Provinces are taking different approaches to rising COVID-19 numbers. Alberta is not considering new restrictions, while Manitoba has announced tighter measures for its northern region and British Columbia warns new rules could be coming for social gatherings.
Alberta broke two records on Thursday when the province reported 427 new cases and a total of 3,519 active cases.
While acknowledging the government is “obviously concerned” about the growing number of active cases, Premier Jason Kenney said there are no plans to impose “indiscriminate” restrictions that would shut down the hospitality industry.
“I think it’s important to acknowledge that the virus is here to stay,” Kenney said Thursday while self-isolating at home after a minister in his government tested positive the day before. “And unless or until there is widespread immunity either through natural infection or through the widespread use of a vaccine, we have to cope with it and we have to carry on with life.”
The premier said Alberta has so far accomplished its primary goal of protecting lives while ensuring the health-care system is not overwhelmed.
Meanwhile, the Manitoba government has introduced sweeping new rules for the fourth time in as many weeks in an effort to get a handle on its own recent record-breaking COVID-19 numbers.
Effective Monday, the Northern Health region — where there are increasing signs of community spread and cases among vulnerable populations, like those experiencing homelessness — will move to the orange, or “restricted,” level on Manitoba’s pandemic response system.
WATCH | Manitoba’s top doctor on the increasing community spread of COVID-19:
The decision was made after consultation with municipal and First Nations leaders in the region, Chief Provincial Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said at a news conference Thursday. “We know that the north is already at risk for transmission of this virus, especially in remote, isolated communities, [with limited] access to health care,” he said.
The new measures, which are already in place in the Winnipeg area, include a five-person cap on gatherings, the closure of casinos and other sites with live entertainment licences, and a requirement for many businesses to cut occupancy to 50 per cent.
In British Columbia, the provincial health officer warned Thursday she may introduce new rules on gatherings like weddings and funerals as B.C. announced a record-high 274 new cases.
Dr. Bonnie Henry said the measures could include conditions on wedding licences and reducing the province’s current 50-person limit on gatherings.
WATCH | B.C.’s current rules for weddings, funerals not enough, says Dr. Henry:
“The reality is that, right now, everywhere in B.C., weddings, funerals and other life occasions need to be small — as small as possible,” she said. “Every gathering needs to be our own household only, and at maximum, our safe six.”
What’s happening elsewhere in Canada
As of 7 a.m. ET on Friday, Canada had 209,148 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 175,805 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting rose to 9,862.
In New Brunswick, more restrictions have been announced for the Campbellton region, which recorded three new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, almost two weeks after it was pushed back to the orange phase of recovery.
While Zone 5 will remain in the orange stage, people will be limited to interacting with a single household bubble, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell said.
The federal government and Alberta are launching a COVID-19 coronavirus testing pilot at the border that could cut quarantine times for travellers.
Starting Nov. 2, travellers entering Canada at the Coutts land border crossing in southern Alberta and the Calgary International Airport will have the option of being tested for COVID-19.
The mandatory 14-day self-isolation period could be shortened to about 48 hours if a traveller receives a negative COVID-19 test result.
In Ontario, the seven-day average of new cases has started to climb again after a brief lull, as the province reported another 841 cases of the coronavirus on Thursday.
The seven-day average now sits at about 761, still below the most recent peak of 781 recorded earlier this month, but consistently on the rise in the last four days.
In Quebec, Premier François Legault said it’s likely the province will have to maintain many public health restrictions currently in place in red zones past Oct. 28.
The province on Thursday reported 1,033 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 more deaths, eight of which were in the past 24 hours.
What’s happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 41.7 million. More than 1.1 million people have died, while more than 28.3 million have recovered.
In the Americas, the pandemic was predictably the opening topic of the U.S. presidential debate between Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden on Thursday evening. Trump claimed the country was “rounding the corner” even as cases spike again across the country, while Biden said: “Anyone who’s responsible for that many deaths should not remain as president of the United States of America.” More than 223,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus.
WATCH | Trump, Biden clash over pandemic in debate:
The Peruvian government said on Thursday that it refused to sign a coronavirus vaccine purchase agreement with AstraZeneca PLC because it did not provide sufficient data from its studies and offered minimal amounts of inoculations.
In Europe, Poland will close restaurants and bars for two weeks and limit public gatherings to five people, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday, after new coronavirus infections hit a daily record of more than 13,600.
The number of new coronavirus infections in Romania also rose by a daily record, with 5,028 cases added in the past 24 hours, the government said on Friday, as new restrictions were introduced in Bucharest and other cities.
In Asia, South Korea on Friday reported 155 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, its highest daily jump in more than 40 days. Officials say most of the new cases were local transmissions and primarily in the Seoul region, where hundreds of infections have been tied to a handful of hospitals and nursing homes.
Iran’s health ministry on Friday reported a record 6,134 new coronavirus cases for the previous 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 556,891 in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country. A spokesperson said 335 people had died from the disease in the past 24 hours, bringing total fatalities to 31,985.
India reported 54,366 new cases on Friday, the fifth day in a row below 60,000 new cases, and 690 deaths in the
past 24 hours. A political row erupted after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party promised free COVID-19 vaccination, when it is available, to people in eastern Bihar state, where state elections are scheduled to begin next week. Opposition parties accused Modi’s party of politicizing the pandemic.
In Africa, Ethiopia’s attorney general’s office has announced people can be jailed for up to two years if they deliberately violate COVID-19 restrictions, amid concern that citizens are becoming lax after a state of emergency was lifted.
Countries on the continent have reported a total of more than 1.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa. There have been more than 40,000 deaths, for a case fatality ratio of 2.4 per cent, and 1.3 million recoveries so far.
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