Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Jan. 31

More than 20,000 people in Canada have now died after contracting COVID-19 since the country's first cases of the respiratory illness were reported early last year.

Number of COVID-19 deaths in Canada surpasses 20,000

People wear face masks and practise physical distancing outside a COVID-19 testing site in Montreal on Sunday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The latest:

  • Number of COVID-19 deaths now exceeds 20,000 in Canada.
  • Canadian airlines suspend flights to sun destinations.
  • Coronavirus variant identified at Waterloo, Ont., care home outbreak.
  • Que. premier to announce changes to province's restrictions on Tuesday.
  • Nunavut announces 10 new cases in hard-hit community of Arviat.
  • U.K. war veteran who raised millions to fight pandemic hospitalized with COVID-19.

Canada's official COVID-19 death toll surpassed 20,000 on Sunday as flights to major sun destinations were grounded in an effort to limit further spread of the virus.

The sobering figure emerged after Quebec and Ontario reported 31 and 43 new fatalities, respectively, related to the virus. That tally climbed by four later in the day when Manitoba logged four new associated deaths.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, has said the number of new daily cases is trending downward.

But she's warned that it's still too soon to lift widespread public health restrictions, saying the virus is still spreading rapidly across parts of the country.

Tam issued a statement on Sunday urging Canadians to follow public health rules in order to support front-line health workers, who she said are at risk of psychological distress and burnout due to stress, long hours and the difficult medical decisions they have to make.

"In the face of these challenges, front-line health workers may feel tremendous personal, organizational or societal pressure to be superheroes — to not appear vulnerable, tired, worn down or weak," she wrote. "All of these pressures may prevent them from seeking the care, treatment and supports they need for their own mental health."

The vast majority of the deaths in Canada are in Ontario and Quebec, which together account for nearly 16,000 fatalities. According to the Ontario Ministry of Health COVID-19 data page, 1,658 people with COVID-19 have died in January 2021, making it the province's deadliest month of the pandemic so far.

Canada registered its first fatality from the novel coronavirus on March 9, 2020, in a male resident of a North Vancouver long-term care home. The country reached 10,000 deaths on Oct. 27.

Meanwhile, four of Canada's major airlines suspended service to Mexico and the Caribbean as of Sunday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing and Air Transat had agreed to the measure in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The restriction will last until April 30, and Trudeau said the airlines will help arrange the return of customers currently on a trip.

WATCH | New travel rules could kick in as soon as Feb. 4, says transport minister:

New travel rules could kick in as soon as Feb. 4: transport minister

2 years ago
Duration 10:43
COVID-19 testing requirements upon arrival in Canada and hotel quarantine rules could be put in place as soon as Feb. 4, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live.

It's one of a suite of new government measures aimed at preventing Canadians from travelling abroad during the doldrums of February and throughout spring break.

As of this Thursday, all international passenger flights must land at one of four airports — Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary or Montreal.

And in the coming weeks, all air travellers arriving in Canada will be required to stay at a government-approved hotel for three nights and take a COVID-19 test — all at their own expense.

The travel restrictions come amid a temporary slowdown of vaccine deliveries from Canada's two approved vaccine manufacturers, Pfizer and Moderna, and fear that the importation of new variants could derail the progress made against the disease in recent weeks.

What's happening in Canada

As of 5:45 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 778,972 cases of COVID-19, with 53,281 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 20,032.

In British Columbia, Vancouver police issued $17,000 in fines and arrested one person after shutting down a makeshift nightclub.

Alberta saw 461 new COVID-19 cases and eight additional deaths on Sunday.

Saskatchewan reported 238 new cases and four deaths.

Manitoba announced 119 new cases and four additional deaths.

Ontario registered 1,848 new cases and 43 more deaths

In Waterloo, Ont., officials say the first case of a more infectious new strain of COVID-19 detected in the region is connected to an outbreak at a long-term care home. Public Health Ontario has confirmed 58 cases of the variant in the province, but regional health officials have said they suspect the number is higher.

WATCH | Double masking could be useful as variants spread, experts say:

Double masking could be useful as COVID-19 variants spread, experts say

2 years ago
Duration 2:06
Amid growing concern about more contagious COVID-19 variants, some health experts are recommending double masking in certain situations.

Quebec reported 1,223 new cases and 31 more deaths

Premier François Legault plans to announce changes to Quebec's COVID-19 restrictions on Tuesday, saying he hopes to be able to relax some restrictions, particularly those around retail stores, if the situation permits.

New Brunswick registered 26 new infections. There are now 283 active cases in the province, mostly concentrated in the Edmundston and Grand Falls region, which remains under a full lockdown.

Nova Scotia saw no new cases.

Newfoundland and Labrador also reported no new cases. However, health officials continue to investigate the source of a cluster in the Eastern Health region of the province. 

In the Northwest Territories, a containment order in Fort Liard has been lifted. The community was put under a two-week containment order after a cluster of cases appeared in the community in mid-January. A total of six cases were confirmed, all of which have since recovered.

In Nunavut, a second outbreak in Arviat continues to grow as the territory announced 10 new cases in the hard-hit community. Arviat is the only community in Nunavut with active cases.

What's happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 102.7 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with 56.9 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at just over 2.2 million.

In Europe, Austria and Germany say they will provide medical assistance to Portugal as the country struggles with a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Portugal has had the world's worst rate of new daily cases and deaths per 100,000 population for more than a week, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University, and the country has applied border restrictions with Spain and banned all non-essential travel abroad.

A driver shows an identity card at a checkpoint at the Portuguese-Spanish border crossing between Valenca and Tui on Sunday. (Miguel Riopa/AFP via Getty Images)

In Asia, South Korea says it will maintain elevated physical-distancing measures for at least two more weeks as health officials raise concerns about a possible surge in coronavirus infections surrounding February's Lunar New Year holidays.

The government will also maintain restrictions on indoor dining in the Seoul metropolitan area for another two weeks, requiring restaurants to provide only deliveries and takeout after 9 p.m.

Tables and chairs are taped for physical distancing in Seoul on Sunday. (Ahn Young-joon/The Associated Press)

In the Americas, Peru began what was supposed to be a severe lockdown on Sunday to combat surging COVID-19, but the order was widely ignored in the country's capital.

Despite calls from President Francisco Sagasti for people to stay home, marketplaces were crowded, and hundreds of people crowded bus stations in Lima to head for less-restricted rural regions.

A man wearing a face mask walks past graffiti that reads in Spanish, 'No to quarantine,' in Lima, Peru, on Sunday. (Rodrigo Abd/The Associated Press)

In Africa, Egypt received its first 50,000-dose shipment of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines, airport officials said. 

It was the second shipment of coronavirus vaccines received by Egypt, which received 50,000 doses of the Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine last month.

With files from CBC News and The Associated Press

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