Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Sept. 28
Worldwide number of COVID-19 cases hits 1 million
- Worldwide death toll from COVID-19 has passed one million, according to Johns Hopkins University.
- Ottawa looks to fast-track COVID-19 aid bill after CERB expires.
- Montreal, Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches will be upgraded to red alert Thursday.
- Ontario's second wave forecast to peak in October, as province reports record daily cases.
- Health minister says Ontario won't return to Stage 2 "unless we absolutely have to."
- 50 patients, staff test positive at medical centre in Calgary.
- Seven presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 reported in Nunavut.
- Number of global coronavirus deaths nears one million.
- Prince Charles warns one million young people may need 'urgent help' to protect futures.
- The World Health Organization says 120 million rapid diagnostic tests to be made available to low- and middle-income countries.
The world hit a grim milestone Monday evening, as the death toll from COVID-19 surpassed one million, according to a database of cases maintained by Johns Hopkins University.
The bleak milestone is greater than the population of Halifax and, in fact, the entire province of Nova Scotia. It is two and a half times the sea of humanity that was at Woodstock in 1969. It is more than four times the number killed in the 2004 earthquake and tsunami in the Indian Ocean.
And yet, as bleak as it is, the figure is almost certainly a vast undercount because of inadequate or inconsistent testing and reporting and suspected concealment by some countries.
In Canada, cases continue to rise, as well, and the federal government on asked Parliament to fast-track its newest COVID-19 economic recovery package.
Bill C-2, if passed, would create more flexibility around who can qualify for Employment Insurance and set up three new benefits for those who don't but have been impacted by the pandemic.
WATCH | Lockdown looms as Quebec reports nearly 900 COVID-19 cases:
The CERB expired over the weekend leading the government to argue that the new bill must pass quickly so that Canadians can start applying for the new benefit, which pays $500 a week — the same as the CERB.
The Conservatives have criticized the move to rush the bill and limit debate, arguing that opening up $50 billion in taxpayer dollars requires questions.
As discussions on the bill continue, renewed restrictions and lockdowns are being implemented in some provinces, with Quebec upgrading three of its cities to its highest alert level, health officials announced Monday.
Montreal, Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches, which is south of the province's capital, will now be on the "red alert" level and stricter health measures will be ushered in to tackle a surge in infections, Premier François Legault said at a press conference.
"We looked at the results over the weekend and the number of cases has gone up significantly," he said. "We need to make some difficult decisions."
WATCH | Quebec premier announces strict new measures for 3 COVID-19 hot spots:
New restrictions are to begin Thursday in those areas and will include a ban on home gatherings, closing all bars, casinos and restaurants for 28 days except for take-out, and closing libraries, museums and movie theatres. As well, masks will now be mandatory during demonstrations.
Places of worship and funeral venues will have a 25-person limit. However, hair salons, hotels and other hospitality businesses will remain open, as will schools.
Quebec reported 750 new cases on Monday, 245 of which were on the island of Montreal. Another 124 cases were reported in Quebec City, which has emerged as the epicentre of the province's fall coronavirus cases.
Provincial Health Minister Christian Dubé confirmed Montreal and Quebec City would move from orange to red alert while speaking on Radio-Canada's popular Sunday night talk show Tout le monde en parle.
"Montreal and Quebec City are the hardest-hit areas at the moment. They're very close to the red zone," he said. "We're going to announce in the coming days because I think we've arrived at that point. We're there and we have to act because people are expecting us to be transparent."
WATCH | Ford announces new spending to hire health-care workers:
Dubé said that difficult decisions lie ahead but didn't give details on exactly what the red zone restrictions would look like.
Dubé and public health officials have been calling on people to stop socializing for the next month in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Meanwhile in Ontario, the province reported an additional 700 cases of COVID-19, the most ever on a single day since the outbreak began in late January.
On Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the record-setting number of infections "deeply concerning" but announced no new public health measures, although a group of medical professionals have called on the province to move back to Stage 2.
Ford told reporters that Ontario is experiencing a "second wave" of the virus that will be "more complicated, more complex — it'll be worse" than the first wave.
However, the premier also said the province will spend $52 million to recruit and train more than 3,700 health-care workers to support Ontario's already strained health-care system. The funding will involve hiring 800 nurses, 600 acute-care nurses and 2,000 personal support workers.
Another $14 million will be put toward training extra personal support workers in long-term care homes. This will be coupled with a $5,000 incentive for new hires to work for six months with patients in long-term care facilities who have "urgent needs."
Last week, a group of doctors and health professionals from the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) released a statement urging the province to re-impose health restrictions on multiple businesses including indoor dining and bars, places of worship, movie theatres gyms and other non-essential businesses.
When asked about the OHA's calls, Minister of Health Christine Elliott said, "We don't want to turn back a stage unless we absolutely have to."
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams wouldn't say how high cases would have to climb for the province to return to an earlier stage in the reopening process. Williams said the province is considering "targeted" measures but wouldn't provide details about what those policies would entail.
Fresh projections for Ontario suggest the province's second wave of COVID-19 will peak in mid- to late October and will likely send enough patients to intensive care that hospitals will need to scale back non-emergency surgeries.
The forecasts come from the COVID-19 Modelling Collaborative, a joint effort of scientists and physicians from the University of Toronto, University Health Network and Sunnybrook Hospital.
WATCH | Doctors, health-care professionals urge Ford to reimpose restrictions:
Based on how quickly Ontario's infection rate has been rising in recent weeks, the model projects the province is on track to exceed 1,000 new cases per day by the middle of October, unless stricter public health measures slow the accelerating spread.
The average number of new cases reported daily in Ontario is currently running four times higher than what it was at the end of August. Ford's government has since shrunk limits on the size of private gatherings, reduced opening hours for bars and ordered strip clubs to close.
WATCH | Ontario sets grim record for new cases:
Ontario's Ministry of Health on Sunday reported 112 patients in hospital with a confirmed case of COVID-19, nearly triple the number of two weeks ago. The research team says the impact of the second wave on Ontario's hospitals will depend on the demographics of who gets infected in the coming weeks.
WATCH | Quebec better prepared for COVID-19 as second wave hits, says epidemiologist:
"The second wave in Spain and France started in the younger populations, but it is spreading to the elderly and the people who are more at risk of ending up in the intensive care unit or in the hospitals," said Dr. Kali Barrett, a critical care physician at the University Health Network and part of the modelling research team, in an interview with CBC News.
"It is just a matter of time until this virus, if it's affecting the young populations, spreads into the elderly population," she said. "We're already starting to see that happening in Ontario."
What's happening in the rest of Canada
As of 6:15 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 155,301 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 132,607 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 9,318.
An elementary school in Toronto will temporarily close for a week after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared by health officials.
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) said on Twitter that there has been an outbreak at Mason Road Junior Public School, near Eglinton Avenue East and Markham Road.
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According to the TDSB, there are four confirmed cases at the school. Of the cases, one is a student and three are staff.
This is the second outbreak at a Toronto school since classes started. An outbreak was declared at Glen Park Public School in North York on Friday after two students tested positive for COVID-19.
Toronto Public Health also announced additional recommendations to address the spread of the coronavirus on Monday.
In a news release, Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, urged residents to "limit contact with anyone you don't live with" and continue to maintain a two-metre distance from others.
She also said new actions to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks in restaurants now include limiting indoor restaurant capacity to 75, down from 100, requiring establishments to log every patron, allowing only six people to a table in any circumstance and requiring music or background noise at a restaurant to be at the level of "normal conversation."
Alberta announced Monday the province had reached a testing milestone, with more than 1 million people tested for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
The province has now conducted more tests per capita than B.C., Ontario and Quebec, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said at a press conference.
"While other provinces have faced massive lineups, or consistently narrow testing criteria, Alberta has been a leader," he said.
Alberta reported 406 new cases over the weekend, with 60 cases on Friday, 184 on Saturday and 162 on Sunday. Four more deaths were also reported on the weekend, for a new total of 265.
Over in Calgary, a total of 53 patients and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at Foothills Medical Centre.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) confirmed on Sunday that five additional patients, for a total of 25 patient cases, and seven additional health-care workers, for a total of 25 staff cases, have tested positive. Four patients have died.
The first case was detected at one of the cardiac units in the hospital on Sept. 18, and the first case in the hospital's general unit was found the next day. Cases were also identified in a second cardiac unit.
WATCH | Pandemic highlights internet inequality in Canada:
Now, two additional units are part of the outbreaks. Cases at the transitional medical unit are linked to the current outbreak, but cases at a short stay unit are not believed to be connected.
Surgeries have been postponed because of the outbreaks, AHS said Monday. Visitors will only be allowed at the hospital in "end-of-life situations or pre-approved essential visitors," it said.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority is investigating a cluster of students from the Yorkton Regional High School who tested positive for COVID-19.
Sunday's provincial update said the investigation is still ongoing, but there was no indication the transmissions happened in a school setting.
"The school division will be communicating with parents later today," the provincial update said.
In Manitoba, another person has died of COVID-19 as multiple regions enter "code orange" restrictions Monday.
Winnipeg and 17 surrounding communities are now under new rules requiring masks be worn in indoor public spaces and limiting all gatherings to 10 people, regardless of whether they are outdoors or indoors.
New data on restaurant spending across Newfoundland and Labrador paints a bleak portrait of a struggling industry, showing the push to staycation and support local businesses has come up short.
The numbers, collected by Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador (HNL), come as the hospitality and tourism industries continue to worry about the future as they head into the slim fall and winter months.
WATCH | Manitoba puts new rules on Winnipeg, surrounding area:
According to the data, in 2019, the average restaurant in the province had monthly sales of $70,000 to $80,000. As of April, that had dropped to about $30,000 per month, rebounding to about $50,000, according to HNL.
The loss in revenue translates into a loss in jobs, as businesses continue to feel the squeeze of the ongoing pandemic. That's meant making tough decisions for restaurants that have attempted to cope with reduced seating capacities and without an influx of summer tourists.
Nunavut reported seven presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 at TMAC Resources Inc.'s Hope Bay Mine, about 125 kilometres southwest of Cambridge Bay.
If those tests come back as confirmed positive cases, they will count as the territory's first confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
The latest cases could indicate there is "transmission" of the virus at the mine, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said in a news release.
No Nunavut residents are currently working at Hope Bay Mine and the "risk to Nunavummiut is very low," said Territorial Health Minister George Hickes.
In British Columbia, three more people died due to COVID-19 over the weekend, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday.
The provincial death toll has reached 233. B.C. reported a total of 267 new cases of the coronavirus in the last three days.
There have been 8,908 cases of coronavirus across the province since the pandemic began. Currently, there are 1,302 active cases of infection.
One of the deaths over the weekend was a man in his 50s to 60s who had underlying health conditions and wasn't identified as having COVID-19 until after his death, said Henry at a news conference.
"Very disturbing and tragic for his family," she said.
Contact tracing has shown new infections are stemming from social gatherings including weddings, funerals and parties, and taking a step back from in-person interactions is the "best thing we can do" to combat the virus, she said.
What's happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Md., the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 33.2 million, while over 22.9 million have recovered. More than one million people have died from the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that around 120 million rapid diagnostic tests for COVID-19 will be made available for low- and middle-income countries at $5 US per unit maximum.
These tests are "new, highly portable and easy-to-use" and will be available for a six-month period after manufacturers Abbott and SD Biosensor made a deal with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to produce the tests, said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a news conference in Geneva.
Although the tests are priced at $5 USD maximum each, they are expected to become cheaper, said Ghebreyesus.
"This will enable the expansion of testing, particularly in hard-to-reach areas that do not have laboratory facilities or enough trained health workers to carry out tests," he said.
WATCH | WHO says rapid tests to be made available for low-and-middle-income countries:
South Korea has reported 50 new cases of the coronavirus, its lowest daily increase in nearly 50 days, a possible effect of strengthened social distancing measures that were employed to slow a major outbreak surrounding the greater capital region.
The numbers released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Monday brought the national caseload to 23,661, including 406 deaths.
Thirty-four of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, where about half of the country's 51 million people live, and 10 were tied to international arrivals.
Italy reported another 1,766 coronavirus cases on Sunday, in line with its recent daily increases, but with a smaller number of tests conducted in the past 24 hours.
Every Italian region reported new cases on Sunday, with the exception of the small Valle d'Aosta region. The southern Campania was the region with the highest daily number of infections, at 245, while the hard-hit Lombardy, once the epicentre of the outbreak in Europe, reported 216 new cases.
Hospitals in the Paris and Marseille regions are delaying some scheduled operations to free up space for COVID-19 patients as the French government tries to stem a rising tide of infections, the health minister said Sunday.
As restaurants and bars in Marseille prepared Sunday to close for a week as part of scattered new virus restrictions, Health Minister Olivier Veran insisted that the country plans no fresh lockdowns.
In the United Kingdom, Prince Charles has warned that up to 1 million young people may need "urgent help" to protect their futures from the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the Prince of Wales says there has "never been a time as uniquely challenging as the present" and that it is a particularly hard time to be young.
This comes as people across England face tough new fines if they fail to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19.
Starting Monday, those who fail to follow the rules face a 1,000 pound ($1,700 Cdn) fine, which increases to 10,000 pounds for repeat offenders. The Department of Health and Social Care says those who test positive will also be fined if they knowingly provide false information to contact tracers.
India has registered 88,600 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours in a declining trend, with recoveries exceeding daily infections.
The country's health ministry on Sunday also reported additional 1,124 deaths for a total of 94,503. The average of new cases has fallen by around 7,000 daily in the past week after reaching a record number of 97,894 on Sept. 16.
WATCH | Doctor in India says people becoming complacent about COVID-19:
Greek authorities say 12 crew members of a Maltese-flagged cruise ship on a Greek island tour with more than 1,500 people on board have tested positive for the coronavirus and have been isolated on board.
The Mein Schiff 6, operated by TUI Cruises, began its trip in Heraklion on the southern Greek island of Crete on Sunday night with 922 passengers and 666 crew members on board. It had been due to sail to Piraeus, the country's main port near the Greek capital Athens, and later to the western island of Corfu.
Myanmar health authorities have reported 743 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing the country's total over the 10,000 mark.
The country's health ministry has announced a total of 10,734 coronavirus cases since March, including 226 deaths. There were 28 new deaths recorded Sunday.
Spain's health minister urged regional officials to impose tougher coronavirus restrictions in Madrid for the third time in the last four days, after meetings with the municipality led to a public dispute over the city's response to the virus.
Health Minister Salvador Illa said at a news conference Monday that Madrid, which has a population of about 6.6 million, "has community transmission and the pandemic is not under control."
The Regional Health Chief for Madrid, Enrique Ruíz Escudero said the spread is "under control" and "improving," and that there was no need for the central government to step in.
In the United States, the Trump administration is set to ship millions of rapid COVID-19 tests to multiple states this week and are asking governors to use them in order to reopen schools for children in kindergarten through Grade 12.
Tests will reach each state based on its population and can be used as each determines. But the federal government is asking the governors to prioritize schools so they can welcome as many students back as possible, officials said Monday.
Health-care company Abbott will be distributing 150 million tests for the initiative as previously announced. Rapid tests do not require specialized equipment to process and can provide results within 15 minutes.
But the testing announcement comes as Trump's pandemic performance is consistently criticized mere weeks before the election, as more than 200,000 Americans have died from the virus.
The type of tests also have their pitfalls, as they are not as accurate as laboratory swabs and positive results often have to be reconfirmed with a lab.
WATCH | U.S. colleges are the source of new, recent infections:
With files from The Associated Press and Reuters