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:
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.”
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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, new “targeted measures” are now in effect in Alberta, 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.
Alberta reported 907 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and five more deaths. It is the second time this month the province has reported over 900 new cases in a single day.
The number of people hospitalized rose to 240, with 54 of those in intensive care.
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 at Thursday’s briefing. “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:
What’s happening across Canada
As of 6:45 p.m. ET on Friday, provinces and territories in Canada had reported a cumulative total of 287,318 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 230,646 cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,828.
Ontario put more 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:
Health officials on Friday reported 1,396 new cases of COVID-19 and 19 deaths, bringing the total number of COVID-19 deaths in the province to 3,312. The province’s data puts the number of hospitalizations at 452, with 106 in intensive care.
At Friday’s briefing, Health Minister Christine Elliott also said Ontario is building an “iron ring” around long-term care homes, where 71 deaths were reported this week alone.
The province has been making “significant investments” into the protection of people in long-term care, she said, including “making sure that there is the personal protective equipment for staff there, making sure that the residents are protected from outside transmission, testing the staff, testing the residents on a regular basis.”
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:
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.
WATCH | Manitoba’s health-care system at breaking point, top doctor warns:
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.”
British Columbia reported two record highs on Friday with 617 new cases of COVID-19 and 167 patients in hospital. It also reported two more deaths.
The last few days have seen a major spike in the province’s hospitalization rate, with the total number of patients rising by 60 per cent compared to just one week ago.
The province 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 need to act now to protect our loved ones, our elders and our communities,” Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a written statement. “This weekend, we encourage everyone to have a safe start to Diwali celebrations by staying home, limiting your travel and connecting virtually instead.”
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.
WATCH | Canadian contribution to Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine:
Yukon reported no new cases on Friday, a day after health officials announced one in Whitehorse, the 24th confirmed case in the territory.
The Northwest Territories reported no new cases on Friday. On Thursday, it reported four new cases in Fort Smith, all linked to one household.
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.
What’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 8:30 p.m. ET
As of Friday evening, more than 53.2 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 34.3 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 Americas, U.S. president-elect Joe Biden’s top coronavirus adviser said there were no plans for a wholesale nationwide lockdown to curb the surging coronavirus as three West Coast states jointly called for a halt in non-essential travel.
The joint advisory from California, Oregon and Washington urging residents to avoid venturing out of state came as health experts voiced concerns that the coming holiday travel season would accelerate already-alarming spikes in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Friday also instituted a statewide two-week “freeze” that will limit restaurants and bars to takeout only and will close gyms, indoor and outdoor recreational facilities during that period. The state has reached record-high infection rates.
The country’s patchwork of measures will likely remain intact after Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20 according to the head of the president-elect’s coronavirus advisory board.
“We’re not in a place where we’re saying ‘Shut the whole country down,'” Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former U.S. surgeon general, told ABC’s Good Morning America. “Right now the way we should be thinking about this is more like a series of restrictions that we dial up or down depending on how bad a spread is taking place in a specific region.”
Murthy’s comments were a sharp rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s repeated campaign assertions that Biden was intent on locking down the country if he were elected.
In his first public remarks since his election defeat was declared, Trump on Friday said a coronavirus vaccine would ship in “a matter of weeks” to vulnerable populations, though the Food and Drug Administration has not yet been asked to grant the necessary emergency approvals.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.