Canada’s two largest provinces continue to struggle in getting their coronavirus infections down. Quebec reported 1,094 new cases on Sunday and six deaths, while Ontario announced 658 new infections and five deaths.
These numbers would not take in account last week’s Thanksgiving weekend, so officials in both provinces and across Canada will be watching to see whether COVID-19 infections spike in the coming days because of the holiday gatherings.
Case counts were down in both provinces, however, compared with Saturday, when Quebec broke another record for new COVID-19 cases in a single day. Despite being under a partial lockdown, public health authorities in the province reported 1,279 more people had tested positive in the previous 24 hours.
Quebec is currently more than halfway through a 28-day period of restrictions on social gatherings in three regions, including Montreal and Quebec City. Bars and restaurant dining rooms have been closed, along with movie theatres and gyms.
Ontario‘s latest count was down from 805 cases added on Saturday and nine deaths, and 712 cases on Friday. The highest numbers for Sunday were in Toronto, with 197 new cases, Peel Region with 155, York Region with 94 and Ottawa with 66.
Tighter COVID-19 restrictions come into effect in York Region, north of Toronto, starting Monday, when movie theatres, gyms and indoor dining rooms will have to close for 28 days. The region joins Ottawa, Peel Region and Toronto in reverting to a modified version of Stage 2 measures.
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New restrictions announced Friday for long-term care homes in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa will also be in place for York Region, starting Monday.
Residents of those homes will not be allowed to go out for social or personal reasons, and visits will only be allowed for medical or compassionate reasons.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, acknowledged on Saturday that there is confusion over public health measures in light of the fact that the pandemic is playing out differently across the country.
To date, labs across 🇨🇦 have tested 8,563,059 people for <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/COVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#COVID19</a>, w an average ~2.2% positive overall, for a rate of 227,806 people tested per million population in Canada. <a href=”https://t.co/jrZH3tHRUo”>https://t.co/jrZH3tHRUo</a>
She urged Canadians to continue making a “collective effort” to tackle the pandemic and to “keep our number of in-person close contacts low.”
“So, as much as you can, I urge you to reduce encounters with people outside of your consistent, trusted close contacts,” Tam said.
“I especially urge you to avoid these encounters in crowded and closed settings with limited ventilation. Keeping apart is difficult, but it is what will make us stronger, more resilient and better able to sustain public health efforts through the fall and winter.”
What’s happening elsewhere in Canada
As of 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had 198,080 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 167,089 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 9,758.
People in Manitoba are getting ready for some of the tightest pandemic restrictions the province has introduced since the initial shutdown earlier this year.
Starting Monday, retailers in Winnipeg and surrounding communities will have their occupancy limited to 50 per cent. Gatherings will be capped at just five people. In addition, casinos and bars will be forced to close under measures that will last for at least two weeks.
New Brunswick reported its third death on Sunday.The individual was a resident of the Notre-Dame Manor, a special care home in Moncton with an ongoing outbreak of the virus. The resident was between the ages of 60 and 69, according to Public Health.
Nova Scotia reported two travel-related cases on Sunday. One person was travelling from within Canada but outside the Atlantic bubble, and the other was coming from international travel, a provincial spokesperson said.
Newfoundland and Labrador on Sunday reported no new cases for the second straight day.
What’s happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 39.7 million. More than 1.1 million people have died, while more than 27.3 million have recovered.
India has added 61,871 new confirmed cases in the past 24 hours, raising its total to about 7.5 million.
The country’s Health Ministry on Sunday also registered 1,033 new fatalities, taking the death toll to 114,031. The country is continuing a downward trend in new cases, but virus-related fatalities jumped after recording the lowest daily figure of 680 in nearly three months on Friday.
Some experts say India’s numbers may not be reliable because of poor reporting and inadequate health infrastructure. India is also relying heavily on antigen tests, which are faster but less accurate than traditional RT-PCR (reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction) tests.
Health officials have warned about the potential for the virus to spread during the religious festival season beginning later this month.
In Saudi Arabia, authorities allowed its citizens and residents inside the kingdom to perform prayers in one of the most holy religious sites in Islam, Al-Haram mosque in Mecca, for the first time in seven months, state television reported on Sunday.
Earlier this month, Saudi residents were allowed to perform the Umrah, an Islamic pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina that can be undertaken any time of the year.
Overall, global coronavirus cases rose by more than 400,000 for the first time on Saturday, a record one-day increase as much of Europe enacted new restrictions to curb the outbreak.
Europe, which successfully tamped down the first surge of infections, has emerged as the new coronavirus epicentre in recent weeks and reported on average 140,000 cases a day over the past week.
As a region, Europe is reporting more daily cases than India, Brazil and the United States combined.
Of every 100 infections reported around the world, 34 were from European countries, according to a Reuters analysis. The region is currently reporting a million new infections about every nine days and has reported more than 6.3 million cases since the pandemic began.
Major European countries — United Kingdom, France, Russia, the Netherlands and Spain — accounted for about half of Europe’s new cases in the week up until Sunday, according to the Reuters tally.
France is reporting the highest seven-day average of new cases in Europe with 19,425 infections per day, followed by the United Kingdom, Russia, Spain and the Netherlands.
The streets of Paris and eight other French cities were deserted on Saturday night on the first day of the government-imposed 9 p.m. curfew that is scheduled to last for at least four weeks.
The measure was announced by French President Emmanuel Macron to curb the resurgent coronavirus as new infections peaked to more than 30,000 a day. Macron said the curfews were needed to stop local hospitals from becoming overrun.