Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Tuesday
Alberta and Quebec tighten some restrictions, Ontario expands vaccination plan in hot spots
- Alberta closing in-person dining, lowering store capacity as variants surge.
- B.C. reports 1,068 new cases of COVID-19, three new deaths.
- Quebec to tighten restrictions in Montreal region, other red and orange zones.
- Ontario widens vaccination plan in hot spots as it logs 3,065 new COVID-19 cases.
- Toronto closing all schools tomorrow as cases surge.
- Ottawa points to discrepancy in vaccine numbers as Ford criticizes federal rollout.
- N.S. opens to Newfoundland and Labrador, other COVID-19 restrictions eased.
- Track how many people have been given the COVID-19 vaccine across Canada.
- Ontario imposing stay-at-home order, closing non-essential retail: sources
Ontario Premier Doug Ford's cabinet has approved a provincewide stay-at-home order and will close non-essential retail stores for all but curbside pickup, multiple sources told CBC News Tuesday night.
The move comes in the wake of criticism that restrictions announced last week — what the government called "emergency brake" measures — are insufficient to slow the spread of Ontario's third wave of COVID-19.
Sources familiar with cabinet's decision said the stay-at-home order would take effect at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday and last up to four weeks.
The sources said only grocery stores and pharmacies would be permitted to stay open for customers to shop indoors. They said big box retail stores would be restricted to selling only grocery and pharmacy items for in-person shopping. Garden centres would also be permitted to stay open, according to the sources.
Ontario is also widening its vaccination plan in hard-hit areas and Premier Doug Ford hinted at further restrictions as the country's most populous province faces a growing strain on hospitals and intensive care units from COVID-19 cases.
Residents aged 50 and over in "hot spot" postal codes — 90 or so neighbourhoods in 13 public health units that were identified by Ontario's COVID-19 science advisory table — can start signing up for vaccines in the coming weeks, health officials said Tuesday.
Many of those who will be eligible under the initiative are essential workers, officials said, though they did not say exactly when it will begin.
However, younger essential workers likely won't have access to shots until mid-May at the earliest, according to information officials presented.
The update to Phase 2 of Ontario's vaccine rollout came as Ford is under increasing pressure to tighten restrictions beyond the 28-day provincewide "shutdown" that took effect Saturday.
In a letter dated April 4, medical officers of health in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa urged the province to impose stronger public health measures immediately, saying a provincial stay-at-home order is needed now.
On Tuesday, Toronto Public Health announced it is closing all public schools and going to remote learning on Wednesday until April 18 (a span that will include the delayed March break). The agency is using a Section 22 order, which allows the city's medical officer of health to strengthen rules beyond what the province has put in place.
This comes a day after Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel's medical officer of health, announced that he would use his authority to close schools in Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon for the next two weeks. The region's weekly case rate as well as its seven-day average of test positivity are both the highest in Ontario right now.
At Tuesday's briefing, Ford, who is due to speak with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later in the day, signalled new restrictions ahead for the province but did not offer specifics.
"We're going to have further restrictions moving forward, very, very quickly," he said.
Ford also noted malls in hot spots were packed over the weekend, specifically pointing to Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto, and said officials will discuss options to address "the issues we're seeing in retail settings."
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Ontario on Tuesday reported 3,065 new cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths. According to a provincial update, hospitalizations stood at 1,161, with 510 people listed as being in ICU "due to COVID-related illness."
At an earlier briefing Tuesday, Trudeau expressed concern about the pressures on health system capacity some provinces are facing.
"This isn't the news any of us wanted, but hospitalizations are surging. ICU beds are filling up," the prime minister said, noting that variants of concern are spreading.
"COVID-19 isn't done with us yet, and that means we all have to hold tight a little longer."
- From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 4:45 p.m. ET
What's happening elsewhere in Canada
As of 7:15 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had reported 1,020,900 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 60,299 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 23,141.
In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and New Brunswick reported three new cases. There were no new cases reported in Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Quebec reported 1,168 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths on Tuesday. According to the provincial dashboard, hospitalizations stood at 514, with 121 people in ICUs.
The province is tightening measures in red zones like the Montreal region, and in orange zones, Premier François Legault announced at a late afternoon briefing.
Starting Monday, high school students in Secondary 3, 4 and 5 in red zones will attend class on alternating schedules once again, and extracurricular activities will stop. Gyms must close, and houses of worship will be limited to 25 people.
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In orange zones, elementary students will have to wear a mask at school and houses of worship will be limited to 100 people.
Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Nunavut. Yukon and the Northwest Territories had not yet provided updated figures for the day.
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 62 new cases and two new deaths on Tuesday.
The province is postponing the opening of two dozen pop-up vaccination clinics in 18 communities next week after two shipments of Moderna vaccines were delayed.
Saskatchewan reported 217 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths on Tuesday. There were 202 people in hospital with COVID-19-related illness, including 44 in ICUs, down slightly from the record high of 47 reported on Monday.
The province says nearly half of the new infections are in the Regina zone, where tighter public health measures are in place in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.
Saskatchewan on Tuesday also became the latest province to introduce a pandemic-affected 2021-22 budget, projecting a record deficit of $2.6 billion. It forecasted the province won't see a balanced budget until 2026-27.
In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney is reinstating some public-health restrictions, saying that variant cases of COVID-19 continue to soar and are on track to swamp the health system by mid-May.
As of Friday, restaurants must close to in-person dining. Meanwhile, effective tonight at midnight, retail stores will be allowed 15 per cent customer capacity rather than the current 25 per cent, and team sports and group fitness are once again banned.
Alberta reported 931 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths on Tuesday. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 328, including 76 people in intensive care.
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In British Columbia, the province's online registration system for vaccine appointments opened to eligible adults on Tuesday morning.
People born in 1950 or earlier (age 71 and up) and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are now able to register online to book their appointment, as are Indigenous people who are 18 and older.
Health officials reported 1,068 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths on Tuesday. The number of patients in hospital due to COVID-19 has risen to 328, including 96 who are in ICUs.
Much of the growing transmission that B.C. has seen is recent weeks can be linked to younger patients, who are increasingly ending up in intensive care, said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Variants of concern are on the rise across Canada, sparking repeated calls from health officials to stick with public health measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. As of Tuesday evening, a federal tracking site had recorded more than 16,100 variant cases, including:
- 14,790 cases of the B117 variant first reported in the U.K.
- 337 cases of the B1351 variant first reported in South Africa.
- 1,000 cases of the P1 variant first connected to travellers from Brazil.
- From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:15 p.m. ET
What's happening around the world
As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 132 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a case tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.8 million.
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday it is a travesty that some countries still have not had enough access to vaccines to begin inoculating health workers and the most vulnerable people against COVID-19.
"Scaling up production and equitable distribution remains the major barrier to ending the acute stage of the COVID-19 pandemic," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference.
In the Americas, U.S. President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that he's bumping up his deadline by two weeks for states to make all adults in the country eligible for coronavirus vaccines. But even as he expressed optimism about the pace of vaccinations, he warned Americans that the nation is not yet out of the woods.
"Let me be deadly earnest with you: We aren't at the finish line. We still have a lot of work to do. We're still in a life and death race against this virus," Biden said in remarks at the White House.
The president warned that "new variants of the virus are spreading and they're moving quickly. Cases are going back up, hospitalizations are no longer declining." He said the pandemic "remains dangerous," and encouraged Americans to continue to wash their hands, physically distance and wear masks.
WATCH | Fears of 4th wave grow in the U.S.:
Biden said that while his administration is on schedule to meet his new goal of distributing 200 million doses of the vaccine during his first 100 days, it will still take time for enough Americans to get vaccinated to slow the spread of the virus. But he expressed hope Tuesday that every adult will be eligible by April 19 to sign up for vaccination. Some states already had begun moving up their deadlines from the original May 1 goal.
In New York, people 16 and older can sign up to be vaccinated starting Tuesday, a large expansion of eligibility after Gov. Andrew Cuomo opened eligibility to those 30 and older last week.
Those age 16 and 17 will be limited to receiving the Pfizer vaccine, since it is the only one authorized for use in people under 18. None of the available vaccines have been approved for people under 16.
Meanwhile, Colombia will allow private imports of COVID-19 vaccines, the health ministry said on Monday, but the shots must be free for those being inoculated.
In Trinidad and Tobago, Prime Minister Keith Rowley has tested positive for the coronavirus, his office said Tuesday. He was tested after experiencing flu-like symptoms on Monday and is isolating and under medical supervision, according to a government statement.
In the Asia-Pacific region, many Indian state leaders have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open up vaccinations to most of the country's hundreds of millions of adults, following a second surge in infections that has eclipsed the first wave.
Australia on Tuesday said it had not yet received more than three million doses of previously promised AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine amid export curbs by the European Union, leaving a major hole in its early nationwide inoculation drive.
In Africa, the World Bank estimates the continent would need about $12 billion US to buy and distribute enough COVID-19 vaccines to interrupt virus transmission, according to a new paper by the bank and the IMF.
In Europe, Spain is stepping up its vaccination drive, with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez saying Tuesday that a steep rise in vaccine deliveries over the coming months will allow the country to inoculate 70 per cent of its adult population — some 33 million people — by the end of August.
"The priority now, more than ever, is to vaccinate without respite," Sanchez told a news conference. "Vaccinate, vaccinate and vaccinate."
Spain's new COVID-19 infections have been edging higher in recent weeks. The 14-day cumulative incidence — a key contagion metric — rose Monday to 163 cases per 100,000 people, up from 149 a week earlier. The country expects to receive 87 million doses by September.
Hungary will begin gradually easing restrictions within days, as it expects to have 25 per cent of its population of 10 million inoculated by Tuesday or early Wednesday.
In the Middle East, Turkey reported a record high of 49,685 confirmed single-day cases on Tuesday. The number of daily deaths also reached the highest level this year, with 211 confirmed in the past 24 hours.
Pfizer said on Monday it was working on a new deal to supply COVID-19 vaccines to Israel after an initial supply agreement forged in late 2020 ended.
- From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7 p.m. ET
With files from The Associated Press, The Canadian Press and Reuters