Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Tuesday | CBC News


The latest:

British Columbia’s top doctor issued a stark dose of reality to people in her province Tuesday: it is very likely over time, Dr. Bonnie Henry said, that almost everyone in B.C. will be exposed to the coronavirus.

But as she announced further restrictions going into effect immediately in the province to try to slow the spread of the Omicron variant, she added that how people conduct themselves will greatly influence how the virus affects them. 

“We are now transitioning to reducing those social gatherings to as low as possible … to try and reduce that risk of exposure.”

The province, which reported 1,308 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, is shutting down bars and nightclubs as of Wednesday, and cancelling scheduled surgeries. Gyms and fitness studios will be closed and larger seated venues will have capacity reduced to 50 per cent

WATCH | Henry says people must reduce their contacts over the coming weeks: 

‘Inevitable’ that most people in B.C. will be exposed, says province’s top doctor

Dr. Bonnie Henry said given how the Omicron variant is driving transmission of COVID-19, it is very likely at this point that most people will be exposed to the virus, and so how they conduct themselves will be crucial. 1:06

Other parts of Canada are also starting to hunker down, with new restrictions coming into effect as a fifth wave of COVID-19 spreads throughout the country, fuelled by Omicron.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is asking Albertans to reduce their social contacts by 50 per cent through the holidays and refrain from workplace holiday parties. As of Dec. 24, the province is also bringing in new restrictions, including  reducing capacity limits on venues that seat more than 500 people, lowering table capacity in bars and restaurants to no more than 10 per table, and stopping alcohol sales in those venues at 11 p.m. 

Quebec on Tuesday reported yet another single-day high, with more than 5,000 new cases of COVID-19. The update came as the City of Montreal declared a local state of emergency in the face of quickly rising case numbers, and requested help from the Canadian Forces to administer vaccines. 

In Ontario, new limits on social gatherings and capacity limits in stores and restaurants came into effect Sunday as the provincial government struggled to get escalating case counts under control. 

The province’s chief medical officer of health warned Tuesday that the number of patients requiring hospitalization and treatment in intensive care units could rise significantly in the coming weeks. Dr. Kieran Moore said the province has also put out a call to anyone with experience administering intramuscular injections to volunteer at COVID-19 vaccine clinics. 

Prince Edward Island ramped up restrictions on Tuesday, including a quarantine requirement for people coming onto the island.

While hospitalizations have remained steady in Ontario and some other parts of Canada, a recent spike in the number of severe cases in Quebec has added to concerns that the rest of the country could soon follow.

The fifth wave has also sparked a rush for booster shots as the Omicron variant has caused a surge of infections among both vaccinated and unvaccinated Canadians.

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:30 p.m. ET

What’s happening across Canada

WATCH | Thinking of using rapid COVID-19 tests before gathering? Watch this first: 

Rapid COVID-19 tests helpful, but expert urges caution amid Omicron

Eric Arts, professor at Western University’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, joined Power & Politics Tuesday to discuss how Canadians should think about rapid COVID-19 tests and what they mean for the fight against Omicron. 7:45

For more details on how COVID-19 is impacting your community — including hospital data and the latest on restrictions — check out the coverage from CBC newsrooms around the country.

In Prince Edward Island, the premier announced ramped-up restrictions and announced adjusted rules for incoming travellers on Tuesday, as health officials reported 29 new cases of COVID-19.

Nova Scotia reported another single-day high of new cases, with 522. “We are moving backwards and not forwards,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, as the province announced a reduction in gathering limits, which come into effect Wednesday.

WATCH | Nova Scotia premier explains why new restrictions are necessary: 

Need to go further with restrictions, Nova Scotia premier says

Citing a number of factors including high case counts and hospitalizations due to COVID-19, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said the province needs to further tighten restrictions that were announced just last week. 2:43

New Brunswick reported 156 new cases reported Tuesday, but the premier warned that given what is happening in other parts of the country, people should expect numbers to rise. Blaine Higgs announced a tightening of restrictions in the province, too, lowering gathering capacities in an effort to help people reduce their contacts.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, health officials reported 27 additional cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

In Quebec, health officials on Tuesday reported 5,043 new cases of COVID-19 and eight additional deaths. The update comes after Health Minister Christian Dubé announced sweeping new restrictions on Monday aimed at slowing the spread of the new variant.

“The epidemiological situation is critical,” Dubé said at the briefing on Monday. “Our health system is already in crisis … and things aren’t getting better.”

In Ontario, health officials on Tuesday reported 3,453 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths. The update came as adults in the province scrambled to get booster-shot appointments after the province expanded eligibility.

Across the North, Nunavut on Tuesday reported two additional cases in Pangnirtung, though health officials said full lab results weren’t expected until later in the day.

“At this time, we do not know which variant this is, but in light of the threat of Omicron, we are tightening public health measures in the community to limit possible spread to other communities,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson said.  “We will know the variant strain within approximately a week.”  

Health officials in Yukon reported two new cases while the Northwest Territories had one. 

In the Prairies, Manitoba‘s new restrictions came into effect on Tuesday, as the province reported 302 new COVID-19 cases. 

Saskatchewan, meanwhile, saw 67 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Health officials expanded access to booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, but the province is not expecting to tighten public health measures for the holidays despite new projections. The projections released by the province suggest that Omicron-driven cases and hospitalizations will increase dramatically by the end of the month without stronger interventions.

In Alberta, health officials reported 786 new cases Tuesday. The province is opening up booster-shot eligibility to everyone over 18, effective immediately, as long as it’s been at least five months since their last shot.

In British Columbia, health officials on Tuesday reported 1,308 new cases of COVID-19. Along with the new public gathering limits announced today, health officials said personal gatherings are still limited to your household plus 10 guests or one additional household if it’s larger than 10 guests. Everyone in the house must be vaccinated.

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 7:30 p.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

Katherine Thompson, an emergency medical technician working as a contractor with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, gives a person a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shot on Monday in Federal Way, Wash. (Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press)

As of Tuesday evening, more than 276.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s case-tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at more than 5.3 million.

In the Americas, U.S. President Joe Biden is increasing support for hospitals, improving access to COVID-19 tests and expanding the availability of vaccines that can reduce the risks from the Omicron variant. In a speech from the White House Tuesday, he announced the government will purchase a half billion rapid at-home tests to be delivered for free beginning in January to Americans who request them.

“Omicron spreads easily especially among the unvaccinated,” he said, while announcing the government will also set up more mass public testing sites where case rates are high, offering free COVID-19 tests in an effort to reduce wait times and long lines. 

Biden stressed the importance of getting vaccinated to protect from a wave of infections tied to Omicron as Christmas approaches, saying people have a duty to their family, friends and country to get the shot. 

“Get vaccinated now. It’s free. It’s convenient,” he said. “I promise you, it saves lives, and I honest-to-God believe it is your patriot duty.”

WATCH | Biden says the choice to remain unvaccinated puts your loved ones at risk: 

Biden: vaccine could be difference between ‘life and death’

U.S. President Joe Biden issued a plea to the unvaccinated Tuesday to get the COVID-19 shot, saying they are putting their loved ones at risk and causing hospitals to become overrun again. 1:05

Meanwhile, Panama has detected its first Omicron case, while neighbouring Costa Rica detected three more confirmed cases.

In the Asia-Pacific region, Thailand on Tuesday decided to immediately reimpose a mandatory quarantine for visitors and suspend a “test-and-go” scheme for fully vaccinated arrivals as concerns grow over the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the government said. The decision is a blow to efforts to revive Thailand’s battered tourism sector ahead of the peak holiday season.

About 200,000 people who have registered for the “test-and-go” scheme, known as Thailand Pass, but have not yet entered Thailand will be allowed to come, a spokesperson said. They will be subject to a coronavirus test on arrival and a second test seven days later at the expense of the government.

In Africa, Kenya on Monday reported 1,020 new cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths. In South Africa, which raised the alarm about the new Omicron variant, health officials on Monday reported 8,515 new cases and 105 additional deaths.

In Europe,  Portugal on Tuesday ordered nightclubs and bars to shut doors and told people to work from home from Dec. 26 to at least Jan. 9 to control the spread of COVID-19 over the holiday period. Prime Minister Antonio Costa also announced that a negative coronavirus test would be required to stay at Portuguese hotels and said authorities would limit outdoor gatherings to 10 people per group on New Year’s Eve.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he won’t impose any new coronavirus restrictions before Christmas — but that new measures could be coming after the holiday if omicron continues to surge.

In the Middle East, a government advisory panel of health experts has recommended that Israel begin administering a fourth booster shot of the coronavirus vaccine to protect against the fast-spreading omicron variant. Israel was one of the first countries to vaccinate its population early this year and then it carried out the world’s first booster campaign over the summer.

Iran on Tuesday reported 2,413 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 additional deaths.

-From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, last updated at 6:50 p.m. ET

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