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 coronavirus.
“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 11:20 a.m. ET on Thursday, provinces and territories in Canada had reported a cumulative total of 280,001 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 224,960 cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,745.
Across Canada’s North, there were two new cases reported on Wednesday: one in Nunvaut and one in the Northwest Territories. Nunavut has now seen three confirmed cases of COVID-19 while the Northwest Territories have had a total of 11 confirmed cases.
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 with 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 on Thursday reported 1,575 cases of COVID-19, with 472 in Toronto, 448 in Peel Region, 155 in York Region and 91 in Ottawa. The province reported 15 additional deaths, bringing the number of COVID-19 deaths reported in Ontario since the outbreak began to 3,293.
There were 431 people in hospital with 98 in intensive care, according to a provincial dashboard.
Dr. Samantha Hill, president of the Ontario Medical Association, told CBC News Network on Thursday that she’s concerned about the rising numbers in Ontario.
“If we keep increasing at such a fast rate, we are looking at overwhelming health-care resources,” she said, adding that health-care workers are struggling and at risk of burnout.
“There’s so much backlog of health care — that pandemic deficit that was created — we can’t afford to fall further behind and we can’t afford to lose more of our resources.”
Quebec on Thursday reported 1,365 new cases of COVID-19 and 42 more deaths, including nine reported to have occurred in the past 24 hours. The province reported 583 hospitalizations with 86 in intensive care.
No province in Canada has seen more COVID-19 cases than Quebec, which has seen a cumulative total of nearly 120,000 cases and 6,557 deaths.
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday.
What’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 9:45 a.m. ET
More than 52 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported around the world with more than 34 million of those listed as recovered, according to a Johns Hopkins University case-tracking tool. The worldwide death toll stood at more than 1,286,000, 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.
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.
Meanwhile, in the United States Dr. Anthony Fauci said he hopes a broad embrace of public health measures aimed at fighting COVID-19 will allow the country to avoid locking down.
“If you can do that well, you don’t have to take that step that people are trying to avoid, which has so many implications both psychologically and economically,” he said. “We’d like not to do that.”
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday that vaccines being developed “are going to have a major positive impact” once they start being deployed.
Health-care workers and some high-risk populations could receive vaccines as early as December or early next year, he said. The “ordinary citizen” may be able to get a vaccine sometime between the end of April and June.
“It’s quite unusual to release these results partway through a trial.” Today, <a href=”https://twitter.com/mle_chung?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@mle_chung</a> tells us what we need to know about the latest Pfizer vaccine results and how far along we are in the COVID-19 vaccine race: <a href=”https://t.co/OESAeAX9dS”>https://t.co/OESAeAX9dS</a>
In the meantime, Fauci said there are fundamental things Americans can do to stem the spread of the deadly virus. They include “universal and uniform” wearing of masks, avoiding crowds, keeping physical distance, doing as many activities as possible outdoors and washing hands. He said that sounds simple against a very difficult challenge but “it really does make a difference.”
Fauci’s message echoes that of president-elect Joe Biden, who this week signalled strongly that fighting the raging pandemic will be the immediate priority of his administration.
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, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has been hospitalized after testing positive for the novel virus. Spokesperson Iuliia Mendel told The Associated Press his symptoms remain mild and there is “nothing serious” in his condition. Zelensky disclosed Monday that he had contracted the virus.
Mendel said he was moved to a hospital in Kyiv because “there are better conditions for self-isolation and care for coronavirus patients.”
Zelensky’s chief of staff, defence minister and finance minister have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
On Wednesday, Ukraine’s government ordered non-essential businesses to shut down on weekends to stem the rapid growth of the outbreak.
Health officials reported another record 11,057 coronavirus cases on Thursday. Ukraine has reported a total of 500,865 confirmed cases and 9,145 deaths.
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.
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.