Coronavirus: What's happening around the world on Monday

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill became the latest U.S. school to reverse course on reopening after it cancelled in-class instruction just one week into the new term on Monday, following a dramatic rise in positive cases of COVID-19.

Another U.S. school reverses course on reopening as infections remain at high levels in many states

An instructional assistant helps a student as in-person learning resumes with restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at Wilson Primary School in Phoenix, Ariz., on Monday. (Cheney Orr/Reuters)

The latest:

  • North Carolina university is latest U.S. school to roll back campus reopening.
  • Alberta Health Services investigating after 13 confirmed cases linked to Edmonton church.
  • B.C. hits highest-ever count for active COVID-19 cases after confirming 236 new cases.
  • New restrictions accompany final weeks of summer break in Europe. 
  • CFL cancels season after request for financial help turned down.
  • Quebec invests $20 million in hiring specialized teachers to help students catch up.
  • Lebanese caretaker government urges two-week shutdown to curb climbing COVID-19 cases.
  • India's number of reported fatalities from the coronavirus surpasses 50,000.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill became the latest U.S. school to reverse course on reopening after it cancelled in-class instruction just one week into the new term on Monday, following a dramatic rise in positive cases of COVID-19.

The university's chancellor said in a letter to students posted on the campus website that classes would be held online going forward, along with academic support services. Aug. 11 was the first day of the new academic year.

The decision came after the COVID-19 positivity rate — the percentage of those tested who had infections — went from 2.8 per cent to 13.6 per cent at the campus clinic, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in the message.

"So far, we have been fortunate that most students who have tested positive have demonstrated mild symptoms," he said.

University of North Carolina students wait to enter a fitness class on the Chapel Hill, N.C., campus on Monday. The university announced minutes before that all classes will be moved online starting Wednesday due to COVID-19 clusters on campus. (Julia Wall/The News & Observer/The Associated Press)

Other colleges, including the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, began the fall semester on Monday with all classes conducted online.

Nationwide, new cases of COVID-19 fell for a fourth week in a row but infections remain at high levels in many states and deaths continue to average 1,000 per day. More than 30 states have test positivity rates over five per cent and Mississippi, Nevada, Florida and Idaho are over 16 per cent.

New York, once the epicentre of the coronavirus in the country, has an infection rate below one per cent, along with Connecticut, Maine and Vermont. New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that gyms could reopen from next week.

In total, there have been 5.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. More than 170,000 have died, and 1.8 million have recovered.

WATCH | Cases of COVID-19 in U.S. children 'steadily increasing':

Cases of COVID-19 in U.S. children 'steadily increasing'

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of cases of COVID-19 in children is "steadily increasing." Children make up 7.3 per cent of the total cases in the country. 4:33

Nationwide, many elementary, secondary, high schools and colleges scheduled to begin the new term in August or September have imposed "remote learning," as teachers unions opposed in-class instruction.

A school district in Arizona cancelled its plans to reopen schools Monday after a number of teachers called in sick.

"Every single one of us wants to go back to work," said Marisol Garcia, vice-president of the Arizona Education Association. "We want to be in a classroom, we want to be in front of our kids, we want things to go back to normal. But that school that parents want to send their children to does not exist yet."

In Georgia, a third high school in Cherokee County has closed for in-person classes, the county's school district said, citing an increase in the number of positive cases and nearly a third of students under quarantine. The district said in a statement on Sunday it was postponing the planned start to in-person classes from Monday to Aug. 31.

Maddie McCoy virtually teaches a fourth-grade class for students who are either at home or in a separate classroom as in-person learning resumes with COVID-19 restrictions in place at Rover Elementary School in Tempe, Ariz., on Monday. (Cheney Orr/Reuters)

Cherokee County schools were featured in the national media this month after students posted images on social media showing pupils massed together in hallways, many of them not wearing masks.

Georgia's new cases are down slightly from their peak but the state reported over 20,000 new infections last week and a 12 per cent positivity rate, which suggests more undetected cases in the community.

Meanwhile, a Nebraska school district said on Saturday it had cancelled classes after three staff members tested positive and 24 more were in quarantine for exposure.

What's happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 9 p.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 122,872 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 109,059 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 9,070.

British Columbia's surge in new COVID-19 cases is showing no sign of slowing, with another 236 cases confirmed since Friday afternoon. There are now 743 active cases of the illness in the province, which is the highest total to date.

Monday's briefing was led by Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Réka Gustafson, who said the majority of new cases continue to involve young people, who often have mild versions of the illness.

WATCH | Frustration over parties amid B.C.'s COVID-19 spike in young people:

Frustration over parties amid B.C.’s COVID-19 spike in young people

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People who’ve recovered from COVID-19 are frustrated over ongoing parties as public health and government officials fight a spike in COVID-19 cases among young adults in British Columbia. 1:55

"This actually makes things quite challenging. That's because some people might not realize they have COVID-19 and they can inadvertently spread it," Gustafson said. "You could easily spread the virus to someone who is vulnerable."

Also on Monday, the B.C. Ministry of Education announced that staff and students in middle and secondary schools will have to wear masks in areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained, like buses and in common areas like hallways.

Quebec's education minister has announced three new measures to promote academic success during the pandemic, including an investment of $20 million to improve services for students with learning disabilities and to help students catch up after several months away from school.

The plan, announced Monday by Education Minister Jean-François Roberge, aims to help children make up for time lost during quarantine periods. Quebec schools shut down in March, and distance learning was slow to start and patchy at times depending on the school and what equipment students had.

WATCH | Quebec education minister defends back-to-school plan:

Quebec education minister defends plan to send kids to school

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Despite a lawsuit challenging Quebec's lack of broad online learning options, Jean-François Roberge says the best place for children to learn is in school. 0:56

All students, except those who are at risk of developing complications from COVID-19 or who have a family member who is, are expected to return to school later this month under the government's regulations.

Meanwhile, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) is going back to the drawing board after its plan to shrink elementary class sizes was rejected by the Ontario Ministry of Education. 

"We thought we were close ... with that plan," said Alexander Brown, TDSB trustee for Ward 12, Willowdale. "We're getting closer and closer [to the start of the school year], and we still don't have a plan."

Last month, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced Ontario's back-to-school plan, which has elementary-level students set to return on a full-time basis. Students in those grades would also remain a single cohort for the entire five days of the week — in classrooms, and during recess and lunch — and school boards would provide the full curriculum. 

WATCH | Ontario premier criticizes teachers union over coronavirus demands:

Doug Ford lashes out at teachers' union over ongoing coronavirus demands

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Being careful to draw a distinction between teachers and the teachers' union, Ontario Premier Doug Ford accused the latter of constantly wanting to attack and of being inflexible in their demands.  2:18

As for class sizes, those would remain at the mandated maximum levels set in place before the COVID-19 outbreak, leaving many parents, teachers and other education staff concerned. They have been calling on the provincial government to lower the number of students in each classroom to help limit the number of contacts students and teachers are exposed to.

Here's what's happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases is now more than 21.8 million. More than 772,000 people have died while 13.8 million have recovered.

New restrictions are accompanying the final weeks of summer break in Europe, as countries that had seen a summer respite from coronavirus outbreaks tracked swiftly rising numbers of new confirmed cases Monday.

Several nursing homes around France closed their doors anew after reporting virus cases in recent days, families told The Associated Press. One nursing home in eastern France had 34 of its 135 residents and staff members test positive since Aug. 3 and nine residents with the virus die in the past week.

People take a selfie in front of the famous Senequier café, which is closed due to two COVID-19 cases, in Saint-Tropez on Monday as France reinforces mask-wearing as part of efforts to curb a resurgence of COVID-19 across the country. (Eric Gaillard/Reuters)

The local mayor in the town of Pulnoy blamed the outbreak on waning vigilance by families amid the vacation season and a sense among many in France this summer that the crisis was over.

France's two largest cities, Paris and Marseille, widened the areas where masks are required, and the French government sent riot police to the Marseille region to enforce the requirement.

With one goal in mind, Italy's government closed discos, required masks from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. anywhere people might gather and began testing all arriving travellers from Spain, Greece, Malta and Croatia.

"Our priority must be the reopening of schools in September in full safety," Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said. Italy's schools have been closed nationwide since early March.

Passengers queue to be screened for COVID-19 at a testing station set up at Fiumicino airport, near Rome, on Sunday. Italy has introduced mandatory testing for anyone arriving from Croatia, Greece, Spain and Malta in a bid to rein in new infections. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

In Greece, health officials attributed many new infections to wedding receptions and people ignoring physical distancing and other public health protective measures while on vacation.

Authorities began carrying out spot checks on ferry passengers returning to the mainland from the Greek islands amid growing concern of vacationers transporting the virus back to cities.

Despite the rise in cases, officials say schools will reopen as planned in Greece on Sept. 7.

Lebanon must shut down for two weeks after a surge in coronavirus infections, the caretaker health minister, Hamad Hassan, said on Monday, as the country reels from the massive Beirut port blast.

Lebanon on Sunday registered a record 439 new infections and six more deaths from the virus in 24 hours.

The country, already deep in financial crisis, was struggling with a COVID-19 spike before the Aug. 4 blast that killed at least 178 people, wrecked swaths of the capital and pushed the government to resign.

A man wearing a protective mask against COVID-19 stands across the road from the damaged grain silos of Beirut's harbour after a powerful twin explosion Aug. 4 tore through Lebanon's capital, resulting from the ignition of a huge depot of ammonium nitrate at the city's main port. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The warehouse explosion damaged many hospitals and overwhelmed them with more than 6,000 wounded. It put about half of 55 medical centres across Beirut out of service, the World Health Organization (WHO) said last week.

"We are all facing a real challenge, and the numbers that were recorded in the last period are shocking," Hassan said. "The matter requires decisive measures." Intensive-care beds at state and private hospitals are now full, he said.

India's number of reported fatalities from the coronavirus surpassed 50,000 on Monday, after 941 new deaths were reported in the past 24 hours.

With a total of 50,921 reported deaths, India now has the fourth-most reported fatalities from the virus in the world, behind the United States, Brazil and Mexico.

A health worker wearing personal protective equipment collects a swab sample from a doctor who was on duty at a screening camp for residents for the coronavirus in Mumbai on Monday. (Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)

India's number of confirmed coronavirus cases also reached 2.6 million on Monday after a spike of 57,982 cases in the previous 24 hours, according to the health ministry.

Hong Kong reported 44 new coronavirus cases on Monday as the government announced an extension to physical distancing measures aimed at controlling further spreading of the virus, which has seen a resurgence in the Asian financial hub since early July.

While the number of daily cases has come down from triple digits in recent weeks, authorities have cautioned residents against becoming complacent, warning that the situation remained "severe."

Restrictions including a ban on dining at restaurants from 6 p.m. and the mandating of masks in all outdoor public areas are set to remain in force for a further seven days until Aug. 25, the government said Monday.

Government officials stand at a temporary checkpoint to restrict access to the Sarang Jeil Church in Seoul on Monday. South Korean authorities say thousands of Protestant church members in Seoul have been asked to quarantine as the country battles virus clusters linked to religious groups. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

South Korea has reported 197 new cases of the coronavirus, the fourth straight day of triple-digit daily increases.

Health workers are scrambling to slow transmissions in the greater capital area, where churches have emerged as major sources of infections.

The figures announced by South Korea's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday brought total reported cases to 15,515, including 305 deaths.

Employees from a disinfection service company sanitize the corridors of Benghazi Medical Centre following the outbreak of COVID-19, in Benghazi, Libya. (Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters)

As coronavirus cases surge in Libya, medics and officials working with a health system wrecked by years of division and war are warning that the pandemic could be slipping out of their control.

The conflict has also restricted movement within Libya, and confirmed cases remained low during the first months of the outbreak. Now, infections are jumping by up to several hundred per day to reach a total of nearly 8,200, including more than 150 deaths.

Hot spots include the capital Tripoli, the large port city of Misrata in the west and the city of Sabha in the south.

With files from The Associated Press and CBC News

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