Coronavirus: What’s happening in Canada and around the world on Jan. 10

The latest:

A new coronavirus variant has been detected in four travellers from Brazil’s Amazonas state, Japan’s Health Ministry said on Sunday, the latest new mutation of the virus discovered.

A ministry official said studies were underway into the efficacy of vaccines against the new variant, which differs from highly infectious variants first found in Britain and South Africa that have driven a surge in cases.

“At the moment, there is no proof showing the new variant found in those from Brazil is high in infectiousness,” Dr. Takaji Wakita, head of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, told a Health Ministry briefing.

Still, Brazil’s Health Ministry said it has been notified by Japan’s authorities that the new variant has 12 mutations, and one of them has already been identified also in the variants found in the United Kingdom and in South Africa. “It implies in a potential higher virus infectiousness,” it said.

WATCH | What scientists know about the coronavirus variants:

The B1-17 coronavirus variant, first discovered in the U.K., is now in at least 40 countries, including Canada. It has 23 mutations, including one that attaches to healthy cells like a key going into a lock. 1:56

Of the four travellers who arrived at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Jan. 2, a man in his 40s had a problem breathing, a woman in her 30s had a headache and sore throat and a man in his teens had a fever, while a woman in her teens showed no symptoms, the ministry said, adding all travellers are in quarantine at Tokyo’s airport.

Variants of the coronavirus first found in the U.K. and South Africa have been reported in Canada.

On Saturday, Canada’s chief public health officer said the country has so far identified 14 cases of the strain found in the U.K. and one case of the strain found in South Africa.

“Given the recent emergence of COVID-19 virus variants of concern, which appear to be associated with an increased risk of spread, [the Public Health Agency of Canada] has been working with provinces, territories and international partners to enhance monitoring for the presence of any virus variants in Canada,” Dr. Theresa Tam said.

What’s happening across Canada

As of 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 660,289 cases of COVID-19, with 84,567 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 16,950.

In British Columbia, Kelowna RCMP say they have issued a $2,300 fine to the organizer of a protest and march in the city’s downtown on Saturday that contravened provincial public health orders related to COVID-19. 

People wearing face masks are seen in Richmond, B.C., on Sunday. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Alberta reported 811 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 deaths on Sunday. Meanwhile, students in the province are set to return to in-person classes on Monday, as the government planned before the holiday season.

Saskatchewan announced 307 new cases, but the province’s death toll remained at 191.

Manitoba added 151 COVID-19 cases and five more deaths.

Ontario registered 3,945 new cases and 61 additional deaths. The new cases mark a single-day record for the province.

On Twitter, Premier Doug Ford warned of “turbulent waters” in the coming months and said Ontario’s health-care system is “on the brink of being overwhelmed.” Ford also said mass vaccinations won’t start in the province until April at the earliest.

Quebec reported 2,588 new cases and 39 new deaths, a day after it topped 3,000 new cases for the first time. Recent projections suggest Montreal’s hospitals could soon exceed capacity.

Meanwhile, the province’s first night of a curfew to curb the spread of COVID-19 resulted in tickets being given out to small groups of anti-curfew protesters.

People wear face masks as they walk in Montreal on Sunday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Newfoundland and Labrador recorded its first new case in five days. According to the Department of Health, the case is related to international travel.

Nova Scotia saw no new cases in the province for the first time since November.

New Brunswick continues to see a spike in cases, announcing 14 more.


What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 90 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 49.8 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 case tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 1.9 million.

In Europe, more than 40,000 people have now died of COVID-19 in Germany. The country initially managed to keep death numbers low in comparison to its European neighbours, but since October both new infections and deaths have been increasing steadily.    

Germany entered a second hard lockdown last month, which was recently extended until the end of January. Schools and most stores are closed, hospitals in the country are on edge and some morgues don’t have enough space to cool the relentless flow of incoming bodies.

Juliana Pauler, 100, receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Bavarian Red Cross vaccination centre, in Pfaffenhofen an der Ilm, Germany, on Sunday. (Andreas Gebert/Reuters)

In Asia, more than 360 people have tested positive in a growing coronavirus outbreak south of Beijing in neighbouring Hebei province. China’s National Health Commission reported Sunday that 69 new cases had been confirmed, including 46 in Hebei.

The outbreak has raised particular concern because of Hebei’s proximity to the nation’s capital. Travel between the two has been restricted, with workers from Hebei having to show proof of employment in Beijing to enter.

People wearing face masks walk by Forbidden City in Beijing on Sunday. (Andy Wong/The Associated Press)

Africa surpassed three million confirmed COVID-19 cases on Sunday, including more than 72,000 deaths, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Africa accounts for more than a third of the continent’s total with more than 1.2 million reported cases, including more than 32,000 deaths. Many hospitals are reaching capacity as the country battles a resurgence of the disease, driven by a variant of the virus that is more contagious and spreading quickly.

In the Americas, Mexican health authorities detected a case of a coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K.

Federal health authorities said the man was a U.K. citizen who travelled from Amsterdam to Mexico City, and then caught a connecting flight to Matamoros, where he apparently had a work assignment. The man was asymptomatic when tested, but has since been hospitalized and placed on a ventilator.

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