Coronavirus: What's happening around the world on Sept. 8

Canada is seeing a worrying increase in the number of people infected with the coronavirus as schools across the country start to reopen, the country's top medical official said on Tuesday. Here's what's going on with the coronavirus around the world.

Canada's top doctor sounds alarm over rising coronavirus cases as schools reopen

'This week is a really critical week,' chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam told a news briefing in Ottawa on Tuesday, as schools across the country start to reopen amid a rise in coronavirus cases. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press file photo)

The latest:

  • Rising coronavirus cases 'concerning' as schools start to reopen, Canada's top doctor says.
  • Brazil eyeing coronavirus vaccine rollout in January, acting health minister says.
  • Late-stage trials of potential vaccine paused after patient develops 'unexplained illness.'
  • Argentina's cases top half-million as it reports record daily increase. 
  • California relaxes restrictions in five more counties.
  • England bans gatherings of more than six as cases spike.
  • Federal health minister orders review of pandemic alert system after scientists claim warnings were ignored.
  • Japanese Olympic officials say Games will go on despite pandemic.

Canada is seeing a worrying increase in the number of people infected with the coronavirus as schools across the country start to reopen, the country's top medical official said on Tuesday.

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said an average of 545 new cases had been reported daily over the past week, up from about 300 in July.

"This is concerning and I want to underscore that when cases occur, including in schools, it is a reflection on what's happening in the community," she told a briefing. "This week is a really critical week."

Thousands more students across the country returned to class Tuesday as developments stemming from earlier openings in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec cast a shadow over giddy reunions and hopes for a quick return to normal.

WATCH | Rising cases a trend, not a blip, infectious diseases specialist says:

Rising COVID-19 cases a trend, not a blip, says infectious disease specialist

2 years ago
Duration 2:24
Dr. Isaac Bogoch says Canada needs to 'buckle down' with targeted public health initiatives now to curb the new growth of coronavirus cases.

In Ottawa, about 200 students and staff at five French Catholic schools have been told to self-isolate because of possible exposure to COVID-19 aboard school buses.

Quebec, which welcomed back pupils last month, has already reported a number of cases in schools.

Tam noted that the increase in infections was concentrated among younger adults and cited the risk posed by private functions and family gatherings.

At a separate briefing on Tuesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford railed against young people and students who he said were holding unauthorized parties and warned them he wanted the police to lay charges if necessary.

"No more parties. I just can't stress it enough," Ford said. Ontario announced a one-month suspension of efforts to lift remaining restrictions that had been imposed to fight the outbreak.

WATCH | Ontario puts 'pause' on further loosening of public health measures:

Quebec introduces new multi-tiered alert system for COVID-19

2 years ago
Duration 1:15
Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé says the new system will convey the exact number of cases in each region of the province so steps can be taken to help curb the rising numbers.

The coronavirus reproduction number, which shows how many people someone with COVID-19 is infecting, has risen to just above one, an indication that the virus is spreading.

"That is not a good sign," Tam said.

Also on Tuesday, Quebec unveiled a four-step alert system for measures to curb COVID-19 that would introduce restrictions such as limiting the number of people allowed to gather depending on the risk of transmission.

WATCH | Quebec announces colour-coded regional alert system for COVID-19:

Canadians at crucial moment to get COVID-19 under control

2 years ago
Duration 3:41
With COVID-19 infection numbers creeping up across much of Canada, there is growing concern that we may be heading towards a second wave, especially with schools reopening. Younger Canadians being more likely to let their guard down when it comes to safety protocols as summer winds down.

The system, which ranges from "vigilance (green)" to "maximum alert (red)," is intended to help people understand the current level of risk but also what actions will be taken in the event of serious outbreaks.

Health Minister Christian Dubé said the assessment will be updated weekly and based on the epidemiological situation, the rate of transmission and the capacity of the health-care system.

What else is happening with coronavirus in Canada

As of 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Canada had 133,563 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 117,565 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 9,194.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu has ordered an independent review of the Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN) in response to claims by some scientists that their early warnings about the threat of COVID-19 were ignored or inadequately addressed by senior staff at the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The network, a federal government-run monitoring and analysis unit, alerts senior officials to health risks around the globe by compiling media reports and other intelligence about outbreaks.

Created in the 1990s, the network serves as an early warning system for Canada and the World Health Organization (WHO). The GPHIN flagged a new pneumonia-like virus in Wuhan, China, at the end of December 2019.

The Globe and Mail has reported on internal concerns about the efficacy of the reporting system after changes made in 2018 and 2019 shifted the network's focus away from monitoring global health trends to a more domestic role.

CBC News also reported in April on concerns about the network's alerts not being as widely disseminated as they had been during past health crises.

WATCH | Canadians at crucial moment to get COVID-19 under control:

University students prepare for online experiences

2 years ago
Duration 2:16
With the majority of university classes being moved online, students are preparing for a year of online learning and trying to find ways to connect without being in the same room.

"We were concerned to learn of reports that GPHIN analysts felt that they were not able to proceed with their important work, and that some scientists didn't feel fully empowered," a spokesperson for Hajdu said in a statement.

"That's why we have ordered a full and expeditious independent review of GPHIN, led by professionals and experts from outside of the Public Health Agency of Canada. This independent review is an important step in restoring GPHIN and ensuring that it can continue its valuable contributions to public health in Canada and around the world."

Here's what's happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 27.4 million. More than 894,000 people have died, while 18.4 million have recovered.

Brazil's acting health minister Eduardo Pazuello said on Tuesday that a COVID-19 vaccine would be rolled out for all Brazilians in January.

"We are closing contracts with vaccine manufacturers and the forecast is that a vaccine will arrive for us starting in January next year and we will start vaccinating everyone," Pazuello said in a video posted to social media.

Pazuello and other ministers were responding to questions from 10-year-old YouTuber Esther Castilho. Pazuello did not give details on which vaccine would be rolled out.

Michelle Bolsonaro, wife of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, greets supporters during Independence Day celebrations in Brasilia on Monday. Brazil has reported more than 4.1 million coronavirus cases. (Sergio Lima/AFP/Getty Images)

Right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who has downplayed the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, on Tuesday repeated prior statements that vaccination would not be mandatory, although the government would still mount a vaccine campaign.

Brazil has the third-worst outbreak of coronavirus globally with more than 4.1 million cases. More than 127,000 people have died from the disease, according to the official Health Ministry death toll.

The high number of cases has led several vaccine makers to seek out Brazil for clinical trials. The country has been testing a potential vaccine from AstraZeneca and has signed a memorandum of understanding to receive 30 million doses of it.

AstraZeneca announced on Tuesday it is pausing the late-stage studies of its possible vaccine while it investigates whether a report of a patient with a serious side-effect is linked to the shot.

Argentina reported a record 12,027 new cases on Tuesday — pushing the total past 500,000, with almost one in two tests coming back positive.

The country initially controlled the spread of the virus with a tough quarantine beginning in the middle of March. But as economic pressures grew, restrictions were eased and infections soared.

The current rolling seven-day average number of cases in Argentina is around 10,000 daily, with about 200 daily deaths in the nation of 45 million.

In the United States, California Gov. Gavin Newsom relaxed coronavirus restrictions in five more counties on Tuesday, clearing the way for restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and churches to resume indoor activities with fewer people and other modifications.

The change applies to Amador, Orange, Placer, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. Newsom says seven other counties are being considered for an upgrade.

Tuesday's announcement means the state has now eased restrictions for more than eight million people living in three of the state's most populous counties — San Diego, Orange and Santa Clara.

A sign reminding people that the fine for not wearing a mask can be as much as $350 is seen by the pier during a heat wave in Manhattan Beach, Calif., on Monday. (Chris Delmas/AFP/Getty Images)

While California is averaging more than 100,000 tests per day, an average of just 3.8 per cent of people tested positive for the virus over the past week. Hospitalizations are down 24 per cent over the past two weeks.

But Newsom's administration is still taking it slow, making its decisions on week-old data and requiring counties to meet benchmarks for two consecutive weeks before being upgraded. It's part of the lessons learned from the spring, when the state saw a similar decline in numbers only to have a surge of new cases after Memorial Day.

The U.K. is banning gatherings of more than six people in England, as officials try to keep a lid on daily new coronavirus infections after a sharp spike across the country that has been largely blamed on party-going young adults disregarding physical distancing rules.

Downing Street said urgent action was needed after the number of daily laboratory-confirmed positive cases hit nearly 3,000 on Sunday. The figure dipped Tuesday to 2,460. The restriction does not apply to Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, which set their own rules. 

A warning sign is seen in Manchester, as the city and the surrounding area face local restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. (Phil Noble/Reuters)

Officials said that starting Monday, the legal limit on all social gatherings in England will be reduced from the current 30 people to six. The new law applies both indoors and outdoors, including private homes, restaurants and parks. Failure to comply could result in a 100-pound ($172 Cdn) fine.

Weddings, school, funerals and organized team sports are exempt, and larger gatherings will also be allowed if the household or "support bubble" is larger than six.

The spike in U.K. cases follows big increases in Spain and France, both of which have seen the number of COVID-19 patients being hospitalized rise dramatically during the summer.

France's COVID-19 situation is "worrying," with daily new cases at record levels, but a second wave of infections is "avoidable," Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, French Prime Minister Jean Castex was to undergo a COVID-19 test as a precaution after he shared a car with the director of the Tour de France cycle race, who has since tested positive for the virus, the PM's office said on Tuesday.

The International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers are trying to convince the public that the postponed Tokyo Olympics will take place next year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

A man wearing a face mask stands before the Olympic rings from an observation point in Tokyo's Odaiba district. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images)

Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said last week that the games could go ahead without a vaccine. This week John Coates, the IOC member who oversees the Tokyo Olympics, said the Games would happen despite the pandemic.

Several recent public opinion polls have shown skepticism from the Japanese public and the business community that the Games can go on — or should go ahead at all.

India has reported 1,133 deaths from the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, its highest single-day total.

The Health Ministry on Tuesday also reported 75,809 new cases, raising India's reported tally to nearly 4.3 million — second only to the U.S. and maintaining an upward surge amid an ease in nationwide restrictions to help mitigate the economic pain.

The country's death toll now stands at 72,775.

The rise in cases is partly due to increased testing. The number of daily tests conducted across the country has risen to more than a million. Nearly 3.3 million people in India have recovered from COVID-19 so far.

WATCH | University students prepare for online experiences:

COVID-19 expected to spike after Labour Day long weekend

2 years ago
Duration 3:22
Canadians are enjoying the last summer long weekend, but not all of them are abiding by COVID-19 safety protocols, especially young people. Experts predict a spike in cases following Labour Day gatherings.

The UN agency for refugees says it has confirmed two coronavirus cases in the Azraq camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan.

They are the first infections to be detected among Syrians living in refugee camps in Jordan, which are home to more than 100,000 Syrians displaced by that country's civil war.

The UNHCR says the two patients have been transferred to quarantine facilities and their neighbours have been isolated as more testing is carried out.

A major testing and contact-tracing operation at Greece's largest migrant camp on the eastern island of Lesbos has so far detected 35 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the overcrowded facility's 12,500 residents, authorities said Tuesday.

Migrants and refugees carry bags with food at a makeshift camp next to the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesbos. Thirty-five confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been found among the overcrowded facility's 12,500 residents. (Manolis Lagoutaris/AFP/Getty Images)

Health and immigration ministry officials said medical teams have carried out 1,900 tests for the coronavirus on migrants at the Moria facility, which was initially designed to hold 2,800 people. Another 100 staff members have been tested, and none were found to have COVID-19.

Gkikas Magiorkinis, a member of a scientific committee advising the government, told a media briefing Tuesday that some optimism was allowed by the fact that most of the 35 migrants were relatively young and didn't belong to high-risk groups.

With files from CBC News, The Canadian Press and The Associated Press

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