Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Dec. 20

Ontario and Quebec, the two provinces hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, both reported daily case counts of the respiratory illness surpassing 2,000 on Sunday — while Nunavut reported its first two COVID-19-related deaths.

Ont. to impose lockdown across province; Que. sees record new COVID-19 cases

A health-care worker pauses during a lull in visitors at a COVID-19 testing centre in Toronto on Sunday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

The latest:

Ontario and Quebec, the two provinces hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, both reported daily case counts of the respiratory illness beyond 2,000 on Sunday — with the latter setting a new single-day record — while Nunavut reported its first two COVID-19-related deaths.

Ontario which registered 2,316 more confirmed cases on Sunday, topping 2,000 cases for the sixth consecutive day  — is poised to impose a province-wide lockdown starting Christmas Eve, sources tell CBC News.

In Quebec, health officials reported a record 2,146 new cases on Sunday and 21 more deaths.

It's the second day in a row that the province has seen more than 2,000 new infections.

A person wearing a face mask walks through McGill University during light snowfall in Montreal on Sunday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Nunavut's health authorities on Sunday confirmed the territory's first-ever deaths from COVID-19. They said a resident of Arviat and another from Rankin Inlet died of complications related to COVID-19 on Saturday.

The new figures come a day after Canada surpassed the half-million mark in reported cases of COVID-19, and New Brunswick became the last province to launch its inoculation program.

The latest 100,000 cases were recorded across the country over just 15 days — the shortest growth period since the pandemic was declared in March.

It took six months for Canada to register its first 100,000 cases of the virus, another four to reach 200,000, less than a month to hit 300,000 and 18 days to hit 400,000.

What's happening across Canada

As of 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada's COVID-19 case count stood at 507,795, with 76,859 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 14,228.

In British Columbia, Northern Health has declared an outbreak at two accommodation sites for workers on the Coastal GasLink LNG pipeline project near Burns Lake. In a written statement, the health authority says 27 people have tested positive for the virus so far, and 17 cases are still active.

Alberta announced 1,286 new COVID-19 cases and 10 additional deaths on Sunday.

A person wears a face mask while skating in Edmonton on Sunday. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Saskatchewan reported 226 new infectionss and three new fatalities. The province also declared two new outbreaks at long-term care homes.

Manitoba registered 229 new cases and 13 more deaths. Meanwhile, the government said it is expanding the criteria for front-line health-care workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

New Brunswick's active caseload fell by four after the province reported no new infections and removed four previous cases from its tally — two due to false positives and the other two attributed to out-of-province cases.

Newfoundland and Labrador recorded two new cases on Sunday, but the province's active caseload remains at 31 as two recoveries were also announced. 

Nova Scotia added two more cases. On Monday, restrictions are being eased or tightened in parts of the province.

The Northwest Territories says the government will foot the cost of self-isolation for residents returning from education or training programs outside the territory.

What's happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 76.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 43.1 million of those cases considered recovered or resolved, according to a COVID-19 tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The global death toll stood at more than 1.6 million.

In Europe, a number of countries have suspended travel to the U.K. after a new strain of the virus was discovered.

Countries including Canada, the Netherlands, Israel, Belgium, Austria, France and Italy said Sunday they would halt flights to the U.K. after the government imposed tough new coronavirus restrictions on large areas of southern England to curb what officials described as a fast-moving new strain of the virus.

WATCH | Multiple countries halt travel to and from the U.K.:

Multiple countries halt travel to and from the U.K.

1 year ago
Duration 3:27
With a new strain of coronavirus sweeping across southern England, several EU countries have stopped travel to and from the U.K.

In Asia, South Korea has recorded more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for the fifth consecutive day, with about 70 per cent of the new infections coming from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area. 

The pace of the spread has already met government conditions for raising physical-distancing rules to their highest level, but officials have been reluctant to move forward with the measure out of worries for the economy.

A worker sprays disinfectant at a COVID-19 testing site in Seoul on Sunday. (Lee Jin-man/The Associated Press)

In the Americas, shipments of Moderna Inc.'s COVID-19 vaccine began leaving U.S. warehouses early on Sunday, heading for health-care facilities around the country in a push to distribute the nation's second approved coronavirus vaccine.

Employees at distribution centres in the Memphis area of Tennessee and in Olive Branch, Miss., could be seen boxing up the vaccine. The first shots were expected to be administered starting as early as Monday, just three days after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized their rollout.

Boxes containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are prepared to be shipped at a distribution center in Olive Branch, Miss., on Sunday. (Paul Sancya/Reuters)

In Africa, the South African government has said it identified a new variant of the coronavirus that is driving a second wave of infections. The World Health Organization said it is working with researchers in the country to see if the variant is more transmissible and how it will affect future diagnosis, treatment and vaccine development.

Meanwhile, Israel and Germany have said they are restricting travel to and from the country over concerns about the new strain.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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