Seven municipalities in northern Denmark came under strict new lockdown rules on Thursday after authorities discovered a mutated coronavirus strain in minks bred in the region.
The government said on Wednesday that it would cull all minks — up to 17 million — to prevent human contagion with the mutated virus, which authorities said could be more resistant against future vaccines.
The new lockdown measures close restaurants and bars. Schools and all public transport will also be shut down until Dec. 3, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.
The industry association of Danish breeders called the move a “black day for Denmark.”
“Of course, we must not be the cause of a new pandemic. We do not know the professional basis for this assessment and risk … but the government’s decision is a disaster for the industry and Denmark,” chairman Tage Pedersen said.
Denmark’s mink pelt industry racked up exports of about $800 million US last year and employs 4,000 people.
Like other countries in Europe, Germany has seen a sharp rise in infections in recent weeks. The western European country recorded nearly 20,000 new coronavirus cases in one day, its highest level yet.
The national disease control centre, the Robert Koch Institute, on Thursday said 19,990 infections had been confirmed in the past 24 hours. That tops the previous record of 19,059 set on Saturday. It brought the total case tally in Germany, a nation of 83 million people, since the pandemic began to 597,583. Another 118 deaths raised the total to 10,930.
A four-week partial shutdown took effect on Monday, with bars, restaurants, leisure and sports facilities being closed and new contact restrictions imposed. Shops and schools remain open.
Although Germany’s situation is alarming officials, many other European countries are in worse shape. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said Wednesday that Germany has 237 new cases per 100,000 residents over 14 days — some seven times lower than in Belgium.
In the Netherlands, health officials said the number of coronavirus patients in Dutch hospitals has fallen for the second straight day. Authorities said 2,512 people infected with the coronavirus were in hospital Thursday, a decline of 60 from the previous day. That includes 607 COVID-19 patients in intensive care.
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In France, a record number of 58,046 people have been infected with COVID-19 over a 24-hour period, officials said Thursday, prompting new restrictions to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Starting Friday, delivery and takeout services for prepared food and alcohol between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. will be banned in Paris. The sale and consumption of alcohol in public spaces will also be banned at night.
President Emmanuel Macron imposed a new lockdown last month, forcing non-essential shops, such as those not selling basic foods or medicines, to close, and making people use signed documents to justify being out on the streets.
But a week into the lockdown, France still registers more than 40,000 new infections per day and intensive care units across the country are under stress as more than 4,200 ICU beds are now occupied by COVID-19 patients.
A French government source said this week that they had noted in Paris “clandestine parties, raves, private dinners” and felt stricter measures were needed.
Four regions in Italy are being put under severe lockdown, forbidding people to leave their homes except for essential reasons, in an effort to slow surging COVID-19 infections and prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.
Premier Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday night announced what he described as “very stringent” restrictions on the so-called red zone regions of high risk: Lombardy, Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta in the north, and Calabria, the region forming the “toe” in the south of the Italian peninsula.
Except for few circumstances, no one will be allowed to enter or leave red zone regions or even travel between their towns, although people can exercise by themselves and while wearing masks near home. Non-essential stores will be closed, although barber shops and hair salons can stay open, and only nursery, elementary and the first year of middle school will have in-class instruction.
Conte said the lockdown will begin Friday to allow time to organize. Designations will be reviewed every two weeks.
Greece’s prime minister has announced a nationwide three-week lockdown starting Saturday, saying the increase in coronavirus infections must be stopped before the country’s health-care system comes under “unbearable” pressure.
‘Stay home as much as possible’
Norway’s prime minister has urged citizens to “stay at home as much as possible” and limit social contacts to avoid a new lockdown.
Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said the coronavirus measures introduced just last week were not enough. The nation had 3,290 new confirmed infections in the past week.
Ukraine hit a new daily high on Thursday, reporting 9,850 daily coronavirus cases — the third high this week.
Poland reported a record 27,143 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, approaching a threshold at which the government has said it could be forced to impose a nationwide lockdown. On Wednesday, the government announced new restrictions to curb the COVID-19 pandemic and said it would impose a full lockdown if cases continue to surge.
Meanwhile, in England, a four-week lockdown began Thursday that will shut all shops selling items deemed non-essential, such as books and clothes. The other nations of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — have also announced wide-ranging restrictions on economic activity.
What’s happening in Canada
As of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, 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.
In British Columbia, a record high of 425 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, but no new deaths have been reported on Thursday.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said the total number of active cases in B.C. has risen to its highest to date at 3,389, including 97 patients in hospital and 24 in intensive care.
“We did anticipate an increase as we moved indoors into the cooler weather. It is incredibly important we manage this increase effectively,” she said.
To date, B.C. has confirmed 16,560 cases of the virus and 273 people have died. A total of 7,519 people are currently under active monitoring by public health workers because of COVID-19 exposure.
Meanwhile, in Alberta, detailed case numbers were not available due to technical problems with the province’s reporting system.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, told a news conference on Thursday that “about 800 new cases have been identified in the last 24 hours.”
Hospitals are still safe, she said, and people who need urgent care should not hesitate to seek it.
“That said, I am very concerned about the levels of hospitalizations for COVID-19 in Edmonton and Calgary,” Hinshaw said. “We must protect our health system by reducing community transmission. The fact that we are now reporting 800 new cases is extremely concerning.
In Manitoba, Premier Brian Pallister announced his government will not move forward with a proposed curfew for the Winnipeg region, saying it would be premature given that the heightened restrictions under the code red only recently came into effect.
Health officials in the province reported four more deaths related to COVID-19 and 427 new cases on Thursday — the second-highest single-day jump since the start of the pandemic.
The province also enlisted 227 more personnel, including fire safety inspectors and municipal bylaw officers to help to enforce COVD-19 restrictions. That brings the total number of enforcers to more than 3,000.
“I know that stern warnings are not enough,” Pallister said.
Manitoba is also setting up a dedicated tip line and rolling out an ad campaign that shows the consequences of young people being cavalier with the rules.
The number of patients in hospital with the illness jumped to 153, up by 13 compared with Wednesday, with 16 of those in intensive care units.
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Saskatchewan also saw the highest climb in daily cases since the start of the pandemic. The province reported 129 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
In Ontario, Finance Minister Rod Phillips unveiled its first pandemic-era budget, which laid out the details of the next stage of its COVID-19 response.
The fiscal outlook detailed about $187 billion in total spending this year with a deficit of $38.5 billion. It also included $45 billion in COVID-19 related spending over the next three years, though about two-thirds of that has already been spent.
“There is still great uncertainty in the global economy, and this means the same thing for the Ontario budget as it does for the family and business budgets,” Phillips said.
This year’s budget — originally scheduled for release in March — comes amid the backdrop of an ongoing second wave of COVID-19.
On Thursday, the province reported 998 new cases.
According to Health Minister Christine Elliott, of the cases reported Thursday, there were:
- 350 in Toronto.
- 269 in Peel Region.
- 71 in York Region.
The number of people in hospital ticked up to 381, with 86 people in intensive care, the province reported Thursday.
In Quebec, Premier François Legault is slated to give a COVID-19 update Thursday afternoon. The province, which has seen more than 111,000 cases since the pandemic began, reported 1,138 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday and 28 deaths, 10 of which occurred in the past 24 hours.
Provincial data listed the number of people in hospital at 538, with 82 in intensive care.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, with health officials saying both were travel-related.
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Prince Edward Island has no active cases.
Across the North, there were no new cases in Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut. But N.W.T.’s chief public health officer cautioned Wednesday that “more cases are inevitable” as cases mount across much of Canada.
What’s happening around the world
As of Thursday morning, more than 48 million COVID-19 cases had been recorded worldwide, with nearly 32 million of those considered recovered, according to a case-tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The Baltimore, Md.-based institution put the global death toll at more than 1.2 million.
The United Nations will hold a summit on Dec. 3 on the pandemic’s spread and its “unprecedented” effects on societies, economies, jobs, trade and travel. The General Assembly voted 150-0 on Thursday to authorize the meeting, with the United States, Israel and Armenia abstaining. It will include recorded speeches by world leaders and a presentation and discussion led by World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Assembly President Volkan Bozkir called the high-level special session “a historic moment and a test for multilateralism” that “will be defined by our collective action on one of the most critical issues of our time.”
In the Americas, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday reported 9,463,782 cases, an increase of 106,537 from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 1,141 to 233,129.
Those are the highest totals in the world, and new infections are increasing in nearly every state.
In Minnesota, hospitals are under pressure and ICU beds are nearing full capacity as coronavirus cases reach a new high and hospitalizations continue to surge.
Hospitals in hard-hit El Paso, Texas are also under serious pressure, with 1,041 hospitalizations reported on Wednesday.
“Our hospitals are near breaking point. We need everyone to do their part to stop this virus,” said Dr. Hector Ocaranza, the health authority for the city and county.
Indiana reported 4,462 new cases on Thursday — setting a single-day high for the second day in a row and passing 4,000 cases per day for the first time. The state also 1,948 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, the most since officials began releasing those counts last spring.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is sending additional medical personnel and equipment to the city and local officials ordered a two-week shutdown of non-essential activities.
In Chile, President Sebastian Pinera said the country’s health regulator had given the go-ahead for clinical trials of AstraZeneca PLC’s COVID-19 vaccine.
The World Health Organization said Thursday that a preliminary analysis that looked at indicators in 14 countries found the pandemic has dealt “a heavy blow” to several key health services in Africa, including maternal health and vaccination efforts.
“A new wave of COVID-19 infections could further disrupt life-saving health services, which are only now recovering from the initial impact,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said in a statement.
In South Africa, the hardest-hit country in Africa, health officials and cabinet members are urging people to keep following guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. With COVID-19 cases on the rise, President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to address the nation next week, according to local media. The country has more than 730,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and more than 19,500 reported deaths.
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In the Asia-Pacific region, mainland China has barred entry to some travellers from Britain and Belgium and set strict testing requirements on visitors from the United States, France and Germany, as it reimposed border restrictions in response to rising global cases.
Australia has agreed to purchase another 50 million doses of two more COVID-19 vaccines, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, as Canberra aims to complete a mass inoculation program within months.
India is reporting 50,209 new coronavirus cases for the previous 24 hours amid a surge in the capital of New Delhi, which officials now say is in its third wave of infections.
The Health Ministry on Thursday also reported 704 deaths from COVID-19 across the country, raising its toll for the pandemic to 124,315.
In the Middle East, Bahrain has granted emergency approval for the use of a Chinese vaccine candidate currently in Phase 3 trials on frontline workers, state news agency BNA said.