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

The latest:

Manitoba’s sharp new “code red” COVID-19 restrictions kicked in early Thursday as the province tries to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Health officials reported 431 new cases and nine new deaths in the province on Wednesday. Hospitalizations stood at 218, with 32 in intensive care — a record high in the province.

Schools will stay open, but everything from non-essential retail to theatres and restaurant dining rooms will be closed. 

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin, who earlier this week said the province was at a “crossroads in our fight against this pandemic,” urged people to stay home to stop the spread.

In neighbouring Saskatchewan, more than 300 doctors have signed a letter calling for that province to do more to fight the novel virus. 

“If more is not done to change our course we are confident that winter will bring overflowing hospitals, cancelled surgeries, overwhelmed health-care providers and needless death,” the letter said.

COVID-19 case numbers have been rising in Saskatchewan, with 112 new cases reported on Wednesday. The latest figures from the province put the number of hospitalizations at 48, with 11 in intensive care.

A letter signed by hundreds of doctors and three major unions representing health-care workers in Alberta sent to Premier Jason Kenney on Thursday made an explicit call for tighter restrictions, including a suspension of many indoor group activities. 

“We have reached a juncture where only strong and decisive mandatory measures can prevent our hospitals from becoming overwhelmed,” the letter said.

The letter said the province’s testing system is “strained” and contact tracing capacities “have collapsed.”

“We see no other way to break chains of transmission and decrease cases, than to implement a “circuit breaker” of short, strict measures.”

Alberta is considering stepped-up COVID-19 restrictions, two officials told CBC News, as COVID-19 cases in that province continue to climb. Health officials reported 672 new cases of COVID-19 and seven more deaths on Wednesday. Hospitalizations stood at 217, with 46 people in intensive care.

What’s happening across Canada

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As of 8:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, provinces and territories in Canada had reported a cumulative total of 277,061 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 223,199 cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,685.

Across Canada’s North, there were two new cases reported on Wednesday: one in Nunvaut and one in the Northwest Territories.

In British Columbia, the Interior Health authority has issued a COVID-19 alert to its residents as cases rise in the region. The health authority, which includes communities like Kamloops and Kelowna, said in a statement that it’s concerned by the upward trend and frequency of new local clusters.

A recent provincial health officer’s order limiting social interactions doesn’t apply to Interior Health, but local health officials said they need the public’s help to prevent further restrictions.

Ontario hit another record high on Wednesday as health officials reported 1,426 new cases of COVID-19, with 468 in Peel Region, 384 in Toronto and 180 in York Region. 

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Ontario stood at 424, with 88 in intensive care, according to a provincial dashboard.

In Quebec on Wednesday, health officials reported 1,378 new COVID-19 cases and 22 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, six of which occurred in the previous 24 hours.

Health officials said today hospitalizations increased by 39, to 573, and 84 patients were in intensive care, a rise of two.

In Atlantic Canada, there were two new cases reported Wednesday in both Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. 

There was one new case reported in Prince Edward Island and no new cases in New Brunswick.

What’s happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:30 a.m. ET

More than 52 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported around the world with nearly 34 million of those listed as recovered, according to a Johns Hopkins University case tracking tool. The death toll stood at more than 1,285,000, the university reported.

In Africa, the top public health official says the continent has seen an average eight per cent rise in new coronavirus cases over the past month as infections creep up again in parts of the region of 1.3 billion people.

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said “we expected it to happen,” and warned that when the virus comes back for a second wave, “it seems to come back with a lot of full force.” The African continent is approaching two million confirmed cases, including more than 45,000 deaths.

After several months of closure, four million students in Senegal returned to school on Thursday with health instructions to avoid spreading the coronavirus. (John Wessels/AFP/Getty Images)

Nkengasong said that “we are at a critical point in the response,” and again urged governments and citizens to follow public health measures. Testing across Africa remains a challenge, with 19 million tests conducted so far. Countries with the highest increase of cases in the past week include Congo at 37 per cent, Kenya at 34 per cent and Nigeria at 17 per cent.

In the Americas, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez and several of his ministers began preventative isolation after coming in close contact with an official infected with coronavirus.

In the U.S., president-elect Joe Biden will continue to lay groundwork for his administration amid a worsening coronavirus outbreak in the northeast of the country and reeling Midwest, while President Donald Trump prolongs legal challenges.

Across the U.S., over 10.3 million cases have been recorded. Cases per day are now on the rise in 49 states, and deaths per day are climbing in 39 states.

California is nearing one million confirmed infections, the second U.S. state after Texas passed the mark earlier this week.

Medical staff members treat a patient suffering from coronavirus in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, earlier this week. (Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

In the Middle East, hundreds of disillusioned doctors are leaving Lebanon amid falling wages and shortages of equipment, staff and even some basic supplies in hospitals as the country runs out of hard currency to pay for imports,

Emirates Group, the owner of the Middle East’s biggest air carrier, reported Thursday it lost $3.8 billion in the first half of the year, its first net loss in over three decades after the pandemic wiped out air travel.

In Europe, dozens of hospital workers have held protests at hospitals in Greece, demanding more medical staff be hired as the country struggles to contain a resurgence of the coronavirus that has led to a new lockdown being imposed.

France’s prime minister said now is not the time to relax COVID-19 measures, a day after the country’s total reported cases overtook Russia to become the worst-affected country in Europe.

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Moscow’s mayor said city authorities were expecting cases to increase and that the situation with hospital beds could remain critical for some time, TASS news agency reported.

In the Asia-Pacific region, India has reported 47,905 new cases of coronavirus infection with New Delhi setting another daily record Thursday.

The surge of 8,593 cases in the nation’s capital is the highest for any major Indian city and comes as people crowd shopping areas ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, on Saturday.

A security guard checks the body temperature of a customer outside a shop in a market in New Delhi on Thursday ahead of Diwali. (Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images)

Deaths, too, are climbing again, with 85 in New Delhi in the past 24 hours. Deaths are a lagging indicator of the impact of the virus, due to long periods of illness and medical treatment.

Japan reported record new infections, while Tokyo Olympics organizers said athletes arriving for the Games will not have to isolate for 14 days.

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