Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Monday

Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Monday

The latest:

  • Trudeau urges Canadians to follow public health guidelines as COVID-19 cases rise.
  • Resurgence of COVID-19 in Ontario puts pressure on Doug Ford government.
  • Quebec sees highest number of new cases since beginning of June. 
  • Manitoba health officials warns of possible COVID-19 exposures at two Winnipeg schools.
  • India reopens its parliament after more than five months.
  • New Zealand extends virus restrictions for at least another week.

‘We cannot let our guard down’: Tam

Canada’s top doctor released a statement this afternoon urging Canadians to continue physically distancing and complying with public health guidelines, as cases have spiked across the country. 

“As fall approaches, I continue to urge all Canadians to keep up our collective efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 in Canada,” said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Thersa Tam in statement Monday.

As of 10:30 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 136,972 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 120,564 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 9,211.

Around 47,800 have been tested daily in the last week and around 1.1 per cent of those individuals have tested positive, amounting to about 618 new cases reported daily, said Tam. 

“We cannot let our guard down now,” she said. “We have worked too hard and come too far. Continue good public health practices to reduce your risk of getting infected and spreading the infection to others.” 

She warned Canadians to be aware of the risk for exposure in their areas and to stay home even with mild symptoms, leaving only to get tested. 

Tam’s statements echo messaging from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday morning, who similarly appealed to Canadians to strictly follow public health guidelines. 

Speaking to reporters before he embarked on a two-day cabinet retreat in Ottawa, Trudeau emphasized that Canadians need to continue practising physical distancing, washing hands frequently and wearing masks. 

“The last thing anyone wants is to go into this fall in a lockdown similar to this spring,” he said. “And the way we do that is by remaining vigilant.”

Ontario COVID-19 cases surge, mostly in urban centres

The steady rise of coronavirus cases in Ontario — an uptick largely fuelled by the province’s most populated areas — is cause for concern among provincial officials, and could lead to targeted measures aimed at curbing growth in cases even as the province has already hit the pause button on further relaxing pandemic restrictions. 

On Monday, Ontario reported 313 new COVID-19 cases, as the average number of daily infections in the province has doubled over the last three weeks. The province’s daily count had exceeded 200 on each of the previous three days, something that hadn’t happened since early June.  

The trend in Ontario is worrisome, Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, said in an interview with CBC News. 

“I thought that we were going to see this rise in cases a little bit later,” Bogoch said Sunday. “But it’s real and it’s happening now and it certainly is concerning. We certainly want to make sure that this doesn’t continue to grow.”   

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is facing pressure as the province’s COVID-19 cases rise at a rate not seen in months. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Many are also worried that the reopening of schools will compound the issue of a second wave of COVID-19 cases, with the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) warning parents that some of its elementary classes will likely exceed size caps set out in its reopening plan.

The TDSB said it does not yet know how many of its classes will exceed those caps, since final registration numbers are still in flux with the new school year set to begin Tuesday.

“We are getting to those caps as best we can,” said TDSB spokesperson Ryan Bird. “The difficulty is, though, since we’ve received the student registration information, the numbers keep changing.”

The TDSB approved a plan in late August to reduce class sizes in elementary schools with a particular focus on areas deemed by Toronto Public Health to be at higher risk of COVID-19.

Meanwhile in London, the Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) declared a community outbreak after five Western University students tested positive for COVID-19.

Three of the cases were confirmed Saturday and two Sunday, according to a news release issued by the MLHU. It said the cases are related and will be added to the city’s case count on Monday.

WATCH | Quebec on edge as COVID-19 cases rise:

Quebec faces the highest rate of new cases in months despite businesses and the government enforcing safety rules. 1:55

While the infected students have not attended classes or activities on campus, they have been to downtown bars and restaurants, and socialized with students in neighbouring housing units, the health unit said. It expects there to be more cases in the coming days. 

On Friday, during his most recent news conference, Ford described the trend as an “uptick” limited to the most densely populated urban areas of Ontario.

“Where we are seeing an uptick is a couple regions,” Ford said. “It’s not the City of Toronto or the Peel Region’s fault. This is happening. We’ve got to work together.” 

WATCH | Online learning registration spikes as COVID-19 cases rise in Peel Region:

A spike in online learning registration in Peel Region west of Toronto has prompted a delay to the start of virtual classes. The region has seen rising COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. 1:47

A senior provincial official told CBC News that there is “a growing sense of concern” in the government and among public health leaders over the rise in Ontario’s COVID-19 numbers. If the trend continues, the official said the province would consider measures targeted at the specific locations and activities that are contributing to the infection rate. 

Last Monday, the province announced a four-week pause on any further relaxing of pandemic restrictions. Yet case numbers have since risen, even though classes have yet to resume for the roughly 500,000 students in the public and Catholic school boards of Toronto and Peel. 

In Brampton, which is a part of Peel Region, a lack of testing capabilities is contributing to a spike in cases, Mayor Patrick Brown told CBC News Monday. 

Compared to nearby cities of a similar size, like Mississauga, Brampton hasn’t had access to the same health infrastructure needed to support mass testing, said Brown.

“There has been some pretty significant inequalities,” he said. Mississauga has three testing centres, while Brampton has just one; a second is set to open this Wednesday. 

Brampton also has to ship its coronavirus tests to Toronto rather than processing them locally, which contributes to a delay in sending residents their results, Brown said. 

That means individuals who may be positive for the coronvirus don’t begin isolating until they hear back from public health, which is a danger to the community, he said. 

“You tell people to quarantine after a test; in many instances they’re not, so it creates a risk,” he said. 

What’s happening around the rest of Canada

Manitoba public health officials are warning of possible COVID-19 exposures at two Winnipeg schools.

A person who was asymptomatic went to Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute in the West End on Wednesday in the morning and Thursday in the afternoon, according to a release from the province issued on Sunday.

WATCH | No signs of Atlantic bubble bursting:

Like an extended family, the four Atlantic provinces have walled themselves in, creating measures to restrict outsiders and COVID-19 cases. So far, it’s worked and there doesn’t seem to be much of a rush to burst the Atlantic bubble. 5:09

Meanwhile, another person went to John Pritchard School in North Kildonan all day Tuesday through Thursday also while asymptomatic. Neither of the two people are believed to have caught the virus at school.

Both schools confirm they’ll be open for classes Monday.

Quebec saw its highest number of new cases since the beginning of June over the weekend, with 279 cases reported Sunday and 244 cases Saturday. 

The number of deaths remained low, with just one additional death yesterday. 

Cases in Quebec’s Lower Saint Lawrence region also continued to the climb over the weekend, after public health authorities linked dozens of cases to recent house parties. 

The union representing British Columbia teachers is urging the province to close schools on Monday citing the combined threat of wildfire smoke, which is affecting air quality, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a Twitter post Sunday night, the B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF) said it wants the province and other health officials to step in and keep teachers and students at home.

For many B.C. students, Monday is set to be the first full day of instruction. Last week, many schools provided orientation sessions to advise students how the year will proceed amid the ongoing threat of the pandemic.

Educators worked to put in place protocols such as staggered start times, enhanced cleaning and physical distancing rules to keep schools safe.

A COVID-19 outbreak was declared Sunday at a public high school in west Edmonton after a second person tested positive. 

Alberta Health Services has advised the school that an additional 53 Grade 10 students and two staff members at Ross Sheppard High School need to be tested and will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days. 

The first case at Ross Sheppard was confirmed by Alberta Health Services on Sept. 8. Three classes of Grade 10 students and their teachers — close to 100 people — were placed in quarantine at home for 14 days after someone in the group tested positive.

What’s happening around the world

According to Johns Hopkins University, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 28.3 million. More than 912,000 people have died, while 19 million have recovered.

India reopened its parliament after more than five months Monday even as the country continues to report the most daily new infections of the coronavirus in the world and daily virus deaths remain above 1,000.

Lawmakers must wear masks and follow other sanitization protocols, sit on seats separated by transparent plastic sheets and keep their meetings limited.

Question Hour, when lawmakers ask questions to ministers and hold them accountable for the functioning of their ministries, will not be allowed.

People wait in long queues to get a coronavirus test at the Northcote COVID-19 testing facility in Auckland, New Zealand on Monday. (Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

New Zealand will keep its virus restrictions in place for at least another week as the country continues to battle a small outbreak that began in Auckland last month.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday the country had taken a cautious approach to the virus from the beginning, which had helped save lives and allowed the economy to reopen in a sustained way.

Ardern said New Zealand will continue its strategy of trying to eliminate the virus.

WATCH | Western U.S. fires complicate COVID-19 diagnosis, says cardiologist:

Smoke from U.S. wildfires could confuse people, who may not know whether their breathing troubles are from the poor air quality or the coronavirus, says Montreal cardiologist Dr. Christopher Labos. 5:56

Experts in the Philippines described a decision to cut the physical distancing minimum to 30 centimetres on public transport as dangerous and premature on Monday.

Reducing gaps between passengers incrementally to a third of the one metre minimum could backfire, experts and medical professionals warned, and prolong a first wave of infections that the Philippines has been battling since March.

The new rules took effect on Monday, when the country reported 259 new confirmed deaths, a record for the second time in three days. Total fatalities increased to 4,630, while infections have doubled in the past 35 days to 265,888, Southeast Asia’s highest number.

A commuter wearing a face mask walks in Cologne’s main train station. On Monday, Berlin’s top health official expressed concern about the rising number of coronavirus cases in Germany. (Wolfgang Rattay/Reuters)

Berlin’s top health official has expressed concern about the rising number of coronavirus cases in Germany, particularly among young people.

Dilek Kalayci told public broadcaster RBB that experience showed young people could easily become “super spreaders,” resulting in older, more vulnerable people becoming sick with COVID-19, too.

Germany’s disease control centre on Monday reported 927 new cases across the country in the past day.

Romania reopened schools for 2.8 million children on Monday after a six-month closure to fight a coronavirus outbreak, ordering pupils to wear face masks as infections rise.

WATCH | Minor hockey lurches toward fall opening amid COVID-19:

No face-offs, no penalty box and no parents are part of the myriad changes that one youth hockey league is making as it tries to get kids safely back into hockey this fall. 2:31

With 104,000 cases, and new infections jumping above 1,000 a day since July, millions of teachers, students and parents face a tough challenge to adapt after months of online teaching at home.

The spike has been among Europe’s fastest, together with Spain, France, Malta and Croatia, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief said on Monday that we need to fundamentally rethink our relationship with the elderly after huge losses to COVID-19 in nursing homes across the world “robbed us of a generation of wisdom.”

In a speech about the human rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic at the United Nations in Geneva, Dr. Mike Ryan urged countries to see elder care as a “rights issue.”

“We need to fundamentally rethink the relationship we have with older generations and the way in which we provide care for that generation,” said Ryan. “We need to see the needs of our older generation as a rights issue — the right to be cared for, the right to social contact.”

WATCH | ‘Rule of six’ takes effect in U.K.:

The CBC’s Cindy Pom explains the U.K.’s new ‘rule of six’ that prohibits social gatherings of more than six people after a big spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. 2:54
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