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

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The latest:

  • Ontario reports record number of COVID-19 cases as more politicians admit to foreign travel.
  • U.K. epidemiologist warns new variant could replace previous strain if left unchecked.
  • Death toll from COVID-19 in the U.S. has surpassed 350,000.
  • Funeral homes in Southern California running out of space as deaths mount.
  • Have a question about COVID-19? Send your questions to COVID@cbc.ca.

More Canadian politicians travelling over the holidays have come under scrutiny for ignoring public health guidelines against COVID-19 that discourage non-essential travel, and one Toronto-based epidemiologist says they should be held to a higher standard.

Dr. Maria Sundaram, with the health-care research agency ICES, said while she normally doesn’t endorse shaming people as a public health strategy, she believes politicians must be held to a higher standard, because their actions set an example for the public they serve.

“There are some leaders out there who are really practicing what they preach and that is really reassuring and really motivating,” Sundaram told The Canadian Press.

“Unfortunately, there are others who haven’t quite adhered to the policies that they’ve espoused for others and that really damages trust and it really damages our ability to keep going.”

WATCH | NDP MP loses roles as critic over travel to Greece:

NDP MP Niki Ashton has been removed from her roles as a shadow critic after she posted on Twitter that she had travelled to Greece to see her “ailing grandmother.” 3:35


What’s happening across Canada

As of 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Canada’s COVID-19 case count stood at 600,907, with 80,380 of those cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 15,860.  

In British Columbia, families are demanding answers after 38 residents at the Little Mountain Place long-term care home in Vancouver have died from COVID-19.

Alberta saw an estimated 900 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, according to the province’s chief medical officer of health. Dr. Deena Hinshaw tweeted Saturday that Alberta’s hospitalization and ICU totals remained stable, and no additional deaths were reported.

Saskatchewan recorded 495 new cases and three more deaths on Saturday.

WATCH |  Inside the scramble to mass produce a COVID-19 vaccine:

A major vaccine manufacturer in India scrambling to mass produce the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine so it can get into the arms of billions opened its doors to CBC News. 3:01

Manitoba on Saturday announced 327 new cases and 11 deaths in the past two days.

Ontario reported 2,964 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, Health Minister Christine Elliott said. The province broke another single-day record on Saturday with 3,363 new cases.

Quebec issued its first COVID-19 update of the new year on Sunday. It shows 2,869 new cases for Saturday, following 1,986 new cases on Friday.

A person wearing a face mask leaves the emergency department of a hospital in Montreal on Saturday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Nova Scotia on Saturday announced 13 new cases, including five cases connected to a Dartmouth school. The province says all the new cases are close contacts of previously reported cases or linked to travel outside Atlantic Canada.

Newfoundland and Labrador‘s active caseload dropped to 11 after the province reported no new cases and six recoveries Saturday. Health officials are preparing to roll out the Moderna vaccine in Northern Labrador on Jan. 11. They will be the first shots administered in the province, outside of St. John’s.

New Brunswick registered 10 new infections on Saturday.

WATCH | High number of COVID-19 cases could last until mid-January, experts say:

Ontario has set records for new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions, as the consequences of Christmas gatherings start to set in and the province still has a few weeks before numbers start coming down. 3:31

On Prince Edward Islandtesting clinics are open in Charlottetown and Summerside after clinics were closed New Year’s Day.

Yukon added four new cases on Jan. 1, which officials say are “close or household contacts” of an out-of-territory traveller. The first vaccination in the territory is set to take place on Monday. A shipment of Moderna vaccines arrived in Whitehorse last week Yukon plans to vaccinate 75 per cent of its population by the end of March.

In the Northwest Territories, a non-resident worker in Yellowknife has tested positive. The territory says the individual travelled to Yellowknife by air, is asymptomatic and “safely isolating” in the city.

Here’s a look at what’s happening with COVID-19 across the country:


What’s happening around the world

As of Saturday, more than 84.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide with more than 47.6 million cases considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 1.8 million.

Britain will have 530,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine ready to administer on Monday and hopes to provide “tens of millions” of vaccinations over the next three months, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the BBC on Sunday.

The U.K. on Saturday hit a daily record for new coronavirus infections — 57,725 — and looked set to soon overtake Italy once again to become the worst-hit country in Europe with nearly 75,000 COVID-19 deaths. The fear is that with rising infections, the number of deaths will also grow over the coming weeks.

WATCH | Virus variant 1st reported in U.K. spreads quicker than original strain:

The provinces are behind targets of getting COVID-19 vaccine into Canadians’ arms, and experts say logistical challenges are largely to blame but are hopeful the arrival of the Moderna vaccine will help speed things up. 3:22

Britain is struggling with a sharp spike in new cases as a result of a new virus variant that a collaborative study by Imperial College London has confirmed is more transmissible than its predecessor. The so-called B117 variant has been reported in dozens of countries, including Canada.

“We know if we allow it to spread, it’s only a matter of weeks before it replaces the previous variant,” U.K epidemiologist Deepti Gurdasani, a senior lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, told CBC News Network on Sunday.

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson wearing a face mask as he leaves the BBC broadcasting centre in London on Sunday. (Simon Dawson/Reuters)

The COVID-19 death toll in the United States surpassed 350,000 as experts anticipate another surge in coronavirus cases and deaths stemming from holiday gatherings over Christmas and New Year’s.

Data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows the U.S. passed the threshold early Sunday morning. More than 20 million people in the country have been infected. The U.S. has begun using two coronavirus vaccines to protect health care workers and nursing home residents and staff, but the roll out of the inoculation program has been criticized as being slow and chaotic.

People line up outside a COVID-19 testing site in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on Saturday. (Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images)

Multiple states have reported a record number of cases over the past few days, including North Carolina and Arizona. Mortuary owners in hard-hit Southern California say they’re being inundated with bodies.

The California Department of Public Health on Saturday reported more than 53,341 new confirmed cases, bringing the total to 2.3 million. There have been 26,357 total confirmed COVID-19 deaths in California.

The U.S. by far has reported the most deaths from COVID-19 in the world, followed by Brazil, which has reported more than 195,000 deaths.

In Zimbabwe, officials have reintroduced a night curfew, banned public gatherings, and indefinitely suspended the opening of schools in response to rising COVID-19 numbers — 1,342 cases and 29 deaths in the past week, the highest number recorded so far.

Funerals are now limited to 30 people while other gatherings such as weddings and church services are banned for 30 days. Restaurants and beer taverns have also been closed. The government has postponed indefinitely the opening of schools for a new term that was supposed to start on Monday, Jan. 4.

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