B.C.’s premier is urging people to “get with the program” and cut back on social interactions, warning that a return to tighter restrictions is possible if the province’s COVID-19 case numbers don’t come down.
“This is going to be challenging,” Premier John Horgan said Monday. “No one should be under any illusion based on what’s happening in British Columbia, in Canada, in North America — around the world — that we’re going to be out of this anytime soon.”
The province, which doesn’t publicly report COVID-19 case data on the weekend, on Monday reported 998 new cases of COVID-19 and five more deaths since Saturday. The province’s coronavirus dashboard put the number of hospitalizations at 133, with 43 in intensive care.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s chief public health officer, recently announced a two-week period of tighter restrictions for people living in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions. Henry said Monday that health officials are monitoring where people are contracting COVID-19 and the two-week order could change depending on what they learn.
What’s happening across Canada
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As of 8 a.m. ET on Tuesday, provinces and territories in Canada had reported a cumulative total of 268,735 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 218,400 cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,564.
In Alberta, health officials reported 644 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Monday and seven deaths. The province reported that 192 people were in hospital, with 39 in ICU. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, expressed concern Monday about the hospitalization numbers and cautioned that Alberta has “not yet turned the corner that we must turn.”
With case numbers rising, a group of physicians in Alberta on Monday sent a letter to Premier Jason Kenney, the health minister and Hinshaw calling for swift moves to slow the spread of the virus.
“If the rate of COVID-19 spread continues, the consequences to the people of Alberta will be catastrophic,” the letter said. “The province should consider a two-week, short, sharp lockdown, or ‘circuit breaker’ to drop the effective reproductive number and allow contact tracing to catch up.”
Saskatchewan hit a new high in daily reported COVID-19 cases on Monday as officials announced 190 new cases. Health officials also reported one additional death, bringing the province’s death toll to 29.
In Manitoba concern is mounting over case numbers and the situation at some long-term care facilities dealing with outbreaks. Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, said Monday he has spoken to Premier Brian Pallister about the possibility of stepped-up restrictions.
“We see these numbers going in the wrong direction, we see increasing demand on our health-care system,” Roussin said. “We’re at a critical point where we need to change these dynamics.”
WATCH | Frustrations grow along with Manitoba’s COVID-19 case numbers:
Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Yukon or the Northwest Territories on Monday. In Nunavut, health officials said an individual at one of the territory’s isolation hubs in Winnipeg had tested positive for COVID-19.
Ontario on Monday reported 1,242 cases of COVID-19, with 483 of those in Toronto and 279 in Peel Region.
Peel Region, northwest of Toronto, is the only region in Ontario currently listed as “red” in the province’s new colour-coded COVID-19 framework. Faced with mounting cases, the province on Monday announced it is setting up additional testing capacity in Brampton, with three new testing centres and a mobile unit.
WATCH | Peel Public Health implements further COVID-19 restrictions:
The province reported 13 additional deaths on Monday and reported 367 hospitalizations, with 84 in ICU.
In Quebec, a long-term care facility in Dorval that was hit hard in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is closing permanently.
Health officials said Monday that while the situation has improved in some parts of the province, such as Quebec City and Montreal, it is worsening in others — including the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean area, which currently has more than double the provincial rate of cases per 100,000 people.
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported one new case of COVID-19 on Monday, as did Nova Scotia. There were no new cases reported in Newfoundland and Labrador, and P.E.I. held steady with no active cases.
What’s happening around the world
WATCH | What Pfizer’s vaccine trial means for the pandemic:
As of early Tuesday morning, there have been more than 50 million cases of COVID-19 reported worldwide, with more than 33 million listed as recovered on a coronavirus tracking dashboard maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The number of deaths recorded by the U.S.-based university stood at more than 1.2 million.
In the Americas, Brazil’s health regulator has halted clinical trials of the potential coronavirus vaccine CoronaVac, citing an “adverse, serious event.” The decision posted on Anvisa’s website Monday night elicited immediate surprise from parties involved in producing the vaccine.
The potential vaccine is being developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac and in Brazil would be mostly produced by Sao Paulo’s state-run Butantan Institute. Sao Paulo state’s government said in a statement it “regrets being informed by the press and not directly by Anvisa, as normally occurs in clinical trials of this nature.”
Butantan said it was surprised by Anvisa’s decision, and saud it would hold a news conference Tuesday.
Sinovac issued a short statement in China on Tuesday saying it was in touch with Brazilian authorities. “The clinical study in Brazil is strictly carried out in accordance with GCP requirements and we are confident in the safety of the vaccine,” it said, referring to Good Clinical Practice standards.
U.S. president-elect Joe Biden on Monday unveiled the initial details of his plan to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in more than 10 million cases and more than 238,000 deaths in the U.S. alone.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Pakistani authorities have imposed a mini-lockdown in some areas of the capital, Islamabad, sealing off hot spots to contain the surging coronavirus. The latest development comes hours after Pakistan on Tuesday reported 1,637 new COVID-19 cases and 23 deaths in the past 24 hours. The country has registered 346,476 confirmed cases and 7,000 deaths since February.
Authorities in China’s financial hub of Shanghai have quarantined 186 people and conducted coronavirus tests on more than 8,000 after a freight handler at the city’s main international airport tested positive for the virus.
No additional cases have been found, the city government said on its microblog Tuesday. It remains unclear how the 51-year-old man contracted the virus, which has largely spared the sprawling metropolis despite its dense population and strong international links.
In the northern port city of Tianjin, more than 77,000 people have been tested after a locally transmitted case was reported there on Monday. That case was believed to be linked to a cold storage warehouse, reinforcing suspicions that the virus may be spreading to victims from frozen food packaging.
In Europe, Portugal’s prime minister said more than half of the country’s intensive care beds earmarked for COVID-19 patients are occupied.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa said the public health service currently has 704 ICU beds to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, and 433 are taken. Costa told broadcaster TVI that the number of ICU beds can be increased to 944, but that would affect the care of other patients.
The number of COVID-19 hospital admissions in Portugal has surged from 350 on Sept. 1 to more than 2,650.
Sweden, whose soft-touch virus approach has sparked world-wide attention, has registered 15,779 coronavirus cases since the country’s previous update on Friday, Health Agency statistics showed on Tuesday.
The number compares with 10,177 cases for the corresponding period last week. Cases in the Nordic country, which does not publish updated COVID-19 data over the weekend and Mondays, have risen sharply, repeatedly hitting daily records over the last two weeks.
Sweden registered 35 new deaths, taking the total to 15,779 during the pandemic. Sweden’s death rate per capita is several times higher than Nordic neighbours but lower than some larger European countries, such as Spain and Britain.
In the Middle East, Israel said it had asked the U.S. government on Monday to help it get access to Pfizer’s potential COVID-19 vaccine.
Jordanians have begun voting to elect a new parliament amid the ongoing pandemic. The country’s economy has suffered from the virus and the repeated lockdowns, and the tourism industry, a key source of foreign currency, has all but dried up.
In Africa, Botswana has signed an agreement with the global vaccine distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organization, giving it the option to buy coronavirus vaccines for 20 per cent of its population, a senior health official told Reuters.
The southern African country has registered a relatively low number of coronavirus cases, around 7,800, with 27 deaths, but its economy has been dealt a severe blow by the pandemic.
Unlike many other African countries, Botswana does not qualify for subsidized vaccines under the COVAX scheme because it is classified as an upper-middle income country like neighbours Namibia and South Africa.
“Twenty per cent coverage is the initial allotment guaranteed under the arrangement,” Moses Keetile, deputy permanent secretary in the health ministry, said.
South Africa remained the hardest-hit country in Africa, with John Hopkins putting the number of cases reported in the country at more than 738,000, with nearly 20,000 deaths.