Nunavut is set to enter a mandatory, territory-wide restriction period for two weeks as it looks to clamp down on a recent spate of coronavirus infections.
With eight new cases reported on Monday, the territory — which only this month reported its first confirmed case of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — has recorded 22 cases in just the past three days. It has now reported a total of 26 cases, with no deaths.
Six of the new cases on Monday were in Arviat, and two were in Rankin Inlet.
The territory’s restrictions to limit the spread of the virus will take effect on Wednesday, said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson. All non-essential services, businesses and organizations will be required to close and, wherever possible, switch to work from home.
Masks will now be strongly recommended in public spaces and when physical distance can’t be maintained. In the Kivalliq region and in Sanikiluaq, masks will remain mandatory.
Arviat Mayor Joe Savikataaq Jr. spoke with CBC’s As It Happens about how the small hamlet, which is now contending with a total of 20 cases, is coping with the outbreak.
“When the cases in Winnipeg started to rise, which is our close connection to southern Canada, I think it was a matter of time,” he said. Savikataaq called on residents to stay calm and tend to their mental health.
Elsewhere in the North, Yukon and the Northwest Territories reported no new cases on Monday.
Meanwhile, researchers in Canada and around the world have been racing to find therapeutics and vaccines, and on Monday, U.S-based company Moderna announced a significant milestone in its search for a safe and effective vaccine.
The Cambridge, Mass.-based company said its vaccine appears to be 94.5 per cent effective, according to preliminary data from the company’s still ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the United States.
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Moderna’s vaccine, created with the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is being studied in 30,000 volunteers who received either the real vaccination or a dummy shot. It’s very unusual for results to be analyzed and released before a clinical trial is complete.
Despite that, on Sunday, an independent monitoring board examined 95 infections that were recorded starting two weeks after volunteers’ second dose — and discovered all but five illnesses occurred in participants who got the placebo.
The study is continuing, and Moderna acknowledged the protection rate might change as more COVID-19 infections are detected and added to the calculations. Also, it’s too soon to know how long protection lasts. Both cautions apply to Pfizer’s vaccine as well.
Canada, which has already signed deals with several companies to procure vaccine candidates, has an agreement with Moderna to receive up to 56 million doses of its vaccine.
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WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday warned against complacency in the face of increasing COVID-19 numbers, even as vaccine developments allow for what he described as cautious optimism.
“This is a dangerous virus, which can attack every system in the body,” he said. “Those countries that are letting the virus run unchecked are playing with fire.”
There’s “no excuse for inaction,” he said during a briefing from Geneva. “My message is clear: act fast, act now, act decisively.”
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What’s happening across Canada
Canada’s COVID-19 case count — as of 7 p.m. ET — stood at 302,192 with 50,878 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,027.
Several regions in Ontario are moving into the “red zone” on Monday after Premier Doug Ford lowered the thresholds for his colour-coded system of public health restrictions. Hamilton, Halton and York regions moved Monday to the red alert level, joining Toronto and Peel Region.
Ontario on Monday reported 1,487 cases of COVID-19, with 508 in Toronto, 392 in Peel and 170 in York.
There were 10 additional deaths reported on Monday, bringing the provincial death toll to 3,371, according to the province’s public COVID-19 tracking site. Hospitalization numbers were up to 500, with 125 in intensive care.
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Quebec on Monday reported 1,218 new cases of COVID-19 and 25 new deaths, with six of those deaths reported to have occurred in the previous 24 hours. A provincial dashboard put the number of hospitalizations at 591, with 87 in intensive care.
The province, which has now seen a total of 125,072 cases and 6,651 deaths, announced $100 million in new funding for home care over the weekend.
“Home care is what people want, and they want it even more because of the pandemic,” said Health Minister Christian Dubé.
In Manitoba, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin warned “we can’t sustain this number of cases in our health-care system,” as the province announced 392 new cases and 10 more deaths on Monday.
Three of the deaths are linked to an outbreak at Maples Long Term Care Home, where more than 30 people have died.
A record 234 people are in hospital with COVID-19, with a record-high 42 of them in intensive care.
“Our health-care providers are becoming overwhelmed,” Roussin said.
The entire province moved to the red, or critical, level of its pandemic response system last Thursday. Roussin warned that any stores among those allowed to remain open that break capacity rules could be fined and said some people still aren’t following orders, with one person who tested positive last week having 85 contacts.
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New Brunswick reported eight new cases on Monday, six of them in the Moncton region and two in the Fredericton region. In a news release, the province also said a new COVID-19 swish-and-gargle test for children is now available at all assessment centres in the province.
Prince Edward Island has not reported any new cases on Monday.
Alberta broke two grim COVID-19 records on Monday as it reported 860 new cases — which took the number of active cases to a provincial record of 10,031 — and 20 new COVID-19 deaths, by far its most ever in a single day.
Across the province, 264 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, including 57 who are in intensive care.
In Edmonton, a leaked email from an executive director of the Royal Alexandra Hospital outlined projections for a major uptick in ICU admissions and outlined some of the steps being taken to get ready.
“We need to be prepared,” said the Saturday email from Donalda Dyjur, an executive director at the hospital.
In Calgary, the chief of the city’s emergency management agency called for people to heed the warnings of physicians on Twitter, saying the second wave of COVID-19 is “large and it may run over our health-care system, our economy, and our mental health and wellness.”
Tom Sampson told CBC Calgary on Sunday that he thinks a so-called circuit-break lockdown is required.
“A hard one — it may be a fairly long one. It could be as long as 28 days,” he said. “But if we did it sooner rather than later, hopefully we’d be back up and have a normal Christmas, and have our normal shopping environment for Christmas.”
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In Saskatchewan, health officials reported 181 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Premier Scott Moe said Sunday that more measures could be coming to fight COVID-19 in the province in addition to those already slated to take effect this week.
As of Monday, the province’s new public health regulations require people in communities with populations of over 5,000 to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. A growing chorus of health-care professionals and advocates are calling for the mask mandate to be extended provincewide.
British Columbia announced there have been an additional 1,959 cases of COVID-19 over the last three days and nine more deaths from the disease.
The number of patients in hospital continues to reach record highs, with 181 COVID-19 patients in hospital as of Monday, including 57 in critical care, out of 6,279 active cases in the province, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
Over the weekend, the hard-hit Fraser Health region announced three schools are being closed for two weeks because of COVID-19 cases.
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What’s happening around the world
From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 7:15 p.m. ET
As of Monday evening, more than 54.7 million coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide, with over 35.1 million of those listed as recovered by Johns Hopkins University. The university’s COVID tracking tool put the number of deaths at more than 1.3 million.
In the Americas, U.S. president-elect Joe Biden says the outgoing Trump administration’s failure to share specific plans on combatting the pandemic is stymying American businesses’ abilities to find ways to grow and survive in challenging circumstances.
During a speech Monday in Wilmington, Del., Biden said that “the sooner we have access to the administration’s distribution plan, the sooner this transition will smoothly move forward.”
Specifics the administration has withheld, such as vaccine distribution, could help “small businesses and entrepreneurs that are the backbone of our communities but are teetering on the edge,” he said.
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Meanwhile, White House coronavirus response co-ordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said on a call with governors that 27 U.S. states are in the “red zone” for COVID-19 outbreaks and that the current spread has not yet hit its peak.
More than 11 million cases of the coronavirus have now been reported in the U.S., with the most recent million coming in less than a week.
COVID-19 is spreading more rapidly across the U.S. than it has at any time since the pandemic started. Deaths are also on the rise, though not at the record high numbers reached in the spring. The seven-day rolling average for daily new deaths was more than 1,080 as of Saturday, more than 30 per cent higher than it was two weeks earlier.
COVID-19 has now killed more than 246,000 people in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC’s Today on Monday that Moderna’s finding, along with similar results from Pfizer last week for its vaccine candidate, “is something that foretells an impact on this outbreak.”
“So now we have two vaccines that are really quite effective, so I think this is a really strong step forward to where we want to be about getting control with this outbreak,” Fauci said.
Meanwhile, in Brazil the Health Ministry said it had taken the system used to report COVID-19 case numbers and deaths offline in recent days to protect against a suspected cyberattack.
In the Asia-Pacific region, India has registered 30,548 new coronaviruses cases, the fewest in the last four months but amid growing concerns about the latest surge in the capital, New Delhi.
India has now recorded a total of 8.84 million cases, second behind the U.S.
The Health Ministry said Monday that the country was showing a trend of declining average daily cases over the last two months. The ministry also reported 435 new fatalities, raising the death toll to 130,070.
India’s daily cases have seen a steady decline since the middle of September, but New Delhi is now recording more new infections than any other state.
South Korea’s daily coronavirus tally has stayed above 200 for a third consecutive day, as authorities consider raising the country’s physical distancing rules.
From Thursday, New Zealanders will be legally required to wear masks on public transport in Auckland and on planes nationwide. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Virus Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced the new rules on Monday after meeting with senior lawmakers.
The country has been largely successful in eliminating the virus but has experienced several small outbreaks in Auckland, the latest one after a military worker at a hotel where travellers returning from abroad are being quarantined got infected.
In Africa, Algeria will reimpose restrictions to combat the spread of COVID-19 from Nov. 17, including closing gyms, cultural centres, leisure venues and used car markets.
In the Middle East, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday declared “the general mobilization of the nation and the government” to confront the third wave of the coronavirus. The country has reported more than 775,000 cases of COVID-19 and more than 41,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
In Europe, Germany’s federal government and states are considering new measures to halt the rise in infections, such as dramatically reducing the number of people at household gatherings and compulsory mask wearing for school students.
The number of new coronavirus cases in Italy narrowed on Monday to 27,354, in keeping with weekend dips reflecting lower testing numbers, but the infection rate remained a stubborn 18 per cent. Italy is still struggling to contain a second surge, with more than half of the country on partial lockdown.
Another 504 people died in the last 24 hours, according to Health Ministry figures, bringing the pandemic total of known deaths to 45,733, second in Europe behind Britain. Hospital admissions rose by nearly 500, while another 70 people were in intensive care.
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Britain said on Monday it will open two new “mega” laboratories in early 2021 for carrying out COVID-19 tests, a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson went into self-isolation after coming into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.
With banners reading “Let us Pray” and “We Want Mass,” Catholic protesters held scattered demonstrations around France on Sunday to demand that authorities relax virus lockdown measures to allow religious services.
In the western city of Nantes, hundreds gathered in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary, some kneeling on the rain-soaked pavement, according to local broadcaster France Bleu. Similar gatherings were reported or planned in the eastern city of Strasbourg, in Bordeaux in the southwest, and outside the Saint-Louis Cathedral in Versailles.
With more confirmed virus cases than any other European country, predominantly Catholic France banned mass and other religious services for the month of November as part of nationwide partial lockdown measures aimed at reining in infections and relieving pressure on hospitals. Churches and other religious sites remain open for individual visitors to come and pray.
France’s interior minister is scheduled to meet with religious leaders on Monday to discuss when and how services could again be permitted, notably amid pressure to allow Christmas ceremonies.