- Chance to prevent large resurgence ‘narrows with each passing day,’ says Dr. Theresa Tam.
- Canadians have returned 830,000 pandemic benefit payments.
- Tam urges Canadians to plan ahead for safe Thanksgiving.
- Application for two new federal benefits start Monday.
- Multiple people test positive for COVID-19 in Little Grand Rapids First Nation in Manitoba.
- Russia reports more than 10,000 new cases for first time since May.
The country’s chief public health officer says Canada is running out of time to prevent a major resurgence of COVID-19, with Ontario and Quebec continuing to report some of their highest daily case counts in months.
The chance to avert a large comeback of the respiratory illness “narrows with each passing day,” Dr. Theresa Tam said in a statement on Saturday.
“It is clear that without all of us making hard choices now to reduce our in-person contacts and maintain layers of personal protections at all times, it won’t be enough to prevent a large resurgence,” Tam said.
Her comments came as the country’s two most populous provinces continued moving toward harsher restrictions in coronavirus hot spots amid surging daily case counts.
1/2 To date, labs across 🇨🇦 have tested 7,563,615 people for <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a>, w an average ~2.1% positive overall, for a rate of 201,217 people tested per million population in Canada. <a href=”https://t.co/jrZH3tHRUo”>https://t.co/jrZH3tHRUo</a>
Ontario reported 566 new cases on Sunday — down from Saturday’s 653 cases and Friday’s record high of 732, partially inflated by an ongoing “data cleaning initiative” at Toronto Public Health.
Tam cautioned that the epidemic growth is already stretching local public health and laboratory resources — a warning borne out by a number of developments in Ontario, where a backlog of tests considered “under investigation” has grown to more than 91,000.
Public health officials in Toronto, meanwhile, announced that their case and contact-management team is making a “strategic shift” to focus only on the highest-risk scenarios.
That move came as case counts continued to climb in the city, which is one of three Ontario COVID-19 hot spots where new public health restrictions kicked in on Saturday.
The provincial government announced on Friday that Ottawa, Toronto and Peel Region would face tighter regulations. Restaurants, bars, banquet halls and gyms in those areas will all face restrictions on their operations.
WATCH | Business would ‘struggle’ with 2nd lockdown, says Toronto restaurateur:
More restrictions could soon be imposed in hot spots of neighbouring Quebec as well, with the province planning to announce new rules for sporting activities and gyms on Monday.
Authorities in Quebec already consider greater Montreal, Quebec City and a region south of the provincial capital to be in red alert — the highest pandemic alert level — and have placed those regions under a partial lockdown for 28 days.
“If there was anyone who still needed proof that the situation is critical, we have it day after day,” Premier François Legault said Friday.
Quebec reported 1,079 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, down from 1,107 on Saturday — the largest daily increase since the pandemic began, and the second straight day the province reported more than 1,000 cases.
What’s happening in the rest of Canada
As of 7:45 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 166,156 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 140,243 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 9,481.
With the Thanksgiving holiday nearly a week away, Tam is urging Canadians to plan ahead to make sure this year’s holiday is a safe one during the pandemic.
“We’ve got some serious planning to do,” Tam said in a statement on Sunday. “Not the carefree planning we had last Thanksgiving but rather some ingenious Canadian COVID-19 ‘holiday-hacks’ that will ensure there are no viruses invited or passed around at our gatherings.”
She said people celebrating outdoors should follow physical distancing guidelines and encouraged people to avoid sharing food and other objects during their meals. She also suggested that Canadians opt for virtual Thanksgiving dinners instead of in-person gatherings.
Meanwhile, Canadians struggling with the fallout of the pandemic will be able to start applying on Monday for two new benefits available from the federal government after legislation creating them was rushed through the House of Commons last week.
The first is a caregiver benefit targeting people with young children forced out of school or daycare settings due to the virus. It provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks to those with children under 12 who can’t work more than half-time due to pandemic-related caregiving responsibilities.
The benefit, which is only payable to one worker in a household, is also available to those who can’t work because their children or a family member is sick, has to quarantine or is at high risk of COVID-19.
The second benefit is a two-week paid sick leave worth up to $1,000 for workers who can’t work more than half the week because they have contracted COVID-19 or have an underlying condition that puts them more at risk of the illness.
Manitoba said Sunday that a person who previously tested positive for COVID-19 has died, marking the 23rd death in the province.
Chief and council of Little Grand Rapids First Nation have ordered residents to stay home and only go out for medical appointments and testing.
The province said on Sunday that multiple people in the eastern Manitoba community have tested positive for the coronavirus after attending an event at a recreation centre late last month.
There are 32 new cases of COVID-19 in the province on Sunday. So far, 1,421 people have recovered.
Saskatchewan announced five new cases on Sunday.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case on Sunday, which the province said was travel-related and linked to a case reported Saturday.
The Department of Health says the new case is travel-related, as the woman travelled to the province from central Africa. She was asymptomatic while travelling. Contact tracing has been completed.
New Brunswick reported no new cases on Sunday, and active cases dropped by half to just three. A new case yesterday snapped a seven-day streak of no new cases for the province. That case was located in the Saint John area and was related to travel outside the so-called Atlantic bubble, and the individual is self-isolating.
Nova Scotia also reported no new cases. There are still three known active cases in the province. One person remains in intensive care with the virus.
What’s happening around the world
According to the ongoing tally by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 34.9 million. More than one million people have died, while more than 24.3 million have recovered.
In Asia, Sri Lankan authorities closed schools countrywide and imposed a curfew on Sunday in two suburbs in Western Province, after a person tested positive for the coronavius.
South Korea has reported 64 new daily cases of the coronavirus, the fourth straight day its increase came below 100, possibly reflecting the fewer number of tests conducted during one of the biggest holidays of the year.
In Europe, Slovakia’s record surge of new confirmed coronavirus cases has not slowed down despite tough restrictive measures, surpassing 800 new daily cases for the first time.
Coronavirus infections in Russia hit a new record on Sunday, with the government reporting more than 10,000 new daily cases for the first time since mid-May.
In the United States, President Donald Trump made a surprise drive-by visit to his supporters outside the military hospital where he has been receiving treatments for COVID-19 since Friday.
Trump wore a mask as he waved from the back seat of a black SUV that crawled in a caravan of vehicles in front of the hospital, while supporters waving Trump 2020 flags chanted, “USA! USA!”
WATCH | Trump surprises supporters outside hospital:
The spectacle came just hours after his doctors revealed that the president’s blood oxygen level dropped suddenly twice in recent days.
Meanwhile, the mayor of New York City asked the state on Sunday for permission to close schools and reinstate restrictions on non-essential businesses in several neighbourhoods in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading deeper into the city and becoming a “second wave.”
“We’ve learned over and over from this disease that it is important to act aggressively, and when the data tells us it’s time for even the toughest and most rigorous actions we follow the data, we follow the science,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The action, if approved, would mark a disheartening retreat for a city that enjoyed a summer with less spread of the virus than most other parts of the country, and had only recently celebrated the return of students citywide to in-person learning in classrooms.
Shutdowns would happen starting Wednesday in nine ZIP codes in the city, de Blasio said.
In Africa, the death toll in South Africa has topped 16,000, nearly half of the continent’s more than 35,000 deaths.
Overall, the continent has seen more than 1.5 million confirmed cases. South Africa accounts for the majority, with almost 680,000 infections.