Ontario, Manitoba report record new COVID cases; Atlantic bubble bursts as N.L., P.E.I. withdraw for 2 weeks

The latest:

Ontario reported a record high daily COVID-19 case number on Monday with 1,589 new cases and 19 additional deaths, bringing the death toll in the province to 3,505.

The update on Monday came after people in Toronto and Peel Region woke up to new rules after the province announced a lockdown period for those regions set to last at least 28 days. Non-essential stores in those regions will be closed to shoppers, and restaurants can only offer takeout and delivery.

Hospitalizations increased to 507 while the number of people in ICU increased to 156, according to a provincial dashboard.

Premier Doug Ford also announced that the province has appointed retired Gen. Rick Hillier to lead Ontario’s vaccine rollout. Hillier previously served as the chief of defence staff of the Canadian Forces for three years.

Ford said planning is already underway with vaccine manufacturers for the rollout expected in early 2021. Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province will receive 1.6 million doses of Pfizer’s new vaccine and 800,000 doses of Moderna’s vaccine.

WATCH | Ford discusses decision to close small business in locked-down regions:

Ontario Premier Doug Ford admitted it’s ‘not fair’ to small business that big box stores can stay open when small stores without ‘essential’ items are forced to close because of enhanced pandemic restrictions.   1:05

Meanwhile, businesses struggling to pay the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to start applying today for a long-awaited new commercial rent relief program offered by the federal government.

The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy replaces an earlier rent-support program for businesses introduced in the spring that saw little pickup because it relied on landlords applying for help.

The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest on a sliding scale based on revenue declines, with an extra 25 per cent available to the hardest-hit firms.

Manitoba reported 543 COVID-19 cases —  a new daily record — as well as seven more deaths, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin announced. The province where health officials recently imposed strict measures to try to get a handle on rising case numbers.

“It might be easier to just think of these as numbers, but these are Manitobans,” Roussin said. “The list continues to grow and it’s very challenging to be reading every day.”

WATCH | Manitoba’s premier takes questions over his government’s handling of COVID-19:

As G20 leaders, including Canada, vow to ensure equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines, there are greater calls for a national vaccine rollout strategy in Canada. 3:31

In Atlantic Canada, which has so far been spared the worst of the global pandemic, two premiers told residents of their provinces that travel guidelines are changing.

Newfoundland and Labrador‘s premier said that a decision to temporarily pull out of the Atlantic bubble is meant to stave off a second wave and try to protect the upcoming holiday season.

As of Wednesday, people arriving in the province from other “bubble” provinces will have to self-isolate for two weeks.

Prince Edward Island also moved on Monday to suspend non-essential travel to and from the island for a two-week period. Premier Dennis King described the move as “an extra layer of caution.”

The provinces joined the Atlantic bubble in July, which allowed residents of the four Atlantic provinces to travel freely between the provinces without self-isolating.

Newfoundland reported two new cases on Monday for a total caseload of 321. P.E.I. added one new case, bringing the total number of cases reported in the island province to 69.

New Brunswick reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 and one new death. Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, urged residents to “please, wear a mask” and keep their close contacts low. “We must all remain vigilant. There has never been a time when the risk was zero,” she said.

Nova Scotia reported 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the highest single day case number since May.

WATCH | P.E.I. pulls out of Atlantic bubble over COVID-19 worries:

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King said the province is temporarily suspending its participation in the Atlantic bubble after coronavirus cases began rising within the region.  1:18

What’s happening across Canada

As of 2:30 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 334,073, with 55,540 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,499.

Quebec on Monday reported 1,164 cases of COVID-19 and 13 deaths, including three reported to have occurred in the last 24 hours. Hospitalizations stood at 634, with 98 in intensive care, according to the province.

Nunavut reported four new cases of COVID-19 on Monday after adding dozens of new cases over the weekend. The territory, which is in the midst of a so-called circuit-breaker lockdown, has now seen a total of 134 cases.

Health officials in Alberta reported 1,584 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday with 319 hospitalizations and 60 in intensive care. 

Saskatchewan, meanwhile, reported 236 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday after hitting a record high on Saturday. 

Premier Scott Moe, who has been facing pressure from some to step up restrictions, said Saturday that public health officials will “have more to say early next week.”

Health officials in that province on Sunday listed 99 people as hospitalized, with 19 in intensive care.

The Northwest Territories, meanwhile, had no new cases over the weekend. 

In Yukon, health officials reported three more cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, saying two of the cases were linked to previously identified cases and one was linked to out-of-province travel.

Health officials in British Columbia don’t release updated COVID-19 figures over the weekend. The province reported 516 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the number of active cases to 7,122.

What’s happening around the world

As of early Monday afternoon, there were more than 58.8 million COVID-19 cases worldwide, with more than 37.6 million of those cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a case tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University.

AstraZeneca says that late-stage trials showed its COVID-19 vaccine was up to 90 per cent effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is easier to distribute than some of its rivals.

The results reported Monday are based on an interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late stage results for its potential COVID-19 vaccine as public health officials around the world anxiously wait for vaccines that will end the pandemic that has killed almost 1.4 million people.

Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the Oxford-AstraZeneca candidate doesn’t have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries. All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed.

WATCH | Prioritizing access to COVID-19 vaccines in Canada:

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister insists his province’s restrictions are the most stringent in the country. 8:00

In the Americas, public health officials in the U.S. are sounding alarms and urging people not to travel and limit gatherings this holiday season amid a new surge in coronavirus cases.

But that isn’t stopping the White House from planning a host of festivities, including holiday parties, which kicked off Monday with the arrival of the White House Christmas tree.

“Attending the parties will be a very personal choice,” said Stephanie Grisham, first lady Melania Trump’s spokesperson and chief of staff. “It is a longstanding tradition for people to visit and enjoy the cheer and iconic decor of the annual White House Christmas celebrations.”

First lady Melania Trump is seen with the 2020 official White House Christmas tree as it arrived Monday. (Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press)

On Tuesday, the events will continue as President Donald Trump participates in the annual pardoning of the National Thanksgiving Turkey at a ceremony in the Rose Garden.

Trump has remained largely behind closed doors since he lost his bid for reelection. He has refused to concede, lodging baseless allegations of voter fraud in an attempt to subvert the results and undermine one of the basic tenants of democracy.

The White House has already been the site of several suspected “super-spreader” events and dozens of staff — along with the president, the first lady and their son — have been infected, along with a long list of campaign aides and other advisers.  

In Europe, haircuts, shopping trips and visits to the pub will be back on the agenda for millions of people when a four-week lockdown in England comes to an end next week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday.

Johnson confirmed to lawmakers that on Dec. 2 the government will lift the stay-at-home instruction introduced early this month to curb a new surge in coronavirus cases.

Shops, gyms, personal care businesses and leisure facilities will be allowed to reopen, and collective worship, weddings and outdoor sports can resume. Fans will also be allowed back into sports stadiums for the first time since March.

Johnson said “the scientific cavalry is now in sight,” and breakthroughs in mass testing and vaccines should eliminate the need for lockdowns by spring. But first, he said, “we must get through winter without the virus spreading out of control and squandering our hard-won gains.” 

He said England’s lockdown will be replaced with regional measures involving three tiers of restrictions based on the scale of the outbreak in different areas. 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says a national COVID-19 vaccination plan will be launched in January.

A waiter stands at the entrance of a bar in Barcelona on Monday after Spain’s Catalonia region allowed bars, restaurants, gyms and cinemas to reopen, gradually easing some of the restrictions put in place to tackle COVID-19. (Nacho Doce/Reuters)

Sanchez said the vaccine will be administered at 13,000 locations across Spain and “a very substantial part of the population” can be vaccinated in the first half of next year. Further details are expected on Tuesday.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the head of emergencies at the World Health Organization said it’s “extremely important” for its international team to visit China to look into the origins of the coronavirus, saying the United Nations health agency has been reassured such a trip will happen “as soon as possible.”

Dr. Michael Ryan said such a visit is needed so that “the international community can be reassured of the quality of the science” that he lamented has been increasingly questioned for political ends — including pressure and threatening e-mails against scientists.

“Clearly, we all need to understand the origin of the virus. We all need to understand where it has come from, not least to understand where it may re-emerge in the future,” Ryan told a news conference from Geneva. “I believe our Chinese colleagues are just as anxious to find those answers as we are.”

Ten months after its declaration that COVID-19 represented an international public health emergency, WHO is still working to deploy an international team of experts to China to visit the suspected epicentre in the city of Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province.

In the Middle East, the Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank has announced a partial two-week lockdown to clamp down on the coronavirus’s spread as new cases have rapidly increased.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Monday that the West Bank will be under a full lockdown on the weekends, and a curfew will be imposed from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. on weekdays. All non-essential businesses will be closed during the lockdown periods.

South Africa remains the hardest-hit country in Africa, with more than 767,000 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 21,000 deaths.

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