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

The latest:

The first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada is to arrive in the country on Sunday night, according to the military commander leading the national vaccine distribution effort.

More doses of the vaccine, processed in Europe, are scheduled to arrive on Monday, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live.

Once distributed, provinces will administer the vaccine to people in priority population groups, including front-line health-care workers and long-term care residents.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that “the first 30,000 doses are expected to arrive in just a few days,” and he expects up to 249,000 doses of the vaccine to arrive before the end of the month.

WATCH | COVID-19 vaccine en route to Canada:

Canada’s first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipped out yesterday from a factory in Belgium. UPS is delivering the cargo. Officials with the company say all vaccine shipments are being treated as a top priority. 4:16

Meanwhile, more help from the Canadian Forces has arrived in an Indigenous community in northern Manitoba that has been hit hard by COVID-19, following a desperate plea from the Shamattawa First Nation’s chief.

About two dozen members of the military arrived in the remote community just after noon on Saturday and more were expected to arrive later, including medics and nurses, Shamattawa First Nation Chief Eric Redhead said in a Facebook post.

He said the team will set up isolation units at the community’s school and help with tasks such as door-to-door grocery delivery, wellness checks and contact tracing. Redhead, who first called for military support on Nov. 30, said he is expecting an additional 30 military members to arrive on Sunday.

Nearly one-third of Shamattawa’s population of about 1,300 has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which is said to be spreading easily due to overcrowding in some homes.

In Alberta, a range of new restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 went into effect on Sunday.

Restaurants, pubs and bars are closed, except for takeout and delivery. Hair salons, casinos, gyms, libraries, museums and movie theatres have also been shuttered. 

The restrictions also include a 15 per cent capacity limit for places of worship, as well as grocery and retail stores. The restrictions will be in place for at least four weeks.

Protests against the restrictions were held on Saturday outside the provincial legislature in Edmonton and in downtown Calgary.

Demonstrators gather at an anti-mask rally in Calgary on Saturday. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Ontario, meanwhile, is also imposing stricter rules to combat the spread of COVID-19, beginning at midnight in York Region, just north of Toronto, and Windsor-Essex. People lined up outside the busy Vaughan Mills shopping centre in York Region for up to an hour on Saturday to do last-minute buying.

The two regions are moving into the province’s “grey” lockdown level of restrictions, meaning retail stores deemed non-essential will be operating with curbside pickup only. Businesses still open to customers must cap capacity at 50 per cent.

What’s happening across Canada

As of 11:10 a.m. ET on Sunday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 458,524 with 73,393 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 13,399.

In British Columbia, a senior on Vancouver Island said she was kicked off a COVID-19 subsidy after going just $4 over the qualification threshold.

Sheila Chaisson, a 67-year-old from Courtenay, said she “can’t afford to go out and buy anything” after losing out on the monthly $300 relief, adding: “I’ve really had to stretch to afford masks and sanitizer and all the things I need through the pandemic.”

WATCH | What you need to know about repaying CERB:

Some Canadians are getting letters from the Canada Revenue Agency, suggesting they could have to repay thousands of dollars in CERB money because they may not have been eligible to receive it in the first place. 6:54

Alberta recorded 1,590 new COVID-19 cases and 13 more deaths on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the number of positive COVID-19 tests in a pilot project for international travellers at the Calgary airport and a United States border crossing in southern Alberta has been reasonably low after its first six weeks.

Saskatchewan saw 274 new COVID-19 cases and a record 11 additional deaths on Saturday.

WATCH | Sask. woman on going from not feeling well to critically ill with COVID-19:

Hospitalizations continue to increase in our province. Kathy Ziglo is on the mend from the COVID-19 but she is still shocked about how quickly she became critically ill. Bonnie Allen delivers her story. 2:34

Manitoba reported 360 new cases and 18 more deaths.

Of the deaths reported Saturday, eight are linked to outbreaks at personal care homes in Winnipeg, including three at Charleswood Care Centre, two at Oakview Place and three at Park Manor Care Home.

Ontario‘s health minister on Sunday reported 1,677 cases of COVID-19, down from 1,873 new cases on Saturday. The latest breakdown of new cases in regions hardest hit shows 456 in Toronto, 356 in Peel Region and 143 in York Region.

Quebec recorded 1,994 new cases of infection on Sunday and 33 more deaths.

New Brunswick reported one new case as the Edmundston region entered its first day in the orange phase of restrictions since the early days of the pandemic.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported three new cases, of which two are travel-related.

Nova Scotia added seven new cases on Saturday, but its caseload fell from 65 to 61. Health officials also urged residents who live near the Eden Valley Poultry plant in Berwick to be tested for COVID-19 as a precaution after it closed amid an outbreak of cases.

Prince Edward Island recorded five new cases, all related to travel.

In the Northwest Territories, health officials confirmed a new case in Hay River and warned that passengers aboard two flights in the territory may have been exposed to COVID-19.

What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday morning, more than 71.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 46.9 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. The global death toll stood at more than 1.6 million.

Germany will close schools and non-essential stores from Wednesday until at least Jan. 10, cutting short the busy Christmas shopping season, as it tightens coronavirus restrictions and tries to rein in the spread of the disease, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 20,200 to 1,320,716, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Sunday. The reported death toll rose by 321 to 21,787, the tally showed.

Italy‘s special commissioner for the pandemic said on Sunday that the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 will begin in all 27 European Union countries on the same “symbolic” day, to be followed with individual countries’ rollouts of larger inoculation programs.

A passenger who just landed from New York on an Alitalia flight undergoes a rapid antigen swab test for COVID-19 on Dec. 9 at Rome’s Fiumicino airport. The testing area was set up as part of Italy’s first coronavirus-free corridor with the United States, scrapping the obligation for new arrivals from New York, Newark, N.J., and Atlanta to quarantine. (Andreas Solaro/FP via Getty Images)

Domenico Arcuri did not say when the first day was or how many people would be vaccinated that day.

Italy’s first phase of vaccinations, targeting 1.8 million health-care personnel and residents and staff of nursing homes, should be underway in mid-January, Arcuri said.

In the United States, the first trucks carrying a COVID-19 vaccine for widespread use pulled out of a Michigan manufacturing plant on Sunday, with the shots that are critical to curbing the spread of the pandemic destined to reach states a day later.

Workers on Sunday prepare boxes containing the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for shipment from the company’s manufacturing plant in Portage, south of Kalamazoo, Mich. (Morry Gash/The Associated Press)

Shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will set in motion the biggest vaccination effort in American history.

Initially, about three million doses are expected to be sent out, and the priority is health-care workers and nursing home residents. The novel coronavirus is blamed for killing nearly 300,000 Americans.

In Japan, the country’s daily coronavirus cases have exceeded 3,000 for the first time while the government delays stricter measures for fear of hurting the economy ahead of the holiday season.

The 3,030 new cases, including 621 in Tokyo, took Japan’s national tally to 177,287 with 2,562 deaths, the country’s Health Ministry said on Sunday.

Experts say serious cases are on the rise around the country, putting an extra burden on hospitals and affecting the daily medical treatment for other patients. They urged authorities to take measures such as suspending out-of-town trips and asking stores to close early.

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