Ontario setting up checkpoints at borders with Manitoba and Quebec to limit entry amid surge of COVID-19 cases

Ontario will be “setting up checkpoints” along its borders with Manitoba and Quebec in a bid to limit the spread of the third wave of the coronavirus across the province, Premier Doug Ford announced Friday.

At a news conference, the premier said the province is struggling in its battle “between the variants and vaccines” and that stronger measures were necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 and its variants of concern.

Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said the changes along the provincial borders would take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, April 19. Jones said incoming travellers not meeting a list of prescribed exceptions will be turned back.

It was also announced Friday that Ontario will extend an existing stay-at-home order to last six weeks, instead of the planned four — a move a panel of experts had publicly recommended earlier in the day.

The province is also giving police new powers to enforce public health orders, with police having the authority to ask anyone outside their residence to indicate their purpose for leaving home and to provide their address. That includes stopping vehicles.

More to come.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. EARLIER STORY IS BELOW.

The latest:

The Ontario government is under pressure to take further steps to curb climbing third-wave coronavirus transmission across the province, with experts urging Friday for an extended stay-at-home order to last at least two weeks longer than planned.

Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, the co-chair of the group of experts that advises the government on the pandemic, presented the table’s latest modelling on Friday — the same day health officials reported a new daily record of 4,812 COVID-19 cases, surpassing the 4,736 cases recorded the previous day.

The expert panel believes Ontario needs a six-week stay-at-home order and to sustain a vaccination rollout of at least 100,000 doses per day.

Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table, prepares to deliver updated projections at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Friday afternoon. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Brown urged Ontarians to strictly follow public health measures and to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. 

Premier Doug Ford is scheduled to address the media later Friday, following a cabinet meeting about further restrictions that could be brought into effect.

WATCH | COVID-19 3rd wave takes hold across much of Canada:

Ontario broke another record for COVID-19 cases and ICU patients on Thursday, and dire new projections show the crisis could get worse. The province is considering more restrictions and CBC News has learned it’s asking the federal government for help with the health-care crisis. 2:58

Doris Grinspun, head of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO), says the organization is calling for a “complete lockdown” in the province, including a curfew, and wants the province to redefine essential services as only food and medications.

Ontario is set to make a formal request to the federal government for more than 600 critical care staff to help support the province’s hospitals, CBC has learned. The request comes as ICU admissions as a result of COVID-19 continue to rise in hot spots like Toronto. 

WATCH | Ontario eyes more restrictions

Clare Fielding, a nurse manager at the Toronto General Hospital, describes what it’s like in the intensive care unit. 7:23

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is calling for a “truly national approach” in fighting COVID-19 as the third wave of the pandemic wreaks havoc on the health-care and public health systems.

Health-care resources should be deployed “where they are most needed to save the most lives,” the CMA said.

Deal for more Pfizer doses

After word earlier Friday that Canada’s incoming vaccine supply from Moderna will be slashed in half through the rest of April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government has now signed an agreement with Pfizer for additional doses of its COVID-19 vaccine.

He said Pfizer will deliver four million additional doses in May, two million additional doses in June and two million more in July.

Trudeau said for next month alone, the number of Pfizer doses will be double what Canada was expecting.

From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 2:15 p.m. ET


What’s happening elsewhere across Canada

WATCH | ICU nurse describes what it’s like to treat COVID-19 patients:

At least 12 more people in Iqaluit have contracted the coronavirus, some of whom may have been exposed at the Storehouse Bar & Grill on or after April 8, says Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson. 0:59

As of 3:45 p.m. ET on Friday, Canada had reported 1,103,447 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 84,744 considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 23,535.

In Quebec, health officials reported 1,527 new cases of COVID-19 and seven additional deaths on Friday.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe receives a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru clinic at Evraz Place in Regina on Thursday. (Mark Taylor/The Canadian Press)

In Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Friday and one additional death.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, meanwhile, health officials reported three new cases on Friday. In New Brunswick, nine new cases were reported.

P.E.I. reported two new cases on Thursday.

In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 127 new cases on Friday, as a health official warned that tighter restrictions were a possibility for the province in the near future amid the spread of highly contagious COVID-19 variants.

Saskatchewan reported 221 new cases Friday and two additional deaths. 

In neighbouring Alberta, 1,646 new cases and five additional deaths were reported Thursday, and British Columbia reported 1,205 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths.

WATCH | Iqaluit declares COVID-19 outbreak as infections jump to 13

Dr. Cora Constantinescu from the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary says the risk of getting blood clots from COVID-19 is much higher than from a vaccine. 8:38

Nunavut reported 12 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, two days after the territory’s first case in Iqaluit was confirmed. Officials had identified 10 people as contacts of someone who became became symptomatic earlier this week. Premier Joe Savikataaq said all the additional cases are in Iqaluit.

As a result of the first case, all non-essential businesses, including government offices and schools, were ordered closed in Nunavut’s capital, starting Thursday.

Elsewhere in the North, no new cases were reported in Northwest Territories or Yukon on Thursday.

From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 3:35 p.m. ET


What’s happening around the world

As of early Friday afternoon, more than 139.4 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. The reported global death toll stood at more than 2.9 million.

Around the world, cases and deaths are increasing at “worrying rates,” the head of the World Health Organization said Friday.

WATCH | Doctor offers reassurance for those hesitant to get vaccinated:

“Globally, the number of new cases per week has nearly doubled over the past two months. This is approaching the highest rate of infection that we have seen so far during the pandemic,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

He said some countries that had previously avoided widespread transmission are now seeing steep increases in infections. One of those countries is Papua New Guinea.

“Until the beginning of this year, Papua New Guinea had reported less than 900 cases and just nine deaths. It has now reported more than 9,300 cases and 82 deaths,” Tedros said.

In the Americas, it was announced Friday that the World Bank had approved additional financing of $50 million for El Salvador and $20 million for Honduras to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines and strengthen their health-care systems.

In Europe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged legislators Friday to approve new powers that would allow her to force lockdowns and curfews on areas with high infection rates.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for a session of parliament that includes the first reading of new measures to rein in the spread of COVID-19 on Friday in Berlin. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The legislation seeks to end the patchwork of measures that have characterized the pandemic response across Germany’s 16 states. Passing the bill is an uphill battle for Merkel, with state governments reluctant to cede any authority over health care to the federal government. 

“We are slamming on the brakes nationwide,” she told the German parliament.

Her speech came as the country recorded 25,831 new cases of COVID-19 overnight and 247 additional deaths.

A police officer directs pedestrians toward a COVID-19 testing booth at a market in Jammu, India on Friday. (Channi Anand/The Associated Press)

In Asia, India closed its museums and tourist sites on Friday, including the iconic Taj Mahal, for a month to curb the country’s second coronavirus wave.

India’s 217,353 new cases on Friday marked the eighth record daily increase in the last nine days and took total cases to nearly 14.3 million. India’s case count is second only to the United States, which has reported more than 31 million infections.

Deaths from COVID-19 in India rose by 1,185 over the past 24 hours — the highest single-day rise in seven months — to reach a total of 174,308, the health ministry reported.

A elderly patient leaves a medical office in Johannesburg, on Friday. (Denis Farrell/The Associated Press)

In Africa, South Africa took the first step in its mass vaccination campaign on Friday by starting online registrations for the elderly to receive shots beginning next month.

South Africa’s inoculation drive is dependent upon millions of doses of the Pfizer vaccine arriving in the country within weeks. So far, South Africa has vaccinated only 290,000 of its 1.2 million health-care workers with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 3:35 p.m. ET

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