saturday, the largest single-day increase in cases in the province since April 16.
Nunavut is recording a surge in new infections, reporting 25 new cases on Saturday, including 22 in hard-hit Arviat and three in Whale Cove.
There are 107 active infections in the territory, which just confirmed its first case a little more than two weeks ago.
People arriving in the Northwest Territories and Yukon are once again required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Yukon reported three new cases, according to a Saturday news release by Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. The territory also expanded a public exposure notice for a Whitehorse fitness centre.
In British Columbia, a province-wide public health order has barred social gatherings of any size in private homes except between members of the same “core bubble.” The order went into effect on Thursday and will remain in place until midnight, Dec. 7.
What’s happening around the world
As of Sunday, there were more than 58.2 million reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with more than 37.2 million of those cases listed as recovered, according to a COVID-19 tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.3 million.
South Korea will tighten physical-distancing rules for the capital Seoul and nearby areas now that the country has reported more than 300 new COVID-19 cases for a fifth straight day, Health Minister Park Neung-hoo said Sunday.
He said for two weeks starting Tuesday, nightclubs and other high-risk entertainment facilities must shut down, and
late-night dining at restaurants will be banned. Customers aren’t allowed to drink or eat inside coffee shops, internet cafés and fitness centres, while audiences at sports events will be limited to 10 per cent of the stadium’s capacity.
In Japan, the daily tally of confirmed coronavirus cases hit a record for the fourth straight day at 2,508, the country’s Health Ministry said Sunday.
Japan has had fewer than 2,000 coronavirus-related deaths so far, avoiding the toll of harder-hit nations. But fears are growing about another surge.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Saturday scrapped the “GoTo” tourism campaign, which encouraged travel and dining out with discounts, but only after many people had already made travel reservations for a three-day Thanksgiving weekend in Japan.
Russia on Sunday reported a daily increase of 24,581 new coronavirus infections, taking the national tally to 2,089,329.
Authorities also reported 401 coronavirus-related deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the official death toll to 36,179.
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India registered 45,209 new cases on Sunday amid a festival season surge in the capital and many other parts of the country. At least three states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat — have imposed night curfews in many cities.
In Australia, Victoria and South Australia states eased COVID-19 restrictions on Sunday. Victoria, which was hardest hit, has gone 23 days without a new infection.
Mask-wearing outdoors, which until now has been mandatory, is no longer required where physical distancing is possible.
Masks will still have to be worn indoors and carried at all times. Home gatherings of up to 15 people will be allowed, and up to 50 people can gather outdoors. Up to 150 people will be allowed at weddings, funerals or indoor religious services.
Residents of South Australia emerged from a state-wide lockdown at midnight Saturday and are now able to visit bars and restaurants in groups of up to 10 and host gatherings up of to 50 people with physical distancing.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc’s COVID-19 antibody therapy, an experimental treatment given to U.S. President Donald Trump that he said helped cure him of the disease.