Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday
Alberta grapples with rising hospitalizations, Manitoba reports new daily high
- Manitoba sets record high in cases second day in a row.
- WestJet slashes service to Atlantic Canada and Quebec City.
- Ontario reports 721 new COVID-19 cases, slight dip from previous two days.
- Ottawa's top doctor says no to trick-or-treating — contrary to Dr. Tam's advice.
- Quebec reports 844 new COVID-19 cases, plus 359 previously uncounted cases.
- Hospitalizations hit new high in Alberta.
- Outbreak at Hamilton spin studio climbs to 69 cases.
- Melania Trump says son Barron previously tested positive for coronavirus.
- U.K. resists national lockdown despite study suggesting it could save lives.
- Iran virus death toll hits record high, 3rd time in week.
- The Czech Republic becomes Europe's largest COVID-19 hot spot, closes schools.
- France to restore state of emergency, reimpose curfew.
While Ontario and Quebec have recently rolled out new restrictions in their hardest-hit regions to try to stem a surge in COVID-19 cases, some of Canada's smaller provinces in the Prairie region and Atlantic Canada are also beginning to see an alarming uptick in numbers.
Manitoba reported its fourth record-breaking day in less than a week, with 146 new cases on Wednesday. It was the second day in a row the province saw a triple-digit tally.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, said most of the new cases — 114 of them — are in Winnipeg.
Roussin said Tuesday that the city hit a test positivity rate of 4.4 per cent. Manitoba set a new record for the provincewide rate at 3.5 per cent on Tuesday as well.
WATCH | Manitoba's public health officer implores people not to go out while symptomatic:
The test positivity rate is a rolling average of the proportion of COVID-19 tests that come back positive, and Roussin has said it's a critical metric in the spread of the virus.
Roussin said another lockdown isn't needed now since the health-care system is still keeping up with demand, but warned that climbing case counts and growing community transmission have strained contact tracing resources.
Meanwhile, recent outbreaks in New Brunswick are causing concern about what it could mean for the Atlantic bubble.
New Brunswick reported eight new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday. Yesterday, the province also declared an outbreak at Manoir de la Sagesse, a special-care home in Campbellton. This follows an outbreak at another special-care home in Moncton.
The new numbers on Wednesday bring the province's total number of cases to 90. Five of those people are in hospital and one is in intensive care.
The recent developments have prompted the Chief Public Health Office in P.E.I. to advise Islanders to avoid non-essential travel in and out of the Moncton region.
The rising case count in their neighbouring province has some P.E.I. businesses worried. Maritime Bus owner Mike Cassidy said about half of his company's daily travel is between provinces, and if the new cases lead to closing the Atlantic bubble, it could mean an 80 per cent decline in revenue.
WATCH | N.S. mayor says border checks still needed in Atlantic bubble:
The pandemic's impact on travel was further driven home on Wednesday as WestJet announced it is slashing service to Atlantic Canada and Quebec City.
As of Nov. 2, the Calgary-based airline will no longer fly to Moncton, Fredericton, Sydney, Charlottetown or Quebec City. It will also drastically cut back service to St. John's and Halifax.
The elimination of 100 flights represents about 80 per cent of the airline's service in and out of Atlantic Canada. The decision will result in the cutting of about 100 jobs.
Health Canada has also added another five hand sanitizers to its evolving recall list. You can read the list here. Products were either recalled for containing technical-grade ethanol without authorization, for containing methanol or for missing risk statements.
A new study was also released Wednesday that found parents and women in Canada have had their mental health impacted by the pandemic more severely than other groups.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto surveyed more than 1,000 adults between Sept.18 and 22 and found 30 per cent of parents living at home with children under the age of 18 reported feeling depressed. That figure is around 10 per cent higher than adults who do not live with kids, the report states.
The study mirrors reports in the last few months that found women, and mothers in particular, are expected to be the primary caregiver, and now help with online schooling while keeping up with their own careers and lives.
What's happening across Canada
As of 7:20 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 189,385 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 159,351 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 9,663.
Ontario reported 721 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, a slight dip from the previous two days.
The majority of new cases were in Toronto and Peel and York regions. Tighter restrictions were imposed on Toronto and Peel Region, as well as Ottawa, on Friday in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.
Wednesday's numbers come as the province works to decide which of Ontario's long-term care homes will receive assistance from the Canadian Red Cross. A Ministry of Long-Term Care spokesperson said Tuesday details of the deployment will be finalized over the coming days.
As well, outings will be paused for long-term care homes in regions where community spread is high, the government announced Wednesday. That means seniors living in homes within Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region will not be allowed short-term or temporary absences from the facility, beginning Oct. 16.
Ontario's network of hospital and commercial labs only processed 32,200 tests on Tuesday, which is notably fewer than the number of tests completed daily. The province is working through a backlog of 92,000 tests, which is now at 26,558.
The province's goal by mid-October is to complete 50,000 tests a day.
At a Wednesday news conference, Premier Doug Ford also said that 100 contact tracers of the planned 600 had been hired, and many are starting this week. The other 500 will be hired by mid-November. The tracers are being onboarded as Toronto Public Health announced earlier this month that it no longer has the capacity to call close contacts of positive cases.
In Ottawa, the city's medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches, told residents that trick-or-treating isn't advised this year — contrary to advice given Tuesday by Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer. Tam had said going door-to-door on Halloween is fine if health protocols are followed.
Ottawa currently has the worst rate of COVID-19 transmission in the province and is considered a hot spot. At a news conference Wednesday, Etches said she supports the province's decision to close restaurants and bars for 28 days. She said transmission can be occurring at those venues through household mixing, even if there aren't outbreaks officially recorded.
WATCH | Ottawa has become a COVID-19 hot spot in Ontario:
Businesses owners have called for more concrete proof that restaurants are truly fuelling the city's COVID-19 cases.
There are also concerns that Toronto and GTA residents are skirting strict new health measures that include the closing of gyms for a month by visiting facilities just outside the city limits. There were long lines at a gym in Markham, Ont., after Toronto gyms were shut down.
Also, some Ontario school boards said this week that they will not hold final exams for the school year due to the pandemic.
A Hamilton spin studio continues to be the epicentre of an outbreak in the city, with 69 positive cases linked to Spinco.
Of those, 46 are primary cases (44 patrons, two staff members) and 23 are secondary "household spread" cases, such as friends, family or other contacts.
The outbreak is the largest the city has experienced since the pandemic began and has highlighted the safety concerns of fitness facilities overall, as Spinco followed all public health orders.
Quebec is reporting 1,203 new cases of coronavirus, 844 of which are from the past 24 hours.
Authorities said Wednesday 359 cases between Oct. 10 and Oct. 12 weren't previously reported because of a technical problem. With the previously uncounted cases, the rolling average of new cases over the past seven days has increased from 960 to 1,011.
The province is also reporting one death attributed to the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours and five other COVID-19 deaths from previous dates.
Quebec is also seeing high demand for the flu shot this fall, a trend seen in other provinces as well, as residents aim to protect themselves from the flu and lessen the burden on the health care system.
However, pharmacies and regional health authorities are struggling to keep up with demand for the vaccine and the online booking system crashed Tuesday. The province has ordered two million doses, 400,000 more than last year.
In Nova Scotia, no new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Wednesday after the province completed 401 tests for the virus.
There are currently four active cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia and one person is hospitalized in the ICU.
Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said Wednesday that coronavirus cases in New Brunswick do not pose an increased risk for residents in Nova Scotia at this time.
There is currently no evidence of community spread in New Brunswick, Strang said at a news conference. Current cases in that province so far are linked to specific outbreaks, including one at a long-term care home in Moncton.
Nova Scotia is the only province in the Atlantic bubble that has not issued special guidance for residents who plan to travel to COVID-19 hot spots in New Brunswick.
WATCH | Respirologist's tips on keeping safe during Halloween:
Saskatchewan is reporting 25 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total number of active cases to 254. Seven people are currently in hospital in the province, with six in the ICU.
On Tuesday, chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab announced new measures to reduce the size of gatherings allowed inside private homes to 15, down from 30.
Officials in Yukon announced Wednesday that a previously identified "probable" case of COVID-19 was a false alarm.
An individual had tested positive Sunday in Whitehorse using a GeneXpert rapid test. However, a second test was sent to a B.C. lab for validation and it was found to be negative.
Hospitalizations related to coronavirus infections in Alberta are reaching a new high. On Tuesday the province reported 243 new cases, adding to the 961 new infections announced between Friday and Monday.
As of Tuesday, 100 people were hospitalized and 14 are in the ICU. That's up from a previous peak of 93 hospitalizations in July.
On Wednesday, British Columbia reported another 158 cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths. Currently there are 1,496 active cases of the virus and of those cases, 84 are hospitalized and 24 are in intensive care.
- As COVID-19 cases climb in long-term care homes, experts hope to avoid locking down residents
- Pandemic has lengthened wait times for surgery, leaving hundreds of patients in limbo
- Give young people alternatives, not lectures, to manage COVID-19 spread, say experts
- 5 hand sanitizers added to Health Canada's evolving recall list
- Parents, women among Canadians struggling most with mental health during pandemic: surveys
- Canada Soccer cancels women's national team camp in England due to COVID-19
What's happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 38.3 million. More than one million people have died, while more than 26.5 million have recovered.
In the United States, NBC News has agreed to put Donald Trump before voters in a town hall event in Miami on Thursday after the U.S. president submitted to an independent coronavirus test, with the results reviewed by the country's top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.
The announcement sets up duelling town halls with Democratic opponent Joe Biden on a night the two candidates were supposed to meet for their second debate. Biden is appearing at a similar town hall event in Philadelphia, televised by ABC.
WATCH | Trump returns to campaigning after COVID-19 diagnosis:
Trump, who tested positive for coronavirus on Oct. 2 and spent three days at the Walter Reed military hospital, took a coronavirus test Tuesday administered by the National Institutes of Health, NBC said.
Both NIH clinical director Dr. Clifford Lane and Fauci reviewed Trump's medical records and said they had a high degree of confidence that the president is "not shedding infectious virus."
Trump's wife Melania on Wednesday evening said the couple's teenage son tested positive for the coronavirus not long after his parents, who announced they were both positive on Oct 2.
Barron Trump, 14, had no symptoms and has since tested negative, she said. The president's wife also detailed her experience with COVID-19 in a public statement, saying she experienced a "roller coaster" of symptoms.
The World Bank said Wednesday it approved $12 billion in financing to help developing countries buy and distribute coronavirus vaccines, tests and treatments. The bank plans to support the vaccination of 1 billion people.
The world's richest countries have secured much of the potential vaccine supply through 2021, drawing concern that those living in poorer nations will be without the same access to treatments.
The British government on Wednesday resisted a short lockdown for all of England, despite calls from the opposition to shut the country down for two weeks as a "circuit breaker," a step that a new scientific study said could save thousands of lives.
With cases rapidly rising, the British government opted this week for a three-tiered system of local measures. The Liverpool area became the first part of the country in the highest category, requiring bars, gyms and other businesses to shut, perhaps for months.
On Wednesday, British-ruled Northern Ireland, which is outside the tier system, announced the toughest U.K. coronavirus measures since the pre-summer peak, shutting restaurants and suspending schools.
The British government's critics say a short, sharp countrywide lockdown could be more effective than local measures, and would spread the economic burden more fairly.
According to a study from some of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's scientific advisers, if daily deaths reach 200 by Oct. 24, as many as 80,000 more people in Britain could die by the end of the year. A two-week lockdown could save half of them. Even in less extreme scenarios, it could save thousands of lives.
Poland reported a record 6,526 new coronavirus infections and 116 deaths on Wednesday and doctors warned the health-care system was becoming overloaded. The country of 38 million has now recorded 141,804 confirmed coronavirus cases and 3,217 deaths.
"I don't have any good information. We are on the brink of disaster," immunologist Pawel Grzesiowski told private radio station RMF. He said Poland should be doing more testing, closing schools and supporting doctors in their fight against the pandemic.
For the third time in a week, Iran has seen its highest single-day record for new deaths and infections from the coronavirus.
A Health Ministry spokesperson on Wednesday said 279 people have died in the past day, in addition to 4,830 new patients.
Iran also announced a travel ban to and from five major cities, including the capital of Tehran and the holy city of Mashhad. The ban is meant to prevent spread of the virus ahead of an important religious holiday.
Iran is struggling with the worst outbreak in the Middle East, with more than 513,000 confirmed cases. It has seen over 29,300 deaths and 414,800 recoveries.
In Japan, a supercomputer showed that humidity can have a large effect on the dispersion of virus particles, pointing to heightened contagion risks in dry, indoor conditions during the winter months.
The finding suggests that the use of humidifiers may help limit infections during times when window ventilation is not possible, according to a study released by research giant Riken and Kobe University.
The researchers used the Fugaku supercomputer to model the emission and flow of virus-like particles from infected people in a variety of indoor environments.
China says it has carried out more than 4.2 million tests in the eastern port city of Qingdao, with no new cases of coronavirus found among the almost two million sets of results received.
The city has reported a total of 12 cases, six with symptoms and six without, since the new outbreak was first spotted over the weekend at a hospital.
China on Wednesday reported 27 new cases of coronavirus, including 13 new cases of local transmission and 14 cases brought from outside the country.
China has reported a total of 4,634 deaths among 85,611 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Mozambique's health minister says he has tested positive for coronavirus, in a routine test conducted ahead of a planned trip abroad.
Armindo Tiago, who has led the country's response to the pandemic, said Tuesday that he has no symptoms. The Ministry of Health said Tiago is isolating at his home in the capital, Maputo.
The disease has spread relatively slowly in Mozambique, a country of 30 million, despite it never having a lockdown. Schools have been closed since April but are now gradually reopening. The total number of cases in Mozambique passed 10,000 on Sunday, while 73 deaths have been reported since the start of the pandemic.
The Czech Republic has now surpassed Spain as Europe's biggest coronavirus hot spot amid a fall resurgence of infections. The central European country shuttered schools on Wednesday in hopes of lowering the current infection rate of 521 virus cases per 100,000 residents, over 14 days.
Czech Education Minister Robert Plaga said in a televised address Tuesday, that the number of infected students and teachers has dramatically increased to 4,500. That is 16 per cent of cases and higher than any other group.
WATCH | Russia's health care system buckles under skyrocketing COVID-19 cases:
Multiple nations globally, including Canada, the U.S. and Germany are turning to rapid antigen tests that can detect the coronavirus faster and are cheaper. However, the tests are known to be less accurate and can be more likely to produce "false negatives," prompting experts to only recommend using them in a pinch.
France is imposing a curfew on many cities including Paris, forcing residents to stay home between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., President Emmanuel Macron announced in a televised address Wednesday night.
The curfew will begin Saturday at midnight and be in place for four weeks as France attempts to curb skyrocketing infection rates. Nine cities will be impacted along with Paris, including Lyon, Marseille and Lille.
Also Wednesday, the country declared a state of emergency three months after another emergency status was lifted. France announced 22,950 new cases of COVID-19 and said patients with the virus occupy a third of intensive care units across the nation.
With files from Reuters, The Associated Press and The Canadian Press