Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Saturday
- PHAC concerned about the steady rise in number of daily coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
- Toronto opening first-of-its-kind centre for those with COVID-19 who can’t self-isolate at home.
- Northern B.C. First Nation school closed due to COVID-19.
- Manitoba’s 1st cases of COVID-19 on First Nations identified at Fisher River and Peguis.
- India, Czech Republic and Hungary report record daily infection increases.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says it’s concerned about the steady rise in the number of daily coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
An average of 630-plus cases were reported daily across Canada over the past week, PHAC said in a statement on Saturday. That’s more than 20 per cent higher than the previous week, and it’s more than 65 per cent higher compared with four weeks ago when an average of just over 380 cases were reported daily.
The four most-affected provinces, British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, are each reporting between 100 to more than 200 new cases per day, the agency said.
“Increasing daily case counts signify heightened disease activity that pose a risk for accelerated or ‘exponential’ epidemic growth to occur,” Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said in the statement. “This rate of growth, which we experienced during the first wave of COVID-19 in Canada, is difficult to control and would take us off the slow-burn path.”
Tam urged the public to keep up with public health practices, limiting in-person close contacts to “our small, consistent bubble and taking appropriate precautions and/or limiting time spent in settings and situations that have not implemented measures … to reduce the risk of exposure.”
Meanwhile, Toronto is opening a centre for those with COVID-19 who cannot self-isolate at home — a service the federal government says is open to other cities across the country.
Ottawa is providing $13.9 million to Toronto Public Health — enough to operate the 140-room isolation centre that opens this weekend for the next 12 months, Health Minister Patty Hajdu said.
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“We’ve heard heartbreaking stories of people knowing that they are ill and knowing that they don’t have the capacity to stop the spread within their own home,” Hajdu said at a news conference in Toronto on Friday.
“This space will be available for people who live in housing that lacks the necessary space to allow for that proper distancing.”
Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, said the isolation centre is “a critical part” of the city’s plan to deal with the likely resurgence of the novel coronavirus.
“What this all comes down to is simply this: Many people living under one roof and not enough space increases the risk that COVID-19 will spread in that household, which means it can spread in the community, too,” de Villa said. “This voluntary isolation site helps to reduce those risks.”
The city reported 77 new cases to the province on Saturday — Toronto’s highest single-day count since mid-June, according to the city’s website.
De Villa said public health investigators will determine on a case-by-case basis if someone with the disease could benefit from isolating at the new centre rather than stay home.
Mayor John Tory said there are many people in Toronto who cannot self-isolate at home.
“Data has shown us that lower-income neighbourhoods were disproportionately affected in the early stages and today by COVID-19, in part because individuals living in these communities, once they tested positive, may then have experienced difficulty to properly isolate themselves,” he said.
Tory said he and health officials have been discussing the idea for several months with the federal government.
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Toronto Board of Health chair Joe Cressy said isolation sites have been used successfully in New York, Chicago and Wuhan, China, to reduce community transmission.
Toronto has also operated two other isolation facilities for people with COVID-19 who are experiencing homelessness since the spring, he said in a statement.
Hajdu said there are currently no plans for another facility elsewhere, but she has been talking to many big-city mayors since late June, and those talks continue.
“If the city requires that service, yes, we’ll work with them to make sure that we can provide a similar support,” she said.
Here’s what’s happening around the rest of Canada
As of 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 136,103 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 120,005 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 9,211.
A school for about 40 Takla First Nation students in northern British Columbia is the first school in the province to close due to COVID-19 since the new school year began this week.
In a written statement Friday, Raymond Mba, principal of Nus Wadeezuhl Community School in Takla Landing, said the school closure is a “precautionary measure” following positive coronavirus cases in Fort St. James, which is about 195 kilometres south of Takla Landing and a major service centre for the area.
The Takla Nation said in a written statement that potential exposure to the virus occurred at a headstone-raising ceremony at Beaver Lake on Aug. 30 and at a wedding at the Nak’azdli First Nation in Fort St. James on Sept. 5.
In Manitoba, three people have tested positive for COVID-19 in two neighbouring Interlake communities, the first time the disease has been identified on First Nations in the province.
Peguis First Nation leadership announced Friday evening that two of its members tested positive for COVID-19 after receiving rapid testing. Earlier in the day, Fisher River Cree Nation announced one of its members had also tested positive.
Starting today, Quebec police will begin handing out fines to anyone who isn’t wearing a mask when required under public health regulations, Premier François Legault said.
Legault said Friday people need to show discipline and avoid large private gatherings to ward off a second wave of COVID-19.
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People will be fined if they do not wear a mask in indoor public spaces where distancing is not possible. Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said the penalties will range from $400 to $6,000.
The province reported another 219 cases Friday. That brought the average number of daily new cases over the past week to more than 170, surpassing the 20-infections-per-million-inhabitants daily threshold the province had been hoping to avoid to maintain control over the virus.
In Ontario, concerns about crowds of people jam-packed at attractions on Clifton Hill have led to a clash between the mayor of Niagara Falls and the region’s medical officer of health.
Dr. Mustafa Hirji said the number of people visiting the popular tourist area every weekend this summer has been “concerning,” considering the pandemic. Mayor Jim Diodati, meanwhile, dismissed Hirji’s comments about the two cases linked to Clifton Hill, describing them as “speculation without investigation.”
In Newfoundland and Labrador, the Iron Ore Company of Canada says a contractor coming to its Labrador City mine site from outside the province has presumptively tested positive for COVID-19.
In a memo to employees Friday evening, obtained by CBC News, the company said the person is from New Brunswick and received a presumptive positive test result during a regular screening of out-of-province workers.
The person did not proceed to the work site and immediately self-isolated, the memo says.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
According to the tally maintained by Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases is now more than 28.5 million. More than 916,000 people have died, while 19.2 million have recovered.
In Africa, the World Health Organization says confirmed cases on the continent are at more than 1.3 million. South Africa accounts for the majority of the infections, with more than 644,000.
Over 1.3 million confirmed <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a> cases on the African continent – with more than 1 million recoveries & 32,000 deaths cumulatively.<br><br>View country figures & more with the WHO African Region COVID-19 Dashboard: <a href=”https://t.co/V0fkK8dYTg”>https://t.co/V0fkK8dYTg</a> <a href=”https://t.co/MNoJGc9dlj”>pic.twitter.com/MNoJGc9dlj</a>
In Europe, Hungary has registered another record number 916 newly infected people with the coronavirus. The total Saturday is more than 25 per cent higher than the previous record of 716 cases, reached Friday.
The Czech Republic also recorded a record number of new infections on Saturday, marking the third time the country has topped a previously set high mark this week. The Health Ministry says the day-to-day increase in the new confirmed coronavirus cases reached 1,447 on Friday, surpassing 1,000 for the fourth day this week. Of a total of 33,860 confirmed cases of the virus in the Czech Republic, more than 5,700 have been registered in the last five working days, prompting the government to tighten restrictive measure to slow the spread.
In Asia-Pacific, Australia’s COVID-19 death toll has surpassed 800 after Victoria state reported six more deaths on Saturday and prepared to ease some of the tough restrictions. Victoria, the hardest hit by a viral resurgence in the country, also reported 37 more cases in the past 24 hours. The national death toll stands at 803, with 716 of those in Victoria.
India’s confirmed coronavirus tally has crossed 4.6 million after a record surge of 97,570 new cases in 24 hours. The country also reported another 1,201 deaths on Saturday, taking total fatalities to 77,472. Infections are growing faster in India than anywhere else in the world, and it is the second worst-hit country behind the United States. Experts say India’s limited and restrictive testing has masked the actual toll even as daily tests have been ramped up to more than one million.
In the Americas, the U.S. state of Texas reported 3,488 new coronavirus cases on Friday and 144 deaths. That brought the total confirmed cases to 653,356 and nearly 14,000 confirmed deaths, state health official say.
Mexico is declaring 24 of its 32 states ready for partial reopening, marking the first time no state is listed at a “red” level maximum alert. The 24 states listed at “orange” or high risk may allow many non-essential businesses to reopen at 30 per cent capacity. The eight other states are listed at “yellow” or moderate risk, allowing even more business activities. However, bars, nightclubs and dance halls remain closed, and sporting events and concerts cannot have spectators. The country has recorded a total of 658,299 infections and 70,183 deaths — the fourth-highest toll in the world.