Wednesday, March 29, 2023
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Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world Wednesday

The latest:

A B.C. health authority facing an uptick in COVID-19 cases — including a recent dance studio outbreak now linked to 36 cases — will soon have more testing capacity.

Fraser Health announced on Tuesday that another COVID-19 test collection centre is slated to open in North Surrey next week. The health authority, which covers a broad swath east of Vancouver including communities like Burnaby and Surrey, accounts for 9,234 of the 15,800 COVID-19 cases reported in B.C. since the beginning of the pandemic. 

Faced with rising case numbers, B.C’s health minister and a top public health official on Tuesday reminded people in the province to keep gatherings small, saying “much of the recent transmission” in the province has been connected to get-togethers.

“This is particularly important in the Fraser Health region where public health teams are asking everyone to avoid all social gatherings in your home right now — even those that are within the restrictions of the provincial health officer order,” a statement from Health Minister Adrian Dix and Deputy Provincial Health Officer Dr. Reka Gustafson said.

Alberta is also seeing an uptick of cases, with the top doctor cautioning that the province is “at a critical juncture in this pandemic.”

Dr. Deena Hinshaw urged people not to give up on the fight against COVID-19, saying Tuesday that “we need to reduce the rate of transmission if we want to avoid more difficult choices in the future.”

The province on Tuesday reported more than 6,100 active COVID-19 cases, with more than 2,500 cases each in Edmonton and Calgary. 

What’s happening across Canada

As of 6:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, provinces and territories in Canada had reported a cumulative total of 244,935 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 203,509 as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 10,279.

Health officials in Saskatchewan are introducing a new measure requiring masks in public indoor spaces in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert. The measure, which will be in place for 28 days before being reviewed, takes effect Friday.

The province, which on Tuesday reported 81 new cases (and has averaged 76 new cases a day over the last week) is also decreasing the number of people allowed at indoor gatherings.

In Manitoba, the Red Cross has been asked to provide staff to help care for residents at some long-term care homes dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks.

Ontario is moving to a colour-coded system to communicate what regions are under what restrictions, saying the new system will be an “early warning system” and allow the province to scale public health measures based on what’s happening in a given region.

“As a province, and as a country, we’re grappling with a new reality. And it’s becoming more and more clear COVID-19 will be with us for a while,” Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday, adding that the province is planning for “the long game.”

The move was announced as the province set a new single-day record, reporting 1,050 new COVID-19 cases. The seven-day average of new cases ticked up to 950. The information released on Tuesday put hospitalizations at 357, with 73 in intensive care.

But some public health and infectious disease experts had reservations about the plan, which will move a region from “orange” to “red” only if the local test positivity rate surpasses 9.9 per cent. You can get the full details of the newly released framework here, including details around test positivity rate, outbreaks and health-system capacity.

Quebec reported an eight-day low of 871 new COVID-19 infections and 34 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including five recorded in the 24 hours prior. The Tuesday figures put the number of people in hospital in the province at 526, with 85 receiving intensive care.

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported one new COVID-19 case on Tuesday. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said several cases are being investigated by public health but noted there’s “nothing at this time that points to general community spread here in Nova Scotia.”

There were no new cases reported in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, or Newfoundland and Labrador, which has now gone eight days straight without any new cases.

Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut.

What’s happening around the world

usa election missouri
Curbside voting was held in St. Charles County for voters who have COVID-19 in Missouri on Tuesday. The voting is over, but the results are not yet clear as counting continues in several states. (Lawrence Bryant/Reuters)

As of early Wednesday morning, more than 47.4 million COVID-19 cases had been reported worldwide, with more than 31.6 million of those considered recovered, according to a tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The U.S.-based institution put the cumulative worldwide death toll at more than 1.2 million.

In the Americas, eyes were on the United States, where a contentious election fight between President Donald Trump and former vice-president Joe Biden had not yet resulted in a clear victor. The country, which has seen more reported COVID-19 cases than any nation in the world, is seeing a surge in cases in several states.

The president’s response to the global pandemic was a major issue in the campaign, with measures like lockdowns, mandated business closures and mask requirements proving to be deeply divisive in many parts of the U.S. 

The World Health Organization says there has been a “further acceleration” in the speed of COVID-19’s spread in Europe, which was responsible for about half of the globe’s new cases reported last week.

Poland is set to announce more restrictions on Wednesday, as daily infections and deaths reached new records, while Hungary will close entertainment venues and impose a night-time curfew.

The marquee of Kino International Cinema in Berlin reads ‘Take care of each other’ on the first day of a four-week semi-lockdown during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this week. (Getty Images)

Ukraine registered a record 9,524 new cases in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said, a day after its minister described the situation as verging on catastrophic.

Sweden, Greece and Georgia announced further restrictions, and Norway is set to unveil its own later this week.

In Africa, Algeria’s president is still being treated for COVID-19. Abdelmadjid Tebboune, 74, is being treated in Germany, Al-Jazeera reported Tuesday.

Algerian secondary level students wearing masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic attend the first day of school in the Algerian capital Algiers on Wednesday. (AFP/Getty Images)

South Africa remained the hardest-hit nation in Africa, with more than 728,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and more than 19,500 deaths.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Australia’s coronavirus hot spot of Victoria state reported zero COVID-19 cases for the fifth straight day as states began easing regional border restrictions, raising prospects of a faster return to normal.

As the pandemic has pushed many companies to allow telecommuting, it has also caused a population outflow from Tokyo — the first time that has happened in years, the latest government data showed.

India’s capital reported a record 6,725 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, hit by its worst wave of infections since March.

New Delhi had previously reported a high of 5,891 cases on Oct. 30, averaging more than 5,200 cases a day this past week. It now has 403,096 confirmed cases and 6,604 deaths reported. India’s overall positive caseload rose by 46,253 in the past 24 hours after dipping to 38,310 on Tuesday. 

In the Middle East, Bahrain has granted emergency approval for the use of a Chinese vaccine candidate currently in phase III trials on frontline workers, state news agency BNA said.

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