Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is warning that Canada’s future hangs in the balance if people don’t reduce their contacts to prevent dire new COVID-19 projections from becoming a reality.
“This is the future of our country, this is the future of our children, it’s the future of our loved ones and our seniors, it’s our economy, it’s our businesses, it’s everything all together,” Trudeau said Friday.
Trudeau also warned that a “normal Christmas” this year is “right out of the question” with cases across the country spiking. National modelling is predicting a worst-case scenario of 60,000 cases per day by the end of the year.
An average of 4,800 cases are being reported daily, an increase of about 15 per cent from last week, said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer.
WATCH | Dr. Tam on having ‘The Talk’ with relatives as holidays approach:
“We are not on a good trajectory,” Tam said Friday. “I think across the board, across Canada, we have to say the time is now, with urgency, that we limit contacts.”
Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region are going back into lockdown, as of Monday, and several other regions of Ontario are moving to higher restriction levels now that the province has surpassed 100,000 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.
The shutdown will last a minimum of 28 days, equal to two incubation periods for the coronavirus, and the province says it will fine people $750 for violating public health rules.
WATCH | Ontario puts Toronto and Peel Region into lockdown:
Non-essential retail stores must close and only offer curbside pickup or delivery. Grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, hardware stores and liquor outlets will stay open, operating at 50 per cent capacity.
WATCH | Doctor concerned about gatherings, panic purchases ahead of lockdown:
Schools and daycare centres will also remain open. Gyms, hair salons and other personal services must close. Restaurants can offer only takeout and delivery. Big-box retailers and discount stores that sell groceries can remain open.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced up to $600 million in relief for business impacted by the new measures.
The province reported 1,588 more cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, including 522 in Peel Region, 450 in Toronto and 153 in York Region, Health Minister Christine Elliott said on Twitter.
The total number breaks a previous single-day record of 1,581 cases, reported on Nov. 14.
There were 1,418 additional cases reported on Friday, with 393 in Toronto, 400 in Peel Region and 168 in York Region. Since the pandemic began, 3,451 deaths have been attributed to the virus.
Quebec is planning ahead for the holiday season, with a focus on the period from Dec. 24-27. It recommends people keep social gatherings to no more than 10 people during that time. If they’re planning get-togethers, Premier François Legault said they should limit their contacts “as much as possible one week before and one week after.”
What’s happening across Canada
As of 11:15 a.m. ET, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 323,504, with 52,697 of those considered active cases. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 11,387.
An Edmonton doctor says people coming into her hospital with COVID-19 are sicker than patients in the first wave. Dr. Neeja Bakshi helped set up the COVID-19 unit at Royal Alexandra Hospital. She says medical staff are in danger of burnout as the number of new cases begins to spike in Alberta.
Alberta reported a record 1,155 new cases on Friday. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, also announced 11 more deaths.
Earlier, Trudeau urged Albertans to download the federal COVID-19 notification app, despite the fact that the Alberta and B.C. governments haven’t signed on.
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced $120.3 million in funding from the federal government to support Indigenous communities and organizations in Alberta and Saskatchewan amid a recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
WATCH | Indigenous services minister outlines funding priorities:
Miller said he has been in contact with First Nations leaders in those provinces and that the measures are in direct response to their requests.
“Listening to what people need has been a key part of the COVID-19 response for the government of Canada to date and will continue to inform the way forward,” he said at a news conference.
British Columbia had 516 new COVID-19 cases and 10 more deaths on Friday, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.
The new numbers come one day after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced wide-ranging new restrictions.. They include mandatory masks in indoor public and retail spaces and restricting social gatherings for everyone in B.C. to household members only.
Saskatchewan reported 153 new COVID-19 cases and one new death on Friday.
Manitoba surpassed 200 COVID-19 deaths on Friday as officials announced nine new deaths, including a Winnipeg man in his 20s — the youngest person in the province to have died from the virus.
The province, which announced 438 new cases on Friday, introduced new COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday that ban people from having anyone inside their home who doesn’t live there, with few exceptions, and businesses from selling non-essential items in stores.
In Atlantic Canada, new restrictions are coming into effect for most of the Halifax region starting Monday and remaining in place until at least Dec. 21.
Households will be limited to five visitors, while outdoor gatherings are also limited to five people.
Halifax bar staff will be tested for COVID-19 over the next seven days, while restaurants and bars across the province will be required to collect information from their patrons.
Nova Scotia reported eight new cases on Saturday, after seeing five new cases on Friday.
New Brunswick has announced new restrictions, moving Saint John from the yellow alert stage to the more rigorous orange alert and asking people to limit contacts to their own family bubbles, starting Saturday.
WATCH | Young adults living as if COVID-19 doesn’t exist, says N.S. premier:
P.E.I. Health Minister James Aylward on Friday said the province can expect 26,000 to 30,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in less than two months.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported three new cases on Friday.
In the North, Nunavut health officials reported 10 more cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the number of cases in the territory to 84.
A two-week territory-wide lockdown is currently in effect in an effort to get a handle on the outbreak and avoid overwhelming Nunavut’s small, isolated health-care centres.
Yukon recorded three new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing its total to 29. Dr. Brendan Hanley, the territory’s chief medical officer of health, said the three cases have been linked to a previous case, with contract tracing underway.
The Northwest Territories renewed a state of emergency for Yellowknife to clear the way for an emergency warming shelter in light of capacity limitations at other facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s happening around the world
As of Saturday morning, there were more than 57.7 million reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with more than 37 million of those cases listed as recovered, according to a COVID-19 tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 1.3 million.
In Asia, South Korea has so far managed to weather its COVID-19 epidemic without major lockdowns, relying instead on an aggressive test-and-quarantine campaign and mask-wearing.
But the Korean Society of Infectious Diseases says the country could be reporting more than 1,000 new infections a day in a week or two if physical-distancing measures aren’t effectively strengthened.
South Korea reported 386 new cases of the coronavirus on Saturday.
In Japan, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached a record for the third straight day at 2,418. Japan, with fewer than 2,000 deaths related to the virus, has been relatively successful at containing the damage from the pandemic with physical distancing and the widespread use of masks. But worries are growing about another surge over the weekend.
In the Middle East, businesses were shuttered and travel curtailed between major cities in Iran on Saturday, including the capital of Tehran, as it grapples with the worst outbreak of the coronavirus in the region.
Iran has recorded daily death tolls of above 430 over the past five days. Iran’s Health Ministry said on Saturday that the total number of confirmed cases has risen to above 840,000.
The new lockdown measures, which include shuttering most businesses, shops, malls, and restaurants, include Iran’s largest cities of Mashhad, Isfahan and Shiraz. Iranian authorities have designated nearly 160 towns and cities affected as hot spots because these urban centres have the highest daily per-capita positive coronavirus test results.
In Europe, shopping centres will reopen in Poland from Saturday next week, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, in a boost to retailers in the run-up to Christmas.
The Polish government closed entertainment venues and some shops from Nov. 7 after a surge in COVID-19 cases, but infections have levelled off since then.
Morawiecki said schools would remain closed until Christmas. He urged Poles to spend the festive period only with their closest relatives in their households and not to travel.
Russia reported a daily record of 24,822 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, including 7,168 in the capital Moscow, bringing the national tally to 2,064,748.
Authorities also reported 467 coronavirus-related deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the official death toll to 35,778.
Currently Russia is the fifth country in terms of the number of infections reported, behind the United States, India, Brazil, and France.
The number of deaths in the Czech Republic linked to COVID-19 doubled in November compared with October and passed the 7,000 mark, Health Ministry data showed on Saturday.