As cases of coronavirus in provinces across Canada continued to rise, health and government officials are stressing the importance of following public health measures and introducing new restrictions designed to curb its spread.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the country is at a “crossroad” in its pandemic battle and the actions of individual Canadians will decide whether there’s a massive spike in COVID-19 cases coming.
“With minimal controls, the virus is capable of surging into a very sharp and intense peak because most Canadians don’t have immunity to the virus,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said during a news conference in Ottawa.
A new model presented by Canada’s top doctor on Tuesday, shows that the epidemic is accelerating nationally. They warned that if Canadians don’t step up preventative measures, the virus could spread out of control and trigger a wave of infections bigger than the first one.
Preventative measures include enhanced sanitation and hand washing, physical distancing and wearing masks.
Short-term projections show there could be up to 155,795 cases and up to 9,300 deaths by Oct. 3.
Meanwhile in Ontario, officials were expected to detail the province’s fall COVID-19 plan but instead, Premier Doug Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliot said those details will be laid out in stages in the coming days.
“If we lay it all out at once, the message isn’t going to get out to people,” Ford said at his daily news conference Tuesday, as he also introduced “the largest and most comprehensive flu campaign in Canada’s history.”
According to Ford, the first part of the plan is pushing people to get their flu shots this fall.
“We’ve ordered 5.1 million doses for the entire province and we are working to order even more,” he said, adding that the province will spend $70 million on the doses.
Ontario reported an additional 478 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the most of any single day since May 2.
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Ottawa also hit a new record on Tuesday, with 93 new coronavirus cases — surpassing the city’s previous single-day high of 76 that was set on April 29.
Ottawa has now had 3,772 people test positive for coronavirus, with more than 800 of those cases coming in September alone. Twenty-six more cases are now considered resolved, leaving 587 active cases, up 64 from Monday.
In Quebec, several private seniors’ residences are grappling with outbreaks, a trend that provincial officials are monitoring closely.
After a relatively stable summer, the number of COVID-19 cases in résidences pour aînés (RPA), or private seniors’ residences, has steadily crept upward from just 37 at the beginning of September to 157 on Sunday.
This comes as Quebec’s top public health official said Monday that a second wave of COVID-19 infections is underway and joined authorities in Montreal and Quebec City in urging people to reduce their social activities as much as possible in the weeks ahead.
The province reported 586 new cases on Monday, the highest daily increase since late May, when the first wave of infections began to taper off.
“With today’s numbers, I’m still very, very, very concerned about the situation, to the point that I consider that we are now at the start of the second wave,” said provincial Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda at a news conference in Quebec City.
Of the 35 RPA residences reporting cases, four — all located in outlying regions of Quebec — are considered critical, with more than a quarter of the residents confirmed positive.
At Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, another patient has died and 14 other patients and six staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.
It is the second death linked to the outbreak at the hospital. A total of 88 staff members are now in isolation, Alberta Health Services (AHS) said Tuesday. But the site remains fully staffed as it uses overtime and reassignments to cover shifts as needed.
AHS continues to investigate how the virus entered the affected units.
Also experiencing an outbreak is Winnipeg’s Parkview Place personal care home where seven residents have tested positive for COVID-19, after one staff member tested positive for the disease last week.
Two residents of the downtown care home tested positive over the weekend, and five residents tested positive on Monday, according to a letter signed by Dr. Rhonda Collins, chief medical officer of Revera Inc., the company that oversees the home.
What’s happening in the rest of Canada
As of 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had 146,417 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 126,246 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,274.
COVID-19 test kits are expected to be delivered to some pharmacies in Ontario “either the end of this week or … within the coming days,” said Allan Malek, chief pharmacy officer at the provincial pharmacists’ association.
But, he said, the provincial government has not given an official start date for testing at pharmacies. Only certain pharmacies will participate initially, and the tests will be administered by pharmacists.
Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall, Walmart Canada and smaller, independent pharmacies are expected to take part.
A student from H.B. Beal Secondary School in London, Ont., has tested positive for COVID-19.
While the Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU) said it won’t be disclosing any details about the case due to privacy, including if the person is a student or a staff member, CBC News has confirmed the case involves a student.
The province keeps a list of schools where there are active cases of the virus, detailing the number of students and staff infected. As of Monday evening, the provincial database had not been updated to include the London case.
MLHU said members of the school community who have been identified as close contacts to the confirmed case will be notified directly by the health unit and will be directed to get tested.
The University of Ottawa has notified students and faculty that its 2021 winter semester will be composed “primarily of remote learning, with only a few exceptions.”
The school has been adapting to teaching remotely, according to Jill Scott, the provost and vice-president of academic affairs, but the university also needs to look ahead as the public health risk COVID-19 poses persists.
“Due to the ongoing pandemic, it is now clear that there will be no large-scale return to campus soon,” wrote Scott in a memo sent to students and staff late Monday afternoon.
“This is not a decision that has been taken lightly. Nonetheless, after extensive research consultations with faculty and staff, and with public health officials, I am confident that this is the responsible choice for uOttawa.”
A teacher in British Columbia has made a workplace safety complaint after contracting COVID-19 from a student.
The teacher at Sentinel Secondary in West Vancouver was contacted on Saturday by the student becaue he was worried about his school work and wanted to continue studying online, according to the president of the teachers’ association.
By Sunday, she was feeling unwell. She tested positive for COVID-19 the same day.
The school confirmed to CBC News on Tuesday that two members of the school community had tested positive and are self-isolating at home.
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St. John’s International Airport will begin screening all departing passengers this week, an announcement that comes as Newfoundland and Labrador recorded no new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.
The province currently has one active case of the virus. The total caseload is 272, with 268 people recovered and three deaths.
Starting Wednesday, all people flying out of YYT will have their temperature taken, as will non-passengers who are entering the secure area of the airport.
The measures are already in place at the four biggest Canadian airports — Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.
What’s happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 31.4 million. More than 967,000 people have died, while over 21.5 million have recovered.
The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 200,000 Tuesday, a figure unimaginable eight months ago when the scourge first reached one of the world’s richest nations, with its sparkling laboratories, top-flight scientists and stockpiles of medicines and emergency supplies.
“It is completely unfathomable that we’ve reached this point,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins University public health researcher.
The bleak milestone, by far the highest confirmed death toll from the virus in the world, was reported by Johns Hopkins, based on figures supplied by state health authorities. But the real toll is thought to be much higher, in part because many COVID-19 deaths were probably ascribed to other causes, especially early on, before widespread testing was in place.
The number of dead in the U.S. is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 67 days. It is roughly equal to the population of Salt Lake City, Utah, or Huntsville, Ala.
WATCH | COVID-19 cases rise in Australian state of Victoria:
The premier of Australia’s Victoria state, where infections are on the rise, is encouraging people to get tested even if they have the mildest of symptoms.
“Extra positive cases because of a higher testing rate will not hold us back from taking safe and steady next steps,” Daniel Andrews said Tuesday. “What could hold us back is if we don’t have enough people coming forward and getting tested and we don’t think the test results are an accurate picture of how much virus is out there.”
He said he understands how difficult the circumstances are, but urged people to “show absolute determination … to fight the second wave and to fight it properly.”
The European Union summit has been postponed for a week because European Council President Charles Michel has gone into quarantine after a close collaborator was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Spokesperson Barend Leyts said Tuesday that Michel “today learned that a security officer, with whom he was in close contact early last week, tested positive for COVID.”
The summit set for Thursday and Friday was to address issues as wide-ranging as Brexit negotiations, climate change and the tensions between Greece and Turkey over energy rights.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tightened restrictions as the United Kingdom faces what he called a “turning point” in the pandemic
“A month ago, on average around a thousand people across the U.K. were testing positive for coronavirus everyday,” Johnson said Tuesday. “The latest figure almost quadrupled to 3,929.”
He said the number of cases is growing fastest among people age 29 to 39, though the virus is also spreading to other, more vulnerable age groups.
Johnson asked people who can work from home to do so while pubs, bars and restaurants in England must close at 10 p.m. and operate a table service only.
That means customers will not be allowed to order at the bar.
Governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland both went further — Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that with a few exceptions people will be barred from visiting others’ homes.
WATCH | England sets new restrictions to curb COVID-19:
Indonesia on Tuesday reported its biggest daily rise in coronavirus deaths with 160 fatalities, data from the country’s COVID-19 task force showed.
The nation has 9,837 deaths overall, the highest death toll in Asia outside India. It also reported 4,071 new coronavirus infections, bringing the total number of cases in the Southeast Asian country to 252,923.
Health officials in Israel fear that a three-week lockdown, imposed on Friday to curb a new spike of COVID-19 cases, may not be long or restrictive enough to slow the daily toll and relieve hospitals that they warn could soon reach capacity.
New cases have reached daily highs of more than 5,000 among the nation’s population of nine million, sharply rebounding from single-digit lows following a relatively stricter initial lockdown from March to May.
On the front lines of Israel’s second COVID-19 wave are doctors and nurses working around the clock at Ichilov hospital, where half of 60 COVID-19 patients are in serious condition and require ventilation, according to a hospital spokesperson.
Australia’s virus hot spot of Victoria on Tuesday reported a more than doubling in new COVID-19 infections, likely as a result of increased testing, while states elsewhere in the country said border restrictions would be relaxed as case numbers dwindled.
Officials said the northeastern state of Queensland would open its borders to parts of neighbouring New South Wales (NSW), the country’s most populous state, amid growing confidence that Australia’s second wave of infections has been contained.
NSW has maintained new daily infections in the single digits since Sept. 11, reporting only two cases in the past 24 hours, both of which were overseas travellers already in quarantine.
President Rodrigo Duterte says he has extended a state of calamity in the Philippines by a year to allow the government to draw emergency funds faster in order to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and harness the police and military to maintain law and order.
Duterte first placed the country under a state of calamity in March when the number of confirmed infections was approaching 200 with about a dozen deaths. The country now has more than 290,000 confirmed cases, the highest in Southeast Asia, with nearly 5,000 deaths.
The tough-talking president lashed out at critics in his televised remarks late Monday for accusing his administration of not doing enough to contain the outbreak.
The number of people testing positive for coronavirus totalled 88 in Tokyo Tuesday, the second straight day that Japan’s capital had fewer than 100 cases.
The Tokyo Metropolitan government said Tuesday the current cumulative number for those infected in the city is 24,394, 30 of them serious cases.
The drop in cases may be partly caused by the four-day weekend including two national holidays that run through Tuesday, which sees many people leave the city for leisure and not being tested.
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