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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Thursday

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to increase across Canada, many provinces are urging residents to follow the safety guidelines and restrict social interactions in order to flatten the curve.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said measures could include conditions on wedding licenses

B.C.'s Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry said additional measures and restrictions on indoor gatherings could be implemented, as the province announced a record-high 274 new cases on Thursday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The latest:

  • Ontario reports 841 new COVID-19 cases, 7-day average rising.
  • Quebec reports 1,033 new cases of COVID-19.
  • B.C. marks second straight day of record-high case count.
  • Saskatchewan sees highest numbers since July.
  • Alberta launches pilot program to help country's airline and tourism industry.
  • NHL postpones two signature events until 2021.
  • U.S. regulators approve first drug to treat COVID-19.
  • Authorities in Europe impose curfew.
  • South Korea sees first triple-digit daily jump in new COVID-19 cases in a week.
  • Morocco reports largest one-day rise on record.

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to increase across Canada, many provinces are urging residents to follow the safety guidelines and restrict social interactions in order to flatten the curve.

British Columbia's health officer says she's concerned about the cases stemming from social gatherings, which are spilling over to other parts of the community.

The province marked a second straight day of record-high daily COVID-19 cases, with 274 new cases reported on Thursday. The number toppled the previous one-day record of 203, set on Wednesday.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said contract tracers have found some people are not sticking to COVID-19 safety plans. She warned additional measures could be introduced if transmission continues, such as restrictions tied to weddings and funerals.

The province also announced the first COVID-19 outbreak in its school system at École de l'Anse-au-sable in Kelowna. Over 160 people associated with the school are in self-isolation.

École de l’Anse-au-sable in Kelowna is the site of B.C.'s first COVID-19 outbreak in the school system. (Winston Szeto/CBC)

"While it is obviously not what any of us want to see, it is not unexpected as we know COVID-19 is still circulating in our communities," Henry said.

There are 1,920 active cases in the province, with 4,425 people in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. 

In Ontario, the seven-day average of new cases is starting to climb again after a brief lull.

The province reported another 841 cases of the coronavirus on Thursday.

The seven-day average now sits at about 761, still below the most recent peak of 781 recorded earlier this month, but consistently on the rise in the last four days.

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Toronto's top doctor urges caution to keep COVID-19 from 'catching fire'

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Individual actions are all that stand to keep COVID-19 cases from surging further upward as they are in Europe, Dr. Eileen de Villa says. 1:53

Seventy-four of the newly confirmed cases are school-related. A total of 1,641 cases school-related cases have now been registered provincewide since the academic year began, with 501 schools having reported at least one student or staff with infections.

Despite record numbers of COVID-19 cases in Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney said there are no plans to impose "indiscriminate" restrictions that would shut down the hospitality industry.

The province again broke two COVID-19 records on Thursday with 427 new cases.

"I think it's important to acknowledge that the virus is here to stay," Kenney said Thursday, while self-isolating at home after a minister in his government tested positive on Wednesday. "And unless or until there is widespread immunity either through natural infection or through the widespread use of a vaccine, we have to cope with it and we have to carry on with life."

In a statement posted to Twitter on Wednesday night, Kenney said he has tested negative for the coronavirus but will continue to isolate at home until Oct. 29, per public health guidelines.

WATCH | Researchers examine how the pandemic affects children's mental health:

Quebec study to examine pandemic's impact on kids

Canada

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A research team based at the Université de Montréal is looking for youth aged two to 17 to take part in a study to determine how widely COVID-19 is spreading among young people and how the pandemic is affecting their mental health.  1:57

New restrictions will be in place starting Monday in northern Manitoba, as the province's top doctor and health officials work to slow the spread of the coronavirus in isolated communities.

Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Thursday that the Northern Health region, which is geographically the largest in Manitoba, will move to the orange, or restricted, level on the province's pandemic response system.

"We know that the north is already at risk for transmission of this virus, especially in remote, isolated communities, [with limited] access to health care," he said.

Increasing signs of community spread in the region, along with more cases among vulnerable people like those experiencing homelessness and living in shelters, were among the factors that prompted the change, Roussin said.

The new restrictions will remain for at least two weeks and include closing casinos, bingo halls and entertainment facilities that provide live entertainment, and limiting the occupancy at retail stores and restaurants to 50 per cent.

WATCH | How community spread of COVID-19 affects public health approach:

How community spread of COVID-19 affects public health approach

Manitoba

1 month agoVideo
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Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer, explains why increasing community spread of COVID-19 makes targeted approaches to control the illness less effective. 0:48

 

What's happening elsewhere in Canada

As of 7:23 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 209,148 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 175,805 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC's reporting rose to 9,862.

The federal government and Alberta on Thursday launched a pilot program to test eligible returning travelers for COVD-19, allowing them to leave quarantine once they receive a negative result.

The move could potentially bring relief to the country's struggling airline and tourism industries, which have lobbied the federal government to ease travel restrictions and a strict 14-day quarantine rule.

Canadian citizens, permanent residents and foreign nationals allowed entry into Canada, and essential workers with no symptoms, can volunteer to get tested at the Calgary International Airport and one land border crossing starting Nov. 2.

Dwane Mightley, a flight attendant with Air Transat, said it's been a "painful" time. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

"COVID-19 is still here, but we've come a long way since March," Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said. "We must find ways to bring back safe travel if we're ever going to get the economy firing again on all cylinders."

Canada has had a mandatory quarantine for all travelers entering the country since March.

As Quebec experiences a second wave of COVID-19, provincial Health Minister Christian Dubé reported 320 new cases of the coronavirus in 40 long term care centres.

"I feel very responsible," Dubé said. "If there is somebody right now who is responsible, it is me."

The minister said his mandate, since taking the job in June, has been to protect the elderly living in those centres and to avoid the high number of cases and deaths that took place in the first wave in March.

Premier François Legault said it's likely the province will have to maintain many public health restrictions currently in place in red zones past Oct. 28.

People wear face masks as they walk along a street in Montreal, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 and one additional recovery on Thursday.

The new case is travel-related, a man between 20 and 39 years old who had returned from work in Alberta. The Department of Health said the case is not related to a previous case in the region.

The department said the man has been self-isolating since his arrival, and contact tracing is underway. Anyone considered to be a close contact has been advised to quarantine.

Meanwhile, hockey fans in Canada will have to wait until 2021 to watch this year's Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend as the National Hockey League has postponed the two signature events because the pandemic would prevent fan participation.

The outdoor Winter Classic regular season game was scheduled to be played on Jan. 1 in Minneapolis, Minn., while Sunrise, Fla., was set to host the All-Star Weekend from Jan. 29 to 30.

WATCH | What makes hockey a risk for COVID-19 transmission?

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Several Ottawa hockey teams have seen COVID-19 clusters. Dr. Isaac Bogoch explains what makes the sport high risk and how it can be safer. 1:30

"Fan participation … is integral to the success of our signature events," NHL executive Steve Mayer said in a news release.

"We felt that the prudent decision at this time was to postpone these celebrations until 2022."


What's happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 41.5 million. More than 1.1 million people have died, while more than 28.1 million have recovered.

On Thursday, U.S. regulators approved the first drug to treat COVID-19.

Remdesivir is an antiviral, intravenous medicine for patients needing hospitalization. The drug, which California-based Gilead Sciences Inc. calls Veklury, cuts the time to recovery by five days from 10 to 15 days on average.

It had been authorized for use on an emergency basis since spring, and now becomes the first drug to win full Food and Drug Administration approval for treating COVID-19. U.S. President Donald Trump received it when he was sickened earlier this month.

Veklury is approved for people at least 12 years old and weighing at least 88 pounds (40 kilograms) who need hospitalization for their coronavirus infection.

WATCH | Remdesivir has little effect on COVID-19 mortality, says expert:

Remdesivir has little effect on COVID-19 mortality, says expert

News

1 month agoVideo
3:11
A World Health Organization study found that four drugs, including Remdesivir taken by U.S. President Donald Trump, showed little effect on COVID-19 mortality but might reduce symptoms for people needing only oxygen in hospital, says infectious disease specialist Dr. Zain Chagla. 3:11

In Europe, authorities are imposing strict curfews as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise.

In Greece, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis imposed a night curfew in areas most affected by COVID-19. On Thursday, authorities reported over 880 new cases of the virus after reporting 865 cases on Wednesday.

Mitsotakis said movement would be banned from 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. in locations deemed high-risk and where elevated surveillance was necessary based on a four-tier risk assessment by authorities.

"The objective is to restrict movement and night-time gatherings, which are conducive to the spread of the virus. Perhaps, it's less fun for a while, but it would mean more health in the longer term," he said.

Greek authorities have ordered a midnight to 5 a.m. curfew that is expected to last for 30 days starting on Friday. The country will also require mask use outdoors in areas of high transmission. (Thanassis Stavrakis/The Associated Press)

Greece has seen a surge in infections in recent weeks and on Thursday reported a record 882 new confirmed cases and 15 deaths. 

Meanwhile, authorities in Italy have imposed a midnight to 5 a.m. curfew in the Lazio region, which includes Rome.

On Thursday, regional governor Nicola Zingaretti signed an order that enforces the curfew for 30 days starting on Friday.

Zingaretti was seriously sickened with COVID-19 when Italy became the first European country overwhelmed by an outbreak early in the pandemic.

The governor of Campania, the southern region that includes densely populated Naples, also ordered residents to stay at home from 11 p.m. to shortly before dawn starting Friday. A similar curfew in Lombardy, where infections are particularly surging in its main city of Milan, will also go into effect on Thursday night.

Meanwhile in France, authorities reported 41,622 new confirmed COVID-19 cases over a 24-hour period, an all time daily high that was published shortly after the government announced a broad extension of the curfew that was put in place a week ago.

The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections was up by 162, at 34,120.

Italy was the first country in Europe to be put under a national lockdown in March. On Thursday, Premier Giuseppe Conte urged Italians to avoid "unnecessary movements," as daily new confirmed infections hit a record of more than 16,000. (Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images)

In Asia, South Korea reported 121 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, its first triple-digit daily jump in a week amid concerns about the country easing physical distancing restrictions just last week to cope with a weak economy.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said Thursday that South Korea's caseload is now at 25,543 for the pandemic, including 453 deaths. Hundreds of recent infections have been tied to hospitals in major cities such as Seoul and Busan.

An employee wearing a face mask to help protect against the spread of the coronavirus arranges dolls at a shop in Seoul on Thursday. (Ahn Young-joon/The Associated Press)

India reported 55,839 new cases and 702 additional deaths on Thursday. It is the third day in a row that the country has added fewer than 60,000 new cases, but authorities worry that upcoming elections in Bihar, the country's third-largest state, could spread the virus.

Health officials also are concerned about the potential spread during religious festivals. In West Bengal state, a court limited the size of congregations during the Hindu Durga Puja festival.

In Morocco, the Health Ministry reported the largest one-day rise on record with 4,151 new coronavirus infections on Thursday.

The surge in cases comes after Morocco eased some restrictive measures earlier this month, allowing children back to public schools in Casablanca and opening more mosques.

Africa has reported more than 1.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started, with more than 40,000 deaths and over 1.3 million recoveries.

The World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa held a press briefing Thursday to talk about the large-scale rollout of antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests for COVID-19 on the continent, with Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, saying it will be a "game changer" in the fight against COVID-19.

Moeti noted that Africa has faced a significant testing gap, citing that, for example, Senegal is testing 14 times less than the Netherlands despite significantly boosting its testing capacity, while Nigeria is testing 11 times less than Brazil.

Have a coronavirus question or news tip for CBC News? Email us at COVID@cbc.ca

With files from Reuters and The Associated Press

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