Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Feb. 18
Ont., Que., expand booster eligibility as more provinces set to loosen restrictions
- Travel agencies flooded with requests after Ottawa says it will drop pre-arrival PCR test for travellers
The country's top doctor says Canada is past the peak of the COVID-19 wave caused by the Omicron variant.
Dr. Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, has released modelling that shows progress in key indicators such as lab test positivity and reported cases.
Wastewater surveillance also shows the wave is on its way down — although modelling shows the true number of infections from Omicron has been much higher than reported.
Tam says while there are reasons to hope, COVID-19 is still spreading at high levels and hospitals remain stretched thin.
Canada COVID-19 Daily Epidemiology Update (Mon-Fri): <a href="https://t.co/oNd61txl1o">https://t.co/oNd61txl1o</a> <br><br>Latest CPHO COVID-19 statement: <a href="https://t.co/rVVLCqUP5H">https://t.co/rVVLCqUP5H</a> <a href="https://t.co/drpPE3Zhor">pic.twitter.com/drpPE3Zhor</a>—@CPHO_Canada
She says people should continue to take precautions, including avoiding crowded places and wearing masks when necessary.
Tam also warns that easing public health measures too quickly could lead to a COVID-19 resurgence.
What's happening across Canada
With lab-based testing capacity deeply strained and increasingly restricted, experts say true case counts are likely far higher than reported. Hospitalization data at the regional level is also evolving, with several provinces saying they will report figures that separate the number of people in hospital because of COVID-19 from those in hospital for another medical issue who also test positive for COVID-19.
For more information on what is happening in your community — including details on outbreaks, testing capacity and local restrictions — click through to the regional coverage below.
You can also read more from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which provides a detailed look at every region — including seven-day average test positivity rates — in its daily epidemiological updates.
In British Columbia, hospitalizations are down 30 per cent compared to the province's pandemic peak three weeks ago.
In the Prairies, Manitoba registered two new deaths; Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says the province's death rate is concerning, with 42 deaths from the illness reported in the second week of February — one of the deadliest weeks over the course of the pandemic; and residents in the Alberta capital are bracing for yet another weekend of snarled traffic due to pandemic protesters.
Canada's two largest provinces are expanding vaccine eligibility. Ontario on Friday began booking third doses for young people aged 12-17 on Friday, while Quebec announced that same age group can start booking their appointments for a third dose online as of Saturday.
In the Atlantic, hospitalizations in Newfoundland and Labrador continue to drop as the province prepares to ease some public health restrictions next week, and New Brunswick will further ease restrictions on Friday at 11:59 p.m. AT.
What's happening around the world
As of Friday, more than 420.5 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus tracker. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.8 million.
In Asia-Pacific, Hong Kong has identified more than 20,000 hotel rooms for quarantine accommodation, leader Carrie Lam said on Friday, as property developers showed support for the global financial hub as it battles a surge in COVID-19 cases.
In Africa, six countries have been identified as the first on the continent that would receive the technology needed to produce mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.
In the Americas, Washington's statewide indoor mask mandate, one of the few left in the U.S., will lift in most places on March 21, including at schools and child care facilities, Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday.
In Europe, Germany has crossed over the peak of new daily infections with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the country's health minister said on Friday.
With files from CBC News and The Associated Press