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

The latest:

  • COVID-19 cases may slow clearing of elective surgery backlog, top health official warns.
  • Quebec may shut down team and contact sports in red zones.
  • Masks could become mandatory in New Brunswick.
  • U.S. President Donald Trump receives anti-viral drug after testing positive for coronavirus.
  • Russia’s new daily coronavirus cases near 10,000.
  • Mexico’s total of confirmed cases rises to 753,090.

The growing number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario and Quebec comes with the risk of hospitals becoming overwhelmed as they work to clear a backlog of surgeries, delayed because of the pandemic, says Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam.

She said that over the past week, there have been an average of 500 COVID-19 patients in hospitals across Canada on any given day and warned this is putting a new strain on the health-care system.

“Since reopening, hospitals have been working to catch up with a backlog of important elective procedures, but as COVID-19 infection rates increase and hospitalizations increase, they may be faced with the difficult decision of delaying further,” Tam said on Friday.

Quebec and Ontario have reported rising daily COVID-19 case counts. Quebec saw more than 1,000 new infections on Friday, while Ontario hit a single-day record with 732. The daily count of new cases in Ontario was 653 on Saturday, according to a tweet from Health Minister Christine Elliott. 

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has introduced measures to limit restaurant capacity in Ottawa and Peel Region to 100 patrons, while Toronto Public Health capped numbers in Toronto to 75. Tables will be limited to no more than six people.

WATCH | Premier Doug Ford introduces further restrictions across Ontario:

Though focused primarily on Ottawa, Toronto and Peel Region, Ontario Premier Doug Ford unveiled new public health measures for the province to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 3:57

The province is moving to restrict COVID-19 testing to appointment only starting Tuesday. It has also ordered masks for all public indoor spaces and told residents to restrict interactions to their immediate household — even if it means curtailing Thanksgiving plans.

Meanwhile, people in Quebec entered the weekend under a partial lockdown that practically bans all parties and socializing.

People wear face masks outside a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Premier François Legault earlier this week ordered a 28-day lockdown in the province’s so-called red zones — which include Montreal and Quebec City  — to limit the spread of COVID-19, and he has enlisted police in enforcing public health rules that can impose $1,000 fines on those who don’t comply.

Some Montreal restaurateurs have complained of being treated unfairly by the lockdown, saying there have been no COVID-19 outbreaks tied to the city’s famed restaurant industry. Nevertheless, officials have temporarily banned private indoor gatherings and shut bars, cinemas and restaurant dining rooms.

WATCH | Quebec’s red zones shut down to slow COVID-19 spread:

Red zone restrictions are in effect in three Quebec areas, including Montreal and Quebec City, meaning bars are closed and restaurants no longer have indoor dining for the next 28 days as the province tries to manage a spike of COVID-19 cases. 2:01

Legault described the situation Friday as “critical” and suggested more restrictions could be imposed on Monday, when new rules are expected for sporting activities and gyms.

According to a working public health document obtained by Radio-Canada, no team sports or contact sports will be allowed in red zones. 

Masks may soon be mandatory in New Brunswick as early as Oct. 8, according to Premier Blaine Higgs.

“We’re going to lead up to it, we’re kind of building into it, working with the communities, working with the businesses, staging people to become more diligent and get into that program,” he said.

He reminded residents that wearing a face mask in public when physical distancing is not possible is mandatory under the province’s state of emergency order, and if New Brunswickers do not comply, a mandatory mask policy “could be implemented.”


What’s happening in the rest of Canada

As of 10:20 a.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 163,312 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 138,049 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 9,409.

WATCH | Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces $600M to help businesses:

The Federal Government pledges to invest $600 million to help businesses and workers through the RRRF program during a briefing. 0:37

In Manitoba, officials have offered tips for a safe Halloween amid COVID-19, suggesting distancing tricks could include using tongs to distribute candy at the door.

Manitoba reported 43 new cases on Friday, 29 of them in Winnipeg, as well as another COVID-19 death, bringing its total number of fatalities linked to the respiratory illness to 21.

Nova Scotia has reported three active cases of COVID-19. The province said on Friday that it identified one new travel-related case. Nova Scotia is also renewing its state of emergency, which will take effect at noon on Sunday and run until noon on Oct. 18.

Meanwhile, travel within the Atlantic bubble will get easier on Oct. 8., when travellers will no longer be screened by New Brunswick officials at the Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia borders, Higgs said.

Instead, some of those officials will be redeployed to the borders with Quebec and the United States, while others will keep an eye on gatherings and mask use.

The region’s success in keeping its numbers low has been hard won. Tourism has taken a massive hit, even with quarantine-free travel permitted within the bubble. Last week, the Atlantic Canada Airports Association said air travel in the region was down 92 per cent from April to the end of August compared with the same period last year.

Residents of Ottawa‘s West End Villa and their families have launched a $16-million class-action lawsuit against Extendicare, the owner of the long-term care home where 19 people have died in a COVID-19 outbreak.

The claim alleges Extendicare was negligent and breached the basic human rights of the home’s residents.


What’s happening around the world

According to the ongoing tally by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 34.6 million. More than one million people have died while over 24 million have recovered.

The United States, India and Brazil remain the most affected countries, leading the world in both confirmed cases and deaths. The U.S. reported 7,160,476 confirmed cases and 205,666 deaths; India reported 6,394,068 confirmed cases and 99,773 deaths; and Brazil recorded 4,810,935 confirmed cases and 143,952 deaths.

In the United States, President Donald Trump has spent his first night in hospital for treatment of COVID-19 after he announced that he and his wife, Melania, had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

WATCH | Trump goes to Walter Reed hospital:

U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One on his way to hospital for COVID-19 treatment. 1:39

He was flown to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Friday evening, “as a precautionary measure,” an administration official said.

White House physician Dr. Sean Conley released an update on Trump’s condition late Friday, saying “the president is doing very well,” adding he is “not requiring any supplemental oxygen” and has completed his first dose of the antiviral drug remdesivir.

“Going welI, I think!” Trump, 74, tweeted from the hospital early Saturday. 

While U.S. President Donald Trump remained in hospital overnight, his wife Melania Trump is said to be experiencing only mild symptoms. (Patrick Semansky/The Associated Press)

Remdesivir has been authorized for emergency use in Canada, the U.S., Europe, Australia, Japan and Singapore for people with severe symptoms.

In an earlier letter, Conley said Trump received a dose of an antibody cocktail. He said the president has also been taking zinc, vitamin D and famotidine, a heartburn remedy sold under the name Pepcid.

The doctor said Melania Trump, 50, “remains well with only a mild cough and headache.”

The president’s diagnosis is a major hurdle in his re-election campaign, with just 31 days left before the presidential election and Trump lagging behind Democratic rival Joe Biden in the polls.

To curb a more serious resurgence of COVID-19, France has decided to extend until March laws relating to restrictions that were due to end on Oct. 31.

According to the regulations, voted on in the National Assembly on Friday, the government has the right to close restaurants and impose restrictions on transportation.

A total of 770 students at one university in England have tested positive for coronavirus in one of the country’s worst outbreaks since reopening campuses in September, a spokesperson at Northumbria University in Newcastle said Friday. Those infected are now self-isolating, and 78 are displaying symptoms.

A student is handed takeout food near Northumbria University in Newcastle, England, on Saturday. The university says 770 of its students have tested positive for COVID-19. (Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

In Mexico, the Health Ministry reported more than 4,000 new cases and 414 deaths on Friday.

The true figures will likely be significantly higher due to a lack of testing; however, the number of confirmed cases in Mexico has risen to 753,090 with a total death toll of 78,492.

Russia reported 9,859 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, the highest number of daily infections since May 15.

Russia’s coronavirus crisis centre said that 174 coronavirus deaths had been confirmed in the last 24 hours, which took the official national death toll to 21,251.

A woman and a man wearing face masks to protect against COVID-19 sit inside a bus in central Moscow on Friday. (Yuri Kadobnov/AFP via Getty Images)

Russia currently has the fourth-largest caseload in the world, at more than 1.19 million, but the Kremlin says the government is not discussing a second lockdown.

Indonesia reported 4,007 new coronavirus infections and 83 more deaths on Saturday, bringing its total infections to 299,506 and fatalities to 11,055, health ministry data showed. 

India‘s death toll from the novel coronavirus rose past 100,000 on Saturday, making it only the third country in the world to reach that bleak milestone, after the U.S. and Brazil.

Total deaths rose to 100,842, India’s Health Ministry said, while the tally of infections climbed to 6.47 million after a daily increase in cases of 79,476. India now has the highest rate of daily increase in infections in the world.

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