Manitoba is stepping up enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions as it tries to tamp down the spread of the novel virus, while Alberta’s top doctor is warning that more restrictions could be coming there unless the province sees case numbers “decline dramatically” in the days ahead.
Premier Brian Pallister on Thursday backed away from the idea of imposing a curfew in the Winnipeg area, saying the province will spend money to step up enforcement around existing restrictions first.
“There will be consequences for people when they put others in danger, when they put themselves in danger,” Pallister said at a Thursday briefing.
Pallister said that 277 more personnel, including fire safety inspectors, motor carrier enforcement officers and municipal bylaw officers will help make sure public health orders are followed. That brings the total number of enforcers to more than 3,000.
The province has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases in recent days — health officials reported 427 new cases and four more deaths on Thursday — and hospitalization numbers have been climbing.
In Alberta, Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw warned that more restrictions could be coming as the province reported a record high number of new cases.
“Unless our numbers decline dramatically in the next few days, we will have to consider additional measures,” she said.
The province wasn’t able to provide an exact number of new cases Thursday because of technical issues, but the range provided was well over its previous one-day record of 622.
“I can tell you that about 800 new cases have been identified in the last 24 hours,” Hinshaw said, noting that there are nine hospitals in Alberta dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks.
Faced with mounting case numbers, the province is looking to hire more contact tracers to help existing staff. A spokesperson for Alberta Health Services said there are currently 800 people working with the contact tracing team, and AHS is looking to hire “approximately 380 additional staff” in the coming weeks.
British Columbia also saw a record high daily case number on Thursday as health officials reported 425 new cases of COVID-19.
WATCH | Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about COVID-19 in Fraser Health region:
Most of the new cases reported by B.C. health officials were in the Fraser Health region, which covers an area east of Vancouver and includes communities like Burnaby and Surrey.
A statement from public health officials said there were 97 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 24 in intensive care.
What’s happening across Canada
As of 8 a.m. ET on Friday, provinces and territories in Canada had reported a cumulative total of 251,338 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 207,998 as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,381.
Saskatchewan also reported a record high on Thursday, with 129 COVID-19 cases. According to health officials, many of the new cases were in Saskatoon and the area around Prince Albert.
In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford’s government unveiled a much-anticipated budget after months of delay attributed to the global pandemic. The province reported 998 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 deaths on Thursday.
Quebec reported 1,138 new cases of COVID-19 and 28 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, 10 of which occurred in the 24 hours prior.
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported two new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, as did Newfoundland and Labrador. Nova Scotia reported one new case. Prince Edward Island has no active cases of the novel coronavirus.
Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut.
What’s happening around the world
As of Friday morning, more than 48.8 million of cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 32.2 million of those listed as recovered, according to a coronavirus tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.2 million, the U.S.-based university reported.
The World Health Organization is looking at biosecurity around mink farms in countries across the world to prevent further “spillover events” after Denmark ordered a national mink cull because of an outbreak of coronavirus infections in the animals.
In the Americas, a dozen U.S. states reported record one-day increases in cases, according to a Reuters tally. The country has been dealing with a surge in cases, reporting more than 100,000 new daily cases two days in a row, according to numbers reported by the New York Times.
The U.S. has seen more than 9.6 million COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, Johns Hopkins reported, with nearly 235,000 deaths.
Latin American nations, including those that have brought down coronavirus transmission rates, should take heed of the second wave hitting much of Europe, a Pan American Health Organization official said.
In Europe, Germany’s health minister has warned of hard times ahead unless the country can “break” the rising trajectory of coronavirus cases. Jens Spahn told lawmakers in parliament on Friday that “the situation is serious,” noting that the number of COVID-19 patients being treated in the country’s intensive care units has doubled in the last 10 days.
“As of today the health system can cope with this,” he said. “But a doubling every 10 days is something the best health system in the world can’t cope with in the long term.”
Germany’s disease control agency reported a new record of more than 21,500 confirmed infections in the country in the past day, and 166 further deaths.
Russia’s daily number of new coronavirus infections topped 20,000 Friday, setting a new record since the beginning of the pandemic. Russia’s tally of confirmed coronavirus cases — currently the fourth largest in the world — has exceeded 1.7 million following a quick spread of contagion since September. The government’s coronavirus task force has reported 29,887 deaths since March.
Despite new daily records, authorities insist there is no need to impose a second lockdown or shut down businesses nationwide. They argue that the health-care system is capable of handling a surge in infections. Russian media, however, have reported on overwhelmed hospitals, drug shortages and inundated medical workers in some regions, indicating that the health-care system is under significant strain.
Austria warned that all its COVID-19 intensive care beds could be full within two weeks because of the “much stronger, more serious” second wave of infections.
Oslo has shut down restaurants, cafés, bars, gyms, cinemas and theatres to help curb the coronavirus. On Friday, officials in the Norwegian capital introduced what they called a “social closure of Oslo.”
Mayor Raymond Johansen said that to bring down the infection rates, “we must shut down where people gather.” However, schools will remain open.
Slovenian police said they detained 10 people following violent protests in the capital Ljubljana against lockdown measures designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea has alerted about 1,000 people who attended the memorial of the late Samsung Group patriarch Lee Kun-hee last week to get tested for the coronavirus after one person at the event tested positive.
India has recorded 47,638 new cases of the coronavirus, taking its total to 8.4 million.
Deaths rose by 670 in the last 24 hours, driving total fatalities to 124,985 on Friday, the health ministry data showed. India has the world’s second-highest caseload behind the United States. Even though the country has seen a steady dip in cases since mid-September, its capital is witnessing a surge in infections.
Health authorities in Thailand on Friday announced the country’s 60th death from COVID-19, a 66-year-old Thai man who was diagnosed with coronavirus after he returned from the United Kingdom. It was Thailand’s first coronvirus death since mid-September.
The U.S. mission in Geneva urged World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday to invite Taiwan to a major meeting the body is hosting next week that is expected to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Africa, the coronavirus pandemic is having a knock-on effect on other vital health services as countries are forced to redirect already stretched resources, a regional head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. Lockdowns imposed by countries to halt the spread of the virus in May, June and July contributed to a more than 50 per cent drop in services monitored by WHO.
In Nigeria, for example, more than 362,000 pregnant women missed their antenatal care between March and August.
Iran remained the hardest-hit country in the Middle East, according to the Johns Hopkins tally. The country had more than 663,000 reported cases, with more than 37,400 deaths recorded.