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

The latest:

More people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in England than at the first peak of the outbreak in the spring, official figures show.

There were 20,426 patients in hospitals as of Monday morning — the last day for which figures are available — compared to the previous high of 18,974 on April 12.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of Britain’s National Health Service, said health-care workers are back in “the eye of the storm” as they had been in the spring.

British authorities are blaming a new variant of the coronavirus, first identified in southeast England, for soaring infection rates. Almost half of England’s population is under tight restrictions on movement and on everyday life in an attempt to curb the spread.

Stevens said vaccines provide hope, and estimated all vulnerable people in Britain could be inoculated against the coronavirus by late spring 2021.

What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | Chair of Ontario’s vaccine task force speaks on holiday stoppage:

CBC Toronto’s Chris Glover asks the chair of Ontario’s vaccine task force, retired general Rick Hillier, to justify the holiday stoppage of the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program. 8:33

As of early Tuesday morning, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 555,207, with 74,112 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 15,122.

In Ontario, which did not report COVID-19 case numbers on Monday, vaccinations are expected to return to full operations today after being scaled down over the holidays.

On Monday, the health minister of the Northwest Territories said the first batch of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine — which was approved by Health Canada last week — had arrived in the territory. Julie Green said in a tweet that 7,200 doses had arrived in Yellowknife.

In Alberta, health officials on Monday said the province’s COVID-19 death toll had surpassed 1,000 as health officials reported 112 additional deaths over a five-day period.

Manitoba, which reported 107 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths, said Monday that it would slightly expand the criteria for health-care workers eligible to get the vaccination.

Here’s a look at some other COVID-19 developments from across Canada:

What’s happening in the U.S.

In California, officials said hospitalizations for COVID-19 have stabilized in parts of the state but still overwhelm hospitals elsewhere, and Gov. Gavin Newsom is warning of a new surge in coronavirus cases following heavy holiday travel in defiance of recommendations to avoid gatherings.

ICU units in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley have no capacity remaining. Newsom said the state has prepared for a new surge in cases by setting up hospital beds in arenas, schools and tents, though it is struggling to staff them.

California has been regularly breaking records for case counts, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, while officials say models used for planning predict hospitalizations more than doubling in the next month from about 20,000 to more than 50,000.

The United States has seen more than 19.3 million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and nearly 335,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

WATCH | U.S. sees record COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations in December:

Even as people in the U.S. gear up to kiss 2020 goodbye, the country’s COVID-19 situation continues to get worse, with record deaths and hospitalizations in December. 2:08

President Donald Trump’s push for $2,000 US COVID-19 relief cheques now rests with the Senate after the House voted overwhelmingly to meet the president’s demand to increase the $600 stipends, but Republicans have shown little interest in boosting spending.

The outcome is highly uncertain heading into Tuesday’s session. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declined to publicly address how he plans to handle the issue. But Democrats, sharing a rare priority with Trump, have seized on the opportunity to force Republicans into a difficult vote of either backing or defying the outgoing president.

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

What’s happening around the world

People wait for their turn to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at the makeshift vaccination centre erected at the Kuwait International Fairground in the Mishref suburb south of Kuwait City on Tuesday. (Yasser Al-Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images)

As of early Tuesday morning, more than 81.3 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide with more than 46 million cases considered recovered or resolved, according to the Johns Hopkins tracking database. The global death toll stood at more than 1.7 million.

In South Africa, the hardest-hit nation in Africa, officials have tightened COVID-19 restrictions, banning alcohol sales and extending a nationwide curfew, as infections shot through the one million mark, owing to a faster-spreading variant of the disease discovered in the country.

In the Middle East, Dubai is planning to inoculate 70 per cent of its population with the vaccine produced by Pfizer and BioNTech by the end of 2021, a health official said.

Israel’s health ministry said the country has vaccinated more people in nine days than have been infected with the coronavirus since the pandemic began. The ministry said Tuesday that nearly 500,000 people, or about five per cent of Israel’s population of 9 million, have already received the vaccine since the country began its inoculation drive last week. More than 407,000 people have caught the virus in Israel, and over 3,200 have died.

Edna Halup, a staff member at a private nursing home, receives a COVID-19 vaccine in Ganei Tikva, Israel. (Ariel Schalit/The Associated Press)

Israel is hoping a mass vaccination campaign will help bring its current outbreak under control and ultimately wipe out the virus entirely. This week the country entered its third national lockdown, with much of the economy shut down to help bring down surging infection numbers.

In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea said 40 more coronavirus patients have died in the past 24 hours, the highest daily number since the pandemic began.

Officials also reported 1,046 new confirmed coronavirus infections Tuesday, taking the total caseload to 58,725, with 859 deaths. South Korea’s previous daily high for COVID-19 deaths was 24, reported on both Dec. 21 and Dec. 22.

Some observers have said surging fatalities reflect an increase in cluster infections at nursing homes and long-term care centres where elderly people with underlying health problems stay.

China has reported seven new cases of coronavirus infection in Beijing, where authorities have ordered the testing of hundreds of thousands of residents.

Cases have been clustered largely in villages on Beijing’s northeastern edge, but authorities are wary of any spread in the capital that could hurt claims it has all but contained local spread of the virus.

India has found six people who returned from the United Kingdom in recent weeks infected with a new variant of the coronavirus.

A health-care worker wearing personal protective equipment collects a swab sample from a Border Security Force soldier during a rapid antigen testing campaign for COVID-19 in Gandhinagar, India on Tuesday. (Amit Dave/Reuters)

The health ministry in a statement on Tuesday said that all the six patients were isolated and their fellow travellers were tracked down. Close contacts of the infected patients were also put under quarantine.

Health officials in southern Pakistan say they have detected the country’s first three cases of the virus variant that prompted strict new lockdown measures in Britain and global travel restrictions.

In Europe, German authorities said the coronavirus variant found in Britain has been detected in samples from two patients who were infected in northern Germany in November.

The health ministry in Lower Saxony state said late Monday that the samples were tested more thoroughly after news of the new variant emerged in Britain, regional public broadcaster NDR reported. They were taken in November from an elderly man with other medical conditions who later died and from his wife.

The ministry said the man’s daughter had been in England in mid-November and likely was infected there.

In the Americas, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said a vaccine would be available in the country within five days of being approved by federal health regulator Anvisa.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 8:50 a.m. ET

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