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

The latest:

Quebec’s health minister is expressing concern about some parts of the province’s health-care system, saying that while Montreal has so far avoided returning to lockdown, the region is still “under pressure.”

“The situation in our hospitals is concerning,” Health Minister Christian Dubé wrote on Twitter on Monday. “Hospital capacity in intensive care is fragile.”

Quebec expanded its lockdown to several additional municipalities on Monday, as health officials reported 1,252 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths. Hospitalizations in the province stood at 503 with 123 COVID-19 patients in ICU, according to a provincial dashboard.

Premier François Legault is expected to hold a press conference Tuesday evening, but it was not immediately clear what he would announce.

Quebec is not the only province keeping a close watch on health system capacity — the head of the Ontario Hospital Association has called the situation in that province’s hospitals “extremely, extremely serious” and Saskatchewan on Monday recorded its highest-ever number of COVID-19-related patients in intensive care units.

As of Monday, there were 195 people in hospital with COVID-19-related illness in Saskatchewan, including 47 in ICU. The bulk of the patients needing intensive care were in Regina, where tighter public health measures are in place in a bid to slow the spread of the virus. The province reported 219 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death on Monday.

Ontario on Monday reported 2,938 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional deaths. According to an update posted on a provincial dashboard, 942 people were hospitalized, including 494 in ICU “due to COVID-related illness.”

The trends in Ontario prompted the top health officials in three major urban areas to ask the province to impose tougher restrictions beyond the 28-day “shutdown” it ordered last Thursday. Chief medical officers of health for Toronto, neighbouring Peel Region, and Ottawa have written to Ontario’s top doctor to ask him to impose a “stay-at-home order” to prevent deaths and irreparable strain on the health-care system.

WATCH | ‘Case counts are horrific’: Top doctors plead for stay-at-home order in Ontario hot spots:

The medical officers of health from three Ontario regions are pleading with the government to implement a stay-at-home order as case counts reach ‘horrific’ levels. 3:38

-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 7 a.m. ET

What’s happening elsewhere in Canada

As of early Tuesday morning, Canada had reported 1,013,520 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 57,814 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 23,118.

In Atlantic Canada, New Brunswick reported 10 new cases of COVID-19, while Nova Scotia reported three new cases. There were no new cases reported in Newfoundland and Labrador or Prince Edward Island.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 135 new cases and two new deaths. 

Meanwhile, in Alberta, the province’s top doctor said the number of confirmed cases of a COVID-19 variant that are linked to a large employer is likely to rise.

So far, three of 26 infections linked to work sites in Alberta’s central and northern zones are confirmed to be the Brazilian variant, but Dr. Deena Hinshaw said that’s likely to increase as more results come in. She said there was also an outbreak of five cases — one linked to the Brazilian variant — at a separate Calgary-area workplace.

Alberta reported 887 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths on Monday. Hospitalizations on the province stood at 312, with 76 people in intensive care.

Across the North, there were no new cases reported in Nunavut or Yukon on Monday. Health officials in the Northwest Territories reported one case on Monday in Yellowknife. The person is a Northwest Territories resident and the infection is “related to international travel,” a statement from the office of the chief public health officer said Monday. “The investigation and contact tracing does not identify any risk to the public at this time.”

In British Columbia, health officials reported 999 cases on Sunday and 890 cases on Monday. The province said 23 people had died from complications linked to the virus since Thursday. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Monday there is a “significant” amount of P1 in the province and he expects the variants of concern to eventually replace less transmissive COVID-19 strains.

“What we know is the most transmissive varieties, the variants of COVID-19, are ultimately going to take over,” he said. “We’ve seen that in other jurisdictions and we expect to see that here.”

Of the 318 people in hospital, 60 are linked to variants of concern, he said.

Coronavirus variants of concern are on the rise — and not just in B.C. — sparking repeated calls from health officials across Canada to stick with public health measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. As of Monday evening, a federal tracking site had recorded more than 15,200 variant cases, including:

  • 14,009 cases of the B117 variant first reported in the U.K.
  • 337 cases of the B1351 variant first reported in South Africa.
  • 857 cases of the P1 variant first connected to travellers from Brazil.

-From The Canadian Press and CBC News, last updated at 9:15 a.m. ET

What’s happening around the world

Suez Canal captains receive a dose of a vaccine against COVID-19 in Ismailia, Egypt. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters)

As of early Tuesday morning, more than 131.8 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a case tracking tool maintained by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.8 million.

In the Americas, U.S. President Joe Biden was set to announce Tuesday that he is shaving about two weeks off his May 1 deadline for states to make all adults eligible for coronavirus vaccines. Biden was set to make the announcement at the White House later Tuesday following a visit to a vaccination site in Virginia, a White House official said.

With states gradually expanding eligibility beyond such priority groups as older people and essential, front-line workers, the president plans to announce that every adult in the U.S. will be eligible by April 19 to be vaccinated, the official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Biden’s plans before the formal announcement.

The new deadline of April 19 is about two weeks earlier than Biden’s original May 1 deadline. The president had announced just last week that 90 per cent of adults would be eligible for one of three approved vaccines by April 19, in addition to having a vaccination site within five miles (eight kilometres) of their home. CNN was first to report on Biden’s planned announcement.

WATCH | Fears of 4th COVID-19 wave grow in the U.S.:

Fears of a fourth wave of COVID-19 are increasing in the U.S. after six million people travelled over the Easter weekend and the average age of new cases drops because of variants of concern. 2:03

In New York, people over 16 years old can sign up for COVID-19 vaccination starting Tuesday. That’s a large expansion of eligibility as the state seeks to immunize as many people as possible.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo expanded eligibility to 30 and over last week and announced people age 16 to 29 would be eligible on April 6. Teens age 16 and 17 will be limited to receiving the Pfizer vaccine, since it is the only one authorized for use in people under 18. None of the available vaccines have been approved for people under 16.

Colombia, meanwhile, will allow private imports of COVID-19 vaccines, the health ministry said on Monday, but the shots must be free for those being inoculated.

In the Asia-Pacific region, many Indian state leaders have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open up vaccinations to most of the country’s hundreds of millions of adults, following a second surge in infections that has eclipsed the first wave.

Australia on Tuesday said it had not yet received more than three million doses of previously promised AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine amid export curbs by the European Union, leaving a major hole in its early nationwide inoculation drive.

In Africa, the World Bank estimates that Africa would need about $12 billion US for COVID-19 vaccines and their distribution to attain sufficient levels of vaccination coverage to interrupt virus transmission, according to a new paper by the bank and the IMF.

In Europe, Spain is stepping up its vaccination drive, with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez saying Tuesday that a steep rise in deliveries over the coming months will allow the country to inoculate 70 per cent of its adult population — some 33 million people — against COVID-19 by the end of August.

“The priority now, more than ever, is to vaccinate without respite,” Sanchez told a news conference. “Vaccinate, vaccinate and vaccinate.”

Spain’s new COVID-19 infections have been edging higher in recent weeks. The 14-day cumulative incidence — a key contagion metric — rose Monday to 163 cases per 100,000 people, from 149 a week earlier. The country expects to receive 87 million doses by September.

“Anyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one,” Sanchez said.

Hungary will begin gradual easing of restrictions within days, as it expects to have 25 per cent of its population of 10 million inoculated by Tuesday or early Wednesday.

In the Middle East, Pfizer said on Monday it was working on a new deal to supply COVID-19 vaccines to Israel after an initial supply agreement forged in late 2020 ended.

-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 9:10 a.m. ET

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