Health officials across Canada continue to warn about the risks of gatherings as a family Thanksgiving dinner in Ontario is cited as the source of a major COVID-19 outbreak and British Columbia announces the death of an elderly woman who contracted the virus at a small birthday party.
In the case of the Thanksgiving dinner in Renfew County, Ont., up to 20 people attended the event, medical officer of health Dr. Robert Cushman told CBC News.
“Someone must have showed up to the event with COVID[-19], either they were asymptomatic or they didn’t pay attention to their symptoms,” he said. “And then it continued to spread.”
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About a dozen cases have been linked to the dinner so far, Cushman said.
Among them were two teenagers, which necessitated “some very aggressive contact tracing and testing in their particular high school,” he said. As a result, about 70 students missed at least a week of classes.
In British Columbia, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry highlighted the province’s most recent COVID-19 death — a woman in her 80s who contracted COVID-19 at a birthday party — as she urged residents to remain vigilant.
“Somebody unknowingly brought COVID-19 and even though it was a small party in one person’s home, the majority of people who were in that home became infected with COVID-19,” Henry said.
The birthday party, which had fewer than 10 people, took place in the Fraser Valley region, which has more than half of B.C.’s identified cases despite accounting for only 39 per cent of the population.
Health officials there are asking people to start limiting home gatherings to only those who live there, excepting the occasional family visitor. That goes beyond the province’s guidelines, which limit private gatherings to household members plus a “safe six.”
What’s happening in the rest of Canada
As of 7:30 a.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 228,542 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases, with 27,259 of those active. Provinces and territories listed 191,209 as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,074.
Alberta recorded a record-high 4,921 active COVID-19 cases on Thursday as it reported 477 new cases and five additional deaths.
The number of new cases continued a trend that has seen the daily total average more than 450 new cases for more than a week.
The province also announced that the COVID-19 symptom list for Albertans under the age of 18 is changing. Starting Monday, runny nose and sore throat will be removed from the list of symptoms that require mandatory isolation for children.
Saskatchewan reported 82 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, breaking its record for the highest single-day jump in new cases since the pandemic began.
Thirty-seven of those new cases were in Saskatoon, where new nightclub rules come into effect Friday prohibiting alcohol consumption between 10 p.m. and 9:30 a.m. and requiring the establishments to close between 11 p.m. and 9:30 a.m.
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Manitoba also had a record-breaking day Thursday with 193 new cases and 97 people in hospital with the illness — both new highs for the province. It also announced one new death.
The surge in cases is putting a strain on the health-care system, with parts of the province seeing a dwindling number of vacant beds in intensive care units. At St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, the hospital ran out of ICU room entirely on Thursday evening.
In Ontario, new provincial projections for COVID-19 show that virus growth is slowing and the province is seeing a “more gentle curve” than it was initially preparing for, public health officials say.
Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, who is advising the province on its pandemic response, said the province is now estimating a steady level of cases between 800 to 1,200 per day. However, he warned that COVID-19 “can dramatically turn, and you can have rapid, rapid growth, quite quickly.”
WATCH | Ontario seeing ‘more gentle’ COVID-19 curve than expected:
The province reported 934 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, pushing the seven-day average of new daily cases to nearly 900, and 10 more deaths.
Quebec reported 1,030 new cases of COVID-19 and 25 more deaths on Thursday, as federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu confirmed that the province would be receiving a much larger batch of rapid COVID-19 testing kits than previously announced.
The province will receive about 453,000 in total, with a little less than half of that order expected to arrive by the end of this week. That means Quebec will receive about 37 per cent of the 1.2 million kits being deployed across Canada by the federal government.
The Quebec government had said earlier in the week it was expecting a first shipment of about 30,000 testing kits.
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick was the only province to report new cases on Thursday.
The province announced four new confirmed cases, three in the Campbellton health region — which returned to a more restrictive orange level of COVID-19 recovery earlier this month — and one in the Moncton health region.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health, also said an outbreak has been declared at a special care home in Balmoral, and people who travel outside the Atlantic bubble for work will be subject to new isolation rules.
What’s happening around the world
A database maintained by Johns Hopkins University put the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases reported around the world since the pandemic began at more than 45.1 million as of Friday morning, with more than 30.3 million of those listed as recovered. The death toll reported by the U.S.-based university stood at more than 1.1 million.
The United States broke its single-day record for new coronavirus infections on Thursday, reporting at least 91,248 new cases, as 21 states reported their highest daily number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients since the pandemic started, according to a Reuters tally of publicly reported data.
More than 1,000 people died of the virus on Thursday, marking the third time in October that number has been passed in a single day. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has risen to 46,000, the highest since mid-August.
Among the hardest-hit states are those most hotly contested in Tuesday’s presidential election between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, such as Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Confirmed coronavirus infections in Slovakia have also hit a new record high as the country gets ready for countrywide testing.
The Health Ministry says the day-to-day increase in the country of 5.4 million reached 3,363 on Thursday, more than 300 above the previous record set on Saturday.
The government wants to use antigen tests, which are less accurate than polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests but have the advantage of producing faster results, for testing almost the entire population older than age 10 over the next two weekends. It’s not compulsory and is free of charge.
India reported 48,648 new coronavirus cases, continuing a month-long slowing trend in infections even as the country adds to its eight million cases.
The Health Ministry also reported 563 more fatalities in the past 24 hours, raising the confirmed death toll to 121,090.
Even as cases are dropping across the country, New Delhi is facing what could be a third wave of infections. The capital is India’s worst-hit city and is among the few regions in the country seeing further new infections, clocking more than 5,000 daily in the last three days. The surge comes while seasonal pollution levels are soaring in the capital, worsening respiratory illnesses.