Coronavirus: What’s Happening in Canada and Around the World on Wednesday
People living in multiple provinces – including Alberta, Ontario and large swathes of Quebec – face tighter public health restrictions as officials sound the alarm over more transmissible coronavirus variants and pressure growing on hospitals.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced Tuesday that customer capacity in retail stores will be reduced to 15%, restaurants must close in-person meals and low-intensity group fitness activities will once again be banned.
Kenney said cases have continued to increase “sharply” over the past week, and worrisome variants are on the rise.
“To be frank: this wave is here,” Kenney said, noting that current trends would threaten “the maximum capacity of our health system by next month, just as we reach critical mass for immunization.”
Alberta reported 931 new cases and three more deaths on Tuesday. According to the province, 328 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 76 in intensive care units.
In OntarioPremier Doug Ford is expected to announce a province-wide stay-at-home order later Wednesday, sources told CBC News. Ford’s planned announcement comes as schools in Canada’s largest city close their doors on Wednesday and switch to e-learning amid a third wave of coronavirus infections fueled by more contagious virus variants .
Ontario reported 3,065 new cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths on Tuesday. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 1,161, with 510 people in intensive care units “due to COVID-related illness.”
Quebec Premier François Legault also announced on Tuesday more restrictions for the most affected regions of the province, saying that what happens in April will be “critical”.
Beginning next Monday, Grades 9, 10 and 11 students in red zones, including Montreal, will attend school in person every other day and extracurricular activities will be canceled. Legault said gyms in red zones are to close from Thursday and places of worship will have to limit attendance to 25 people.
“Right now we are able to handle the increase in hospitalizations, but that can change very quickly,” Legault said, urging people to be “very careful”.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated 7:05 am ET
Here’s a look at what’s happening elsewhere in Canada
WATCH | How vulnerable are children to variants of concern?
As of early Wednesday morning, Canada had reported 1,018,619 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which 59,931 were considered active. A CBC News death tally stood at 23,130 people.
In Atlantic Canada, there was a different message about the restrictions on Tuesday: New Scotland relaxed some limits, including allowing more people in malls, retailers and fitness facilities. The province, which reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, is also allowing travelers from Newfoundland and Labrador to enter Nova Scotia without a 14-day quarantine.
New Brunswick reported three new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, and no new cases were reported in either Prince Edward Island or Newfoundland and Labrador.
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 62 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths. Saskatchewan, meanwhile, reported 217 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths, while the number of people in the province’s ICUs with COVID-19-related illness stood at 44.
In British Columbia, health officials on Tuesday reported 1,068 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths. Health officials said COVID-19-related hospitalizations stood at 328, with 96 people in intensive care.
In the North, no new cases of COVID-19 have been reported Yukon, the Northwest Territories or Nunavut.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7:10 a.m. ET
What is happening in the world
As of Wednesday morning, more than 132.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a coronavirus tracker maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at over 2.8 million.
In Europe, the United Kingdom is administering the first doses of the Moderna vaccine, the third authorized in the country against the coronavirus.
The deployment comes as the UK medical regulator is studying another vaccine, made by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, which has been given to more than 18 million people in Britain. Several countries have restricted the use of AstraZeneca jab in young people, while scientists are investigating a small number of cases of rare blood clots in people who have received the vaccine.
Britain, which has ordered 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, has not restricted its use, but its medical regulator is reviewing the evidence. Oxford University said Tuesday evening it had stopped giving the vaccine to children involved in a clinical trial until it received more information from the regulator.
Hungary, meanwhile, began easing its lockdown restrictions on Wednesday even as another daily record for COVID-19 deaths was broken and a surge in the pandemic hit hospitals across the country.
The European Union has denied the blocking of shipments of 3.1 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine to Australia, as the bloc steps up its review of vaccine exports to deal with shortages.
In the Asia Pacific region, India hit a new high with 115,736 coronavirus cases reported in the past 24 hours. New Delhi, Mumbai and dozens of other cities are imposing curfews in an attempt to slow the spike in infections.
India now has a seven-day moving average of more than 78,000 cases per day and has reported 12.8 million cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic, the highest after the United States and Brazil.
Thailand has diagnosed 24 cases of the B117 coronavirus variant first detected in Britain, a virologist said, its first reported nationwide transmission of the highly contagious mutation.
South Korea reported its highest number of new cases in one day in three months amid an increase in cluster infections as it approved a Johnson & Johnson vaccine in a bid to speed up its inoculation campaign .
In the Americas, Brazil for the first time reported a 24-hour tally of COVID-19 deaths exceeding 4,000. This made Brazil the third nation to cross the threshold. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has long played down the risks of the coronavirus and remains totally against lockdowns because they are too damaging to the economy.
In Africa, South Africa has signed an agreement with Pfizer for 20 million doses of double-injected vaccine, bolstering plans to launch mass vaccinations from April.
In the Middle East, the Supreme Coronavirus Committee in Oman said Omani citizens arriving in the Sultanate through various land, sea and air ports will be exempt from mandatory institutional quarantine but must still be quarantined at home.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, latest update 7:20 a.m. ET