Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Friday
Ontario in 'most serious situation we've been in' since start of COVID-19 pandemic, premier said Friday
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the province is facing the most "most serious situation" yet in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic after health officials announced more than 4,200 new cases.
The province reported 4,249 new cases of COVID-19, with 26 additional deaths. Health Minister Christine Elliott's office said in a statement that approximately 450 of the cases were from previous days and were reported Friday because of a "data upload delay" in Toronto.
Due to a data upload delay at Toronto Public Health, approximately 450 additional cases have been included in today’s count. These cases were primarily from January 5th and 6th.—@celliottability
The province also reported 26 additional deaths on Friday, bringing the provincial death toll to 4,882. Hospitalizations stood at 1,446, with 369 COVID-19 patients in intensive care.
Speaking Friday, Ford reiterated his call for people to follow public health measures as "hospital capacity is stretched to new limits."
The premier said the province will roll out additional modelling early next week.
"'There's going to be a wake-up call," Ford said of the models, although he declined to offer any details about what they suggest. He said no matter what governments do, people need to co-operate, follow the rules and avoid gatherings.
"Please, please, just follow the protocols," the premier said. "We're in a desperate situation."
Ford said there will be further measures because "this is getting out of control" but did not note what they might be or when they would be implemented.
"This is the most serious situation we've ever been in — ever, ever — since the beginning of this pandemic."
WATCH | Ontario premier implores people to follow public health protocols, talks about state of pandemic:
Ford, whose government has faced criticism over its vaccine distribution, said the province is working to get vaccines out in hotspots for now, and will expand as supply allows.
"If there's one thing the federal government can do — and they're trying, they're trying their best — we need more vaccines," Ford said at a media briefing on Friday when asked about how vaccine rollout will be handled in northern Ontario.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday repeated the government's commitment to vaccinating every Canadian who wants a shot by the end of September. The country will have to administer roughly 100,000 doses a day for the next 265 days if it's going to vaccinate every adult in Canada by that time.
"Quantities of both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccine will scale up in February. We need to make sure we're getting those doses as quickly as possible and I can assure you that we continue ongoing conversations with the companies about accelerating the schedule of delivery so we can get Canadians vaccinated as quickly and efficiently as possible," Trudeau said.
- After at least 234,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered, 9 people report adverse reactions: Health Canada
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics for the Public Health Agency of Canada, offered new numbers today on how many doses will be delivered in January and February — data he said should assure provinces that a steady supply of doses will be on hand for the foreseeable future.
All told, Canada is expected to receive four million doses of the Pfizer product and two million Moderna shots by the end of March — enough to vaccinate three million people.
What's happening across Canada
As of 6:40 p.m. ET, Canada had reported 644,348 cases of COVID-19, with 81,670 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 16,707.
Quebec, which recently updated its restrictions and announced a four-week curfew, is also facing a strained health system. The province reported 2,588 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and 45 additional deaths, bringing the provincial death toll to 8,606.
COVID-19 hospitalizations in Quebec increased to 1,403, with 207 COVID-19 positive people in the province's intensive care units, according to a provincial dashboard.
Short-term projections in <a href="https://twitter.com/OntarioHealthOH?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@OntarioHealthOH</a> memo I obtained yesterday says by Jan 24, hospitals will have more than 1,700 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19</a> patients, including more than 500 in intensive care. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19ontario?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#COVID19ontario</a> <a href="https://t.co/Vr0CWJaVcK">https://t.co/Vr0CWJaVcK</a>—@CBCQueensPark
Manitoba announced 222 new COVID-19 cases and nine new deaths on Friday. Chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said there has been a spike in cases related to gatherings over the holidays.
The latest update comes after the province extended its public health orders for two more weeks. Roussin said more time is needed to keep case numbers and the demand on hospitals in check, and he urged people to follow the rules.
Since mid-November, restaurants and bars have been limited to takeout and delivery services and non-essential stores have had to close except for curbside pickup. Public gatherings have been limited to five people and most social gatherings inside private homes have been forbidden.
Saskatchewan reported 336 new cases on Friday — the second day in a row that officials in the province recorded more than 300 new cases — and it announced seven additional deaths.
Alberta reported 1,183 new COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths on Friday. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, announced the province has detected its first case of a variant of COVID-19 first found in South Africa.
The case involved a recent traveller, who is now in quarantine. Hinshaw said there is no evidence the variant has spread to anyone else.
British Columbia health officials announced 617 new cases of COVID-19 and 18 more deaths. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said 358 people are in hospital, 75 of whom are in intensive care.
In the Northwest Territories, Indigenous leaders say the territorial government must address vaccine hesitancy if it wants to reach target immunization levels. The territory received 7,200 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine last week, and unveiled its vaccination strategy on Tuesday.
Inuvik MLA Lesa Semmler said information sessions should have been conducted earlier by community health nurses to increase confidence in the vaccine. "What really frustrates me is right now we're just only starting to release information. People need time. You need the health education before," said Semmler, who was a nurse and health advocate for 20 years before becoming an MLA.
In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported 18 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, while Nova Scotia reported two new cases..
With case numbers rising in New Brunswick, health officials urged people to follow the rules, be honest with contact tracers and support people who are in isolation because of a positive test or a contact.
Premier Blaine Higgs said Friday that if people follow the rules, the province should be able to avoid even tighter restrictions. "This thing could get away from us and that is exactly what's happening in other provinces," he told Information Morning Fredericton.
Nova Scotia, meanwhile, announced that it is tightening border restrictions with New Brunswick. As of 8 a.m. on Jan. 9, everyone coming into Nova Scotia from New Brunswick will have to self-isolate for 14 days. There are exceptions for those who are crossing the border due to work, a medical appointment, child custody arrangements or legal reasons.
The Canadian economy, meanwhile, posted its first monthly loss of jobs since April in December amid tightened public health restrictions to slow a resurgence in the pandemic.
Statistics Canada said Friday the economy lost 63,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate edged up to 8.6 per cent compared with 8.5 per cent in November. The job losses ended a streak of monthly job gains that began in May, when initial restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the pandemic began to ease.
What's happening around the world
As of Friday evening, more than 88.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 49.3 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 case tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 1.9 million.
In the Americas, the United States topped 4,000 coronavirus deaths in a single day for the first time, breaking a record set just one day earlier, as governors tried to ramp up the pace of vaccinations and open the line to elderly people and others.
The tally from Johns Hopkins University showed the nation had 4,085 deaths Thursday, along with nearly 275,000 new cases of the virus — evidence that the crisis is growing worse after family gatherings and travel over the holidays and the onset of winter, which is forcing people indoors.
U.S. president-elect Joe Biden says he'll speed release of coronavirus vaccines when he takes office Jan. 20.
His office says Biden will curtail the current practice of holding back vaccine doses to guarantee that people who get their first shot can also get a required second shot three weeks later.
Under the Trump administration's approach, the U.S. government has been holding back a supply of vaccines to guarantee that people get the booster shot.
After an initial glow of hope when vaccines were approved last month, the nation's vaccination campaign has gotten off to a slow start. Only 5.9 million of 29.4 million available doses have been distributed, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Brazil surpassed eight million COVID-19 cases on Friday, according to the country's health ministry. The news comes one day after its death toll from the pandemic topped 200,000.
In Europe, Britain recorded its highest daily death toll since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic on Friday — while London declared a major incident, warning that its hospitals were at risk of being overwhelmed.
Britain has the world's fifth-highest official death toll from COVID-19 at nearly 80,000. The 1,325 deaths reported within 28 days of a positive test on Friday surpassed the previous daily record from last April. A further 68,053 cases were reported, also a new daily high.
"Our hospitals are under more pressure than at any other time since the start of the pandemic, and infection rates across the entire country continue to soar at an alarming rate," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement.
WATCH | WHO says new U.K. studies confirm variant of COVID-19 more transmissible:
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, from the opposition Labour Party, said hospital beds in the capital would run out within the next few weeks because the spread of the virus was "out of control."
"We are declaring a major incident because the threat this virus poses to our city is at crisis point," Khan said.
London's last "major incident" was the Grenfell Tower fire in a high-rise residential block in 2017, when 72 people died.
Elsewhere, the executive branch of the European Union has secured 300 million extra doses of the coronavirus Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
Speaking during a news conference in Brussels on Friday, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the agreement will double the number of doses ordered by the 27-nation bloc. The EU commission later said in a statement that the commission has proposed to member states to purchase an additional 200 million doses of the vaccine, with the option to acquire another 100 million doses.
"This would enable the EU to purchase up to 600 million doses of this vaccine, which is already being used across the EU. The additional doses will be delivered starting in the second quarter of 2021," the EU said.
Combined with the contract finalized with Moderna — the second vaccine authorized so far in the region — Von der Leyen said the EU now has the capacity to vaccinate 380 million people, more than 80 per cent of the EU population.
Germany, meanwhile, reported a record 1,188 daily COVID-19 deaths on Friday, only days after further tightening a national lockdown.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Japan is considering extending a state of emergency from the Tokyo metropolitan area to other regions as cases increase, a move that could heighten the risk of a double-dip recession for the world's third-largest economy.
Beijing shut places of worship and authorities restricted access to a highway to the city of Shijiazhuang, which is battling a new cluster of infections.
Travellers to Australia will have to show a negative COVID-19 test before they can board their plane, as Brisbane went into lockdown after the discovery of a case of a virulent new variant.
The tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, meanwhile, reported its first COVID-19 death 10 months after initially detecting the virus and managing to keep the disease under control by largely sealing off the country.
In the Middle East, Israel tightened a national lockdown in a bid to curb a sharp rise in new cases, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promising that all Israeli adults could be vaccinated by the end of March.
South Africa, the hardest-hit country in Africa, said this week it will import 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to inoculate the country's health workers.
With files from Reuters, The Associated Press and The Canadian Press